Chapter 10

 Teague having thus departed, it became the Captain to look out for another servant; and deliberating on this subject, Mr. M’Donald, the Scotch gentleman, of whom we have before spoken, happening to enter, the Captain explained to him the circumstance, and made enquiries with regard to his knowledge of any one that chose to be employed in this way, and might be fit for the service. Said Mr. M’Donald, I ken a lad right weel of the name o’Duncan Ferguson, frae about Perth in Scotland, that is trusty and vera fit to wait upon a gentleman, except it be that he may gie ye o’er muckle trouble about religion, having had a vera strict education i’ the presbytery; gin ye can put up wie that, I sal warrant him honest, and vera faithful to his master, and that he will take guid care of your horse. He is about thirty years of age, and has been a guid deal in service, and knows what it is to wait on guid houses in his ain kintra; I dinna ken how he may suit all places in these parts; but wie a man of your judgment, I think he may do vera weel.

The Captain thanked him for the information; and having conceived a good opinion of Mr. M’Donald’s integrity and sense, he was willing to take the young man upon the recommendation he had given.

Accordingly he being sent for by Mr. M’Donald, the North Briton came, and presented himself to the Captain. The wages of his services being agreed upon, he entered on his functions the same day; and in a short time the Captain having paid his bills in the city, set out with Duncan on the same route with Teague.

Accordingly, he being sent for by Mr. M'Donald, the North Briton came, and presented himself to the Captain. The wages of his service being agreed upon, he entered on his functions the same day; and in a short time the Captain having paid his bills in the city, set out with Duncan on the same route with Teague.

Duncan, in like manner with Teague, had to walk on foot, for the Captain could not afford to purchase another horse, more especially as he had considerably exhausted his finances by the late equipment of Teague. But even could he have made it convenient to have increased his cavalry, the expences of travelling would have been increased, which he could not also well afford; or which it would not have been within the limits of a strict economy to have incurred. For travelling slowly, the servant could without weariness equal the pace of his master on horseback. Besides, it gave diversity, and had more the air of ancient custom, than being both mounted. It was in this manner the Gauls, who fought with Caesar, equipped their dragoons, as we learn from the Commentaries; and also the Numidian horse under Jugurtha, as we learn from Sallust, had each a foot-man by his side, who sometimes assisted himself by the mane of the quadruped in running; but was at all times considered as attached to the rider, and ready to subserve him in battle. The Scotchman, moreover, had but a light luggage to carry: being nothing more than a couple of shirts, a pair of stockings, a Kilmarnock cap, a Confession of Faith, Satan’s invisible kingdom discovered, and Crookshank’s history of the Covenanters.

It was upon the topic of religion that the conversation first turned, Duncan asking the Captain of what denomination he was? I am denominated Captain, said he; though I have had other epithets occasionally given me by the people amongst whom I have happened to sojourn, especially since my last setting out on my travels, after the manner of ancient chevaliers. I have been called the modern Don Quixotte, on account of the eccentricity of my rambles, or the singularity which they conceive themselves to discover in my conversation and manner. I have been called the Knight of the single Horse, having but one myself, and none for my attendant; in this particular unlike my predecessors, whose squires were mounted as well as themselves. In some places I have taken my designation from the Irish valet that I had, and of whom you have heard me speak, of the name of Teague, and have been called the Owner of the redheaded bog-trotter; as it is probable I may now be designated occasionally by the appellation of the master of the raw Scotchman, by those who may be able by your dialect to distinguish your origin. But all these things I look upon as inconsiderable. It is of little, or perhaps of no consequence to me, what my designation is among men, provided it contains nothing in it that may impeach my moral character, and may seem to have been drawn from some bad quality or vicious habit of the intellect. They may call me Don Quixotte, or Hudibras, or the Knight of Blue Beard, or the Long Nose, or what they please. It is all the same to me; and gives no affront, unless containing a reflection on my integrity.

Captain, said Duncan, it canna be, but ye ken right weel what I mean. It is na the denomination o’ your temporal capacity that I wad be at; but o' your religion, and to what persuasion ye belong; whether o’ the Covenant, or o' the Seceders, or the high kirk o’ Scotland.

