Old Mortality, Volume 2.
Sir Walter Scott
Part 5 out of 5
them with wealth and with heritages, and thou think'st that there lives
another man, offended even more deeply than thou, yet equally cold-
livered and mean-spirited, crawling upon the face of the earth, and hast
dared to suppose that one other to be John Balfour?"
"For my own feelings," said Morton, composedly, "I am answerable to none
but Heaven; to you, Mr. Balfour, I should suppose it of little
consequence whether Basil Olifant or Lord Evandale possess these
"Thou art deceived," said Burley; "both are indeed in outer darkness,
and strangers to the light, as he whose eyes have never been opened to
the day. But this Basil Olifant is a Nabal, a Demas, a base churl whose
wealth and power are at the disposal of him who can threaten to deprive
him of them. He became a professor because he was deprived of these lands
of Tillietudlem; he turned a papist to obtain possession of them; he
called himself an Erastian, that he might not again lose them; and he
will become what I list while I have in my power the document that may
deprive him of them. These lands are a bit between his jaws and a hook in
his nostrils, and the rein and the line are in my hands to guide them as
I think meet; and his they shall therefore be, unless I had assurance of
bestowing them on a sure and sincere friend. But Lord Evandale is a
malignant, of heart like flint, and brow like adamant; the goods of the
world fall on him like leaves on the frost-bound earth, and unmoved he
will see them whirled off by the first wind. The heathen virtues of such
as he are more dangerous to us than the sordid cupidity of those who,
governed by their interest, must follow where it leads, and who,
therefore, themselves the slaves of avarice, may be compelled to work
in the vineyard, were it but to earn the wages of sin."
"This might have been all well some years since," replied Morton, "and I
could understand your argument, although I could never acquiesce in its
justice. But at this crisis it seems useless to you to persevere in
keeping up an influence which can no longer be directed to an useful
purpose. The land has peace, liberty, and freedom of conscience,--and
what would you more?"
"More!" exclaimed Burley, again unsheathing his sword, with a vivacity
which nearly made Morton start. "Look at the notches upon that weapon
they are three in number, are they not?"
"It seems so," answered Morton; "but what of that?"
"The fragment of steel that parted from this first gap rested on the
skull of the perjured traitor who first introduced Episcopacy into
Scotland; this second notch was made in the rib-bone of an impious
villain, the boldest and best soldier that upheld the prelatic cause at
Drumclog; this third was broken on the steel head-piece of the captain
who defended the Chapel of Holyrood when the people rose at the
Revolution. I cleft him to the teeth, through steel and bone. It has done
great deeds, this little weapon, and each of these blows was a
deliverance to the Church. This sword," he said, again sheathing it,
"has yet more to do,--to weed out this base and pestilential heresy of
Erastianism; to vindicate the true liberty of the Kirk in her purity;
to restore the Covenant in its glory,--then let it moulder and rust
beside the bones of its master."
"You have neither men nor means, Mr. Balfour, to disturb the Government
as now settled," argued Morton; "the people are in general satisfied,
excepting only the gentlemen of the Jacobite interest; and surely you
would not join with those who would only use you for their own purposes?"
"It is they," answered Burley, "that should serve ours. I went to the
camp of the malignant Claver'se, as the future King of Israel sought the
land of the Philistines; I arranged with him a rising; and but for the
villain Evandale, the Erastians ere now had been driven from the West.--
I could slay him," he added, with a vindictive scowl, "were he grasping
the horns of the altar!" He then proceeded in a calmer tone: "If thou,
son of mine ancient comrade, were suitor for thyself to this Edith
Bellenden, and wert willing to put thy hand to the great work with zeal
equal to thy courage, think not I would prefer the friendship of Basil
Olifant to thine; thou shouldst then have the means that this document
[he produced a parchment] affords to place her in possession of the lands
of her fathers. This have I longed to say to thee ever since I saw thee
fight the good fight so strongly at the fatal Bridge. The maiden loved
thee, and thou her."
Morton replied firmly, "I will not dissemble with you, Mr. Balfour, even
to gain a good end. I came in hopes to persuade you to do a deed of
justice to others, not to gain any selfish end of my own. I have failed;
I grieve for your sake more than for the loss which others will sustain
by your injustice."
"You refuse my proffer, then?" said Burley, with kindling eyes.
"I do," said Morton. "Would you be really, as you are desirous to be
thought, a man of honour and conscience, you would, regardless of all
other considerations, restore that parchment to Lord Evandale, to be used
for the advantage of the lawful heir."
"Sooner shall it perish!" said Balfour; and, casting the deed into the
heap of red charcoal beside him, pressed it down with the heel of his
While it smoked, shrivelled, and crackled in the flames, Morton sprung
forward to snatch it, and Burley catching hold of him, a struggle ensued.
Both were strong men; but although Morton was much the more active and
younger of the two, yet Balfour was the most powerful, and effectually
prevented him from rescuing the deed until it was fairly reduced to a
cinder. They then quitted hold of each other, and the enthusiast,
rendered fiercer by the contest, glared on Morton with an eye expressive
of frantic revenge.
"Thou hast my secret," he exclaimed; "thou must be mine, or die!"
"I contemn your threats," said Morton; "I pity you, and leave you."
But as he turned to retire, Burley stept before him, pushed the oak-trunk
from its resting place, and as it fell thundering and crashing into the
abyss beneath, drew his sword, and cried out, with a voice that rivalled
the roar of the cataract and the thunder of the falling oak, "Now thou
art at bay! Fight,--yield, or die!" and standing in the mouth of the
cavern, he flourished his naked sword.
"I will not fight with the man that preserved my father's life," said
Morton. "I have not yet learned to say the words, 'I yield;' and my life
I will rescue as I best can."
So speaking, and ere Balfour was aware of his purpose, he sprung past
him, and exerting that youthful agility of which he possessed an uncommon
share, leaped clear across the fearful chasm which divided the mouth of
the cave from the projecting rock on the opposite side, and stood there
safe and free from his incensed enemy. He immediately ascended the
ravine, and, as he turned, saw Burley stand for an instant aghast with
astonishment, and then, with the frenzy of disappointed rage, rush into
the interior of his cavern.
It was not difficult for him to perceive that this unhappy man's mind had
been so long agitated by desperate schemes and sudden disappointments
that it had lost its equipoise, and that there was now in his conduct a
shade of lunacy, not the less striking, from the vigour and craft with
which he pursued his wild designs. Morton soon joined his guide, who had
been terrified by the fall of the oak. This he represented as accidental;
and she assured him, in return, that the inhabitant of the cave would
experience no inconvenience from it, being always provided with materials
to construct another bridge.
The adventures of the morning were not yet ended. As they approached the
hut, the little girl made an exclamation of surprise at seeing her
grandmother groping her way towards them, at a greater distance from her
home than she could have been supposed capable of travelling.
"Oh, sir, sir!" said the old woman, when she heard them approach, "gin
e'er ye loved Lord Evandale, help now, or never! God be praised that left
my hearing when he took my poor eyesight! Come this way,--this way. And
oh, tread lightly. Peggy, hinny, gang saddle the gentleman's horse, and
lead him cannily ahint the thorny shaw, and bide him there."
She conducted him to a small window, through which, himself unobserved,
he could see two dragoons seated at their morning draught of ale, and
conversing earnestly together.
"The more I think of it," said the one, "the less I like it, Inglis;
Evandale was a good officer and the soldier's friend; and though we were
punished for the mutiny at Tillietudlem, yet, by ---, Frank, you must own
we deserved it."
"D--n seize me if I forgive him for it, though!" replied the other; "and
I think I can sit in his skirts now."
"Why, man, you should forget and forgive. Better take the start with him
along with the rest, and join the ranting Highlanders. We have all eat
King James's bread."
"Thou art an ass; the start, as you call it, will never happen,--the
day's put off. Halliday's seen a ghost, or Miss Bellenden's fallen sick
of the pip, or some blasted nonsense or another; the thing will never
keep two days longer, and the first bird that sings out will get the
"That's true too," answered his comrade; "and will this fellow--this
Basil Olifant--pay handsomely?"
"Like a prince, man," said Inglis. "Evandale is the man on earth whom he
hates worst, and he fears him, besides, about some law business; and were
he once rubbed out of the way, all, he thinks, will be his own."
"But shall we have warrants and force enough?" said the other fellow.
"Few people here will stir against my lord, and we may find him with some
of our own fellows at his back."
"Thou 'rt a cowardly fool, Dick," returned Inglis; he is living quietly
down at Fairy Knowe to avoid suspicion. Olifant is a magistrate, and will
have some of his own people that he can trust along with him. There are
us two, and the laird says he can get a desperate fighting Whig fellow,
called Quintin Mackell, that has an old grudge at Evandale."
"Well, well, you are my officer, you know," said the private, with true
military conscience, "and if anything is wrong--"
"I'll take the blame," said Inglis. "Come, another pot of ale, and let us
to Tillietudlem.--Here, blind Bess!--Why, where the devil has the old hag
"Delay them as long as you can," whispered Morton, as he thrust his purse
into the hostess's hand; "all depends on gaining time."
Then, walking swiftly to the place where the girl held his horse ready,
"To Fairy Knowe? No; alone I could not protect them. I must instantly to
Glasgow. Wittenbold, the commandant there, will readily give me the
support of a troop, and procure me the countenance of the civil power. I
must drop a caution as I pass.--Come, Moorkopf," he said, addressing his
horse as he mounted him, "this day must try your breath and speed."
Yet could he not his closing eyes withdraw,
Though less and less of Emily he saw;
So, speechless for a little space he lay,
Then grasp'd the hand he held, and sigh'd his soul away.
Palamon and Acite.
The indisposition of Edith confined her to bed during the eventful day on
which she had received such an unexpected shock from the sudden
apparition of Morton. Next morning, however, she was reported to be so
much better that Lord Evandale resumed his purpose of leaving Fairy
Knowe. At a late hour in the forenoon Lady Emily entered the apartment of
Edith with a peculiar gravity of manner. Having received and paid the
compliments of the day, she observed it would be a sad one for her,
though it would relieve Miss Bellenden of an encumbrance: "My brother
leaves us today, Miss Bellenden."
"Leaves us!" exclaimed Edith, in surprise; "for his own house, I trust?"
"I have reason to think he meditates a more distant journey," answered
Lady Emily; "he has little to detain him in this country."
"Good Heaven!" exclaimed Edith, "why was I born to become the wreck of
all that is manly and noble! What can be done to stop him from running
headlong on ruin? I will come down instantly.--Say that I implore he will
not depart until I speak with him."
"It will be in vain, Miss Bellenden; but I will execute your commission;"
and she left the room as formally as she had entered it, and informed her
brother Miss Bellenden was so much recovered as to propose coming
downstairs ere he went away.
"I suppose," she added pettishly, "the prospect of being speedily
released from our company has wrought a cure on her shattered nerves."
"Sister," said Lord Evandale, "you are unjust, if not envious."
"Unjust I maybe, Evandale, but I should not have dreamt," glancing her
eye at a mirror, "of being thought envious without better cause. But let
us go to the old lady; she is making a feast in the other room which
might have dined all your troop when you had one."
Lord Evandale accompanied her in silence to the parlour, for he knew it
was in vain to contend with her prepossessions and offended pride. They
found the table covered with refreshments, arranged under the careful
inspection of Lady Margaret.
"Ye could hardly weel be said to breakfast this morning, my Lord
Evandale, and ye maun e'en partake of a small collation before ye ride,
such as this poor house, whose inmates are so much indebted to you, can
provide in their present circumstances. For my ain part, I like to see
young folk take some refection before they ride out upon their sports or
their affairs, and I said as much to his most sacred Majesty when he
breakfasted at Tillietudlem in the year of grace sixteen hundred and
fifty-one; and his most sacred Majesty was pleased to reply, drinking to
my health at the same time in a flagon of Rhenish wine, 'Lady Margaret,
ye speak like a Highland oracle.' These were his Majesty's very words;
so that your lordship may judge whether I have not good authority to
press young folk to partake of their vivers."
It may be well supposed that much of the good lady's speech failed Lord
Evandale's ears, which were then employed in listening for the light step
of Edith. His absence of mind on this occasion, however natural, cost him
very dear. While Lady Margaret was playing the kind hostess,--a part she
delighted and excelled in,--she was interrupted by John Gudyill, who, in
the natural phrase for announcing an inferior to the mistress of a
family, said, "There was ane wanting to speak to her leddyship."
"Ane! what ane? Has he nae name? Ye speak as if I kept a shop, and was to
come at everybody's whistle."
"Yes, he has a name," answered John, "but your leddyship likes ill to
hear't." What is it, you fool?"
"It's Calf-Gibbie, my leddy," said John, in a tone rather above the pitch
of decorous respect, on which he occasionally trespassed, confiding in
his merit as an ancient servant of the family and a faithful follower of
their humble fortunes,--"It's Calf-Gibbie, an your leddyship will hae't,
that keeps Edie Henshaw's kye down yonder at the Brigg-end,--that's him
that was Guse-Gibbie at Tillietudlem, and gaed to the wappinshaw, and
"Hold your peace, John," said the old lady, rising in dignity; "you are
very insolent to think I wad speak wi' a person like that. Let him tell
his business to you or Mrs. Headrigg."
"He'll no hear o' that, my leddy; he says them that sent him bade him gie
the thing to your leddyship's ain hand direct, or to Lord Evandale's, he
wots na whilk. But, to say the truth, he's far frae fresh, and he's but
an idiot an he were."
"Then turn him out," said Lady Margaret, "and tell him to come back
to-morrow when he is sober. I suppose he comes to crave some benevolence,
as an ancient follower o' the house."
"Like eneugh, my leddy, for he's a' in rags, poor creature."
Gudyill made another attempt to get at Gibbie's commission, which was
indeed of the last importance, being a few lines from Morton to Lord
Evandale, acquainting him with the danger in which he stood from the
practices of Olifant, and exhorting him either to instant flight, or else
to come to Glasgow and surrender himself, where he could assure him of
protection. This billet, hastily written, he intrusted to Gibbie, whom he
saw feeding his herd beside the bridge, and backed with a couple of
dollars his desire that it might instantly be delivered into the hand to
which it was addressed.
But it was decreed that Goose-Gibbie's intermediation, whether as an
emissary or as a man-at-arms, should be unfortunate to the family of
Tillietudlem. He unluckily tarried so long at the ale-house to prove if
his employer's coin was good that, when he appeared at Fairy Knowe, the
little sense which nature had given him was effectually drowned in ale
and brandy; and instead of asking for Lord Evandale, he demanded to speak
with Lady Margaret, whose name was more familiar to his ear. Being
refused admittance to her presence, he staggered away with the letter
undelivered, perversely faithful to Morton's instructions in the only
point in which it would have been well had he departed from them.
A few minutes after he was gone, Edith entered the apartment. Lord
Evandale and she met with mutual embarrassment, which Lady Margaret, who
only knew in general that their union had been postponed by her
granddaughter's indisposition, set down to the bashfulness of a bride and
bridegroom, and, to place them at ease, began to talk to Lady Emily on
indifferent topics. At this moment Edith, with a countenance as pale as
death, muttered, rather than whispered, to Lord Evandale a request to
speak with him. He offered his arm, and supported her into the small
ante-room, which, as we have noticed before, opened from the parlour. He
placed her in a chair, and, taking one himself, awaited the opening of
"I am distressed, my lord," were the first words she was able to
articulate, and those with difficulty; "I scarce know what I would say,
nor how to speak it."
"If I have any share in occasioning your uneasiness," said Lord Evandale,
mildly, "you will soon, Edith, be released from it."
"You are determined then, my lord," she replied, "to run this desperate
course with desperate men, in spite of your own better reason, in spite
of your friends' entreaties, in spite of the almost inevitable ruin which
yawns before you?"
"Forgive me, Miss Bellenden; even your solicitude on my account must not
detain me when my honour calls. My horses stand ready saddled, my
servants are prepared, the signal for rising will be given so soon as I
reach Kilsyth. If it is my fate that calls me, I will not shun meeting
it. It will be something," he said, taking her hand, "to die deserving
your compassion, since I cannot gain your love."
"Oh, my lord, remain!" said Edith, in a tone which went to his heart;
"time may explain the strange circumstance which has shocked me so much;
my agitated nerves may recover their tranquillity. Oh, do not rush on
death and ruin! remain to be our prop and stay, and hope everything from
"It is too late, Edith," answered Lord Evandale; "and I were most
ungenerous could I practise on the warmth and kindliness of your feelings
towards me. I know you cannot love me; nervous distress, so strong as to
conjure up the appearance of the dead or absent, indicates a predilection
too powerful to give way to friendship and gratitude alone. But were it
otherwise, the die is now cast."
As he spoke thus, Cuddie burst into the room, terror and haste in his
countenance. "Oh, my lord, hide yoursell! they hae beset the outlets o'
the house," was his first exclamation.
"They? Who?" said Lord Evandale.
"A party of horse, headed by Basil Olifant," answered Cuddie.
"Oh, hide yourself, my lord!" echoed Edith, in an agony of terror.
"I will not, by Heaven!" answered Lord Evandale. "What right has the
villain to assail me or stop my passage? I will make my way, were he
backed by a regiment; tell Halliday and Hunter to get out the horses.--
And now, farewell, Edith!" He clasped her in his arms, and kissed her
tenderly; then, bursting from his sister, who, with Lady Margaret,
endeavoured to detain him, rushed out and mounted his horse.
All was in confusion; the women shrieked and hurried in consternation to
the front windows of the house, from which they could see a small party
of horsemen, of whom two only seemed soldiers. They were on the open
ground before Cuddie's cottage, at the bottom of the descent from the
house, and showed caution in approaching it, as if uncertain of the
"He may escape, he may escape!" said Edith; "oh, would he but take the
But Lord Evandale, determined to face a danger which his high spirit
undervalued, commanded his servants to follow him, and rode composedly
down the avenue. Old Gudyill ran to arm himself, and Cuddie snatched down
a gun which was kept for the protection of the house, and, although on
foot, followed Lord Evandale. It was in vain his wife, who had hurried up
on the alarm, hung by his skirts, threatening him with death by the sword
or halter for meddling with other folk's matters.
"Hand your peace, ye b----," said Cuddie; "and that's braid Scotch, or I
wotna what is. Is it ither folk's matters to see Lord Evandale murdered
before my face?" and down the avenue he marched. But considering on the
way that he composed the whole infantry, as John Gudyill had not
appeared, he took his vantage ground behind the hedge, hammered his
flint, cocked his piece, and, taking a long aim at Laird Basil, as he was
called, stood prompt for action.
As soon as Lord Evandale appeared, Olifant's party spread themselves a
little, as if preparing to enclose him. Their leader stood fast,
supported by three men, two of whom were dragoons, the third in dress and
appearance a countryman, all well armed. But the strong figure, stern
features, and resolved manner of the third attendant made him seem the
most formidable of the party; and whoever had before seen him could have
no difficulty in recognising Balfour of Burley.
"Follow me," said Lord Evandale to his servants, "and if we are forcibly
opposed, do as I do." He advanced at a hand gallop towards Olifant, and
was in the act of demanding why he had thus beset the road, when Olifant
called out, "Shoot the traitor!" and the whole four fired their carabines
upon the unfortunate nobleman. He reeled in the, saddle, advanced his
hand to the holster, and drew a pistol, but, unable to discharge it, fell
from his horse mortally wounded. His servants had presented their
carabines. Hunter fired at random; but Halliday, who was an intrepid
fellow, took aim at Inglis, and shot him dead on the spot. At the same
instant a shot from behind the hedge still more effectually avenged Lord
Evandale, for the ball took place in the very midst of Basil Olifant's
forehead, and stretched him lifeless on the ground. His followers,
astonished at the execution done in so short a time, seemed rather
disposed to stand inactive, when Burley, whose blood was up with the
contest, exclaimed, "Down with the Midianites!" and attacked Halliday
sword in hand. At this instant the clatter of horses' hoofs was heard,
and a party of horse, rapidly advancing on the road from Glasgow,
appeared on the fatal field. They were foreign dragoons, led by the Dutch
commandant Wittenbold, accompanied by Morton and a civil magistrate.
A hasty call to surrender, in the name of God and King William, was
obeyed by all except Burley, who turned his horse and attempted to
escape. Several soldiers pursued him by command of their officer, but,
being well mounted, only the two headmost seemed likely to gain on him.
He turned deliberately twice, and discharging first one of his pistols,
and then the other, rid himself of the one pursuer by mortally wounding
him, and of the other by shooting his horse, and then continued his
flight to Bothwell Bridge, where, for his misfortune, he found the gates
shut and guarded. Turning from thence, he made for a place where the
river seemed passable, and plunged into the stream, the bullets from the
pistols and carabines of his pursuers whizzing around him. Two balls took
effect when he was past the middle of the stream, and he felt himself
dangerously wounded. He reined his horse round in the midst of the river,
and returned towards the bank he had left, waving his hand, as if with
the purpose of intimating that he surrendered. The troopers ceased firing
at him accordingly, and awaited his return, two of them riding a little
way into the river to seize and disarm him. But it presently appeared
that his purpose was revenge, not safety. As he approached the two
soldiers, he collected his remaining strength, and discharged a blow on
the head of one, which tumbled him from his horse. The other dragoon, a
strong, muscular man, had in the mean while laid hands on him. Burley, in
requital, grasped his throat, as a dying tiger seizes his prey, and both,
losing the saddle in the struggle, came headlong into the river, and were
swept down the stream. Their course might be traced by the blood which
bubbled up to the surface. They were twice seen to rise, the Dutchman
striving to swim, and Burley clinging to him in a manner that showed his
desire that both should perish. Their corpses were taken out about a
quarter of a mile down the river. As Balfour's grasp could not have been
unclenched without cutting off his hands, both were thrown into a hasty
grave, still marked by a rude stone and a ruder epitaph.
[Gentle reader, I did request of mine honest friend Peter Proudfoot,
travelling merchant, known to many of this land for his faithful and
just dealings, as well in muslins and cambrics as in small wares, to
procure me on his next peregrinations to that vicinage, a copy of
the Epitaphion alluded to. And, according to his report, which I see
no ground to discredit, it runneth thus:--
Here lyes ane saint to prelates surly,
Being John Balfour, sometime of Burley,
Who stirred up to vengeance take,
For Solemn League and Cov'nant's sake,
Upon the Magus-Moor in Fife,
Did tak James Sharpe the apostate's life;
By Dutchman's hands was hacked and shot,
Then drowned in Clyde near this saam spot.]
While the soul of this stern enthusiast flitted to its account, that of
the brave and generous Lord Evandale was also released. Morton had flung
himself from his horse upon perceiving his situation, to render his dying
friend all the aid in his power. He knew him, for he pressed his hand,
and, being unable to speak, intimated by signs his wish to be conveyed to
the house. This was done with all the care possible, and he was soon
surrounded by his lamenting friends. But the clamorous grief of Lady
Emily was far exceeded in intensity by the silent agony of Edith.
Unconscious even of the presence of Morton, she hung over the dying man;
nor was she aware that Fate, who was removing one faithful lover, had
restored another as if from the grave, until Lord Evandale, taking their
hands in his, pressed them both affectionately, united them together,
raised his face as if to pray for a blessing on them, and sunk back and
expired in the next moment.
I had determined to waive the task of a concluding chapter, leaving to
the reader's imagination the arrangements which must necessarily take
place after Lord Evandale's death. But as I was aware that precedents are
wanting for a practice which might be found convenient both to readers
and compilers, I confess myself to have been in a considerable dilemma,
when fortunately I was honoured with an invitation to drink tea with Miss
Martha Buskbody, a young lady who has carried on the profession of
mantua-making at Ganderscleugh and in the neighbourhood, with great
success, for about forty years. Knowing her taste for narratives of this
description, I requested her to look over the loose sheets the morning
before I waited on her, and enlighten me by the experience which she must
have acquired in reading through the whole stock of three circulating
libraries, in Ganderscleugh and the two next market-towns. When, with a
palpitating heart, I appeared before her in the evening, I found her much
disposed to be complimentary.
"I have not been more affected," said she, wiping the glasses of her
spectacles, "by any novel, excepting the 'Tale of Jemmy and Jenny
Jessamy', which is indeed pathos itself; but your plan of omitting a
formal conclusion will never do. You may be as harrowing to our nerves as
you will in the course of your story, but, unless you had the genius
of the author of 'Julia de Roubignd,' never let the end be altogether
overclouded. Let us see a glimpse of sunshine in the last chapter; it is
"Nothing would be more easy for me, madam, than to comply with your
injunctions; for, in truth, the parties in whom you have had the goodness
to be interested, did live long and happily, and begot sons and
"It is unnecessary, sir," she said, with a slight nod of reprimand, "to
be particular concerning their matrimonial comforts. But what is your
objection to let us have, in a general way, a glimpse of their future
"Really, madam," said I, "you must be aware that every volume of a
narrative turns less and less interesting as the author draws to a
conclusion,--just like your tea, which, though excellent hyson, is
necessarily weaker and more insipid in the last cup. Now, as I think the
one is by no means improved by the luscious lump of half-dissolved sugar
usually found at the bottom of it, so I am of opinion that a history,
growing already vapid, is but dully crutched up by a detail of
circumstances which every reader must have anticipated, even though the
author exhaust on them every flowery epithet in the language."
"This will not do, Mr. Pattieson," continued the lady; "you have, as I
may say, basted up your first story very hastily and clumsily at the
conclusion; and, in my trade, I would have cuffed the youngest apprentice
who had put such a horrid and bungled spot of work out of her hand. And
if you do not redeem this gross error by telling us all about the
marriage of Morton and Edith, and what became of the other personages of
the story, from Lady Margaret down to Goose-Gibbie, I apprise you that
you will not be held to have accomplished your task handsomely."
"Well, madam," I replied, "my materials are so ample that I think I can
satisfy your curiosity, unless it descend to very minute circumstances
"First, then," said she, "for that is most essential,--Did Lady Margaret
get back her fortune and her castle?"
"She did, madam, and in the easiest way imaginable, as heir, namely, to
her worthy cousin, Basil Olifant, who died without a will; and thus, by
his death, not only restored, but even augmented, the fortune of her,
whom, during his life, he had pursued with the most inveterate malice.
John Gudyill, reinstated in his dignity, was more important than ever;
and Cuddie, with rapturous delight, entered upon the cultivation of the
mains of Tillietudlem, and the occupation of his original cottage. But,
with the shrewd caution of his character, he was never heard to boast of
having fired the lucky shot which repossessed his lady and himself in
their original habitations. 'After a',' he said to Jenny, who was his
only confidant, 'auld Basil Olifant was my leddy's cousin and a grand
gentleman; and though he was acting again the law, as I understand, for
he ne'er showed ony warrant, or required Lord Evandale to surrender, and
though I mind killing him nae mair than I wad do a muircock, yet it 's
just as weel to keep a calm sough about it.' He not only did so, but
ingeniously enough countenanced a report that old Gudyill had done the
deed,--which was worth many a gill of brandy to him from the old butler,
who, far different in disposition from Cuddie, was much more inclined to
exaggerate than suppress his exploits of manhood. The blind widow was
provided for in the most comfortable manner, as well as the little guide
to the Linn; and--"
"But what is all this to the marriage,--the marriage of the principal
personages?" interrupted Miss Buskbody, impatiently tapping her
"The marriage of Morton and Miss Bellenden was delayed for several
months, as both went into deep mourning on account of Lord Evandale's
death. They were then wedded."
"I hope not without Lady Margaret's consent, sir?" said my fair critic.
"I love books which teach a proper deference in young persons to their
parents. In a novel the young people may fall in love without their
countenance, because it is essential to the necessary intricacy of the
story; but they must always have the benefit of their consent at last.
Even old Delville received Cecilia, though the daughter of a man of low
"And even so, madam," replied I, "Lady Margaret was prevailed on to
countenance Morton, although the old Covenanter, his father, stuck sorely
with her for some time. Edith was her only hope, and she wished to see
her happy; Morton, or Melville Morton, as he was more generally called,
stood so high in the reputation of the world, and was in every other
respect such an eligible match, that she put her prejudice aside, and
consoled herself with the recollection that marriage went by destiny, as
was observed to her, she said, by his most sacred Majesty, Charles the
Second of happy memory, when she showed him the portrait of her grand-
father Fergus, third Earl of Torwood, the handsomest man of his time, and
that of Countess Jane, his second lady, who had a hump-back and only one.
eye. This was his Majesty's observation, she said, on one remarkable
morning when he deigned to take his /disjune/--"
"Nay," said Miss Buskbody, again interrupting me, "if she brought such
authority to countenance her acquiescing in a misalliance, there was no
more to be said.--And what became of old Mrs. What's her name, the
"Mrs. Wilson, madam?" answered I. "She was perhaps the happiest of the
party; for once a year, and not oftener, Mr. and Mrs. Melville Morton
dined in the great wainscotted chamber in solemn state, the hangings
being all displayed, the carpet laid down, and the huge brass candlestick
set on the table, stuck round with leaves of laurel. The preparing the
room for this yearly festival employed her mind for six months before it
came about, and the putting matters to rights occupied old Alison the
other six, so that a single day of rejoicing found her business for all
the year round."
"And Niel Blane?" said Miss Buskbody.
"Lived to a good old age, drank ale and brandy with guests of all
persuasions, played Whig or Jacobite tunes as best pleased his customers,
and died worth as much money as married Jenny to a cock laird. I hope,
ma'am, you have no other inquiries to make, for really--"
"Goose-Gibbie, sir?" said my persevering friend,--"Goose-Gibbie, whose
ministry was fraught with such consequences to the personages of the
"Consider, my dear Miss Buskbody, (I beg pardon for the familiarity),--
but pray consider, even the memory of the renowned Scheherazade, that
Empress of Tale-tellers, could not preserve every circumstance. I am not
quite positive as to the fate of Goose-Gibbie, but am inclined to think
him the same with one Gilbert Dudden, alias Calf-Gibbie, who was whipped
through Hamilton for stealing poultry."
Miss Buskbody now placed her left foot on the fender, crossed her right
leg over her knee, lay back on the chair, and looked towards the ceiling.
When I observed her assume this contemplative mood, I concluded she was
studying some farther cross-examination, and therefore took my hat and
wished her a hasty good-night, ere the Demon of Criticism had supplied
her with any more queries. In like manner, gentle Reader, returning you
my thanks for the patience which has conducted you thus far, I take the
liberty to withdraw myself from you for the present.
It was mine earnest wish, most courteous Reader, that the "Tales of my
Landlord" should have reached thine hands in one entire succession of
tomes, or volumes. But as I sent some few more manuscript quires,
containing the continuation of these most pleasing narratives, I was
apprised, somewhat unceremoniously, by my publisher that he did not
approve of novels (as he injuriously called these real histories)
extending beyond four volumes, and if I did not agree to the first four
being published separately, he threatened to decline the article. (Oh,
ignorance! as if the vernacular article of our mother English were
capable of declension.) Whereupon, somewhat moved by his remonstrances,
and more by heavy charges for print and paper, which he stated to have
been already incurred, I have resolved that these four volumes shall be
the heralds or avant-couriers of the Tales which are yet in my
possession, nothing doubting that they will be eagerly devoured, and the
remainder anxiously demanded, by the unanimous voice of a discerning
public. I rest, esteemed Reader, thine as thou shalt construe me,
GANDERCLEUGH, Nov. 15, 1816.
Aboon, abune, above.
Again, against, until.
Amna, am not.
An, if, suppose.
Arles, earnest money.
Asteer, in confusion.
Atweel, aweel, well.
Aught, own, possessed of; also, eight.
Awe, to owe. "Awe a day in har'st," to owe a good turn.
Awsome, awful, terrible.
Bab, a bunch.
Bang, to beat.
Bannock, a scone.
Bawbee, a halfpenny.
Bein, bien, well provided.
Bide, to wait, to suffer. "Bide a blink," stay a minute.
Birky, a lively young fellow.
Birl, to toss, to drink.
Bleeze, a blaze; also, to brag, to talk ostentatiously.
Blude, bluid, blood.
Boddle, a small copper coin.
Branks, a kind of bridle.
Braw, fine, brave.
Braws, fine clothes.
Brigg, a bridge.
Brogue, the Highland shoe.
Browst, a brewing.
Budget, a carabine-socket.
Busk, to deck up.
"By and out-taken," over and above and excepting.
Ca', to call. "Ca' the pleugh," to work the plough.
Canna, cannot. "Canna hear day nor door," as deaf as a post.
Canny, quiet, cautious, snug.
Carcage, a carcass.
Carena, care not.
Carline, an old woman, a witch.
Cast, chance, opportunity, fate.
"Cast o' a cart," chance use of a cart.
Change-house, a small inn or alehouse.
Chield, a fellow.
Chimley, a chimney.
"Clinked down," quartered.
"Cock laird," a small land holder who cultivates his estate himself.
Copleen, to complain.
Coup, to barter; also, to turn over.
Crap, the produce of the ground.
Crowdy, meal and milk mixed in a cold state.
Cuittle, to wheedle, to curry favour.
Daur, to dare.
Daurna, dare not.
Deil, the devil. "Deil gin," the devil may care if.
Didna, did not.
Dighting, separating, wiping.
Ding, to knock.
Dinna, disna, do not.
Disjasked-looking, decayed looking.
Dooms, very, confoundedly.
Douce, douse, quiet, sensible.
"Dow'd na," did not like.
"Downs bide," cannot bear, don't like.
Drouthy, dry, thirsty.
Dwam, a swoon.
Ee, an eye.
E'en, evening; even.
E'enow, presently, at present.
Eik, an addition.
Eneuch, eneugh, enow, enough.
Fairing "gie him a fairing," settle him.
Fallow, a fellow.
