The Antiquary, Complete
Sir Walter Scott
Part 3 out of 10
Here Miss Oldbuck re-entered, with a singularly sage expression of
countenance.--"Mr. Lovel's bed's ready, brother--clean sheets--weel aired
--a spunk of fire in the chimney--I am sure, Mr. Lovel," (addressing
him), "it's no for the trouble--and I hope you will have a good night's
"You are resolved," said the Antiquary, "to do what you can to prevent
"Me?--I am sure I have said naething, Monkbarns."
"My dear madam," said Lovel, "allow me to ask you the meaning of your
obliging anxiety on my account."
"Ou, Monkbarns does not like to hear of it--but he kens himsell that the
room has an ill name. It's weel minded that it was there auld Rab Tull
the town-clerk was sleeping when he had that marvellous communication
about the grand law-plea between us and the feuars at the Mussel-craig.
--It had cost a hantle siller, Mr. Lovel; for law-pleas were no carried on
without siller lang syne mair than they are now--and the Monkbarns of
that day--our gudesire, Mr. Lovel, as I said before--was like to be
waured afore the Session for want of a paper--Monkbarns there kens weel
what paper it was, but I'se warrant he'll no help me out wi' my tale--but
it was a paper of great significance to the plea, and we were to be
waured for want o't. Aweel, the cause was to come on before the fifteen
--in presence, as they ca't--and auld Rab Tull, the town-clerk, he cam ower
to make a last search for the paper that was wanting, before our gudesire
gaed into Edinburgh to look after his plea--so there was little time to
come and gang on. He was but a doited snuffy body, Rab, as I've heard
--but then he was the town-clerk of Fairport, and the Monkbarns heritors
aye employed him on account of their connection wi' the burgh, ye ken."
"Sister Grizel, this is abominable," interrupted Oldbuck; "I vow to
Heaven ye might have raised the ghosts of every abbot of Trotcosey, since
the days of Waldimir, in the time you have been detailing the
introduction to this single spectre.--Learn to be succinct in your
narrative.--Imitate the concise style of old Aubrey, an experienced
ghost-seer, who entered his memoranda on these subjects in a terse
business-like manner; _exempli gratia_--At Cirencester, 5th March, 1670,
was an apparition.--Being demanded whether good spirit or bad, made no
answer, but instantly disappeared with a curious perfume, and a melodious
twang'--_Vide_ his Miscellanies, p. eighteen, as well as I can remember,
and near the middle of the page."
"O, Monkbarns, man! do ye think everybody is as book-learned as
yoursell?--But ye like to gar folk look like fools--ye can do that to Sir
Arthur, and the minister his very sell."
"Nature has been beforehand with me, Grizel, in both these instances, and
in another which shall be nameless--but take a glass of ale, Grizel, and
proceed with your story, for it waxes late."
"Jenny's just warming your bed, Monkbarns, and ye maun e'en wait till
she's done.--Weel, I was at the search that our gudesire, Monkbarns that
then was, made wi' auld Rab Tull's assistance;--but ne'er-be-licket could
they find that was to their purpose. Aud sae, after they bad touzled out
mony a leather poke-full o' papers, the town-clerk had his drap punch at
e'en to wash the dust out of his throat--we never were glass-breakers in
this house, Mr. Lovel, but the body bad got sic a trick of sippling and
tippling wi' the bailies and deacons when they met (which was amaist ilka
night) concerning the common gude o' the burgh, that he couldna weel
sleep without it--But his punch he gat, and to bed he gaed; and in the
middle of the night he got a fearfu' wakening!--he was never just himsell
after it, and he was strucken wi' the dead palsy that very day four
years. He thought, Mr. Lovel, that he heard the curtains o' his bed
fissil, and out he lookit, fancying, puir man, it might hae been the cat
--But he saw--God hae a care o' us! it gars my flesh aye creep, though I
hae tauld the story twenty times--he saw a weel-fa'ard auld gentleman
standing by his bedside, in the moonlight, in a queer-fashioned dress,
wi' mony a button and band-string about it, and that part o' his garments
which it does not become a leddy to particulareeze, was baith side and
wide, and as mony plies o't as of ony Hamburgh skipper's--He had a beard
too, and whiskers turned upwards on his upper-lip, as lang as baudrons'
--and mony mair particulars there were that Rab Tull tauld o', but they are
forgotten now--it's an auld story. Aweel, Rab was a just-living man for a
country writer--and he was less feared than maybe might just hae been
expected; and he asked in the name o' goodness what the apparition
wanted--and the spirit answered in an unknown tongue. Then Rab said he
tried him wi' Erse, for he cam in his youth frae the braes of Glenlivat
--but it wadna do. Aweel, in this strait, he bethought him of the twa or
three words o' Latin that he used in making out the town's deeds, and he
had nae sooner tried the spirit wi' that, than out cam sic a blatter o'
Latin about his lugs, that poor Rab Tull, wha was nae great scholar, was
clean overwhelmed. Od, but he was a bauld body, and he minded the Latin
name for the deed that he was wanting. It was something about a cart, I
fancy, for the ghaist cried aye, _Carter, carter_--"
"_Carta,_ you transformer of languages!" cried Oldbuck;--"if my ancestor
had learned no other language in the other world, at least he would not
forget the Latinity for which he was so famous while in this."
"Weel, weel, _carta_ be it then, but they ca'd it _carter_ that tell'd me
the story. It cried aye _carta,_ if sae be that it was _carta,_ and made
a sign to Rab to follow it. Rab Tull keepit a Highland heart, and banged
out o' bed, and till some of his readiest claes--and he did follow the
thing up stairs and down stairs to the place we ca' the high dow-cot--(a
sort of a little tower in the corner of the auld house, where there was a
Tickle o' useless boxes and trunks)--and there the ghaist gae Rab a kick
wi' the tae foot, and a kick wi' the tother, to that very auld
east-country tabernacle of a cabinet that my brother has standing beside
his library table, and then disappeared like a fuff o' tobacco, leaving
Rab in a very pitiful condition."
"_Tenues secessit in auras,_" quoth Oldbuck. "Marry, sir, _mansit odor_
--But, sure enough, the deed was there found in a drawer of this forgotten
repository, which contained many other curious old papers, now properly
labelled and arranged, and which seemed to have belonged to my ancestor,
the first possessor of Monkbarns. The deed, thus strangely recovered, was
the original Charter of Erection of the Abbey, Abbey Lands, and so forth,
of Trotcosey, comprehending Monkbarns and others, into a Lordship of
Regality in favour of the first Earl of Glengibber, a favourite of James
the Sixth. It is subscribed by the King at Westminster, the seventeenth
day of January, A. D. one thousand six hundred and twelve--thirteen. It's
not worth while to repeat the witnesses' names."
"I would rather," said Lovel with awakened curiosity, "I would rather
hear your opinion of the way in which the deed was discovered."
"Why, if I wanted a patron for my legend, I could find no less a one than
Saint Augustine, who tells the story of a deceased person appearing to
his son, when sued for a debt which had been paid, and directing him
where, to find the discharge.*
*Note D. Mr. Rutherford's dream.
But I rather opine with Lord Bacon, who says that imagination is much
akin to miracle-working faith. There was always some idle story of the
room being haunted by the spirit of Aldobrand Oldenbuck, my
great-great-great-grandfather--it's a shame to the English language that,
we have not a less clumsy way of expressing a relationship of which we
have occasion to think and speak so frequently. He was a foreigner, and
wore his national dress, of which tradition had preserved an accurate
description; and indeed there is a print of him, supposed to be by
Reginald Elstracke, pulling the press with his own hand, as it works off
the sheets of his scarce edition of the Augsburg Confession. He was a
chemist as well as a good mechanic, and either of these qualities in this
country was at that time sufficient to constitute a white witch at least.
This superstitious old writer had heard all this, and probably believed
it, and in his sleep the image and idea of my ancestor recalled that of
his cabinet, which, with the grateful attention to antiquities and the
memory of our ancestors not unusually met with, had been pushed into the
pigeon-house to be out of the way--Add a _quantum sufficit_ of
exaggeration, and you have a key to the whole mystery."
"O brother! brother! but Dr. Heavysterne, brother--whose sleep was so
sore broken, that he declared he wadna pass another night in the Green
Room to get all Monkbarns, so that Mary and I were forced to yield our"--
"Why, Grizel, the doctor is a good, honest, pudding-headed German, of
much merit in his own way, but fond of the mystical, like many of his
countrymen. You and he had a traffic the whole evening in which you
received tales of Mesmer, Shropfer, Cagliostro, and other modern
pretenders to the mystery of raising spirits, discovering hidden
treasure, and so forth, in exchange for your legends of the green
bedchamber;--and considering that the _Illustrissimus_ ate a pound and a
half of Scotch collops to supper, smoked six pipes, and drank ale and
brandy in proportion, I am not surprised at his having a fit of the
night-mare. But everything is now ready. Permit me to light you to your
apartment, Mr. Lovel--I am sure you have need of rest--and I trust my
ancestor is too sensible of the duties of hospitality to interfere with
the repose which you have so well merited by your manly and gallant
So saying, the Antiquary took up a bedroom candlestick of massive silver
and antique form, which, he observed, was wrought out of the silver found
in the mines of the Harz mountains, and had been the property of the very
personage who had supplied them with a subject for conversation. And
having so said, he led the way through many a dusky and winding passage,
now ascending, and anon descending again, until he came to the apartment
destined for his young guest.
When midnight o'er the moonless skies
Her pall of transient death has spread,
When mortals sleep, when spectres rise,
And none are wakeful but the dead;
No bloodless shape my way pursues,
No sheeted ghost my couch annoys,
Visions more sad my fancy views,--
Visions of long departed joys.
W. R. Spenser.
When they reached the Green Room, as it was called, Oldbuck placed the
candle on the toilet table, before a huge mirror with a black japanned
frame, surrounded by dressing-boxes of the same, and looked around him
with something of a disturbed expression of countenance. "I am seldom in
this apartment," he said, "and never without yielding to a melancholy
feeling--not, of course, on account of the childish nonsense that Grizel
was telling you, but owing to circumstances of an early and unhappy
attachment. It is at such moments as these, Mr. Lovel, that we feel the
changes of time. The, same objects are before us--those inanimate things
which we have gazed on in wayward infancy and impetuous youth, in anxious
and scheming manhood--they are permanent and the same; but when we look
upon them in cold unfeeling old age, can we, changed in our temper, our
pursuits, our feelings--changed in our form, our limbs, and our
strength,--can we be ourselves called the same? or do we not rather look
back with a sort of wonder upon our former selves, as being separate and
distinct from what we now are? The philosopher who appealed from Philip
inflamed with wine to Philip in his hours of sobriety, did not choose a
judge so different, as if he had appealed from Philip in his youth to
Philip in his old age. I cannot but be touched with the feeling so
beautifully expressed in a poem which I have heard repeated:*
*Probably Wordsworth's Lyrical Ballads had not as yet been published.
My eyes are dim with childish tears,
My heart is idly stirred,
For the same sound is in my ears
Which in those days I heard.
Thus fares it still in our decay;
And yet the wiser mind
Mourns less for what time takes away,
Than what he leaves behind.
Well, time cures every wound, and though the scar may remain and
occasionally ache, yet the earliest agony of its recent infliction is
felt no more."--So saying, he shook Lovel cordially by the hand, wished
him good-night, and took his leave.
Step after step Lovel could trace his host's retreat along the various
passages, and each door which he closed behind him fell with a sound more
distant and dead. The guest, thus separated from the living world, took
up the candle and surveyed the apartment.
