Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Chronicles of the Canongate by Sir Walter Scott

Part 2 out of 5

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.6 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

When I had overcome the shock of this great disappointment, I
renewed gradually my acquaintance with one or two old companions,
who, though of infinitely less interest to my feelings than my
unfortunate friend, served to relieve the pressure of actual
solitude, and who were not perhaps the less open to my advances
that I was a bachelor somewhat stricken in years, newly arrived
from foreign parts, and certainly independent, if not wealthy.

I was considered as a tolerable subject of speculation by some,
and I could not be burdensome to any. I was therefore, according
to the ordinary rule of Edinburgh hospitality, a welcome guest in
several respectable families. But I found no one who could
replace the loss I had sustained in my best friend and
benefactor. I wanted something more than mere companionship
could give me, and where was I to look for it? Among the
scattered remnants of those that had been my gay friends of yore?

"Many a lad I loved was dead,
And many a lass grown old."

Besides, all community of ties between us had ceased to exist,
and such of former friends as were still in the world held their
life in a different tenor from what I did.

Some had become misers, and were as eager in saving sixpence as
ever they had been in spending a guinea. Some had turned
agriculturists; their talk was of oxen, and they were only fit
companions for graziers. Some stuck to cards, and though no
longer deep gamblers, rather played small game than sat out.
This I particularly despised. The strong impulse of gaming,
alas! I had felt in my time. It is as intense as it is
criminal; but it produces excitation and interest, and I can
conceive how it should become a passion with strong and powerful
minds. But to dribble away life in exchanging bits of painted
pasteboard round a green table for the piddling concern of a few
shillings, can only be excused in folly or superannuation. It is
like riding on a rocking-horse, where your utmost exertion never
carries you a foot forward; it is a kind of mental treadmill,
where you are perpetually climbing, but can never rise an inch.
From these hints, my readers will perceive I am incapacitated for
one of the pleasures of old age, which, though not mentioned by
Cicero, is not the least frequent resource in the present day--
the club-room, and the snug hand at whist.

To return to my old companions. Some frequented public
assemblies, like the ghost of Beau Nash, or any other beau of
half a century back, thrust aside by tittering youth, and pitied
by those of their own age. In fine, some went into devotion, as
the French term it, and others, I fear, went to the devil; a few
found resources in science and letters; one or two turned
philosophers in a small way, peeped into microscopes, and became
familiar with the fashionable experiments of the day; some took
to reading, and I was one of them.

Some grains of repulsion towards the society around me--some
painful recollections of early faults and follies--some touch of
displeasure with living mankind--inclined me rather to a study of
antiquities, and particularly those of my own country. The
reader, if I can prevail on myself to continue the present work,
will probably be able to judge in the course of it whether I have
made any useful progress in the study of the olden times.

I owed this turn of study, in part, to the conversation of my
kind man of business, Mr. Fairscribe, whom I mentioned as having
seconded the efforts of my invaluable friend in bringing the
cause on which my liberty and the remnant of my property depended
to a favourable decision. He had given me a most kind reception
on my return. He was too much engaged in his profession for me
to intrude on him often, and perhaps his mind was too much
trammelled with its details to permit his being willingly
withdrawn from them. In short, he was not a person of my poor
friend Sommerville's expanded spirit, and rather a lawyer of the
ordinary class of formalists; but a most able and excellent man.
When my estate was sold! he retained some of the older title-
deeds, arguing, from his own feelings, that they would be of more
consequence to the heir of the old family than to the new
purchaser. And when I returned to Edinburgh, and found him still
in the exercise of the profession to which he was an honour, he
sent to my lodgings the old family Bible, which lay always on my
father's table, two or three other mouldy volumes, and a couple
of sheepskin bags full of parchments and papers, whose appearance
was by no means inviting.

The next time I shared Mr. Fairscribe's hospitable dinner, I
failed not to return him due thanks for his kindness, which
acknowledgment, indeed, I proportioned rather to the idea which I
knew he entertained of the value of such things, than to the
interest with which I myself regarded them. But the conversation
turning on my family, who were old proprietors in the Upper Ward
of Clydesdale, gradually excited some interest in my mind and
when I retired to my solitary parlour, the first thing I did was
to look for a pedigree or sort of history of the family or House
of Croftangry, once of that Ilk, latterly of Glentanner. The
discoveries which I made shall enrich the next chapter.



"What's property, dear Swift? I see it alter
From you to me, from me to Peter Walter."

"Croftangry--Croftandrew--Croftanridge--Croftandgrey for sa mony
wise hath the name been spellit--is weel known to be ane house of
grit antiquity; and it is said that King Milcolumb, or Malcolm,
being the first of our Scottish princes quha removit across the
Firth of Forth, did reside and occupy ane palace at Edinburgh,
and had there ane valziant man, who did him man-service by
keeping the croft, or corn-land, which was tilled for the
convenience of the King's household, and was thence callit Croft-
an-ri, that is to say, the King his croft; quhilk place, though
now coverit with biggings, is to this day called Croftangry, and
lyeth near to the royal palace. And whereas that some of those
who bear this auld and honourable name may take scorn that it
ariseth from the tilling of the ground, quhilk men account a
slavish occupation, yet we ought to honour the pleugh and spade,
seeing we all derive our being from our father Adam, whose lot it
became to cultivate the earth, in respect of his fall and

"Also we have witness, as weel in holy writt as in profane
history, of the honour in quhilk husbandrie was held of old, and
how prophets have been taken from the pleugh, and great captains
raised up to defend their ain countries, sic as Cincinnatus, and
the like, who fought not the common enemy with the less valiancy
that their alms had been exercised in halding the stilts of the
pleugh, and their bellicose skill in driving of yauds and owsen.

"Likewise there are sindry honorable families, quhilk are now of
our native Scottish nobility, and have clombe higher up the brae
of preferment than what this house of Croftangry hath done,
quhilk shame not to carry in their warlike shield and insignia of
dignity the tools and implements the quhilk their first
forefathers exercised in labouring the croft-rig, or, as the poet
Virgilius calleth it eloquently, in subduing the soil, and no
doubt this ancient house of Croftangry, while it continued to be
called of that Ilk, produced many worshipful and famous patriots,
of quhom I now praetermit the names; it being my purpose, if God
shall spare me life for sic ane pious officium, or duty, to
resume the first part of my narrative touching the house of
Croftangry, when I can set down at length the evidents and
historical witness anent the facts which I shall allege, seeing
that words, when they are unsupported by proofs, are like seed
sown on the naked rocks, or like an house biggit on the flitting
and faithless sands."

Here I stopped to draw breath; for the style of my grandsire, the
inditer of this goodly matter, was rather lengthy, as our
American friends say. Indeed, I reserve the rest of the piece
until I can obtain admission to the Bannatine Club, [This Club,
of which the Author of Waverley has the honour to be President,
was instituted in February 1823, for the purpose of printing and
publishing works illustrative of the history, literature, and
antiquities of Scotland. It continues to prosper, and has
already rescued from oblivion many curious materials of Scottish
history.] when I propose to throw off an edition, limited
according to the rules of that erudite Society, with a facsimile
of the manuscript, emblazonry of the family arms surrounded by
their quartering, and a handsome disclamation of family pride,

In the meantime, to speak truth, I cannot but suspect that,
though my worthy ancestor puffed vigorously to swell up the
dignity of his family, we had never, in fact, risen above the
rank of middling proprietors. The estate of Glentanner came to
us by the intermarriage of my ancestor with Tib Sommeril, termed
by the southrons Sommerville, a daughter of that noble house,
but, I fear, on what my great-grandsire calls "the wrong side of
the blanket." [The ancient Norman family of the Sommervilles
came into this island with William the Conqueror, and established
one branch in Gloucestershire, another in Scotland. After the
lapse of seven hundred years, the remaining possessions of these
two branches were united in the person of the late Lord
Sommerville, on the death of his English kinsman, the well-known
author of "The Chase."] Her husband, Gilbert, was killed
fighting, as the INQUISITIO POST MORTEM has it, "SUB VEXILLO

We had our share in other national misfortunes--were forfeited,
like Sir John Colville of the Dale, for following our betters to
the field of Langside; and in the contentious times of the last
Stewarts we were severely fined for harbouring and resetting
intercommuned ministers, and narrowly escaped giving a martyr to
the Calendar of the Covenant, in the person of the father of our
family historian. He "took the sheaf from the mare," however, as
the MS. expresses it, and agreed to accept of the terms of pardon
offered by Government, and sign the bond in evidence he would
give no further ground of offence. My grandsire glosses over his
father's backsliding as smoothly as he can, and comforts himself
with ascribing his want of resolution to his unwillingness to
wreck the ancient name and family, and to permit his lands and
lineage to fall under a doom of forfeiture.

"And indeed," said the venerable compiler, "as, praised be God,
we seldom meet in Scotland with these belly-gods and
voluptuaries, whilk are unnatural enough to devour their
patrimony bequeathed to them by their forbears in chambering and
wantonness, so that they come, with the prodigal son, to the
husks and the swine-trough; and as I have the less to dreid the
existence of such unnatural Neroes in mine own family to devour
the substance of their own house like brute beasts out of mere
gluttonie and Epicurishnesse, so I need only warn mine
descendants against over-hastily meddling with the mutations in
state and in religion, which have been near-hand to the bringing
this poor house of Croftangry to perdition, as we have shown more
than once. And albeit I would not that my successors sat still
altogether when called on by their duty to Kirk and King, yet I
would have them wait till stronger and walthier men than
themselves were up, so that either they may have the better
chance of getting through the day, or, failing of that, the
conquering party having some fatter quarry to live upon, may,
like gorged hawks, spare the smaller game."

There was something in this conclusion which at first reading
piqued me extremely, and I was so unnatural as to curse the whole
concern, as poor, bald, pitiful trash, in which a silly old man
was saying a great deal about nothing at all. Nay, my first
impression was to thrust it into the fire, the rather that it
reminded me, in no very flattering manner, of the loss of the
family property, to which the compiler of the history was so much
attached, in the very manner which he most severely reprobated.
It even seemed to my aggrieved feelings that his unprescient gaze
on futurity, in which he could not anticipate the folly of one of
his descendants, who should throw away the whole inheritance in a
few years of idle expense and folly, was meant as a personal
incivility to myself, though written fifty or sixty years before
I was born.

A little reflection made me ashamed or this feeling of
impatience, and as I looked at the even, concise, yet tremulous
hand in which the manuscript was written, I could not help
thinking, according to an opinion I have heard seriously
maintained, that something of a man's character may be
conjectured from his handwriting. That neat but crowded and
constrained small-hand argued a man of a good conscience, well-
regulated passions, and, to use his own phrase, an upright walk
in life; but it also indicated narrowness of spirit, inveterate
prejudice, and hinted at some degree of intolerance, which,
though not natural to the disposition, had arisen out of a
limited education. The passages from Scripture and the classics,
rather profusely than happily introduced, and written in a half-
text character to mark their importance, illustrated that
peculiar sort of pedantry which always considers the argument as
gained if secured by a quotation. Then the flourished capital
letters, which ornamented the commencement of each paragraph, and
the names of his family and of his ancestors whenever these
occurred in the page, do they not express forcibly the pride and
sense of importance with which the author undertook and
accomplished his task? I persuaded myself the whole was so
complete a portrait of the man, that it would not have been a
more undutiful act to have defaced his picture, or even to have
disturbed his bones in his coffin, than to destroy his
manuscript. I thought, for a moment, of presenting it to Mr.
Fairscribe; but that confounded passage about the prodigal and
swine-trough--I settled at last it was as well to lock it up in
my own bureau, with the intention to look at it no more.

But I do not know how it was, that the subject began to sit
nearer my heart than I was aware of, and I found myself
repeatedly engaged in reading descriptions of farms which were no
longer mine, and boundaries which marked the property of others.
A love of the NATALE SOLUM, if Swift be right in translating
these words, "family estate," began to awaken in my bosom--the
recollections of my own youth adding little to it, save what was
connected with field-sports. A career of pleasure is
unfavourable for acquiring a taste for natural beauty, and still
more so for forming associations of a sentimental kind,
connecting us with the inanimate objects around us.

I had thought little about my estate while I possessed and was
wasting it, unless as affording the rude materials out of which a
certain inferior race of creatures, called tenants, were bound to
produce (in a greater quantity than they actually did) a certain
return called rent, which was destined to supply my expenses.
This was my general view of the matter. Of particular places, I
recollected that Garval Hill was a famous piece of rough upland
pasture for rearing young colts, and teaching them to throw their
feet; that Minion Burn had the finest yellow trout in the
country; that Seggy-cleugh was unequalled for woodcocks; that
Bengibbert Moors afforded excellent moorfowl-shooting; and that
the clear, bubbling fountain called the Harper's Well was the
best recipe in the world on the morning after a HARD-GO with my
neighbour fox-hunters. Still, these ideas recalled, by degrees,
pictures of which I had since learned to appreciate the merit--
scenes of silent loneliness, where extensive moors, undulating
into wild hills, were only disturbed by the whistle of the plover
or the crow of the heathcock; wild ravines creeping up into
mountains, filled with natural wood, and which, when traced
downwards along the path formed by shepherds and nutters, were
found gradually to enlarge and deepen, as each formed a channel
to its own brook, sometimes bordered by steep banks of earth,
often with the more romantic boundary of naked rocks or cliffs
crested with oak, mountain ash, and hazel--all gratifying the eye
the more that the scenery was, from the bare nature of the
country around, totally unexpected.

I had recollections, too, of fair and fertile holms, or level
plains, extending between the wooded banks and the bold stream of
the Clyde, which, coloured like pure amber, or rather having the
hue of the pebbles called Cairngorm, rushes over sheets of rock
and beds of gravel, inspiring a species of awe from the few and
faithless fords which it presents, and the frequency of fatal
accidents, now diminished by the number of bridges. These
alluvial holms were frequently bordered by triple and quadruple
rows of large trees, which gracefully marked their boundary, and
dipped their long arms into the foaming stream of the river.
Other places I remembered, which had been described by the old
huntsman as the lodge of tremendous wild-cats, or the spot where
tradition stated the mighty stag to have been brought to bay, or
where heroes, whose might was now as much forgotten, were said to
have been slain by surprise, or in battle.

It is not to be supposed that these finished landscapes became
visible before the eyes of my imagination, as the scenery of the
stage is disclosed by the rising of the curtain. I have said
that I had looked upon the country around me, during the hurried
and dissipated period of my life, with the eyes, indeed, of my
body, but without those of my understanding. It was piece by
piece, as a child picks out its lesson, that I began to recollect
the beauties of nature which had once surrounded me in the home
of my forefathers. A natural taste for them must have lurked at
the bottom of my heart, which awakened when I was in foreign
countries, and becoming by degrees a favourite passion, gradually
turned its eyes inwards, and ransacked the neglected stores which
my memory had involuntarily recorded, and, when excited, exerted
herself to collect and to complete.

I began now to regret more bitterly than ever the having fooled
away my family property, the care and improvement of which I saw
might have afforded an agreeable employment for my leisure, which
only went to brood on past misfortunes, and increase useless
repining. "Had but a single farm been reserved, however small,"
said I one day to Mr. Fairscribe, "I should have had a place I
could call my home, and something that I could call business."

"It might have been managed," answered Fairscribe; "and for my
part, I inclined to keep the mansion house, mains, and some of
the old family acres together; but both Mr. -- and you were of
opinion that the money would be more useful."

"True, true, my good friend," said I; "I was a fool then, and did
not think I could incline to be Glentanner with L200 or L300 a
year, instead of Glentanner with as many thousands. I was then a
haughty, pettish, ignorant, dissipated, broken-down Scottish
laird; and thinking my imaginary consequence altogether ruined, I
cared not how soon, or how absolutely, I was rid of everything
that recalled it to my own memory, or that of others."

"And now it is like you have changed your mind?" said
Fairscribe. "Well, fortune is apt to circumduce the term upon us;
but I think she may allow you to revise your condescendence."

"How do you mean, my good friend?"

"Nay," said Fairscribe, "there is ill luck in averring till one
is sure of his facts. I will look back on a file of newspapers,
and to-morrow you shall hear from me. Come, help yourself--I
have seen you fill your glass higher."

"And shall see it again," said I, pouring out what remained of
our bottle of claret; "the wine is capital, and so shall our
toast be--"To your fireside, my good friend. And now we shall go
beg a Scots song without foreign graces from my little siren,
Miss Katie."

The next day, accordingly, I received a parcel from Mr.
Fairscribe with a newspaper enclosed, among the advertisements of
which one was marked with a cross as requiring my attention. I
read, to my surprise:--


"By order of the Lords of Council and Session, will be exposed to
sale in the New Sessions House of Edinburgh, on Wednesday, the
25th November, 18--, all and whole the lands and barony of
Glentanner, now called Castle Treddles, lying in the Middle Ward
of Clydesdale, and shire of Lanark, with the teinds, parsonage
and vicarage, fishings in the Clyde, woods, mosses, moors, and
pasturages," etc., etc.

The advertisement went on to set forth the advantages of the
soil, situation, natural beauties, and capabilities of
improvement, not forgetting its being a freehold estate, with the
particular polypus capacity of being sliced up into two, three,
or, with a little assistance, four freehold qualifications, and a
hint that the county was likely to be eagerly contested between
two great families. The upset price at which "the said lands and
barony and others" were to be exposed was thirty years' purchase
of the proven rental, which was about a fourth more than the
property had fetched at the last sale. This, which was
mentioned, I suppose, to show the improvable character of the
land, would have given another some pain. But let me speak truth
of myself in good as in evil--it pained not me. I was only angry
that Fairscribe, who knew something generally of the extent of my
funds, should have tantalized me by sending me information that
my family property was in the market, since he must have known
that the price was far out of my reach.

But a letter dropped from the parcel on the floor, which
attracted my eye, and explained the riddle. A client of Mr.
Fairscribe's, a moneyed man, thought of buying Glentanner, merely
as an investment of money--it was even unlikely he would ever see
it; and so the price of the whole being some thousand pounds
beyond what cash he had on hand, this accommodating Dives would
gladly take a partner in the sale for any detached farm, and
would make no objection to its including the most desirable part
of the estate in point of beauty, provided the price was made
adequate. Mr. Fairscribe would take care I was not imposed on in
the matter, and said in his card he believed, if I really wished
to make such a purchase, I had better go out and look at the
premises, advising me, at the same time, to keep a strict
incognito--an advice somewhat superfluous, since I am naturally
of a retired and reserved disposition.



Then sing of stage-coaches,
And fear no reproaches
For riding in one;
But daily be jogging,
Whilst, whistling and flogging,
Whilst, whistling and flogging,
The coachman drives on. FARQUHAR.

Disguised in a grey surtout which had seen service, a white
castor on my head, and a stout Indian cane in my hand, the next
week saw me on the top of a mail-coach driving to the westward.

I like mail-coaches, and I hate them. I like them for my
convenience; but I detest them for setting the whole world a-
gadding, instead of sitting quietly still minding their own
business, and preserving the stamp of originality of character
which nature or education may have impressed on them. Off they
go, jingling against each other in the rattling vehicle till they
have no more variety of stamp in them than so many smooth
shillings--the same even in their Welsh wigs and greatcoats, each
without more individuality than belongs to a partner of the
company, as the waiter calls them, of the North Coach.

Worthy Mr. Piper, best of contractors who ever furnished four
frampal jades for public use, I bless you when I set out on a
journey myself; the neat coaches under your contract render the
intercourse, from Johnnie Groat's House to Ladykirk and Cornhill
Bridge, safe, pleasant, and cheap. But, Mr. Piper, you who are a
shrewd arithmetician, did it never occur to you to calculate how
many fools' heads, which might have produced an idea or two in
the year, if suffered to remain in quiet, get effectually addled
by jolting to and fro in these flying chariots of yours; how many
decent countrymen become conceited bumpkins after a cattle-show
dinner in the capital, which they could not have attended save
for your means; how many decent country parsons return critics
and spouters, by way of importing the newest taste from
Edinburgh? And how will your conscience answer one day for
carrying so many bonny lasses to barter modesty for conceit and
levity at the metropolitan Vanity Fair?

Consider, too, the low rate to which you reduce human intellect.
I do not believe your habitual customers have their ideas more
enlarged than one of your coach-horses. They KNOWS the road,
like the English postilion, and they know nothing besides. They
date, like the carriers at Gadshill, from the death of Robin
Ostler; [See Act II. Scene 1 of the First Part of Shakespeare's
Henry IV.] the succession of guards forms a dynasty in their
eyes; coachmen are their ministers of state; and an upset is to
them a greater incident than a change of administration. Their
only point of interest on the road is to save the time, and see
whether the coach keeps the hour. This is surely a miserable
degradation of human intellect. Take my advice, my good sir, and
disinterestedly contrive that once or twice a quarter your most
dexterous whip shall overturn a coachful of these superfluous
travellers, IN TERROREM to those who, as Horace says, "delight in
the dust raised by your chariots."

Your current and customary mail-coach passenger, too, gets
abominably selfish, schemes successfully for the best seat, the
freshest egg, the right cut of the sirloin. The mode of
travelling is death to all the courtesies and kindnesses of life,
and goes a great way to demoralize the character, and cause it to
retrograde to barbarism. You allow us excellent dinners, but
only twenty minutes to eat them. And what is the consequence?
Bashful beauty sits on the one side of us, timid childhood on the
other; respectable, yet somewhat feeble, old age is placed on our
front; and all require those acts of politeness which ought to
put every degree upon a level at the convivial board. But have
we time--we the strong and active of the party--to perform the
duties of the table to the more retired and bashful, to whom
these little attentions are due? The lady should be pressed to
her chicken, the old man helped to his favourite and tender
slice, the child to his tart. But not a fraction of a minute
have we to bestow on any other person than ourselves; and the
PRUT-PRUT--TUT-TUT of the guard's discordant note summons us to
the coach, the weaker party having gone without their dinner, and
the able-bodied and active threatened with indigestion, from
having swallowed victuals like a Lei'stershire clown bolting

On the memorable occasion I am speaking of I lost my breakfast,
sheerly from obeying the commands of a respectable-looking old
lady, who once required me to ring the bell, and another time to
help the tea-kettle. I have some reason to think she was
literally an OLD-STAGER, who laughed in her sleeve at my
complaisance; so that I have sworn in my secret soul revenge upon
her sex, and all such errant damsels of whatever age and degree
whom I may encounter in my travels. I mean all this without the
least ill-will to my friend the contractor, who, I think, has
approached as near as any one is like to do towards accomplishing
the modest wish cf the Amatus and Amata of the Peri Bathous,--

"Ye gods, annihilate but time and space,
And make two lovers happy."