Duncan, said the Captain, I am not such an adept in faith, as to be acquainted with these nice distinctions. I have some knowledge of the Christian religion in general; but not of those more minute subdivisions of which it is probable you speak. For I have understood that Christianity is the national religion in Scotland, and I presume what you call Covenanters, and Seceders, are sections from the general establishment, and subordinate to the worship of the kingdom. It has not come in my way, nor have I much ambition to be more particularly acquainted. There is a degree of information on most subjects which it becomes a gentleman to have; but the going beyond this may savour of pedantry, and argue the having spent more time in trifles, than bespeaks strength of mind and elevated talents. Just as we respect the naturalist who amuses us with the philosophy of great objects; but smile at him whose life is occupied in catching butterflies, or gathering petrified shell-fish. Or to give a simile that conveys my meaning better; skill in language, either to write or speak, is a noble attainment; but this consists more in a just taste of the leading beauties, than in the criticisms of a mere grammarian, which show the mind to have been wholly or chiefly taken up with these: To use the words of the poet,

Word catchers that live on syllables;
Commas and points they set exactly right,
And ‘twere a sin, to rob them of their might.

The most liberal studies may be pursued to an illiberal excess; as for instance in music, where it must be considered as an elegant accomplishment to have some talents; yet not to have made such proficiency in the execution, as to induce a suspicion of attention to this art, to the neglect of others. I have taken care to acquire a general knowledge of the surface of this earth, from the maps; yet have not made myself master of the situation of ever slough or bog that may be found in your country, or exact bearing of hill or mountain there. In the same manner, I may know that you are christians in that island, but nothing more.

What, man! said Duncan, ha’ ye never heard o’ the Solemn League and Covenant? I have heard, said the Captain, of many leagues and covenants. In the time of Henry IV. in France there was called the League. The family of Guise was at the head of this, and opposed to the Protestants. It is probably a branch of this that has come over to Scotland, and kept up the name, after having been broken by that heroic prince, and afterwards taken away altogether by his conversion to the mother church, and peaceable possession of the kingdom.

By that, ye wad mak out the Covenanters to be a relict of Popery, said Duncan. I ken ye right weel, Captain: ye canna be sae ignorant as not to know that the Covenanters are the very reverse o’ popery. Did ye never read Crookshanks? Did ye never hear o’ the persecution?

I have heard of the ten persecutions under the Roman emperors, said the Captain.

Under ten deevils, said Duncan. I am speaking o’ the persecutions in Scotland, when the ministers were hanged at Ayr.

The Captain saw that his valet was beginning to be warm on the score of religion; and that it would be difficult to continue the conversation in any shape without giving him offence. He was therefore disposed to address his pride, and please him by an acknowledgment of ignorance; at the same time proposing a readiness to be instructed in the peculiar tenets of the faith of the Covenanters.

Duncan, said he, you are under a mistake as to the opportunities of education in this country. It is not as in Scotland, where the Christian religion has been planted above a thousand years, and the reformed church established a century or two; where clergymen are numerous, and religious books plenty.

Aye, said Duncan, where ye have preaching amaist every day o' the week, and twice on the Sabbath. Ye canna set your face any way, but ye hae a kirk before you. Cathechising o’ the children begins almost as soon as they are born; and examining the grown people, in visits at the house, wie a strict discipline that calls to the session for things that scandalize the morals. Ye sal find many guid bukes there published by the Erskines, and the Gillisses. Did ye e’er read Peden’s Prophecies?

I have read nothing of this kind, said the Captain; for I was observing to you, that in America we have not these opportunities. For my own part, I have lived a good deal in the route of clerical functionaries, where they have passed and repassed, and have heard their sermons, and conversed with them; and though they have been distinguished amongst themselves as orthodox, or heterodox; or under several names, or by various particulars of doctrine; yet the differences appeared to me so minute, that I never thought it worth while to trace them; and they made themselves acceptable to me, less or more, by the greater harmony of voice, or elegance of language, or gesture; or by the justness of their observations on the obligations of morality among men, and the good consequences to society and to the individual.

Have ye read Willison on the Cathechism, or Halyburton, or Boston’s Fourfold State, or Durham on the Revelation? said Duncan.

Nothing of all these, said the Captain.

Said Duncan, I hae got the Confession o’ Faith in my wallet here; I wad lend it to you to get a piece o' it by heart, if ye wad promise to tak guid care o’ the buke.

My memory is not good, said the Captain, especially in that artificial exercise of it which consists in committing abstract ideas. What touches my affections, I remember without trouble, and sentiments which are obvious and natural; and I should think the early mind would be better occupied in reading some instructive fables, than in committing those dogmas of divinity, that are unintelligible to any but theologists themselves; nay not even by them incontrovertibly; for otherwise how should they differ so much in their illustrations of them? However, I have no inclination to be led into a debate with you, Duncan, on a subject where you are so much my superior. But you will excuse me as tocommitting the Confession of Faith to memory; at my age it is painful to apply to a thing as to a task.

Duncan acknowledged the truth of this, and was disposed to excuse him; but recommended him to read the sermons of the reverend John Dick, and Saunders M’Alpin.