The fire blazed cheerfully. Mrs. Grizel's attention had left some fresh
wood, should he choose to continue it, and the apartment had a
comfortable, though not a lively appearance. It was hung with tapestry,
which the looms of Arras had produced in the sixteenth century, and which
the learned typographer, so often mentioned, had brought with him as a
sample of the arts of the Continent. The subject was a hunting-piece; and
as the leafy boughs of the forest-trees, branching over the tapestry,
formed the predominant colour, the apartment had thence acquired its name
of the Green Chamber. Grim figures in the old Flemish dress, with slashed
doublets covered with ribbands, short cloaks, and trunk-hose, were
engaged in holding grey-hounds, or stag-hounds, in the leash, or cheering
them upon the objects of their game. Others, with boar-spears, swords,
and old-fashioned guns, were attacking stags or boars whom they had
brought to bay. The branches of the woven forest were crowded with fowls
of various kinds, each depicted with its proper plumage. It seemed as if
the prolific and rich invention of old Chaucer had animated the Flemish
artist with its profusion, and Oldbuck had accordingly caused the
following verses, from that ancient and excellent poet, to be embroidered
in Gothic letters, on a sort of border which he had added to the
Lo! here be oakis grete, streight as a line,
Under the which the grass, so fresh of line,
Be'th newly sprung--at eight foot or nine.
Everich tree well from his fellow grew,
With branches broad laden with leaves new,
That sprongen out against the sonne sheene,
Some golden red and some a glad bright green.
And in another canton was the following similar legend:--
And many an hart and many an hind,
Was both before me, and behind.
Of fawns, sownders, bucks and does,
Was full the wood and many roes,
And many squirrels that ysate
High on the trees and nuts ate.
The bed was of a dark and faded green, wrought to correspond with the
tapestry, but by a more modern and less skilful hand. The large and heavy
stuff-bottomed chairs, with black ebony backs, were embroidered after the
same pattern, and a lofty mirror, over the antique chimney-piece,
corresponded in its mounting with that on the old-fashioned toilet.
"I have heard," muttered Lovel, as he took a cursory view of the room and
its furniture, "that ghosts often chose the best room in the mansion to
which they attached themselves; and I cannot disapprove of the taste of
the disembodied printer of the Augsburg Confession." But he found it so
difficult to fix his mind upon the stories which had been told him of an
apartment with which they seemed so singularly to correspond, that he
almost regretted the absence of those agitated feelings, half fear half
curiosity, which sympathise with the old legends of awe and wonder, from
which the anxious reality of his own hopeless passion at present detached
him. For he now only felt emotions like those expressed in the lines,--
Ah! cruel maid, how hast thou changed
The temper of my mind!
My heart, by thee from all estranged,
Becomes like thee unkind.
He endeavoured to conjure up something like the feelings which would, at
another time, have been congenial to his situation, but his heart had no
room for these vagaries of imagination. The recollection of Miss Wardour,
determined not to acknowledge him when compelled to endure his society,
and evincing her purpose to escape from it, would have alone occupied his
imagination exclusively. But with this were united recollections more
agitating if less painful,--her hair-breadth escape--the fortunate
assistance which he had been able to render her--Yet what was his
requital? She left the cliff while his fate was yet doubtful--while it
was uncertain whether her preserver had not lost the life which he had
exposed for her so freely. Surely gratitude, at least, called for some
little interest in his fate--But no--she could not be selfish or unjust
--it was no part of her nature. She only desired to shut the door against
hope, and, even in compassion to him, to extinguish a passion which she
could never return.
But this lover-like mode of reasoning was not likely to reconcile him to
his fate, since the more amiable his imagination presented Miss Wardour,
the more inconsolable he felt he should be rendered by the extinction of
his hopes. He was, indeed, conscious of possessing the power of removing
her prejudices on some points; but, even in extremity, he determined to
keep the original determination which he had formed, of ascertaining that
she desired an explanation, ere he intruded one upon her. And, turn the
matter as he would, he could not regard his suit as desperate. There was
something of embarrassment as well as of grave surprise in her look when
Oldbuck presented him--and, perhaps, upon second thoughts, the one was
assumed to cover the other. He would not relinquish a pursuit which had
already cost him such pains. Plans, suiting the romantic temper of the
brain that entertained them, chased each other through his head, thick
and irregular as the motes of the sun-beam, and, long after he had laid
himself to rest, continued to prevent the repose which he greatly needed.
Then, wearied by the uncertainty and difficulties with which each scheme
appeared to be attended, he bent up his mind to the strong effort of
shaking off his love, "like dew-drops from the lion's mane," and resuming
those studies and that career of life which his unrequited affection had
so long and so fruitlessly interrupted. In this last resolution he
endeavoured to fortify himself by every argument which pride, as well as
reason, could suggest. "She shall not suppose," he said, "that, presuming
on an accidental service to her or to her father, I am desirous to
intrude myself upon that notice, to which, personally, she considered me
as having no title. I will see her no more. I will return to the land
which, if it affords none fairer, has at least many as fair, and less
haughty than Miss Wardour. Tomorrow I will bid adieu to these northern
shores, and to her who is as cold and relentless as her climate." When he
had for some time brooded over this sturdy resolution, exhausted nature
at length gave way, and, despite of wrath, doubt, and anxiety, he sank
It is seldom that sleep, after such violent agitation, is either sound or
refreshing. Lovel's was disturbed by a thousand baseless and confused
visions. He was a bird--he was a fish--or he flew like the one, and swam
like the other,--qualities which would have been very essential to his
safety a few hours before. Then Miss Wardour was a syren, or a bird of
Paradise; her father a triton, or a sea-gull; and Oldbuck alternately a
porpoise and a cormorant. These agreeable imaginations were varied by all
the usual vagaries of a feverish dream;--the air refused to bear the
visionary, the water seemed to burn him--the rocks felt like down pillows
as he was dashed against them--whatever he undertook, failed in some
strange and unexpected manner--and whatever attracted his attention,
underwent, as he attempted to investigate it, some wild and wonderful
metamorphosis, while his mind continued all the while in some degree
conscious of the delusion, from which it in vain struggled to free itself
by awaking;--feverish symptoms all, with which those who are haunted by
the night-hag, whom the learned call Ephialtes, are but too well
acquainted. At length these crude phantasmata arranged themselves into
something more regular, if indeed the imagination of Lovel, after he
awoke (for it was by no means the faculty in which his mind was least
rich), did not gradually, insensibly, and unintentionally, arrange in
better order the scene of which his sleep presented, it may be, a less
distinct outline. Or it is possible that his feverish agitation may have
assisted him in forming the vision.
Leaving this discussion to the learned, we will say, that after a
succession of wild images, such as we have above described, our hero, for
such we must acknowledge him, so far regained a consciousness of locality
as to remember where he was, and the whole furniture of the Green Chamber
was depicted to his slumbering eye. And here, once more, let me protest,
that if there should be so much old-fashioned faith left among this
shrewd and sceptical generation, as to suppose that what follows was an
impression conveyed rather by the eye than by the imagination, I do not
impugn their doctrine. He was, then, or imagined himself, broad awake in
the Green Chamber, gazing upon the flickering and occasional flame which
the unconsumed remnants of the faggots sent forth, as, one by one, they
fell down upon the red embers, into which the principal part of the
boughs to which they belonged had crumbled away. Insensibly the legend of
Aldobrand Oldenbuck, and his mysterious visits to the inmates of the
chamber, awoke in his mind, and with it, as we often feel in dreams, an
anxious and fearful expectation, which seldom fails instantly to summon
up before our mind's eye the object of our fear. Brighter sparkles of
light flashed from the chimney, with such intense brilliancy as to
enlighten all the room. The tapestry waved wildly on the wall, till its
dusky forms seemed to become animated. The hunters blew their horns--the
stag seemed to fly, the boar to resist, and the hounds to assail the one
and pursue the other; the cry of deer, mangled by throttling dogs--the
shouts of men, and the clatter of horses' hoofs, seemed at once to
surround him--while every group pursued, with all the fury of the chase,
the employment in which the artist had represented them as engaged. Lovel
looked on this strange scene devoid of wonder (which seldom intrudes
itself upon the sleeping fancy), but with an anxious sensation of awful
fear. At length an individual figure among the tissued huntsmen, as he
gazed upon them more fixedly, seemed to leave the arras and to approach
the bed of the slumberer. As he drew near, his figure appeared to alter.
His bugle-horn became a brazen clasped volume; his hunting-cap changed to
such a furred head-gear as graces the burgomasters of Rembrandt; his
Flemish garb remained but his features, no longer agitated with the fury
of the chase, were changed to such a state of awful and stern composure,
as might best portray the first proprietor of Monkbarns, such as he had
been described to Lovel by his descendants in the course of the preceding
evening. As this metamorphosis took place, the hubbub among the other
personages in the arras disappeared from the imagination of the dreamer,
which was now exclusively bent on the single figure before him. Lovel
strove to interrogate this awful person in the form of exorcism proper
for the occasion; but his tongue, as is usual in frightful dreams,
refused its office, and clung, palsied, to the roof of his mouth.
Aldobrand held up his finger, as if to impose silence upon the guest who
had intruded on his apartment, and began deliberately to unclasp the
venerable, volume which occupied his left hand. When it was unfolded, he
turned over the leaves hastily for a short space, and then raising his
figure to its full dimensions, and holding the book aloft in his left
hand, pointed to a passage in the page which he thus displayed. Although
the language was unknown to our dreamer, his eye and attention were both
strongly caught by the line which the figure seemed thus to press upon
his notice, the words of which appeared to blaze with a supernatural
light, and remained riveted upon has memory. As the vision shut his
volume, a strain of delightful music seemed to fill the apartment--Lovel
started, and became completely awake. The music, however, was still in
his ears, nor ceased till he could distinctly follow the measure of an
old Scottish tune.
He sate up in bed, and endeavoured to clear his brain of the phantoms
which had disturbed it during this weary night. The beams of the morning
sun streamed through the half-closed shutters, and admitted a distinct
light into the apartment. He looked round upon the hangings,--but the
mixed groups of silken and worsted huntsmen were as stationary as
tenter-hooks could make them, and only trembled slightly as the early
breeze, which found its way through an open crevice of the latticed
window, glided along their surface. Lovel leapt out of bed, and, wrapping
himself in a morning-gown, that had been considerately laid by his
bedside, stepped towards the window, which commanded a view of the sea,
the roar of whose billows announced it still disquieted by the storm of
the preceding evening, although the morning was fair and serene. The
window of a turret, which projected at an angle with the wall, and thus
came to be very near Lovel's apartment, was half-open, and from that
quarter he heard again the same music which had probably broken short his
dream. With its visionary character it had lost much of its charms--it
was now nothing more than an air on the harpsichord, tolerably well
performed--such is the caprice of imagination as affecting the fine arts.
A female voice sung, with some taste and great simplicity, something
between a song and a hymn, in words to the following effect:--
"Why sitt'st thou by that ruin'd hill,
Thou aged carle so stern and grey?
Dost thou its former pride recall,
Or ponder how it passed away?
"Know'st thou not me!" the Deep Voice cried,
"So long enjoyed, so oft misused--
Alternate, in thy fickle pride,
Desired, neglected, and accused?
"Before my breath, like, blazing flax,
Man and his marvels pass away;
And changing empires wane and wax,
Are founded, flourish and decay.
"Redeem mine hours--the space is brief--
While in my glass the sand-grains shiver,
And measureless thy joy or grief,
When Time and thou shalt part for ever!"
While the verses were yet singing, Lovel had returned to his bed; the
train of ideas which they awakened was romantic and pleasing, such as his
soul delighted in, and, willingly adjourning till more broad day the
doubtful task of determining on his future line of conduct, he abandoned
himself to the pleasing languor inspired by the music, and fell into a
sound and refreshing sleep, from which he was only awakened at a late
hour by old Caxon, who came creeping into the room to render the offices
of a valet-de-chambre.
"I have brushed your coat, sir," said the old man, when he perceived
Lovel was awake; "the callant brought it frae Fairport this morning, for
that ye had on yesterday is scantly feasibly dry, though it's been a'
night at the kitchen fire; and I hae cleaned your shoon. I doubt ye'll no
be wanting me to tie your hair, for" (with a gentle sigh) "a' the young
gentlemen wear crops now; but I hae the curling tangs here to gie it a
bit turn ower the brow, if ye like, before ye gae down to the leddies."
Lovel, who was by this time once more on his legs, declined the old man's
professional offices, but accompanied the refusal with such a douceur as
completely sweetened Caxon's mortification.
"It's a pity he disna get his hair tied and pouthered," said the ancient
friseur, when he had got once more into the kitchen, in which, on one
pretence or other, he spent three parts of his idle time--that is to say,
of his _whole_ time--"it's a great pity, for he's a comely young
"Hout awa, ye auld gowk," said Jenny Rintherout, "would ye creesh his
bonny brown hair wi' your nasty ulyie, and then moust it like the auld
minister's wig? Ye'll be for your breakfast, I'se warrant?--hae, there's
a soup parritch for ye--it will set ye better tae be slaistering at them
and the lapper-milk than meddling wi' Mr. Lovel's head--ye wad spoil the
maist natural and beautifaest head o' hair in a' Fairport, baith burgh
The poor barber sighed over the disrespect into which his art had so
universally fallen, but Jenny was a person too important to offend by
contradiction; so, sitting quietly down in the kitchen, he digested at
once his humiliation, and the contents of a bicker which held a Scotch
pint of substantial oatmeal porridge.
Sometimes he thinks that Heaven this pageant sent,
And ordered all the pageants as they went;
Sometimes that only 'twas wild Fancy's play,--
The loose and scattered relics of the day.
We must now request our readers to adjourn to the breakfast parlour of
Mr. Oldbuck, who, despising the modern slops of tea and coffee, was
substantially regaling himself, _more majorum,_ with cold roast-beef, and
a glass of a sort of beverage called _mum_--a species of fat ale, brewed
from wheat and bitter herbs, of which the present generation only know
the name by its occurrence in revenue acts of parliament, coupled with
cider, perry, and other excisable commodities. Lovel, who was seduced to
taste it, with difficulty refrained from pronouncing it detestable, but
_did_ refrain, as he saw he should otherwise give great offence to his
host, who had the liquor annually prepared with peculiar care, according
to the approved recipe bequeathed to him by the so-often mentioned
Aldobrand Oldenbuck. The hospitality of the ladies offered Lovel a
breakfast more suited to modern taste, and while he was engaged in
partaking of it, he was assailed by indirect inquiries concerning the
manner in which he had passed the night.
"We canna compliment Mr. Lovel on his looks this morning, brother--but he
winna condescend on any ground of disturbance he has had in the night
time. I am certain he looks very pale, and when he came here he was as
fresh as a rose."
"Why, sister, consider this rose of yours has been knocked about by sea
and wind all yesterday evening, as if he had been a bunch of kelp or
tangle, and how the devil would you have him retain his colour?"
"I certainly do still feel somewhat fatigued," said Lovel,
"notwithstanding the excellent accommodations with which your hospitality
so amply supplied me."
"Ah, sir!" said Miss Oldbuck looking at him with a knowing smile, or what
was meant to be one, "ye'll not allow of ony inconvenience, out of
civility to us."
"Really, madam," replied Lovel, "I had no disturbance; for I cannot term
such the music with which some kind fairy favoured me."
"I doubted Mary wad waken you wi' her skreighing; she dinna ken I had
left open a chink of your window, for, forbye the ghaist, the Green Room
disna vent weel in a high wind--But I am judging ye heard mair than
Mary's lilts yestreen. Weel, men are hardy creatures--they can gae
through wi' a' thing. I am sure, had I been to undergo ony thing of that
nature,--that's to say that's beyond nature--I would hae skreigh'd out at
once, and raised the house, be the consequence what liket--and, I dare
say, the minister wad hae done as mickle, and sae I hae tauld him,--I ken
naebody but my brother, Monkbarns himsell, wad gae through the like o't,
if, indeed, it binna you, Mr. Lovel."
"A man of Mr. Oldbuck's learning, madam," answered the questioned party,
"would not be exposed to the inconvenience sustained by the Highland
gentleman you mentioned last night."
"Ay, ay--ye understand now where the difficulty lies. Language? he has
ways o' his ain wad banish a' thae sort o' worricows as far as the
hindermost parts of Gideon" (meaning possibly Midian), "as Mr.
Blattergowl says--only ane widna be uncivil to ane's forbear, though he
be a ghaist. I am sure I will try that receipt of yours, brother, that ye
showed me in a book, if onybody is to sleep in that room again, though I
think, in Christian charity, ye should rather fit up the matted-room
--it's a wee damp and dark, to be sure, but then we hae sae seldom
occasion for a spare bed."
"No, no, sister;--dampness and darkness are worse than spectres--ours are
spirits of light, and I would rather have you try the spell."
"I will do that blythely, Monkbarns, an I had the ingredients, as my
cookery book ca's them--There was _vervain_ and _dill_--I mind that
--Davie Dibble will ken about them, though, maybe, he'll gie them Latin
names--and Peppercorn, we hae walth o' them, for"--
"Hypericon, thou foolish woman!" thundered Oldbuck; "d'ye suppose you're
making a haggis--or do you think that a spirit, though he be formed of
air, can be expelled by a receipt against wind?--This wise Grizel of
mine, Mr. Lovel, recollects (with what accuracy you may judge) a charm
which I once mentioned to her, and which, happening to hit her
superstitious noddle, she remembers better than anything tending to a
useful purpose, I may chance to have said for this ten years. But many an
old woman besides herself"--
"Auld woman, Monkbarns!" said Miss Oldbuck, roused something above her
usual submissive tone; "ye really are less than civil to me."
"Not less than just, Grizel: however, I include in the same class many a
sounding name, from Jamblichus down to Aubrey, who have wasted their time
in devising imaginary remedies for non-existing diseases.--But I hope, my
young friend, that, charmed or uncharmed--secured by the potency of
With vervain and with dill,
That hinder witches of their will,
or left disarmed and defenceless to the inroads of the invisible world,
you will give another night to the terrors of the haunted apartment, and
another day to your faithful and feal friends."
"I heartily wish I could, but"--
"Nay, but me no _buts_--I have set my heart upon it."
"I am greatly obliged, my dear sir, but"--
"Look ye there, now--_but_ again!--I hate _but;_ I know no form of
expression in which he can appear, that is amiable, excepting as a _butt_
of sack. But is to me a more detestable combination of letters than _no_
itself._No_ is a surly, honest fellow--speaks his mind rough and round at
once._But_ is a sneaking, evasive, half-bred, exceptuous sort of a
conjunction, which comes to pull away the cup just when it is at your
--it does allay
The good precedent--fie upon _but yet!_
_But yet_ is as a jailor to bring forth
Some monstrous malefactor."
"Well, then," answered Lovel, whose motions were really undetermined at
the moment, "you shall not connect the recollection of my name with so
churlish a particle. I must soon think of leaving Fairport, I am afraid
--and I will, since you are good enough to wish it, take this opportunity
of spending another day here."
"And you shall be rewarded, my boy. First, you shall see John o' the
Girnel's grave, and then we'll walk gently along the sands, the state of
the tide being first ascertained (for we will have no more Peter Wilkins'
adventures, no more Glum and Gawrie work), as far as Knockwinnock Castle,
and inquire after the old knight and my fair foe--which will but be
barely civil, and then"--
"I beg pardon, my dear sir; but, perhaps, you had better adjourn your
visit till to-morrow--I am a stranger, you know."
"And are, therefore, the more bound to show civility, I should suppose.
But I beg your pardon for mentioning a word that perhaps belongs only to
a collector of antiquities--I am one of the old school,
When courtiers galloped o'er four counties
The ball's fair partner to behold,
And humbly hope she caught no cold."
"Why, if--if--if you thought it would be expected--but I believe I had
"Nay, nay, my good friend, I am not so old-fashioned as to press you to
what is disagreeable, neither--it is sufficient that I see there is some
_remora,_ some cause of delay, some mid impediment, which I have no title
to inquire into. Or you are still somewhat tired, perhaps;--I warrant I
find means to entertain your intellects without fatiguing your limbs--I
am no friend to violent exertion myself--a walk in the garden once a-day
is exercise, enough for any thinking being--none but a fool or a
fox-hunter would require more. Well, what shall we set about?--my Essay
on Castrametation--but I have that in _petto_ for our afternoon cordial;
--or I will show you the controversy upon Ossian's Poems between
Mac-Cribb and me. I hold with the acute Orcadian--he with the defenders
of the authenticity;--the controversy began in smooth, oily, lady-like
terms, but is now waxing more sour and eager as we get on--it already
partakes somewhat of old Scaliger's style. I fear the rogue will get some
scent of that story of Ochiltree's--but at worst, I have a hard repartee
for him on the affair of the abstracted Antigonus--I will show you his
last epistle and the scroll of my answer--egad, it is a trimmer!"
So saying, the Antiquary opened a drawer, and began rummaging among a
quantity of miscellaneous papers, ancient and modern. But it was the
misfortune of this learned gentleman, as it may be that of many learned
and unlearned, that he frequently experienced, on such occasions, what
Harlequin calls _l'embarras des richesses;_ in other words, the abundance
of his collection often prevented him from finding the article he sought
for. "Curse the papers!--I believe," said Oldbuck, as he shuffled them to
and fro--"I believe they make themselves wings like grasshoppers, and fly
away bodily--but here, in the meanwhile, look at that little treasure."
So saying, he put into his hand a case made of oak, fenced at the corner
with silver roses and studs--"Pr'ythee, undo this button," said he, as he
observed Lovel fumbling at the clasp. He did so,--the lid opened, and
discovered a thin quarto, curiously bound in black shagreen--"There, Mr.
Lovel--there is the work I mentioned to you last night--the rare quarto
of the Augsburg Confession, the foundation at once and the bulwark of the
Reformation drawn up by the learned and venerable Melancthon, defended by
the Elector of Saxony, and the other valiant hearts who stood up for
their faith, even against the front of a powerful and victorious emperor,
and imprinted by the scarcely less venerable and praiseworthy Aldobrand
Oldenbuck, my happy progenitor, during the yet more tyrannical attempts
of Philip II. to suppress at once civil and religious liberty. Yes, sir
--for printing this work, that eminent man was expelled from his
ungrateful country, and driven to establish his household gods even here
at Monkbarns, among the ruins of papal superstition and domination.
--Look upon his venerable effigies, Mr. Lovel, and respect the honourable
occupation in which it presents him, as labouring personally at the
press for the diffusion of Christian and political knowledge.--And see
here his favourite motto, expressive of his independence and self-
reliance, which scorned to owe anything to patronage that was not earned
by desert--expressive also of that firmness of mind and tenacity of
purpose recommended by Horace. He was indeed a man who would have stood
firm, had his whole printing-house, presses, fonts, forms, great and
small pica, been shivered to pieces around him--Read, I say, his motto,
--for each printer had his motto, or device, when that illustrious art
was first practised. My ancestor's was expressed, as you see, in the
Teutonic phrase, Kunst macht Gunst--that is, skill, or prudence, in
availing ourselves of our natural talents and advantages, will compel
favour and patronage, even where it is withheld from prejudice or
"And that," said Lovel, after a moment's thoughtful silence--"that, then,
is the meaning of these German words?"