I intend to give Mr. P. his full revenge when I come to discuss
the more recent enormity of steamboats; meanwhile, I shall only
say of both these modes of conveyance, that--

"There is no living with them or without them."

I am, perhaps, more critical on the--mail-coach on this
particular occasion, that I did not meet all the respect from the
worshipful company in his Majesty's carriage that I think I was
entitled to. I must say it for myself that I bear, in my own
opinion at least, not a vulgar point about me. My face has seen
service, but there is still a good set of teeth, an aquiline
nose, and a quick, grey eye, set a little too deep under the
eyebrow; and a cue of the kind once called military may serve to
show that my civil occupations have been sometimes mixed with
those of war. Nevertheless, two idle young fellows in the
vehicle, or rather on the top of it, were so much amused with the
deliberation which I used in ascending to the same place of
eminence, that I thought I should have been obliged to pull them
up a little. And I was in no good-humour at an unsuppressed
laugh following my descent when set down at the angle, where a
cross road, striking off from the main one, led me towards
Glentanner, from which I was still nearly five miles distant.

It was an old-fashioned road, which, preferring ascents to
sloughs, was led in a straight line over height and hollow,
through moor and dale. Every object around me; as I passed them
in succession, reminded me of old days, and at the same time
formed the strongest contrast with them possible. Unattended, on
foot, with a small bundle in my hand, deemed scarce sufficient
good company for the two shabby-genteels with whom I had been
lately perched on the top of a mail-coach, I did not seem to be
the same person with the young prodigal, who lived with the
noblest and gayest in the land, and who, thirty years before,
would, in the same country, have, been on the back of a horse
that had been victor for a plate, or smoking aloof in his
travelling chaise-and-four. My sentiments were not less changed
than my condition. I could quite well remember that my ruling
sensation in the days of heady youth was a mere schoolboy's
eagerness to get farthest forward in the race in which I had
engaged; to drink as many bottles as --; to be thought as good a
judge of a horse as --; to have the knowing cut of --'s jacket.
These were thy gods, O Israel!

Now I was a mere looker-on; seldom an unmoved, and sometimes an
angry spectator, but still a spectator only, of the pursuits of
mankind. I felt how little my opinion was valued by those
engaged in the busy turmoil, yet I exercised it with the
profusion of an old lawyer retired from his profession, who
thrusts himself into his neighbour's affairs, and gives advice
where it is not wanted, merely under pretence of loving the crack
of the whip.

I came amid these reflections to the brow of a hill, from which I
expected to see Glentanner, a modest-looking yet comfortable
house, its walls covered with the most productive fruit-trees in
that part of the country, and screened from the most stormy
quarters of the horizon by a deep and ancient wood, which
overhung the neighbouring hill. The house was gone; a great part
of the wood was felled; and instead of the gentlemanlike mansion,
shrouded and embosomed among its old hereditary trees, stood
Castle Treddles, a huge lumping four-square pile of freestone, as
bare as my nail, except for a paltry edging of decayed and
lingering exotics, with an impoverished lawn stretched before it,
which, instead of boasting deep green tapestry, enamelled with
daisies and with crowsfoot and cowslips, showed an extent of
nakedness, raked, indeed, and levelled, but where the sown
grasses had failed with drought, and the earth, retaining its
natural complexion, seemed nearly as brown and bare as when it
was newly dug up.

The house was a large fabric, which pretended to its name of
Castle only from the front windows being finished in acute Gothic
arches (being, by the way, the very reverse of the castellated
style), and each angle graced with a turret about the size of a
pepper-box. In every other respect it resembled a large town-
house, which, like a fat burgess, had taken a walk to the country
on a holiday, and climbed to the top of all eminence to look
around it. The bright red colour of the freestone, the size of
the building, the formality of its shape, and awkwardness of its
position, harmonized as ill with the sweeping Clyde in front, and
the bubbling brook which danced down on the right, as the fat
civic form, with bushy wig, gold-headed cane, maroon-coloured
coat, and mottled silk stockings, would have accorded with the
wild and magnificent scenery of Corehouse Linn.

I went up to the house. It was in that state of desertion which
is perhaps the most unpleasant to look on, for the place was
going to decay without having been inhabited. There were about
the mansion, though deserted, none of the slow mouldering touches
of time, which communicate to buildings, as to the human frame, a
sort of reverence, while depriving them of beauty and of
strength. The disconcerted schemes of the Laird of Castle
Treddles had resembled fruit that becomes decayed without ever
having ripened. Some windows broken, others patched, others
blocked up with deals, gave a disconsolate air to all around, and
seemed to say, "There Vanity had purposed to fix her seat, but
was anticipated by Poverty."

To the inside, after many a vain summons, I was at length
admitted by an old labourer. The house contained every
contrivance for luxury and accommodation. The kitchens were a
model; and there were hot closets on the office staircase, that
the dishes might not cool, as our Scottish phrase goes, between
the kitchen and the hall. But instead of the genial smell of
good cheer, these temples of Comus emitted the damp odour of
sepulchral vaults, and the large cabinets of cast-iron looked
like the cages of some feudal Bastille. The eating room and
drawing-room, with an interior boudoir, were magnificent
apartments, the ceiling was fretted and adorned with stucco-work,
which already was broken in many places, and looked in others
damp and mouldering; the wood panelling was shrunk and warped,
and cracked; the doors, which had not been hung for more than two
years, were, nevertheless, already swinging loose from their
hinges. Desolation, in short, was where enjoyment had never
been; and the want of all the usual means to preserve was fast
performing the work of decay.

The story was a common one, and told in a few words. Mr.
Treddles, senior, who bought the estate, was a cautious, money-
making person. His son, still embarked in commercial
speculations, desired at the same time to enjoy his opulence and
to increase it. He incurred great expenses, amongst which this
edifice was to benumbered. To support these he speculated
boldly, and unfortunately; and thus the whole history is told,
which may serve for more places than Glentanner.

Strange and various feelings ran through my bosom as I loitered
in these deserted apartments, scarce hearing what my guide said
to me about the size and destination of each room. The first
sentiment, I am ashamed to say, was one of gratified spite. My
patrician pride was pleased that the mechanic, who had not
thought the house of the Croftangrys sufficiently good for him,
had now experienced a fall in his turn. My next thought was as
mean, though not so malicious. "I have had the better of this
fellow," thought I. "If I lost the estate, I at least spent the
price; and Mr. Treddles has lost his among paltry commercial

"Wretch!" said the secret voice within, "darest thou exult in
thy shame? Recollect how thy youth and fortune was wasted in
those years, and triumph not in the enjoyment of an existence
which levelled thee with the beasts that perish. Bethink thee
how this poor man's vanity gave at least bread to the labourer,
peasant, and citizen; and his profuse expenditure, like water
spilt on the ground, refreshed the lowly herbs and plants where
it fell. But thou! Whom hast thou enriched during thy career of
extravagance, save those brokers of the devil--vintners, panders,
gamblers, and horse-jockeys?" The anguish produced by this self-
reproof was so strong that I put my hand suddenly to my forehead,
and was obliged to allege a sudden megrim to my attendant, in
apology for the action, and a slight groan with which it was

I then made an effort to turn my thoughts into a more
philosophical current, and muttered half aloud, as a charm to
lull any more painful thoughts to rest,--


[Horace Sat.II Lib.2. The meaning will be best conveyed to the
English reader in Pope's imitation:--

"What's property, dear Swift? You see it alter
From you to me, from me to Peter Walter;
Or in a mortgage prove a lawyer's share;
Or in a jointure vanish from the heir.

* * * * * * *

"Shades, that to Bacon could retreat afford,
Become the portion of a booby lord;
And Helmsley, once proud Buckingham's delight,
Slides to a scrivener and city knight.
Let lands and houses have what lords they will,
Let us be fix'd, and our own masters still."]

In my anxiety to fix the philosophical precept in my mind, I
recited the last line aloud, which, joined to my previous
agitation, I afterwards found became the cause of a report that a
mad schoolmaster had come from Edinburgh, with the idea in his
head of buying Castle Treddles.

As I saw my companion was desirous of getting rid of me, I asked
where I was to find the person in whose hands were left the map
of the estate, and other particulars connected with the sale.
The agent who had this in possession, I was told, lived at the
town of --, which I was informed, and indeed knew well, was
distant five miles and a bittock, which may pass in a country
where they are less lavish of their land for two or three more.
Being somewhat afraid of the fatigue of walking so far, I
inquired if a horse or any sort of carriage was to be had, and
was answered in the negative.

"But," said my cicerone, "you may halt a blink till next morning
at the Treddles Arms, a very decent house, scarce a mile off."

"A new house, I suppose?" replied I.

"No, it's a new public, but it's an auld house; it was aye the
Leddy's jointure-house in the Croftangry folk's time. But Mr.
Treddles has fitted it up for the convenience of the country,
poor man, he was a public-spirited man when he had the means."

"Duntarkin a public-house!" I exclaimed.

"Ay!" said the fellow, surprised at my naming the place by its
former title; "ye'll hae been in this country before, I'm

"Long since," I replied. "And there is good accommodation at the
what-d'ye-call-'em arms, and a civil landlord?" This I said by
way of saying something, for the man stared very hard at me.

"Very decent accommodation. Ye'll no be for fashing wi' wine,
I'm thinking; and there's walth o' porter, ale, and a drap gude
whisky" (in an undertone)--"Fairntosh--if you call get on the
lee-side of the gudewife--for there is nae gudeman. They ca' her
Christie Steele."

I almost started at the sound. Christie Steele! Christie Steele
was my mother's body-servant, her very right hand, and, between
ourselves, something like a viceroy over her. I recollected her
perfectly; and though she had in former times been no favourite
of mine, her name now sounded in my ear like that of a friend,
and was the first word I had heard somewhat in unison with the
associations around me. I sallied from Castle Treddles,
determined to make the best of my way to Duntarkin, and my
cicerone hung by me for a little way, giving loose to his love of
talking--an opportunity which, situated as he was, the seneschal
of a deserted castle, was not likely to occur frequently.

"Some folk think," said my companion, "that Mr. Treddles might as
weel have put my wife as Christie Steele into the Treddles Arms;
for Christie had been aye in service, and never in the public
line, and so it's like she is ganging back in the world, as I
hear. Now, my wife had keepit a victualling office."

"That would have been an advantage, certainly," I replied.

"But I am no sure that I wad ha' looten Eppie take it, if they
had put it in her offer."

"That's a different consideration."

"Ony way, I wadna ha' liked to have offended Mr. Treddles. He
was a wee toustie when you rubbed him again the hair; but a kind,
weel-meaning man."

I wanted to get rid of this species of chat, and finding myself
near the entrance of a footpath which made a short cut to
Duntarkin, I put half a crown into my guide's hand, bade him
good-evening, and plunged into the woods.

"Hout, sir--fie, sir--no from the like of you. Stay, sir, ye
wunna find the way that gate.--Odd's mercy, he maun ken the gate
as weel as I do mysel'. Weel, I wad Iike to ken wha the chield

Such were the last words of my guide's drowsy, uninteresting tone
of voice and glad to be rid of him, I strode out stoutly, in
despite of large stones, briers, and BAD STEPS, which abounded in
the road I had chosen. In the interim, I tried as much as I
could, with verses from Horace and Prior, and all who have lauded
the mixture of literary with rural life, to call back the visions
of last night and this morning, imagining myself settled in same
detached farm of the estate of Glentanner,--

"Which sloping hills around enclose--
Where many a birch and brown oak grows,"

when I should have a cottage with a small library, a small
cellar, a spare bed for a friend, and live more happy and more
honoured than when I had the whole barony. But the sight of
Castle Treddles had disturbed all my own castles in the air. The
realities of the matter, like a stone plashed into a limpid
fountain, had destroyed the reflection of the objects around,
which, till this act of violence, lay slumbering on the crystal
surface, and I tried in vain to re-establish the picture which
had been so rudely broken. Well, then, I would try it another
way. I would try to get Christie Steele out of her PUBLIC, since
she was not striving in it, and she who had been my mother's
governante should be mine. I knew all her faults, and I told her
history over to myself.

She was grand-daughter, I believe--at least some relative--of the
famous Covenanter of the name, whom Dean Swift's friend, Captain
Creichton, shot on his own staircase in the times of the
persecutions; [See Note 2.--Steele a Covenanter, shot by Captain
Creichton.] and had perhaps derived from her native stock much
both of its good and evil properties. No one could say of her
that she was the life and spirit of the family, though in my
mother's time she directed all family affairs. Her look was
austere and gloomy, and when she was not displeased with you, you
could only find it out by her silence. If there was cause for
complaint, real or imaginary, Christie was loud enough. She
loved my mother with the devoted attachment of a younger sister;
but she was as jealous of her favour to any one else as if she
had been the aged husband of a coquettish wife, and as severe in
her reprehensions as an abbess over her nuns. The command which
she exercised over her was that, I fear, of a strong and
determined over a feeble and more nervous disposition and though
it was used with rigour, yet, to the best of Christie Steele's
belief, she was urging her mistress to her best and most becoming
course, and would have died rather than have recommended any
other. The attachment of this woman was limited to the family of
Croftangry; for she had few relations, and a dissolute cousin,
whom late in life she had taken as a husband, had long left her a

To me she had ever a strong dislike. Even from my early
childhood she was jealous, strange as it may seem, of my interest
in my mother's affections. She saw my foibles and vices with
abhorrence, and without a grain of allowance; nor did she pardon
the weakness of maternal affection even when, by the death of two
brothers, I came to be the only child of a widowed parent. At
the time my disorderly conduct induced my mother to leave
Glentanner, and retreat to her jointure-house, I always blamed
Christie Steele for having influenced her resentment and
prevented her from listening to my vows of amendment, which at
times were real and serious, and might, perhaps, have accelerated
that change of disposition which has since, I trust, taken place.
But Christie regarded me as altogether a doomed and predestinated
child of perdition, who was sure to hold on my course, and drag
downwards whosoever might attempt to afford me support.

Still, though I knew such had been Christie's prejudices against
me in other days, yet I thought enough of time had since passed
away to destroy all of them. I knew that when, through the
disorder of my affairs, my mother underwent some temporary
inconvenience about money matters, Christie, as a thing of
course, stood in the gap, and having sold a small inheritance
which had descended to her, brought the purchase money to her
mistress, with a sense of devotion as deep as that which inspired
the Christians of the first age, when they sold all they had, and
followed the apostles of the church. I therefore thought that we
might, in old Scottish phrase, "let byganes be byganes," and
begin upon a new account. Yet I resolved, like a skilful
general, to reconnoitre a little before laying down any precise
scheme of proceeding, and in the interim I determined to preserve
my incognito.



Alas, how changed from what it once had been!
'Twas now degraded to a common inn. GAY.

An hour's brisk walking, or thereabouts, placed me in front of
Duntarkin, which had also, I found, undergone considerable
alterations, though it had not been altogether demolished like
the principal mansion. An inn-yard extended before the door of
the decent little jointure-house, even amidst the remnants of the
holly hedges which had screened the lady's garden. Then a broad,
raw-looking, new-made road intruded itself up the little glen,
instead of the old horseway, so seldom used that it was almost
entirely covered with grass. It is a great enormity, of which
gentlemen trustees on the highways are sometimes guilty, in
adopting the breadth necessary for an avenue to the metropolis,
where all that is required is an access to some sequestered and
unpopulous district. I do not say anything of the expense--that
the trustees and their constituents may settle as they please.
But the destruction of silvan beauty is great when the breadth of
the road is more than proportioned to the vale through which it
runs, and lowers, of course, the consequence of any objects of
wood or water, or broken and varied ground, which might otherwise
attract notice and give pleasure. A bubbling runnel by the side
of one of those modern Appian or Flaminian highways is but like a
kennel; the little hill is diminished to a hillock--the romantic
hillock to a molehill, almost too small for sight.

Such an enormity, however, had destroyed the quiet loneliness of
Duntarkin, and intruded its breadth of dust and gravel, and its
associations of pochays and mail-coaches, upon one of the most
sequestered spots in the Middle Ward of Clydesdale. The house
was old and dilapidated, and looked sorry for itself, as if
sensible of a derogation; but the sign was strong and new, and
brightly painted, displaying a heraldic shield (three shuttles in
a field diapre), a web partly unfolded for crest, and two stout
giants for supporters, each one holding a weaver's beam proper.
To have displayed this monstrous emblem on the front of the house
might have hazarded bringing down the wall, but for certain would
have blocked up one or two windows. It was therefore established
independent of the mansion, being displayed in an iron framework,
and suspended upon two posts, with as much wood and iron about it
as would have builded a brig; and there it hung, creaking,
groaning, and screaming in every blast of wind, and frightening
for five miles' distance, for aught I know, the nests of thrushes
and linnets, the ancient denizens of the little glen.

When I entered the place I was received by Christie Steele
herself, who seemed uncertain whether to drop me in the kitchen,
or usher me into a separate apartment, as I called for tea, with
something rather more substantial than bread and butter, and
spoke of supping and sleeping, Christie at last inducted me into
the room where she herself had been sitting, probably the only
one which had a fire, though the month was October. This
answered my plan; and as she was about to remove her spinning-
wheel, I begged she would have the goodness to remain and make my
tea, adding that I liked the sound of the wheel, and desired not
to disturb her housewife thrift in the least.

"I dinna ken, sir," she replied, in a dry, REVECHE tone, which
carried me back twenty years, "I am nane of thae heartsome
landleddies that can tell country cracks, and make themsel's
agreeable, and I was ganging to put on a fire for you in the Red
Room; but if it is your will to stay here, he that pays the
lawing maun choose the lodging."

I endeavoured to engage her in conversation; but though she
answered, with a kind of stiff civility, I could get her into no
freedom of discourse, and she began to look at her wheel and at
the door more than once, as if she meditated a retreat. I was
obliged, therefore, to proceed to some special questions; that
might have interest for a person whose ideas were probably of a
very bounded description.

I looked round the apartment, being the same in which I had last
seen my poor mother. The author of the family history, formerly
mentioned, had taken great credit to himself for the improvements
he had made in this same jointure-house of Duntarkin, and how,
upon his marriage, when his mother took possession of the same as
her jointure-house, "to his great charges and expenses he caused
box the walls of the great parlour" (in which I was now sitting),
"empanel the same, and plaster the roof, finishing the apartment
with ane concave chimney, and decorating the same with pictures,
and a barometer and thermometer." And in particular, which his
good mother used to say she prized above all the rest, he had
caused his own portraiture be limned over the mantlepiece by a
skilful hand. And, in good faith, there he remained still,
having much the visage which I was disposed to ascribe to him on
the evidence of his handwriting,--grim and austere, yet not
without a cast of shrewdness and determination; in armour, though
he never wore it, I fancy; one hand on an open book, and one
resting on the hilt of his sword, though I dare say his head
never ached with reading, nor his limbs with fencing.

"That picture is painted on the wood, madam," said I.

"Ay, sir, or it's like it would not have been left there; they
look a' they could."

"Mr. Treddles's creditors, you mean?" said I.

"Na," replied she dryly, "the creditors of another family, that
sweepit cleaner than this poor man's, because I fancy there was
less to gather."

"An older family, perhaps, and probably more remembered and
regretted than later possessors?"

Christie here settled herself in her seat, and pulled her wheel
towards her. I had given her something interesting for her
thoughts to dwell upon, and her wheel was a mechanical
accompaniment on such occasions, the revolutions of which
assisted her in the explanation of her ideas.

"Mair regretted--mair missed? I liked ane of the auld family
very weel, but I winna say that for them a'. How should they be
mair missed than the Treddleses? The cotton mill was such a
thing for the country! The mair bairns a cottar body had the
better; they would make their awn keep frae the time they were
five years auld, and a widow wi' three or four bairns was a
wealthy woman in the time of the Treddleses."

"But the health of these poor children, my good friend--their
education and religious instruction--"

"For health," said Christie, looking gloomily at me, "ye maun ken
little of the warld, sir, if ye dinna ken that the health of the
poor man's body, as well as his youth and his strength, are all
at the command of the rich man's purse. There never was a trade
so unhealthy yet but men would fight to get wark at it for twa
pennies a day aboon the common wage. But the bairns were
reasonably weel cared for in the way of air and exercise, and a
very responsible youth heard them their Carritch, and gied them
lessons in Reediemadeasy ["Reading made Easy," usually so
pronounced in Scotland.] Now, what did they ever get before?
Maybe on a winter day they wad be called out to beat the wood for
cocks or siclike; and then the starving weans would maybe get a
bite of broken bread, and maybe no, just as the butler was in
humour--that was a' they got."

"They were not, then, a very kind family to the poor, these old
possessors?" said I, somewhat bitterly; for I had expected to
hear my ancestors' praises recorded, though I certainly despaired
of being regaled with my own.

"They werena ill to them, sir, and that is aye something. They
were just decent bien bodies; ony poor creature that had face to
beg got an awmous, and welcome--they that were shamefaced gaed
by, and twice as welcome. But they keepit an honest walk before
God and man, the Croftangrys, and, as I said before, if they did
little good, they did as little ill. They lifted their rents,
and spent them; called in their kain and ate them; gaed to the
kirk of a Sunday; bowed civilly if folk took aff their bannets as
they gaed by, and lookit as black as sin at them that keepit them

"These are their arms that you have on the sign?"

"What! on the painted board that is skirling and groaning at the
door? Na, these are Mr. Treddles's arms though they look as like
legs as arms. Ill pleased I was at the fule thing, that cost as
muckle as would hae repaired the house from the wa' stane to the
rigging-tree. But if I am to bide here, I'll hae a decent board
wi' a punch bowl on it."

"Is there a doubt of your staying here, Mrs. Steele?"

"Dinna Mistress me," said the cross old woman, whose fingers were
now plying their thrift in a manner which indicated nervous
irritation; "there was nae luck in the land since Luckie turned
Mistress, and Mistress my Leddy. And as for staying here, if it
concerns you to ken, I may stay if I can pay a hundred pund
sterling for the lease, and I may flit if I canna, and so gude
e'en to you, Christie,"--and round went the wheel with much

"And you like the trade of keeping a public-house?"

"I can scarce say that," she replied. "But worthy Mr.
Prendergast is clear of its lawfulness; and I hae gotten used to
it, and made a decent living, though I never make out a fause
reckoning, or give ony ane the means to disorder reason in my

"Indeed!" said I; "in that case, there is no wonder you have not
made up the hundred pounds to purchase the lease."

"How do you ken," said she sharply, "that I might not have had a
hundred punds of my ain fee? If I have it not, I am sure it is
my ain faut. And I wunna ca' it faut neither, for it gaed to her
wha was weel entitled to a' my service." Again she pulled
stoutly at the flax, and the wheel went smartly round.

"This old gentleman," said I, fixing my eye on the painted panel,
"seems to have had HIS arms painted as well as Mr. Treddles--that
is, if that painting in the corner be a scutcheon."

"Ay, ay--cushion, just sae. They maun a' hae their cushions--
there's sma' gentry without that--and so the arms, as they ca'
them, of the house of Glentanner may be seen on an auld stane in
the west end of the house. But to do them justice; they didna
propale sae muckle about them as poor Mr. Treddles did--it's like
they were better used to them."

"Very likely. Are there any of the old family in life,

"No," she replied; then added; after a moment's hesitation, "Not
that I know of"--and the wheel, which had intermitted, began
again to revolve.

"Gone abroad, perhaps?" I suggested.

She now looked up, and faced me. "No, sir. There were three
sons of the last laird of Glentanner, as he was then called.
John and William were hopeful young gentlemen, but they died
early--one of a decline brought on by the mizzles, the other lost
his life in a fever. It would hae been lucky for mony ane that
Chrystal had gane the same gate."

"Oh, he must have been the young spendthrift that sold the
property? Well, but you should you have such an ill-will against
him; remember necessity has no law. And then, goodwife, he was
not more culpable than Mr. Treddles, whom you are so sorry for."

"I wish I could think sae, sir, for his mother's sake. But Mr.
Treddles was in trade, and though he had no preceese right to do
so, yet there was some warrant for a man being expensive that
imagined he was making a mint of money. But this unhappy lad
devoured his patrimony, when he kenned that he was living like a
ratten in a Dunlap cheese, and diminishing his means at a' hands.
I canna bide to think on't." With this she broke out into a
snatch of a ballad, but little of mirth was there either in the
tone or the expression:--

"For he did spend, and make an end
Of gear that his forefathers wan;
Of land and ware he made him bare,
So speak nae mair of the auld gudeman."

"Come, dame," said I, "it is a long lane that has no turning. I
will not keep from you that I have heard something of this poor
fellow, Chrystal Croftangry. He has sown his wild oats, as they
say, and has settled into a steady, respectable man."

"And wha tell'd ye that tidings?" said she, looking sharply at

"Not, perhaps, the best judge in the world of his character, for
it was himself, dame."

"And if he tell'd you truth, it was a virtue he did not aye use
to practise," said Christie.

"The devil!" said I, considerably nettled; "all the world held
him to be a man of honour."

"Ay, ay! he would hae shot onybody wi' his pistols and his guns
that had evened him to be a liar. But if he promised to pay an
honest tradesman the next term-day, did he keep his word then?
And if he promised a puir, silly lass to make gude her shame, did
he speak truth then? And what is that but being a liar, and a
black-hearted, deceitful liar to boot?"

My indignation was rising, but I strove to suppress it; indeed, I
should only have afforded my tormentor a triumph by an angry
reply. I partly suspected she began to recognize me, yet she
testified so little emotion that I could not think my suspicion
well founded. I went on, therefore, to say, in a tone as
indifferent as I could command, "Well, goodwife, I see you will
believe no good of this Chrystal of yours, till he comes back and
buys a good farm on the estate, and makes you his housekeeper."

The old woman dropped her thread, folded her hands, as she looked
up to heaven with a face of apprehension. "The Lord," she
exclaimed, "forbid! The Lord in His mercy forbid! O sir! if
you really know this unlucky man, persuade him to settle where
folk ken the good that you say he has come to, and dinna ken the
evil of his former days. He used to be proud enough--O dinna let
him come here, even for his own sake. He used once to have some

Here she once more drew the wheel close to her, and began to pull
at the flax with both hands. "Dinna let him come here, to be
looked down upon by ony that may be left of his auld reiving
companions, and to see the decent folk that he looked over his
nose at look over their noses at him, baith at kirk and market.
Dinna let him come to his ain country, to be made a tale about
when ony neighbour points him out to another, and tells what he
is, and what he was, and how he wrecked a dainty estate, and
brought harlots to the door-cheek of his father's house, till he
made it nae residence for his mother; and how it had been
foretauld by a servant of his ain house that he was a ne'er-do-
weel and a child of perdition, and how her words were made good,

"Stop there, goodwife, if you please," said I; "you have said as
much as I can well remember, and more than it may be safe to
repeat. I can use a great deal of freedom with the gentleman we
speak of; but I think, were any other person to carry him half of
your message, I would scarce ensure his personal safety. And
now, as I see the night is settled to be a fine one, I will walk
on to --, where I must meet a coach to-morrow as it passes to

So saying, I paid my moderate reckoning, and took my leave,
without being able to discover whether the prejudiced and hard-
hearted old woman did, or did not, suspect the identity of her
guest with the Chrystal Croftangry against whom she harboured so
much dislike.

The night was fine and frosty, though, when I pretended to see
what its character was, it might have rained like the deluge. I
only made the excuse to escape from old Christie Steele. The
horses which run races in the Corso at Rome without any riders,
in order to stimulate their exertion, carry each his own spurs
namely, small balls of steel, with sharp, projecting spikes,
which are attached to loose straps of leather, and, flying about
in the violence of the agitation, keep the horse to his speed by
pricking him as they strike against his flanks. The old woman's
reproaches had the same effect on me, and urged me to a rapid
pace, as if it had been possible to escape from my own
recollections. In the best days of my life, when I won one or
two hard walking matches, I doubt if I ever walked so fast as I
did betwixt the Treddles Arms and the borough town for which I
was bound. Though the night was cold, I was warm enough by the
time I got to my inn; and it required a refreshing draught of
porter, with half an hour's repose, ere I could determine to give
no further thought to Christie and her opinions than those of any
other vulgar, prejudiced old woman. I resolved at last to treat
the thing EN BAGATELLE, and calling for writing materials, I
folded up a cheque for L100, with these lines on the envelope:--

"Chrystal, the ne'er-do-weel,
Child destined to the deil,
Sends this to Christie Steele."

And I was so much pleased with this new mode of viewing the
subject, that I regretted the lateness of the hour prevented my
finding a person to carry the letter express to its destination.

"But with the morning cool reflection came."

I considered that the money, and probably more, was actually due
by me on my mother's account to Christie, who had lent it in a
moment of great necessity, and that the returning it in a light
or ludicrous manner was not unlikely to prevent so touchy and
punctilious a person from accepting a debt which was most justly
her due, and which it became me particularly to see satisfied.
Sacrificing, then, my triad with little regret (for it looked
better by candlelight, and through the medium of a pot of porter,
than it did by daylight, and with bohea for a menstruum), I
determined to employ Mr. Fairscribe's mediation in buying up the
lease of the little inn, and conferring it upon Christie in the
way which should make it most acceptable to her feelings. It is
only necessary to add that my plan succeeded, and that Widow
Steele even yet keeps the Treddles Arms. Do not say, therefore,
that I have been disingenuous with you, reader; since, if I have
not told all the ill of myself I might have done, I have
indicated to you a person able and willing to supply the blank,
by relating all my delinquencies as well as my misfortunes.

In the meantime I totally abandoned the idea of redeeming any
part of my paternal property, and resolved to take Christie
Steele's advice, as young Norval does Glenalvon's, "although it
sounded harshly."



If you will know my house,
'Tis at the tuft of olives here hard by. AS YOU LIKE IT.

By a revolution of humour which I am unable to account for, I
changed my mind entirely on my plans of life, in consequence of
the disappointment, the history of which fills the last chapter.
I began to discover that the country would not at all suit me;
for I had relinquished field-sports, and felt no inclination
whatever to farming, the ordinary vocation of country gentlemen.
Besides that, I had no talent for assisting either candidate in
case of an expected election, and saw no amusement in the duties
of a road trustee, a commissioner of supply, or even in the
magisterial functions of the bench. I had begun to take some
taste for reading; and a domiciliation in the country must remove
me from the use of books, excepting the small subscription
library, in which the very book which you want is uniformly sure
to be engaged.

I resolved, therefore, to make the Scottish metropolis my regular
resting-place, reserving to myself to take occasionally those
excursions which, spite of all I have said against mail-coaches,
Mr. Piper has rendered so easy. Friend of our life and of our
leisure, he secures by dispatch against loss of time, and by the
best of coaches, cattle, and steadiest of drivers, against hazard
of limb, and wafts us, as well as our letters, from Edinburgh to
Cape Wrath in the penning of a paragraph.

When my mind was quite made up to make Auld Reekie my
headquarters, reserving the privilege of EXPLORING in all
directions, I began to explore in good earnest for the purpose of
discovering a suitable habitation. "And whare trew ye I gaed?"
as Sir Pertinax says. Not to George's Square--nor to Charlotte
Square--nor to the old New Town--nor to the new New Town--nor to
the Calton Hill. I went to the Canongate, and to the very
portion of the Canongate in which I had formerly been immured,
like the errant knight, prisoner in some enchanted castle, where
spells have made the ambient air impervious to the unhappy
captive, although the organs of sight encountered no obstacle to
his free passage.

Why I should have thought of pitching my tent here I cannot tell.
Perhaps it was to enjoy the pleasures of freedom where I had so
long endured the bitterness of restraint, on the principle of the
officer who, after he had retired from the army, ordered his
servant to continue to call him at the hour or parade, simply
that he might have the pleasure of saying, "D--n the parade!"
and turning to the other side to enjoy his slumbers. Or perhaps
I expected to find in the vicinity some little old-fashioned
house, having somewhat of the RUS IN URBE which I was ambitious
of enjoying. Enough: I went, as aforesaid, to the Canongate.

