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Titel: Waverley: or, 'Tis sixty years since
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Alle Rechte vorbehalten.
Es ist ohne vorherige schriftliche Erlaubnis nicht gestattet, dieses Werk im Ganzen oder in Teilen zu vervielfältigen oder zu veröffentlichen.
The plan of this Edition leads me to insert in this place some account of the incidents on which the Novel of WAVERLEY is founded. They have been already given to the public, by my late lamented friend, William Erskine, Esq. (afterwards Lord Kinneder), when reviewing the 'Tales of My Landlord' for the QUARTERLY REVIEW, in 1817. The particulars were derived by the Critic from the Author's information. Afterwards they were published in the Preface to the CHRONICLES OF THE CANONGATE. They are now inserted in their proper place.
The mutual protection afforded by Waverley and Talbot to each other, upon which the whole plot depends, is founded upon one of those anecdotes which soften the features even of civil war; and as it is equally honourable to the memory of both parties, we have no hesitation to give their names at length. When the Highlanders, on the morning of the battle of Preston, 1745, made their memorable attack on Sir John Cope's army, a battery of four field-pieces was stormed and carried by the Camerons and the Stewarts of Appine. The late Alexander Stewart of Invernahyle was one of the foremost in the charge, and observing an officer of the King's forces, who, scorning to join the flight of all around, remained with his sword in his hand, as if determined to the very last to defend the post assigned to him, the Highland gentleman commanded him to surrender, and received for reply a thrust, which he caught in his target. The officer was now defenceless, and the battle-axe of a gigantic Highlander (the miller of Invernahyle's mill) was uplifted to dash his brains out, when Mr. Stewart with difficulty prevailed on him to yield. He took charge of his enemy's property, protected his person, and finally obtained him liberty on his parole. The officer proved to be Colonel Whitefoord, an Ayrshire gentleman of high character and influence, and warmly attached to the House of Hanover; yet such was the confidence existing between these two honourable men, though of different political principles, that while the civil war was raging, and straggling officers from the Highland army were executed without mercy, Invernahyle hesitated not to pay his late captive a visit, as he returned to the Highlands to raise fresh recruits, on which occasion he spent a day or two in Ayrshire among Colonel Whitefoord's Whig friends, as pleasantly and as good-humouredly as if all had been at peace around him.
After the battle of Culloden had ruined the hopes of Charles Edward, and dispersed his proscribed adherents, it was Colonel Whitefoord's turn to strain every nerve to obtain Mr. Stewart's pardon. He went to the Lord Justice-Clerk, to the Lord-Advocate, and to all the officers of state, and each application was answered by the production of a list, in which Invernahyle (as the good old gentleman was wont to express it) appeared 'marked with the sign of the beast!' as a subject unfit for favour or pardon.
At length Colonel Whitefoord applied to the Duke of Cumberland in person. From him, also, he received a positive refusal. He then limited his request, for the present, to a protection for Stewart's house, wife, children, and property. This was also refused by the Duke; on which Colonel Whitefoord, taking his commission from his bosom, laid it on the table before his Royal Highness with much emotion, and asked permission to retire from the service of a sovereign who did not know how to spare a vanquished enemy. The Duke was struck, and even affected. He bade the Colonel take up his commission, and granted the protection he required. If was issued just in time to save the house, corn, and cattle at Invernahyle, from the troops who were engaged in laying waste what it was the fashion to call 'the country of the enemy.' A small encampment of soldiers was formed on Invernahyle's property, which they spared while plundering the country around, and searching in every direction for the leaders of the insurrection, and for Stewart in particular. He was much nearer them than they suspected; for, hidden in a cave (like the Baron of Bradwardine), he lay for many days so near the English sentinels, that he could hear their muster-roll called, His food was brought to him by one of his daughters, a child of eight years old, whom Mrs. Stewart was under the necessity of entrusting with this commission; for her own motions, and those of all her elder inmates, were closely watched. With ingenuity beyond her years, the child used to stray about among the soldiers, who were rather kind to her, and thus seize the moment when she was unobserved, and steal into the thicket, when she deposited whatever small store of provisions she had in charge at some marked spot, where her father might find it. Invernahyle supported life for several weeks by means of these precarious supplies; and as he had been wounded in the battle of Culloden, the hardships which he endured were aggravated by great bodily pain. After the soldiers had removed their quarters, he had another remarkable escape.
As he now ventured to his own house at night, and left it in the morning, he was espied during the dawn by a party of the enemy, who fired at and pursued him. The fugitive being fortunate enough to escape their search, they returned to the house, and charged the family with harbouring one of the proscribed traitors. An old woman had presence of mind enough to maintain that the man they had seen was the shepherd. 'Why did he not stop when we called to him?' said the soldier.—'He is as deaf, poor man, as a peat-stack,' answered the ready-witted domestic.—'Let him be sent for, directly.' The real shepherd accordingly was brought from the hill, and as there was time to tutor him by the way, he was as deaf when he made his appearance, as was necessary to sustain his character. Invernahyle was afterwards pardoned under the Act of Indemnity.
The Author knew him well, and has often heard these circumstances from his own mouth. He was a noble specimen of the old Highlander, far descended, gallant, courteous, and brave, even to chivalry. He had been OUT, I believe, in 1715 and 1745; was an active partaker in all the stirring scenes which passed in the Highlands betwixt these memorable eras; and, I have heard, was remarkable, among other exploits, for having fought a duel with the broadsword with the celebrated Rob Roy MacGregor, at the Clachan of Balquhidder.
Invernahyle chanced to be in Edinburgh when Paul Jones came into the Frith of Forth, and though then an old man, I saw him in arms, and heard him exult (to use his own words) in the prospect of 'drawing his claymore once more before he died.' In fact, on that memorable occasion, when the capital of Scotland was menaced by three trifling sloops or brigs, scarce fit to have sacked a fishing village, he was the only man who seemed to propose a plan of resistance. He offered to the magistrates, if broadswords and dirks could be obtained, to find as many Highlanders among the lower classes, as would cut off any boat's-crew who might be sent into a town full of narrow and winding passages, in which they were like to disperse in quest of plunder. I know not if his plan was attended to; I rather think it seemed too hazardous to the constituted authorities, who might not, even at that time, desire to see arms in Highland hands. A steady and powerful west wind settled the matter, by sweeping Paul Jones and his vessels out of the Frith.
If there is something degrading in this recollection, it is not unpleasant to compare it with those of the last war, when Edinburgh, besides regular forces and militia, furnished a volunteer brigade of cavalry, infantry, and artillery, to the amount of six thousand men and upwards, which was in readiness to meet and repel a force of a far more formidable description than was commanded by the adventurous American. Time and circumstances change the character of nations and the fate of cities; and it is some pride to a Scotchman to reflect, that the independent and manly character of a country willing to entrust its own protection to the arms of its children, after having been obscured for half a century, has, during the course of his own lifetime, recovered its lustre.
Other illustrations of Waverley will be found in the Notes at the foot of the pages to which they belong. [In this etext they are embedded in the text in square brackets.] Those which appeared too long to be so placed are given at the end of the volume.
The title of this work has not been chosen without the grave and solid deliberation, which matters of importance demand from the prudent. Even its first, or general denomination, was the result of no common research or selection, although, according to the example of my predecessors, I had only to seize upon the most sounding and euphonic surname that English history or topography affords, and elect it at once as the title of my work, and the name of my hero. But, alas! what could my readers have expected from the chivalrous epithets of Howard, Mordaunt, Mortimer, or Stanley, or from the softer and more sentimental sounds of Belmour, Belville, Belfield, and Belgrave, but pages of inanity, similar to those which have been so christened for half a century past? I must modestly admit I am too diffident of my own merit to place it in unnecessary opposition to preconceived associations; I have, therefore, like a maiden knight with his white shield, assumed for my hero, WAVERLEY, an uncontaminated name, bearing with its sound little of good or evil, excepting what the reader shall hereafter be pleased to affix to it. But my second or supplemental title was a matter of much more difficult election, since that, short as it is, may be held as pledging the author to some special mode of laying his scene, drawing his characters, and managing his adventures. Had I, for example, announced in my frontispiece, 'Waverley, a Tale of other Days,' must not every novel reader have anticipated a castle scarce less than that of Udolpho, of which the eastern wing had long been uninhabited, and the keys either lost, or consigned to the care of some aged butler or housekeeper, whose trembling steps, about the middle of the second volume, were doomed to guide the hero, or heroine, to the ruinous precincts? Would not the owl have shrieked and the cricket cried in my very title-page? and could it have been possible for me, with a moderate attention to decorum, to introduce any scene more lively than might be produced by the jocularity of a clownish but faithful valet, or the garrulous narrative of the heroine's fille-de-chambre, when rehearsing the stories of blood and horror which she had heard in the servants' hall? Again, had my title borne 'Waverley, a Romance from the German,' what head so obtuse as not to image forth a profligate abbot, an oppressive duke, a secret and mysterious association of Rosycrucians and Illuminati, with all their properties of black cowls, caverns, daggers, electrical