Bride of Lammermoor
Sir Walter Scott

Part 1 out of 8

The Bride of Lammermoor

by Sir Walter Scott


THE Author, on a former occasion, declined giving the real source
from which he drew the tragic subject of this history, because,
though occurring at a distant period, it might possibly be
unpleasing to the feelings of the descendants of the parties.
But as he finds an account of the circumstances given in the
Notes to Law's Memorials, by his ingenious friend, Charles
Kirkpatrick Sharpe, Esq., and also indicated in his reprint of
the Rev. Mr. Symson's poems appended to the Large Description of
Galloway, as the original of the Bride of Lammermoor, the
Author feels himself now at liberty to tell the tale as he had it
from connexions of his own, who lived very near the period, and
were closely related to the family of the bride.

It is well known that the family of Dalrymple, which has
produced, within the space of two centuries, as many men of
talent, civil and military, and of literary, political, and
professional eminence, as any house in Scotland, first rose into
distinction in the person of James Dalrymple, one of the most
eminent lawyers that ever lived, though the labours of his
powerful mind were unhappily exercised on a subject so limited as
Scottish jurisprudence, on which he has composed an admirable

He married Margaret, daughter to Ross of Balneel, with whom he
obtained a considerable estate. She was an able, politic, and
high-minded woman, so successful in what she undertook, that the
vulgar, no way partial to her husband or her family, imputed her
success to necromancy. According to the popular belief, this
Dame Margaret purchased the temporal prosperity of her family
from the Master whom she served under a singular condition, which
is thus narrated by the historian of her grandson, the great Earl
of Stair: "She lived to a great age, and at her death desired
that she might not be put under ground, but that her coffin
should stand upright on one end of it, promising that while she
remained in that situation the Dalrymples should continue to
flourish. What was the old lady's motive for the request, or
whether she really made such a promise, I shall not take upon me
to determine; but it's certain her coffin stands upright in the
isle of the church of Kirklistown, the burial-place belonging to
the family." The talents of this accomplished race were
suifficient to have accounted for the dignities which many
members of the family attained, without any supernatural
assistance. But their extraordinary prosperity was attended by
some equally singular family misfortunes, of which that which
befell their eldest daughter was at once unaccountable and

Miss Janet Dalrymple, daughter of the first Lord Stair and Dame
Margaret Ross, had engaged herself without the knowledge of her
parents to the Lord Rutherford, who was not acceptable to them
either on account of his political principles or his want of
fortune. The young couple broke a piece of gold together, and
pledged their troth in the most solemn manner; and it is said the
young lady imprecated dreadful evils on herself should she break
her plighted faith. Shortly after, a suitor who was favoured by
Lord Stair, and still more so by his lady, paid his addresses to
Miss Dalrymple. The young lady refused the proposal, and being
pressed on the subject, confessed her secret engagement. Lady
Stair, a woman accustomed to universal submission, for even her
husband did not dare to contradict her, treated this objection as
a trifle, and insisted upon her daughter yielding her consent to
marry the new suitor, David Dunbar, son and heir to David Dunbar
of Baldoon, in Wigtonshire. The first lover, a man of very high
spirit, then interfered by letter, and insisted on the right he
had acquired by his troth plighted with the young lady. Lady
Stair sent him for answer, that her daughter, sensible of her
undutiful behaviour in entering into a contract unsanctioned by
her parents, had retracted her unlawful vow, and now refused to
fulfil her engagement with him.

The lover, in return, declined positively to receive such an
answer from any one but his mistress in person; and as she had to
deal with a man who was both of a most determined character and
of too high condition to be trifled with, Lady Stair was obliged
to consent to an interview between Lord Rutherford and her
daughter. But she took care to be present in person, and argued
the point with the disappointed and incensed lover with
pertinacity equal to his own. She particularly insisted on the
Levitical law, which declares that a woman shall be free of a vow
which her parents dissent from. This is the passage of Scripture
she founded on:

"If a man vow a vow unto the Lord, or swear an oath to bind his
soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do
according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth.

"If a woman also vow a vow unto the Lord, and bind herself by a
bond, being in her father's house in her youth;
"And her father hear her vow, and her bond wherewith she hath
bound her soul, and her father shall hold his peace at her: then
all her vows shall stand, and every bond wherewith she hath
bound her soul shall stand.

"But if her father disallow her in the day that he heareth; not
any of her vows, or of her bonds wherewith she hath bound her
soul, shall stand: and the Lord shall forgive her, because her
father disallowed her."--Numbers xxx. 2-5.

While the mother insisted on these topics, the lover in vain
conjured the daughter to declare her own opinion and feelings.
She remained totally overwhelmed, as it seemed--mute, pale, and
motionless as a statue. Only at her mother's command, sternly
uttered, she summoned strength enough to restore to her plighted
suitor the piece of broken gold which was the emblem of her
troth. On this he burst forth into a tremendous passion, took
leave of the mother with maledictions, and as he left the
apartment, turned back to say to his weak, if not fickle,
mistresss: "For you, madam, you will be a world's wonder"; a
phrase by which some remarkable degree of calamity is usually
implied. He went abroad, and returned not again. If the last
Lord Rutherford was the unfortunate party, he must have been the
third who bore that title, and who died in 1685.

The marriage betwixt Janet Dalrymple and David Dunbar of
Baldoon now went forward, the bride showing no repugnance, but
being absolutely passive in everything her mother commanded or
advised. On the day of the marriage, which, as was then usual,
was celebrated by a great assemblage of friends and relations,
she was the same--sad, silent, and resigned, as it seemed, to her
destiny. A lady, very nearly connected with the family, told the
Author that she had conversed on the subject with one of the
brothers of the bride, a mere lad at the time, who had ridden
before his sister to church. He said her hand, which lay on his
as she held her arm around his waist, was as cold and damp as
marble. But, full of his new dress and the part he acted in the
procession, the circumstance, which he long afterwards remembered
with bitter sorrow and compunction, made no impression on him at
the time.

The bridal feast was followed by dancing. The bride and
bridegroom retired as usual, when of a sudden the most wild and
piercing cries were heard from the nuptial chamber. It was then
the custom, to prevent any coarse pleasantry which old times
perhaps admitted, that the key of the nuptial chamber should be
entrusted to the bridesman. He was called upon, but refused at
first to give it up, till the shrieks became so hideous that he
was compelled to hasten with others to learn the cause. On
opening the door, they found the bridegroom lying across the
threshold, dreadfully wounded, and streaming with blood. The
bride was then sought for. She was found in the corner of the
large chimney, having no covering save her shift, and that
dabbled in gore. There she sat grinning at them, mopping and
mowing, as I heard the expression used; in a word, absolutely
insane. The only words she spoke were, "Tak up your bonny
bridegroom." She survived this horrible scene little more than a
fortnight, having been married on the 24th of August, and dying
on the 12th of September 1669.

The unfortunate Baldoon recovered from his wounds, but sternly
prohibited all inquiries respecting the manner in which he had
received them. "If a lady," he said, "asked him any question
upon the subject, he would neither answer her nor speak to her
again while he lived; if a gentleman, he would consider it as a
mortal affront, and demand satisfaction as having received
such." He did not very long survive the dreadful catastrophe,
having met with a fatal injury by a fall from his horse, as he
rode between Leith and Holyrood House, of which he died the next
day, 28th March 1682. Thus a few years removed all the principal
actors in this frightful tragedy.

Various reports went abroad on this mysterious affair, many of
them very inaccurate, though they could hardly be said to be
exaggerated. It was difficult at that time to become acquainted
with the history of a Scottish family above the lower rank; and
strange things sometimes took place there, into which even the
law did not scrupulously inquire.

The credulous Mr. Law says, generally, that the Lord
President Stair had a daughter, who, "being married, the night
she was bride in, was taken from her bridegroom and harled
through the house (by spirits, we are given to understand) and
afterward died. Another daughter," he says, "was supposed to be
possessed with an evil spirit."

My friend, Mr. Sharpe, gives another edition of the tale.
According to his information, ti was the bridegroom who wounded
the bride. The marriage, according to this account, had been
against her mother's inclination, who had given her consent in
these ominous words: "Weel, you may marry him, but sair shall
you repent it."

I find still another account darkly insinuated in some highly
scurrilous and abusive verses, of which I have an original copy.
They are docketed as being written "Upon the late Viscount Stair
and his family, by Sir William Hamilton of Whitelaw. The
marginals by William Dunlop, writer in Edinburgh, a son of the
Laird of Househill, and nephew to the said Sir William
Hamilton." There was a bitter and personal quarrel and rivalry
betwixt the author of this libel, a name which it richly
deserves, and Lord President Stair; and the lampoon, which is
written with much more malice than art, bears the following

Stair's neck, mind, wife, songs, grandson, and the rest,
Are wry, false, witch, pests, parricide, possessed.

This malignant satirist, who calls up all the misfortunes of the
family, does not forget the fatal bridal of Baldoon. He seems,
though his verses are as obscure as unpoetical, to
intimate that the violence done to the bridegroom was by the
intervention of the foul fiend, to whom the young lady had
resigned herself, in case she should break her contract with her
first lover. His hypothesis is inconsistent with the account
given in the note upon Law's Memorials, but easily
reconcilable to the family tradition.

In all Stair's offspriung we no difference know,
They do the females as the males bestow;
So he of one of his daughters' marriages gave the ward,
Like a true vassal, to Glenluce's Laird;
He knew what she did to her master plight,
If she her faith to Rutherfurd should slight,
Which, like his own, for greed he broke outright.
Nick did Baldoon's posterior right deride,
And, as first substitute, did seize the bride;
Whate'er he to his mistress did or said,
He threw the bridegroom from the nuptial bed,
Into the chimney did so his rival maul,
His bruised bones ne'er were cured but by the fall.

One of the marginal notes ascribed to William Dunlop
applies to the above lines. "She had betrothed herself to Lord
Rutherfoord under horrid imprecations, and afterwards married
Baldoon, his nevoy, and her mother was the cause of her breach of

The same tragedy is alluded to in the following couplet and

What train of curses that base brood pursues,
When the young nephew weds old uncle's spouse.

The note on the word "uncle" explains it as meaning
"Rutherfoord, who should have married the Lady Baldoon, was
Baldoon's uncle." The poetry of this satire on Lord Stair and
his family was, as already noticed, written by Sir William
Hamilton of Whitelaw, a rival of Lord Stair for the situation of
President of the Court of Session; a person much inferior to that
great lawyer in talents, and equally ill-treated by the calumny
or just satire of his contemporaries as an unjust and partial
judge. Some of the notes are by that curious and laborious
antiquary, Robert Milne, who, as a virulent Jacobite, willingly
lent a hand to blacken the family of Stair.