"Unquestionably. You perceive the appropriate application to a
consciousness of inward worth, and of eminence in a useful and honourable
art.--Each printer in those days, as I have already informed you, had his
device, his impresa, as I may call it, in the same manner as the doughty
chivalry of the age, who frequented tilt and tournament. My ancestor
boasted as much in his, as if he had displayed it over a conquered field
of battle, though it betokened the diffusion of knowledge, not the
effusion of blood. And yet there is a family tradition which affirms him
to have chosen it from a more romantic circumstance."
"And what is that said to have been, my good sir?" inquired his young
"Why, it rather encroaches on my respected predecessor's fame for
prudence and wisdom--_Sed semel insanivimus omnes_--everybody has played
the fool in their turn. It is said, my ancestor, during his
apprenticeship with the descendant of old Faust, whom popular tradition
hath sent to the devil under the name of Faustus, was attracted by a
paltry slip of womankind, his master's daughter, called Bertha--they
broke rings, or went through some idiotical ceremony, as is usual on such
idle occasions as the plighting of a true-love troth, and Aldobrand set
out on his journey through Germany, as became an honest _hand-werker;_
for such was the custom of mechanics at that time, to make a tour through
the empire, and work at their trade for a time in each of the most
eminent towns, before they finally settled themselves for life. It was a
wise custom; for, as such travellers were received like brethren in each
town by those of their own handicraft, they were sure, in every case, to
have the means either of gaining or communicating knowledge. When my
ancestor returned to Nuremburg, he is said to have found his old master
newly dead, and two or three gallant young suitors, some of them
half-starved sprigs of nobility forsooth, in pursuit of the _Yung-fraw_
Bertha, whose father was understood to have bequeathed her a dowry which
might weigh against sixteen armorial quarters. But Bertha, not a bad
sample of womankind, had made a vow she would only marry that man who
would work her father's press. The skill, at that time, was as rare as
wonderful; besides that the expedient rid her at once of most of her
_gentle_ suitors, who would have as soon wielded a conjuring wand as a
composing stick. Some of the more ordinary typographers made the attempt:
but none were sufficiently possessed of the mystery--But I tire you."
"By no means; pray, proceed, Mr. Oldbuck--I listen with uncommon
"Ah! it is all folly. However--Aldobrand arrived in the ordinary dress,
as we would say, of a journeyman printer--the same in which he had
traversed Germany, and conversed with Luther, Melancthon, Erasmus, and
other learned men, who disdained not his knowledge, and the power he
possessed of diffusing it, though hid under a garb so homely. But what
appeared respectable in the eyes of wisdom, religion, learning, and
philosophy, seemed mean, as might readily be supposed, and disgusting, in
those of silly and affected womankind, and Bertha refused to acknowledge
her former lover, in the torn doublet, skin cap, clouted shoes, and
leathern apron, of a travelling handicraftsman or mechanic. He claimed
his privilege, however, of being admitted to a trial; and when the rest
of the suitors had either declined the contest, or made such work as the
devil could not read if his pardon depended on it, all eyes were bent on
the stranger. Aldobrand stepped gracefully forward, arranged the types
without omission of a single letter, hyphen, or comma, imposed them
without deranging a single space, and pulled off the first proof as clear
and free from errors, as if it had been a triple revise! All applauded
the worthy successor of the immortal Faustus--the blushing maiden
acknowledged her error in trusting to the eye more than the intellect
--and the elected bridegroom thenceforward chose for his impress or device
the appropriate words, _Skill wins favour._'--But what is the matter with
you?--you are in a brown study! Come, I told you this was but trumpery
conversation for thinking people--and now I have my hand on the Ossianic
"I beg your pardon," said Lovel; "I am going to appear very silly and
changeable in your eyes, Mr. Oldbuck--but you seemed to think Sir Arthur
might in civility expect a call from me?"
"Psha! psha! I can make your apology; and if you must leave us so soon as
you say, what signifies how you stand in his honours good graces?--And I
warn you that the Essay on Castrametation is something prolix, and will
occupy the time we can spare after dinner, so you may lose the Ossianic
Controversy if we do not dedicate this morning to it. We will go out to
my ever-green bower, my sacred holly-tree yonder, and have it _fronde
Sing heigh-ho! heigh-ho! for the green holly,
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly.
But, egad," continued the old gentleman, "when I look closer at you, I
begin to think you may be of a different opinion. Amen with all my heart
--I quarrel with no man's hobby, if he does not run it a tilt against
mine, and if he does--let him beware his eyes. What say you?--in the
language of the world and worldlings base, if you can condescend to so
mean a sphere, shall we stay or go?"
"In the language of selfishness, then, which is of course the language of
the world--let us go by all means."
"Amen, amen, quo' the Earl Marshall," answered Oldbuck, as he exchanged
his slippers for a pair of stout walking shoes, with _cutikins,_ as he
called them, of black cloth. He only interrupted the walk by a slight
deviation to the tomb of John o' the Girnel, remembered as the last
bailiff of the abbey who had resided at Monkbarns. Beneath an old
oak-tree upon a hillock, sloping pleasantly to the south, and catching a
distant view of the sea over two or three rich enclosures, and the
Mussel-crag, lay a moss-grown stone, and, in memory of the departed
worthy, it bore an inscription, of which, as Mr. Oldbuck affirmed (though
many doubted), the defaced characters could be distinctly traced to the
Here lyeth John o' ye Girnell;
Erth has ye nit, and heuen ye kirnell.
In hys tyme ilk wyfe's hennis clokit,
Ilka gud mannis herth wi' bairnis was stokit.
He deled a boll o' bear in firlottis fyve,
Four for ye halie kirke, and ane for puir mennis wyvis.
"You see how modest the author of this sepulchral commendation was;--he
tells us that honest John could make five firlots, or quarters, as you
would say, out of the boll, instead of four,--that he gave the fifth to
the wives of the parish, and accounted for the other four to the abbot
and chapter--that in his time the wives' hens always laid eggs--and devil
thank them, if they got one-fifth of the abbey rents; and that honest
men's hearths were never unblest with offspring--an addition to the
miracle, which they, as well as I, must have considered as perfectly
unaccountable. But come on--leave we Jock o' the Girnel, and let us jog
on to the yellow sands, where the sea, like a repulsed enemy, is now
retreating from the ground on which he gave us battle last night."
Thus saying, he led the way to the sands. Upon the links or downs close
to them, were seen four or five huts inhabited by fishers, whose boats,
drawn high upon the beach, lent the odoriferous vapours of pitch melting
under a burning sun, to contend with those of the offals of fish and
other nuisances usually collected round Scottish cottages. Undisturbed by
these complicated steams of abomination, a middle-aged woman, with a face
which had defied a thousand storms, sat mending a net at the door of one
of the cottages. A handkerchief close bound about her head, and a coat
which had formerly been that of a man, gave her a masculine air, which
was increased by her strength, uncommon stature, and harsh voice. "What
are ye for the day, your honour?" she said, or rather screamed, to
Oldbuck; "caller haddocks and whitings--a bannock-fluke and a
"How much for the bannock-fluke and cock-padle?" demanded the Antiquary.
"Four white shillings and saxpence," answered the Naiad.
"Four devils and six of their imps!" retorted the Antiquary; "do you
think I am mad, Maggie?"
"And div ye think," rejoined the virago, setting her arms akimbo, "that
my man and my sons are to gae to the sea in weather like yestreen and the
day--sic a sea as it's yet outby--and get naething for their fish, and be
misca'd into the bargain, Monkbarns? It's no fish ye're buying--it's
"Well, Maggie, I'll bid you fair--I'll bid you a shilling for the fluke
and the cock-padle, or sixpence separately--and if all your fish are as
well paid, I think your man, as you call him, and your sons, will make a
"Deil gin their boat were knockit against the Bell-Rock rather! it wad be
better, and the bonnier voyage o' the twa. A shilling for thae twa bonnie
fish! Od, that's ane indeed!"
"Well, well, you old beldam, carry your fish up to Monkbarns, and see
what my sister will give you for them."
"Na, na, Monkbarns, deil a fit--I'll rather deal wi' yoursell; for though
you're near enough, yet Miss Grizel has an unco close grip--I'll gie ye
them" (in a softened tone) "for three-and-saxpence."
"Eighteen-pence, or nothing!"
"Eighteen-pence!!!" (in a loud tone of astonishment, which declined into
a sort of rueful whine, when the dealer turned as if to walk away)--"Yell
no be for the fish then?"--(then louder, as she saw him moving off)
--"I'll gie ye them--and--and--and a half-a-dozen o' partans to make the
sauce, for three shillings and a dram."
"Half-a-crown then, Maggie, and a dram."
"Aweel, your honour maun hae't your ain gate, nae doubt; but a dram's
worth siller now--the distilleries is no working."
"And I hope they'll never work again in my time," said Oldbuck.
"Ay, ay--it's easy for your honour, and the like o' you gentle-folks to
say sae, that hae stouth and routh, and fire and fending and meat and
claith, and sit dry and canny by the fireside--but an ye wanted fire, and
meat, and dry claes, and were deeing o' cauld, and had a sair heart,
whilk is warst ava', wi' just tippence in your pouch, wadna ye be glad to
buy a dram wi't, to be eilding and claes, and a supper and heart's ease
into the bargain, till the morn's morning?"
"It's even too true an apology, Maggie. Is your goodman off to sea this
morning, after his exertions last night?"
"In troth is he, Monkbarns; he was awa this morning by four o'clock, when
the sea was working like barm wi' yestreen's wind, and our bit coble
dancing in't like a cork."
"Well, he's an industrious fellow. Carry the fish up to Monkbarns."
"That I will--or I'll send little Jenny, she'll rin faster; but I'll ca'
on Miss Grizzy for the dram mysell, and say ye sent me."
A nondescript animal, which might have passed for a mermaid, as it was
paddling in a pool among the rocks, was summoned ashore by the shrill
screams of its dam; and having been made decent, as her mother called it,
which was performed by adding a short red cloak to a petticoat, which was
at first her sole covering, and which reached scantily below her knee,
the child was dismissed with the fish in a basket, and a request on the
part of Monkbarns that they might be prepared for dinner. "It would have
been long," said Oldbuck, with much self-complacency, "ere my womankind
could have made such a reasonable bargain with that old skin-flint,
though they sometimes wrangle with her for an hour together under my
study window, like three sea-gulls screaming and sputtering in a gale of
wind. But come, wend we on our way to Knockwinnock."
Beggar?--the only freeman of your commonwealth;
Free above Scot-free, that observe no laws,
Obey no governor, use no religion
But what they draw from their own ancient custom,
Or constitute themselves, yet they are no rebels.
With our reader's permission, we will outstep the slow, though sturdy
pace of the Antiquary, whose halts, as he, turned round to his companion
at every moment to point out something remarkable in the landscape, or to
enforce some favourite topic more emphatically than the exercise of
walking permitted, delayed their progress considerably.
Notwithstanding the fatigues and dangers of the preceding evening, Miss
Wardour was able to rise at her usual hour, and to apply herself to her
usual occupations, after she had first satisfied her anxiety concerning
her father's state of health. Sir Arthur was no farther indisposed than
by the effects of great agitation and unusual fatigue, but these were
sufficient to induce him to keep his bedchamber.
To look back on the events of the preceding day, was, to Isabella, a very
unpleasing retrospect. She owed her life, and that of her father, to the
very person by whom, of all others, she wished least to be obliged,
because she could hardly even express common gratitude towards him
without encouraging hopes which might be injurious to them both. "Why
should it be my fate to receive such benefits, and conferred at so much
personal risk, from one whose romantic passion I have so unceasingly
laboured to discourage? Why should chance have given him this advantage
over me? and why, oh why, should a half-subdued feeling in my own bosom,
in spite of my sober reason, almost rejoice that he has attained it?"
While Miss Wardour thus taxed herself with wayward caprice, she, beheld
advancing down the avenue, not her younger and more dreaded preserver,
but the old beggar who had made such a capital figure in the melodrama of
the preceding evening.
She rang the bell for her maid-servant. "Bring the old man up stairs."
The servant returned in a minute or two--"He will come up at no rate,
madam;--he says his clouted shoes never were on a carpet in his life, and
that, please God, they never shall.--Must I take him into the servants'
"No; stay, I want to speak with him--Where is he?" for she had lost sight
of him as he approached the house.
"Sitting in the sun on the stone-bench in the court, beside the window of
the flagged parlour."
"Bid him stay there--I'll come down to the parlour, and speak with him at
She came down accordingly, and found the mendicant half-seated,
half-reclining, upon the bench beside the window. Edie Ochiltree, old man
and beggar as he was, had apparently some internal consciousness of the
favourable, impressions connected with his tall form, commanding
features, and long white beard and hair. It used to be remarked of him,
that he was seldom seen but in a posture which showed these personal
attributes to advantage. At present, as he lay half-reclined, with his
wrinkled yet ruddy cheek, and keen grey eye turned up towards the sky,
his staff and bag laid beside him, and a cast of homely wisdom and
sarcastic irony in the expression of his countenance, while he gazed for
a moment around the court-yard, and then resumed his former look upward,
he might have been taken by an artist as the model of an old philosopher
of the Cynic school, musing upon the frivolity of mortal pursuits, and
the precarious tenure of human possessions, and looking up to the source
from which aught permanently good can alone be derived. The young lady,
as she presented her tall and elegant figure at the open window, but
divided from the court-yard by a grating, with which, according to the
fashion of ancient times, the lower windows of the castle were secured,
gave an interest of a different kind, and might be supposed, by a
romantic imagination, an imprisoned damsel communicating a tale of her
durance to a palmer, in order that he might call upon the gallantry of
every knight whom he should meet in his wanderings, to rescue her from
her oppressive thraldom.
After Miss Wardour had offered, in the terms she thought would be most
acceptable, those thanks which the beggar declined as far beyond his
merit, she began to express herself in a manner which she supposed would
speak more feelingly to his apprehension. "She did not know," she said,
"what her father intended particularly to do for their preserver, but
certainly it would be something that would make him easy for life; if he
chose to reside at the castle, she would give orders"--
The old man smiled, and shook his head. "I wad be baith a grievance and a
disgrace to your fine servants, my leddy, and I have never been a
disgrace to onybody yet, that I ken of."
"Sir Arthur would give strict orders"--
"Ye're very kind--I doubtna, I doubtna; but there are some things a
master can command, and some he canna--I daresay he wad gar them keep
hands aff me--(and troth, I think they wad hardly venture on that ony
gate)--and he wad gar them gie me my soup parritch and bit meat. But trow
ye that Sir Arthur's command could forbid the gibe o' the tongue or the
blink o' the ee, or gar them gie me my food wi' the look o' kindness that
gars it digest sae weel, or that he could make them forbear a' the
slights and taunts that hurt ane's spirit mair nor downright misca'ing?
--Besides, I am the idlest auld carle that ever lived; I downa be bound
down to hours o' eating and sleeping; and, to speak the honest truth, I
wad be a very bad example in ony weel regulated family."
"Well, then, Edie, what do you think of a neat cottage and a garden, and
a daily dole, and nothing to do but to dig a little in your garden when
you pleased yourself?"
"And how often wad that be, trow ye, my leddy? maybe no ance atween
Candlemas and Yule and if a' thing were done to my hand, as if I was Sir
Arthur himsell, I could never bide the staying still in ae place, and
just seeing the same joists and couples aboon my head night after night.-
-And then I have a queer humour o' my ain, that sets a strolling beggar
weel eneugh, whase word naebody minds--but ye ken Sir Arthur has odd sort
o' ways--and I wad be jesting or scorning at them--and ye wad be angry,
and then I wad be just fit to hang mysell."
"O, you are a licensed man," said Isabella; "we shall give you all
reasonable scope: So you had better be ruled, and remember your age."
"But I am no that sair failed yet," replied the mendicant. "Od, ance I
gat a wee soupled yestreen, I was as yauld as an eel. And then what wad
a' the country about do for want o' auld Edie Ochiltree, that brings news
and country cracks frae ae farm-steading to anither, and gingerbread to
the lasses, and helps the lads to mend their fiddles, and the gudewives
to clout their pans, and plaits rush-swords and grenadier caps for the
weans, and busks the laird's flees, and has skill o' cow-ills and
horse-ills, and kens mair auld sangs and tales than a' the barony
besides, and gars ilka body laugh wherever he comes? Troth, my leddy, I
canna lay down my vocation; it would be a public loss."
"Well, Edie, if your idea of your importance is so strong as not to be
shaken by the prospect of independence"--
"Na, na, Miss--it's because I am mair independent as I am," answered the
old man; "I beg nae mair at ony single house than a meal o' meat, or
maybe but a mouthfou o't--if it's refused at ae place, I get it at
anither--sae I canna be said to depend on onybody in particular, but just
on the country at large."
"Well, then, only promise me that you will let me know should you ever
wish to settle as you turn old, and more incapable of making your usual
rounds; and, in the meantime, take this."
"Na, na, my leddy: I downa take muckle siller at ance--it's against our
rule; and--though it's maybe no civil to be repeating the like o' that
--they say that siller's like to be scarce wi' Sir Arthur himsell, and
that he's run himsell out o' thought wi' his honkings and minings for
lead and copper yonder."
Isabella had some anxious anticipations to the same effect, but was
shocked to hear that her father's embarrassments were such public talk;
as if scandal ever failed to stoop upon so acceptable a quarry as the
failings of the good man, the decline of the powerful, or the decay of
the prosperous.--Miss Wardour sighed deeply--"Well, Edie, we have enough
to pay our debts, let folks say what they will, and requiting you is one
of the foremost--let me press this sum upon you."
"That I might be robbed and murdered some night between town and town?
or, what's as bad, that I might live in constant apprehension o't?--I am
no"--(lowering his voice to a whisper, and looking keenly around him)--"I
am no that clean unprovided for neither; and though I should die at the
back of a dyke, they'll find as muckle quilted in this auld blue gown as
will bury me like a Christian, and gie the lads and lasses a blythe
lykewake too; sae there's the gaberlunzie's burial provided for, and I
need nae mair. Were the like o' me ever to change a note, wha the deil
d'ye think wad be sic fules as to gie me charity after that?--it wad flee
through the country like wildfire, that auld Edie suld hae done siccan a
like thing, and then, I'se warrant, I might grane my heart out or onybody
wad gie me either a bane or a bodle."
"Is there nothing, then, that I can do for you?"
"Ou ay--I'll aye come for my awmous as usual,--and whiles I wad be fain
o' a pickle sneeshin, and ye maun speak to the constable and
ground-officer just to owerlook me; and maybe ye'll gie a gude word for
me to Sandie Netherstanes, the miller, that he may chain up his muckle
dog--I wadna hae him to hurt the puir beast, for it just does its office
in barking at a gaberlunzie like me. And there's ae thing maybe mair,
--but ye'll think it's very bald o' the like o' me to speak o't."
"What is it, Edie?--if it respects you it shall be done if it is in my
"It respects yoursell, and it is in your power, and I maun come out wi't.
Ye are a bonny young leddy, and a gude ane, and maybe a weel-tochered
ane--but dinna ye sneer awa the lad Lovel, as ye did a while sinsyne on
the walk beneath the Briery-bank, when I saw ye baith, and heard ye too,
though ye saw nae me. Be canny wi' the lad, for he loes ye weel, and it's
to him, and no to anything I could have done for you, that Sir Arthur and
you wan ower yestreen."
He uttered these words in a low but distinct tone of voice; and without
waiting for an answer, walked towards a low door which led to the
apartments of the servants, and so entered the house.
Miss Wardour remained for a moment or two in the situation in which she
had heard the old man's last extraordinary speech, leaning, namely,
against the bars of the window; nor could she determine upon saying even
a single word, relative to a subject so delicate, until the beggar was
out of sight. It was, indeed, difficult to determine what to do. That her
having had an interview and private conversation with this young and
unknown stranger, should be a secret possessed by a person of the last
class in which a young lady would seek a confidant, and at the mercy of
one who was by profession gossip-general to the whole neighbourhood, gave
her acute agony. She had no reason, indeed, to suppose that the old man
would wilfully do anything to hurt her feelings, much less to injure her;
but the mere freedom of speaking to her upon such a subject, showed, as
might have been expected, a total absence of delicacy; and what he might
take it into his head to do or say next, that she was pretty sure so
professed an admirer of liberty would not hesitate to do or say without
scruple. This idea so much hurt and vexed her, that she half-wished the
officious assistance of Lovel and Ochiltree had been absent upon the
While she was in this agitation of spirits, she suddenly observed Oldbuck
and Lovel entering the court. She drew instantly so far back from the
window, that she could without being seen, observe how the Antiquary
paused in front of the building, and pointing to the various scutcheons
of its former owners, seemed in the act of bestowing upon Lovel much
curious and erudite information, which, from the absent look of his
auditor, Isabella might shrewdly guess was entirely thrown away. The
necessity that she should take some resolution became instant and
pressing;--she rang, therefore, for a servant, and ordered him to show
the visitors to the drawing-room, while she, by another staircase, gained
her own apartment, to consider, ere she made her appearance, what line of
conduct were fittest for her to pursue. The guests, agreeably to her
instructions, were introduced into the room where company was usually
--The time was that I hated thee,
And yet it is not that I bear thee love.
Thy company, which erst was irksome to me,
I will endure--
But do not look for further recompense.
As You Like It.
Miss Isabella Wardour's complexion was considerably heightened, when,
after the delay necessary to arrange her ideas, she presented herself in
"I am glad you are come, my fair foe," said the Antiquary greeting her
with much kindness, "for I have had a most refractory, or at least
negligent auditor, in my young friend here, while I endeavoured to make
him acquainted with the history of Knockwinnock Castle. I think the
danger of last night has mazed the poor lad. But you, Miss Isabel,--why,
you look as if flying through the night air had been your natural and
most congenial occupation; your colour is even better than when you
honoured my _hospitium_ yesterday. And Sir Arthur--how fares my good old
"Indifferently well, Mr. Oldbuck; but I am afraid, not quite able to
receive your congratulations, or to pay--to pay--Mr. Lovel his thanks for
his unparalleled exertions."
"I dare say not--A good down pillow for his good white head were more
meet than a couch so churlish as Bessy's-apron, plague on her!"
"I had no thought of intruding," said Lovel, looking upon the ground, and
speaking with hesitation and suppressed emotion; "I did not--did not mean
to intrude upon Sir Arthur or Miss Wardour the presence of one who--who
must necessarily be unwelcome--as associated, I mean, with painful
"Do not think my father so unjust and ungrateful," said Miss Wardour. "I
dare say," she continued, participating in Lovel's embarrassment--"I dare
say--I am certain--that my father would be happy to show his gratitude
--in any way--that is, which Mr. Lovel could consider it as proper to
"Why the deuce," interrupted Oldbuck, "what sort of a qualification is
that?--On my word, it reminds me of our minister, who, choosing, like a
formal old fop as he is, to drink to my sister's inclinations, thought it
necessary to add the saving clause, Provided, madam, they be virtuous.
Come, let us have no more of this nonsense--I dare say Sir Arthur will
bid us welcome on some future day. And what news from the kingdom of
subterranean darkness and airy hope?--What says the swart spirit of the
mine? Has Sir Arthur had any good intelligence of his adventure lately in
Miss Wardour shook her head--"But indifferent, I fear, Mr. Oldbuck; but
there lie some specimens which have lately been sent down."
"Ah! my poor dear hundred pounds, which Sir Arthur persuaded me to give
for a share in that hopeful scheme, would have bought a porter's load of
mineralogy--But let me see them."
And so saying, he sat down at the table in the recess, on which the
mineral productions were lying, and proceeded to examine them, grumbling
and pshawing at each which he took up and laid aside.
In the meantime, Lovel, forced as it were by this secession of Oldbuck,
into a sort of tete-a'-tete with Miss Wardour, took an opportunity of
addressing her in a low and interrupted tone of voice. "I trust Miss
Wardour will impute, to circumstances almost irresistible, this intrusion
of a person who has reason to think himself--so unacceptable a visitor."
"Mr. Lovel," answered Miss Wardour, observing the same tone of caution,
"I trust you will not--I am sure you are incapable of abusing the
advantages given to you by the services you have rendered us, which, as
they affect my father, can never be sufficiently acknowledged or repaid.
Could Mr. Lovel see me without his own peace being affected--could he see
me as a friend--as a sister--no man will be--and, from all I have ever
heard of Mr. Lovel, ought to be, more welcome but"--
Oldbuck's anathema against the preposition _but_ was internally echoed by
Lovel. "Forgive me if I interrupt you, Miss Wardour; you need not fear my
intruding upon a subject where I have been already severely repressed;
--but do not add to the severity of repelling my sentiments the rigour of
obliging me to disavow them."
"I am much embarrassed, Mr. Lovel," replied the young lady, "by your--I
would not willingly use a strong word--your romantic and hopeless
pertinacity. It is for yourself I plead, that you would consider the
calls which your country has upon your talents--that you will not waste,
in an idle and fanciful indulgence of an ill-placed predilection, time,
which, well redeemed by active exertion, should lay the foundation of
future distinction. Let me entreat that you would form a manly
"It is enough, Miss Wardour;--I see plainly that"--
"Mr. Lovel, you are hurt--and, believe me, I sympathize in the pain which
I inflict; but can I, in justice to myself, in fairness to you, do
otherwise? Without my father's consent, I never will entertain the
addresses of any one, and how totally impossible it is that he should
countenance the partiality with which you honour me, you are yourself
fully aware; and, indeed"--
"No, Miss Wardour," answered Lovel, in a tone of passionate entreaty; "do
not go farther--is it not enough to crush every hope in our present
relative situation?--do not carry your resolutions farther--why urge what
would be your conduct if Sir Arthur's objections could be removed?"
"It is indeed vain, Mr. Lovel," said Miss Wardour, "because their removal
is impossible; and I only wish, as your friend, and as one who is obliged
to you for her own and her father's life, to entreat you to suppress this
unfortunate attachment--to leave a country which affords no scope for
your talents, and to resume the honourable line of the profession which
you seem to have abandoned."
"Well, Miss Wardour, your wishes shall be obeyed;--have patience with me
one little month, and if, in the course of that space, I cannot show you
such reasons for continuing my residence at Fairport, as even you shall
approve of, I will bid adieu to its vicinity, and, with the same breath,
to all my hopes of happiness."
"Not so, Mr. Lovel; many years of deserved happiness, founded on a more
rational basis than your present wishes, are, I trust, before, you. But
it is full time, to finish this conversation. I cannot force you to adopt
my advice--I cannot shut the door of my father's house against the
preserver of his life and mine; but the sooner Mr. Lovel can teach his
mind to submit to the inevitable disappointment of wishes which have been
so rashly formed, the more highly be will rise in my esteem--and, in the
meanwhile, for his sake as well as mine, he must excuse my putting an
interdict upon conversation on a subject so painful."
A servant at this moment announced that Sir Arthur desired to speak to
Mr. Oldbuck in his dressing-room.
"Let me show you the way," said Miss Wardour, who apparently dreaded a
continuation of her tete-a-tete with Lovel, and she conducted the
Antiquary accordingly to her father's apartment.
Sir Arthur, his legs swathed in flannel, was stretched on the couch.
"Welcome, Mr. Oldbuck," he said; "I trust you have come better off than
I have done from the inclemency of yesterday evening?"
"Truly, Sir Arthur, I was not so much exposed to it--I kept _terra
firma_--you fairly committed yourself to the cold night-air in the most
literal of all senses. But such adventures become a gallant knight better
than a humble esquire,--to rise on the wings of the night-wind--to dive
into the bowels of the earth. What news from our subterranean Good Hope!
--the _terra incognita_ of Glen-Withershins?"
"Nothing good as yet," said the Baronet, turning himself hastily, as if
stung by a pang of the gout; "but Dousterswivel does not despair."
"Does he not?" quoth Oldbuck; "I do though, under his favour. Why, old
Dr. H--n* told me, when I was in Edinburgh, that we should never find
copper enough, judging from the specimens I showed him, to make a pair of
sixpenny knee-buckles--and I cannot see that those samples on the table
below differ much in quality."
* Probably Dr. Hutton, the celebrated geologist.
"The learned doctor is not infallible, I presume?"
"No; but he is one of our first chemists; and this tramping philosopher
of yours--this Dousterswivel--is, I have a notion, one, of those learned
adventurers described by Kirchner, _Artem habent sine arte, partem sine
parte, quorum medium est mentiri, vita eorum mendicatum ire;_ that is to
say, Miss Wardour"--
"It is unnecessary to translate," said Miss Wardour--"I comprehend your
general meaning; but I hope Mr. Dousterswivel will turn out a more
"I doubt it not a little," said the Antiquary,--"and we are a foul way
out if we cannot discover this infernal vein that he has prophesied about
these two years."
"_You_ have no great interest in the matter, Mr. Oldbuck," said the
"Too much, too much, Sir Arthur; and yet, for the sake of my fair foe
here, I would consent to lose it all so you had no more on the venture."
There was a painful silence of a few moments, for Sir Arthur was too
proud to acknowledge the downfall of his golden dreams, though he could
no longer disguise to himself that such was likely to be the termination
of the adventure. "I understand," he at length said, "that the young
gentleman, to whose gallantry and presence of mind we were so much
indebted last night, has favoured me with a visit--I am distressed that I
am unable to see him, or indeed any one, but an old friend like you, Mr.
A declination of the Antiquary's stiff backbone acknowledged the
"You made acquaintance with this young gentleman in Edinburgh, I
Oldbuck told the circumstances of their becoming known to each other.
"Why, then, my daughter is an older acquaintance, of Mr. Lovel than you
are," said the Baronet.
"Indeed! I was not aware of that," answered Oldbuck somewhat surprised.
"I met Mr. Lovel," said Isabella, slightly colouring, "when I resided
this last spring with my aunt, Mrs. Wilmot."
"In Yorkshire?--and what character did he bear then, or how was he
engaged?" said Oldbuck,--"and why did not you recognise him when I
Isabella answered the least difficult question, and passed over the
other--"He had a commission in the army, and had, I believe, served with
reputation; he was much respected, as an amiable and promising young
"And pray, such being the case," replied the Antiquary, not disposed to
take one reply in answer to two distinct questions, "why did you not
speak to the lad at once when you met him at my house? I thought you had
less of the paltry pride of womankind about you, Miss Wardour."
"There was a reason for it," said Sir Arthur with dignity; "you know the
opinions--prejudices, perhaps you will call them--of our house concerning
purity of birth. This young gentleman is, it seems, the illegitimate son
of a man of fortune; my daughter did not choose to renew their
acquaintance till she should know whether I approved of her holding any
intercourse with him."
"If it had been with his mother instead of himself," answered Oldbuck,
with his usual dry causticity of humour, "I could see an excellent reason
for it. Ah, poor lad! that was the cause, then, that he seemed so absent
and confused while I explained to him the reason of the bend of bastardy
upon the shield yonder under the corner turret!"
"True," said the Baronet, with complacency--"it is the shield of Malcolm
the Usurper, as he is called. The tower which he built is termed, after
him, Malcolm's Tower, but more frequently Misticot's Tower, which I
conceive to be a corruption for _Misbegot._ He is denominated, in the
Latin pedigree of our family, _Milcolumbus Nothus;_ and his temporary
seizure of our property, and most unjust attempt to establish his own
illegitimate line in the estate of Knockwinnock, gave rise to such family
feuds and misfortunes, as strongly to found us in that horror and
antipathy to defiled blood and illegitimacy which has been handed down to
me from my respected ancestry."
"I know the story," said Oldbuck, "and I was telling it to Lovel this
moment, with some of the wise maxims and consequences which it has
engrafted on your family politics. Poor fellow! he must have been much
hurt: I took the wavering of his attention for negligence, and was
something piqued at it, and it proves to be only an excess of feeling. I
hope, Sir Arthur, you will not think the less of your life because it has
been preserved by such assistance?"
"Nor the less of my assistant either," said the Baronet; "my doors and
table shall be equally open to him as if he had descended of the most
"Come, I am glad of that--he'll know where he can get a dinner, then, if
he wants one. But what views can he have in this neighbourhood? I must
catechise him; and if I find he wants it--or, indeed, whether he does or
not--he shall have my best advice." As the Antiquary made this liberal
promise, he took his leave of Miss Wardour and her father, eager to
commence operations upon Mr. Lovel. He informed him abruptly that Miss
Wardour sent her compliments, and remained in attendance on her father,
and then, taking him by the arm, he led him out of the castle.
Knockwinnock still preserved much of the external attributes of a
baronial castle. It had its drawbridge, though now never drawn up, and
its dry moat, the sides of which had been planted with shrubs, chiefly of
the evergreen tribes. Above these rose the old building, partly from a
foundation of red rock scarped down to the sea-beach, and partly from the
steep green verge of the moat. The trees of the avenue have been already
mentioned, and many others rose around of large size,--as if to confute
the prejudice that timber cannot be raised near to the ocean. Our walkers
paused, and looked back upon the castle, as they attained the height of a
small knoll, over which lay their homeward road; for it is to be supposed
they did not tempt the risk of the tide by returning along the sands. The
building flung its broad shadow upon the tufted foliage of the shrubs
beneath it, while the front windows sparkled in the sun. They were viewed
by the gazers with very different feelings. Lovel, with the fond
eagerness of that passion which derives its food and nourishment from
trifles, as the chameleon is said to live on the air, or upon the
invisible insects which it contains, endeavoured to conjecture which of
the numerous windows belonged to the apartment now graced by Miss
Wardour's presence. The speculations of the Antiquary were of a more
melancholy cast, and were partly indicated by the ejaculation of _cito
peritura!_ as he turned away from the prospect. Lovel, roused from his
reverie, looked at him as if to inquire the meaning of an exclamation so
ominous. The old man shook his head. "Yes, my young friend," said he, "I
doubt greatly--and it wrings my heart to say it--this ancient family is
going fast to the ground!"
"Indeed!" answered Lovel--"you surprise me greatly."
"We harden ourselves in vain," continued the Antiquary, pursuing his own
train of thought and feeling--"we harden ourselves in vain to treat with
the indifference they deserve, the changes of this trumpery whirligig
world. We strive ineffectually to be the self-sufficing invulnerable
being, the _teres atque rotundus_ of the poet;--the stoical exemption
which philosophy affects to give us over the pains and vexations of human
life, is as imaginary as the state of mystical quietism and perfection
aimed at by some crazy enthusiasts."
"And Heaven forbid that it should be otherwise!" said Lovel, warmly
--"Heaven forbid that any process of philosophy were capable so to sear
and indurate our feelings, that nothing should agitate them but what
arose instantly and immediately out of our own selfish interests! I
would as soon wish my hand to be as callous as horn, that it might
escape an occasional cut or scratch, as I would be ambitious of the
stoicism which should render my heart like a piece of the nether
The Antiquary regarded his youthful companion with a look half of pity,
half of sympathy, and shrugged up his shoulders as he replied--"Wait,
young man--wait till your bark has been battered by the storm of sixty
years of mortal vicissitude: you will learn by that time, to reef your
sails, that she may obey the helm;--or, in the language of this world,
you will find distresses enough, endured and to endure, to keep your
feelings and sympathies in full exercise, without concerning yourself
more in the fate of others than you cannot possibly avoid."