machines, trap-doors, and dark-lanterns? Or if I had rather chosen to call my work a 'Sentimental Tale,' would it not have been a sufficient presage of a heroine with a profusion of auburn hair, and a harp, the soft solace of her solitary hours, which she fortunately finds always the means of transporting from castle to cottage, although she herself be sometimes obliged to jump out of a two-pair-of-stairs window, and is more than once bewildered on her journey, alone and on foot, without any guide but a blowzy peasant girl, whose jargon she hardly can understand? Or again, if my WAVERLEY had been entitled 'A Tale of the Times,' wouldst thou not, gentle reader, have demanded from me a dashing sketch of the fashionable world, a few anecdotes of private scandal thinly veiled, and if lusciously painted, so much the better? a heroine from Grosvenor Square, and a hero from the Barouche Club or the Four-in-hand, with a set of subordinate characters from the elegantes of Queen Anne Street East, or the dashing heroes of the Bow Street Office? I could proceed in proving the importance of a title-page, and displaying at the same time my own intimate knowledge of the particular ingredients necessary to the composition of romances and novels of various descriptions: but it is enough, and I scorn to tyrannize longer over the impatience of my reader, who is doubtless already anxious to know the choice made by an author so profoundly versed in the different branches of his art.
By fixing, then, the date of my story Sixty Years before the present 1st November, 1805, I would have my readers understand, that they will meet in the following pages neither a romance of chivalry, nor a tale of modern manners; that my hero will neither have iron on his shoulders, as of yore, nor on the heels of his boots, as is the present fashion of Bond Street; and that my damsels will neither be clothed 'in purple and in pall,' like the Lady Alice of an old ballad, nor reduced to the primitive nakedness of a modern fashionable at a rout. From this my choice of an era the understanding critic may further presage, that the object of my tale is more a description of men than manners. A tale of manners, to be interesting, must either refer to antiquity so great as to have become venerable, or it must bear a vivid reflection of those scenes which are passing daily before our eyes, and are interesting from their novelty. Thus the coat-of-mail of our ancestors, and the triple-furred pelisse of our modern beaux, may, though for very different reasons, be equally fit for the array of a fictitious character; but who, meaning the costume of his hero to be impressive, would willingly attire him in the court dress of George the Second's reign, with its no collar, large sleeves, and low pocket-holes? The same may be urged, with equal truth, of the Gothic hall, which, with its darkened and tinted windows, its elevated and gloomy roof, and massive oaken table garnished with boar's-head and rosemary, pheasants and peacocks, cranes and cygnets, has an excellent effect in fictitious description. Much may also be gained by a lively display of a modern fete, such as we have daily recorded in that part of a newspaper entitled the Mirror of Fashion, if we contrast these, or either of them, with the splendid formality of an entertainment given Sixty Years since; and thus it will be readily seen how much the painter of antique or of fashionable manners gains over him who delineates those of the last generation.
Considering the disadvantages inseparable from this part of my subject, I must be understood to have resolved to avoid them as much as possible, by throwing the force of my narrative upon the characters and passions of the actors;—those passions common to men in all stages of society, and which have alike agitated the human heart, whether it throbbed under the steel corselet of the fifteenth century, the brocaded coat of the eighteenth, or the blue frock and white dimity waistcoat of the present day. [Alas! that attire, respectable and gentlemanlike in 1805, or thereabouts, is now as antiquated as the Author of Waverley has himself become since that period! The reader of fashion will please to fill up the costume with an embroidered waistcoat of purple velvet or silk, and a coat of whatever colour he pleases.] Upon these passions it is no doubt true that the state of manners and laws casts a necessary colouring; but the bearings, to use the language of heraldry, remain the same, though the tincture may be not only different, but opposed in strong contradistinction. The wrath of our ancestors, for example, was coloured GULES; it broke forth in acts of open and sanguinary violence against the objects of its fury. Our malignant feelings, which must seek gratification through more indirect channels, and undermine the obstacles which they cannot openly bear down, may be rather said to be tinctured SABLE. But the deep-ruling impulse is the same in both cases; and the proud peer who can now only ruin his neighbour according to law, by protracted suits, is the genuine descendant of the baron who wrapped the castle of his competitor in flames, and knocked him on the head as he endeavoured to escape from the conflagration. It is from the great book of Nature, the same through a thousand editions, whether of black-letter, or wire-wove and hot-pressed, that I have venturously essayed to read a chapter to the public. Some favourable opportunities of contrast have been afforded me, by the state of society in the northern part of the island at the period of my history, and may serve at once to vary and to illustrate the moral lessons, which I would willingly consider as the most important part of my plan; although I am sensible how short these will fall of their aim, if I shall be found unable to mix them with amusement,—a task not quite so easy in this critical generation as it was 'Sixty Years since.'
