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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 309 scaffold-but never can I be deprived or be ashamed of the records of my past life." A verdict of guilty was returned by the jury, and sentence followed, transporting the prisoner beyond seas for the period of fourteen years. Ab. Muir was detained in prison till the 15th of October, when he was conveyed on board the EoyaE Geoyge excise yacht, Captain Ogilvie, lying in Leith Roads for London. In the same vessel were sent the following convicts :-John Grant, convicted of forgery at Inverness ; John Stirling, concerned in robbing Nellfield House; - Bauchope, for stealing watches ; and James Illackay, who had been condemned to death for street robbery. The feeling of degradation which Muir must have experienced in being thus classed with thieves and robbers was in some degree alleviated by the presence of the Rev. Thomas Fyshe Palmer, who had been tried on the 12th September previous, for publishing a political address written by George Mealmaker. Immediately on the arrival of the prisoners in the Thames they were put on board the hulks, where they were detained so long that Skirving and Margarot were in time t o be shipped in the same transport for New South Wales.' 1 The following lines, written by the author on board the tranaport that was about to carry him into exile, independent of their poetical merit, are rendered interesting from the circumstances under which they were penned :- '' Surprise Tramport, Portsmouth, " Ha&. 12, 1794. " TO MR. MOFFAT, WITH A GOLD WATCH AND CHAIN FROM MR. MUIR. " This gift, this little gift, with heart sincere, An exile, wafted from his native land, To friendship tried, bequeaths with many a tear, Whilst the dire bark still lingers on the strand " These sorrows stream from no ignoble cause ; I weep not o'er my own peculiar wrong,- Say, when approving conscience yields applause, Should private sorrow claim the votive song ? '' But, ah I I mark the rolling cloud from far, Collect the dark'ning horrors of the storm ; With civil blood, the civil field deform. " Roll on, ye years of grief, your fated course I Roll on, ye years of agony and blood ! But, ah I of civil rage, when dried the source, From partial evil spring up general good. And, 10 ! I see the frantic fiend of war, " Alas ! my Moffat, from the dismal shore Of cheerless exile, when I slow return, What solemn ruins must I then deplore 1 What awful desolation shall I mourn ? " Paternal mansion I mouldering in decay, Thy close-barred gate may give no welcome kind ; May harshly cry-another mansion find. Another lord, sa lingering in delay,
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310 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. At Sydney they were treated by Governor Hunter (a Scotsman) with all the humanity in his power. Here Muir purchased a piece of land, and busied himself in its improvement; while in the society of his exiled companions, he enjoyed as much happiness as the peculiarity of his situation would permit. After remaining in the " distant land of exile " nearly two years, he found means to escape in an American vessel (the Otter) which had been fitted out at New York by some individuals, for the purpose of aiding him in his escape, and which had anchored at Sydney for the ostensible purpose of taking in wood and water, With the Otter he sailed for the United States; but, unfortunately, having occasion to touch at Nootka Sound, he found that a British sloopof- war had unexpectedly arrived a short time before ; and as this vessel had only left Sydney a day or two previous to the Otter, Muir deemed it prudent to go on shore-preferring to travel over the whole American continent to the risk of detection. After many hardships he at length found a passage on board a Spanish frigate bound for Cadiz; but Spain being then leagued with the Republic of France, on arriving off the port of Cadiz, the frigate was ittacked by a British man-of-war, A desperate engagement ensued, in which Muir is said to have fought with great bravery, and was severely wounded. On the surrender of the frigate he was concealed on board for six days, and then sent on shore with the other wounded prisoners. In a letter from Cadiz, dated 14th August 1797, he thus describes his situation :-" Contrary to my expectation, I am at last nearly cured of my numerous wounds. The Directory have shown me great kindness. Their solicitude for an unfortunate being, who has been so cruelly oppressed, is a balm of consolation which revives my drooping spirits. The Spaniards detain me as a prisoner, because I am a Scotsman ; but I have " And oh, my Moffat ! whither shall I roam ? Flow, flow, ye tears ! perhaps the funeral bier ; No-flourish Hope-from thee I ask a home,- Thy gentle hand shall wipe an exile's tear. " Yes, we shall weep o'er each lamented grave Of those who joined us in stern Freedom's cause ; These tears shall Freedom honour with applause. And, as the moisten'd turf our tears shall lave, " I soon shall join the dim aerial band,- This stream of life has little time to flow. Should close-enough-'tis all I ask below. Oh ! if my dying eyes thy soothing hand " This little relic, Moffat, I bequeath While life remains, of friendship, just and pnre,- This little pledge of love, surviving death, Friendship immortal, and re-union aure. " THOMASM UIR" Mr. William Moffat, to whom this flattering mark of esteem is addressed, resided in Edinburgh. He w89 admitted a Solicitor in 1791, and wa5 the legal agent of Mr. Muir. His son, Mr. Thomas Muir Moffat, is named after the Reformer.
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