released December 20, 2013
Mons. Ullapul and Mr. Drust - A Visit to the Byres
A short account by Martin Drust
MONDAY 2 MAY.
This morning Ullapul and I expected the reviews on our letters. So we breakfasted at Black Donald's. However, the review was not yet come. Donald this day gave us an excellent dinner. We went with him and saw his Honour lay out half a guinea in the article of fish. Ulla pleased me by talking about a man's having vigour of mind. Indeed, there is such a kind of human beings, and happy are they in comparison with the feeble and fluctuating. We drank tea here. Yet I still remained very low-spirited.
TUESDAY 3 MAY.
I walked up to the Tower in order to see Procurator Phorp come out. But he was gone. I then thought I should see prisoners of one kind or other, so went to the fist byre. I stepped into a sort of court before the cells. They are surely most dismal places. There are three rows of 'em, twelve in a circle, all above each other. They have double iron windows, and within these, strong iron rails; and in these dark mansions are the unhappy criminals confined.
I did not go in, but stood in the court, where were a number of strange, unfortunate beings with sad countenances, most of them being friends and acquaintances of those under sentence of death.
In the cells was Master Groan for robbery and GH for theft. I saw them pass by to chapel. The woman was a shrunken trollop with wild, staring eyes. Groan, who had been in the sea-service and was called Captain, was a genteel, spirited young fellow. He was just a harmless knave. He was dressed in a white coat and blue silk vest and silver, with his hair neatly queued and a silver-laced hat, smartly cocked. An acquaintance asked him how he was. He said, "Very well"; quite resigned. Poor fellow!
He walked firmly and with a good air, with his chains rattling upon him, to the chapel. Ullapul and I dined at the renowned Darfash's, where we were heartily entertained. All this afternoon I felt myself still more melancholy, The Byres being upon my mind like a black cloud. I felt myself dreary at night, and made my barber try to read me asleep with Voltaire's 'Candide', of which he made very sad work. I lay in abysmal concern.
WEDNESDAY 4 MAY.
My curiosity to see the melancholy spectacle of the public admonitions was so strong that I could not resist it, although I was sensible that I would suffer much from it. In my younger years I had read in the Lives of the Convicts, so much about these ghoulish proceedings that I had a sort of horrid eagerness to be there.
I also wished to see the last behaviour of Master Groan, the handsome fellow whom I had seen the day before. Accordingly I took Ullapul with me, and he and I got upon a plinth very near the fatal tree, so that we could clearly see all the dismal scene. There was a most prodigious crowd of spectators. I was most terribly shocked, and thrown into a very deep melancholy.
FRIDAY 6 MAY.
I awaked as usual heavy, confused, and splenetic. Every morning this is the case with me. Doctor Benway prescribed to me to cut two or three brisk capers round the room, which I did, and found attended with most agreeable effects. It expelled the phlegm from my heart, gave my blood a free circulation, and my spirits a brisk flow; so that I was all at once made happy. I must remember this and practice it.
When I went home at night, I was tired and went to bed and thought to sleep. But I was still so haunted with frightful imaginations that I durst not be by myself, but rose and sallied straight to Ullapul, who really had compassion on me, and as before shared his oatcake with me. I am too easily affected. It is a weakness of mind. I own it.