Feck, part of a thing.
Fend, to provide.
Flyte, to scold.
Foumart, a pole-cat.
Gae, to go; also, gave.
Gar, to make, to oblige.
Gate, way, mode, direction.
Gay, gey, very. "Gey thick," pretty thick.
Gledge, a side-glance.
Gomeril, a fool, a simpleton.
Gowpen, a handful.
Grewsome, sullen, stern, forbidding.
Gude, God; good.
Gudeman, a husband; head of the household.
Gude-sister, a sister-in-law.
Gudewife, a wife, a spouse.
Guide, to manage.
Haena, have not.
"Hae 't," have it.
Hantle, a great deal.
Harry, to rob, to break in upon.
Hash, a clumsy lout.
Hand, to hold, to have.
Hauld, a habitation.
Heugh, a dell; also, a crag.
Hinny, a term of endearment=honey.
Holme, a hollow, level low ground.
"Horse of wood, foaled of an acorn," a form of punishment.
Howf, a retreat.
Hunder, a hundred.
Hup! used to a horse in order to make him quicken his pace.
"Hup nor wind," quite unmanageable.
Hurdies, the buttocks.
Ilk, ilka, each, every.
Ill-guide, to ill-treat.
I' se, I shall.
Isna, is not.
Jalouse, to suspect.
Jimply, barely, scantily.
Jo, joe, a sweetheart.
"John Thomson's man," a husband who yields to the influence of his wife.
Justify, to punish with death.
Kail, kale, cabbage greens; broth. "Kail through the reek," to give one a
Kail-brose, pottage of meal made with the scum of broth.
Kale-yard, a vegetable garden.
Ken, to know.
Kenna, kensna, know not.
Lane, lone, alone. By a peculiar idiom in the Scotch this is frequently
conjoined with the pronoun: as, "his lane," "my lane," "their lane,"
i. e., "by himself," "by myself," "by themselves."
"Lang ten," the ten of trumps in Scotch whist.
Lassie, lassock, a little girl.
Lave, the remainder.
Leatherin', beating, drubbing.
Lift, to carry off by theft.
Linn, a cataract.
Lippie, the fourth part of a peck.
Loon, a fellow.
Loot, looten, let, allowed.
Loup, to leap.
Lug, the ear.
Mart, a fatted cow.
Mensfu', modest, mindful.
Mind, to remember.
"Morn, the," to-morrow.
Muir, a moor.
Na, no, not.
Naig, a nag.
Neb, the nose, the beak.
Neuk, a nook, a corner.
Onstead, a farm-steading.
"Ordinar, by," in an uncommon way.
O 't, of it.
Outshot, a projection in a building.
Peat-hag, a hollow in moss left after digging peats.
Dinners, a cap with lappets, formerly worn by women of rank.
Pit, to put.
Pleugh-paidle, a plough-staff.
Pockmantle, a portmanteau.
Putten, put. "Putten up," provided for.
Quean, a flirt, a young woman.
Randy, a scold.
Raploch, coarse, undyed homespun.
Rax, to stretch, to reach.
Redd, to clear up.
Rin, to run.
Ripe, to rake, to search.
Rue "to take the rue," to repent of a proposal or bargain.
Rugging, pulling roughly.
"St. Johnstone's tippet," a halter for execution.
"Sair travailed," worn out, wearied.
Sark, a shirt.
Set, to suit, to become one; also, to beset.
Shaw, a wood; flat ground at the foot of a hill.
Skellie, to squint.
Skirl, to scream.
Sort, to arrange, to supply.
Sort, a term applied to persons or things when the number is small.
Sough, a sigh, a breath. "Calm sough," an easy mind, a still tongue.
"Sough'd awa," died gently.
Soup, "a bite and a soup," slender support, both as to meat and drink.
Sowens, a sort of gruel.
Speer, to inquire, to ask.
Spunk, fire, activity, spirit.
Steer, to disturb.
Stot, a bullock.
Stour, a battle, a fight.
Stressed, distressed, inconvenienced.
Sud, suld, should.
Sune, soon. "Sune as syne," soon as late.
Sybo, an onion or radish.
Syke, a streamlet dry in summer.
Syne, since, afterwards.
Tae, tane, the one.
"Tak on," to engage.
"Thack and rape," snug and comfortable.
Thae, these, those.
Threep, to aver strongly.
"Till 't," to it.
"Tippet, St. Johnstone's," a halter for execution.
Tirl, to uncover, to strip.
Tittie, a sister.
Tother, the other.
Toy, a close linen cap.
Trow, to believe, to think, to guess.
Unco, very, particularly, prodigious, terrible; also, strange.
Wadna, would not.
Wallie, a valet.
Walth, plenty, abundance.
Wan, got, reached.
We'se, we shall.
Wha, whae, who.
"What for," why.
Wheen, a few.
Win, to get. "To win by," to escape.
"To win ower," to get over.
Winna, will not.
Winnock, a window.
Wotna, know not.
"What's yer wull?" what is your pleasure?
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