It is, then, sixty years since Edward Waverley, the hero of the following pages, took leave of his family, to join the regiment of dragoons in which he had lately obtained a commission. It was a melancholy day at Waverley-Honour when the young officer parted with Sir Everard, the affectionate old uncle to whose title and estate he was presumptive heir.
A difference in political opinions had early separated the Baronet from his younger brother, Richard Waverley, the father of our hero. Sir Everard had inherited from his sires the whole train of Tory or High-Church predilections and prejudices, which had distinguished the house of Waverley since the Great Civil War. Richard, on the contrary, who was ten years younger, beheld himself born to the fortune of a second brother, and anticipated neither dignity nor entertainment in sustaining the character of Will Wimble. He saw early, that, to succeed in the race of life, it was necessary he should carry as little weight as possible. Painters talk of the difficulty of expressing the existence of compound passions in the same features at the same moment: it would be no less difficult for the moralist to analyse the mixed motives which unite to form the impulse of our actions. Richard Waverley read and satisfied himself, from history and sound argument, that, in the words of the old song,
yet reason would have probably been unable to combat and remove hereditary prejudice, could Richard have anticipated that his elder brother, Sir Everard, taking to heart an early disappointment, would have remained a batchelor at seventy-two. The prospect of succession, however remote, might in that case have led him to endure dragging through the greater part of his life as 'Master Richard at the Hall, the baronet's brother,' in the hope that ere its conclusion he should be distinguished as Sir Richard Waverley of Waverley-Honour, successor to a princely estate, and to extended political connexions as head of the county interest in the shire where it lay. But this was a consummation of things not to be expected at Richard's outset, when Sir Everard was in the prime of life, and certain to be an acceptable suitor in almost any family, whether wealth or beauty should be the object of his pursuit, and when, indeed, his speedy marriage was a report which regularly amused the neighbourhood once a year. His younger brother saw no practicable road to independence save that of relying upon his own exertions, and adopting a political creed more consonant both to reason and his own interest than the hereditary faith of Sir Everard in High Church and in the house of Stewart. He therefore read his recantation at the beginning of his career, and entered life as an avowed Whig, and friend of the Hanover succession.
The ministry of George the First's time were prudently anxious to diminish the phalanx of opposition. The Tory nobility, depending for their reflected lustre upon the sunshine of a court, had for some time been gradually reconciling themselves to the new dynasty. But the wealthy country gentlemen of England, a rank which retained, with much of ancient manners and primitive integrity, a great proportion of obstinate and unyielding prejudice, stood aloof in haughty and sullen opposition, and cast many a look of mingled regret and hope to Bois de Duc, Avignon, and Italy. [Where the Chevalier Saint George, or, as he was termed, the Old Pretender, held his exiled court, as his situation compelled him to shift his place of residence.] The accession of the near relation of one of those steady and inflexible opponents was considered as a means of bringing over more converts, and therefore Richard Waverley met with a share of ministerial favour more than proportioned to his talents or his political importance. It was however, discovered that he had respectable talents for public business, and the first admittance to the minister's levee being negotiated, his success became rapid. Sir Everard learned from the public NEWS-LETTER,—first, that Richard Waverley, Esquire, was returned for the ministerial borough of Barterfaith; next, that Richard Waverley, Esquire, had taken a distinguished part in the debate upon the Excise bill in the support of government; and, lastly, that Richard Waverley, Esquire, had been honoured with a seat at one of those boards, where the pleasure of serving the country is combined with other important gratifications, which, to render them the more acceptable, occur regularly once a quarter.