Another poet of the period, with a very different purpose, has
left an elegy, in which he darkly hints at and bemoans the fate
of the ill-starred young person, whose very uncommon
calamity Whitelaw, Dunlop, and Milne thought a fitting subject
for buffoonery and ribaldry. This bard of milder mood was Andrew
Symson, before the Revolution minister of Kirkinner, in
Galloway, and after his expulsion as an Episcopalian following
the humble occupation of a printer in Edinburgh. He furnished
the family of Baldoon, with which he appears to have been
intimate, with an elegy on the tragic event in their family. In
this piece he treats the mournful occasion of the bride's death
with mysterious solemnity.

The verses bear this title, "On the unexpected death of the
virtuous Lady Mrs. Janet Dalrymple, Lady Baldoon, younger," and
afford us the precise dates of the catastrophe, which could not
otherwise have been easily ascertained. "Nupta August 12.
Domum Ducta August 24. Obiit September 12. Sepult. September
30, 1669." The form of the elegy is a dialogue betwixt a
passenger and a domestic servant. The first, recollecting that
he had passed that way lately, and seen all around enlivened by
the appearances of mirth and festivity, is desirous to know what
had changed so gay a scene into mourning. We preserve the reply
of the servant as a specimen of Mr. Symson's verses, which are
not of the first quality:

Sir, 'tis truth you've told.
We did enjoy great mirth; but now, ah me!
Our joyful song's turn'd to an elegie.
A virtuous lady, not long since a bride,
Was to a hopeful plant by marriage tied,
And brought home hither. We did all rejoice,
Even for her sake. But presently our voice
Was turn'd to mourning for that little time
That she'd enjoy: she waned in her prime,
For Atropus, with her impartial knife,
Soon cut her thread, and therewithal her life;
And for the time we may it well remember,
It being in unfortunate September;
. . .
Where we must leave her till the resurrection.
'Tis then the Saints enjoy their full perfection.

Mr. Symson also poured forth his elegiac strains upon the fate
of the widowed bridegroom, on which subject, after a long and
querulous effusion, the poet arrives at the sound conclusion,
that if Baldoon had walked on foot, which it seems was his
general custom, he would have escaped perishing by a fall from
horseback. As the work in which it occurs is so scarce as almost
to be unique, and as it gives us the most full account of one of
the actors in this tragic tale which we have rehearsed, we will,
at the risk of being tedious, insert some short specimens of Mr.
Symson's composition. It is entitled:

"A Funeral Elegie, occasioned by the sad and much lamented death
of that worthily respected, and very much accomplished
gentleman, David Dunbar, younger, of Baldoon, only son and
apparent heir to the right worshipful Sir David Dunbar of
Baldoon, Knight Baronet. He departed this life on March 28,
1682, having received a bruise by a fall, as he was riding the
day preceding betwixt Leith and Holyrood House; and was
honourably interred in the Abbey Church of Holyrood House, on
April 4, 1682."

Men might, and very justly too, conclude
Me guilty of the worst ingratitude,
Should I be silent, or should I forbear
At this sad accident to shed a tear;
A tear! said I? ah! that's a petit thing,
A very lean, slight, slender offering,
Too mean, I'm sure, for me, wherewith t'attend
The unexpected funeral of my friend:
A glass of briny tears charged up to th' brim.
Would be too few for me to shed for him.

The poet proceeds to state his intimacy with the deceased, and
the constancy of the young man's attendance on public
worship, which was regular, and had such effect upon two or three
other that were influenced by his example:

So that my Muse 'gainst Priscian avers,
He, only he, WERE my parishioners;
Yea, and my only hearers.

He then describes the deceased in person and manners, from which
it appears that more accomplishments were expected in the
composition of a fine gentleman in ancient than modern times:

His body, though not very large or tall,
Was sprightly, active, yea and strong withal.
His constitution was, if right I've guess'd,
Blood mixt with choler, said to be the best.
In's gesture, converse, speech, discourse, attire,
He practis'd that which wise men still admire,
Commend, and recommend. What's that? you'll say.
'Tis this: he ever choos'd the middle way
'Twixt both th' extremes. Amost in ev'ry thing
He did the like, 'tis worth our noticing:
Sparing, yet not a niggard; liberal,
And yet not lavish or a prodigal,
As knowing when to spend and when to spare;
And that's a lesson which not many are
Acquainted with. He bashful was, yet daring
When he saw cause, and yet therein not sparing;
Familiar, yet not common, for he knew
To condescend, and keep his distance too.
He us'd, and that most commonly, to go
On foot; I wish that he had still done so.
Th' affairs of court were unto him well known;
And yet meanwhile he slighted not his own.
He knew full well how to behave at court,
And yet but seldom did thereto resort;
But lov'd the country life, choos'd to inure
Himself to past'rage and agriculture;
Proving, improving, ditching, trenching, draining,
Viewing, reviewing, and by those means gaining;
Planting, transplanting, levelling, erecting
Walls, chambers, houses, terraces; projecting
Now this, now that device, this draught, that measure,
That might advance his profit with his pleasure.
Quick in his bargains, honest in commerce,
Just in his dealings, being much adverse
From quirks of law, still ready to refer
His cause t' an honest country arbiter.
He was acquainted with cosmography,
Arithmetic, and modern history;
With architecture and such arts as these,
Which I may call specifick sciences
Fit for a gentleman; and surely he
That knows them not, at least in some degree,
May brook the title, but he wants the thing,
Is but a shadow scarce worth noticing.
He learned the French, be't spoken to his praise,
In very little more than fourty days."

Then comes the full burst of woe, in which, instead of saying
much himself, the poet informs us what the ancients would have
said on such an occasion:

A heathen poet, at the news, no doubt,
Would have exclaimed, and furiously cry'd out
Against the fates, the destinies and starrs,
What! this the effect of planetarie warrs!
We might have seen him rage and rave, yea worse,
'Tis very like we might have heard him curse
The year, the month, the day, the hour, the place,
The company, the wager, and the race;
Decry all recreations, with the names
Of Isthmian, Pythian, and Olympick games;
Exclaim against them all both old and new,
Both the Nemaean and the Lethaean too:
Adjudge all persons, under highest pain,
Always to walk on foot, and then again
Order all horses to be hough'd, that we
Might never more the like adventure see.

Supposing our readers have had enough of Mr. Symson's woe, and
finding nothing more in his poem worthy of transcription, we
return to the tragic story.

It is needless to point out to the intelligent reader that the
witchcraft of the mother consisted only in the ascendency of a
powerful mind over a weak and melancholy one, adn that the
harshness with which she exercised her superiority in a case of
delicacy had driven her daughter first to despair, then to
frenzy. Accordingly, the Author has endeavoured to explain the
tragic tale on this principle. Whatever resemblance Lady Ashton
may be supposed to possess to the celebrated Dame Margaret Ross,
the reader must not suppose that there was any idea of tracing
the portrait of the first Lord Viscount Stair in the tricky and
mean-spirited Sir William Ashton. Lord Stair, whatever might be
his moral qualities, was certainly one of the first statesmen and
lawyers of his age.

The imaginary castle of Wolf's Crag has been identified by some
lover of locality with that of Fast Castle. The Author is not
competent to judge of the resemblance betwixt the real and
imaginary scenes, having never seen Fast Castle except from the
sea. But fortalices of this description are found occupying,
like ospreys' nests, projecting rocks, or promontories, in many
parts of the eastern coast of Scotland, and the position of Fast
Castle seems certainly to resemble that of Wolf's Crag as much as
any other, while its vicinity to the mountain ridge of Lammermoor
renders the assimilation a probable one.

We have only to add, that the death of the unfortunate
bridegroom by a fall from horseback has been in the novel
transferred to the no less unfortunate lover.


By Cauk and keel to win your bread,
Wi' whigmaleeries for them wha need,
Whilk is a gentle trade indeed
To carry the gaberlunzie on.

Old Song.

FEW have been in my secret while I was compiling these
narratives, nor is it probable that they will ever become public
during the life of their author. Even were that event to happen,
I am not ambitious of the honoured distinction, digito
monstrari. I confess that, were it safe to cherish such dreams
at all, I should more enjoy the thought of remaining behind the
curtain unseen, like the ingenious manager of Punch and his wife
Joan, and enjoying the astonishment and conjectures of my
audience. Then might I, perchance, hear the productions of the
obscure Peter Pattieson praised by the judicious and admired by
the feeling, engrossing the young and attracting even the old;
while the critic traced their fame up to some name of literary
celebrity, and the question when, and by whom, these tales were
written filled up the pause of conversation in a hundred circles
and coteries. This I may never enjoy during my lifetime; but
farther than this, I am certain, my vanity should never induce me
to aspire.

I am too stubborn in habits, and too little polished in manners,
to envy or aspire to the honours assigned to my literary
contemporaries. I could not think a whit more highly of myself
were I found worthy to "come in place as a lion" for a winter in
the great metropolis. I could not rise, turn round, and show all
my honours, from the shaggy mane to the tufted tail, "roar you
an't were any nightingale," and so lie down again like a well-
behaved beast of show, and all at the cheap and easy rate of a
cup of coffee and a slice of bread and butter as thin as a wafer.
And I could ill stomach the fulsome flattery with which the lady
of the evening indulges her show-monsters on such occasions, as
she crams her parrots with sugar-plums, in order to make them
talk before company. I cannot be tempted to "come aloft" for
these marks of distinction, and, like imprisoned Samson, I would
rather remain--if such must be the alternative--all my life in
the mill-house, grinding for my very bread, than be brought forth
to make sport for the Philistine lords and ladies. This proceeds
from no dislike, real or affected, to the aristocracy of these
realms. But they have their place, and I have mine; and, like
the iron and earthen vessels in the old fable, we can scarce come
into collision without my being the sufferer in every sense. It
may be otherwise with the sheets which I am now writing. These
may be opened and laid aside at pleasure; by amusing themselves
with the perusal, the great will excite no false hopes; by
neglecting or condemning them, they will inflict no pain; and how
seldom can they converse with those whose minds have toiled for
their delight without doing either the one or the other.

In the better and wiser tone of feeling with Ovid only expresses
in one line to retract in that which follows, I can address these

Parve, nec invideo, sine me, liber, ibis in urbem.

Nor do I join the regret of the illustrious exile, that he
himself could not in person accompany the volume, which he sent
forth to the mart of literature, pleasure, and luxury. Were
there not a hundred similar instances on record, the rate of my
poor friend and school-fellow, Dick Tinto, would be sufficient
to warn me against seeking happiness in the celebrity which
attaches itself to a successful cultivator of the fine arts.

