Part 3 out of 5
her regard for mony years. I returned it by the maist sincere attachment,
but I fell into disgrace frae a trifling act of disobedience, reported to
your mother by ane that thought, and she wasna wrang, that I was a spy
upon her actions and yours."
"I charge thee, woman," said the Earl, in a voice trembling with passion,
"name not her name in my hearing!"
"I must," returned the penitent firmly and calmly, "or how can you
The Earl leaned upon one of the wooden chairs of the hut, drew his hat
over his face, clenched his hands together, set his teeth like one who
summons up courage to undergo a painful operation, and made a signal to
her to proceed.
"I say, then," she resumed, "that my disgrace with my mistress was
chiefly owing to Miss Eveline Neville, then bred up in Glenallan House as
the daughter of a cousin-german and intimate friend of your father that
was gane. There was muckle mystery in her history,--but wha dared to
inquire farther than the Countess liked to tell?--All in Glenallan House
loved Miss Neville--all but twa, your mother and mysell--we baith hated
"God! for what reason, since a creature so mild, so gentle, so formed to
inspire affection, never walked on this wretched world?"
"It may hae been sae," rejoined Elspeth, "but your mother hated a' that
cam of your father's family--a' but himsell. Her reasons related to
strife which fell between them soon after her marriage; the particulars
are naething to this purpose. But oh! doubly did she hate Eveline Neville
when she perceived that there was a growing kindness atween you and that
unfortunate young leddy! Ye may mind that the Countess's dislike didna
gang farther at first than just showing o' the cauld shouther--at least
it wasna seen farther; but at the lang run it brak out into such
downright violence that Miss Neville was even fain to seek refuge at
Knockwinnock Castle with Sir Arthur's leddy, wha (God sain her!) was then
wi' the living."
"You rend my heart by recalling these particulars--But go on,--and may my
present agony be accepted as additional penance for the involuntary
"She had been absent some months," continued Elspeth, "when I was ae
night watching in my hut the return of my husband from fishing, and
shedding in private those bitter tears that my proud spirit wrung frae me
whenever I thought on my disgrace. The sneck was drawn, and the Countess
your mother entered my dwelling. I thought I had seen a spectre, for even
in the height of my favour, this was an honour she had never done me, and
she looked as pale and ghastly as if she had risen from the grave. She
sat down, and wrung the draps from her hair and cloak,--for the night was
drizzling, and her walk had been through the plantations, that were a'
loaded with dew. I only mention these things that you may understand how
weel that night lives in my memory,--and weel it may. I was surprised to
see her, but I durstna speak first, mair than if I had seen a phantom--
Na, I durst not, my lord, I that hae seen mony sights of terror, and
never shook at them. Sae, after a silence, she said, Elspeth Cheyne (for
she always gave me my maiden name), are not ye the daughter of that
Reginald Cheyne who died to save his master, Lord Glenallan, on the field
of Sheriffmuir?' And I answered her as proudly as hersell nearly--As sure
as you are the daughter of that Earl of Glenallan whom my father saved
that day by his own death.'"
Here she made a deep pause.
"And what followed?--what followed?--For Heaven's sake, good woman--But
why should I use that word?--Yet, good or bad, I command you to tell me."
"And little I should value earthly command," answered Elspeth, "were
there not a voice that has spoken to me sleeping and waking, that drives
me forward to tell this sad tale. Aweel, my Lord--the Countess said to
me, My son loves Eveline Neville--they are agreed--they are plighted:
should they have a son, my right over Glenallan merges--I sink from that
moment from a Countess into a miserable stipendiary dowager, I who
brought lands and vassals, and high blood and ancient fame, to my
husband, I must cease to be mistress when my son has an heir-male. But I
care not for that--had he married any but one of the hated Nevilles, I
had been patient. But for them--that they and their descendants should
enjoy the right and honours of my ancestors, goes through my heart like a
two-edged dirk. And this girl--I detest her!'--And I answered, for my
heart kindled at her words, that her hate was equalled by mine."
"Wretch!" exclaimed the Earl, in spite of his determination to preserve
silence--"wretched woman! what cause of hate could have arisen from a
being so innocent and gentle?"
"I hated what my mistress hated, as was the use with the liege vassals of
the house of Glenallan; for though, my Lord, I married under my degree,
yet an ancestor of yours never went to the field of battle, but an
ancestor of the frail, demented, auld, useless wretch wha now speaks with
you, carried his shield before him. But that was not a'," continued the
beldam, her earthly and evil passions rekindling as she became heated in
her narration--"that was not a'; I hated Miss Eveline Neville for her ain
sake, I brought her frae England, and, during our whole journey, she
gecked and scorned at my northern speech and habit, as her southland
leddies and kimmers had done at the boarding-school, as they cald it"--
(and, strange as it may seem, she spoke of an affront offered by a
heedless school-girl without intention, with a degree of inveteracy
which, at such a distance of time, a mortal offence would neither have
authorized or excited in any well-constituted mind)--"Yes, she scorned
and jested at me--but let them that scorn the tartan fear the dirk!"
She paused, and then went on--"But I deny not that I hated her mair than
she deserved. My mistress, the Countess, persevered and said, Elspeth
Cheyne, this unruly boy will marry with the false English blood. Were
days as they have been, I could throw her into the Massymore* of
Glenallan, and fetter him in the Keep of Strathbonnel.
* _Massa-mora,_ an ancient name for a dungeon, derived from the Moorish
language, perhaps as far back as the time of the Crusades.
But these times are past, and the authority which the nobles of the land
should exercise is delegated to quibbling lawyers and their baser
dependants. Hear me, Elspeth Cheyne! if you are your father's daughter as
I am mine, I will find means that they shall not marry. She walks often
to that cliff that overhangs your dwelling to look for her lover's boat--
(ye may remember the pleasure ye then took on the sea, my Lord)--let him
find her forty fathom lower than he expects!'--Yes! ye may stare and
frown and clench your hand; but, as sure as I am to face the only Being I
ever feared--and, oh that I had feared him mair!--these were your
mother's words. What avails it to me to lie to you?--But I wadna consent
to stain my hand with blood.--Then she said, By the religion of our holy
Church they are ower _sibb_ thegither. But I expect nothing but that both
will become heretics as well as disobedient reprobates;'--that was her
addition to that argument. And then, as the fiend is ever ower busy wi'
brains like mine, that are subtle beyond their use and station, I was
unhappily permitted to add--But they might be brought to think themselves
sae _sibb_ as no Christian law will permit their wedlock.'"
Here the Earl of Glenallan echoed her words, with a shriek so piercing as
almost to rend the roof of the cottage.--"Ah! then Eveline Neville was
"The daughter, ye would say, of your father?" continued Elspeth. "No--be
it a torment or be it a comfort to you--ken the truth, she was nae mair a
daughter of your father's house than I am."
"Woman, deceive me not!--make me not curse the memory of the parent I
have so lately laid in the grave, for sharing in a plot the most cruel,
the most infernal"--
"Bethink ye, my Lord Geraldin, ere ye curse the memory of a parent that's
gane, is there none of the blood of Glenallan living, whose faults have
led to this dreadfu' catastrophe?"
"Mean you my brother?--he, too, is gone," said the Earl.
"No," replied the sibyl, "I mean yoursell, Lord Geraldin. Had you not
transgressed the obedience of a son by wedding Eveline Neville in secret
while a guest at Knockwinnock, our plot might have separated you for a
time, but would have left at least your sorrows without remorse to canker
them. But your ain conduct had put poison in the weapon that we threw,
and it pierced you with the mair force because ye cam rushing to meet it.
Had your marriage been a proclaimed and acknowledged action, our
stratagem to throw an obstacle into your way that couldna be got ower,
neither wad nor could hae been practised against ye."
"Great Heaven!" said the unfortunate nobleman--"it is as if a film fell
from my obscured eyes! Yes, I now well understand the doubtful hints of
consolation thrown out by my wretched mother, tending indirectly to
impeach the evidence of the horrors of which her arts had led me to
believe myself guilty."
"She could not speak mair plainly," answered Elspeth, "without confessing
her ain fraud,--and she would have submitted to be torn by wild horses,
rather than unfold what she had done; and if she had still lived, so
would I for her sake. They were stout hearts the race of Glenallan, male
and female, and sae were a' that in auld times cried their gathering-word
of _Clochnaben_--they stood shouther to shouther--nae man parted frae his
chief for love of gold or of gain, or of right or of wrang. The times are
changed, I hear, now."
The unfortunate nobleman was too much wrapped up in his own confused and
distracted reflections, to notice the rude expressions of savage
fidelity, in which, even in the latest ebb of life, the unhappy author of
his misfortunes seemed to find a stern and stubborn source of
"Great Heaven!" he exclaimed, "I am then free from a guilt the most
horrible with which man can be stained, and the sense of which, however
involuntary, has wrecked my peace, destroyed my health, and bowed me down
to an untimely grave. Accept," he fervently uttered, lifting his eyes
upwards, "accept my humble thanks! If I live miserable, at least I shall
not die stained with that unnatural guilt!--And thou--proceed if thou
hast more to tell--proceed, while thou hast voice to speak it, and I have
powers to listen."
"Yes," answered the beldam, "the hour when you shall hear, and I shall
speak, is indeed passing rapidly away. Death has crossed your brow with
his finger, and I find his grasp turning every day coulder at my heart.
Interrupt me nae mair with exclamations and groans and accusations, but
hear my tale to an end! And then--if ye be indeed sic a Lord of Glenallan
as I hae heard of in _my_ day--make your merrymen gather the thorn, and
the brier, and the green hollin, till they heap them as high as the
house-riggin', and burn! burn! burn! the auld witch Elspeth, and a' that
can put ye in mind that sic a creature ever crawled upon the land!"
"Go on," said the Earl, "go on--I will not again interrupt you."
He spoke in a half-suffocated yet determined voice, resolved that no
irritability on his part should deprive him of this opportunity of
acquiring proofs of the wonderful tale he then heard. But Elspeth had
become exhausted by a continuous narration of such unusual length; the
subsequent part of her story was more broken, and though still distinctly
intelligible in most parts, had no longer the lucid conciseness which the
first part of her narrative had displayed to such an astonishing degree.
Lord Glenallan found it necessary, when she had made some attempts to
continue her narrative without success, to prompt her memory by
demanding--"What proofs she could propose to bring of the truth of a
narrative so different from that which she had originally told?"
"The evidence," she replied, "of Eveline Neville's real birth was in the
Countess's possession, with reasons for its being for some time kept
private;--they may yet be found, if she has not destroyed them, in the
left hand drawer of the ebony cabinet that stood in the dressing-room.
These she meant to suppress for the time, until you went abroad again,
when she trusted, before your return, to send Miss Neville back to her
ain country, or to get her settled in marriage."
"But did you not show me letters of my father's, which seemed to me,
unless my senses altogether failed me in that horrible moment, to avow
his relationship to--to the unhappy"--
"We did; and, with my testimony, how could you doubt the fact, or her
either? But we suppressed the true explanation of these letters, and that
was, that your father thought it right the young leddy should pass for
his daughter for a while, on account o'some family reasons that were
"But wherefore, when you learned our union, was this dreadful artifice
"It wasna," she replied, "till Lady Glenallan had communicated this fause
tale, that she suspected ye had actually made a marriage--nor even then
did you avow it sae as to satisfy her whether the ceremony had in verity
passed atween ye or no--But ye remember, O ye canna but remember weel,
what passed in that awfu' meeting!"
"Woman! you swore upon the gospels to the fact which you now disavow."
"I did,--and I wad hae taen a yet mair holy pledge on it, if there had
been ane--I wad not hae spared the blood of my body, or the guilt of my
soul, to serve the house of Glenallan."
"Wretch! do you call that horrid perjury, attended with consequences yet
more dreadful--do you esteem that a service to the house of your
"I served her, wha was then the head of Glenallan, as she required me to
serve her. The cause was between God and her conscience--the manner
between God and mine--She is gane to her account, and I maun follow. Have
I taulds you a'?"
"No," answered Lord Glenallan--"you have yet more to tell--you have to
tell me of the death of the angel whom your perjury drove to despair,
stained, as she thought herself, with a crime so horrible. Speak truth--
was that dreadful--was that horrible incident"--he could scarcely
articulate the words--"was it as reported? or was it an act of yet
further, though not more atrocious cruelty, inflicted by others?"
"I understand you," said Elspeth. "But report spoke truth;--our false
witness was indeed the cause, but the deed was her ain distracted act. On
that fearfu' disclosure, when ye rushed frae the Countess's presence and
saddled your horse, and left the castle like a fire-flaught, the Countess
hadna yet discovered your private marriage; she hadna fund out that the
union, which she had framed this awfu' tale to prevent, had e'en taen
place. Ye fled from the house as if the fire o' Heaven was about to fa'
upon it, and Miss Neville, atween reason and the want o't, was put under
sure ward. But the ward sleep't, and the prisoner waked--the window was
open--the way was before her--there was the cliff, and there was the
sea!--O, when will I forget that!"
"And thus died," said the Earl, "even so as was reported?"
"No, my lord. I had gane out to the cove--the tide was in, and it flowed,
as ye'll remember, to the foot o' that cliff--it was a great convenience
that for my husband's trade--Where am I wandering?--I saw a white object
dart frae the tap o' the cliff like a sea-maw through the mist, and then
a heavy flash and sparkle of the waters showed me it was a human creature
that had fa'en into the waves. I was bold and strong, and familiar with
the tide. I rushed in and grasped her gown, and drew her out and carried
her on my shouthers--I could hae carried twa sic then--carried her to my
hut, and laid her on my bed. Neighbours cam and brought help; but the
words she uttered in her ravings, when she got back the use of speech,
were such, that I was fain to send them awa, and get up word to Glenallan
House. The Countess sent down her Spanish servant Teresa--if ever there
was a fiend on earth in human form, that woman was ane. She and I were to
watch the unhappy leddy, and let no other person approach.--God knows
what Teresa's part was to hae been--she tauld it not to me--but Heaven
took the conclusion in its ain hand. The poor leddy! she took the pangs
of travail before her time, bore a male child, and died in the arms of
me--of her mortal enemy! Ay, _ye_ may weep--she was a sightly creature to
see to--but think ye, if I didna mourn her then, that I can mourn her
now? Na, na, I left Teresa wi' the dead corpse and new-born babe, till I
gaed up to take the Countess's commands what was to be done. Late as it
was, I ca'd her up, and she gar'd me ca' up your brother"--
"Yes, Lord Geraldin, e'en your brother, that some said she aye wished to
be her heir. At ony rate, he was the person maist concerned in the
succession and heritance of the house of Glenallan."
"And is it possible to believe, then, that my brother, out of avarice to
grasp at my inheritance, would lend himself to such a base and dreadful
"Your mother believed it," said the old beldam with a fiendish laugh--"it
was nae plot of my making; but what they did or said I will not say,
because I did not hear. Lang and sair they consulted in the black
wainscot dressing-room; and when your brother passed through the room
where I was waiting, it seemed to me (and I have often thought sae since
syne) that the fire of hell was in his cheek and een. But he had left
some of it with his mother, at ony rate. She entered the room like a
woman demented, and the first words she spoke were, Elspeth Cheyne, did
you ever pull a new-budded flower?' I answered, as ye may believe, that I
often had. Then,' said she, ye will ken the better how to blight the
spurious and heretical blossom that has sprung forth this night to
disgrace my father's noble house--See here;'--(and she gave me a golden
bodkin)--nothing but gold must shed the blood of Glenallan. This child is
already as one of the dead, and since thou and Teresa alone ken that it
lives, let it be dealt upon as ye will answer to me!' and she turned away
in her fury, and left me with the bodkin in my hand.--Here it is; that
and the ring of Miss Neville, are a' I hae preserved of my ill-gotten
gear--for muckle was the gear I got. And weel hae I keepit the secret,
but no for the gowd or gear either."
Her long and bony hand held out to Lord Glenallan a gold bodkin, down
which in fancy he saw the blood of his infant trickling.
"Wretch! had you the heart?"
"I kenna if I could hae had it or no. I returned to my cottage without
feeling the ground that I trode on; but Teresa and the child were gane--
a' that was alive was gane--naething left but the lifeless corpse."
"And did you never learn my infant's fate?"
"I could but guess. I have tauld ye your mother's purpose, and I ken
Teresa was a fiend. She was never mair seen in Scotland, and I have heard
that she returned to her ain land. A dark curtain has fa'en ower the
past, and the few that witnessed ony part of it could only surmise
something of seduction and suicide. You yourself"--
"I know--I know it all," answered the Earl.
"You indeed know all that I can say--And now, heir of Glenallan, can you
"Ask forgiveness of God, and not of man," said the Earl, turning away.
"And how shall I ask of the pure and unstained what is denied to me by a
sinner like mysell? If I hae sinned, hae I not suffered?--Hae I had a
day's peace or an hour's rest since these lang wet locks of hair first
lay upon my pillow at Craigburnfoot?--Has not my house been burned, wi'
my bairn in the cradle?--Have not my boats been wrecked, when a' others
weather'd the gale?--Have not a' that were near and dear to me dree'd
penance for my sin?--Has not the fire had its share o' them--the winds
had their part--the sea had her part?--And oh!" she added, with a
lengthened groan, looking first upwards towards Heaven, and then bending
her eyes on the floor--"O that the earth would take her part, that's been
lang lang wearying to be joined to it!"
Lord Glenallan had reached the door of the cottage, but the generosity of
his nature did not permit him to leave the unhappy woman in this state of
desperate reprobation. "May God forgive thee, wretched woman," he said,
"as sincerely as I do!--Turn for mercy to Him who can alone grant mercy,
and may your prayers be heard as if they were mine own!--I will send a
"Na, na--nae priest! nae priest!" she ejaculated; and the door of the
cottage opening as she spoke, prevented her from proceeding.
Still in his dead hand clenched remain the strings
That thrill his father's heart--e'en as the limb,
Lopped off and laid in grave, retains, they tell us,
Strange commerce with the mutilated stump,
Whose nerves are twinging still in maimed existence.
The Antiquary, as we informed the reader in the end of the thirty-first
CHAPTER, [tenth] had shaken off the company of worthy Mr. Blattergowl,
although he offered to entertain him with an abstract of the ablest
speech he had ever known in the teind court, delivered by the procurator
for the church in the remarkable case of the parish of Gatherem.
Resisting this temptation, our senior preferred a solitary path, which
again conducted him to the cottage of Mucklebackit. When he came in front
of the fisherman's hut, he observed a man working intently, as if to
repair a shattered boat which lay upon the beach, and going up to him was
surprised to find it was Mucklebackit himself. "I am glad," he said in a
tone of sympathy--"I am glad, Saunders, that you feel yourself able to
make this exertion."
"And what would ye have me to do," answered the fisher gruffly, "unless I
wanted to see four children starve, because ane is drowned? It's weel wi'
you gentles, that can sit in the house wi' handkerchers at your een when
ye lose a friend; but the like o' us maun to our wark again, if our
hearts were beating as hard as my hammer."
Without taking more notice of Oldbuck, he proceeded in his labour; and
the Antiquary, to whom the display of human nature under the influence of
agitating passions was never indifferent, stood beside him, in silent
attention, as if watching the progress of the work. He observed more than
once the man's hard features, as if by the force of association, prepare
to accompany the sound of the saw and hammer with his usual symphony of a
rude tune, hummed or whistled,--and as often a slight twitch of
convulsive expression showed, that ere the sound was uttered, a cause for
suppressing it rushed upon his mind. At length, when he had patched a
considerable rent, and was beginning to mend another, his feelings
appeared altogether to derange the power of attention necessary for his
work. The piece of wood which he was about to nail on was at first too
long; then he sawed it off too short, then chose another equally ill
adapted for the purpose. At length, throwing it down in anger, after
wiping his dim eye with his quivering hand, he exclaimed, "There is a
curse either on me or on this auld black bitch of a boat, that I have
hauled up high and dry, and patched and clouted sae mony years, that she
might drown my poor Steenie at the end of them, an' be d--d to her!" and
he flung his hammer against the boat, as if she had been the intentional
cause of his misfortune. Then recollecting himself, he added, "Yet what
needs ane be angry at her, that has neither soul nor sense?--though I am
no that muckle better mysell. She's but a rickle o' auld rotten deals
nailed thegither, and warped wi' the wind and the sea--and I am a dour
carle, battered by foul weather at sea and land till I am maist as
senseless as hersell. She maun be mended though again the morning tide--
that's a thing o' necessity."
Thus speaking, he went to gather together his instruments, and attempt to
resume his labour,--but Oldbuck took him kindly by the arm. "Come, come,"
he said, "Saunders, there is no work for you this day--I'll send down
Shavings the carpenter to mend the boat, and he may put the day's work
into my account--and you had better not come out to-morrow, but stay to
comfort your family under this dispensation, and the gardener will bring
you some vegetables and meal from Monkbarns."
"I thank ye, Monkbarns," answered the poor fisher; "I am a plain-spoken
man, and hae little to say for mysell; I might hae learned fairer
fashions frae my mither lang syne, but I never saw muckle gude they did
her; however, I thank ye. Ye were aye kind and neighbourly, whatever folk
says o' your being near and close; and I hae often said, in thae times
when they were ganging to raise up the puir folk against the gentles--I
hae often said, neer a man should steer a hair touching to Monkbarns
while Steenie and I could wag a finger--and so said Steenie too. And,
Monkbarns, when ye laid his head in the grave (and mony thanks for the
respect), ye, saw the mouls laid on an honest lad that likit you weel,
though he made little phrase about it."
Oldbuck, beaten from the pride of his affected cynicism, would not
willingly have had any one by on that occasion to quote to him his
favourite maxims of the Stoic philosophy. The large drops fell fast from
his own eyes, as he begged the father, who was now melted at recollecting
the bravery and generous sentiments of his son, to forbear useless
sorrow, and led him by the arm towards his own home, where another scene
awaited our Antiquary.
As he entered, the first person whom he beheld was Lord Glenallan. Mutual
surprise was in their countenances as they saluted each other--with
haughty reserve on the part of Mr. Oldbuck, and embarrassment on that of
"My Lord Glenallan, I think?" said Mr. Oldbuck.
"Yes--much changed from what he was when he knew Mr. Oldbuck."
"I do not mean," said the Antiquary, "to intrude upon your lordship--I
only came to see this distressed family."
"And you have found one, sir, who has still greater claims on your
"My compassion? Lord Glenallan cannot need my compassion. If Lord
Glenallan could need it, I think he would hardly ask it."
"Our former acquaintance," said the Earl--
"Is of such ancient date, my lord--was of such short duration, and was
connected with circumstances so exquisitely painful, that I think we may
dispense with renewing it."
So saying, the Antiquary turned away, and left the hut; but Lord
Glenallan followed him into the open air, and, in spite of a hasty "Good
morning, my lord," requested a few minutes' conversation, and the favour
of his advice in an important matter.
"Your lordship will find many more capable to advise you, my lord, and by
whom your intercourse will be deemed an honour. For me, I am a man
retired from business and the world, and not very fond of raking up the
past events of my useless life;--and forgive me if I say, I have
particular pain in reverting to that period of it when I acted like a
fool, and your lordship like"--He stopped short.
"Like a villain, you would say," said Lord Glenallan--"for such I must
have appeared to you."
"My lord--my lord, I have no desire to hear your shrift," said the
"But, sir, if I can show you that I am more sinned against than sinning--
that I have been a man miserable beyond the power of description, and who
looks forward at this moment to an untimely grave as to a haven of rest,
you will not refuse the confidence which, accepting your appearance at
this critical moment as a hint from Heaven, I venture thus to press on
"Assuredly, my lord, I shall shun no longer the continuation of this
"I must then recall to you our occasional meetings upwards of twenty
years since at Knockwinnock Castle,--and I need not remind you of a lady
who was then a member of that family."
"The unfortunate Miss Eveline Neville, my lord; I remember it well."
"Towards whom you entertained sentiments"--
"Very different from those with which I before and since have regarded
her sex. Her gentleness, her docility, her pleasure in the studies which
I pointed out to her, attached my affections more than became my age
though that was not then much advanced--or the solidity of my character.
But I need not remind your lordship of the various modes in which you
indulged your gaiety at the expense of an awkward and retired student,
embarrassed by the expression of feelings so new to him, and I have no
doubt that the young lady joined you in the well-deserved ridicule--it is
the way of womankind. I have spoken at once to the painful circumstances
of my addresses and their rejection, that your lordship may be satisfied
everything is full in my memory, and may, so far as I am concerned, tell
your story without scruple or needless delicacy."
"I will," said Lord Glenallan. "But first let me say, you do injustice to
the memory of the gentlest and kindest, as well as to the most unhappy of
women, to suppose she could make a jest of the honest affection of a man
like you. Frequently did she blame me, Mr. Oldbuck, for indulging my
levity at your expense--may I now presume you will excuse the gay
freedoms which then offended you?--my state of mind has never since laid
me under the necessity of apologizing for the inadvertencies of a light
and happy temper."
"My lord, you are fully pardoned," said Mr. Oldbuck. "You should be
aware, that, like all others, I was ignorant at the time that I placed
myself in competition with your lordship, and understood that Miss
Neville was in a state of dependence which might make her prefer a
competent independence and the hand of an honest man--But I am wasting
time--I would I could believe that the views entertained towards her by
others were as fair and honest as mine!"
"Mr. Oldbuck, you judge harshly."
"Not without cause, my lord. When I only, of all the magistrates of this
county--having neither, like some of them, the honour to be connected
with your powerful family--nor, like others, the meanness to fear it,--
when I made some inquiry into the manner of Miss Neville's death--I shake
you, my lord, but I must be plain--I do own I had every reason to believe
that she had met most unfair dealing, and had either been imposed upon by
a counterfeit marriage, or that very strong measures had been adopted to
stifle and destroy the evidence of a real union. And I cannot doubt in my
own mind, that this cruelty on your lordship's part, whether coming of
your own free will, or proceeding from the influence of the late
Countess, hurried the unfortunate young lady to the desperate act by
which her life was terminated."
"You are deceived, Mr. Oldbuck, into conclusions which are not just,
however naturally they flow from the circumstances. Believe me, I
respected you even when I was most embarrassed by your active attempts to
investigate our family misfortunes. You showed yourself more worthy of
Miss Neville than I, by the spirit with which you persisted in
vindicating her reputation even after her death. But the firm belief that
your well-meant efforts could only serve to bring to light a story too
horrible to be detailed, induced me to join my unhappy mother in schemes
to remove or destroy all evidence of the legal union which had taken
place between Eveline and myself. And now let us sit down on this bank,--
for I feel unable to remain longer standing,--and have the goodness to
listen to the extraordinary discovery which I have this day made."
They sate down accordingly; and Lord Glenallan briefly narrated his
unhappy family history--his concealed marriage--the horrible invention by
which his mother had designed to render impossible that union which had
already taken place. He detailed the arts by which the Countess, having
all the documents relative to Miss Neville's birth in her hands, had
produced those only relating to a period during which, for family
reasons, his father had consented to own that young lady as his natural
daughter, and showed how impossible it was that he could either suspect
or detect the fraud put upon him by his mother, and vouched by the oaths
of her attendants, Teresa and Elspeth. "I left my paternal mansion," he
concluded, "as if the furies of hell had driven me forth, and travelled
with frantic velocity I knew not whither. Nor have I the slightest
recollection of what I did or whither I went, until I was discovered by
my brother. I will not trouble you with an account of my sick-bed and
recovery, or how, long afterwards, I ventured to inquire after the sharer
of my misfortunes, and heard that her despair had found a dreadful remedy
for all the ills of life. The first thing that roused me to thought was
hearing of your inquiries into this cruel business; and you will hardly
wonder, that, believing what I did believe, I should join in those
expedients to stop your investigation, which my brother and mother had
actively commenced. The information which I gave them concerning the
circumstances and witnesses of our private marriage enabled them to
baffle your zeal. The clergyman, therefore, and witnesses, as persons who
had acted in the matter only to please the powerful heir of Glenallan,
were accessible to his promises and threats, and were so provided for,
that they had no objections to leave this country for another. For
myself, Mr. Oldbuck," pursued this unhappy man, "from that moment I
considered myself as blotted out of the book of the living, and as having
nothing left to do with this world. My mother tried to reconcile me to
life by every art--even by intimations which I can now interpret as
calculated to produce a doubt of the horrible tale she herself had
fabricated. But I construed all she said as the fictions of maternal
affection. I will forbear all reproach. She is no more--and, as her
wretched associate said, she knew not how the dart was poisoned, or how
deep it must sink, when she threw it from her hand. But, Mr. Oldbuck, if
ever, during these twenty years, there crawled upon earth a living being
deserving of your pity, I have been that man. My food has not nourished
me--my sleep has not refreshed me--my devotions have not comforted me--
all that is cheering and necessary to man has been to me converted into
poison. The rare and limited intercourse which I have held with others
has been most odious to me. I felt as if I were bringing the
contamination of unnatural and inexpressible guilt among the gay and the
innocent. There have been moments when I had thoughts of another
description--to plunge into the adventures of war, or to brave the
dangers of the traveller in foreign and barbarous climates--to mingle in
political intrigue, or to retire to the stern seclusion of the anchorites
of our religion;--all these are thoughts which have alternately passed
through my mind, but each required an energy, which was mine no longer,
after the withering stroke I had received. I vegetated on as I could in
the same spot--fancy, feeling, judgment, and health, gradually decaying,
like a tree whose bark has been destroyed,--when first the blossoms fade,
then the boughs, until its state resembles the decayed and dying trunk
that is now before you. Do you now pity and forgive me?"
"My lord," answered the Antiquary, much affected, "my pity--my
forgiveness, you have not to ask, for your dismal story is of itself not
only an ample excuse for whatever appeared mysterious in your conduct,
but a narrative that might move your worst enemies (and I, my lord, was
never of the number) to tears and to sympathy. But permit me to ask what
you now mean to do, and why you have honoured me, whose opinion can be of
little consequence, with your confidence on this occasion?"
"Mr. Oldbuck," answered the Earl, "as I could never have foreseen the
nature of that confession which I have heard this day, I need not say
that I had no formed plan of consulting you, or any one, upon affairs the
tendency of which I could not even have suspected. But I am without
friends, unused to business, and, by long retirement, unacquainted alike
with the laws of the land and the habits of the living generation; and
when, most unexpectedly, I find myself immersed in the matters of which I
know least, I catch, like a drowning man, at the first support that
offers. You are that support, Mr. Oldbuck. I have always heard you
mentioned as a man of wisdom and intelligence--I have known you myself as
a man of a resolute and independent spirit;--and there is one
circumstance," said he, "which ought to combine us in some degree--our
having paid tribute to the same excellence of character in poor Eveline.
You offered yourself to me in my need, and you were already acquainted
with the beginning of my misfortunes. To you, therefore, I have recourse
for advice, for sympathy, for support."
"You shall seek none of them in vain, my lord," said Oldbuck, "so far as
my slender ability extends;--and I am honoured by the preference, whether
it arises from choice, or is prompted by chance. But this is a matter to
be ripely considered. May I ask what are your principal views at
"To ascertain the fate of my child," said the Earl, "be the consequences
what they may, and to do justice to the honour of Eveline, which I have
only permitted to be suspected to avoid discovery of the yet more
horrible taint to which I was made to believe it liable."
"And the memory of your mother?"
"Must bear its own burden," answered the Earl with a sigh: "better that
she were justly convicted of deceit, should that be found necessary, than
that others should be unjustly accused of crimes so much more dreadful."
"Then, my lord," said Oldbuck, "our first business must be to put the
information of the old woman, Elspeth, into a regular and authenticated
"That," said Lord Glenallan, "will be at present, I fear, impossible. She
is exhausted herself, and surrounded by her distressed family. To-morrow,
perhaps, when she is alone--and yet I doubt, from her imperfect sense of
right and wrong, whether she would speak out in any one's presence but my
own. I am too sorely fatigued."
"Then, my lord," said the Antiquary, whom the interest of the moment
elevated above points of expense and convenience, which had generally
more than enough of weight with him, "I would propose to your lordship,
instead of returning, fatigued as you are, so far as to Glenallan House,
or taking the more uncomfortable alternative of going to a bad inn at
Fairport, to alarm all the busybodies of the town--I would propose, I
say, that you should be my guest at Monkbarns for this night. By
to-morrow these poor people will have renewed their out-of-doors
vocation--for sorrow with them affords no respite from labour,--and we
will visit the old woman Elspeth alone, and take down her examination."
After a formal apology for the encroachment, Lord Glenallan agreed to go
with him, and underwent with patience in their return home the whole
history of John of the Girnel, a legend which Mr. Oldbuck was never known
to spare any one who crossed his threshold.
The arrival of a stranger of such note, with two saddle-horses and a
servant in black, which servant had holsters on his saddle-bow, and a
coronet upon the holsters, created a general commotion in the house of
Monkbarns. Jenny Rintherout, scarce recovered from the hysterics which
she had taken on hearing of poor Steenie's misfortune, chased about the
turkeys and poultry, cackled and screamed louder than they did, and ended
by killing one-half too many. Miss Griselda made many wise reflections on
the hot-headed wilfulness of her brother, who had occasioned such
devastation, by suddenly bringing in upon them a papist nobleman. And she
ventured to transmit to Mr. Blattergowl some hint of the unusual
slaughter which had taken place in the _basse-cour,_ which brought the
honest clergyman to inquire how his friend Monkbarns had got home, and
whether he was not the worse of being at the funeral, at a period so near
the ringing of the bell for dinner, that the Antiquary had no choice left
but to invite him to stay and bless the meat. Miss M'Intyre had on her
part some curiosity to see this mighty peer, of whom all had heard, as an
eastern caliph or sultan is heard of by his subjects, and felt some
degree of timidity at the idea of encountering a person, of whose
unsocial habits and stern manners so many stories were told, that her
fear kept at least pace with her curiosity. The aged housekeeper was no
less flustered and hurried in obeying the numerous and contradictory
commands of her mistress, concerning preserves, pastry and fruit, the
mode of marshalling and dishing the dinner, the necessity of not
permitting the melted butter to run to oil, and the danger of allowing
Juno--who, though formally banished from the parlour, failed not to
maraud about the out-settlements of the family--to enter the kitchen.
The only inmate of Monkbarns who remained entirely indifferent on this
momentous occasion was Hector M'Intyre, who cared no more for an Earl
than he did for a commoner, and who was only interested in the unexpected
visit, as it might afford some protection against his uncle's
displeasure, if he harboured any, for his not attending the funeral, and
still more against his satire upon the subject of his gallant but
unsuccessful single combat with the _phoca,_ or seal.
To these, the inmates of his household, Oldbuck presented the Earl of
Glenallan, who underwent, with meek and subdued civility, the prosing
speeches of the honest divine, and the lengthened apologies of Miss
Griselda Oldbuck, which her brother in vain endeavoured to abridge.
Before the dinner hour, Lord Glenallan requested permission to retire a
while to his chamber. Mr. Oldbuck accompanied his guest to the Green
Room, which had been hastily prepared for his reception. He looked around
with an air of painful recollection.
"I think," at length he observed, "I think, Mr. Oldbuck, that I have been
in this apartment before."
"Yes, my lord," answered Oldbuck, "upon occasion of an excursion hither
from Knockwinnock--and since we are upon a subject so melancholy, you may
perhaps remember whose taste supplied these lines from Chaucer, which now
form the motto of the tapestry."
"I guess", said the Earl, "though I cannot recollect. She excelled me,
indeed, in literary taste and information, as in everything else; and it
is one of the mysterious dispensations of Providence, Mr. Oldbuck, that a
creature so excellent in mind and body should have been cut off in so
miserable a manner, merely from her having formed a fatal attachment to
such a wretch as I am."
Mr. Oldbuck did not attempt an answer to this burst of the grief which
lay ever nearest to the heart of his guest, but, pressing Lord
Glenallan's hand with one of his own, and drawing the other across his
shaggy eyelashes, as if to brush away a mist that intercepted his sight,
he left the Earl at liberty to arrange himself previous to dinner.
--Life, with you,
Glows in the brain and dances in the arteries;
'Tis like the wine some joyous guest hath quaffed,
That glads the heart and elevates the fancy:
Mine is the poor residuum of the cup,
Vapid, and dull, and tasteless, only soiling,
With its base dregs, the vessel that contains it.
"Now, only think what a man my brother is, Mr. Blattergowl, for a wise
man and a learned man, to bring this Yerl into our house without speaking
a word to a body! And there's the distress of thae Mucklebackits--we
canna get a fin o' fish--and we hae nae time to send ower to Fairport for
beef, and the mutton's but new killed--and that silly fliskmahoy, Jenny
Rintherout, has taen the exies, and done naething but laugh and greet,
the skirl at the tail o' the guffaw, for twa days successfully--and now
we maun ask that strange man, that's as grand and as grave as the Yerl
himsell, to stand at the sideboard! and I canna gang into the kitchen to
direct onything, for he's hovering there, making some pousowdie* for my
Lord, for he doesna eat like ither folk neither--And how to sort the
strange servant man at dinner time--I am sure, Mr. Blattergowl,
a'thegither, it passes my judgment."
* _Pousowdie,_--Miscellaneous mess.
"Truly, Miss Griselda," replied the divine, "Monkbarns was inconsiderate.
He should have taen a day to see the invitation, as they do wi' the
titular's condescendence in the process of valuation and sale. But the
great man could not have come on a sudden to ony house in this parish
where he could have been better served with _vivers_--that I must say--
and also that the steam from the kitchen is very gratifying to my
nostrils;--and if ye have ony household affairs to attend to, Mrs.
Griselda, never make a stranger of me--I can amuse mysell very weel with
the larger copy of Erskine's Institutes."
And taking down from the window-seat that amusing folio, (the Scottish
Coke upon Littleton), he opened it, as if instinctively, at the tenth
title of Book Second, "of Teinds or Tythes," and was presently deeply
wrapped up in an abstruse discussion concerning the temporality of
The entertainment, about which Miss Oldbuck expressed so much anxiety,
was at length placed upon the table; and the Earl of Glenallan, for the
first time since the date of his calamity, sat at a stranger's board,
surrounded by strangers. He seemed to himself like a man in a dream, or
one whose brain was not fully recovered from the effects of an
intoxicating potion. Relieved, as he had that morning been, from the
image of guilt which had so long haunted his imagination, he felt his
sorrows as a lighter and more tolerable load, but was still unable to
take any share in the conversation that passed around him. It was,
indeed, of a cast very different from that which he had been accustomed
to. The bluntness of Oldbuck, the tiresome apologetic harangues of his
sister, the pedantry of the divine, and the vivacity of the young
soldier, which savoured much more of the camp than of the court, were all
new to a nobleman who had lived in a retired and melancholy state for so
many years, that the manners of the world seemed to him equally strange
and unpleasing. Miss M'Intyre alone, from the natural politeness and
unpretending simplicity of her manners, appeared to belong to that class
of society to which he had been accustomed in his earlier and better
Nor did Lord Glenallan's deportment less surprise the company. Though a
plain but excellent family-dinner was provided (for, as Mr. Blattergowl
had justly said, it was impossible to surprise Miss Griselda when her
larder was empty), and though the Antiquary boasted his best port, and
assimilated it to the Falernian of Horace, Lord Glenallan was proof to
the allurements of both. His servant placed before him a small mess of
vegetables, that very dish, the cooking of which had alarmed Miss
Griselda, arranged with the most minute and scrupulous neatness. He ate
sparingly of these provisions; and a glass of pure water, sparkling from
the fountain-head, completed his repast. Such, his servant said, had been
his lordship's diet for very many years, unless upon the high festivals
of the Church, or when company of the first rank were entertained at
Glenallan House, when he relaxed a little in the austerity of his diet,
and permitted himself a glass or two of wine. But at Monkbarns, no
anchoret could have made a more simple and scanty meal.
The Antiquary was a gentleman, as we have seen, in feeling, but blunt and
careless in expression, from the habit of living with those before whom
he had nothing to suppress. He attacked his noble guest without scruple
on the severity of his regimen.
"A few half-cold greens and potatoes--a glass of ice-cold water to wash
them down--antiquity gives no warrant for it, my lord. This house used to
be accounted a _hospitium,_ a place of retreat for Christians; but your
lordship's diet is that of a heathen Pythagorean, or Indian Bramin--nay,
more severe than either, if you refuse these fine apples."
"I am a Catholic, you are aware," said Lord Glenallan, wishing to escape
from the discussion, "and you know that our church"----
"Lays down many rules of mortification," proceeded the dauntless
Antiquary; "but I never heard that they were quite so rigorously
practised--Bear witness my predecessor, John of the Girnel, or the jolly
Abbot, who gave his name to this apple, my lord."
And as he pared the fruit, in spite of his sister's "O fie, Monkbarns!"
and the prolonged cough of the minister, accompanied by a shake of his
huge wig, the Antiquary proceeded to detail the intrigue which had given
rise to the fame of the abbot's apple with more slyness and
circumstantiality than was at all necessary. His jest (as may readily be
conceived) missed fire, for this anecdote of conventual gallantry failed
to produce the slightest smile on the visage of the Earl. Oldbuck then
took up the subject of Ossian, Macpherson, and Mac-Cribb; but Lord
Glenallan had never so much as heard of any of the three, so little
conversant had he been with modern literature. The conversation was now
in some danger of flagging, or of falling into the hands of Mr.
Blattergowl, who had just pronounced the formidable word, "teind-free,"
when the subject of the French Revolution was started--a political event
on which Lord Glenallan looked with all the prejudiced horror of a
bigoted Catholic and zealous aristocrat. Oldbuck was far from carrying
his detestation of its principles to such a length.
"There were many men in the first Constituent Assembly," he said, "who
held sound Whiggish doctrines, and were for settling the Constitution
with a proper provision for the liberties of the people. And if a set of
furious madmen were now in possession of the government, it was," he
continued, "what often happened in great revolutions, where extreme
measures are adopted in the fury of the moment, and the State resembles
an agitated pendulum which swings from side to side for some time ere it
can acquire its due and perpendicular station. Or it might be likened to
a storm or hurricane, which, passing over a region, does great damage in
its passage, yet sweeps away stagnant and unwholesome vapours, and
repays, in future health and fertility, its immediate desolation and
The Earl shook his head; but having neither spirit nor inclination for
debate, he suffered the argument to pass uncontested.
This discussion served to introduce the young soldier's experiences; and
he spoke of the actions in which he, had been engaged, with modesty, and
at the same time with an air of spirit and zeal which delighted the Earl,
who had been bred up, like others of his house, in the opinion that the
trade of arms was the first duty of man, and believed that to employ them
against the French was a sort of holy warfare.
"What would I give," said he apart to Oldbuck, as they rose to join the
ladies in the drawing-room, "what would I give to have a son of such
spirit as that young gentleman!--He wants something of address and
manner, something of polish, which mixing in good society would soon give
him; but with what zeal and animation he expresses himself--how fond of
his profession--how loud in the praise of others--how modest when
speaking of himself!"
"Hector is much obliged to you, my lord," replied his uncle, gratified,
yet not so much so as to suppress his consciousness of his own mental
superiority over the young soldier; "I believe in my heart nobody ever
spoke half so much good of him before, except perhaps the sergeant of his
company, when was wheedling a Highland recruit to enlist with him. He is
a good lad notwithstanding, although he be not quite the hero your
lordship supposes him, and although my commendations rather attest the
kindness than the vivacity of his character. In fact, his high spirit is
a sort of constitutional vehemence, which attends him in everything he
sets about, and is often very inconvenient to his friends. I saw him
to-day engage in an animated contest with a _phoca,_ or seal (_sealgh,_
our people more properly call them, retaining the Gothic guttural _gh_),
with as much vehemence as if he had fought against Dumourier--Marry, my
lord, the _phoca_ had the better, as the said Dumourier had of some other
folks. And he'll talk with equal if not superior rapture of the good
behaviour of a pointer bitch, as of the plan of a campaign."
"He shall have full permission to sport over my grounds," said the Earl,
"if he is so fond of that exercise."
"You will bind him to you, my lord," said Monkbarns, "body and soul: give
him leave to crack off his birding-piece at a poor covey of partridges or
moor-fowl, and he's yours for ever--I will enchant him by the
intelligence. But O, my lord, that you could have seen my phoenix Lovel!
--the very prince and chieftain of the youth of this age; and not
destitute of spirit neither--I promise you he gave my termagant kinsman a
_quid pro quo_--a Rowland for his Oliver, as the vulgar say, alluding to
the two celebrated Paladins of Charlemagne."
After coffee, Lord Glenallan requested a private interview with the
Antiquary, and was ushered to his library.
"I must withdraw you from your own amiable family," he said, "to involve
you in the perplexities of an unhappy man. You are acquainted with the
world, from which I have long been banished; for Glenallan House has been
to me rather a prison than a dwelling, although a prison which I had
neither fortitude nor spirit to break from."
"Let me first ask your lordship," said the Antiquary, "what are your own
wishes and designs in this matter?"
"I wish most especially," answered Lord Glenallan, "to declare my
luckless marriage, and to vindicate the reputation of the unhappy
Eveline--that is, if you see a possibility of doing so without making
public the conduct of my mother."
"_Suum cuique tribuito,_" said the Antiquary; "do right to everyone. The
memory of that unhappy young lady has too long suffered, and I think it
might be cleared without further impeaching that of your mother, than by
letting it be understood in general that she greatly disapproved and
bitterly opposed the match. All--forgive me, my lord--all who ever heard
of the late Countess of Glenallan, will learn that without much
"But you forget one horrible circumstance, Mr. Oldbuck," said the Earl,
in an agitated voice.
"I am not aware of it," replied the Antiquary.
"The fate of the infant--its disappearance with the confidential
attendant of my mother, and the dreadful surmises which may be drawn from
my conversation with Elspeth."
"If you would have my free opinion, my lord," answered Mr. Oldbuck, "and
will not catch too rapidly at it as matter of hope, I would say that it
is very possible the child yet lives. For thus much I ascertained, by my
former inquiries concerning the event of that deplorable evening, that a
child and woman were carried that night from the cottage at the
Craigburnfoot in a carriage and four by your brother Edward Geraldin
Neville, whose journey towards England with these companions I traced for
several stages. I believed then it was a part of the family compact to
carry a child whom you meant to stigmatize with illegitimacy, out of that
country where chance might have raised protectors and proofs of its
rights. But I now think that your brother, having reason, like yourself,
to believe the child stained with shame yet more indelible, had
nevertheless withdrawn it, partly from regard to the honour of his house,
partly from the risk to which it might have been exposed in the
neighbourhood of the Lady Glenallan."
As he spoke, the Earl of Glenallan grew extremely pale, and had nearly
fallen from his chair.--The alarmed Antiquary ran hither and thither
looking for remedies; but his museum, though sufficiently well filled
with a vast variety of useless matters, contained nothing that could be
serviceable on the present or any other occasion. As he posted out of the
room to borrow his sister's salts, he could not help giving a
constitutional growl of chagrin and wonder at the various incidents which
had converted his mansion, first into an hospital for a wounded duellist,
and now into the sick chamber of a dying nobleman. "And yet," said he, "I
have always kept aloof from the soldiery and the peerage. My
_coenobitium_ has only next to be made a lying-in hospital, and then, I
trow, the transformation will be complete."
When he returned with the remedy, Lord Glenallan was much better. The new
and unexpected light which Mr. Oldbuck had thrown upon the melancholy
history of his family had almost overpowered him. "You think, then, Mr.
Oldbuck--for you are capable of thinking, which I am not--you think,
then, that it is possible--that is, not impossible--my child may yet
"I think," said the Antiquary, "it is impossible that it could come to
any violent harm through your brother's means. He was known to be a gay
and dissipated man, but not cruel nor dishonourable; nor is it possible,
that, if he had intended any foul play, he would have placed himself so
forward in the charge of the infant, as I will prove to your lordship he
So saying, Mr. Oldbuck opened a drawer of the cabinet of his ancestor
Aldobrand, and produced a bundle of papers tied with a black ribband, and
labelled,--Examinations, etc., taken by Jonathan Oldbuck, J. P., upon the
18th of February, 17--; a little under was written, in a small hand,
_Eheu Evelina_! The tears dropped fast from the Earl's eyes, as he
endeavoured, in vain, to unfasten the knot which secured these documents.
"Your lordship," said Mr. Oldbuck, "had better not read these at present.
Agitated as you are, and having much business before you, you must not
exhaust your strength. Your brother's succession is now, I presume, your
own, and it will be easy for you to make inquiry among his servants and
retainers, so as to hear where the child is, if, fortunately, it shall be
"I dare hardly hope it," said the Earl, with a deep sigh. "Why should my
brother have been silent to me?"
"Nay, my lord, why should he have communicated to your lordship the
existence of a being whom you must have supposed the offspring of"--
"Most true--there is an obvious and a kind reason for his being silent.
If anything, indeed, could have added to the horror of the ghastly dream
that has poisoned my whole existence, it must have been the knowledge
that such a child of misery existed."
"Then," continued the Antiquary, "although it would be rash to conclude,
at the distance of more than twenty years, that your son must needs be
still alive because he was not destroyed in infancy, I own I think you
should instantly set on foot inquiries."
"It shall be done," replied Lord Glenallan, catching eagerly at the hope
held out to him, the first he had nourished for many years;--"I will
write to a faithful steward of my father, who acted in the same capacity
under my brother Neville--But, Mr. Oldbuck, I am not my brother's heir."
"Indeed!--I am sorry for that, my lord--it is a noble estate, and the
ruins of the old castle of Neville's-Burgh alone, which are the most
superb relics of Anglo-Norman architecture in that part of the country,
are a possession much to be coveted. I thought your father had no other
son or near relative."
"He had not, Mr. Oldbuck," replied Lord Glenallan; "but my brother
adopted views in politics, and a form of religion, alien from those which
had been always held by our house. Our tempers had long differed, nor did
my unhappy mother always think him sufficiently observant to her. In
short, there was a family quarrel, and my brother, whose property was at
his own free disposal, availed himself of the power vested in him to
choose a stranger for his heir. It is a matter which never struck me as
being of the least consequence--for if worldly possessions could
alleviate misery, I have enough and to spare. But now I shall regret it,
if it throws any difficulty in the way of our inquiries--and I bethink me
that it may; for in case of my having a lawful son of my body, and my
brother dying without issue, my father's possessions stood entailed upon
my son. It is not therefore likely that this heir, be he who he may, will
afford us assistance in making a discovery which may turn out so much to
his own prejudice."
"And in all probability the steward your lordship mentions is also in his
service," said the Antiquary.
"It is most likely; and the man being a Protestant--how far it is safe to
"I should hope, my lord," said Oldbuck gravely, "that a Protestant may be
as trustworthy as a Catholic. I am doubly interested in the Protestant
faith, my lord. My ancestor, Aldobrand Oldenbuck, printed the celebrated
Confession of Augsburg, as I can show by the original edition now in this
"I have not the least doubt of what you say, Mr. Oldbuck," replied the
Earl, "nor do I speak out of bigotry or intolerance; but probably the
Protestant steward will favour the Protestant heir rather than the
Catholic--if, indeed, my son has been bred in his father's faith--or,
alas! if indeed he yet lives."
"We must look close into this," said Oldbuck, "before committing
ourselves. I have a literary friend at York, with whom I have long
corresponded on the subject of the Saxon horn that is preserved in the
Minster there; we interchanged letters for six years, and have only as
yet been able to settle the first line of the inscription. I will write
forthwith to this gentleman, Dr. Dryasdust, and be particular in my
inquiries concerning the character, etc., of your brother's heir, of the
gentleman employed in his affairs, and what else may be likely to further
your lordship's inquiries. In the meantime your lordship will collect the
evidence of the marriage, which I hope can still be recovered?"
"Unquestionably," replied the Earl: "the witnesses, who were formerly
withdrawn from your research, are still living. My tutor, who solemnized
the marriage, was provided for by a living in France, and has lately
returned to this country as an emigrant, a victim of his zeal for
loyalty, legitimacy, and religion."
"That's one lucky consequence of the French, revolution, my lord--you
must allow that, at least," said Oldbuck: "but no offence; I will act as
warmly in your affairs as if I were of your own faith in politics and
religion. And take my advice--If you want an affair of consequence
properly managed, put it into the hands of an antiquary; for as they are
eternally exercising their genius and research upon trifles, it is
impossible they can be baffled in affairs of importance;--use makes
perfect--and the corps that is most frequently drilled upon the parade,
will be most prompt in its exercise upon the day of battle. And, talking
upon that subject, I would willingly read to your lordship, in order to
pass away the time betwixt and supper"--
"I beg I may not interfere with family arrangements," said Lord
Glenallan, "but I never taste anything after sunset."
"Nor I either, my lord," answered his host, "notwithstanding it is said
to have been the custom of the ancients. But then I dine differently from
your lordship, and therefore am better enabled to dispense with those
elaborate entertainments which my womankind (that is, my sister and
niece, my lord) are apt to place on the table, for the display rather of
their own house-wifery than the accommodation of our wants. However, a
broiled bone, or a smoked haddock, or an oyster, or a slice of bacon of
our own curing, with a toast and a tankard--or something or other of that
sort, to close the orifice of the stomach before going to bed, does not
fall under my restriction, nor, I hope, under your lordship's."
"My no-supper is literal, Mr. Oldbuck; but I will attend you at your meal
"Well, my lord," replied the Antiquary, "I will endeavour to entertain
your ears at least, since I cannot banquet your palate. What I am about
to read to your lordship relates to the upland glens."
Lord Glenallan, though he would rather have recurred to the subject of
his own uncertainties, was compelled to make a sign of rueful civility
The Antiquary, therefore, took out his portfolio of loose sheets, and
after premising that the topographical details here laid down were
designed to illustrate a slight essay upon castrametation, which had been
read with indulgence at several societies of Antiquaries, he commenced as
follows: "The subject, my lord, is the hill-fort of Quickens-bog, with
the site of which your lordship is doubtless familiar--it is upon your
store-farm of Mantanner, in the barony of Clochnaben."
"I think I have heard the names of these places," said the Earl, in
answer to the Antiquary's appeal.
"Heard the name? and the farm brings him six hundred a-year--O Lord!"
Such was the scarce-subdued ejaculation of the Antiquary. But his
hospitality got the better of his surprise, and he proceeded to read his
essay with an audible voice, in great glee at having secured a patient,
and, as he fondly hoped, an interested hearer.
"Quickens-bog may at first seem to derive its name from the plant
_Quicken,_ by which, _Scottice,_ we understand couch-grass, dog-grass, or
the _Triticum repens_ of Linnaeus, and the common English monosyllable
_Bog,_ by which we mean, in popular language, a marsh or morass--in
Latin, _Palus._ But it may confound the rash adopters of the more obvious
etymological derivations, to learn that the couch-grass or dog-grass, or,
to speak scientifically, the _Triticum repens_ of Linnaeus, does not grow
within a quarter of a mile of this castrum or hill-fort, whose ramparts
are uniformly clothed with short verdant turf; and that we must seek a
bog or _palus_ at a still greater distance, the nearest being that of
Gird-the-mear, a full half-mile distant. The last syllable, _bog,_ is
obviously, therefore, a mere corruption of the Saxon _Burgh,_ which we
find in the various transmutations of _Burgh, Burrow, Brough, Bruff,
Buff,_ and _Boff,_ which last approaches very near the sound in question
--since, supposing the word to have been originally _borgh,_ which is the
genuine Saxon spelling, a slight change, such as modern organs too often
make upon ancient sounds, will produce first _Bogh,_ and then, _elisa H,_
or compromising and sinking the guttural, agreeable to the common
vernacular practice, you have either _Boff_ or _Bog_ as it happens. The
word _Quickens_ requires in like manner to be altered,--decomposed, as it
were,--and reduced to its original and genuine sound, ere we can discern
its real meaning. By the ordinary exchange of the _Qu_ into _Wh,_
familiar to the rudest tyro who has opened a book of old Scottish poetry,
we gain either Whilkens, or Whichensborgh--put we may suppose, by way of
question, as if those who imposed the name, struck with the extreme
antiquity of the place, had expressed in it an interrogation, To whom did
this fortress belong?'--Or, it might be _Whackens-burgh,_ from the Saxon
_Whacken,_ to strike with the hand, as doubtless the skirmishes near a
place of such apparent consequence must have legitimated such a
derivation," etc. etc. etc.
I will be more merciful to my readers than Oldbuck was to his guest; for,
considering his opportunities of gaining patient attention from a person
of such consequence as Lord Glenallan were not many, he used, or rather
abused, the present to the uttermost.
Crabbed age and youth
Cannot live together:--
Youth is full of pleasance,
Age is full of care;
Youth like summer morn,
Age like winter weather;
Youth like summer brave,
Age like winter bare.
In the morning of the following day, the Antiquary, who was something of
a sluggard, was summoned from his bed a full hour earlier than his custom
by Caxon. "What's the matter now?" he exclaimed, yawning and stretching
forth his hand to the huge gold repeater, which, bedded upon his India
silk handkerchief, was laid safe by his pillow--"what's the matter now,
Caxon?--it can't be eight o'clock yet."
"Na, sir,--but my lord's man sought me out, for he fancies me your
honour's valley-de-sham,--and sae I am, there's nae doubt o't, baith your
honour's and the minister's--at least ye hae nae other that I ken o'--and
I gie a help to Sir Arthur too, but that's mair in the way o' my
"Well, well--never mind that," said the Antiquary--"happy is he that is
his own valley-de-sham, as you call it--But why disturb my morning's
"Ou, sir, the great man's been up since peep o' day, and he's steered the
town to get awa an express to fetch his carriage, and it will be here
briefly, and he wad like to see your honour afore he gaes awa."
"Gadso!" ejaculated Oldbuck, "these great men use one's house and time as
if they were their own property. Well, it's once and away. Has Jenny come
to her senses yet, Caxon?"
"Troth, sir, but just middling," replied the barber; "she's been in a
swither about the jocolate this morning, and was like to hae toomed it a'
out into the slap-bason, and drank it hersell in her ecstacies--but she's
won ower wi't, wi' the help o' Miss M'Intyre."
"Then all my womankind are on foot and scrambling, and I must enjoy my
quiet bed no longer, if I would have a well-regulated house--Lend me my
gown. And what are the news at Fairport?"
"Ou, sir, what can they be about but this grand news o' my lord,"
answered the old man, "that hasna been ower the door-stane, they threep
to me, for this twenty years--this grand news of his coming to visit your
"Aha!" said Monkbarns; "and what do they say of that, Caxon?"
"'Deed, sir, they hae various opinions. Thae fallows, that are the
democraws, as they ca' them, that are again' the king and the law, and
hairpowder and dressing o' gentlemen's wigs--a wheen blackguards--they
say he's come doun to speak wi' your honour about bringing doun his hill
lads and Highland tenantry to break up the meetings of the Friends o' the
People;--and when I said your honour never meddled wi' the like o' sic
things where there was like to be straiks and bloodshed, they said, if ye
didna, your nevoy did, and that he was weel ken'd to be a kingsman that
wad fight knee-deep, and that ye were the head and he was the hand, and
that the Yerl was to bring out the men and the siller."
"Come," said the Antiquary, laughing--"I am glad the war is to cost me
nothing but counsel."
"Na, na," said Caxon--"naebody thinks your honour wad either fight
yoursell, or gie ony feck o' siller to ony side o' the question."
"Umph! well, that's the opinion of the democraws, as you call them--What
say the rest o' Fairport?"
"In troth," said the candid reporter, "I canna say it's muckle better.
Captain Coquet, of the volunteers--that's him that's to be the new
collector,--and some of the other gentlemen of the Blue and a' Blue Club,
are just saying it's no right to let popists, that hae sae mony French
friends as the Yerl of Glenallan, gang through the country, and--but your
honour will maybe be angry?"
"Not I, Caxon," said Oldbuck; "fire away as if you were Captain Coquet's
whole platoon--I can stand it."
"Weel then, they say, sir, that as ye didna encourage the petition about
the peace, and wadna petition in favour of the new tax, and as you were
again' bringing in the yeomanry at the meal mob, but just for settling
the folk wi' the constables--they say ye're no a gude friend to
government; and that thae sort o' meetings between sic a powerfu' man as
the Yerl, and sic a wise man as you,--Od they think they suld be lookit
after; and some say ye should baith be shankit aff till Edinburgh
"On my word," said the Antiquary, "I am infinitely obliged to my
neighbours for their good opinion of me! And so I, that have never
interfered with their bickerings, but to recommend quiet and moderate
measures, am given up on both sides as a man very likely to commit high
treason, either against King or People?--Give me my coat, Caxon--give me
my coat;--it's lucky I live not in their report. Have you heard anything
of Taffril and his vessel?"
Caxon's countenance fell.--"Na, sir, and the winds hae been high, and
this is a fearfu' coast to cruise on in thae eastern gales,--the
headlands rin sae far out, that a veshel's embayed afore I could sharp a
razor; and then there's nae harbour or city of refuge on our coast--a'
craigs and breakers;--a veshel that rins ashore wi' us flees asunder like
the powther when I shake the pluff--and it's as ill to gather ony o't
again. I aye tell my daughter thae things when she grows wearied for a
letter frae Lieutenant Taffril--It's aye an apology for him. Ye sudna
blame him, says I, hinny, for ye little ken what may hae happened."
"Ay, ay, Caxon, thou art as good a comforter as a valet-de-chambre.--Give
me a white stock, man,--dye think I can go down with a handkerchief about
my neck when I have company?"
"Dear sir, the Captain says a three-nookit hankercher is the maist
fashionable overlay, and that stocks belang to your honour and me that
are auld warld folk. I beg pardon for mentioning us twa thegither, but it
was what he said."
"The Captain's a puppy, and you are a goose, Caxon."
"It's very like it may be sae," replied the acquiescent barber: "I am
sure your honour kens best."
Before breakfast, Lord Glenallan, who appeared in better spirits than he
had evinced in the former evening, went particularly through the various
circumstances of evidence which the exertions of Oldbuck had formerly
collected; and pointing out the means which he possessed of completing
the proof of his marriage, expressed his resolution instantly to go
through the painful task of collecting and restoring the evidence
concerning the birth of Eveline Neville, which Elspeth had stated to be
in his mother's possession.
"And yet, Mr. Oldbuck," he said, "I feel like a man who receives
important tidings ere he is yet fully awake, and doubt whether they refer
to actual life, or are not rather a continuation of his dream. This
woman--this Elspeth,--she is in the extremity of age, and approaching in
many respects to dotage. Have I not--it is a hideous question--have I not
been hasty in the admission of her present evidence, against that which
she formerly gave me to a very--very different purpose?"
Mr. Oldbuck paused a moment, and then answered with firmness--"No, my
lord; I cannot think you have any reason to suspect the truth of what she
has told you last, from no apparent impulse but the urgency of
conscience. Her confession was voluntary, disinterested, distinct,
consistent with itself, and with all the other known circumstances of the
case. I would lose no time, however, in examining and arranging the other
documents to which she has referred; and I also think her own statement
should be taken down, if possible in a formal manner. We thought of
setting about this together. But it will be a relief to your lordship,
and moreover have a more impartial appearance, were I to attempt the
investigation alone in the capacity of a magistrate. I will do this--at
least I will attempt it, so soon as I shall see her in a favourable state
of mind to undergo an examination."
Lord Glenallan wrung the Antiquary's hand in token of grateful
acquiescence. "I cannot express to you," he said, "Mr. Oldbuck, how much
your countenance and cooperation in this dark and most melancholy
business gives me relief and confidence. I cannot enough applaud myself
for yielding to the sudden impulse which impelled me, as it were, to drag
you into my confidence, and which arose from the experience I had
formerly of your firmness in discharge of your duty as a magistrate, and
as a friend to the memory of the unfortunate. Whatever the issue of these
matters may prove,--and I would fain hope there is a dawn breaking on the
fortunes of my house, though I shall not live to enjoy its light,--but
whatsoever be the issue, you have laid my family and me under the most
"My lord," answered the Antiquary, "I must necessarily have the greatest
respect for your lordship's family, which I am well aware is one of the
most ancient in Scotland, being certainly derived from Aymer de Geraldin,
who sat in parliament at Perth, in the reign of Alexander II., and who by
the less vouched, yet plausible tradition of the country, is said to have
been descended from the Marmor of Clochnaben. Yet, with all my veneration
for your ancient descent, I must acknowledge that I find myself still
more bound to give your lordship what assistance is in my limited power,
from sincere sympathy with your sorrows, and detestation at the frauds
which have so long been practised upon you.--But, my lord, the matin meal
is, I see, now prepared--Permit me to show your lordship the way through
the intricacies of my _cenobitium,_ which is rather a combination of
cells, jostled oddly together, and piled one upon the top of the other,
than a regular house. I trust you will make yourself some amends for the
spare diet of yesterday."
But this was no part of Lord Glenallan's system. Having saluted the
company with the grave and melancholy politeness which distinguished his
manners, his servant placed before him a slice of toasted bread, with a
glass of fair water, being the fare on which he usually broke his fast.
While the morning's meal of the young soldier and the old Antiquary was
despatched in much more substantial manner, the noise of wheels was
"Your lordship's carriage, I believe," said Oldbuck, stepping to the
window. "On my word, a handsome _quadriga,_--for such, according to the
best _scholium,_ was the _vox signata_ of the Romans for a chariot which,
like that of your lordship, was drawn by four horses."
"And I will venture to say," cried Hector, eagerly gazing from the
window, "that four handsomer or better-matched bays never were put in
harness--What fine forehands!--what capital chargers they would make!--
Might I ask if they are of your lordship's own breeding?"
"I--I--rather believe so," said Lord Glenallan; "but I have been so
negligent of my domestic matters, that I am ashamed to say I must apply
to Calvert" (looking at the domestic).
"They are of your lordship's own breeding," said Calvert, "got by Mad Tom
out of Jemina and Yarico, your lordship's brood mares."
"Are there more of the set?" said Lord Glenallan.
"Two, my lord,--one rising four, the other five off this grass, both very
"Then let Dawkins bring them down to Monkbarns to-morrow," said the Earl
--"I hope Captain M'Intyre will accept them, if they are at all fit for
Captain M'Intyre's eyes sparkled, and he was profuse in grateful
acknowledgments; while Oldbuck, on the other hand, seizing the Earl's
sleeve, endeavoured to intercept a present which boded no good to his
corn-chest and hay-loft.
"My lord--my lord--much obliged--much obliged--But Hector is a
pedestrian, and never mounts on horseback in battle--he is a Highland
soldier, moreover, and his dress ill adapted for cavalry service. Even
Macpherson never mounted his ancestors on horseback, though he has the
impudence to talk of their being car-borne--and that, my lord, is what is
running in Hector's head--it is the vehicular, not the equestrian
exercise, which he envies--
Sunt quos curriculo pulverem Olympicum
His noddle is running on a curricle, which he has neither money to buy,
nor skill to drive if he had it; and I assure your lordship, that the
possession of two such quadrupeds would prove a greater scrape than any
of his duels, whether with human foe or with my friend the _phoca._"
"You must command us all at present, Mr. Oldbuck," said the Earl
politely; "but I trust you will not ultimately prevent my gratifying my
young friend in some way that may afford him pleasure."
"Anything useful, my lord," said Oldbuck, "but no _curriculum_--I protest
he might as rationally propose to keep a _quadriga_ at once--And now I
think of it, what is that old post-chaise from Fairport come jingling
here for?--I did not send for it."
"_I_ did, sir," said Hector, rather sulkily, for he was not much
gratified by his uncle's interference to prevent the Earl's intended
generosity, nor particularly inclined to relish either the disparagement
which he cast upon his skill as a charioteer, or the mortifying allusion
to his bad success in the adventures of the duel and the seal.
"You did, sir?" echoed the Antiquary, in answer to his concise
information. "And pray, what may be your business with a post-chaise? Is
this splendid equipage--this _biga,_ as I may call it--to serve for an
introduction to a _quadriga_ or a _curriculum_?"
"Really, sir," replied the young soldier, "if it be necessary to give you
such a specific explanation, I am going to Fairport on a little
"Will you permit me to inquire into the nature of that business, Hector?"
answered his uncle, who loved the exercise of a little brief authority
over his relative. "I should suppose any regimental affairs might be
transacted by your worthy deputy the sergeant--an honest gentleman, who
is so good as to make Monkbarns his home since his arrival among us--I
should, I say, suppose that he may transact any business of yours,
without your spending a day's pay on two dog-horses, and such a
combination of rotten wood, cracked glass, and leather--such a skeleton
of a post-chaise, as that before the door."
"It is not regimental business, sir, that calls me; and, since you insist
upon knowing, I must inform you Caxon has brought word this morning that
old Ochiltree, the beggar, is to be brought up for examination to-day,
previous to his being committed for trial; and I'm going to see that the
poor old fellow gets fair play--that's all."
"Ay?--I heard something of this, but could not think it serious. And
pray, Captain Hector, who are so ready to be every man's second on all
occasions of strife, civil or military, by land, by water, or on the
sea-beach, what is your especial concern with old Edie Ochiltree?"
"He was a soldier in my father's company, sir," replied Hector; "and
besides, when I was about to do a very foolish thing one day, he
interfered to prevent me, and gave me almost as much good advice, sir, as
you could have done yourself."
"And with the same good effect, I dare be sworn for it--eh, Hector?--
Come, confess it was thrown away."
"Indeed it was, sir; but I see no reason that my folly should make me
less grateful for his intended kindness."
"Bravo, Hector! that's the most sensible thing I ever heard you say. But
always tell me your plans without reserve,--why, I will go with you
myself, man. I am sure the old fellow is not guilty, and I will assist
him in such a scrape much more effectually than you can do. Besides, it
will save thee half-a-guinea, my lad--a consideration which I heartily
pray you to have more frequently before your eyes."
Lord Glenallan's politeness had induced him to turn away and talk with
the ladies, when the dispute between the uncle and nephew appeared to
grow rather too animated to be fit for the ear of a stranger, but the
Earl mingled again in the conversation when the placable tone of the
Antiquary expressed amity. Having received a brief account of the
mendicant, and of the accusation brought against him, which Oldbuck did
not hesitate to ascribe to the malice of Dousterswivel, Lord Glenallan
asked, whether the individual in question had not been a soldier
formerly?--He was answered in the affirmative.
"Had he not," continued his Lordship, "a coarse blue coat, or gown, with
a badge?--was he not a tall, striking-looking old man, with grey beard
and hair, who kept his body remarkably erect, and talked with an air of
ease and independence, which formed a strong contrast to his profession?"
"All this is an exact picture of the man," refumed Oldbuck.
"Why, then," continued Lord Glenallan, "although I fear I can be of no
use to him in his present condition, yet I owe him a debt of gratitude
for being the first person who brought me some tidings of the utmost
importance. I would willingly offer him a place of comfortable
retirement, when he is extricated from his present situation."
"I fear, my lord," said Oldbuck, "he would have difficulty in reconciling
his vagrant habits to the acceptance of your bounty, at least I know the
experiment has been tried without effect. To beg from the public at large
he considers as independence, in comparison to drawing his whole support
from the bounty of an individual. He is so far a true philosopher, as to
be a contemner of all ordinary rules of hours and times. When he is
hungry he eats; when thirsty he drinks; when weary he sleeps; and with
such indifference with respect to the means and appliances about which we
make a fuss, that I suppose he was never ill dined or ill lodged in his
life. Then he is, to a certain extent, the oracle of the district through
which he travels--their genealogist, their newsman, their master of the
revels, their doctor at a pinch, or their divine;--I promise you he has
too many duties, and is too zealous in performing them, to be easily
bribed to abandon his calling. But I should be truly sorry if they sent
the poor light-hearted old man to lie for weeks in a jail. I am convinced
the confinement would break his heart."
Thus finished the conference. Lord Glenallan, having taken leave of the
ladies, renewed his offer to Captain M'Intyre of the freedom of his
manors for sporting, which was joyously accepted,
"I can only add," he said, "that if your spirits are not liable to be
damped by dull company, Glenallan House is at all times open to you. On
two days of the week, Friday and Saturday, I keep my apartment, which
will be rather a relief to you, as you will be left to enjoy the society
of my almoner, Mr. Gladsmoor, who is a scholar and a man of the world."
Hector, his heart exulting at the thoughts of ranging through the
preserves of Glenallan House, and over the well-protected moors of
Clochnaben--nay, joy of joys! the deer-forest of Strath-Bonnel--made many
acknowledgements of the honour and gratitude he felt. Mr. Oldbuck was
sensible of the Earl's attention to his nephew; Miss M'Intyre was pleased
because her brother was gratified; and Miss Griselda Oldbuck looked
forward with glee to the potting of whole bags of moorfowl and
black-game, of which Mr. Blattergowl was a professed admirer. Thus,--
which is always the case when a man of rank leaves a private family where
he has studied to appear obliging,--all were ready to open in praise of
the Earl as soon as he had taken his leave, and was wheeled off in his
chariot by the four admired bays. But the panegyric was cut short, for
Oldbuck and his nephew deposited themselves in the Fairport hack, which,
with one horse trotting, and the other urged to a canter, creaked,
jingled, and hobbled towards that celebrated seaport, in a manner that
formed a strong contrast to the rapidity and smoothness with which Lord
Glenallan's equipage had seemed to vanish from their eyes.
Yes! I love justice well--as well as you do--
But since the good dame's blind, she shall excuse me
If, time and reason fitting, I prove dumb;--
The breath I utter now shall be no means
To take away from me my breath in future.
By dint of charity from the town's-people in aid of the load of
provisions he had brought with him into durance, Edie Ochiltree had
passed a day or two's confinement without much impatience, regretting his
want of freedom the less, as the weather proved broken and rainy.
"The prison," he said, "wasna sae dooms bad a place as it was ca'd. Ye
had aye a good roof ower your head to fend aff the weather, and, if the
windows werena glazed, it was the mair airy and pleasant for the summer
season. And there were folk enow to crack wi', and he had bread eneugh to
eat, and what need he fash himsell about the rest o't?"
The courage of our philosophical mendicant began, however, to abate, when
the sunbeams shone fair on the rusty bars of his grated dungeon, and a
miserable linnet, whose cage some poor debtor had obtained permission to
attach to the window, began to greet them with his whistle.
"Ye're in better spirits than I am," said Edie, addressing the bird, "for
I can neither whistle nor sing for thinking o' the bonny burnsides and
green shaws that I should hae been dandering beside in weather like this.
But hae--there's some crumbs t'ye, an ye are sae merry; and troth ye hae
some reason to sing an ye kent it, for your cage comes by nae faut o'
your ain, and I may thank mysell that I am closed up in this weary
Ochiltree's soliloquy was disturbed by a peace-officer, who came to
summon him to attend the magistrate. So he set forth in awful procession
between two poor creatures, neither of them so stout as he was himself,
to be conducted into the presence of inquisitorial justice. The people,
as the aged prisoner was led along by his decrepit guards, exclaimed to
each other, "Eh! see sic a grey-haired man as that is, to have committed
a highway robbery, wi' ae fit in the grave!"--And the children
congratulated the officers, objects of their alternate dread and sport,
Puggie Orrock and Jock Ormston, on having a prisoner as old as
Thus marshalled forward, Edie was presented (by no means for the first
time) before the worshipful Bailie Littlejohn, who, contrary to what his
name expressed, was a tall portly magistrate, on whom corporation crusts
had not been conferred in vain. He was a zealous loyalist of that zealous
time, somewhat rigorous and peremptory in the execution of his duty, and
a good deal inflated with the sense of his own power and importance;--
otherwise an honest, well-meaning, and useful citizen.
"Bring him in! bring him in!" he exclaimed. "Upon my word these are awful
and unnatural times! the very bedesmen and retainers of his Majesty are
the first to break his laws. Here has been an old Blue-Gown committing
robbery--I suppose the next will reward the royal charity which supplies
him with his garb, pension, and begging license, by engaging in
high-treason, or sedition at least--But bring him in."
Edie made his obeisance, and then stood, as usual, firm and erect, with
the side of his face turned a little upward, as if to catch every word
which the magistrate might address to him. To the first general
questions, which respected only his name and calling, the mendicant
answered with readiness and accuracy; but when the magistrate, having
caused his clerk to take down these particulars, began to inquire
whereabout the mendicant was on the night when Dousterswivel met with his
misfortune, Edie demurred to the motion. "Can ye tell me now, Bailie, you
that understands the law, what gude will it do me to answer ony o' your
"Good?--no good certainly, my friend, except that giving a true account
of yourself, if you are innocent, may entitle me to set you at liberty."
"But it seems mair reasonable to me now, that you, Bailie, or anybody
that has anything to say against me, should prove my guilt, and no to be
bidding me prove my innocence."
"I don't sit here," answered the magistrate, "to dispute points of law
with you. I ask you, if you choose to answer my question, whether you
were at Ringan Aikwood, the forester's, upon the day I have specified?"
"Really, sir, I dinna feel myself called on to remember," replied the
"Or whether, in the course of that day or night," continued the
magistrate, "you saw Steven, or Steenie, Mucklebackit?--you knew him, I
"O, brawlie did I ken Steenie, puir fallow," replied the prisoner;--"but
I canna condeshend on ony particular time I have seen him lately."
"Were you at the ruins of St. Ruth any time in the course of that
"Bailie Littlejohn," said the mendicant, "if it be your honour's
pleasure, we'll cut a lang tale short, and I'll just tell ye, I am no
minded to answer ony o' thae questions--I'm ower auld a traveller to let
my tongue bring me into trouble."
"Write down," said the magistrate, "that he declines to answer all
interrogatories, in respect that by telling the truth he might be brought
"Na, na," said Ochiltree, "I'll no hae that set down as ony part o' my
answer--but I just meant to say, that in a' my memory and practice, I
never saw ony gude come o' answering idle questions."
"Write down," said the Bailie, "that, being acquainted with judicial
interrogatories by long practice, and having sustained injury by
answering questions put to him on such occasions, the declarant refuses"
"Na, na, Bailie," reiterated Edie, "ye are no to come in on me that gait
"Dictate the answer yourself then, friend," said the magistrate, "and the
clerk will take it down from your own mouth."
"Ay, ay," said Edie--"that's what I ca' fair play; I'se do that without
loss o' time. Sae, neighbour, ye may just write down, that Edie
Ochiltree, the declarant, stands up for the liberty--na, I maunna say
that neither--I am nae liberty-boy--I hae fought again' them in the riots
in Dublin--besides, I have ate the King's bread mony a day. Stay, let me
see. Ay--write that Edie Ochiltree, the Blue-Gown, stands up for the
prerogative--(see that ye spell that word right--it's a lang ane)--for
the prerogative of the subjects of the land, and winna answer a single
word that sall be asked at him this day, unless he sees a reason fort.
Put down that, young man."
"Then, Edie," said the magistrate, "since you will give no information on
the subject, I must send you back to prison till you shall be delivered
in due course of law."
"Aweel, sir, if it's Heaven's will and man's will, nae doubt I maun
submit," replied the mendicant. "I hae nae great objection to the prison,
only that a body canna win out o't; and if it wad please you as weel,
Bailie, I wad gie you my word to appear afore the Lords at the Circuit,
or in ony other coart ye like, on ony day ye are pleased to appoint."
"I rather think, my good friend," answered Bailie Littlejohn, "your word
might be a slender security where your neck may be in some danger. I am
apt to think you would suffer the pledge to be forfeited. If you could
give me sufficient security, indeed"--
At this moment the Antiquary and Captain M'Intyre entered the apartment.
--"Good morning to you, gentlemen," said the magistrate; "you find me
toiling in my usual vocation--looking after the iniquities of the people
--labouring for the _respublica,_ Mr. Oldbuck--serving the King our
master, Captain M'Intyre,--for I suppose you know I have taken up the
"It is one of the emblems of justice, doubtless," answered the
Antiquary;--"but I should have thought the scales would have suited you
better, Bailie, especially as you have them ready in the warehouse."
"Very good, Monkbarns--excellent! But I do not take the sword up as
justice, but as a soldier--indeed I should rather say the musket and
bayonet--there they stand at the elbow of my gouty chair, for I am scarce
fit for drill yet--a slight touch of our old acquaintance _podagra;_ I
can keep my feet, however, while our sergeant puts me through the manual.
I should like to know, Captain M'Intyre, if he follows the regulations
correctly--he brings us but awkwardly to the _present._" And he hobbled
towards his weapon to illustrate his doubts and display his proficiency.
"I rejoice we have such zealous defenders, Bailie," replied Mr. Oldbuck;
"and I dare say Hector will gratify you by communicating his opinion on
your progress in this new calling. Why, you rival the Hecate' of the
ancients, my good sir--a merchant on the Mart, a magistrate in the
Townhouse, a soldier on the Links--_quid non pro patria?_ But my business
is with the justice; so let commerce and war go slumber."
"Well, my good sir," said the Bailie, "and what commands have you for
"Why, here's an old acquaintance of mine, called Edie Ochiltree, whom
some of your myrmidons have mewed up in jail on account of an alleged
assault on that fellow Dousterswivel, of whose accusation I do not
believe one word."
The magistrate here assumed a very grave countenance. "You ought to have
been informed that he is accused of robbery, as well as assault--a very
serious matter indeed; it is not often such criminals come under my
"And," replied Oldbuck, "you are tenacious of the opportunity of making
the very most of such as occur. But is this poor old man's case really so
"It is rather out of rule," said the Bailie--"but as you are in the
commission, Monkbarns, I have no hesitation to show you Dousterswivel's
declaration, and the rest of the precognition." And he put the papers
into the Antiquary's hands, who assumed his spectacles, and sat down in a
corner to peruse them.
The officers, in the meantime, had directions to remove their prisoner
into another apartment; but before they could do so, M'Intyre took an
opportunity to greet old Edie, and to slip a guinea into his hand.
"Lord bless your honour!" said the old man; "it's a young soldier's gift,
and it should surely thrive wi' an auld ane. I'se no refuse it, though
it's beyond my rules; for if they steek me up here, my friends are like
eneugh to forget me--out o'sight out o'mind, is a true proverb; and it
wadna be creditable for me, that am the king's bedesman, and entitled to
beg by word of mouth, to be fishing for bawbees out at the jail window
wi' the fit o' a stocking, and a string." As he made this observation he
was conducted out of the apartment.
Mr. Dousterswivel's declaration contained an exaggerated account of the
violence he had sustained, and also of his loss.
"But what I should have liked to have asked him," said Monkbarns, "would
have been his purpose in frequenting the ruins of St. Ruth, so lonely a
place, at such an hour, and with such a companion as Edie Ochiltree.
There is no road lies that way, and I do not conceive a mere passion for
the picturesque would carry the German thither in such a night of storm
and wind. Depend upon it, he has been about some roguery, and in all
probability hath been caught in a trap of his own setting--_Nec lex
The magistrate allowed there was something mysterious in that
circumstance, and apologized for not pressing Dousterswivel, as his
declaration was voluntarily emitted. But for the support of the main
charge, he showed the declaration of the Aikwoods concerning the state in
which Dousterswivel was found, and establishing the important fact that
the mendicant had left the barn in which he was quartered, and did not
return to it again. Two people belonging to the Fairport undertaker, who
had that night been employed in attending the funeral of Lady Glenallan,
had also given declarations, that, being sent to pursue two suspicious
persons who left the ruins of St. Ruth as the funeral approached, and
who, it was supposed, might have been pillaging some of the ornaments
prepared for the ceremony, they had lost and regained sight of them more
than once, owing to the nature of the ground, which was unfavourable for
riding, but had at length fairly lodged them both in Mucklebackit's
cottage. And one of the men added, that "he, the declarant, having
dismounted from his horse, and gone close up to the window of the hut, he
saw the old Blue-Gown and young Steenie Mucklebackit, with others, eating
and drinking in the inside, and also observed the said Steenie
Mucklebackit show a pocket-book to the others;--and declarant has no
doubt that Ochiltree and Steenie Mucklebackit were the persons whom he
and his comrade had pursued, as above mentioned." And being interrogated
why he did not enter the said cottage, declares, "he had no warrant so to
do; and that as Mucklebackit and his family were understood to be
rough-handed folk, he, the declarant, had no desire to meddle or make
with their affairs, _Causa scientiae patet._ All which he declares to be
"What do you say to that body of evidence against your friend?" said the
magistrate, when he had observed the Antiquary had turned the last leaf.
"Why, were it in the case of any other person, I own I should say it
looked, _prima facie,_ a little ugly; but I cannot allow anybody to be in
the wrong for beating Dousterswivel--Had I been an hour younger, or had
but one single flash of your warlike genius, Bailie, I should have done
it myself long ago. He is _nebulo nebulonum,_ an impudent, fraudulent,
mendacious quack, that has cost me a hundred pounds by his roguery, and
my neighbour Sir Arthur, God knows how much. And besides, Bailie, I do
not hold him to be a sound friend to Government."
"Indeed?" said Bailie Littlejohn; "if I thought that, it would alter the
"Right--for, in beating him," observed Oldbuck, "the bedesman must have
shown his gratitude to the king by thumping his enemy; and in robbing
him, he would only have plundered an Egyptian, whose wealth it is lawful
to spoil. Now, suppose this interview in the ruins of St. Ruth had
relation to politics,--and this story of hidden treasure, and so forth,
was a bribe from the other side of the water for some great man, or the
funds destined to maintain a seditious club?"
"My dear sir," said the magistrate, catching at the idea, "you hit my
very thoughts! How fortunate should I be if I could become the humble
means of sifting such a matter to the bottom!--Don't you think we had
better call out the volunteers, and put them on duty?"
"Not just yet, while _podagra_ deprives them of an essential member of
their body. But will you let me examine Ochiltree?"
"Certainly; but you'll make nothing of him. He gave me distinctly to
understand he knew the danger of a judicial declaration on the part of an
accused person, which, to say the truth, has hanged many an honester man
than he is."
"Well, but, Bailie," continued Oldbuck, "you have no objection to let me
"None in the world, Monkbarns. I hear the sergeant below--I'll rehearse
the manual in the meanwhile. Baby, carry my gun and bayonet down to the
room below--it makes less noise there when we ground arms." And so exit
the martial magistrate, with his maid behind him bearing his weapons.
"A good squire that wench for a gouty champion," observed Oldbuck.--
"Hector, my lad, hook on, hook on--Go with him, boy--keep him employed,
man, for half-an-hour or so--butter him with some warlike terms--praise
his dress and address."
Captain M'Intyre, who, like many of his profession, looked down with
infinite scorn on those citizen soldiers who had assumed arms without any
professional title to bear them, rose with great reluctance, observing
that he should not know what to say to Mr. Littlejohn; and that to see an
old gouty shop-keeper attempting the exercise and duties of a private
soldier, was really too ridiculous.
"It may be so, Hector," said the Antiquary, who seldom agreed with any
person in the immediate proposition which was laid down--"it may possibly
be so in this and some other instances; but at present the country
resembles the suitors in a small-debt court, where parties plead in
person, for lack of cash to retain the professed heroes of the bar. I am
sure in the one case we never regret the want of the acuteness and
eloquence of the lawyers; and so, I hope, in the other, we may manage to
make shift with our hearts and muskets, though we shall lack some of the
discipline of you martinets."
"I have no objection, I am sure, sir, that the whole world should fight
if they please, if they will but allow me to be quiet," said Hector,
rising with dogged reluctance.
"Yes, you are a very quiet personage indeed," said his uncle, "whose
ardour for quarrelling cannot pass so much as a poor _phoca_ sleeping
upon the beach!"
But Hector, who saw which way the conversation was tending, and hated all
allusions to the foil he had sustained from the fish, made his escape
before the Antiquary concluded the sentence.
Well, well, at worst, 'tis neither theft nor coinage,
Granting I knew all that you charge me with.
What though the tomb hath borne a second birth,
And given the wealth to one that knew not on't,
Yet fair exchange was never robbery,
Far less pure bounty--
The Antiquary, in order to avail himself of the permission given him to
question the accused party, chose rather to go to the apartment in which
Ochiltree was detained, than to make the examination appear formal by
bringing him again into the magistrate's office. He found the old man
seated by a window which looked out on the sea; and as he gazed on that
prospect, large tears found their way, as if unconsciously, to his eye,
and from thence trickled down his cheeks and white beard. His features
were, nevertheless, calm and composed, and his whole posture and mien
indicated patience and resignation. Oldbuck had approached him without
being observed, and roused him out of his musing by saying kindly, "I am
sorry, Edie, to see you so much cast down about this matter."
The mendicant started, dried his eyes very hastily with the sleeve of his
gown, and endeavouring to recover his usual tone of indifference and
jocularity, answered, but with a voice more tremulous than usual, "I
might weel hae judged, Monkbarns, it was you, or the like o' you, was
coming in to disturb me--for it's ae great advantage o' prisons and
courts o' justice, that ye may greet your een out an ye like, and nane o'
the folk that's concerned about them will ever ask you what it's for."
"Well, Edie," replied Oldbuck, "I hope your present cause of distress is
not so bad but it may be removed."
"And I had hoped, Monkbarns," answered the mendicant, in a tone of
reproach, "that ye had ken'd me better than to think that this bit
trifling trouble o' my ain wad bring tears into my auld een, that hae
seen far different kind o' distress.--Na, na!--But here's been the puir
lass, Caxon's daughter, seeking comfort, and has gotten unco little--
there's been nae speerings o' Taffril's gunbrig since the last gale; and
folk report on the key that a king's ship had struck on the Reef of
Rattray, and a' hands lost--God forbid! for as sure as you live,
Monkbarns, the puir lad Lovel, that ye liked sae weel, must have
"God forbid indeed!" echoed the Antiquary, turning pale--"I would rather
Monkbarns House were on fire. My poor dear friend and coadjutor! I will
down to the quay instantly."
"I'm sure yell learn naething mair than I hae tauld ye, sir," said
Ochiltree, "for the officer-folk here were very civil (that is, for the
like o' them), and lookit up ae their letters and authorities, and could
throw nae light on't either ae way or another."
"It can't be true! it shall not be true!" said the Antiquary, "And I
won't believe it if it were!--Taffril's an excellent sea man, and Lovel
(my poor Lovel!) has all the qualities of a safe and pleasant companion
by land or by sea--one, Edie, whom, from the ingenuousness of his
disposition, I would choose, did I ever go a sea-voyage (which I never
do, unless across the ferry), _fragilem mecum solvere phaselum,_ to be
the companion of my risk, as one against whom the elements could nourish
no vengeance. No, Edie, it is not, and cannot be true--it is a fiction of
the idle jade Rumour, whom I wish hanged with her trumpet about her neck,
that serves only with its screech-owl tones to fright honest folks out of
their senses.--Let me know how you got into this scrape of your own."
"Are ye axing me as a magistrate, Monkbarns, or is it just for your ain
"For my own satisfaction solely," replied the Antiquaxy.
"Put up your pocket-book and your keelyvine pen then, for I downa speak
out an ye hae writing materials in your hands--they're a scaur to
unlearned folk like me--Od, ane o' the clerks in the neist room will
clink down, in black and white, as muckle as wad hang a man, before ane
kens what he's saying."
Monkbarns complied with the old man's humour, and put up his
Edie then went with great frankness through the part of the story already
known to the reader, informing the Antiquary of the scene which he had
witnessed between Dousterswivel and his patron in the ruins of St. Ruth,
and frankly confessing that he could not resist the opportunity of
decoying the adept once more to visit the tomb of Misticot, with the
purpose of taking a comic revenge upon him for his quackery. He had
easily persuaded Steenie, who was a bold thoughtless young fellow, to
engage in the frolic along with him, and the jest had been inadvertently
carried a great deal farther than was designed. Concerning the
pocket-book, he explained that he had expressed his surprise and sorrow
as soon as he found it had been inadvertently brought off: and that