I stood by the kennel, of which I have formerly spoken, and, my
mind being at ease, my bodily organs were more delicate. I was
more sensible than heretofore, that, like the trade of Pompey in
MEASURE FOR MEASURE,--it did in some sort--pah an ounce of civet,
good apothecary! Turning from thence, my steps naturally
directed themselves to my own humble apartment, where my little
Highland landlady, as dapper and as tight as ever, (for old women
wear a hundred times better than the hard-wrought seniors of the
masculine sex), stood at the door, TEEDLING to herself a Highland
song as she shook a table napkin over the fore-stair, and then
proceeded to fold it up neatly for future service.

"How do you, Janet?"

"Thank ye, good sir," answered my old friend, without looking at
me; "but ye might as weel say Mrs. MacEvoy, for she is na
a'body's Shanet--umph."

"You must be MY Janet, though, for all that. Have you forgot me?
Do you not remember Chrystal Croftangry?"

The light, kind-hearted creature threw her napkin into the open
door, skipped down the stair like a fairy, three steps at once,
seized me by the hands--both hands--jumped up, and actually
kissed me. I was a little ashamed; but what swain, of somewhere
inclining to sixty could resist the advances of a fair
contemporary? So we allowed the full degree of kindness to the
meeting--HONI SOIT QUI MAL Y PENSE--and then Janet entered
instantly upon business. "An ye'll gae in, man, and see your
auld lodgings, nae doubt and Shanet will pay ye the fifteen
shillings of change that ye ran away without, and without bidding
Shanet good day. But never mind" (nodding good-humouredly),
"Shanet saw you were carried for the time."

By this time we were in my old quarters, and Janet, with her
bottle of cordial in one hand and the glass in the other, had
forced on me a dram of usquebaugh, distilled with saffron and
other herbs, after some old-fashioned Highland receipt. Then was
unfolded, out of many a little scrap of paper, the reserved sum
of fifteen shillings, which Janet had treasured for twenty years
and upwards.

"Here they are," she said, in honest triumph, "just the same I
was holding out to ye when ye ran as if ye had been fey. Shanet
has had siller, and Shanet has wanted siller, mony a time since
that. And the gauger has come, and the factor has come, and the
butcher and baker--Cot bless us just like to tear poor auld
Shanet to pieces; but she took good care of Mr. Croftangry's
fifteen shillings."

"But what if I had never come back, Janet?"

"Och, if Shanet had heard you were dead, she would hae gien it to
the poor of the chapel, to pray for Mr. Croftangry," said Janet,
crossing herself, for she was a Catholic, "You maybe do not think
it would do you cood, but the blessing of the poor can never do
no harm,"

I agreed heartily in Janet's conclusion; and as to have desired
her to consider the hoard as her own property would have been an
indelicate return to her for the uprightness of her conduct, I
requested her to dispose of it as she had proposed to do in the
event of my death--that is, if she knew any poor people of merit
to whom it might be useful.

"Ower mony of them," raising the corner of her checked apron to
her eyes--"e'en ower mony of them, Mr. Croftangry. Och, ay.
'There is the puir Highland creatures frae Glenshee, that cam
down for the harvest, and are lying wi' the fever--five shillings
to them; and half a crown to Bessie MacEvoy, whose coodman, puir
creature, died of the frost, being a shairman, for a' the whisky
he could drink to keep it out o' his stamoch; and--"

But she suddenly interrupted the bead-roll of her proposed
charities, and assuming a very sage look, and primming up her
little chattering mouth, she went on in a different tone--"But
och, Mr. Croftangry, bethink ye whether ye will not need a' this
siller yoursel', and maybe look back and think lang for ha'en
kiven it away, whilk is a creat sin to forthink a wark o'
charity, and also is unlucky, and moreover is not the thought of
a shentleman's son like yoursel', dear. And I say this, that ye
may think a bit, for your mother's son kens that ye are no so
careful as you should be of the gear, and I hae tauld ye of it
before, jewel."

I assured her I could easily spare the money, without risk of
future repentance; and she went on to infer that in such a case
"Mr. Croftangry had grown a rich man in foreign parts, and was
free of his troubles with messengers and sheriff-officers, and
siclike scum of the earth, and Shanet MacEvoy's mother's daughter
be a blithe woman to hear it. But if Mr. Croftangry was in
trouble, there was his room, and his ped, and Shanet to wait on
him, and tak payment when it was quite convenient."

I explained to Janet my situation, in which she expressed
unqualified delight. I then proceeded to inquire into her own
circumstances, and though she spoke cheerfully and contentedly, I
could see they were precarious. I had paid more than was due;
other lodgers fell into an opposite error, and forgot to pay
Janet at all. Then, Janet being ignorant of all indirect modes
of screwing money out of her lodgers, others in the same line of
life, who were sharper than the poor, simple Highland woman, were
enabled to let their apartments cheaper in appearance, though the
inmates usually found them twice as dear in the long run.

As I had already destined my old landlady to be my house-keeper
and governante, knowing her honesty, good-nature, and, although a
Scotchwoman, her cleanliness and excellent temper (saving the
short and hasty expressions of anger which Highlanders call a
FUFF), I now proposed the plan to her in such a way as was likely
to make it most acceptable. Very acceptable as the proposal was,
as I could plainly see, Janet, however, took a day to consider
upon it; and her reflections against our next meeting had
suggested only one objection, which was singular enough.

"My honour," so she now termed me, "would pe for biding in some
fine street apout the town. Now Shanet wad ill like to live in a
place where polish, and sheriffs, and bailiffs, and sie thieves
and trash of the world, could tak puir shentlemen by the throat,
just because they wanted a wheen dollars in the sporran. She had
lived in the bonny glen of Tomanthoulick. Cot, an ony of the
vermint had come there, her father wad hae wared a shot on them,
and he could hit a buck within as mony measured yards as e'er a
man of his clan, And the place here was so quiet frae them, they
durst na put their nose ower the gutter. Shanet owed nobody a
bodle, but she couldna pide to see honest folk and pretty
shentlemen forced away to prison whether they would or no; and
then, if Shanet was to lay her tangs ower ane of the ragamuffins'
heads, it would be, maybe, that the law would gi'ed a hard name."

One thing I have learned in life--never to speak sense when
nonsense will answer the purpose as well. I should have had
great difficulty to convince this practical and disinterested
admirer and vindicator of liberty, that arrests seldom or never
were to be seen in the streets of Edinburgh; and to satisfy her
of their justice and necessity would have been as difficult as to
convert her to the Protestant faith. I therefore assured her my
intention, if I could get a suitable habitation, was to remain in
the quarter where she at present dwelt. Janet gave three skips
on the floor, and uttered as many short, shrill yells of joy.
Yet doubt almost instantly returned, and she insisted on knowing
what possible reason I could have for making my residence where
few lived, save those whose misfortunes drove them thither. It
occurred to me to answer her by recounting the legend of the rise
of my family, and of our deriving our name from a particular
place near Holyrood Palace. This, which would have appeared to
most people a very absurd reason for choosing a residence, was
entirely satisfactory to Janet MacEvoy.

"Och, nae doubt! if it was the land of her fathers, there was
nae mair to be said. Put it was queer that her family estate
should just lie at the town tail, and covered with houses, where
the King's cows--Cot bless them, hide and horn--used to craze
upon. It was strange changes." She mused a little, and then
added: "Put it is something better wi' Croftangry when the
changes is frae the field to the habited place, and not from the
place of habitation to the desert; for Shanet, her nainsell, kent
a glen where there were men as weel as there may be in
Croftangry, and if there werena altogether sae mony of them, they
were as good men in their tartan as the others in their
broadcloth. And there were houses, too; and if they were not
biggit with stane and lime, and lofted like the houses at
Croftangry, yet they served the purpose of them that lived there,
and mony a braw bonnet, and mony a silk snood and comely white
curch, would come out to gang to kirk or chapel on the Lord's
day, and little bairns toddling after. And now--Och, Och,
Ohellany, Ohonari! the glen is desolate, and the braw snoods and
bonnets are gane, and the Saxon's house stands dull and lonely,
like the single bare-breasted rock that the falcon builds on--the
falcon that drives the heath-bird frae the glen."

Janet, like many Highlanders, was full of imagination, and, when
melancholy themes came upon her, expressed herself almost
poetically, owing to the genius of the Celtic language in which
she thought, and in which, doubtless, she would have spoken, had
I understood Gaelic. In two minutes the shade of gloom and
regret had passed from her good-humoured features, and she was
again the little, busy, prating, important old woman, undisputed
owner of one flat of a small tenement in the Abbey Yard, and
about to be promoted to be housekeeper to an elderly bachelor
gentleman, Chrystal Croftangry, Esq.

It was not long before Janet's local researches found out exactly
the sort of place I wanted, and there we settled. Janet was
afraid I would not be satisfied, because it is not exactly part
of Croftangry; but I stopped her doubts by assuring her it had
been part and pendicle thereof in my forefather' time, which
passed very well.

I do not intend to possess any one with an exact knowledge of my
lodging; though, as Bobadil says, "I care not who knows it, since
the cabin is convenient." But I may state in general, that it is
a house "within itself," or, according to a newer phraseology in
advertisements, SELF-CONTAINED, has a garden of near half an
acre, and a patch of ground with trees in front. It boasts five
rooms and servants' apartments--looks in front upon the palace,
and from behind towards the hill and crags of the King's Park.
Fortunately, the place had a name, which, with a little
improvement, served to countenance the legend which I had imposed
on Janet, and would not, perhaps have been sorry if I had been
able to impose on myself. It was called Littlecroft; we have
dubbed it Little Croftangry, and the men of letters belonging to
the Post Office have sanctioned the change, and deliver letters
so addressed. Thus I am to all intents and purposes Chrystal
Croftangry of that Ilk.

My establishment consists of Janet, an under maid-servant, and a
Highland wench for Janet to exercise her Gaelic upon, with a
handy lad who can lay the cloth, and take care, besides, of a
pony, on which I find my way to Portobello sands, especially when
the cavalry have a drill; for, like an old fool as I am, I have
not altogether become indifferent to the tramp of horses and the
flash of weapons, of which, though no professional soldier, it
has been my fate to see something in my youth. For wet mornings
I have my book; is it fine weather? I visit, or I wander on the
Crags, as the humour dictates. My dinner is indeed solitary, yet
not quite so neither; for though Andrew waits, Janet--or, as she
is to all the world but her master and certain old Highland
gossips, Mrs. MacEvoy--attends, bustles about, and desires to see
everything is in first-rate order, and to tell me, Cot pless us,
the wonderful news of the palace for the day. When the cloth is
removed, and I light my cigar, and begin to husband a pint of
port, or a glass of old whisky and water, it is the rule of the
house that Janet takes a chair at some distance, and nods or
works her stocking, as she may be disposed--ready to speak, if I
am in the talking humour, and sitting quiet as a mouse if I am
rather inclined to study a book or the newspaper. At six
precisely she makes my tea, and leaves me to drink it; and then
occurs an interval of time which most old bachelors find heavy on
their hands. The theatre is a good occasional resource,
especially if Will Murray acts, or a bright star of eminence
shines forth; but it is distant, and so are one or two public
societies to which I belong. Besides, these evening walks are
all incompatible with the elbow-chair feeling, which desires some
employment that may divert the mind without fatiguing the body.

Under the influence of these impressions, I have sometimes
thought of this literary undertaking. I must have been the
Bonassus himself to have mistaken myself for a genius; yet I have
leisure and reflections like my neighbours. I am a borderer,
also, between two generations, and can point out more, perhaps,
than others of those fading traces of antiquity which are daily
vanishing; and I know many a modern instance and many an old
tradition, and therefore I ask--

"What ails me, I may not as well as they
Rake up some threadbare tales, that mouldering lay
In chimney corners, wont by Christmas fires
To read and rock to sleep our ancient sires?
No man his threshold better knows, than I
Brute's first arrival and first victory,
Saint George's sorrel and his cross of blood,
Arthur's round board and Caledonian wood."

No shop is so easily set up as an antiquary's. Like those of the
lowest order of pawnbrokers, a commodity of rusty iron, a bay or
two of hobnails, a few odd shoe-buckles, cashiered kail-pots, and
fire-irons declared incapable of service, are quite sufficient to
set him up. If he add a sheaf or two of penny ballads and
broadsides, he is a great man--an extensive trader. And then,
like the pawnbrokers aforesaid, if the author understands a
little legerdemain, he may, by dint of a little picking and
stealing, make the inside of his shop a great deal richer than
the out, and be able to show you things which cause those who do
not understand the antiquarian trick of clean conveyance to
wonder how the devil he came by them.

It may be said that antiquarian articles interest but few
customers, and that we may bawl ourselves as rusty as the wares
we deal in without any one asking; the price of our merchandise.
But I do not rest my hopes upon this department of my labours
only. I propose also to have a corresponding shop for Sentiment,
and Dialogues, and Disquisition, which may captivate the fancy of
those who have no relish, as the established phrase goes, for
pure antiquity--a sort of greengrocer's stall erected in front of
my ironmongery wares, garlanding the rusty memorials of ancient
times with cresses, cabbages, leeks, and water purpy.

As I have some idea that I am writing too well to be understood,
I humble myself to ordinary language, and aver, with becoming
modesty, that I do think myself capable of sustaining a
publication of a miscellaneous nature, as like to the Spectator
or the Guardian, the Mirror or the Lounger, as my poor abilities
may be able to accomplish. Not that I have any purpose of
imitating Johnson, whose general learning and power of expression
I do not deny, but many of whose Ramblers are little better than
a sort of pageant, where trite and obvious maxims are made to
swagger in lofty and mystic language, and get some credit only
because they are not easily understood. There are some of the
great moralist's papers which I cannot peruse without thinking on
a second-rate masquerade, where the best-known and least-esteemed
characters in town march in as heroes, and sultans, and so forth,
and, by dint of tawdry dresses, get some consideration until they
are found out. It is not, however, prudent to commence with
throwing stones, just when I am striking out windows of my own.

I think even the local situation of Little Croftangry may be
considered as favourable to my undertaking. A nobler contrast
there can hardly exist than that of the huge city, dark with the
smoke of ages, and groaning with the various sounds of active
industry or idle revel, and the lofty and craggy hill, silent and
solitary as the grave--one exhibiting the full tide of existence,
pressing and precipitating itself forward with the force of an
inundation; the other resembling some time-worn anchorite, whose
life passes as silent and unobserved as the slender rill which
escapes unheard, and scarce seen, from the fountain of his
patron saint. The city resembles the busy temple, where the
modern Comus and Mammon hold their court, and thousands sacrifice
ease, independence, and virtue itself at their shrine; the misty
and lonely mountain seems as a throne to the majestic but
terrible Genius of feudal times, when the same divinities
dispensed coronets and domains to those who had heads to devise
and arms to execute bold enterprises.

I have, as it were, the two extremities of the moral world at my
threshold. From the front door a few minutes' walk brings me
into the heart of a wealthy and populous city; as many paces from
my opposite entrance place me in a solitude as complete as
Zimmerman could have desired. Surely, with such aids to my
imagination, I may write better than if I were in a lodging in
the New Town or a garret in the old. As the Spaniard says,

I have not chosen to publish periodically, my reason for which
was twofold. In the first place, I don't like to be hurried, and
have had enough of duns in an early part of my life to make me
reluctant to hear of or see one, even in the less awful shape of
a printer's devil. But, secondly, a periodical paper is not
easily extended in circulation beyond the quarter in which it is
published. This work, if published in fugitive numbers, would
scarce, without a high pressure on the part of the bookseller, be
raised above the Netherbow, and never could be expected to ascend
to the level of Princes Street. Now, I am ambitious that my
compositions, though having their origin in this Valley of
Holyrood, should not only be extended into those exalted regions
I have mentioned, but also that they should cross the Forth,
astonish the long town of Kirkcaldy, enchant the skippers and
colliers of the East of Fife, venture even into the classic
arcades of St. Andrews, and travel as much farther to the north
as the breath of applause will carry their sails. As for a
southward direction, it is not to be hoped for in my fondest
dreams. I am informed that Scottish literature, like Scottish
whisky, will be presently laid under a prohibitory duty. But
enough of this. If any reader is dull enough not to comprehend
the advantages which, in point of circulation, a compact book has
over a collection of fugitive numbers, let him try the range of a
gun loaded with hail-shot against that of the same piece charged
with an equal weight of lead consolidated in a single bullet.

Besides, it was of less consequence that I should have published
periodically, since I did not mean to solicit or accept of the
contributions of friends, or the criticisms of those who may be
less kindly disposed. Notwithstanding the excellent examples
which might be quoted, I will establish no begging-box, either
under the name of a lion's head or an ass's. What is good or ill
shall be mine own, or the contribution of friends to whom I may
have private access. Many of my voluntary assistants might be
cleverer than myself, and then I should have a brilliant article
appear among my chiller effusions, like a patch of lace on a
Scottish cloak of Galashiels grey. Some might be worse, and then
I must reject them, to the injury of the feelings of the writer,
or else insert them, to make my own darkness yet more opaque and
palpable. "Let every herring," says our old-fashioned proverb,
"hang by his own head."

One person, however, I may distinguish, as she is now no more,
who, living to the utmost term of human life, honoured me with a
great share of her friendship--as, indeed, we were blood-
relatives in the Scottish sense--Heaven knows how many degrees
removed--and friends in the sense of Old England. I mean the
late excellent and regretted Mrs. Bethune Baliol. But as I
design this admirable picture of the olden time for a principal
character in my work, I will only say here that she knew and
approved of my present purpose; and though she declined to
contribute to it while she lived, from a sense of dignified
retirement, which she thought became her age, sex, and condition
in life, she left me some materials for carrying on my proposed
work which I coveted when I heard her detail them in
conversation, and which now, when I have their substance in her
own handwriting, I account far more valuable than anything I have
myself to offer. I hope the mentioning her name in conjunction
with my own will give no offence to any of her numerous friends,
as it was her own express pleasure that I should employ the
manuscripts which she did me the honour to bequeath me in the
manner in which I have now used them. It must be added, however,
that in most cases I have disguised names, and in some have added
shading and colouring to bring out the narrative.

Much of my materials, besides these, are derived from friends,
living or dead. The accuracy of some of these may be doubtful,
in which case I shall be happy to receive, from sufficient
authority, the correction of the errors which must creep into
traditional documents. The object of the whole publication is to
throw some light on the manners of Scotland as they were, and to
contrast them occasionally with those of the present day. My own
opinions are in favour of our own times in many respects, but not
in so far as affords means for exercising the imagination or
exciting the interest which attaches to other times. I am glad
to be a writer or a reader in 1826, but I would be most
interested in reading or relating what happened from half a
century to a century before. We have the best of it. Scenes in
which our ancestors thought deeply, acted fiercely, and died
desperately, are to us tales to divert the tedium of a winter's
evening, when we are engaged to no party, or beguile a summer's
morning, when it is too scorching to ride or walk.

Yet I do not mean that my essays and narratives should be limited
to Scotland. I pledge myself to no particular line of subjects,
but, on the contrary, say with Burns--

"Perhaps it may turn out a sang,
Perhaps turn out a sermon."

I have only to add, by way of postscript to these preliminary
chapters, that I have had recourse to Moliere's recipe, and read
my manuscript over to my old woman, Janet MacEvoy.

The dignity of being consulted delighted Janet; and Wilkie, or
Allan, would have made a capital sketch of her, as she sat
upright in her chair, instead of her ordinary lounging posture,
knitting her stocking systematically, as if she meant every twist
of her thread and inclination of the wires to bear burden to the
cadence of my voice. I am afraid, too, that I myself felt more
delight than I ought to have done in my own composition, and read
a little more oratorically than I should have ventured to do
before an auditor of whose applause I was not so secure. And the
result did not entirely encourage my plan of censorship. Janet
did indeed seriously incline to the account of my previous life,
and bestowed some Highland maledictions, more emphatic than
courteous, on Christie Steele's reception of a "shentlemans in
distress," and of her own mistress's house too. I omitted for
certain reasons, or greatly abridged, what related to her-self.
But when I came to treat of my general views in publication, I
saw poor Janet was entirely thrown out, though, like a jaded
hunter, panting, puffing, and short of wind, she endeavoured at
least to keep up with the chase. Or, rather, her perplexity made
her look all the while like a deaf person ashamed of his
infirmity, who does not understand a word you are saying, yet
desires you to believe that he does understand you, and who is
extremely jealous that you suspect his incapacity. When she saw
that some remark was necessary, she resembled exactly in her
criticism the devotee who pitched on the "sweet word Mesopotamia"
as the most edifying note which she could bring away from a
sermon. She indeed hastened to bestow general praise on what she
said was all "very fine;" but chiefly dwelt on what I, had said
about Mr. Timmerman, as she was pleased to call the German
philosopher, and supposed he must be of the same descent with the
Highland clan of M'Intyre, which signifies Son of the Carpenter.
"And a fery honourable name too--Shanet's own mither was a

In short, it was plain the latter part of my introduction was
altogether lost on poor Janet; and so, to have acted up to
Moliere's system, I should have cancelled the whole, and written
it anew. But I do not know how it is. I retained, I suppose,
some tolerable opinion of my own composition, though Janet did
not comprehend it, and felt loath to retrench those Delilahs of
the imagination, as Dryden calls them, the tropes and figures of
which are caviar to the multitude. Besides, I hate rewriting as
much as Falstaff did paying back--it is a double labour. So I
determined with myself to consult Janet, in future, only on such
things as were within the limits of her comprehension, and hazard
my arguments and my rhetoric on the public without her
imprimatur. I am pretty sure she will "applaud it done." and in
such narratives as come within her range of thought and feeling I
shall, as I first intended, take the benefit of her
unsophisticated judgment, and attend to it deferentially--that
is, when it happens not to be in peculiar opposition to my own;
for, after all, I say with Almanzor,--

"Know that I alone am king of me."

