Search just our sites by using our customised search engine
Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

Wilson's Border Tales
Lottery Hall

Chapter 2

At this period. there was a property,. consisting of about twenty acres, in the neighbourhood of the village, for sale. Mr. Donaldson became the purchaser, and immediately commenced to build Luck’s Lodge, or Lottery Hall, which, to-day arrested your attention. As you may have seen, it was built under the direction of no architect but caprice, or a fickle and uninformed taste. The house was furnished expensively; there were card-tables and dining-tables, the couch, the sofa, and the harpsichord. Mrs. Donaldson was afraid to touch the furniture, and she thought it little short of sin to sit upon the hair-bottomed mahogany chairs, which were studded with brass nails, bright as the stars in the firmament. Though, however, a harpsichord. stood in the dining-room, as yet no music had issued from the Lodge. Sarah had looked at it, and Rebecca had touched it, and appeared delighted with the sounds she produced; but even her mother knew that such sounds were not a tune. A dancing-master, therefore, who at that period was teaching the "five positions" to the youths and maidens of the village, was engaged to teach dancing and the mysteries of the harpsichord at the same time to the daughters of Mr. Donaldson. He had become a great and a rich man in a day; yet the pride of his heart was not satisfied. His neighbours did not lift their hats to him as he had expected; but they passed him saying—"Here’s a fine day, Andrew!--or, "Weel, Andrew, hoo’s a’ wi’ ye the day?" To such observations or inquiries he never returned an answer; but with his silver-mounted cane in his hand stalked proudly on. But this was not all; for, even in passing through the village, he would hear the women remark—"There’s that silly body Donaldson away past"—or, "There struts the Lottery Ticket!" These things were wormwood to his spirit, and he repented that he had built his house in a neighbourhood where he was known. To be equal with the Squire, however, and to mortify his neighbours the more, he bought a pair of horses and a barouche. He was long puzzled for a crest and motto with which to emblazon it; and Mrs. Donaldson suggested that Peter should paint on it a lottery ticket. Out her husband stamped his foot in anger; and at length the coach painter furnished it with the head and paws of some unknown animal.

Paul had always been given to books; he now requested to be sent to the University. His wish was complied with, and he took his departure for Edinburgh. Peter had always evinced a talent for drawing and painting. When a boy, he was wont to sketch houses and trees with pieces of chalk, which his mother declared to be as natural as life, and he now took instructions from a drawing-master. Jacob was ever of an idle turn; and he at first prevailed upon his father to purchase him a riding-horse, and afterwards to furnish him with the means of seeing the world. So Jacob set up gentleman in earnest, and went abroad. Mrs. Donaldson was at home in no part of the house but the kitchen; and in it, notwithstanding her husband’s lectures to remember that she was the wife of Mister Donaldson, she was generally found.

At the period when her father obtained the prize, Sarah was on the eve of being united to a respectable young man, a mechanic in the village; but now she was forbidden to speak to or look on him. The cotton gown lay lighter on her bosom than did its silken successor. Rebecca mocked her, and her father persecuted her; but poor Sarah could not cast off the affections of her heart like a worn garment. From childhood she had been blithe as the lark, but now dull melancholy claimed her as its own. The smile and the rose expired upon her cheeks together, and her health and happiness were crushed beneath her father’s wealth. Rebecca, too, in their poverty had been "respected like the lave;" but she now turned disdainfully from her admirer, and when he dared to accost her, she inquired with a frown—"Who are you, sir?" In her efforts also to speak properly, she committed foul murder on his Majesty’s English; but she became the pride of her father’s heart, his favourite daughter whom he delighted to honour.

Still feeling bitterly the want of reverence which was shown him by the villagers, and resolved at the same time to act as other gentlemen of fortune did, as winter drew on, Mr. Donaldson removed, with his wife and daughters, and his son Peter, to London. They took up their abode at an hotel in Albemarle Street; and having brought the barouche with them, every afternoon Mr. Donaldson, and his daughter Rebecca, drove round the Park. His dress was rich and his carriage proud, and he lounged about the most fashionable places of resort; but he was not yet initiated into the mysteries of fashion and greatness; he was ignorant of the key by which their chambers were to be unlocked; and it mortified and surprised him that Andrew Donaldson, Esq., of Luck’s Lodge—a gentleman who paid ready money for everything—received no invitations to the routes, the assemblies, or tables of the haut ton; but he paraded Bond Street, or sauntered on the Mall, with as little respect shown to him as by his neighbours in the country. When he had been a month in the metropolis, he discovered that he had made an omission, and he paid two guineas for the announcement of his arrival in a morning newspaper. "This will do!" said he, twenty times during breakfast, as he held the paper in his hand. and twenty times read the announcement,—"Arrived at ----Hotel Albemarle Street, A. Donaldson, Esq., of Luck’s Lodge, and family, from their seat in the north." But this did not do; he found that it was two guineas thrown away, but consoled himself with the thought that it would vex the Squire and the people of his native village. With the hope of becoming familiar with the leading men of the great world, he became a frequenter of the principal coffee-rooms. At one of these, he shortly became acquainted with a Captain Edwards, who, as Mr. Donaldson affirmed, was intimate with all the world, and bowed to and was known by every nobleman they met. Edwards was one of those creatures who live—Heaven knows how—who are without estates and without fortune, but who appear in the resorts of Fashion as its very mirrors. In a word, he was one of the hangers-on of the nobility and gentry—one of their blacklegs and purveyors. Poor Mr. Donaldson thought him the greatest man he had ever met with. He heard him accost noblemen on the streets in the afternoon with—"Good morning, my lord," and they familiarly replied—"Ha! Tom! what’s the news?" He had borrowed ten, fifty, and a hundred pounds from his companion; and he had relieved him of a hundred or two more in teaching him to play at whist; but vain, simple Mr. Donaldson never conceived that such a great man and such a fashionable man could be without money, though he could not be at the trouble to carry it. Edwards was between thirty and forty years of age, but looked younger; his hair was black, and tortured into ringlets; his upper lip was ornamented with thin, curved mustachioes; and in his dress he was an exquisite, or a buck as they were then called, of the first water. Mr. Donaldson invited him to his hotel, where he became a daily visitor. He spoke of his uncle the Bishop of such a place, and of his godfather the Earl of another—of his estates in Wales, and the rich advowsons in his gift. Andrew gloried in his fortune; he was now reaching the acme of his ambition; he believed there would be no difficulty in getting his friend to bestow one or more of the benefices, when vacant, upon his son Paul; and he thought of sending for Paul to leave Edinburgh, and enter himself of Cambridge. Rebecca displayed all her charms before the Captain; and the Captain all his attractions before her. She triumphed in a conquest; so did he. Mr. Donaldson now also began to give dinners—and to them Captain Edwards invited the Honourable This, and Sir That; but in the midst of his own feast he found himself a cipher, where he was neither looked upon nor regarded, but had to think himself honoured in Honourables eating of the banquet for which he had to pay. This galled him nearly as much as the perverseness of his neighbours in the country in not lifting their hats to him; but he feared to notice it, lest by so doing he should lose the distinction of their society. From the manner in which his guests treated him, they gave him few opportunities of betraying his origin; but, indeed, though a vain, he was not an ignorant man.

While these doings were carrying on in Albemarle Street, Mrs. Donaldson was, as she herself expressed it, "uneasy as a fish taken from the water." She said "such ongoings would be her death;" and she almost wished that the lottery ticket had turned up a blank. Peter was studying the paintings in Somerset House, and taking lessons in oil-colours; Rebecca mingled with the company or flaunted with Captain Edwards; but poor Sarah drooped like a lily that appeared before its time, and is bitten by the returning frost. She wasted away—she died of a withered heart.

For a few weeks her death stemmed the tide of fashionable folly and extravagance; for, although vanity was the ruling passion of Andrew Donaldson, it could not altogether extinguish the parent in his heart. But his wife was inconsolable; for Sarah had been her favourite daughter, as Rebecca was his. It is a weak and a wicked thing, sir, for parents to make favourites of one child more than another—good never comes of it. Peter painted a portrait of his deceased sister from memory, and sent it to the young man to whom she was betrothed—I say betrothed, for she had said to him "I will," and they had broken a ring between them; each took a half of it; and, poor thing, her part of it was found on her breast, in a small bag, when she died. The Captain paid his daily visits—he condoled with Rebecca—and, in a short time, she began to say it was a silly thing for her sister to die; but she was a grovelling-minded girl, she had no spirit.

Soon after this, Captain Edwards, in order to cheer Mr. Donaldson, obtained for him admission to a club, where he introduced him to a needy peer, who was a sort of half proprietor of a nomination borough, and had the sale of the representation of a thousand souls. It was called his lordship’s borough. One of his seats was then vacant, and was in the market; and his lordship was in want of money. Captain Edwards whispered the matter to his friend Mr. Donaldson. Now, the latter, though a vain man, and anxious to be thought a fashionable man, was also a shrewd and a calculating man. His ideas expanded—his ambition fired at the thought! He imagined he saw the words ANDREW DONALDSON, ESQ., M.P., in capitals before him. He discovered that he had had a turn for politics—he remembered that, when a working-man, he had always been too much in an argument for the Black-nebs. He thought of the flaming speeches he would make in parliament—he had a habit of stamping his foot (for he thought it dignified), and he did so, and half exclaimed—"Mr. Speaker!" But he thought also of his family—he sank the idea of advowsons, and he had no doubt but he might push his son Paul forward till he saw him Prime Minister or Lord Chancellor; Peter’s genius, he thought, was such as to secure his appointment to the Board of Works whenever he might apply for it; Jacob would make a Secretary to a foreign ambassador; and for Rebecca he provided as a maid of honour. But, beyond all this, he perceived also that, by writing the letters M.P. after his name, he would be a greater man than the Squire of his native village, and its inhabitants would then lift their hats to him when he went down to his seat; or, if they did not, he would know how to punish them. He would bring in severer bills on the game laws and against smuggling—he would chastise them with a new turnpike act!

Such were the ideas that passed rapidly through his mind when his friend Edwards suggested the possibility of his becoming a member of parliament.

"And how much do you think it would cost to obtain the seat?" inquired he, anxiously.

"Oh, only a few thousands," replied the Captain.

"How many, think ye!" inquired Mr. Donaldson.

"Can’t say exactly," replied the other; "but my friend Mr. Borrowbridge, the solicitor in Clement’s Inn, has the management of the affair—we shall inquire at him."

So they went to the solicitor; the price agreed upon for the representation of the borough was five thousand pounds; and the money was paid.

Mr. Donaldson returned to his hotel, his heart swelling within him, and cutting the figures M.P. in the air with his cane as he went along. A letter was despatched to Paul at Edinburgh to write a speech for his father, which he might deliver on the day of his nomination.

"O father!" exclaimed Paul, as he read the letter, "much money hath made thee mad!"

The speech was written and forwarded, though reluctantly, by return of post. It was short, sententious, patriotic.

With the speech in his pocket, Mr. Donaldson, accompanied by his friend Edwards, posted down to the borough. But, to their horror, on arriving, they found that a candidate of the opposite party had dared to contest the borough with the nobleman’s nominee, and had commenced his canvass the day before. But what was worse than all, they were told that he bled freely, and his friends were distributing gooseberries right and left.

"What is the meaning of all this?" said Mr. Donaldson—"have I not paid for the borough, and is it not mine? I shall punish him for daring to poach upon my grounds."

And, breaking away from Captain Edwards and his friends, he hurried out in quest of the Mayor, to request advice from him. Nor had he gone far, till, addressing a person who was employed in thatching a house— "Hollo, friend!" cried he, "can you inform me where I shall find the right worshipful the Mayor?"

"Why, Zur!" replied the thatcher, "I be’s the Mayor!" Andrew looked at him. "Heaven help us!" thought he—"you the Mayor!—you!—a thatcher!—well may I be a member of parliament!" But, without again addressing his worship, he hastened back to his friends; and with them he was made sensible, that, although he had given a consideration for the borough, yet, as oppositioi had started—as the power of the patron was not omnipotent—as the other candidate was bleeding freely—as he was keeping open houses and giving yellow gooseberries— there was nothing for it but that Mr. Donaldson should do the same.

"But, oh! how much will it require?" again inquired the candidate, in a tone of anxiety.

"Oh, merely a thousand or two!" again coolly rejoined Captain Edwards.

"A thousand or two!" ejaculated Mr. Donaldson, for the thousands were becoming few. But, like King Richard, he had "set his fate upon a cast," and he "would stand the hazard of the die." As to his landed qualification, if elected, the patron was to provide for that; and, after a few words from his friend Edwards, "Richard was himself again"—his fears vanished—the ocean of his ambition opened before him—he saw golden prospects for himself and for his family—he could soon, when elected, redeem a few thousands; and he bled, he opened houses, he gave gooseberries as his opponent did.

Return to Book Index Page


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus