BY SIR WALTER SCOTT, BART.
The Antiquary and Lovelthe Sanctum
Sir Arthur and Miss Wardour
The Rescue of Sir Arthur and Miss Wardour
Eddie Ochiltree Visits Miss Wardour
Mrs. Heukbane and Mrs. Shortcake
St. Ruth (arbroath Abbey)
The Ruins of St. Ruth
I knew Anselmo. He was shrewd and prudent, Wisdom and cunning had their shares of him; But he was shrewish as a wayward child, And pleased again by toys which childhood please; As-book of fables, graced with print of wood, Or else the jingling of a rusty medal, Or the rare melody of some old ditty, That first was sung to please King Pepin's cradle
The present work completes a series of fictitious narratives, intended to illustrate the manners of Scotland at three different periods. Waverley embraced the age of our fathers, Guy Mannering that of our own youth, and the Antiquary refers to the last ten years of the eighteenth century. I have, in the two last narratives especially, sought my principal personages in the class of society who are the last to feel the influence of that general polish which assimilates to each other the manners of different nations. Among the same class I have placed some of the scenes in which I have endeavoured to illustrate the operation of the higher and more violent passions; both because the lower orders are less restrained by the habit of suppressing their feelings, and because I agree, with my friend Wordsworth, that they seldom fail to express them in the strongest and most powerful language. This is, I think, peculiarly the case with the peasantry of my own country, a class with whom I have long been familiar. The antique force and simplicity of their language, often tinctured with the Oriental eloquence of Scripture, in the mouths of those of an elevated understanding, give pathos to their grief, and dignity to their resentment.
I have been more solicitous to describe manners minutely than to arrange in any case an artificial and combined narrative, and have but to regret that I felt myself unable to unite these two requisites of a good Novel.
The knavery of the adept in the following sheets may appear forced and improbable; but we have had very late instances of the force of superstitious credulity to a much greater extent, and the reader may be assured, that this part of the narrative is founded on a fact of actual occurrence.
I have now only to express my gratitude to the Public for the distinguished reception which, they have given to works, that have little more than some truth of colouring to recommend them, and to take my respectful leave, as one who is not likely again to solicit their favour.
To the above advertisement, which was prefixed to the first edition of the Antiquary, it is necessary in the present edition to add a few words, transferred from the Introduction to the Chronicles of the Canongate, respecting the character of Jonathan Oldbuck.
"I may here state generally, that although I have deemed historical personages free subjects of delineation, I have never on any occasion violated the respect due to private life. It was indeed impossible that traits proper to persons, both living and dead, with whom I have had intercourse in society, should not have risen to my pen in such works as Waverley, and those which, followed it. But I have always studied to generalise the portraits, so that they should still seem, on the whole, the productions of fancy, though possessing some resemblance to real individuals. Yet I must own my attempts have not in this last particular been uniformly successful. There are men whose characters are so peculiarly marked, that the delineation of some leading and principal feature, inevitably places the whole person before you in his individuality. Thus the character of Jonathan Oldbuck in the Antiquary, was partly founded on that of an old friend of my youth, to whom I am indebted for introducing me to Shakspeare, and other invaluable favours; but I thought I had so completely disguised the likeness, that it could not be recognised by any one now alive. I was mistaken, however, and indeed had endangered what I desired should be considered as a secret; for I afterwards learned that a highly respectable gentleman, one of the few surviving friends of my father, and an acute critic, had said, upon the appearance of the work, that he was now convinced who was the author of it, as he recognised, in the Antiquary, traces of the character of a very intimate friend* of my father's family."
* [The late George Constable of Wallace Craigie, near Dundee.]
I have only farther to request the reader not to suppose that my late respected friend resembled Mr. Oldbuck, either in his pedigree, or the history imputed to the ideal personage. There is not a single incident in the Novel which is borrowed from his real circumstances, excepting the fact that he resided in an old house near a flourishing seaport, and that the author chanced to witness a scene betwixt him and the female proprietor of a stage-coach, very similar to that which commences the history of the Antiquary. An excellent temper, with a slight degree of subacid humour; learning, wit, and drollery, the more poignant that they were a little marked by the peculiarities of an old bachelor; a soundness of thought, rendered more forcible by an occasional quaintness of expression, were, the author conceives, the only qualities in which the creature of his imagination resembled his benevolent and excellent old friend.
The prominent part performed by the Beggar in the following narrative, induces the author to prefix a few remarks of that character, as it formerly existed in Scotland, though it is now scarcely to be traced.
Many of the old Scottish mendicants were by no means to be confounded with the utterly degraded class of beings who now practise that wandering trade. Such of them as were in the habit of travelling through a particular district, were usually well received both in the farmer's ha', and in the kitchens of the country gentlemen. Martin, author of the Reliquiae Divi Sancti Andreae, written in 1683, gives the following account of one class of this order of men in the seventeenth century, in terms which would induce an antiquary like Mr. Oldbuck to regret its extinction. He conceives them to be descended from the ancient bards, and proceeds:-"They are called by others, and by themselves, Jockies, who go about begging; and use still to recite the Sloggorne (gathering-words or war-cries) of most of the true ancient surnames of Scotland, from old experience and observation. Some of them I have discoursed, and found to have reason and discretion. One of then told me there were not now above twelve of them in the whole isle; but he remembered when they abounded, so as at one time he was one of five that usually met at St. Andrews."
The race of Jockies (of the above description) has, I suppose, been long extinct in Scotland; but the old remembered beggar, even in my own time, like the Baccoch, or travelling cripple of Ireland, was expected to merit his quarters by something beyond an exposition of his distresses. He was often a talkative, facetious fellow, prompt at repartee, and not withheld from exercising his powers that way by any respect of persons, his patched cloak giving him the privilege of the ancient jester. To be a gude crack, that is, to possess talents for conversation, was essential to the trade of a "puir body" of the more esteemed class; and Burns, who delighted in the amusement their discourse afforded, seems to have looked forward with gloomy firmness to the possibility of himself becoming one day or other a member of their itinerant society. In his poetical works, it is alluded to so often, as perhaps to indicate that he considered the consummation as not utterly impossible. Thus in the fine dedication of his works to Gavin Hamilton, he says,
And when I downa yoke a naig, Then, Lord be thankit, I can beg.
Again, in his Epistle to Davie, a brother Poet, he states, that in their closing career
The last o't, the warst o't, Is only just to beg.
And after having remarked, that
To lie in kilns and barns at e'en, When banes are crazed and blude is thin,
Is doubtless great distress; the bard reckons up, with true poetical spirit, the free enjoyment of the beauties of nature, which might counterbalance the hardship and uncertainty of the life, even of a mendicant. In one of his prose letters, to which I have lost the reference, he details this idea yet more seriously, and dwells upon it, as not ill adapted to his habits and powers.
As the life of a Scottish mendicant of the eighteenth century seems to have been contemplated without much horror by Robert Burns, the author can hardly have erred in giving to Edie Ochiltree something of poetical character and personal dignity, above the more abject of his miserable calling. The class had, intact, some privileges. A lodging, such as it was, was readily granted to them in some of the out-houses, and the usual awmous (alms) of a handful of meal (called a gowpen) was scarce denied by the poorest cottager. The mendicant disposed these, according to their different quality, in various bags around his person, and thus carried about with him the principal part of his sustenance, which he literally received for the asking. At the houses of the gentry, his cheer was mended by scraps of broken meat, and perhaps a Scottish "twalpenny," or English penny, which was expended in snuff or whiskey. In fact, these indolent peripatetics suffered much less real hardship and want of food, than the poor peasants from whom they received alms.
If, in addition to his personal qualifications, the mendicant chanced to be a King's Bedesman, or Blue-Gown, he belonged, in virtue thereof, to the aristocracy of his order, and was esteemed a parson of great importance.
These Bedesmen are an order of paupers to whom the Kings of Scotland were in the custom of distributing a certain alms, in conformity with the ordinances of the Catholic Church, and who where expected in return to pray for the royal welfare and that of the state. This order is still kept up. Their number is equal to the number of years which his Majesty has lived; and one Blue-Gown additional is put on the roll for every returning royal birth-day. On the same auspicious era, each Bedesman receives a new cloak, or gown of coarse cloth, the colour light blue, with a pewter badge, which confers on them the general privilege of asking alms through all Scotland,all laws against sorning, masterful beggary, and every other species of mendicity, being suspended in favour of this privileged class. With his cloak, each receives a leathern purse, containing as many shillings Scots (videlicet, pennies sterling) as the sovereign is years old; the zeal of their intercession for the king's long life receiving, it is to be supposed, a great stimulus from their own present and increasing interest in the object of their prayers. On the same occasion one of the Royal Chaplains preaches a sermon to the Bedesmen, who (as one of the reverend gentlemen expressed himself) are the most impatient and inattentive audience in the world. Something of this may arise from a feeling on the part of the Bedesmen, that they are paid for their own devotions, not for listening to those of others. Or, more probably, it arises from impatience, natural, though indecorous in men bearing so venerable a character, to arrive at the conclusion of the ceremonial of the royal birth-day, which, so far as they are concerned, ends in a lusty breakfast of bread and ale; the whole moral and religious exhibition terminating in the advice of Johnson's "Hermit hoar" to his proselyte,
Come, my lad, and drink some beer.
Of the charity bestowed on these aged Bedesmen in money and clothing, there are many records in the Treasurer's accompts. The following extract, kindly supplied by Mr. Macdonald of the Register House, may interest those whose taste is akin to that of Jonathan Oldbuck of Monkbarns. BLEW GOWNIS.
In the Account of Sir Robert Melvill of Murdocarney, Treasurer-Depute of King James VI., there are the following Payments:
"Item, to Mr. Peter Young, Elimosinar, twentie four gownis of blew clayth, to be gevin to xxiiij auld men, according to the yeiris of his hienes age, extending to viii xx viii elnis clayth; price of the elne xxiiij s. Inde, ij cj li. xij s.
"Item, for sextene elnis bukrum to the saidis gownis, price of the elne x s. Inde,viij li.
"Item, twentie four pursis, and in ilk purse twentie four schelling Inde, xxciij li. xvj s. "Item, the price of ilk purse iiij d. Inde, viij s.
"Item, for making of the saidis gownis viij li. "
In the Account of John, Earl of Mar, Great Treasurer of Scotland, and of Sir Gideon Murray of Enbank, Treasurer-Depute, the Blue-Gowns also appear thus:
"Item, to James Murray, merchant, for fyftene scoir sex elnis and aine half elne of blew claith to be gownis to fyftie ane aigeit men, according to the yeiris of his Majesteis age, at xl s. the elne Inde,vj c xiij li.
"Item, to workmen for careing the blewis to James Aikman, tailyeour, his hous xiij s. iiij d.
"Item, for sex elnis and ane half of harden to the saidis gownis, at vj s. viij d. the elne Inde,xliij s. iiij d.
"Item, to the said workmen for careing of the gownis fra the said James Aikman's hous to the palace of Halyrudehous xviij s.
"Item, for making the saidis fyftie ane gownis, at xij s. the peice Inde,xxx li. xij s.
"Item, for fyftie ane pursis to the said puire menlj s.
"Item, to Sir Peter Young,li s. to be put in everie ane of the saidis ljpursis to the said poore men j cxxxl jj s.
"Item, to the said Sir Peter, to buy breid and drink to the said puir men vj li. xiij s. iiij d.
"Item, to the said Sir Peter, to be delt amang uther puire folk j cli.
"Item, upoun the last day of Junii to Doctor Young, Deane of Winchester, Elimozinar Deput to his Majestic, twentie fyve pund sterling, to be gevin to the puir be the way in his Majesteis progress Inde,iij c li. "
I have only to add, that although the institution of King's Bedesmen still subsists, they are now seldom to be seen on the streets of Edinburgh, of which their peculiar dress made them rather a characteristic feature.
Having thus given an account of the genus and species to which Edie Ochiltree appertains, the author may add, that the individual he had in his eye was Andrew Gemmells, an old mendicant of the character described, who was many years since well known, and must still be remembered, in the vales of Gala, Tweed, Ettrick, Yarrow, and the adjoining country.
The author has in his youth repeatedly seen and conversed with Andrew, but cannot recollect whether he held the rank of Blue-Gown. He was a remarkably fine old figure, very tall, and maintaining a soldierlike or military manner and address. His features were intelligent, with a powerful expression of sarcasm. His motions were always so graceful, that he might almost have been suspected of having studied them; for he might, on any occasion, have, served as a model for an artist, so remarkably striking were his ordinary attitudes. Andrew Gemmells had little of the cant of his calling; his wants were food and shelter, or a trifle of money, which he always claimed, and seemed to receive as his due. He, sung a good song, told a good story, and could crack a severe jest with all the acumen of Shakespeare's jesters, though without using, like them, the cloak of insanity. It was some fear of Andrew's satire, as much as a feeling of kindness or charity, which secured him the general good reception which he enjoyed everywhere. In fact, a jest of Andrew Gemmells, especially at the expense of a person of consequence, flew round the circle which he frequented, as surely as the bon-mot of a man of established character for wit glides through the fashionable world, Many of his good things are held in remembrance, but are generally too local and personal to be introduced here.
Andrew had a character peculiar to himself among his tribe for aught I ever heard. He was ready and willing to play at cards or dice with any one who desired such amusement. This was more in the character of the Irish itinerant gambler, called in that country a "carrow," than of the Scottish beggar. But the late Reverend Doctor Robert Douglas, minister of Galashiels, assured the author, that the last time he saw Andrew Gemmells, he was engaged in a game at brag with a gentleman of fortune, distinction, and birth. To preserve the due gradations of rank, the party was made at an open window of the chateau, the laird sitting on his chair in the inside, the beggar on a stool in the yard; and they played on the window-sill. The stake was a considerable parcel of silver. The author expressing some surprise, Dr. Douglas observed, that the laird was no doubt a humourist or original; but that many decent persons in those times would, like him, have thought there was nothing extraordinary in passing an hour, either in card-playing or conversation, with Andrew Gemmells.
This singular mendicant had generally, or was supposed to have, much money about his person, as would have been thought the value of his life among modern foot-pads. On one occasion, a country gentleman, generally esteemed a very narrow man, happening to meet Andrew, expressed great regret that he had no silver in his pocket, or he would have given him sixpence."I can give you change for a note, laird," replied Andrew.
Like most who have arisen to the head of their profession, the modern degradation which mendicity has undergone was often the subject of Andrew's lamentations. As a trade, he said, it was forty pounds a-year worse since he had first practised it. On another occasion he observed, begging was in modern times scarcely the profession of a gentleman; and that, if he had twenty sons, he would not easily be induced to breed one of them up in his own line. When or where this laudator temporis acti closed his wanderings, the author never heard with certainty; but most probably, as Burns says,
he died a cadger-powny's death, At some dike side.
The author may add another picture of the same kind as Edie Ochiltree and Andrew Gemmells; considering these illustrations as a sort of gallery, open to the reception of anything which may elucidate former manners, or amuse the reader.
The author's contemporaries at the university of Edinburgh will probably remember the thin, wasted form of a venerable old Bedesman, who stood by the Potterrow-Port, now demolished, and, without speaking a syllable, gently inclined his head, and offered his hat, but with the least possible degree of urgency, towards each individual who passed. This man gained, by silence and the extenuated and wasted appearance of a palmer from a remote country, the same tribute which was yielded to Andrew Gemmells' sarcastic humour and stately deportment. He was understood to be able to maintain a son a student in the theological classes of the University, at the gate of which the father was a mendicant. The young man was modest and inclined to learning, so that a student of the same age, and whose parents where rather of the lower order, moved by seeing him excluded from the society of other scholars when the secret of his birth was suspected, endeavoured to console him by offering him some occasional civilities. The old mendicant was grateful for this attention to his son, and one day, as the friendly student passed, he stooped forward more than usual, as if to intercept his passage. The scholar drew out a halfpenny, which he concluded was the beggar's object, when he was surprised to receive his thanks for the kindness he had shown to Jemmie, and at the same time a cordial invitation to dine with them next Saturday, "on a shoulder of mutton and potatoes," adding, "ye'll put on your clean sark, as I have company." The student was strongly tempted to accept this hospitable proposal, as many in his place would probably have done; but, as the motive might have been capable of misrepresentation, he thought it most prudent, considering the character and circumstances of the old man, to decline the invitation.
Such are a few traits of Scottish mendicity, designed to throw light on a Novel in which a character of that description plays a prominent part. We conclude, that we have vindicated Edie Ochiltree's right to the importance assigned him; and have shown, that we have known one beggar take a hand at cards with a person of distinction, and another give dinner parties.
I know not if it be worth while to observe, that the Antiquary,* was not so well received on its first appearance as either of its predecessors, though in course of time it rose to equal, and, with some readers, superior popularity.
* Note A. Mottoes.
EDITOR'S INTRODUCTION TO THE ANTIQUARY.
"THE ANTIQUARY" was begun in 1815; the bargain for its publication by Constable was made in the October of that year. On December 22 Scott wrote to Morritt: "I shall set myself seriously to 'The Antiquary,' of which I have only a very general sketch at present; but when once I get my pen to the paper it will walk fast enough. I am sometimes tempted to leave it alone, and try whether it will not write as well without the assistance of my head as with it,a hopeful prospect for the reader!'" It is amazing enough that he even constructed "a general sketch," for to such sketches he confesses that he never could keep constant. "I have generally written to the middle of one of these novels without having the least idea how it was to end,in short, in the hab nab at a venture style of composition" (Journal, Feb. 24, 1828). Yet it is almost impossible but that the plot of "The Antiquary" should have been duly considered. Scott must have known from the first who Lovel was to turn out to be, and must have recognised in the hapless bride of Lord Glenallan the object of the Antiquary's solitary and unfortunate passion. To introduce another Wandering Heir immediately after the Harry Bertram of "Guy Mannering" was rather audacious. But that old favourite, the Lost Heir, is nearly certain to be popular. For the Antiquary's immortal sorrow Scott had a model in his own experience. "What a romance to tell!and told, I fear, it will one day be. And then my three years of dreaming and my two years of wakening will be chronicled doubtless. But the dead will feel no pain." The dead, as Aristotle says, if they care for such things at all, care no more than we do for what has passed in a dream.
The general sketch probably began to take full shape about the last day of 1815. On December 29 Scott wrote to Ballantyne:
DEAR JAMES, I've done, thank'God, with the long yarns Of the most prosy of ApostlesPaul,1 And now advance, sweet heathen of Monkbarns, Step out, old quizz, as fast as I can scrawl.
In "The Antiquary" Scott had a subject thoroughly to his mind. He had been an antiquary from his childhood. His earliest pence had been devoted to that collection of printed ballads which is still at Abbotsford. These he mentions in the unfinished fragment of his "Reliquiae Trotcosienses," in much the same words as in his manuscript note on one of the seven volumes.
"This little collection of Stall tracts and ballads was formed by me, when a boy, from the baskets of the travelling pedlars. Until put into its present decent binding it had such charms for the servants that it was repeatedly, and with difficulty, recovered from their clutches. It contains most of the pieces that were popular about thirty years since, and, I dare say, many that could not now be procured for any price (1810)."
Nor did he collect only
"The rare melody of some old ditties That first were sung to please King Pepin's cradle.
"Walter had soon begun to gather out-of-the-way things of all sorts. He had more books than shelves [sic]; a small painted cabinet with Scotch and Roman coins in it, and so forth. A claymore and Lochaber axe, given him by old Invernahyle, mounted guard on a little print of Prince Charlie; and Broughton's Saucer was hooked up on the wall below it." He had entered literature through the ruined gateway of archleology, in the "Border Minstrelsy," and his last project was an edition of Perrault's "Contes de Ma Mere l'Oie." As pleasant to him as the purchase of new lands like Turn Again, bought dearly, as in Monkbarns's case, from "bonnet lauds," was a fresh acquisition of an old book or of old armour. Yet, with all his enthusiasm, he did not please the antiquaries of his own day. George Chalmers, in Constable's "Life and Correspondence" (i. 431), sneers at his want of learning. "His notes are loose and unlearned, as they generally are." Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe, his friend in life, disported himself in jealous and ribald mockery of Scott's archaeological knowledge, when Scott was dead. In a letter of the enigmatic Thomas Allen, or James Stuart Hay, father of John Sobieski and Charles Edward Stuart, this mysterious person avers that he never knew Scott's opinion to be held as of any value by antiquaries (1829). They probably missed in him "a sort of pettifogging intimacy with dates, names, and trifling matters of fact,a tiresome and frivolous accuracy of memory" which Sir Arthur Wardour reproves in Monkbarns. Scott, in brief, was not as Dry-as-dust; all the dead bones that he touches come to life. He was as great an archeologist as a poet can be, and, with Virgil, was the greatest antiquary among poets. Like Monkbarns, he was not incapable of being beguiled. As Oldbuck bought the bodle from the pedlar at the price of a rare coin, so Scott took Surtees's "Barthram's Dirge," and his Latin legend of the tourney with the spectre knight, for genuine antiquities. No Edie Ochiltree ever revealed to him the truth about these forgeries, and the spectre knight, with the ballad of "Anthony Featherstonhaugh," hold their own in "Marmion," to assure the world that this antiquary was gullible when the sleight was practised by a friend. "Non est tanti," he would have said, had he learned the truth; for he was ever conscious of the humorous side of the study of the mouldering past. "I do not know anything which relieves the mind so much from the sullens as a trifling discourse about antiquarian oldwomanries. It is like knitting a stocking,diverting the mind without occupying it." ("Journal," March 9, 1828).
Begun about Jan. 1, 1816, "The Antiquary" was published before May 16, 1816, when Scott writes to say that he has sent Mr. Morritt the novel "some time since." "It is not so interesting as its predecessors; the period does not admit of so much romantic situation. But it has been more fortunate than any of them in the sale, for six thousand went off in the first six days, and it is now at press again." The Preface of the first edition ends with the melancholy statement that the author "takes his respectful leave, as one who is not likely again to solicit favour." Apparently Scott had already determined not to announce his next novels ("The Black Dwarf" and "Old Mortality") as "by the Author of Waverley." Mr. Constable, in the biography of his father, says (iii. 84): "Even before the publication of 'The Antiquary,' John Ballantyne had been impowered by the Author to negotiate with Mr. Murray and Mr. Blackwood for the first series of the 'Tales of my Landlord.'" The note of withdrawal from the stage, in the first edition of "The Antiquary," was probably only a part of another experiment on public sagacity. As Lockhart says, Mr. Murray and Mr. Blackwood thought that the consequent absence of the Author of "Waverley's" name from the "Tales of my Landlord" would "check very much the first success of the book;" but they risked this, "to disturb Constable's tenure."
Scott's temporary desertion of Constable in the "Tales of my Landlord" may have had various motives. There was a slight grudge against Constable, born of some complications of the Ballantynes' affairs. Perhaps the mere amusement of the experiment on public sagacity was one of the more powerful reasons for the change. In our day Lord Lytton and Mr. Trollope made similar trials of their popularity when anonymous, the former author with the greater success. The idea of these masquerades and veils of the incognito appears to have bewitched Constable. William Godwin was writing for him his novel "Mandeville," and Godwin had obviously been counselled to try a disguise. He says (Jan. 30, 1816) "I have amused my imagination a thousand times since last we parted with the masquerade you devised for me. The world is full of wonder. An old favourite is always reviewed with coldness. . . . 'Pooh,' they say; 'Godwin has worn his pen to the stump!' . . . But let me once be equipped with a significant mask and an unknown character from your masquerade shop, and admitted to figure in with the 'Last Minstrel,' the 'Lady of the Lake,' and 'Guy Mannering' in the Scottish carnival, Gods! how the boys and girls will admire me! 'Here is a new wonder!' they will say. 'Ah, this is something like! Here is Godwin beaten on his own ground. . . Here is for once a Scottish writer that they cannot say has anything of the Scotchman about him.'"
However, Mr. Godwin did not don the mask and domino. "Mandeville" came out about the same time as "Rob Roy;" but the "craziness of the public" for the Author of "Waverley" was not changed into a passion for the father-in-law of Shelley.
"'The Antiquary,' after a little pause of hesitation, attained popularity not inferior to 'Guy Mannering,' and though the author appears for a moment to have shared the doubts which he read in the countenance of James Ballantyne, it certainly was, in the sequel, his chief favourite among all his novels.'"
As Scott said to Terry, "If a man will paint from nature, he will be likely to amuse those who are daily looking at it." The years which saw the first appearance of "Guy Mannering" also witnessed that of "Emma." By the singular chance, or law, which links great authors closely in time, giving us novelists in pairs, Miss Austen was "drawing from nature" at the very moment when Scott was wedding nature with romance. How generously and wisely he admired her is familiar, and it may, to some, seem curious that he never deliberately set himself to a picture of ordinary life, free from the intrusion of the unusual, of the heroic. Once, looking down at the village which lies on the Tweed, opposite Melrose, he remarked that under its roofs tragedies and tales were doubtless being lived. 'I undertake to say there is some real romance at this moment going on down there, that, if it could have justice done to it, would be well worth all the fiction that was ever spun out of human brains.' But the example he gave was terrible,"anything more dreadful was never conceived by Crabbe;" yet, adds Lockhart, "it would never have entered into his head to elaborate such a tale." He could not dwell in the unbroken gloom dear to some modern malingerers. But he could easily have made a tale of common Scotch life, dark with the sorrow of Mucklebackit, and bright with the mirth of Cuddie Headrigg. There was, however, this difficulty,that Scott cared not to write a story of a single class. "From the peer to the ploughman," all society mingles in each of his novels. A fiction of middle-class life did not allure him, and he was not at the best, but at his worst, as Sydney Smith observed, in the light talk of society. He could admire Miss Austen, and read her novels again and again; but had he attempted to follow her, by way of variety, then inevitably wild as well as disciplined humour would have kept breaking in, and his fancy would have wandered like the old knights of Arthur's Court, "at adventure." "St. Ronan's Well" proved the truth of all this. Thus it happens that, in "The Antiquary," with all his sympathy for the people, with all his knowledge of them, he does not confine himself to their cottages. As Lockhart says, in his admirable piece of criticism, he preferred to choose topics in which he could display "his highest art, that of skilful contrast."
Even the tragic romance of "Waverley" does not set off its Macwheebles and Callum Begs better than the oddities of Jonathan Oldbuck and his circle are relieved, on the one hand by the stately gloom of the Glenallans, on the other by the stern affliction of the poor fisherman, who, when discovered repairing "the auld black bitch of a boat," in which his boy had been lost, and congratulated by his visitors on being capable of the exertion, makes answer, "And what would you have me to do, unless I wanted to see four children starve, because one is drowned? It 's weel with you gentles, that can sit in the house with handkerchers at your een, when ye lose a friend; but the like o' us maun to our work again, if our hearts were beating as hard as ony hammer." And to his work again Scott had to go when he lost the partner of his life.
The simple unsought charm which Lockhart notes in "The Antiquary" may have passed away in later works, when what had been the amusement of happy days became the task of sadness. But this magic "The Antiquary" keeps perhaps beyond all its companions,the magic of pleasant memories and friendly associations. The sketches of the epoch of expected invasion, with its patriotic musters and volunteer drillings, are pictures out of that part in the author's life which, with his early Highland wanderings ("Waverley") and his Liddesdale raids ("Guy Mannering"), was most dear to him. In "Redgauntlet," again, he makes, as Alan Fairford, a return on his youth and his home, and in "Rob Roy" he revives his Highland recollections, his Highland lairds of "the blawing, bleezing stories." None of the rest of the tales are so intimate in their connection with Scott's own personal history. "The Antiquary" has always, therefore, been held in the very first rank of his novels.
As far as plot goes, though Godwin denied that it had any story, "The Antiquary" may be placed among the most careful. The underplot of the Glenallans, gloomy almost beyond endurance, is very ingeniously made to unravel the mystery of Lovel. The other side-narrative, that of Dousterswivel, is the weak point of the whole; but this Scott justifies by "very late instances of the force of superstitious credulity, to a much greater extent." Some occurrence of the hour may have suggested the knavish adept with his divining-rod. But facts are never a real excuse for the morally incredible, or all but incredible, in fiction. On the wealth and vraisemblance and variety of character it were superfluous to dilate. As in Shakspeare, there is not even a minor person but lives and is of flesh and blood, if we except, perhaps, Dousterswivel and Sir Arthur Wardour. Sir Arthur is only Sir Robert Hazlewood over again, with a slightly different folly and a somewhat more amiable nature. Lovel's place, as usual, is among the shades of heroes, and his love-affair is far less moving, far more summarily treated, than that of Jenny Caxon. The skilful contrasts are perhaps most remarkable when we compare Elspeth of the Burnfoot with the gossiping old women in the post-office at Fairport,a town studied perhaps from Arbroath. It was the opinion of Sydney Smith that every one of the novels, before "The Fortunes of Nigel," contained a Meg Merrilies and a Dominie Sampson. He may have recognized a male Meg in Edie Ochiltree,the invaluable character who is always behind a wall, always overhears everything, and holds the threads of the plot. Or he may have been hypercritical enough to think that Elspeth of the Burnfoot is the Meg of the romance. Few will agree with him that Meg Merrilies, in either of these cases, is "good, but good too often."
The supposed "originals" of certain persons in the tale have been topics of discussion. The character of Oldbuck, like most characters in fiction, is a combination of traits observed in various persons. Scott says, in a note to the Ashiestiel fragment of Autobiography, that Mr. George Constable, an old friend of his father's, "had many of those peculiarities of character which long afterwards I tried to develop in the character of Jonathan Oldbuck." Sir Walter, when a child, made Mr. Constable's acquaintance at Prestonpans in 1777, where he explored the battle-field "under the learned guidance of Dalgetty." Mr. Constable first introduced him to Shakspeare's plays, and gave him his first German dictionary. Other traits may have been suggested by John Clerk of Eldin, whose grandfather was the hero of the story "Praetorian here, Praetorian there, I made it wi' a flaughter spade." Lockhart is no doubt right in thinking that Oldbuck is partly a caricature of Oldbuck's creator,Sir Walter indeed frankly accepted the kinship; and the book which he began on his own collection he proposed to style "Reliquim Trotcosienses; or, the Gabions of Jonathan Oldbuck."
Another person who added a few points to Oldbuck was "Sandy Gordon," author of the "Itinerarium Septentrionale" (1726), the very folio which Monkbarns carried in the dilatory coach to Queensferry. Gordon had been a student in the University of Aberdeen; he was an amateur in many arts, but antiquarianism was his favourite hobby. He was an acquaintance of Sir John Clerk of Eldin, the hero of the Praetorium. The words of Gordon in his "Itinerarium," where he describes the battle of the Grampians, have supplied, or suggested, the speech of Monkbarns at the Kaim of Kinprunes. The great question was, Where is the Mons Grampius of Tacitus? Dismissing Camden's Grantsbain, because he does not know where it is, Gordon says, "As for our Scotch Antiquaries, they are so divided that some will have it to be in the shire of Angus, or in the Mearns, some at the Blair of Athol in Perthshire, or Ardoch in Strathallan, and others at Inverpeffery." Gordon votes for Strathern, "half a mile short of the Kirk of Comrie." This spot is both at the foot of the Montes Grampii, "and boasts a Roman camp capable of holding an army fit to encounter so formidable a number as thirty thousand Caledonians. . . . Here is the Porta Decumana, opposite the Prcetoria, together with the dextra and sinistra gates," all discovered by Sandy Gordon. "Moreover, the situation of the ground is so very exact with the description given by Tacitus, that in all my travels through Britain I never beheld anything with more pleasure. . . . Nor is it difficult, in viewing this ground, to say where the Covinarii, or Charioteers, stood. In fine, to an Antiquary, this is a ravishing scene." He adds the argument "that Galgacus's name still remains on this ground, for the moor on which the camp stood is called to this day Galdachan, or Galgachan Rosmoor." All this lore Gordon illustrates by an immense chart of a camp, and a picture of very small Montes Grampii, about the size and shape of buns. The plate is dedicated to his excellency General Wade.
In another point Monkbapns borrows from Gordon. Sandy has a plate (page 20) of "The Roman Sacellum of Mars Signifer, vulgarly called 'Arthur's Oon.' With regard to its shape, it is not unlike the famous Pantheon at Rome before the noble Portico was added to it by Marcus Agrippa." Gordon agrees with Stukeley in attributing Arthur's Oon to Agricola, and here Monkbarns and Lovel adopt almost his words. "Time has left Julius Agricola's very name on the place; . . . and if ever those initial letters J. A. M. P. M. P. T., mentioned by Sir Robert Sibbald, were engraven on a stone in this building, it may not be reckoned altogether absurd that they should bear this reading, JULIUS AGRICOLA MAGNUS PIETATIS MONUMENTUM POSUIT TEMPLUM; but this my reader may either accept or reject as he pleases. However, I think it may be as probably received as that inscription on Caligula's Pharos in Holland, which having these following letters, C. C. P. F., is read Caius Caligula Pharum Fecit." "This," Monkbarns adds, "has ever been recorded as a sound exposition."
The character of Edie Ochiltree, Scott himself avers to have been suggested by Andrew Gemmells, pleasantly described in the Introduction. Mr. Chambers, in "Illustrations of the Author of 'Waverley," clears up a point doubtful in Scott's memory, by saying that Geimells really was a Blue-Gown. He rode a horse of his own, and at races was a bookmaker. He once dropped at Rutherford, in Teviotdale, a clue of yarn containing twenty guineas. Like Edie Ochiltree, he had served at Fontenoy. He died at Roxburgh Newton in 1793, at the age of one hundred and five, according to his own reckoning. "His wealth was the means of enriching a nephew in Ayrshire, who is now (1825) a considerable landholder there, and belongs to a respectable class of society."
An old Irus of similar character patrolled Teviotdale, while Andrew Gemmells was attached to Ettrick and Yarrow. This was Blind Willie Craw. Willie was the Society Journal of Hawick, and levied blackmail on the inhabitants. He is thus described by Mr. Grieve, in the Diary already quoted: "He lived at Branxholme Town, in a free house set apart for the gamekeeper, and for many a year carried all the bread from Hawick used in my father's family. He came in that way at breakfast-time, and got a wallet which he put it in, and returned at dinner-time with the 'bawbee rows' and two loaves. He laid the town of Hawick under contribution for bawbees, and he knew the history of every individual, and went rhyming through the town from door to door; and as he knew something against every one which they would rather wish should not be rehearsed, a bawbee put a stop to the paragraph which they wished suppressed. Willie Craw was the son of a gamekeeper of the duke's, and enjoyed a free house at Branxholme Town as long as he lived."
Had Burns ever betaken himself to the gaberlunzie's life, which he speaks of in one of his poems as "the last o't, the worst o't," he would have proved a much more formidable satirist than poor Willie Craw, the last of the "blind crowders." Burns wrote, of course, in a spirit of reckless humour; but he could not, even in sport, have alluded to the life as "suited to his habits and powers," had gaberlunzies been mere mendicants. In Herd's collection of Ballads is one on the ancient Scottish beggar:
In Scotland there lived a humble beggar, He had nor house, nor hald, nor hame; But he was well liked by ilk a body, And they gave him sunkets to rax his wame.
A sieve fu' o' meal, a handfu' o' groats, A dad o' a bannock, or pudding bree, Cauld porridge, or the lickings o' plates, Wad make him as blythe as a body could be.
The dress and trade of the beggar are said to have been adopted by James V. in his adventures, and tradition attributes to him a song, "The Gaberlunzie Man."
One of Edie's most charming traits is his readiness to "fight for his dish, like the laird for his land," when a French invasion was expected. Scott places the date of "The False Alarm," when he himself rode a hundred miles to join his regiment, on Feb. 2, 1804.
Lockhart gives it as an event of 1805 (vol. ii. p. 275). The occasion gave great pleasure to Scott, on account of the patriotism and courage displayed by all classes. "Me no muckle to fight for?" says Edie. "Isna there the country to fight for, and the burns I gang dandering beside, and the hearths o' the gudewives that gie me my bit bread, and the bits o' weans that come toddling to play wi' me when I come about a landward town?" Edie had fought at Fontenoy, and was of the old school. Scott would have been less pleased with a recruit from St. Boswells, on the Tweed. This man was a shoemaker, John Younger, a very intelligent and worthy person, famous as an angler and writer on angling, who has left an account of the "False Alarm" in his memoirs. His view was that the people, unlike Edie, had nothing to fight for, that only the rich had any reason to be patriotic, that the French had no quarrel with the poor. In fact, Mr. Younger was a cosmopolitan democrat, and sneered at the old Border glories of the warlike days. Probably, however, he would have done his duty, had the enemy landed, and, like Edie, might have remembered the "burns he dandered beside," always with a fishingrod in his hand.
The Editor cannot resist the temptation to add that the patriotic lady mentioned in Scott's note, who "would rather have seen her son dead on that hearth than hear that he had been a horse's length behind his companions," was his paternal great-grandmother, Mrs. John Lang. Her husband, who died shortly afterwards, so that she was a widow when Scott conversed with her, chanced to be chief magistrate of Selkirk. His family was aroused late one night by the sound of a carriage hurrying down the steep and narrow street. Lord Napier was bringing, probably from Hawick, the tidings that the beacons were ablaze. The town-bell was instantly rung, the inhabitants met in the marketplace, where Scott's statue now stands, and the whole force, with one solitary exception, armed and marched to Dalkeith. According to the gentleman whose horse and arms were sent on to meet him, it was intended, if the French proved victorious, that the population of the Border towns should abandon their homes and retire to the hills.
No characters in the "Antiquary," except Monkbarns and Edie Ochiltree, seem to have been borrowed from notable originals. The frauds of Dousterswivel, Scott says, are rendered plausible by "very late instances of the force of superstitious credulity to a much greater extent." He can hardly be referring to the career of Cagliostro, but he may have had in his memory some unsuccessful mining speculations by Charles Earl of Traquair, who sought for lead and found little or none in Traquair hills. The old "Statistical Account of Scotland" (vol. xii. p. 370) says nothing about imposture, and merely remarks that "the noble family of Traquair have made several attempts to discover lead mines, and have found quantities of the ore of that metal, though not adequate to indemnify the expenses of working, and have therefore given up the attempt." This was published in 1794, so twenty years had passed when "The Antiquary" was written. If there was here an "instance of superstitious credulity," it was not "a very late instance." The divining, or "dowsing," rod of Dousterswivel still keeps its place in mining superstition and in the search for wells.
With "The Antiquary" most contemporary reviews of the novels lose their interest. Their author had firmly established his position, at least till "The Monastery" caused some murmurings. Even the "Quarterly Review" was infinitely more genial in its reception of "The Antiquary" than of "Guy Mannering." The critic only grumbled at Lovel's feverish dreams, which, he thought, showed an intention to introduce the marvellous. He complained of "the dark dialect of Anglified Erse," but found comfort in the glossary appended. The "Edinburgh Review" pronounced the chapter on the escape from the tide to be "I the very best description we have ever met, inverse or in prose, in ancient or in modern writing." No reviewer seems to have noticed that the sun is made to set in the sea, on the east coast of Scotland. The "Edinburgh," however, declared that the Antiquary, "at least in so far as he is an Antiquary," was the chief blemish on the book. The "sweet heathen of Monkbarns" has not suffered from this disparagement. The "British Critic" pledged its reputation that Scott was the author. If an argument were wanted, "it would be that which has been applied to prove the authenticity of the last book of the Iliad,that Homer must have written it, because no one else could." Alas! that argument does not convince German critics.
Go call a coach, and let a coach be called, And let the man who calleth be the caller; And in his calling let him nothing call, But Coach! Coach! Coach! O for a coach, ye gods! Chrononhotonthologos.
It was early on a fine summer's day, near the end of the eighteenth century, when a young man, of genteel appearance, journeying towards the north-east of Scotland, provided himself with a ticket in one of those public carriages which travel between Edinburgh and the Queensferry, at which place, as the name implies, and as is well known to all my northern readers, there is a passage-boat for crossing the Firth of Forth. The coach was calculated to carry six regular passengers, besides such interlopers as the coachman could pick up by the way, and intrude upon those who were legally in possession. The tickets, which conferred right to a seat in this vehicle, of little ease, were dispensed by a sharp-looking old dame, with a pair of spectacles on a very thin nose, who inhabited a "laigh shop," anglice, a cellar, opening to the High Street by a straight and steep stair, at the bottom of which she sold tape, thread, needles, skeins of worsted, coarse linen cloth, and such feminine gear, to those who had the courage and skill to descend to the profundity of her dwelling, without falling headlong themselves, or throwing down any of the numerous articles which, piled on each side of the descent, indicated the profession of the trader below.
The written hand-bill, which, pasted on a projecting board, announced that the Queensferry Diligence, or Hawes Fly, departed precisely at twelve o'clock on Tuesday, the fifteenth July 17, in order to secure for travellers the opportunity of passing the Firth with the flood-tide, lied on the present occasion like a bulletin; for although that hour was pealed from Saint Giles's steeple, and repeated by the Tron, no coach appeared upon the appointed stand. It is true, only two tickets had been taken out, and possibly the lady of the subterranean mansion might have an understanding with her Automedon, that, in such cases, a little space was to be allowed for the chance of filling up the vacant placesor the said Automedon might have been attending a funeral, and be delayed by the necessity of stripping his vehicle of its lugubrious trappingsor he might have staid to take a half-mutchkin extraordinary with his crony the hostlerorin short, he did not make his appearance.
The young gentleman, who began to grow somewhat impatient, was now joined by a companion in this petty misery of human lifethe person who had taken out the other place. He who is bent upon a journey is usually easily to be distinguished from his fellow-citizens. The boots, the great-coat, the umbrella, the little bundle in his hand, the hat pulled over his resolved brows, the determined importance of his pace, his brief answers to the salutations of lounging acquaintances, are all marks by which the experienced traveller in mail-coach or diligence can distinguish, at a distance, the companion of his future journey, as he pushes onward to the place of rendezvous. It is then that, with worldly wisdom, the first comer hastens to secure the best berth in the coach for himself, and to make the most convenient arrangement for his baggage before the arrival of his competitors. Our youth, who was gifted with little prudence, of any sort, and who was, moreover, by the absence of the coach, deprived of the power of availing himself of his priority of choice, amused himself, instead, by speculating upon the occupation and character of the personage who was now come to the coach office.
He was a good-looking man of the age of sixty, perhaps older,but his hale complexion and firm step announced that years had not impaired his strength or health. His countenance was of the true Scottish cast, strongly marked, and rather harsh in features, with a shrewd and penetrating eye, and a countenance in which habitual gravity was enlivened by a cast of ironical humour. His dress was uniform, and of a colour becoming his age and gravity; a wig, well dressed and powdered, surmounted by a slouched hat, had something of a professional air. He might be a clergyman, yet his appearance was more that of a man of the world than usually belongs to the kirk of Scotland, and his first ejaculation put the matter beyond question.
He arrived with a hurried pace, and, casting an alarmed glance towards the dial-plate of the church, then looking at the place where the coach should have been, exclaimed, "Deil's in itI am too late after all!"
The young man relieved his anxiety, by telling him the coach had not yet appeared. The old gentleman, apparently conscious of his own want of punctuality, did not at first feel courageous enough to censure that of the coachman. He took a parcel, containing apparently a large folio, from a little boy who followed him, and, patting him on the head, bid him go back and tell Mr. B, that if he had known he was to have had so much time, he would have put another word or two to their bargain,then told the boy to mind his business, and he would be as thriving a lad as ever dusted a duodecimo. The boy lingered, perhaps in hopes of a penny to buy marbles; but none was forthcoming. Our senior leaned his little bundle upon one of the posts at the head of the staircase, and, facing the traveller who had first arrived, waited in silence for about five minutes the arrival of the expected diligence.
At length, after one or two impatient glances at the progress of the minute-hand of the clock, having compared it with his own watch, a huge and antique gold repeater, and having twitched about his features to give due emphasis to one or two peevish pshaws, he hailed the old lady of the cavern.
"Good woman,what the dl is her name?Mrs. Macleuchar!"
Mrs. Macleuchar, aware that she had a defensive part to sustain in the encounter which was to follow, was in no hurry to hasten the discussion by returning a ready answer.
"Mrs. Macleuchar,Good woman" (with an elevated voice)then apart, "Old doited hag, she's as deaf as a postI say, Mrs. Macleuchar!"
"I am just serving a customer.Indeed, hinny, it will no be a bodle cheaper than I tell ye."
"Woman," reiterated the traveller, "do you think we can stand here all day till you have cheated that poor servant wench out of her half-year's fee and bountith?"
"Cheated!" retorted Mrs. Macleuchar, eager to take up the quarrel upon a defensible ground; "I scorn your words, sir: you are an uncivil person, and I desire you will not stand there, to slander me at my ain stair-head."
"The woman," said the senior, looking with an arch glance at his destined travelling companion, "does not understand the words of action.Woman," again turning to the vault, "I arraign not thy character, but I desire to know what is become of thy coach?"
"What's your wull?" answered Mrs. Macleuchar, relapsing into deafness.
"We have taken places, ma'am," said the younger stranger, "in your diligence for Queensferry""Which should have been half-way on the road before now," continued the elder and more impatient traveller, rising in wrath as he spoke: "and now in all likelihood we shall miss the tide, and I have business of importance on the other sideand your cursed coach"
"The coach?Gude guide us, gentlemen, is it no on the stand yet?" answered the old lady, her shrill tone of expostulation sinking into a kind of apologetic whine. "Is it the coach ye hae been waiting for?"
"What else could have kept us broiling in the sun by the side of the gutter here, youyou faithless woman, eh?"
Mrs. Macleuchar now ascended her trap stair (for such it might be called, though constructed of stone), until her nose came upon a level with the pavement; then, after wiping her spectacles to look for that which she well knew was not to be found, she exclaimed, with well-feigned astonishment, "Gude guide ussaw ever onybody the like o' that?"
"Yes, you abominable woman," vociferated the traveller, "many have seen the like of it, and all will see the like of it that have anything to do with your trolloping sex;" then pacing with great indignation before the door of the shop, still as he passed and repassed, like a vessel who gives her broadside as she comes abreast of a hostile fortress, he shot down complaints, threats, and reproaches, on the embarrassed Mrs. Macleuchar. He would take a post-chaisehe would call a hackney coachhe would take four horseshe musthe would be on the north side, to-dayand all the expense of his journey, besides damages, direct and consequential, arising from delay, should be accumulated on the devoted head of Mrs. Macleuchar.
There, was something so comic in his pettish resentment, that the younger traveller, who was in no such pressing hurry to depart, could not help being amused with it, especially as it was obvious, that every now and then the old gentleman, though very angry, could not help laughing at his own vehemence. But when Mrs. Macleuchar began also to join in the laughter, he quickly put a stop to her ill-timed merriment.
"Woman," said he, "is that advertisement thine?" showing a bit of crumpled printed paper: "Does it not set forth, that, God willing, as you hypocritically express it, the Hawes Fly, or Queensferry Diligence, would set forth to-day at twelve o'clock; and is it not, thou falsest of creatures, now a quarter past twelve, and no such fly or diligence to be seen?Dost thou know the consequence of seducing the lieges by false reports?dost thou know it might be brought under the statute of leasing-making? Answerand for once in thy long, useless, and evil life, let it be in the words of truth and sincerity,hast thou such a coach?is it in rerum natura?or is this base annunciation a mere swindle on the incautious to beguile them of their time, their patience, and three shillings of sterling money of this realm?Hast thou, I say, such a coach? ay or no?"
"O dear, yes, sir; the neighbours ken the diligence weel, green picked oat wi' redthree yellow wheels and a black ane."
"Woman, thy special description will not serveit may be only a lie with a circumstance."
"O, man, man!" said the overwhelmed Mrs. Macleuchar, totally exhausted at having been so long the butt of his rhetoric, "take back your three shillings, and make me quit o' ye."
"Not so fast, not so fast, womanWill three shillings transport me to Queensferry, agreeably to thy treacherous program?or will it requite the damage I may sustain by leaving my business undone, or repay the expenses which I must disburse if I am obliged to tarry a day at the South Ferry for lack of tide?Will it hire, I say, a pinnace, for which alone the regular price is five shillings?"
Here his argument was cut short by a lumbering noise, which proved to be the advance of the expected vehicle, pressing forward with all the dispatch to which the broken-winded jades that drew it could possibly be urged. With ineffable pleasure, Mrs. Macleuchar saw her tormentor deposited in the leathern convenience; but still, as it was driving off, his head thrust out of the window reminded her, in words drowned amid the rumbling of the wheels, that, if the diligence did not attain the Ferry in time to save the flood-tide, she, Mrs. Macleuchar, should be held responsible for all the consequences that might ensue.
The coach had continued in motion for a mile or two before the stranger had completely repossessed himself of his equanimity, as was manifested by the doleful ejaculations, which he made from time to time, on the too great probability, or even certainty, of their missing the flood-tide. By degrees, however, his wrath subsided; he wiped his brows, relaxed his frown, and, undoing the parcel in his hand, produced his folio, on which he gazed from time to time with the knowing look of an amateur, admiring its height and condition, and ascertaining, by a minute and individual inspection of each leaf, that the, volume was uninjured and entire from title-page to colophon. His fellow-traveller took the liberty of inquiring the subject of his studies. He lifted up his eyes with something of a sarcastic glance, as if he supposed the young querist would not relish, or perhaps understand, his answer, and pronounced the book to be Sandy Gordon's Itinerarium Septentrionale,* a book illustrative of the Roman remains in Scotland.
* Note B. Sandy Gordon's Itinerarium.
The querist, unappalled by this learned title, proceeded to put several questions, which indicated that he had made good use of a good education, and, although not possessed of minute information on the subject of antiquities, had yet acquaintance enough with the classics to render him an interested and intelligent auditor when they were enlarged upon. The elder traveller, observing with pleasure the capacity of his temporary companion to understand and answer him, plunged, nothing loath, into a sea of discussion concerning urns, vases, votive, altars, Roman camps, and the rules of castrametation.
The pleasure of this discourse had such a dulcifying tendency, that, although two causes of delay occurred, each of much more serious duration than that which had drawn down his wrath upon the unlucky Mrs. Macleuchar, our Antiquary only bestowed on the delay the honour of a few episodical poohs and pshaws, which rather seemed to regard the interruption of his disquisition than the retardation of his journey.
The first of these stops was occasioned by the breaking of a spring, which half an hour's labour hardly repaired. To the second, the Antiquary was himself accessory, if not the principal cause of it; for, observing that one of the horses had cast a fore-foot shoe, he apprized the coachman of this important deficiency. "It's Jamie Martingale that furnishes the naigs on contract, and uphauds them," answered John, "and I am not entitled to make any stop, or to suffer prejudice by the like of these accidents."
"And when you go toI mean to the place you deserve to go to, you scoundrel,who do you think will uphold you on contract? If you don't stop directly and carry the poor brute, to the next smithy, I'll have you punished, if there's a justice of peace in Mid-Lothian;" and, opening the coach-door, out he jumped, while the coachman obeyed his orders, muttering, that "if the gentlemen lost the tide now, they could not say but it was their ain fault, since he was willing to get on."
I like so little to analyze the complication of the causes which influence actions, that I will not venture to ascertain whether our Antiquary's humanity to the poor horse was not in some degree aided by his desire of showing his companion a Pict's camp, or Round-about, a subject which he had been elaborately discussing, and of which a specimen, "very curious and perfect indeed," happened to exist about a hundred yards distant from the spot where this interruption took place. But were I compelled to decompose the motives of my worthy friend (for such was the gentleman in the sober suit, with powdered wig and slouched hat), I should say, that, although he certainly would not in any case have suffered the coachman to proceed while the horse was unfit for service, and likely to suffer by being urged forward, yet the man of whipcord escaped some severe abuse and reproach by the agreeable mode which the traveller found out to pass the interval of delay.
So much time was consumed by these interruptions of their journey, that when they descended the hill above the Hawes (for so the inn on the southern side of the Queensferry is denominated), the experienced eye of the Antiquary at once discerned, from the extent of wet sand, and the number of black stones and rocks, covered with sea-weed, which were visible along the skirts of the shore, that the hour of tide was past. The young traveller expected a burst of indignation; but whether, as Croaker says in "The Good-natured Man," our hero had exhausted himself in fretting away his misfortunes beforehand, so that he did not feel them when they actually arrived, or whether he found the company in which he was placed too congenial to lead him to repine at anything which delayed his journey, it is certain that he submitted to his lot with much resignation.
"The dl's in the diligence and the old hag, it belongs to!Diligence, quoth I? Thou shouldst have called it the SlothFly, quoth she? why, it moves like a fly through a glue-pot, as the Irishman says. But, however, time and tide tarry for no man, and so, my young friend, we'll have a snack here at the Hawes, which is a very decent sort of a place, and I'll be very happy to finish the account I was giving you of the difference between the mode of entrenching castra stativa and castra aestiva, things confounded by too many of our historians. Lack-a-day, if they had ta'en the pains to satisfy their own eyes, instead of following each other's blind guidance!Well! we shall be pretty comfortable at the Hawes; and besides, after all, we must have dined somewhere, and it will be pleasanter sailing with the tide of ebb and the evening breeze."
In this Christian temper of making the best of all occurrences, our travellers alighted at the Hawes.
Sir, they do scandal me upon the road here! A poor quotidian rack of mutton roasted Dry to be grated! and that driven down With beer and butter-milk, mingled together. It is against my freehold, my inheritance. Wine is the word that glads the heart of man, And mine's the house of wine. Sack, says my bush, Be merry and drink Sherry, that's my posie. Ben Jonson's New Inn.
As the senior traveller descended the crazy steps of the diligence at the inn, he was greeted by the fat, gouty, pursy landlord, with that mixture of familiarity and respect which the Scotch innkeepers of the old school used to assume towards their more valued customers.
"Have a care o' us, Monkbarns (distinguishing him by his territorial epithet, always most agreeable to the ear of a Scottish proprietor), is this you? I little thought to have seen your honour here till the summer session was ower."
"Ye donnard auld deevil," answered his guest, his Scottish accent predominating when in anger though otherwise not particularly remarkable,"ye donnard auld crippled idiot, what have I to do with the session, or the geese that flock to it, or the hawks that pick their pinions for them?"
"Troth, and that's true," said mine host, who, in fact, only spoke upon a very general recollection of the stranger's original education, yet would have been sorry not to have been supposed accurate as to the station and profession of him, or any other occasional guest"That's very true,but I thought ye had some law affair of your ain to look afterI have ane mysella ganging plea that my father left me, and his father afore left to him. It's about our back-yardye'll maybe hae heard of it in the Parliament-house, Hutchison against Mackitchinsonit's a weel-kenn'd pleaits been four times in afore the fifteen, and deil ony thing the wisest o' them could make o't, but just to send it out again to the outer-house.O it's a beautiful thing to see how lang and how carefully justice is considered in this country!"
"Hold your tongue, you fool," said the traveller, but in great good-humour, "and tell us what you can give this young gentleman and me for dinner."
"Ou, there's fish, nae doubt,that's sea-trout and caller haddocks," said Mackitchinson, twisting his napkin; "and ye'll be for a mutton-chop, and there's cranberry tarts, very weel preserved, andand there's just ony thing else ye like."
"Which is to say, there is nothing else whatever? Well, well, the fish and the chop, and the tarts, will do very well. But don't imitate the cautious delay that you praise in the courts of justice. Let there be no remits from the inner to the outer house, hear ye me?"
"Na, na," said Mackitchinson, whose long and heedful perusal of volumes of printed session papers had made him acquainted with some law phrases"the denner shall be served quam primum and that peremptorie." And with the flattering laugh of a promising host, he left them in his sanded parlour, hung with prints of the Four Seasons.
As, notwithstanding his pledge to the contrary, the glorious delays of the law were not without their parallel in the kitchen of the inn, our younger traveller had an opportunity to step out and make some inquiry of the people of the house concerning the rank and station of his companion. The information which he received was of a general and less authentic nature, but quite sufficient to make him acquainted with the name, history, and circumstances of the gentleman, whom we shall endeavour, in a few words, to introduce more accurately to our readers.
Jonathan Oldenbuck, or Oldinbuck, by popular contraction Oldbuck, of Monkbarns, was the second son of a gentleman possessed of a small property in the neighbourhood of a thriving seaport town on the north-eastern coast of Scotland, which, for various reasons, we shall denominate Fairport. They had been established for several generations, as landholders in the county, and in most shires of England would have been accounted a family of some standing But the shire ofwas filled with gentlemen of more ancient descent and larger fortune. In the last generation, also, the neighbouring gentry had been almost uniformly Jacobites, while the proprietors of Monkbarns, like the burghers of the town near which they were settled, were steady assertors of the Protestant succession. The latter had, however, a pedigree of their own, on which they prided themselves as much as those who despised them valued their respective Saxon, Norman, or Celtic genealogies. The first Oldenbuck, who had settled in their family mansion shortly after the Reformation, was, they asserted, descended from one of the original printers of Germany, and had left his country in consequence of the persecutions directed against the professors of the Reformed religion. He had found a refuge in the town near which his posterity dwelt, the more readily that he was a sufferer in the Protestant cause, and certainly not the less so, that he brought with him money enough to purchase the small estate of Monkbarns, then sold by a dissipated laird, to whose father it had been gifted, with other church lands, on the dissolution of the great and wealthy monastery to which it had belonged. The Oldenbucks were therefore, loyal subjects on all occasions of insurrection; and, as they kept up a good intelligence with the borough, it chanced that the Laird of Monkbarns, who flourished in 1745, was provost of the town during that ill-fated year, and had exerted himself with much spirit in favour of King George, and even been put to expenses on that score, which, according to the liberal conduct of the existing government towards their friends, had never been repaid him. By dint of solicitation, however, and borough interest, he contrived to gain a place in the customs, and, being a frugal, careful man, had found himself enabled to add considerably to his paternal fortune. He had only two sons, of whom, as we have hinted, the present laird was the younger, and two daughters, one of whom still flourished in single blessedness, and the other, who was greatly more juvenile, made a love-match with a captain in the Forty-twa, who had no other fortune but his commission and a Highland pedigree. Poverty disturbed a union which love would otherwise have made happy, and Captain M'Intyre, in justice to his wife and two children, a boy and girl, had found himself obliged to seek his fortune in the East Indies. Being ordered upon an expedition against Hyder Ally, the detachment to which he belonged was cut off, and no news ever reached his unfortunate wife, whether he fell in battle, or was murdered in prison, or survived in what the habits of the Indian tyrant rendered a hopeless captivity. She sunk under the accumulated load of grief and uncertainty, and left a son and daughter to the charge of her brother, the existing Laird of Monkbarns.
The history of that proprietor himself is soon told. Being, as we have said, a second son, his father destined him to a share in a substantial mercantile concern, carried on by some of his maternal relations. From this Jonathan's mind revolted in the most irreconcilable manner. He was then put apprentice to the profession of a writer, or attorney, in which he profited so far, that he made himself master of the whole forms of feudal investitures, and showed such pleasure in reconciling their incongruities, and tracing their origin, that his master had great hope he would one day be an able conveyancer. But he halted upon the threshold, and, though he acquired some knowledge of the origin and system of the law of his country, he could never be persuaded to apply it to lucrative and practical purposes. It was not from any inconsiderate neglect of the advantages attending the possession of money that he thus deceived the hopes of his master. "Were he thoughtless or light-headed, or rei suae prodigus," said his instructor, "I would know what to make of him. But he never pays away a shilling without looking anxiously after the change, makes his sixpence go farther than another lad's half-crown, and wilt ponder over an old black-letter copy of the acts of parliament for days, rather than go to the golf or the change-house; and yet he will not bestow one of these days on a little business of routine, that would put twenty shillings in his pocketa strange mixture of frugality and industry, and negligent indolenceI don't know what to make of him."
But in process of time his pupil gained the means of making what he pleased of himself; for his father having died, was not long survived by his eldest son, an arrant fisher and fowler, who departed this life, in consequence of a cold caught in his vocation, while shooting ducks in the swamp called Kittlefittingmoss, notwithstanding his having drunk a bottle of brandy that very night to keep the cold out of his stomach. Jonathan, therefore, succeeded to the estate, and with it to the means of subsisting without the hated drudgery of the law. His wishes were very moderate; and as the rent of his small property rose with the improvement of the country, it soon greatly exceeded his wants and expenditure; and though too indolent to make money, he was by no means insensible to the pleasure of beholding it accumulate. The burghers of the town near which he lived regarded him with a sort of envy, as one who affected to divide himself from their rank in society, and whose studies and pleasures seemed to them alike incomprehensible. Still, however, a sort of hereditary respect for the Laird of Monkbarns, augmented by the knowledge of his being a ready-money man, kept up his consequence with this class of his neighbours. The country gentlemen were generally above him in fortune, and beneath him in intellect, and, excepting one with whom he lived in habits of intimacy, had little intercourse with Mr. Oldbuck of Monkbarns. He, had, however, the usual resources, the company of the clergyman, and of the doctor, when he chose to request it, and also his own pursuits and pleasures, being in correspondence with most of the virtuosi of his time, who, like himself, measured decayed entrenchments, made plans of ruined castles, read illegible inscriptions, and wrote essays on medals in the proportion of twelve pages to each letter of the legend. Some habits of hasty irritation he had contracted, partly, it was said in the borough of Fairport, from an early disappointment in love in virtue of which he had commenced misogynist, as he called it, but yet more by the obsequious attention paid to him by his maiden sister and his orphan niece, whom he had trained to consider him as the greatest man upon earth, and whom he used to boast of as the only women he had ever seen who were well broke in and bitted to obedience; though, it must be owned, Miss Grizzy Oldbuck was sometimes apt to jibb when he pulled the reins too tight. The rest of his character must be gathered from the story, and we dismiss with pleasure the tiresome task of recapitulation.
During the time of dinner, Mr. Oldbuck, actuated by the same curiosity which his fellow-traveller had entertained on his account, made some advances, which his age and station entitled him to do in a more direct manner, towards ascertaining the name, destination, and quality of his young companion.
His name, the young gentleman said, was Lovel.
"What! the cat, the rat, and Lovel our dog? Was he descended from King Richard's favourite?"
"He had no pretensions," he said, "to call himself a whelp of that litter; his father was a north-of-England gentleman. He was at present travelling to Fairport (the town near to which Monkbarns was situated), and, if he found the place agreeable, might perhaps remain there for some weeks."
"Was Mr. Lovel's excursion solely for pleasure?"
"Perhaps on business with some of the commercial people of Fairport?"
"It was partly on business, but had no reference to commerce."
Here he paused; and Mr. Oldbuck, having pushed his inquiries as far as good manners permitted, was obliged to change the conversation. The Antiquary, though by no means an enemy to good cheer, was a determined foe to all unnecessary expense on a journey; and upon his companion giving a hint concerning a bottle of port wine, he drew a direful picture of the mixture, which, he said, was usually sold under that denomination, and affirming that a little punch was more genuine and better suited for the season, he laid his hand upon the bell to order the materials. But Mackitchinson had, in his own mind, settled their beverage otherwise, and appeared bearing in his hand an immense double quart bottle, or magnum, as it is called in Scotland, covered with saw-dust and cobwebs, the warrants of its antiquity.
"Punch!" said he, catching that generous sound as he entered the parlour, "the deil a drap punch ye'se get here the day, Monkbarns, and that ye may lay your account wi'."
"What do you mean, you impudent rascal?"
"Ay, ay, it's nae matter for thatbut do you mind the trick ye served me the last time ye were here!"
"I trick you!"
"Ay, just yoursell, Monkbarns. The Laird o' Tamlowrie and Sir Gilbert Grizzlecleuch, and Auld Rossballoh, and the Bailie, were just setting in to make an afternoon o't, and you, wi' some o' your auld-warld stories, that the mind o' man canna resist, whirl'd them to the back o' beyont to look at the auld Roman campAh, sir!" turning to Lovel, "he wad wile the bird aff the tree wi' the tales he tells about folk lang syneand did not I lose the drinking o' sax pints o' gude claret, for the deil ane wad hae stirred till he had seen that out at the least?"
"D'ye hear the impudent scoundrel!" said Monkbarns, but laughing at the same time; for the worthy landlord, as he used to boast, know the measure of a guest's foot as well as e'er a souter on this side Solway; "well, well, you may send us in a bottle of port."
"Port! na, na! ye maun leave port and punch to the like o' us, it's claret that's fit for you lairds; and, I dare say, nane of the folk ye speak so much o' ever drank either of the twa."
"Do you hear how absolute the knave is? Well, my young friend, we must for once prefer the Falernian to the vile Sabinum."
The ready landlord had the cork instantly extracted, decanted the wine into a vessel of suitable capaciousness, and, declaring it parfumed the very room, left his guests to make the most of it.
Mackitchinson's wine was really good, and had its effect upon the spirits of the elder guest, who told some good stories, cut some sly jokes, and at length entered into a learned discussion concerning the ancient dramatists; a ground on which he found his new acquaintance so strong, that at length he began to suspect he had made them his professional study. "A traveller partly for business and partly for pleasure?why, the stage partakes of both; it is a labour to the performers, and affords, or is meant to afford, pleasure to the spectators. He seems, in manner and rank, above the class of young men who take that turn; but I remember hearing them say, that the little theatre at Fairport was to open with the performance of a young gentleman, being his first appearance on any stage.If this should be thee, Lovel!Lovel? yes, Lovel or Belville are just the names which youngsters are apt to assume on such occasionson my life, I am sorry for the lad."
Mr. Oldbuck was habitually parsimonious, but in no respects mean; his first thought was to save his fellow-traveller any part of the expense of the entertainment, which he supposed must be in his situation more or less inconvenient. He therefore took an opportunity of settling privately with Mr. Mackitchinson. The young traveller remonstrated against his liberality, and only acquiesced in deference to his years and respectability.
The mutual satisfaction which they found in each other's society induced Mr. Oldbuck to propose, and Lovel willingly to accept, a scheme for travelling together to the end of their journey. Mr. Oldbuck intimated a wish to pay two-thirds of the hire of a post-chaise, saying, that a proportional quantity of room was necessary to his accommodation; but this Mr. Lovel resolutely declined. Their expense then was mutual, unless when Lovel occasionally slipt a shilling into the hand of a growling postilion; for Oldbuck, tenacious of ancient customs, never extended his guerdon beyond eighteen-pence a stage. In this manner they travelled, until they arrived at Fairport* about two o'clock on the following day.
* [The "Fairport" of this novel is supposed to refer to the town of * Arbroath, in Forfarshire, and "Musselcrag," post, to the fishing village of * Auchmithie, in the same county.]
Lovel probably expected that his travelling companion would have invited him to dinner on his arrival; but his consciousness of a want of ready preparation for unexpected guests, and perhaps some other reasons, prevented Oldbuck from paying him that attention. He only begged to see him as early as he could make it convenient to call in a forenoon, recommended him to a widow who had apartments to let, and to a person who kept a decent ordinary; cautioning both of them apart, that he only knew Mr. Lovel as a pleasant companion in a post-chaise, and did not mean to guarantee any bills which he might contract while residing at Fairport. The young gentleman's figure and manners; not to mention a well-furnished trunk, which soon arrived by sea, to his address at Fairport, probably went as far in his favour as the limited recommendation of his fellow-traveller.
He had a routh o' auld nick-nackets, Rusty airn caps, and jinglin-jackets, Would held the Loudons three in tackets, A towmond gude; And parritch-pats, and auld sayt-backets, Afore the flude. Burns.
After he had settled himself in his new apartments at Fairport, Mr. Lovel bethought him of paying the requested visit to his fellow-traveller. He did not make it earlier, because, with all the old gentleman's good-humour and information, there had sometimes glanced forth in his language and manner towards him an air of superiority, which his companion considered as being fully beyond what the difference of age warranted. He therefore waited the arrival of his baggage from Edinburgh, that he might arrange his dress according to the fashion of the day, and make his exterior corresponding to the rank in society which he supposed or felt himself entitled to hold.
It was the fifth day after his arrival, that, having made the necessary inquiries concerning the road, he went forth to pay his respects at Monkbarns. A footpath leading over a heathy hill, and through two or three meadows, conducted him to this mansion, which stood on the opposite side of the hill aforesaid, and commanded a fine prospect of the bay and shipping. Secluded from the town by the rising ground, which also screened it from the north-west wind, the house had a solitary, and sheltered appearance. The exterior had little to recommend it. It was an irregular old-fashioned building, some part of which had belonged to a grange, or solitary farm-house, inhabited by the bailiff, or steward, of the monastery, when the place was in possession of the monks. It was here that the community stored up the grain, which they received as ground-rent from their vassals; for, with the prudence belonging to their order, all their conventional revenues were made payable in kind, and hence, as the present proprietor loved to tell, came the name of Monkbarns. To the remains of the bailiff's house, the succeeding lay inhabitants had made various additions in proportion to the accommodation required by their families; and, as this was done with an equal contempt of convenience within and architectural regularity without, the whole bore the appearance of a hamlet which had suddenly stood still when in the act of leading down one of Amphion's, or Orpheus's, country dances. It was surrounded by tall clipped hedges of yew and holly, some of which still exhibited the skill of the topiarian artist,* and presented curious arm-chairs, towers, and the figures of Saint George and the Dragon.
* Ars Topiaria, the art of clipping yew-hedges into fantastic figures. A Latin poem, entitled Ars Topiaria, contains a curious account of the process.
The taste of Mr. Oldbuck did not disturb these monuments of an art now unknown, and he was the less tempted so to do, as it must necessarily have broken the heart of the old gardener. One tall embowering holly was, however, sacred from the shears; and, on a garden seat beneath its shade, Lovel beheld his old friend with spectacles on nose, and pouch on side, busily employed in perusing the London Chronicle, soothed by the summer breeze through the rustling leaves, and the distant dash of the waves as they rippled upon the sand.