The reader has now my who and my whereabout, the purpose of the
work, and the circumstances under which it is undertaken. He has
also a specimen of the author's talents, and may judge for
himself, and proceed, or send back the volume to the bookseller,
as his own taste shall determine.



The moon, were she earthly, no nobler. CORIOLANUS.

When we set out on the jolly voyage of life, what a brave fleet
there is around us, as, stretching our finest canvas to the
breeze, all "shipshape and Bristol fashion," pennons flying,
music playing, cheering each other as we pass, we are rather
amused than alarmed when some awkward comrade goes right ashore
for want of pilotage! Alas! when the voyage is well spent, and
we look about us, toil-worn mariners, how few of our ancient
consorts still remain in sight; and they, how torn and wasted,
and, like ourselves, struggling to keep as long as possible off
the fatal shore, against which we are all finally drifting!

I felt this very trite but melancholy truth in all its force the
other day, when a packet with a black seal arrived, containing a
letter addressed to me by my late excellent friend Mrs. Martha
Bethune Baliol, and marked with the fatal indorsation, "To be
delivered according to address, after I shall be no more." A
letter from her executors accompanied the packet, mentioning that
they had found in her will a bequest to me of a painting of some
value, which she stated would just fit the space above my
cupboard, and fifty guineas to buy a ring. And thus I separated,
with all the kindness which we had maintained for many years,
from a friend, who, though old enough to have been the companion
of my mother, was yet, in gaiety of spirits and admirable
sweetness of temper, capable of being agreeable, and even
animating society, for those who write themselves in the vaward
of youth, an advantage which I have lost for these five-and-
thirty years. The contents of the packet I had no difficulty in
guessing, and have partly hinted at them in the last chapter.
But to instruct the reader in the particulars, and at the same
time to indulge myself with recalling the virtues and agreeable
qualities of my late friend, I will give a short sketch of her
manners and habits.

Mrs. Martha Bethune Baliol was a person of quality and fortune,
as these are esteemed in Scotland. Her family was ancient, and
her connections honourable. She was not fond of specially
indicating her exact age, but her juvenile recollections
stretched backwards till before the eventful year 1745, and she
remembered the Highland clans being in possession of the Scottish
capital, though probably only as an indistinct vision. Her
fortune, independent by her father's bequest, was rendered
opulent by the death of more than one brave brother, who fell
successively in the service of their country, so that the family
estates became vested in the only surviving child of the ancient
house of Bethune Baliol. My intimacy was formed with the
excellent lady after this event, and when she was already
something advanced in age.

She inhabited, when in Edinburgh, where she regularly spent the
winter season, one of those old hotels which, till of late, were
to be found in the neighbourhood of the Canongate and of the
Palace of Holyrood House, and which, separated from the street,
now dirty and vulgar, by paved courts and gardens of some extent,
made amends for an indifferent access, by showing something of
aristocratic state and seclusion when you were once admitted
within their precincts. They have pulled her house down; for,
indeed, betwixt building and burning, every ancient monument of
the Scottish capital is now likely to be utterly demolished. I
pause on the recollections of the place, however; and since
nature has denied a pencil when she placed a pen in my hand, I
will endeavour to make words answer the purpose of delineation.

Baliol's Lodging, so was the mansion named, reared its high stack
of chimneys, among which were seen a turret or two, and one of
those small projecting platforms called bartizans, above the mean
and modern buildings which line the south side of the Canongate,
towards the lower end of that street, and not distant from the
Palace. A PORTE COCHERE, having a wicket for foot passengers,
was, upon due occasion, unfolded by a lame old man, tall, grave,
and thin, who tenanted a hovel beside the gate, and acted as
porter. To this office he had been promoted by my friend's
charitable feelings for an old soldier, and partly by an idea
that his head, which was a very fine one, bore some resemblance
to that of Garrick in the character of Lusignan. He was a man
saturnine, silent, and slow in his proceedings, and would never
open the PORTE COCHERE to a hackney coach, indicating the wicket
with his finger as the proper passage for all who came in that
obscure vehicle, which was not permitted to degrade with its
ticketed presence the dignity of Baliol's Lodging. I do not
think this peculiarity would have met with his lady's
approbation, any more than the occasional partiality of Lusignan,
or, as mortals called him, Archie Macready, to a dram. But Mrs.
Martha Bethune Baliol, conscious that, in case of conviction, she
could never have prevailed upon herself to dethrone the King of
Palestine from the stone bench on which he sat for hours knitting
his stocking, refused, by accrediting the intelligence, even to
put him upon his trial, well judging that he would observe more
wholesome caution if he conceived his character unsuspected, than
if he were detected, and suffered to pass unpunished. For after
all, she said, it would be cruel to dismiss an old Highland
soldier for a peccadillo so appropriate to his country and

The stately gate for carriages, or the humble accommodation for
foot-passengers, admitted into a narrow and short passage running
between two rows of lime-trees, whose green foliage during the
spring contrasted strangely with the swart complexion of the two
walls by the side of which they grew. This access led to the
front of the house, which was formed by two gable ends, notched,
and having their windows adorned with heavy architectural
ornaments. They joined each other at right angles; and a half
circular tower, which contained the entrance and the staircase,
occupied the point of junction, and rounded the acute angle. One
of other two sides of the little court, in which there was just
sufficient room to turn a carriage, was occupied by some low
buildings answering the purpose of offices; the other, by a
parapet surrounded by a highly-ornamented iron railing, twined
round with honeysuckle and other parasitical shrubs, which
permitted the eye to peep into a pretty suburban garden,
extending down to the road called the South Back of the
Canongate, and boasting a number of old trees, many flowers, and
even some fruit. We must not forget to state that the extreme
cleanliness of the courtyard was such as intimated that mop and
pail had done their utmost in that favoured spot to atone for the
general dirt and dinginess of the quarter where the premises were

Over the doorway were the arms of Bethune and Baliol, with
various other devices, carved in stone. The door itself was
studded with iron nails, and formed of black oak; an iron rasp,
as it was called, was placed on it, instead of a knocker, for the
purpose of summoning the attendants. [See Note 3.--Iron Rasp.]
He who usually appeared at the summons was a smart lad, in a
handsome livery, the son of Mrs. Martha's gardener at Mount
Baliol. Now and then a servant girl, nicely but plainly dressed,
and fully accoutred with stockings and shoes, would perform this
duty; and twice or thrice I remember being admitted by Beauffet
himself, whose exterior looked as much like that of a clergyman
of rank as the butler of a gentleman's family. He had been
valet-de-chambre to the last Sir Richard Bethune Baliol, and was,
a person highly trusted by the present lady. A full stand, as it
is called in Scotland, of garments of a dark colour, gold buckles
in his shoes and at the knees of his breeches, with his hair
regularly dressed and powdered, announced him to be a domestic of
trust and importance. His mistress used to say of him,--

"He is sad and civil,
And suits well for a servant with my fortunes."

As no one can escape scandal, some said that Beauffet made a
rather better thing of the place than the modesty of his old-
fashioned wages would, unassisted, have amounted to. But the man
was always very civil to me. He had been long in the family, had
enjoyed legacies, and lain by a something of his own, upon which
he now enjoys ease with dignity, in as far as his newly-married
wife, Tibbie Shortacres, will permit him.

The Lodging--dearest reader, if you are tired, pray pass over the
next four or five pages--was not by any means so large as its
external appearance led people to conjecture. The interior
accommodation was much cut up by cross walls and long passages,
and that neglect of economizing space which characterizes old
Scottish architecture. But there was far more room than my old
friend required, even when she had, as was often the case, four
or five young cousins under her protection; and I believe much of
the house was unoccupied. Mrs. Bethune Baliol never, in my
presence, showed herself so much offended as once with a meddling
person who advised her to have the windows of these supernumerary
apartments built up to save the tax. She said in ire that, while
she lived, the light of God should visit the house of her
fathers; and while she had a penny, king and country should have
their due. Indeed, she was punctiliously loyal, even in that
most staggering test of loyalty, the payment of imposts. Mr.
Beauffet told me he was ordered to offer a glass of wine to the
person who collected the income tax, and that the poor man was so
overcome by a reception so unwontedly generous, that he had well-
nigh fainted on the spot.

You entered by a matted anteroom into the eating-parlour, filled
with old-fashioned furniture, and hung with family portraits,
which, excepting one of Sir Bernard Bethune, in James the Sixth's
time, said to be by Jameson, were exceedingly frightful. A
saloon, as it was called, a long, narrow chamber, led out of the
dining-parlour, and served for a drawing-room. It was a pleasant
apartment, looking out upon the south flank of Holyrood House,
the gigantic slope of Arthur's Seat, and the girdle of lofty
rocks called Salisbury Crags; objects so rudely wild, that the
mind can hardly conceive them to exist in the vicinage of a
populous metropolis. [The Rev. Mr. Bowles derives the name of
these crags, as of the Episcopal city in the west of England,
from the same root, both, in his opinion, which he very ably
defends and illustrates, having been the sites of Druidical
temples.] The paintings of the saloon came from abroad, and had
some of them much merit. To see the best of them, however, you
must be admitted into the very PENETRALIA of the temple, and
allowed to draw the tapestry at the upper end of the saloon, and
enter Mrs. Martha's own special dressing-room. This was a
charming apartment, of which it would be difficult to describe
the form, it had so many recesses which were filled up with
shelves of ebony and cabinets of japan and ormolu--some for
holding books, of which Mrs. Martha had an admirable collection,
some for a display of ornamental china, others for shells and
similar curiosities. In a little niche, half screened by a
curtain of crimson silk, was disposed a suit of tilting armour of
bright steel inlaid with silver, which had been worn on some
memorable occasion by Sir Bernard Bethune, already mentioned;
while over the canopy of the niche hung the broadsword with which
her father had attempted to change the fortunes of Britain in
1715, and the spontoon which her elder brother bore when he was
leading on a company of the Black Watch at Fontenoy. [The well-
known original designation of the gallant 42nd Regiment. Being
the first corps raised for the royal service in the Highlands,
and allowed to retain their national garb, they were thus named
from the contrast which their dark tartans furnished to the
scarlet and white of the other regiments.]

There were some Italian and Flemish pictures of admitted
authenticity, a few genuine bronzes, and other objects of
curiosity, which her brothers or herself had picked up while
abroad. In short, it was a place where the idle were tempted to
become studious, the studious to grow idle where the grave might
find matter to make them gay, and the gay subjects for gravity.

That it might maintain some title to its name, I must not forget
to say that the lady's dressing-room exhibited a superb mirror,
framed in silver filigree work; a beautiful toilette, the cover
of which was of Flanders lace; and a set of boxes corresponding
in materials and work to the frame of the mirror.

This dressing apparatus, however, was mere matter of parade.
Mrs. Martha Bethune Baliol always went through the actual duties
of the toilette in an inner apartment, which corresponded with

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest