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A Heroine—Helen Walker.

The following is the history of one whose memory has been immortalised bj the pea of Sir Walter Scott;— The Jcanie Deans in the ‘ Heart of Midlothian’ was named Helen Walker. She was the daughter of a small farmer at Irongray, near Dumfries, and after his death continued, with ths unassuming piety of a Scottish peasant, to support her mother and a sister, considerably younger than by her unremitting labor and privations. The Joss of her only remaining parent endeared the little Isabella still more to Helen, who, performing the various duties of mother and slater, contrived by her Industrious and affectionate exertions, liofc only to maintain, but to educate her. What must have been her feelings when eke learnt that this only sister, to whom she was attached by so many ties, must be tried by the law's of her country for child murder, and that she herself was called upon to become a principal witness against her 1 The counsel for the prisoner informed Helen that if she could declare that her sister had made any preparations, however slight, or had given her the slightest information on the subject, such a statement would save her sister’s life. To this Helen’s only answer was ; “It is impossible for me to swear to a falsehood, and whatever may be the consequence I will give my oath according to my conscience.” The trial came on, and Isabella Walker was found guilty and condemned ; but in Scotland six weeks elapsed between the sentence and execution. Helen Walker availed herself of this circumstance to save her sister’s life. The very day that the unfortunate Isabella was condemned to die Helen had a petition drawn up, stating the peculiar circumstances of the case, and the same night set out on foot for London, having borrowed a sum of money sufficient for the journey. She walked the whole distance barefooted, and on her arrives at the place of her destination she proceeded, without introduction or recommendation, to the house of the Dake of Argyle. She. appeared before him in her plaid and country attire, and presented her simple and perhaps ill-expressed petition. The nobleman immediately procured the heroic and affectionate sister the pardon she sought, and Helen returned with it just ia time to save the life of Isabella. That young, woman, rescued by the most unparalleled exertions from the fate which impended, was married by the person who had wronged her, and lived happily many years, uniformly acknowledging the affection to which she owed her preservation. The natural dignity of Helen’s character, and her high sense of family respectability, made her so indissolubly connect her sister’s disgrace with her own exertions that whenever her neighbors attempted to converse with her on that subject she always turned the conversation, so that her history was hut little known. She was, however, heard to say that by the Almighty’s strength she had been enabled to meet the Duke at the most critical moment, which, if lost, would have inevitably caused the forfeiture of her sister’s life. The fact that Isabella, who lived at Whitehaven, was annually accustomed to send a cheese to her sister, though trivial in itself, strongly marks the affection which subsisted between the two sisters, and the complete conviction on the mind of the former that her sister had acted solely from high principle, and not from any want of affection at the time of the trial. Helen lived many years in honest and industrious poverty, and at her death was interred in the churchyard of her native parish of Irongray, in a romantic cemetery on the banks of the Cairn. The inscription upon the tomb of Helen which was erected by Sir Walter Scott, is as follows; This Stone was erected Bv TUB AUTHOR OF WAVERLEY, To the Memory of HELEN WALKER, Who died in the year of God mdccxci. This Humble Individual Practised in Real Life The Virtues With which fiction lias invested The imaginary character of Jkamg Deans, Defusing- the Sliffhttsi DepartureFrom Ver&city Even to Save the Life of her Sister; She nevertheless showed her Kindness and fortitude In rescuing her From the Severity of the Law, Which the Time rendered as difficult As the Motive was Laudable. Respect the grave of Poverty When combined with the love of truth And dear affection.

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18890914.2.31.17

Bibliographic details

A Heroine—Helen Walker., Issue 8012, 14 September 1889, Supplement

Word Count
725

A Heroine—Helen Walker. Issue 8012, 14 September 1889, Supplement

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