Dick Tinto, when he wrote himself artist, was wont to derive his
origin from the ancient family of Tinto, of that ilk, in
Lanarkshire, and occasionally hinted that he had somewhat
derogated from his gentle blood in using the pencil for his
principal means of support. But if Dick's pedigree was
correct, some of his ancestors must have suffered a more heavy
declension, since the good man his father executed the necessary,
and, I trust, the honest, but certainly not very distinguished,
employment of tailor in ordinary to the village of Langdirdum in
the west.. Under his humble roof was Richard born, and to his
father's humble trade was Richard, greatly contrary to his
inclination, early indentured. Old Mr. Tinto had, however, no
reason to congratulate himself upon having compelled the youthful
genius of his son to forsake its natural bent. He fared like the
school-boy who attempts to stop with his finger the spout of a
water cistern, while the stream, exasperated at this compression,
escapes by a thousand uncalculated spurts, and wets him all over
for his pains. Even so fared the senior Tinto, when his hopeful
apprentice not only exhausted all the chalk in making sketches
upon the shopboard, but even executed several caricatures of his
father's best customers, who began loudly to murmur, that it was
too hard to have their persons deformed by the vestments of the
father, and to be at the same time turned into ridicule by the
pencil of the son. This led to discredit and loss of practice,
until the old tailor, yielding to destiny and to the entreaties
of his son, permitted him to attempt his fortune in a line for
which he was better qualified.

There was about this time, in the village of Langdirdum, a
peripatetic brother of the brush, who exercised his vocation sub
Jove frigido, the object of admiration of all the boys of the
village, but especially to Dick Tinto. The age had not yet
adopted, amongst other unworthy retrenchments, that illiberal
measure of economy which, supplying by written characters the
lack of symbolical representation, closes one open and easily
accessible avenue of instruction and emolument against the
students of the fine arts. It was not yet permitted to write
upon the plastered doorway of an alehouse,. or the suspended sign
of an inn, "The Old Magpie," or "The Saracen's Head,"
substituting that cold description for the lively effigies of the
plumed chatterer, or the turban'd frown of the terrific soldan.
That early and more simple age considered alike the necessities
of all ranks, anddepicted the symbols of good cheer so as to be
obvious to all capacities; well judging that a man who could not
read a syllable might nevertheless love a pot of good ale as well
as his better-educated neighbours, or even as the parson himself.
Acting upon this liberal principle, publicans as yet hung forth
the painted emblems of their calling, and sign-painters, if they
seldom feasted, did not at least absolutely starve.

To a worthy of this decayed profession, as we have already
intimated, Dick Tinto became an assistant; and thus, as is not
unusual among heaven-born geniuses in this department of the
fine arts, began to paint before he had any notion of drawing.

His talent for observing nature soon induced him to rectify the
errors, adn soar above the instructions, of his teacher. He
particularly shone in painting horses, that being a favourite
sign in the Scottish villages; and, in tracing his progress, it
is beautiful to observe how by degrees he learned to shorten the
backs and prolong the legs of these noble animals, until they
came to look less like crocodiles, and more like nags.
Detraction, which always pursues merit with strides proportioned
to its advancement, has indeed alleged that Dick once upon a time
painted a horse with five legs, instead of four. I might have
rested his defence upon the license allowed to that branch of his
profession, which, as it permits all sorts of singular and
irregular combinations, may be allowed to extend itself so far as
to bestow a limb supernumerary on a favourite subject. But the
cause of a deceased friend is sacred; and I disdain to bottom it
so superficially. I have visited the sign in question, which yet
swings exalted in the village of Langdirdum; and I am ready to
depone upon the oath that what has been idly mistaken or
misrepresented as being the fifth leg of the horse, is, in fact,
the tail of that quadruped, and, considered with reference to the
posture in which he is delineated, forms a circumstance
introduced and managed with great and successful, though daring,
art. The nag being represented in a rampant or rearing posture,
the tail, which is prolonged till it touches the ground, appears
to form a point d'appui, and gives the firmness of a tripod to
the figure, without which it would be difficult to conceive,
placed as the feet are, how the courser could maintain his ground
without tumbling backwards. This bold conception has fortunately
fallen into the custody of one by whom it is duly valued; for,
when Dick, in his more advanced state of proficiency, became
dubious of the propriety of so daring a deviation to execute a
picture of the publican himself in exchange for this juvenile
production, the courteous offer was declined by his judicious
employer, who had observed, it seems, that when his ale failed to
do its duty in conciliating his guests, one glance at his sign
was sure to put them in good humour.

It would be foreign to my present purpose to trace the steps by
which Dick Tinto improved his touch, and corrected, by the rules
of art, the luxuriance of a fervid imagination. The scales fell
from his eyes on viewing the sketches of a contemporary, the
Scottish Teniers, as Wilkie has been deservedly styled. He threw
down the brush. took up the crayons, and, amid hunger and toil,
and suspense and uncertainty, pursued the path of his profession
under better auspices than those of his original master. Still
the first rude emanations of his genius, like the nursery rhymes
of Pope, could these be recovered, will be dear to the companions
of Dick Tinto's youth. There is a tankard and gridiron painted
over the door of an obscure change-house in the Back Wynd of
Gandercleugh----But I feel I must tear myself from the subject,
or dwell on it too long.

Amid his wants and struggles, Dick Tinto had recourse, like his
brethren, to levying that tax upon the vanity of mankind which he
could not extract from their taste and liberality--on a word, he
painted portraits. It was in this more advanced state of
proficiency, when Dick had soared above his original line of
business, and highly disdained any allusion to it, that, after
having been estranged for several years, we again met in the
village of Gandercleugh, I holding my present situation, and Dick
painting copies of the human face divine at a guinea per head.
This was a small premium, yet, in the first burst of business, it
more than sufficed for all Dick's moderate wants; so that he
occupied an apartment at the Wallace Inn, cracked his jest with
impunity even upon mine host himself, and lived in respect and
observance with the chambermaid, hostler, and waiter.

Those halcyon days were too serene to last long. When his
honour the Laird of Gandercleugh, with his wife and three
daughters, the minister, the gauger, mine esteemed patron Mr.
Jedediah Cleishbotham, and some round dozen of the feuars and
farmers, had been consigned to immortality by Tinto's brush,
custom began to slacken, and it was impossible to wring more
than crowns and half-crowns from the hard hands of the peasants
whose ambition led them to Dick's painting-room.

Still, though the horizon was overclouded, no storm for some
time ensued. Mine host had Christian faith with a lodger who had
been a good paymaster as long as he had the means. And from a
portrait of our landlord himself, grouped with his wife and
daughters, in the style of Rubens, which suddenly appeared in the
best parlour, it was evident that Dick had found some mode of
bartering art for the necessaries of life.

Nothing, however, is more precarious than resources of this
nature. It was observed that Dick became in his turn the
whetstone of mine host's wit, without venturing either at defence
or retaliation; that his easel was transferred to a garret0room,
in which there was scarce space for it to stand upright; and that
he no longer ventured to join the weekly club, of which he had
been once the life and soul. In short, Dick Tinto's friends
feared that he had acted like the animal called the sloth, which,
heaving eaten up the last green leaf upon the tree where it has
established itself, ends by tumbling down from the top, and dying
of inanition. I ventured to hint this to Dick, recommended his
transferring the exercise of his inestimable talent to some other
sphere, and forsaking the common which he might be said to have
eaten bare.

"There is an obstacle to my change of residence," said my
friend, grasping my hand with a look of solemnity.

"A bill due to my landlord, I am afraid?" replied I, with
heartfelt sympathy; "if any part of my slender means can assist
in this emergence----"

"No, by the soul of Sir Joshua!" answered the generous youth, "I
will never involve a friend in the consequences of my own
misfortune. There is a mode by which I can regain my
liberty; and to creep even through a common sewer is better than
to remain in prison."

I did not perfectly understand what my friend meant. The muse
of painting appeared to have failed him, and what other goddess
he could invoke in his distress was a mystery to me. We parted,
however, without further explanation, and I did not see him until
three days after, when he summoned me to partake of the "foy"
with which his landlord proposed to regale him ere his departure
for Edinburgh.

I found Dick in high spirits, whistling while he buckled the
small knapsack which contained his colours, brushes, pallets, and
clean shirt. That he parted on the best terms with mine host was
obvious from the cold beef set forth in the low parlour, flanked
by two mugs of admirable brown stout; and I own my curiosity was
excited concerning the means through which the face of my
friend's affairs had been so suddenly improved. I did not
suspect Dick of dealing with the devil, and by what earthly means
he had extricated himself thus happily I was at a total loss to

He perceived my curiosity, and took me by the hand. "My
friend," he said, "fain would I conceal, even from you, the
degradation to which it has been necessary to submit, in order to
accomplish an honourable retreat from Gandercleaugh. But what
avails attempting to conceal that which must needs betray itself
even by its superior excellence? All the village--all the
parish--all the world--will soon discover to what poverty has
reduced Richard Tinto.:

A sudden thought here struck me. I had observed that our
landlord wore, on that memorable morning, a pair of bran new
velveteens instead of his ancient thicksets.

"What," said I, drawing my right hand, with the forefinger and
thumb pressed together, nimbly from my right haunch to my left
shoulder, "you have condescended to resume the
paternal arts to which you were first bred--long stitches, ha,

He repelled this unlucky conjecture with a frown and a pshaw,
indicative of indignant contempt, and leading me into another
room, showed me, resting against the wall, the majestic head of
Sir William Wallace, grim as when severed from the trunk by the
orders of the Edward.

The painting was executed on boards of a substantial
thickness, and the top decorated with irons, for suspending the
honoured effigy upon a signpost.

"There," he said, "my friend, stands the honour of Scotland, and
my shame; yet not so--rather the shame of those who, instead of
encouraging art in its proper sphere, reduce it to these
unbecoming and unworthy extremities."

I endeavoured to smooth the ruffled feelings of my misused and
indignant friend. I reminded him that he ought not, like the
stag in the fable, to despise the quality which had extricated
him from difficulties, in which his talents, as a portrait or
landscape painter, had been found unavailing. Above all, I
praised the execution, as well as conception, of his painting,
and reminded him that, far from feeling dishonoured by so superb
a specimen of his talents being exposed to the general view of
the public, he ought rather to congratulate himself upon the
augmentation of his celebrity to which its public exhibition must
necessarily give rise.

"You are right, my friend--you are right," replied poor Dick,
his eye kindling with enthusiasm; "why should I shun the name of
an--an--(he hesitated for a phrase)--an out-of-doors artist?
Hogarth has introduced himself in that character in one of his
best engravings; Domenichino, or somebody else, in ancient
times, Morland in our own, have exercised their talents in this
manner. And wherefore limit to the rich and higher classes alone
the delight which the exhibition of works of art is calculated to
inspire into all classes? Statues are placed in the open air,
why should Painting be more niggardly in displaying her
masterpieces than her sister Sculpture? And yet, my friend, we
must part suddenly; the carpenter is coming in an hour to put up
the--the emblem; and truly, with all my philosophy, and your
consolatory encouragement to boot, I would rather wish to leave
Gandercleugh before that operation commences."

We partook of our genial host's parting banquet, and I escorted
Dick on his walk to Edinburgh. We parted about a mile from the
village, just as we heard the distant cheer of the boys which
accompanied the mounting of the new symbol of the Wallace Head.
Dick Tinto mended his pace to get out of hearing, so little had
either early practice or recent philosophy reconciled him to the
character of a sign-painter.

In Edinburgh, Dick's talents were discovered and
appreciated, and he received dinners and hints from several
distinguished judges of the fine arts. But these gentlemen
dispensed their criticism more willingly than their cash, and
Dick thought he needed cash more than criticism. He therefore
sought London, the universal mart of talent, and where, as is
usual in general marts of most descriptions, much more of each
commodity is exposed to sale than can ever find purchasers.

Dick, who, in serious earnest, was supposed to have
considerable natural talents for his profession, and whose vain
and sanguine disposition never permitted him to doubt for a
moment of ultimate success, threw himself headlong into the crowd
which jostled and struggled for notice and preferment. He
elbowed others, and was elbowed himself; and finally, by dint of
intrepidity, fought his way into some notice, painted for the
prize at the Institution, had pictures at the exhibition at
Somerset House, and damned the hanging committee. But poor Dick
was doomed to lose the field he fought so gallantly. In the fine
arts, there is scarce an alternative betwixt distinguished
success and absolute failure; and as Dick's zeal and industry
were unable to ensure the first, he fell into the distresses
which, in his condition, were the natural consequences of the
latter alternative. He was for a time patronised by one or two
of those judicious persons who make a virtue of being singular,
and of pitching their own opinions against those of the world in
matters of taste and criticism. But they soon tired of poor
Tinto, and laid him down as a load, upon the principle on which a
spoilt child throws away its plaything. Misery, I fear, took him
up, and accompanied him to a premature grave, to which he was
carried from an obscure lodging in Swallow Street, where he had
been dunned by his landlady within doors, and watched by bailiffs
without, until death came to his relief. A corner of the
Morning Post noticed his death, generously adding, that his
manner displayed considerable genius, though his style was rather
sketchy; and referred to an advertisement, which announced that
Mr. Varnish, a well-known printseller, had still on hand a very
few drawings and painings by Richard Tinto, Esquire, which those
of the nobility and gentry who might wish to complete their
collections of modern art were invited to visit without delay.
So ended Dick Tinto! a lamentable proof of the great truth, that
in the fine arts mediocrity is not permitted, and that he who
cannot ascend to the very top of the ladder will do well not to
put his foot upon it at all.

The memory of Tinto is dear to me, from the recollection of the
many conversations which we have had together, most of them
turning upon my present task. He was delighted with my
progress, and talked of an ornamented and illustrated edition,
with heads, vignettes, and culs de lampe, all to be designed by
his own patriotic and friendly pencil. He prevailed upon an old
sergeant of invalids to sit to him in the character of Bothwell,
the lifeguard's-man of Charles the Second, and the bellman of
Gandercleugh in that of David Deans. But while he thus proposed
to unite his own powers with mine for the illustration of these
narratives, he mixed many a dose of salutary criticism with the
panegyrics which my composition was at times so fortunate as to
call forth.

"Your characters," he said, "my dear Pattieson, make too much
use of the gob box; they patter too much (an elegant
phraseology which Dick had learned while painting the scenes of
an itinerant company of players); there is nothing in whole pages
but mere chat and dialogue."

"The ancient philosopher," said I in reply, "was wont to say,
'Speak, that I may know thee'; and how is it possible for an
author to introduce his personae dramatis to his readers in a
more interesting and effectual manner than by the dialogue in
which each is represented as supporting his own appropriate

"It is a false conclusion," said Tinto; "I hate it, Peter, as I
hate an unfilled can. I grant you, indeed, that speech is a
faculty of some value in the intercourse of human affairs, and I
will not even insist on the doctrine of that Pythagorean toper,
who was of opinion that over a bottle speaking spoiled
conversation. But I will not allow that a professor of the fine
arts has occasion to embody the idea of his scene in language, in
order to impress upon the reader its reality and its effect. On
the contrary, I will be judged by most of your readers, Peter,
should these tales ever become public, whether you have not given
us a page of talk for every single idea which two words might
have communicated, while the posture, and manner, and incident,
accurately drawn, and brougth out by appropriate colouring, would
have preserved all that was worthy of preservation, and saved
these everlasting 'said he's' and 'said she's,' with which it has
been your pleasure to encumber your pages."

I replied, "That he confounded the operations of the pencil and
the pen; that the serene and silent art, as painting has been
called by one of our first living poets, necessarily appealed to
the eye, because it had not the organs for addressing the ear;
whereas poetry, or that species of composition which approached
to it, lay under the necessity of doing absolutely the reverse,
and addressed itself to the ear, for the purpose of exciting that
interest which it could not attain through the medium of the

Dick was not a whit staggered by my argument, which he contended
was founded on misrepresentation. "Description," he said, "was
to the author of a romance exactly what drawing and tinting were
to a painter: words were his colours, and, if properly employed,
they could not fail to place the scene which he wished to conjure
up as effectually before the mind's eye as the tablet or canvas
presents it to the bodily organ. The same rules," he contended,
"applied to both, and an exuberance of dialogue, in the former
case, was a verbose and laborious mode of composition which went
to confound the proper art of fictitious narrative with that of
the drama, a widely different species of composition, of which
dialogue was the very essence, because all, excepting the
language to be made use of, was presented to the eye by the
dresses, and persons, and actions of the performers upon the
stage. But as nothing," said Dick, "can be more dull than a long
narrative written upon the plan of a drama, so where you have
approached most near to that species of composition, by
indulging in prolonged scenes of mere
conversation, the course of your story has become chill and
constrained, and you have lost the power of arresting the
attention and exciting the imagination, in which upon other
occasions you may be considered as having succeeded tolerably

I made my bow in requital of the compliment, which was probably
thrown in by way of placebo, and expressed myself willing at
least to make one trial of a more straightforward style of
composition, in which my actors should do more, and say less,
than in my former attempts of this kind. Dick gave me a
patronising and approving nod, and observed that, finding me so
docile, he would communicate, for the benefit of my muse, a
subject which he had studied with a view to his own art.

"The story," he said, "was, by tradition, affirmed to be truth,
although, as upwards of a hundred years had passed away since the
events took place, some doubts upon the accuracy of all the
particulars might be reasonably entertained."

When Dick Tinto had thus spoken, he rummaged his portfolio for
the sketch from which he proposed one day to execute a picture of
fourteen feet by eight. The sketch, which was
cleverly executed, to use the appropriate phrase, represented an
ancient hall, fitted up and furnished in what we now call the
taste of Queen Elizabeth's age. The light, admitted from the
upper part of a high casement, fell upon a female figure of
exquisite beauty, who, in an attitude of speechless terror,
appeared to watch the issue of a debate betwixt two other
persons. The one was a young man, in the Vandyke dress common to
the time of Charles I., who, with an air of indignant priude,
testified by the manner in which he raised his head and extended
his arm, seemed to be urging a claim of right, rather than of
favour, to a lady whose age, and some resemblance in their
features, pointed her out as the mother of the younger female,
and who appeared to listen with a mixture of displeasure and

Tinto produced his sketch with an air of mysterious triumph, and
gazed on it as a fond parent looks upon a hopeful child, while he
anticipates the future figure he is to make in the world, and the
height to which he will raise the honour of his family. He held
it at arm's length from me--he helt it closer--he placed it upon
the top of a chest of drawers--closed the lower shutters of the
casement, to adjust a downward and favourable light--fell back
to the due distance, dragging me after him--shaded his face with
his hand, as if to exclude all but the favourite object--and
ended by spoiling a child's copy-book, which he rolled up so as
to serve for the darkened tube of an amateur. I fancy my
expressions of enthusiasm had not been in proportion to his own,
for he presently exclaimed with vehemence: "Mr. Pattieson, I
used to think you had an eye in your head."

I vindicated my claim to the usual allowance of visual organs.

"Yet, on my honour," said Dick, "I would swear you had been born
blind, since you have failed at the first glance to discover the
subject and meaning of that sketch. I do not mean to praise my
own performance, I leave these arts to others; I am sensible of
my deficiencies, conscious that my drawing and colouring may be
improved by the time I intend to dedicate to the art. But the
conception--the expression--the positions--these tell the story
to every one who looks at the sketch; and if I can finish the
picture without diminution of the original conception, the name
of Tinto shall no more be smothered by the mists of envy and

I replied: "That I admired the sketch exceedingly; but that to
understand its full merit, I felt it absolutely necessary to be
informed of the subject."

"That is the very thing I complain of," answered Tinto; "you
have accustomed yourself so much to these creeping twilight
details of yours, that you are become incapable of receiving that
instant and vivid flash of conviction which darts on the mind
from seeing the happy and expressive combinations of a single
scene, and which gathers from the position, attitude, and
countenance of the moment, not only the history of the past lives
of the personages represented, and the nature of the business on
which they are immediately engaged, but lifts even the veil of
futurity, and affords a shrewd guess at their future fortunes."

"In that case," replied I, "Paining excels the ape of the
renowned Gines de Passamonte, which only meddled with the past
and the present; nay, she excels that very Nature who affords
her subject; for I protest to you, Dick, that were I permitted to
peep into that Elizabeth-chamber, and see the persons you have
sketched conversing in flesh and blood, I should not be a jot
nearer guessing the nature of their business than I am at this
moment while looking at your sketch. Only generally, from the
languishing look of the young lady, and the care you have taken
to present a very handsome leg on the part of the gentleman, I
presume there is some reference to a love affair between them."

"Do you really presume to form such a bold conjecture?" said
Tinto. "And the indignant earnestness with which you see the man
urge his suit, the unresisting and passive despair of the
younger female, the stern air of inflexible determination in the
elder woman, whose looks express at once consciousness that she
is acting wrong and a firm determination to persist in the course
she has adopted----"

"If her looks express all this, my dear Tinto," replied I,
interrupting him, "your pencil rivals the dramatic art of Mr.
Puff in The Critic, who crammed a whole complicated sentence
into the expressive shake of Lord Burleigh's head."

"My good friend, Peter," replied Tinto, "I observe you are
perfectly incorrigible; however, I have compassion on your
dulness, and am unwilling you should be deprived of the pleasure
of understanding my picture, and of gaining, at the same time, a
subject for your own pen. You must know then, last summer, while
I was taking sketches on the coast of East Lothian and
Berwickshire, I was seduced into the mountains of Lammermoor by
the account I received of some remains of antiquity in that
district. Those with which I was most struck were the ruins of
an ancient castle in which that Elizabeth-chamber, as you call
it, once existed. I resided for two or three days at a farmhouse
in the neighbourhood, where the aged goodwife was well acquainted
with the history of the castle, and the events which had taken
place in it. One of these was of a nature so interesting and
singular, that my attention was divided between my wish to draw
the old ruins in landscape, and to represent, in a history-
piece, the singular events which have taken place in it. Here
are my notes of the tale," said poor Dick, handing a parcel of
loose scraps, partly scratched over with his pencil, partly with
his pen, where outlines of caricatures, sketches of turrets,
mills, old gables, and dovecots, disputed the ground with his
written memoranda.

I proceeded, however, to decipher the substance of the
manuscript as well as I could, and move it into the following
Tale, in which, following in part, though not entirely, my friend
Tinto"s advice, I endeavoured to render my narrative rather
descriptive than dramatic. My favourite propensity, however, has
at times overcome me, and my persons, like many others in this
talking world, speak now what then a great deal more than they


Well, lord, we have not got that which we have;
'Tis not enough our foes are this time fled,
Being opposites of such repairing nature.

Henry VI. Part II.

IN the gorge of a pass or mountain glen, ascending from the
fertile plains of East Lothian, there stood in former times an
extensive castle, of which only the ruins are now visible. Its
ancient proprietors were a race of powerful and warlike carons,
who bore the same name with the castle itself, which was
Ravenswood. Their line extended to a remote period of antiquity,
and they had intermarried with the Douglasses, Humes, Swintons,
Hays, and other families of power and distinction in the same
country. Their history was frequently involved in that of
Scotland itself, in whose annals their feats are recorded. The
Castle of Ravenswood, occupying, and in some measure commanding,
a pass betweixt Berwickshire, or the Merse, as the southeastern
province of Scotland is termed, and the Lothians, was of
importance both in times of foreign war and domestic discord. It
was frequently beseiged with ardour, and defended with obstinacy,
and, of course, its owners played a conspicuous part in story.
But their house had its revolutions, like all sublunary things:
it became greatly declined from its splendour about the middle of
the 17th century; and towards the period of the Revolution, the
last proprietor of Ravenswood Castle saw himself compelled to
part with the ancient family seat, and to remove himself to a
lonely and sea-beaten tower, which, situated on the bleak shores
between St. Abb's Head and the village of Eyemouth, looked out on
the lonely and boisterous German Ocean. A black domain of wild
pasture-land surrounded their new residence, and formed the
remains of their property.

Lord Ravenswood, the heir of this ruined family, was far from
bending his mind to his new condition of life. In the civil war
of 1689 he had espoused the sinking side, and although he had
escaped without the forfeiture of life or land, his blood had
been attainted, and his title abolished. He was now called Lord
Ravenswood only in courtesy.

This forfeited nobleman inherited the pride and turbulence,
though not the forture, of his house, and, as he imputed the
final declension of his family to a particular individual, he
honoured that person with his full portion of hatred. This was
the very man who had now become, by purchase, proprietor of
Ravenswood, and the domains of which the heir of the house now
stood dispossessed. He was descended of a family much less
ancient than that of Lord Ravenswood, and which had only risen to
wealth and political importance during the great civil wars. He
himself had been bred to the bar, and had held high offices in
the state, maintaining through life the character of a skilful
fisher in the troubled waters of a state divided by factions, and
governed by delegated authority; and of one who contrived to
amass considerable sums of money in a country where there was but
little to be gathered, and who equally knew the value of wealth
and the various means of
augmenting it and using it as an engine of increasing his power
and influence.

Thus qualified and gifted, he was a dangerous antagonist to the
fierce and imprudent Ravenswood. Whether he had given him good
cause for the enmity with which the Baron regarded him, was a
point on which men spoke differently. Some said the quarrel
arose merely from the vicdictive spirit and envy of Lrod
Ravenswood, who could not patiently behold another, though by
just and fair purchase, become the proprietor of the estate and
castle of his forefathers. But the greater part of the public,
prone to slander the wealthy in their absence as to flatter them
in their presence, held a less charitable opinion. They said
that the Lord Keeper (for to this height Sir William Ashton had
ascended) had, previous to the final purchase of the estate of
Ravenswood, been concerned in extensive pecuniary transactions
with the former proprietor; and, rather intimating what was
probable than affirming anything positively, they asked which
party was likely to have the advantage in stating and enforcing
the claims arising out of these complicated affairs, and more
than hinted the advantages which the cool lawyer and able
politician must necessarily possess over the hot, fiery, and
imprudent character whom he had involved in legel toils and
pecuniary snares.

The character of the times aggravated these suspicions. "In
those days there was no king in Israel." Since the departure of
James VI. to assume the richer and more powerful crown of
England, there had existed in Scotland contending parties, formed
among the aristocracy, by whom, as their intrigues at the court
of St. James's chanced to prevail, the delegated powers of
sovereignty were alternately swayed. The evils attending upon
this system of government resembled those which afflict the
tenants of an Irish estate, the property of an absentee. There
was no supreme power, claiming and possessing a general interest
with the community at large, to whom the oppressed might appeal
from subordinate tyranny, either for justic or for mercy. Let a
monarch be as indolent, as selfish, as much disposed to arbitrary
power as he will, still, in a free country, his own interests are
so clearly connected weith those of the public at large, and the
eveil consequences to his own authority are so obvious and
imminent when a different course is pursued, that common policy,
as well as ocmmon feeling, point to the equal distribution of
justice, and to the establishment of the throne in righteousness.
Thus, even sovereigns remarkable for usurpation and tyranny have
been found rigorous in the administration of justice among their
subjects, in cases where their own power and passions were not

It is very different when the powers of sovereignty are
delegated to the head of an aristocratic faction, rivalled and
pressed closely in the race of ambition by an adverse leader.
His brief and precarious enjoyment of power must be employed in
rewarding his partizans, in extending his incluence, in
oppressing and crushing his adversaries. Even Abou Hassan, the
most disinterested of all viceroys, forgot not, during his
caliphate of one day, to send a douceur of one thousand pieces
of gold to his own household; and the Scottish vicegerents,
raised to power by the strength of their faction, failed not to
embrace the same means of rewarding them.

The administration of justice, in particular, was infected by
the most gross partiality. A case of importance scarcely
occurred in which there was not some ground for bias or
partiality on the part of the judges, who were so little able to
withstand the temptation that the adage, "Show me the man, and I
will show you the law," became as prevalent as it was scandalous.
One corruption led the way to others still mroe gross and
profligate. The judge who lent his sacred authority in one case
to support a friend, and in another to crush an enemy, and who
decisions were founded on family connexions or political
relations, could not be supposed inaccessible to direct personal
motives; and the purse of the wealthy was too often believed to
be thrown into the scale to weigh down the cause of the poor
litigant. The subordinate officers of the law affected little
scruple concerning bribery. Pieces of plate and bags of money
were sent in presents to the king's counsel, to influence their
conduct, and poured forth, says a contemporary writer, like
billets of wood upon their floors, without even the decency of

In such times, it was not over uncharitable to suppose that the
statesman, practised in courts of law, and a powerful member of a
triumphant cabal, might find and use means of advantage over his
less skilful and less favoured adversary; and if it had been
supposed that Sir William Ashton's conscience had been too
delicate to profit by these advantages, it was believed that his
ambition and desire of extending his wealth and consequence found
as strong a stimulus in the exhortations of his lady as the
daring aim of Macbeth in the days of yore.

Lady Ashton was of a family more distinguished than that of her
lord, an advantage which she did not fail to use to the
uttermost, in maintaining and extending her husband's influence
over others, and, unless she was greatly belied, her own over
him. She had been beautiful, and was stately and majestic in her
appearance. Endowed by nature with strong powers and violent
passions, experience had taught her to employ the one, and to
conceal, if not to moderate, the other. She was a severe adn
strict observer of the external forms, at least, fo devotion; her
hospitality was splendid, even to ostentation; her address and
manners, agreeable to the pattern most valued in Scotland at the
period, were grave, dignified, and severely regulated by the
rules of etiquette. Her character had always been beyond the
breath of slander. And yet, with all these qualities to excite
respect, Lady Ashton was seldom mentioned in the terms of love or
affection. Interest--the interest of her family, if not her own-
-seemed too obviously the motive of her actions; and where this
is the case, teh sharp-judging and malignant public are not
easily imposed upon by outward show. It was seen and
ascertained that, in her most graceful courtesies and
compliments, Lady Ashton no more lost sight of her object than
the falcon in his airy wheel turns his quick eyes from his
destined quarry; and hence, somethign of doubt and suspicion
qualified the feelings with which her equals received her
attentions. With her inferiors these feelings were mingled with
fear; an impression useful to her purposes, so far as it enforced
ready compliance with her requests and implicit obedience to her
commands, but detrimental, because it cannot exist with affection
or regard.

Even her husband, it is said, upon whose fortunes her talents
and address had produced such emphatic influence,
regarded her with respectful awe rather than confiding
attachment; and report said, there were times when he considered
his grandeur as dearly purchased at the expense of domestic
thraldom. Of this, however, much might be suspected, but little
could be accurately known: Lady Ashton regarded the honour of her
husband as her own, and was well aware how much that would suffer
in the public eye should he appear a vassal to his wife. In all
her arguments his opinion was quoted as infallible; his taste was
appealed to, and his sentiments received, with the air of
deference which a dutiful wife might seem to owe to a husband of
Sir William Ashton's rank adn character. But there was something
under all this which rung false and hollow; and to those who
watched this couple with close, and perhaps malicious, scrutiny
it seemed evident that, in the haughtiness of a firmer character,
higher birth, and more decided views of aggrandisement, the lady
looked with some contempt on her husband, and that he regarded
her with jealous fear, rather than with love or admiration.

Still, however, the leading and favourite interests of Sir
William Ashton and his lady were the same, and they failed not to
work in concert, although without cordiality, and to testify, in
all exterior circumstances, that respect for each other which
they were aware was necessary to secure that of the public.

Their union was crowned with several children, of whom three
survived. One, the eldest son, was absent on his travels; the
second, a girl of seventeen, adn the third, a boy about three
years younger, resided with their parents in
Edinburgh during the sessions of the Scottish Parliament and
Privy Council, at other times in the old Gothic castle of
Ravenswood, to which the Lord Keeper had made large additions in
the style of the 17th century.

Allan Lord Ravenswood, the late proprietor of that ancient
mansion adn the large estate annexed to it, continued for some
time to wage ineffectual war with his successor concerning
various points to which their former transactions had given rise,
and which were successively determined in favour of the wealthy
and powerful competitor, until death closed the litigation, by
summoning Ravenswood to a higher bar. The thread of life, which
had been long wasting, gave way during a fit of violent and
impotent fury with which he was assailed on receiving the news of
the loss of a cause, founded, perhaps, rather in equity than in
law, the last which he had maintained against his powerful
antagonist. His son witnessed his dying agonies, and heard the
curses which he breathed against his adversary, as if they had
conveyed to him a legacy of vengeance. Other circumstances
happened to exasperate a passion which was, and had long been, a
prevalent vice in the Scottish disposition.

It was a November morning, and the cliffs which overlooked the
ocean were hung with thick and heavy mist, when the portals of
the ancient and half-ruinous tower, in which Lord Ravenswood had
spent the last and troubled years of his life, opened, that his
mortal remains might pass forward to an abode yet more dreary
and lonely. The pomp of attendance, to which the deceased had,
in his latter years, been a stranger, was revived as he was about
to be consigned to the realms of forgetfulness.

Banner after banner, with the various devices and coats of this
ancient family and its connexions, followed each other in
mournful procession from under the low-browed archway of the
courtyard. The principal gentry of the country attended in the
deepest mourning, and tempered the pace of their long train of
horses to the solemn march befitting the occasion. Trumpets, with
banners of crape attached to them, sent forth their long and
melancholy notes to regulate the movements of the procession. An
immense train of inferior mourners and menials closed the rear,
which had not yet issued from the castle gate when the van had
reached the chapel where the body was to be deposited.

Contrary to the custom, and even to the law, of the time, the
body was met by a priest of the Scottish Episcopal communion,
arrayed in his surplice, and prepared to read over the coffin of
the deceased the funeral service of the church. Such had been
the desire of Lord Ravenswood in his last illness, and it was
readily complied with by the Tory gentlemen, or Cavaliers, as
they affected to style themselves, in which faction most of his
kinsmen were enrolled. The Presbyterian Church judicatory of the
bounds, considering the ceremony as a bravading insult upon their
authority, had applied to the Lord Keeper, as the nearest privy
councillor, for a warrant to prevent its being carried into
effect; so that, when the clergyman had opened his prayer-book,
an officer of the law, supported by some armed men, commanded him
to be silent. An insult which fired the whol assembly with
indignation was particularly and instantly resented by the only
son of the deceased, Edgar, popularly called the Master of
Ravenswood, a youth of about twenty years of age. He clapped his
hand on his sword, and bidding the official person to desist at
his peril from farther interruption, commanded the clergyman to
proceed. The man attempted to enforce his commission; but as an
hundred swords at once glittered in the air, he contented himself
with protesting against the violence which had been offered to
him in the execution of his duty, and stood aloof, a sullen adn
moody spectator of the ceremonial, muttering as one who should
say: "You'll rue the day that clogs me with this answer."

The scene was worthy of an artist's pencil. Under the very arch
of the house of death, the clergyman, affrighted at the scene,
and trembling for his own safety, hastily and unwillingly
rehearsed the solemn service of the church, and spoke "dust to
dust and ashes to ashes," over ruined pride and decayed
prosperity. Around stood the relations of the deceased, their
countenances more in anger than in sorrow, and the drawn swords
which they brandished forming a violent contrast with their deep
mourning habits. In the countenance of the young man alone,
resentment seemed for the moment overpowered by the deep agony
with which he beheld his nearest, and almost his only, friend
consigned to the tomb of his ancestry. A relative
observed him turn deadly pale, when, all rites being now duly
observed, it became the duty of the chief mourner to lower down
into the charnel vault, where mouldering coffins showed their
tattered velvet and decayed plating, the head of the corpse which
was to be their partner in corruption. He stept to the youth and
offered his assistance, which, by a mute motion, Edgar Ravenswood
rejected. Firmly, and without a tear, he performed that last
duty. The stone was laid on the sepulchre, the door of the aisle
was locked, and the youth took possession of its massive key.

As the crowd left the chapel, he paused on the steps which led
to its Gothic chancel. "Gentlemen and friends," he said, "you
have this day done no common duty to the body of your deceaesd
kinsman. The rites of due observance, which, in other
countries, are allowed as the due of the meanest Christian, would
this day have been denied to the body of your relative--not
certainly sprung of the meanest house in Scotland--had it not
been assured to him by your courage. Others bury their dead in
sorrow and tears, in silence and in reverence; our funeral rites
are marred by the intrusion of bailiffs and ruffians, and our
grief--the grief due to our departed friend--is chased from our
cheeks by the glow of just indignation. But it is well that I
know from what quiver this arrow has come forth. It was only he
that dug the drave who could have the mean cruelty to disturb the
obsequies; and Heaven do as much to me and more, if I requite not
to this man and his house the ruin and disgrace he has brought on
me and mine!"

A numerous part of the assembly applauded this speech, as the
spirited expression of just resentment; but the more cool and
judicious regretted that it had been uttered. The fortunes of
the heir of Ravenswood were too low to brave the farther
hostility which they imagined these open expressions of
resentment must necessarily provoke. Their apprehensions,
however, proved groundless, at least in the immediate
consequences of this affair.

The mourners returned to the tower, there, according to a custom
but recently abolished in Scotland, to carouse deep healths to
the memory of the deceased, to make the house of sorrow ring with
sounds of joviality and debauch, and to
diminish, by the expense of a large and profuse entertainment,
the limited revenues of ther heir of him whose funeral they thus
strangely honoured. It was the custom, however, and on the
present occasion it was fully observed. The tables swam in wine,
the populace feasted in the courtyard, the yeomen in the kitchen
and buttery; and two years' rent of Ravenswood's remaining
property hardly defrayed the charge of the funeral revel. The
wine did its office on all but the Master of Ravenswood, a title
which he still retained, though forfeiture had attached to that
of his father. He, while passing around the cup which he himself
did not taste, soon listened to a thousand exclamations against
the Lord Keeper, and passionate protestations of attachment to
himself, and to the honour of his house. He listened with dark
and sullen brow to ebullitions which he considered justly as
equally evanescent with the crimson bubbles on the brink of the
goblet, or at least with the vapours which its contents excited
in the brains of the revellers around him.

When the last flask was emptied, they took their leave with deep
protestations--to be forgotten on the morrow, if, indeed, those
who made them should not think it necessary for their safety to
make a more solemn retractation.

Accepting theri adieus with an air of contempt which he could
scarce conceal, Ravenswood at length beheld his ruinous
habitation cleared of their confluence of riotous guests, and
returned to the deserted hall, which now appeared doubly lonely
from the cessation of that clamour to which it had so lately
echoed. But its space was peopled by phantoms which the
imagination of the young heir conjured up before him--the
tarnished honour and degraded fortunes of his house, the
destruction of his own hopes, and the triumph of that family by
whom they had been ruined. To a mind naturally of a gloomy cast
here was ample room for meditation, and the musings of young
Ravenswood were deep and unwitnessed.

The peasant who shows the ruins of the tower, which still crown
the beetling cliff and behold the war of the waves, though no
mroe tenanted saved by the sea-mew and cormorant, even yet
affirms that on this fatal night the Master of Ravenswood, by the
bitter exclamations of his despair, evoked some evil fiend, under
whose malignant influence the future tissue of incidents was
woven. Alas! what fiend can suggest more desperate counsels
than those adopted under the guidance of our own violent and
unresisted passions?


Over Gods forebode, then said the King,
That thou shouldst shoot at me.

William Bell, Clim 'o the Cleugh, etc.

On the morning after the funeral, the legal officer whose
authority had been found insufficient to effect an interruption
of the funeral solemnities of the late Lord Ravenswood, hastened
to state before the Keeper the resistance which he had met with
in the execution of his office.

The statesman was seated in a spacious library, once a
banqueting-room in the old Castle of Ravenswood, as was evident
from the armorial insignia still displayed on the carved roof,
which was vaulted with Spanish chestnut, and on the stained glass
of the casement, through which gleamed a dim yet rich light on
the long rows of shelves, bending under the weight of legal
commentators and monkish historians, whose ponderous volumes
formed the chief and most valued contents of a Scottish historian
[library] of the period. On the massive oaken table and
reading-desk lay a confused mass of letters, petitions, and
parchments; to toil amongst which was the pleasure at once and
the plague of Sir William Ashton's life. His appearance was
grave and even noble, well becoming one who held an high office
in the state; and it was not save after long and intimate
conversation with him upon topics of pressing and personal
interest, that a stranger could have discovered
something vacillating and uncertain in his resolutions; an
infirmity of purpose, arising from a cautious and timid
disposition, which, as he was conscious of its internal influence
on his mind, he was, from pride as well as policy, most anxious
to conceal from others.
He listened with great apparent composure to an exaggerated
account of the tumult which had taken place at the funeral, of
the contempt thrown on his own authority and that of the church
and state; nor did he seem moved even by the faithful report of
the insulting and threatening language which had been uttered by
young Ravenswood and others, and obviously directed against
himself. He heard, also, what the man had been able to collect,
in a very distorted and aggravated shape, of the toasts which had
been drunk, and the menaces uttered, at the susequent
entertainment. In fine, he made careful notes of all these
particulars, and of the names of the persons by whom, in case of
need, an accusation, founded upon these violent proceedings,
could be witnessed and made good, and dismissed his informer,
secure that he was now master of the remaining fortune, and even
of the personal liberty, of young Ravenswood.

When the door had closed upon the officer of the law, the Lord
Keeper remained for a moment in deep meditation; then, starting
from his seat, paced the apartment as one about to take a sudden
and energetic resolution. "Young Ravenswood," he muttered, "is
now mine--he is my own; he has placed himself in my hand, and he
shall bend or break. I have not forgot the
determined and dogged obstinacy with which his father fought
every point to the last, resisted every effort at compromise,
embroiled me in lawsuits, and attempted to assail my character
when he could not otherwise impugn my rights. This boy he has
left behind him--this Edgar--this hot-headed, hare-brained fool,
has wrecked his vessel before she has cleared the harbor. I must
see that he gains no advantage of some turning tide which may
again float him off. These memoranda, properly stated to the
privy council, cannot but be construed into an aggravated riot,
in which the dignity both of the civil and ecclesiastical
authorities stands committed. A heavy fine might be imposed; an
order for committing him to Edinburgh or Blackness Castle seems
not improper; even a charge of treason might be laid on many of
these words and expressions, though God forbid I should prosecute
the matter to that extent. No, I will not; I will not touch his
life, even if it should be in my power; and yet, if he lives till
a change of times, what follows? Restitution--perhaps revenge.
I know Athole promised his interest to old Ravenswood, and here
is his son already bandying and making a faction by his own
contemptible influence. What a ready tool he would be for the
use of those who are watching the downfall of our

While these thoughts were agitating the mind of the wily
statesman, and while he was persuading himself that his own
interest and safety, as well as those of his friends and party,
depended on using the present advantage to the uttermost against
young Ranveswood, the Lord Keeper sate down to his desk, and
proceeded to draw up, for the information of the privy council,
an account of the disorderly proceedings which, in contempt of
his warrant, had taken place at the funeral of Lord Ravenswood.
The names of most of the parties concerned, as well as the fact
itself, would, he was well aware, sound odiously in the ears of
his colleagues in administration, and most likely instigate them
to make an example of young Ravenswood, at least, in terrorem.

It was a point of delicacy, however, to select such
expressions as might infer the young man's culpability, without
seeming directly to urge it, which, on the part of Sir William
Ashton, his father's ancient antagonist, could not but appear
odious and invidious. While he was in the act of composition,
labouring to find words which might indicate Edgar Ravenswood to
be the cause of the uproar, without specifically making such a
charge, Sir William, in a pause of his task, chanced, in looking
upward, to see the crest of the family for whose heir he was
whetting the arrows and disposing the toils of the law carved
upon one of the corbeilles from which the vaulted roof of the
apartment sprung. It was a black bull's head, with the legend,
"I bide my time"; and the occasion upon which it was adopted
mingled itself singularly and impressively with the subject of
his present reflections.

It was said by a constant tradition that a Malisius de
Ravenswood had, in the 13th century, been deprived of his castle
and lands by a powerful usurper, who had for a while enjoyed his
spoils in quiet. At length, on the eve of a costly banquet,
Ravenswood, who had watched his opportunity, introduced himself
into the castle with a small band of faithful retainers. The
serving of the expected feast was impatiently looked for by the
guests, and clamorously demended by the temporary master of the
castle. Ravenswood, who had assumed the disguise of a sewer upon
the occasion, answered, in a stern voice, "I bide my time"; and
at the same moment a bull's head, the ancient symbol of death,
was placed upon the table. The explosion of the conspiracy took
place upon the signal, and the usurper and his followers were put
to death. Perhaps there was something in this still known and
often repeated story which came immediately home to the breast
and conscience of the Lord Keeper; for, putting from him the
paper on which he had begun his report, and carefully locking the
memoranda which he had prepared into a cabinet which stood
beside him, he proceeded to walk abroad, as if for the purpose of
collecting his ideas, and reflecting farther on the consequences
of the step which he was about to take, ere yet they became

In passing through a large Gothic ante-room, Sir William Ashton
heard the sound of his daughter's lute. Music, when the
performers are concealed, affects us with a pleasure mingled
with surprise, and reminds us of the natural concert of birds
among the leafy bowers. The statesman, though little accustomed
to give way to emotions of this natural and simple class, was
still a man and a father. he stopped, therefore, and listened,
while the silver tones of Lucy Ashton's voice mingled with the
accompaniment in an ancient air, to which soem one had adapted
the following words:

"Look not thou on beauty's charming,
Sit thou still when kings are arming,
Taste not when the wine-cup glistens,
Speak not when the people listens,
Stop thine ear against the singer,
From the red gold keep they finger,
Vacant heart, and hand, and eye,
Easy live and quiet die."

The sounds ceased, and the Keeper entered his daughter's

The words she had chosen seemed particularly adapted to her
character; for Lucy Ashton's exquisitely beautiful, yet somewhat
girlish features were formed to express peace of mind, serenity,
and indifference to the tinsel of wordly pleasure. Her locks,
which were of shadowy gold, divided on a brow of exquisite
whiteness, like a gleam of broken and pallid sunshine upon a hill
of snow. The expression of the countenance was in the last
degree gentle, soft, timid, and feminine, and seemed rather to
shrink from the most casual look of a stranger than to court his
admiration. Something there was of a Madonna cast, perhaps the
result of delicate health, and of residence in a family where the
dispositions of the inmates were fiercer, more active, and
energetic than her own.

Yet her passiveness of disposition was by no means owing to an
indifferent or unfeeling mind. Left to the impulse of her own
taste and feelings, Lucy Ashton was peculiarly accessible to
those of a romantic cast. her secret delight was in the old
legendary tales of ardent devotion and unalterable affection,
chequered as they so often are with strange adventures and
supernatural horrors. This was her favoured fairy realm, and
here she erected her aerial palaces. But it was only in secret
that she laboured at this delusive though delightful
architecture. In her retired chamber, or in the woodland bower
which she had chosen for her own, and called after her name, she
was in fancy distributing the prizes at the tournament, or
raining down influence from her eyes on the valiant combatants:
or she was wandering in the wilderness with Una, under escort of
the generous lion; or she was identifying herself with the simple
yet noble-minded Miranda in the isle of wonder and enchantment.

But in her exterior relations to things of this world, Lucy
willingly received the ruling impulse from those around her. The
alternative was, in general, too indifferent to her to render
resistance desirable, and she willingly found a motive for
decision in the opinion of her friends which perhaps she might
have sought for in vain in her own choice. Every reader must
have observed in some family of his acquaintance some individual
of a temper soft and yielding, who, mixed with stronger and more
ardent minds, is borne along by the will of others, with as
little power of opposition as the flower which is flung into a
running stream. It usually happens that such a compliant and
easy disposition, which resigns itself without murmur to the
guidance of others, becomes the darling of those to whose
inclinations its own seem to be offered, in ungrudging and ready
This was eminently the case with Lucy Ashton. Her politic,
wary, and wordly father felt for her an affection the strength of
which sometimes surprised him into an unusual emotion. Her
elder brother, who trode the path of ambition with a haughtier
step than his father, had also more of human affection. A
soldier, and in a dissolute age, he preferred his sister Lucy
even to pleasure and to military preferment and distinction. Her
younger brother, at an age when trifles chiefly occupied his
mind, made her the confidante of all his pleasures and anxieties,
his success in field-sports, and his quarrels with his tutor and
instructors. To these details, however trivial, Lucy lent
patient and not indifferent attention. They moved and interested
Henry, and that was enough to secure her ear.

Her mother alone did not feel that distinguished and
predominating affection with which the rest of the family
cherished Lucy. She regarded what she termed her daughter's want
of spirit as a decided mark that the more plebeian blood of her
father predominated in Lucy's veins, and used to call her in
derision her Lammermoor Shepherdess. To dislike so gentle and
inoffensive a being was impossible; but Lady Ashton preferred her
eldest son, on whom had descended a large portion of her own
ambitious and undaunted disposition, to a daughter whose softness
of temper seemed allied to feebleness of mind. Her eldest son
was the more partially beloved by his mother because, contrary to
the usual custom of Scottish families of distinction, he had been
named after the head of the house.

"My Sholto," she said, "will support the untarnished honour of
his maternal house, and elevate and support that of his father.
Poor Lucy is unfit for courts or crowded halls. Some country
laird must be her husband, rich enough to supply her with every
comfort, without an effort on her own part, so that she may have
nothing to shed a tear for but the tender apprehension lest he
may break his neck in a foxchase. It was not so, however, that
our house was raised, nor is it so that it can be fortified and
augmented. The Lord Keeper's dignity is yet new; it must be
borne as if we were used to its weight, worthy of it, and prompt
to assert and maintain it. Before ancient authorities men bend
from customary and hereditary deference; in our presence they
will stand erect, unless they are compelled to prostrate
themselves. A daughter fit for the sheepfold or the cloister is
ill qualified to exact respect where it is yielded with
reluctance; and since Heaven refused us a third boy, Lucy should
have held a character fit to supply his place. The hour will be
a happy one which disposes her hand in marriage to some one whose
energy is greater than her own, or whose ambition is of as low an

So meditated a mother to whom the qualities of her
children's hearts, as well as the prospect of their domestic
happiness, seemed light in comparison to their rank and temporal
greatness. But, like many a parent of hot and impatient
character, she was mistaken in estimating the feelings of her
daughter, who, under a semblance of extreme indifference,
nourished the germ of those passions which sometimes spring up in
one night, like the gourd of the pro phet, and astonish the
observer by their unexpected ardour and intensity. In fact,
Lucy's sentiments seemed chill because nothing had occurred to
interest or awaken them. Her life had hitherto flowed on in a
uniform and gentle tenor, and happy for her had not its present
smoothness of current resembled that of the stream as it glides
downwards to the waterfall!

"So, Lucy," said her father, entering as her song was ended,
"does your musical philosopher teach you to contmn the world
before you know it? That is surely something premature. Or did
you but speak according to the fashion of fair maidens, who are
always to hold the pleasures of life in contempt till they are
pressed upon them by the address of some gentle knight?"

Lucy blushed, disclaimed any inference respecting her own choice
being drawn from her selection of a song, and readily laid aside
her instrument at her father's request that she would attend him
in his walk.

A large and well-wooded park, or rather chase, stretched along
the hill behind the castle, which, occupying, as we have
noticed, a pass ascending from the plain, seemed built in its
very gorge to defend the forest ground which arose behind it in
shaggy majesty. Into this romantic region the father and
daughter proceeded, arm in arm, by a noble avenue overarched by
embowering elms, beneath which groups of the fallow-deer were
seen to stray in distant perspective. As they paced slowly on,
admiring the different points of view, for which Sir William
Ashton, notwithstanding the nature of his usual avocations, had
considerable taste and feeling, they were overtaken by the
forester, or park-keeper, who, intent on silvan sport, was
proceeding with his cross-bow over his arm, and a hound led in
leash by his boy, into the interior of the wood.

"Going to shoot us a piece of venison, Norman?" said his master,
as he returned the woodsman's salutation.

"Saul, your honour, and that I am. Will it please you to see
the sport?"

"Oh no," said his lordship, after looking at his daughter, whose
colour fled at the idea of seeing the deer shot, although, had
her father expressed his wish that they should accompany Norman,
it was probable she would not even have hinted her reluctance.

The forester shrugged his shoulders. "It was a
disheartening thing," he said, "when none of the gentles came
down to see the sport. He hoped Captain Sholto would be soon
hame, or he might shut up his shop entirely; for Mr. Harry was
kept sae close wi' his Latin nonsense that, though his will was
very gude to be in the wood from morning till night, there would
be a hopeful lad lost, and no making a man of him. It was not
so, he had heard, in Lord Ravenswood's time: when a buck was to
be killed, man and mother's son ran to see; and when the deer
fell, the knife was always presented to the knight, and he never
gave less than a dollar for the compliment. And there was Edgar
Ravenswood--Master of Ravenswood that is now--when he goes up to
the wood--there hasna been a better hunter since Tristrem's time-
-when Sir Edgar hauds out, down goes the deer, faith. But we hae
lost a' sense of woodcraft on this side of the hill."

There was much in this harangue highly displeasing to the Lord
Keeper's feelings; he could not help observing that his menial
despised him almost avowedly for not possessing that taste for
sport which in those times was deemed the natural and
indispensable attribute of a real gentleman. But the master of
the game is, in all country houses, a man of great importance,
and entitled to use considerable freedom of speech. Sir William,
therefore, only smiled and replied, "He had something else to
think upon to-day than killing deer"; meantime, taking out his
purse, he gave the ranger a dollar for his encouragement. The
fellow received it as the waiter of a fashionable hotel receives
double his proper fee from the hands of a country gentleman--that
is, with a smile, in which pleasure at the gift is mingled with
contempt for the ignorance of the donor. "Your honour is the bad
paymaster," he said, "who pays before it is done. What would you
do were I to miss the buck after you have paid me my wood-fee?"

"I suppose," said the Keeper, smiling, "you would hardly guess
what I mean were I to tell you of a condictio indebiti?"

"Not I, on my saul. I guess it is some law phrase; but sue a
beggar, and--your honour knows what follows. Well, but I will
be just with you, and if bow and brach fail not, you shall have a
piece of game two fingers fat on the brisket."

As he was about to go off, his master again called him, and
asked, as if by accident, whether the Master of Ravenswood was
actually so brave a man and so good a shooter as the world spoke

"Brave!--brave enough, I warrant you," answered Norman. "I was
in the wood at Tyninghame when there was a sort of gallants
hunting with my lord; on my saul, there was a buck turned to bay
made us all stand back--a stout old Trojan of the first head,
ten-tyned branches, and a brow as broad as e'er a bullock's.
Egad, he dashed at the old lord, and there would have been
inlake among the perrage, if the Master had not whipt roundly in,
and hamstrung him with his cutlass. He was but sixteen then,
bless his heart!"

"And is he as ready with the gun as with the couteau?" said Sir

"He'll strike this silver dollar out from between my finger and
thumb at fourscore yards, and I'll hold it out for a gold merk;
what more would ye have of eye, hand, lead, and gunpowder?"
"Oh, no more to be wished, certainly," said the Lord Keeper;
"but we keep you from your sport, Norman. Good morrow, good

And, humming his rustic roundelay, the yeoman went on his road,
the sound of his rough voice gradually dying away as the
distance betwixt them increased:

"The monk must arise when the matins ring,
The abbot may sleep to their chime;
But the yeoman must start when the bugles sing
'Tis time, my hearts, 'tis time.

There's bucks and raes on Bilhope braes,
There's a herd on Shortwood Shaw;
But a lily-white doe in the garden goes,
She's fairly worth them a'."

"Has this fellow," said the Lord Keeper, when the yeoman's song
had died on the wind, "ever served the Ravenswood people, that he
seems so much interested in them? I suppose you know, Lucy, for
you make it a point of conscience to record the special history
of every boor about the castle."

"I am not quite so faithful a chronicler, my dear father; but I
believe that Norman once served here while a boy, and before he
ewnt to Ledington, whence you hired him. But if you want to know
anything of the former family, Old Alice is the best authority."

"And what should I have to do with them, pray, Lucy," said her
father, "or with their history or accomplishments?"

"Nay, I do not know, sir; only that you were asking
questions of Norman about young Ravenswood."

"Pshaw, child!" replied her father, yet immediately added: "And
who is Old Alice? I think you know all the old women in the

"To be sure I do, or how could I help the old creatures when
they are in hard times? And as to Old Alice, she is the very
empress of old women and queen of gossips, so far as legendary
lore is concerned. She is blind, poor old soul, but when she
speaks to you, you would think she has some way of looking into
your very heart. I am sure I often cover my face, or turn it
away, for it seems as if she saw one change colour, though she
has been blind these twenty years. She is worth visiting, were
it but to say you have seen a blind and paralytic old woman have
so much acuteness of perception and dignity of manners. I assure
you, she might be a countess from her language and behaviour.
Come, you must go to see Alice; we are not a quarter of a mile
from her cottage."

"All this, my dear," said the Lord Keeper, "is no answer to my
question, who this woman is, and what is her connexion with the
former proprietor's family?"

"Oh, it was somethign of a nouriceship, I believe; and she
remained here, because her two grandsons were engaged in your
service. But it was against her will, I fancy; for the poor old
creature is always regretting the change of times and of

"I am much obliged to her," answered the Lord Keeper. "She and
her folk eat my bread and drink my cup, and are lamenting all
the while that they are not still under a family which never
could do good, either to themselves or any one else!"

"Indeed," replied Lucy, "I am certain you do Old Alice
injustice. She has nothing mercenary about her, and would not
accept a penny in charity, if it were to save her from being
starved. She is only talkative, like all old folk when you put
them upon stories of their youth; and she speaks abotu the
Ravenswood people, because she lived under them so many years.
But I am sure she is grateful to you, sir, for your protection,
adn taht she would rather speak to you than to any other person
in the whole world beside. Do, sir, come and see Old Alice."

And with the freedom of an indulged daughter she dragged the
Lord Keeper in the direction she desired.


Through tops of the high trees she did descry
A little smoke, whose vapour, thin and light,
Reeking aloft, uprolled to the sky,
Which cheerful sign did send unto her sight,
That in the same did wonne some living wight.


LUCY acted as her father's guide, for he was too much engrossed
with his political labours, or with society, to be perfectly
acquainted with his own extensive domains, and,
moreover, was generally an inhabitant of the city of Edinburgh;
and she, on the other hand, had, with her mother, resided the
whole summer in Ravenswood, and, partly from taste, partly from
want of any other amusement, had, by her frequent rambles,
learned to know each lane, alley, dingle, or bushy dell,

And every bosky bourne from side to side.

We have said that the Lord Keeper was not indifferent to the
beauties of nature; and we add, in justice to him, that he felt
them doubly when pointed out by the beautiful, simple, and
interesting girl who, hanging on his arm with filial kindness,
now called him to admire the size of some ancient oak, and now
the unexpected turn where the path, developing its maze from glen
or dingle, suddenly reached an eminence commanding an extensive
view of the plains beneath them, and then gradually glided away
from the prospect to lose itself among rocks and thickets, and
guide to scenes of deeper seclusion.

It was when pausing on one of those points of extensive and
commanding view that Lucy told her father they were close by the
cottage of her blind protegee; and on turning from the little
hill, a path which led around it, worn by the daily steps of the
infirm inmate, brought them in sight of the hut, which, embosomed
in a deep and obscure dell, seemed to have been so situated
purposely to bear a correspondence with the darkened state of its

The cottage was situated immediately under a tall rock, which in
some measure beetled over it, as if threatening to drop some
detached fragment from its brow on the frail tenement beneath.
The hut itself was constructed of turf and stones, and rudely
roofed over with thatch, much of which was in a
dilapidated condition. The thin blue smoke rose from it in a
light column, and curled upward along the white face of the
incumbent rock, giving the scene a tint of exquisite softness.
In a small and rude garden, surrounded by straggling elder-
bushes, which formed a sort of imperfect hedge, sat near to the
beehives, by the produce of which she lived, that "woman old"
whom Lucy had brought her father hither to visit.

Whatever there had been which was disastrous in her fortune,
whatever there was miserable in her dwelling, it was easy to
judge by the first glance that neither years, poverty,
misfortune, nor infirmity had broken the spirit of this
remarkable woman.

She occupied a turf seat, placed under a weeping birch of
unusual magnitude and age, as Judah is represented sitting under
her palm-tree, with an air at once of majesty and of dejection.
Her figure was tall, commanding, and but little bent by the
infirmities of old age. Her dress, though that of a peasant, was
uncommonly clean, forming in that particular a strong contrast to
most of her rank, and was disposed with an attention to neatness,
and even to taste, equally unusual. But it was her expression of
countenance which chiefly struck the spectator, and induced most
persons to address her with a degree of deference and civility
very inconsistent with the miserable state of her dwelling, and
which, nevertheless, she received with that easy composure which
showed she feelt it to be her due. She had once been beautiful,
but her beauty had been of a bold and masculine cast, such as
does not survive the bloom of youth; yet her features continued
to express strong sense, deep reflection, and a character of
sober pride, which, as we have already said of her dress,
appeared to argue a conscious superiority to those of her own
rank. It scarce seemed possible that a face, deprived of the
advantage of sight, could have expressed character so
strongly; but her eyes, which were almost totally closed, did
not, by the display of their sightless orbs, mar the countenance
to which they could add nothing. She seemed in a ruminating
posture, soothed, perhaps, by the murmurs of the busy tribe
around her to abstraction, though not to slumber.

Lucy undid the latch of the little garden gate, and
solicited the old woman's attention. "My father, Alice, is come
to see you."

"He is welcome, Miss Ashton, and so are you," said the old
woman, turning and inclining her head towards her visitors.

"This is a fine morning for your beehives, mother," said the
Lord Keeper, who, struck with the outward appearance of Alice,
was somewhat curious to know if her conversation would
correspond with it.

"I believe so, my lord," she replied; "I feel the air breathe
milder than of late."

"You do not," resumed the statesman, "take charge of these bees
yourself, mother? How do you manage them?"

"By delegates, as kings do their subjects," resumed Alice; "and
I am fortunate in a prime minister. Here, Babie."

She whistled on a small silver call which ung around her neck,
and which at that time was sometimes used to summon
domestics, and Babie, a girl of fifteen, made her appearance from
the hut, not altogether so cleanly arrayed as she would probably
have been had Alice had the use of her yees, but with a greater
air of neatness than was upon the whole to have been expected.

"Babie," said her mistress, "offer some bread and honey to the
Lord Keeper and Miss Ashton; they will excuse your
awkwardness if you use cleanliness and despatch."

Babie performed her mistress's command with the grace which was
naturally to have been expected, moving to and fro with a
lobster-like gesture, her feet and legs tending one way, while
her head, turned in a different direction, was fixed in wonder
upon the laird, who was more frequently heard of than seen by his
tenants and dependants. The bread and honey, however, deposited
on a plantain leaf, was offered and accepted in all due courtesy.
The Lord Keeper, still retaining the place which he had occupied
on the decayed trunk of a fallen tree, looked as if he wished to
prolong the interview, but was at a loss how to introduce a
suitable subject.

"You have been long a resident on this property?" he said, after
a pause.


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