"Well, Mr. Oldbuck, it may be so;--but as yet I resemble you more in your
practice than in your theory, for I cannot help being deeply interested
in the fate of the family we have just left."
"And well you may," replied Oldbuck. "Sir Arthur's embarrassments have of
late become so many and so pressing, that I am surprised you have not
heard of them. And then his absurd and expensive operations carried on by
this High-German landlouper, Dousterswivel"--
"I think I have seen that person, when, by some rare chance, I happened
to be in the coffee-room at Fairport;--a tall, beetle-browed,
awkward-built man, who entered upon scientific subjects, as it appeared
to my ignorance at least, with more assurance than knowledge--was very
arbitrary in laying down and asserting his opinions, and mixed the terms
of science with a strange jargon of mysticism. A simple youth whispered
me that he was an _Illumine',_ and carried on an intercourse with the
"O, the same--the same. He has enough of practical knowledge to speak
scholarly and wisely to those of whose intelligence he stands in awe;
and, to say the truth, this faculty, joined to his matchless impudence,
imposed upon me for some time when I first knew him. But I have since
understood, that when he is among fools and womankind, he exhibits
himself as a perfect charlatan--talks of the _magisterium_--of sympathies
and antipathies--of the cabala--of the divining-rod--and all the trumpery
with which the Rosicrucians cheated a darker age, and which, to our
eternal disgrace, has in some degree revived in our own. My friend
Heavysterne know this fellow abroad, and unintentionally (for he, you
must know, is, God bless the mark! a sort of believer) let me into a good
deal of his real character. Ah! were I caliph for a day, as Honest Abon
Hassan wished to be, I would scourge me these jugglers out of the
commonwealth with rods of scorpions. They debauch the spirit of the
ignorant and credulous with mystical trash, as effectually as if they had
besotted their brains with gin, and then pick their pockets with the same
facility. And now has this strolling blackguard and mountebank put the
finishing blow to the ruin of an ancient and honourable family!"
"But how could he impose upon Sir Arthur to any ruinous extent?"
"Why, I don't know. Sir Arthur is a good honourable gentleman; but, as
you may see from his loose ideas concerning the Pikish language, he is by
no means very strong in the understanding. His estate is strictly
entailed, and he has been always an embarrassed man. This rapparee
promised him mountains of wealth, and an English company was found to
advance large sums of money--I fear on Sir Arthur's guarantee. Some
gentlemen--I was ass enough to be one--took small shares in the concern,
and Sir Arthur himself made great outlay; we were trained on by specious
appearances and more specious lies; and now, like John Bunyan, we awake,
and behold it is a dream!"
"I am surprised that you, Mr. Oldbuck, should have encouraged Sir Arthur
by your example."
"Why," said Oldbuck, dropping his large grizzled eyebrow, "I am something
surprised and ashamed at it myself; it was not the lucre of gain--nobody
cares less for money (to be a prudent man) than I do--but I thought I
might risk this small sum. It will be expected (though I am sure I cannot
see why) that I should give something to any one who will be kind enough
to rid me of that slip of womankind, my niece, Mary M'Intyre; and perhaps
it may be thought I should do something to get that jackanapes, her
brother, on in the army. In either case, to treble my venture, would have
helped me out. And besides, I had some idea that the Phoenicians had in
former times wrought copper in that very spot. That cunning scoundrel,
Dousterswivel, found out my blunt side, and brought strange tales (d--n
him) of appearances of old shafts, and vestiges of mining operations,
conducted in a manner quite different from those of modern times; and
I--in short, I was a fool, and there is an end. My loss is not much worth
speaking about; but Sir Arthur's engagements are, I understand, very
deep, and my heart aches for him and the poor young lady who must share
Here the conversation paused, until renewed in the next chapter.
If I may trust the flattering eye of sleep,
My dreams presage some joyful news at hand:
My bosom's lord sits lightly on his throne,
And all this day, an unaccustomed spirit
Lifts me above the ground with cheerful thoughts.
Romeo and Juliet.
The account of Sir Arthur's unhappy adventure had led Oldbuck somewhat
aside from his purpose of catechising Lovel concerning the cause of his
residence at Fairport. He was now, however, resolved to open the subject.
"Miss Wardour was formerly known to you, she tells me, Mr. Lovel?"
"He had had the pleasure," Lovel answered, to see her at Mrs. Wilmot's,
"Indeed! you never mentioned that to me before, and you did not accost
her as an old acquaintance."
"I--I did not know," said Lovel, a good deal embarrassed, "it was the
same lady, till we met; and then it was my duty to wait till she should
"I am aware of your delicacy: the knight's a punctilious old fool, but I
promise you his daughter is above all nonsensical ceremony and prejudice.
And now, since you have, found a new set of friends here, may I ask if
you intend to leave Fairport as soon as you proposed?"
"What if I should answer your question by another," replied Lovel, "and
ask you what is your opinion of dreams?"
"Of dreams, you foolish lad!--why, what should I think of them but as the
deceptions of imagination when reason drops the reins? I know no
difference betwixt them and the hallucinations of madness--the unguided
horses run away with the carriage in both cases, only in the one the
coachman is drunk, and in the other he slumbers. What says our Marcus
Tullius--_Si insanorum visis fides non est habenda, cur credatur
somnientium visis, quae multo etiam perturbatiora sunt, non intelligo._"
"Yes, sir; but Cicero also tells us, that as he who passes the whole day
in darting the javelin must sometimes hit the mark, so, amid the cloud of
nightly dreams, some may occur consonant to future events."
"Ay--that is to say, _you_ have hit the mark in your own sage opinion?
Lord! Lord! how this world is given to folly! Well, I will allow for once
the Oneirocritical science--I will give faith to the exposition of
dreams, and say a Daniel hath arisen to interpret them, if you can prove
to me that that dream of yours has pointed to a prudent line of conduct."
"Tell me, then," answered Lovel, "why when I was hesitating whether to
abandon an enterprise, which I have perhaps rashly undertaken, I should
last night dream I saw your ancestor pointing to a motto which encouraged
me to perseverance?--why should I have thought of those words which I
cannot remember to have heard before, which are in a language unknown to
me, and which yet conveyed, when translated, a lesson which I could so
plainly apply to my own circumstances?"
The Antiquary burst into a fit of laughing. "Excuse me, my young friend
--but it is thus we silly mortals deceive ourselves, and look out of doors
for motives which originate in our own wilful will. I think I can help
out the cause of your vision. You were so abstracted in your
contemplations yesterday after dinner, as to pay little attention to the
discourse between Sir Arthur and me, until we fell upon the controversy
concerning the Piks, which terminated so abruptly;--but I remember
producing to Sir Arthur a book printed by my ancestor, and making him
observe the motto; your mind was bent elsewhere, but your ear had
mechanically received and retained the sounds, and your busy fancy,
stirred by Grizel's legend I presume, had introduced this scrap of German
into your dream. As for the waking wisdom which seized on so frivolous a
circumstance as an apology for persevering in some course which it could
find no better reason to justify, it is exactly one of those juggling
tricks which the sagest of us play off now and then, to gratify our
inclination at the expense of our understanding."
"I own it," said Lovel, blushing deeply;--"I believe you are right, Mr.
Oldbuck, and I ought to sink in your esteem for attaching a moment's
consequence to such a frivolity;--but I was tossed by contradictory
wishes and resolutions, and you know how slight a line will tow a boat
when afloat on the billows, though a cable would hardly move her when
pulled up on the beach."
"Right, right," exclaimed the Antiquary. "Fall in my opinion!--not a
whit--I love thee the better, man;--why, we have story for story against
each other, and I can think with less shame on having exposed myself
about that cursed Praetorium--though I am still convinced Agricola's camp
must have been somewhere in this neighbourhood. And now, Lovel, my good
lad, be sincere with me--What make you from Wittenberg?--why have you
left your own country and professional pursuits, for an idle residence in
such a place as Fairport? A truant disposition, I fear."
"Even so," replied Lovel, patiently submitting to an interrogatory which
he could not well evade. "Yet I am so detached from all the world, have
so few in whom I am interested, or who are interested in me, that my very
state of destitution gives me independence. He whose good or evil fortune
affects himself alone, has the best right to pursue it according to his
"Pardon me, young man," said Oldbuck, laying his hand kindly on his
shoulder, and making a full halt--"_sufflamina_--a little patience, if
you please. I will suppose that you have no friends to share or rejoice
in your success in life--that you cannot look back to those to whom you
owe gratitude, or forward to those to whom you ought to afford
protection; but it is no less incumbent on you to move steadily in the
path of duty--for your active exertions are due not only to society, but
in humble gratitude to the Being who made you a member of it, with powers
to serve yourself and others."
"But I am unconscious of possessing such powers," said Lovel, somewhat
impatiently. "I ask nothing of society but the permission of walking
innoxiously through the path of life, without jostling others, or
permitting myself to be jostled. I owe no man anything--I have the means
of maintaining, myself with complete independence; and so moderate are my
wishes in this respect, that even these means, however limited, rather
exceed than fall short of them."
"Nay, then," said Oldbuck, removing his hand, and turning again to the
road, "if you are so true a philosopher as to think you have money
enough, there's no more to be said--I cannot pretend to be entitled to
advise you;--you have attained the _acme'_--the summit of perfection. And
how came Fairport to be the selected abode of so much self-denying
philosophy? It is as if a worshipper of the true religion had set up his
staff by choice among the multifarious idolaters of the land of Egypt.
There is not a man in Fairport who is not a devoted worshipper of the
Golden Calf--the mammon of unrighteousness. Why, even I, man, am so
infected by the bad neighbourhood, that I feel inclined occasionally to
become an idolater myself."
"My principal amusements being literary," answered Lovel, "and
circumstances which I cannot mention having induced me, for a time at
least, to relinquish the military service, I have pitched on Fairport as
a place where I might follow my pursuits without any of those temptations
to society which a more elegant circle might have presented to me."
"Aha!" replied Oldbuck, knowingly,--"I begin to understand your
application of my ancestor's motto. You are a candidate for public
favour, though not in the way I first suspected,--you are ambitious to
shine as a literary character, and you hope to merit favour by labour and
Lovel, who was rather closely pressed by the inquisitiveness of the old
gentleman, concluded it would be best to let him remain in the error
which he had gratuitously adopted.
"I have been at times foolish enough," he replied, "to nourish some
thoughts of the kind."
"Ah, poor fellow! nothing can be more melancholy; unless, as young men
sometimes do, you had fancied yourself in love with some trumpery
specimen of womankind, which is indeed, as Shakspeare truly says,
pressing to death, whipping, and hanging all at once."
He then proceeded with inquiries, which he was sometimes kind enough to
answer himself. For this good old gentleman had, from his antiquarian
researches, acquired a delight in building theories out of premises which
were often far from affording sufficient ground for them; and being, as
the reader must have remarked, sufficiently opinionative, he did not
readily brook being corrected, either in matter of fact or judgment, even
by those who were principally interested in the subjects on which he
speculated. He went on, therefore, chalking out Lovel's literary career
"And with what do you propose to commence your debut as a man of
letters?--But I guess--poetry--poetry--the soft seducer of youth. Yes!
there is an acknowledging modesty of confusion in your eye and manner.
And where lies your vein?--are you inclined to soar to the, higher
regions of Parnassus, or to flutter around the base of the hill?"
"I have hitherto attempted only a few lyrical pieces," said Lovel.
"Just as I supposed--pruning your wing, and hopping from spray to spray.
But I trust you intend a bolder flight. Observe, I would by no means
recommend your persevering in this unprofitable pursuit--but you say you
are quite independent of the public caprice?"
"Entirely so," replied Lovel.
"And that you are determined not to adopt a more active course of life?"
"For the present, such is my resolution," replied the young man.
"Why, then, it only remains for me to give you my best advice and
assistance in the object of your pursuit. I have myself published two
essays in the Antiquarian Repository,--and therefore am an author of
experience, There was my Remarks on Hearne's edition of Robert of
Gloucester, signed _Scrutator;_ and the other signed _Indagator,_ upon a
passage in Tacitus. I might add, what attracted considerable notice at
the time, and that is my paper in the Gentleman's Magazine, upon the
inscription of OElia Lelia, which I subscribed _OEdipus._So you see I am
not an apprentice in the mysteries of author-craft, and must necessarily
understand the taste and temper of the times. And now, once more, what do
you intend to commence with?"
"I have no instant thoughts of publishing."
"Ah! that will never do; you must have the fear of the public before your
eyes in all your undertakings. Let us see now: A collection of fugitive
pieces; but no--your fugitive poetry is apt to become stationary with the
bookseller. It should be something at once solid and attractive--none of
your romances or anomalous novelties--I would have you take high ground
at once. Let me see: What think you of a real epic?--the grand
old-fashioned historical poem which moved through twelve or twenty-four
books. We'll have it so--I'll supply you with a subject--The battle
between the Caledonians and Romans--The Caledoniad; or, Invasion
Repelled;--let that be the title--it will suit the present taste, and you
may throw in a touch of the times."
"But the invasion of Agricola was _not_ repelled."
"No; but you are a poet--free of the corporation, and as little bound
down to truth or probability as Virgil himself--You may defeat the Romans
in spite of Tacitus."
"And pitch Agricola's camp at the Kaim of--what do you call it," answered
Lovel, "in defiance of Edie Ochiltree?"
"No more of that, an thou lovest me--And yet, I dare say, ye may
unwittingly speak most correct truth in both instances, in despite of the
_toga_ of the historian and the blue gown of the mendicant."
"Gallantly counselled!--Well, I will do my best--your kindness will
assist me with local information."
"Will I not, man?--why, I will write the critical and historical notes on
each canto, and draw out the plan of the story myself. I pretend to some
poetical genius, Mr. Lovel, only I was never able to write verses."
"It is a pity, sir, that you should have failed in a qualification
somewhat essential to the art."
"Essential?--not a whit--it is the mere mechanical department. A man may
be a poet without measuring spondees and dactyls like the ancients, or
clashing the ends of lines into rhyme like the moderns, as one may be an
architect though unable to labour like a stone-mason--Dost think Palladio
or Vitruvius ever carried a hod?"
"In that case, there should be two authors to each poem--one to think and
plan, another to execute."
"Why, it would not be amiss; at any rate, we'll make the experiment;--not
that I would wish to give my name to the public--assistance from a
learned friend might be acknowledged in the preface after what flourish
your nature will--I am a total stranger to authorial vanity."
Lovel was much entertained by a declaration not very consistent with the
eagerness wherewith his friend seemed to catch at an opportunity of
coming before the public, though in a manner which rather resembled
stepping up behind a carriage than getting into one. The Antiquary was
indeed uncommonly delighted; for, like many other men who spend their
lives in obscure literary research, he had a secret ambition to appear in
print, which was checked by cold fits of diffidence, fear of criticism,
and habits of indolence and procrastination. "But," thought he, "I may,
like a second Teucer, discharge my shafts from behind the shield of my
ally; and, admit that he should not prove to be a first-rate poet, I am
in no shape answerable for his deficiencies, and the good notes may very
probably help off an indifferent text. But he is--he must be a good poet;
he has the real Parnassian abstraction--seldom answers a question till it
is twice repeated--drinks his tea scalding, and eats without knowing what
he is putting into his mouth. This is the real _aestus,_ the _awen_ of
the Welsh bards, the _divinus afflatus_ that transports the poet beyond
the limits of sublunary things. His visions, too, are very symptomatical
of poetic fury--I must recollect to send Caxon to see he puts out his
candle to-night--poets and visionaries are apt to be negligent in that
respect." Then, turning to his companion, he expressed himself aloud in
"Yes, my dear Lovel, you shall have full notes; and, indeed, think we may
introduce the whole of the Essay on Castrametation into the appendix--it
will give great value to the work. Then we will revive the good old forms
so disgracefully neglected in modern times. You shall invoke the Muse
--and certainly she ought to be propitious to an author who, in an
apostatizing age, adheres with the faith of Abdiel to the ancient form of
adoration.--Then we must have a vision--in which the Genius of Caledonia
shall appear to Galgacus, and show him a procession of the real Scottish
monarchs:--and in the notes I will have a hit at Boethius--No; I must not
touch that topic, now that Sir Arthur is likely to have vexation enough
besides--but I'll annihilate Ossian, Macpherson, and Mac-Cribb."
"But we must consider the expense of publication," said Lovel, willing to
try whether this hint would fall like cold water on the blazing zeal of
his self-elected coadjutor.
"Expense!" said Mr. Oldbuck, pausing, and mechanically fumbling in his
pocket--"that is true;--I would wish to do something--but you would not
like to publish by subscription?"
"By no means," answered Lovel.
"No, no!" gladly acquiesced the Antiquary--"it is not respectable. I'll
tell you what: I believe I know a bookseller who has a value for my
opinion, and will risk print and paper, and I will get as many copies
sold for you as I can."
"O, I am no mercenary author," answered Lovel, smiling; "I only wish to
be out of risk of loss."
"Hush! hush! we'll take care of that--throw it all on the publishers. I
do long to see your labours commenced. You will choose blank verse,
doubtless?--it is more grand and magnificent for an historical subject;
and, what concerneth you, my friend, it is, I have an idea, more easily
This conversation brought them to Monkbarns, where the Antiquary had to
undergo a chiding from his sister, who, though no philosopher, was
waiting to deliver a lecture to him in the portico. "Guide us, Monkbarns!
are things no dear eneugh already, but ye maun be raising the very fish
on us, by giving that randy, Luckie Mucklebackit, just what she likes to
"Why, Grizel," said the sage, somewhat abashed at this unexpected attack,
"I thought I made a very fair bargain."
"A fair bargain! when ye gied the limmer a full half o' what she seekit!
--An ye will be a wife-carle, and buy fish at your ain hands, ye suld
never bid muckle mair than a quarter. And the impudent quean had the
assurance to come up and seek a dram--But I trow, Jenny and I sorted
"Truly," said Oldbuck (with a sly look to his companion), "I think our
estate was gracious that kept us out of hearing of that controversy.
--Well, well, Grizel, I was wrong for once in my life _ultra crepidam_
--I fairly admit. But hang expenses!--care killed a cat--we'll eat the
fish, cost what it will.--And then, Lovel, you must know I pressed you
to stay here to-day, the rather because our cheer will be better than
usual, yesterday having been a gaude' day--I love the reversion of a
feast better than the feast itself. I delight in the _analecta,_ the
_collectanea,_ as I may call them, of the preceding day's dinner, which
appear on such occasions--And see, there is Jenny going to ring the
Be this letter delivered with haste--haste--post-haste!
Ride, villain, ride,--for thy life--for thy life--for thy life.
Ancient Indorsation of Letters of Importance.
Leaving Mr. Oldbuck and his friend to enjoy their hard bargain of fish,
we beg leave to transport the reader to the back-parlour of the
post-master's house at Fairport, where his wife, he himself being absent,
was employed in assorting for delivery the letters which had come by the
Edinburgh post. This is very often in country towns the period of the day
when gossips find it particularly agreeable to call on the man or woman
of letters, in order, from the outside of the epistles, and, if they are
not belied, occasionally from the inside also, to amuse themselves with
gleaning information, or forming conjectures about the correspondence and
affairs of their neighbours. Two females of this description were, at the
time we mention, assisting, or impeding, Mrs. Mailsetter in her official
"Eh, preserve us, sirs!" said the butcher's wife, "there's ten--eleven
--twall letters to Tennant and Co.--thae folk do mair business than a'
the rest o' the burgh."
"Ay; but see, lass," answered the baker's lady, "there's twa o' them
faulded unco square, and sealed at the tae side--I doubt there will be
protested bills in them."
"Is there ony letters come yet for Jenny Caxon?" inquired the woman of
joints and giblets; "the lieutenant's been awa three weeks."
"Just ane on Tuesday was a week," answered the dame of letters.
"Wast a ship-letter?" asked the Fornerina.
"In troth wast."
"It wad be frae the lieutenant then," replied the mistress of the rolls,
somewhat disappointed--"I never thought he wad hae lookit ower his
shouther after her."
"Od, here's another," quoth Mrs. Mailsetter. "A ship-letter--post-mark,
Sunderland." All rushed to seize it.--"Na, na, leddies," said Mrs.
Mailsetter, interfering; "I hae had eneugh o' that wark--Ken ye that Mr.
Mailsetter got an unco rebuke frae the secretary at Edinburgh, for a
complaint that was made about the letter of Aily Bisset's that ye opened,
"Me opened!" answered the spouse of the chief baker of Fairport; "ye ken
yoursell, madam, it just cam open o' free will in my hand--what could I
help it?--folk suld seal wi' better wax."
"Weel I wot that's true, too," said Mrs. Mailsetter, who kept a shop of
small wares, "and we have got some that I can honestly recommend, if ye
ken onybody wanting it. But the short and the lang o't is, that we'll
lose the place gin there's ony mair complaints o' the kind."
"Hout, lass--the provost will take care o' that."
"Na, na, I'll neither trust to provost nor bailier" said the
postmistress,--"but I wad aye be obliging and neighbourly, and I'm no
again your looking at the outside of a letter neither--See, the seal has
an anchor on't--he's done't wi' ane o' his buttons, I'm thinking."
"Show me! show me!" quoth the wives of the chief butcher and chief baker;
and threw themselves on the supposed love-letter, like the weird sisters
in Macbeth upon the pilot's thumb, with curiosity as eager and scarcely
less malignant. Mrs. Heukbane was a tall woman--she held the precious
epistle up between her eyes and the window. Mrs. Shortcake, a little
squat personage, strained and stood on tiptoe to have her share of the
"Ay, it's frae him, sure eneugh," said the butcher's lady;--"I can read
Richard Taffril on the corner, and it's written, like John Thomson's
wallet, frae end to end."
"Haud it lower down, madam," exclaimed Mrs. Shortcake, in a tone above
the prudential whisper which their occupation required--"haud it lower
down--Div ye think naebody can read hand o' writ but yoursell?"
"Whist, whist, sirs, for God's sake!" said Mrs. Mailsetter, "there's
somebody in the shop,"--then aloud--"Look to the customers, Baby!"--Baby
answered from without in a shrill tone--"It's naebody but Jenny Caxon,
ma'am, to see if there's ony letters to her."
"Tell her," said the faithful postmistress, winking to her compeers, "to
come back the morn at ten o'clock, and I'll let her ken--we havena had
time to sort the mail letters yet--she's aye in sic a hurry, as if her
letters were o' mair consequence than the best merchant's o' the town."
Poor Jenny, a girl of uncommon beauty and modesty, could only draw her
cloak about her to hide the sigh of disappointment and return meekly home
to endure for another night the sickness of the heart occasioned by hope
"There's something about a needle and a pole," said Mrs. Shortcake, to
whom her taller rival in gossiping had at length yielded a peep at the
subject of their curiosity.
"Now, that's downright shamefu'," said Mrs. Heukbane, "to scorn the poor
silly gait of a lassie after he's keepit company wi' her sae lang, and
had his will o' her, as I make nae doubt he has."
"It's but ower muckle to be doubted," echoed Mrs. Shortcake;--"to cast up
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