Although these events followed each other so closely that the sagacity of the editor of a modern newspaper would have presaged the last two even while he announced the first, yet they came upon Sir Everard gradually, and drop by drop, as it were, distilled through the cool and procrastinating alembic of DYER'S WEEKLY LETTER. [Long the oracle of the country gentlemen of the high Tory party. The ancient NEWS-LETTER was written in manuscript and copied by clerks, who addressed the copies to the subscribers. The politician by whom they were compiled picked up his intelligence at coffee-houses, and often pleaded for an additional gratuity, in consideration of the extra expense attached to frequenting such places of fashionable resort.] For it may be observed in passing, that instead of those mail-coaches, by means of which every mechanic at his sixpenny club may nightly learn from twenty contradictory channels the yesterday's news of the capital, a weekly post brought, in those days, to Waverley-Honour, a WEEKLY INTELLIGENCER, which, after it had gratified Sir Everard's curiosity, his sister's, and that of his aged butler, was regularly transferred from the Hall to the Rectory, from the Rectory to Squire Stubbs' at the Grange, from the Squire to the Baronet's steward at his neat white house on the heath, from the steward to the bailiff, and from him through a huge circle of honest dames and gaffers, by whose hard and horny hands it was generally worn to pieces in about a month after its arrival.
This slow succession of intelligence was of some advantage to Richard Waverley in the case before us; for, had the sum total of his enormities reached the ears of Sir Everard at once, there can be no doubt that the new commissioner would have had little reason to pique himself on the success of his politics. The Baronet, although the mildest of human beings, was not without sensitive points in his character; his brother's conduct had wounded these deeply; the Waverley estate was fettered by no entail (for it had never entered into the head of any of its former possessors that one of their progeny could be guilty of the atrocities laid by DYER'S LETTER to the door of Richard), and if it had, the marriage of the proprietor might have been fatal to a collateral heir. These various ideas floated through the brain of Sir Everard, without, however, producing any determined conclusion.
He examined the tree of his genealogy, which, emblazoned with many an emblematic mark of honour and heroic achievement, hung upon the well-varnished wainscot of his hall. The nearest descendants of Sir Hildebrand Waverley, failing those of his eldest son Wilfred, of whom Sir Everard and his brother were the only representatives, were, as this honoured register informed him (and, indeed, as he himself well knew), the Waverleys of Highley Park, com. Hants; with whom the main branch, or rather stock, of the house had renounced all connexion, since the great lawsuit in 1670.
This degenerate scion had committed a further offence against the head and source of their gentility, by the intermarriage of their representative with Judith, heiress of Oliver Bradshawe, of Highley Park, whose arms, the same with those of Bradshawe the regicide, they had quartered with the ancient coat of Waverley. These offences, however, had vanished from Sir Everard's recollection in the heat of his resentment; and had Lawyer Clippurse, for whom his groom was dispatched express, arrived but an hour earlier, he might have had the benefit of drawing a new settlement of the lordship and manor of Waverley-Honour, with all its dependencies. But an hour of cool reflection is a great matter, when employed in weighing the comparative evil of two measures, to neither of which we are internally partial. Lawyer Clippurse found his patron involved in a deep study, which he was too respectful to disturb, otherwise than by producing his paper and leathern ink-case, as prepared to minute his honour's commands. Even this slight manoeuvre was embarrassing to Sir Everard, who felt it as a reproach to his indecision. He looked at the attorney with some desire to issue his fiat, when the sun, emerging from behind a cloud, poured at once its chequered light through the stained window of the gloomy cabinet in which they were seated. The Baronet's eye, as he raised it to the splendour, fell right upon the central scutcheon, impressed with the same device which his ancestor was said to have borne in the field of Hastings; three ermines passant, argent, in a field azure, with its appropriate motto, SANS LACHE. 'May our name rather perish,' exclaimed Sir Everard, 'than that ancient and loyal symbol should be blended with the dishonoured insignia of a traitorous Roundhead!'
All this was the effect of the glimpse of a sunbeam, just sufficient to light Lawyer Clippurse to mend his pen. The pen was mended in vain. The attorney was dismissed, with directions to hold himself in readiness on the first summons.
The apparition of Lawyer Clippurse at the Hall occasioned much speculation in that portion of the world to which Waverley-Honour formed the centre: but the more judicious politicians of this microcosm augured yet worse consequences to Richard Waverley from a movement which shortly followed his apostasy. This was no less than an excursion of the Baronet in his coach-and-six, with four attendants in rich liveries, to make a visit of some duration to a noble peer on the confines of the shire, of untainted descent, steady Tory principles, and the happy father of six unmarried and accomplished daughters.
Sir Everard's reception in this family was, as it may be easily conceived, sufficiently favourable; but of the six young ladies, his taste unfortunately determined him in favour of Lady Emily, the youngest, who received his attentions with an embarrassment which showed at once that she durst not decline them, and that they afforded her anything but pleasure.
Sir Everard could not but perceive something uncommon in the restrained emotions which the young lady testified at the advances he hazarded; but, assured by the prudent Countess that they were the natural effects of a retired education, the sacrifice might have been completed, as doubtless has happened in many similar instances, had it not been for the courage of an elder sister, who revealed to the wealthy suitor that Lady Emily's affections were fixed upon a young soldier of fortune, a near relation of her own. Sir Everard manifested great emotion on receiving this intelligence, which was confirmed to him, in a private interview, by the young lady herself, although under the most dreadful apprehensions of her father's indignation.
Honour and generosity were hereditary attributes of the house of Waverley. With a grace and delicacy worthy the hero of a romance, Sir Everard withdrew his claim to the hand of Lady Emily. He had even, before leaving Blandeville Castle, the address to extort from her father a consent to her union with the object of her choice. What arguments he used on this point cannot exactly be known, for Sir Everard was never supposed strong in the powers of persuasion; but the young officer, immediately after this transaction, rose in the army with a rapidity far surpassing the usual pace of unpatronized professional merit, although, to outward appearance, that was all he had to depend upon.
The shock which Sir Everard encountered upon this occasion, although diminished by the consciousness of having acted virtuously and generously, had its effect upon his future life. His resolution of marriage had been adopted in a fit of indignation; the labour of courtship did not quite suit the dignified indolence of his habits; he had but just escaped the risk of marrying a woman who could never love him; and his pride could not be greatly flattered by the termination of his amour, even if his heart had not suffered. The result of the whole matter was his return to Waverley-Honour without any transfer of his affections, notwithstanding the sighs and languishments of the fair tell-tale, who had revealed, in mere sisterly affection, the secret of Lady Emily's attachment, and in despite of the nods, winks, and innuendoes of the officious lady mother, and the grave eulogiums which the Earl pronounced successively on the prudence, and good sense, and admirable dispositions, of his first, second, third, fourth, and fifth daughters. The memory of his unsuccessful amour was with Sir Everard, as with many more of his temper, at once shy, proud, sensitive, and indolent, a beacon against exposing himself to similar mortification, pain, and fruitless exertion for the time to come. He continued to live at Waverley-Honour in the style of an old English gentleman, of an ancient descent and opulent fortune. His sister, Miss Rachel Waverley, presided at his table; and they became, by degrees, an old bachelor and an ancient maiden lady, the gentlest and kindest of the votaries of celibacy.
The vehemence of Sir Everard's resentment against his brother was but short-lived; yet his dislike to the Whig and the placeman, though unable to stimulate him to resume any active measures prejudicial to Richard's interest in the succession to the family estate, continued to maintain the coldness between them. Richard knew enough of the world, and of his brother's temper, to believe that by any ill-considered or precipitate advances on his part, he might turn passive dislike into a more active principle. It was accident, therefore, which at length occasioned a renewal of their intercourse. Richard had married a young woman of rank, by whose family interest and private fortune he hoped to advance his career. In her right, he became possessor of a manor of some value, at the distance of a few miles from Waverley-Honour.
Little Edward, the hero of our tale, then in his fifth year, was their only child. It chanced that the infant with his maid had strayed one morning to a mile's distance from the avenue of Brere-wood Lodge, his father's seat. Their attention was attracted by a carriage drawn by six stately long-failed black horses, and with as much carving and gilding as would have done honour to my lord mayor's. It was waiting for the owner, who was at a little distance inspecting the progress of a half-built farm-house. I know not whether the boy's nurse had been a Welsh or a Scotch woman, or in what manner he associated a shield emblazoned with three ermines with the idea of personal property, but he no sooner beheld this family emblem, than he stoutly determined on vindicating his right to the splendid vehicle on which it was displayed. The Baronet arrived while the boy's maid was in vain endeavouring to make him desist from his determination to appropriate the gilded coach and six. The rencontre was at a happy moment for Edward, as his uncle had been just eyeing wistfully, with something of a feeling like envy, the chubby boys of the stout yeoman whose mansion was building by his direction. In the round-faced rosy cherub before him, bearing his eye and his name, and vindicating a hereditary title to his family affection and patronage, by means of a tie which Sir Everard held as sacred as either Garter or Blue Mantle, Providence seemed to have granted to him the very object best calculated to fill up the void in his hopes and affections. Sir Everard returned to Waverley Hall upon a led horse which was kept in readiness for him, while the child and his attendant were sent home in the carriage to Brere-wood Lodge, with such a message as opened to Richard Waverley a door of reconciliation with his elder brother.
Their intercourse, however, though thus renewed, continued to be rather formal and civil, than partaking of brotherly cordiality; yet it was sufficient to the wishes of both parties. Sir Everard obtained, in the frequent society of his little nephew, something on which his hereditary pride might found the anticipated pleasure of a continuation of his lineage, and where his kind and gentle affections could at the same time fully exercise themselves. For Richard Waverley, he beheld in the growing attachment between the uncle and nephew the means of securing his son's, if not his own, succession to the hereditary estate, which he felt would be rather endangered than promoted by any attempt on his own part towards a closer intimacy with a man of Sir Everard's habits and opinions.
Thus, by a sort of tacit compromise, little Edward was permitted to pass the greater part of the year at the Hall, and appeared to stand in the same intimate relation to both families, although their mutual intercourse was otherwise limited to formal messages, and more formal visits. The education of the youth was regulated alternately by the taste and opinions of his uncle and of his father. But more of this in a subsequent chapter.
The education of our hero, Edward Waverley, was of a nature somewhat desultory. In infancy, his health suffered, or was supposed to suffer (which is quite the same thing), by the air of London. As soon, therefore, as official duties, attendance on Parliament, or the prosecution of any of his plans of interest or ambition, called his father to town, which was his usual residence for eight months in the year, Edward was transferred to Waverley-Honour, and experienced a total change of instructors and of lessons, as well as of residence. This might have been remedied, had his father placed him under the superintendence of a permanent tutor. But he considered that one of his choosing would probably have been unacceptable at Waverley-Honour, and that such a selection as Sir Everard might have made, were the matter left to him, would have burdened him with a disagreeable inmate, if not a political spy, in his family. He therefore prevailed upon his private secretary, a young man of taste and accomplishments, to bestow an hour or two on Edward's education while at Brere-wood Lodge, and left his uncle answerable for his improvement in literature while an inmate at the Hall.
This was in some degree respectably provided for. Sir Everard's chaplain, an Oxonian, who had lost his fellowship for declining to take the oaths at the accession of George I, was not only an excellent classical scholar, but reasonably skilled in science, and master of most modern languages. He was, however, old and indulgent, and the recurring interregnum, during which Edward was entirely freed from his discipline, occasioned such a relaxation of authority, that the youth was permitted, in a great measure, to learn as he pleased, what he pleased, and when he pleased. This slackness of rule might have been ruinous to a boy of slow understanding, who, feeling labour in the acquisition of knowledge, would have altogether neglected it, save for the command of a task-master; and it might have proved equally dangerous to a youth whose animal spirits were more powerful than his imagination or his feelings, and whom the irresistible influence of Alma would have engaged in field sports from morning till night. But the character of Edward Waverley was remote from either of these. His powers of apprehension were so uncommonly quick, as almost to resemble intuition, and the chief care of his preceptor was to prevent him, as a sportsman would phrase it, from overrunning his game, that is, from acquiring his knowledge in a slight, flimsy, and inadequate manner. And here the instructor had to combat another propensity too often united with brilliancy of fancy and vivacity of talent,—that indolence, namely, of disposition, which can only be stirred by some strong motive of gratification, and which renounces study as soon as curiosity is gratified, the pleasure of conquering the first difficulties exhausted, and the novelty of pursuit at an end. Edward would throw himself with spirit upon any classical author of which his preceptor proposed the perusal, make himself master of the style so far as to understand the story, and if that pleased or interested him, he finished the volume. But it was in vain to attempt fixing his attention on critical distinctions of philology, upon the difference of idiom, the beauty of felicitous expression, or the artificial combinations of syntax. 'I can read and understand a Latin author,' said young Edward, with the self-confidence and rash reasoning of fifteen, 'and Scaliger or Bentley could not do much more.' Alas! while he was thus permitted to read only for the gratification of his amusement, he foresaw not that he was losing for ever the opportunity of acquiring habits of firm and assiduous application, of gaining the art of controlling, directing, and concentrating the powers of his mind for earnest investigation,—an art far more essential than even that intimate acquaintance with classical learning, which is the primary object of study.
I am aware I may be here reminded of the necessity of rendering instruction agreeable to youth, and of Tasso's infusion of honey into the medicine prepared for a child; but an age in which children are taught the driest doctrines by the insinuating method of instructive games, has little reason to dread the consequences of study being rendered too serious or severe. The history of England is now reduced to a game at cards,—the problems of mathematics to puzzles and riddles,—and the doctrines of arithmetic may, we are assured, be sufficiently acquired, by spending a few hours a week at a new and complicated edition of the Royal Game of the Goose. There wants but one step further, and the Creed and Ten Commandments may be taught in the same manner, without the necessity of the grave face, deliberate tone of recital, and devout attention, hitherto exacted from the well governed childhood of this realm. It may, in the meantime, be subject of serious consideration, whether those who are accustomed only to acquire instruction through the medium of amusement, may not be brought to reject that which approaches under the aspect of study; whether those who learn history by the cards, may not be led to prefer the means to the end; and whether, were we to teach religion in the way of sport, our pupils may not thereby be gradually induced to make sport of their religion. To our young hero, who was permitted to seek his instruction only according to the bent of his own mind, and who, of consequence, only sought it so long as it afforded him amusement, the indulgence of his tutors was attended with evil consequences, which long continued to influence his character, happiness, and utility. Edward's power of imagination and love of literature, although the former was vivid, and the latter ardent, were so far from affording a remedy to this peculiar evil, that they rather inflamed and increased its violence. The library at Waverley-Honour, a large Gothic room, with double arches and a gallery, contained such a miscellaneous and extensive collection of volumes as had been assembled together, during the course of two hundred years, by a family which had been always wealthy, and inclined, of course, as a mark of splendour, to furnish their shelves with the current literature of the day, without much scrutiny, or nicety of discrimination. Throughout this ample realm Edward was permitted to roam at large. His tutor had his own studies; and church politics and controversial divinity, together with a love of learned ease, though they did not withdraw his attention at stated times from the progress of his patron's presumptive heir, induced him readily to grasp at any apology for not extending a strict and regulated survey towards his general studies. Sir Everard had never been himself a student, and, like his sister Miss Rachel Waverley, he held the common doctrine, that idleness is incompatible with reading of any kind, and that the mere tracing the alphabetical characters with the eye is in itself a useful and meritorious task, without scrupulously considering what ideas or doctrines they may happen to convey. With a desire of amusement, therefore, which better discipline might soon have converted into a thirst for knowledge, young Waverley drove through the sea of books, like a vessel without a pilot or a rudder. Nothing perhaps increases by indulgence more than a desultory habit of reading, especially under such opportunities of gratifying it. I believe one reason why such numerous instances of erudition occur among the lower ranks is, that, with the same powers of mind, the poor student is limited to a narrow circle for indulging his passion for books, and must necessarily make himself master of the few he possesses ere he can acquire more. Edward, on the contrary, like the epicure who only deigned to take a single morsel from the sunny side of a peach, read no volume a moment after it ceased to excite his curiosity or interest; and it necessarily happened, that the habit of seeking only this sort of gratification rendered it daily more difficult of attainment, till the passion for reading, like other strong appetites, produced by indulgence a sort of satiety.
Ere he attained this indifference, however, he had read, and stored in a memory of uncommon tenacity, much curious, though ill-arranged and miscellaneous information. In English literature he was master of Shakespeare and Milton, of our earlier dramatic authors; of many picturesque and interesting passages from our old historical chronicles; and was particularly well acquainted with Spenser, Drayton, and other poets who have exercised themselves on romantic fiction, of all themes the most fascinating to a youthful imagination, before the passions have roused themselves, and demand poetry of a more sentimental description. In this respect his acquaintance with Italian opened him yet a wider range. He had perused the numerous romantic poems, which, from the days of Pulci, have been a favourite exercise of the wits of Italy; and had sought gratification in the numerous collections of NOVELLE, which were brought forth by the genius of that elegant though luxurious nation, in emulation of the DECAMERON. In classical literature, Waverley had made the usual progress, and read the usual authors; and the French had afforded him an almost exhaustless collection of memoirs, scarcely more faithful than romances, and of romances so well written as hardly to be distinguished from memoirs. The splendid pages of Froissart, with his heart-stirring and eye-dazzling descriptions of war and of tournaments, were among his chief favourites; and from those of Brantome and de la Noue he learned to compare the wild and loose yet superstitious character of the nobles of the League, with the stern, rigid, and sometimes turbulent disposition of the Huguenot party. The Spanish had contributed to his stock of chivalrous and romantic lore. The earlier literature of the northern nations did not escape the study of one who read rather to awaken the imagination than to benefit the understanding. And yet, knowing much that is known but to few, Edward Waverley might justly be considered as ignorant, since he knew little of what adds dignify to man, and qualifies him to support and adorn an elevated situation in society.
The occasional attention of his parents might indeed have been of service, to prevent the dissipation of mind incidental to such a desultory course of reading. But his mother died in the seventh year after the reconciliation between the brothers, and Richard Waverley himself, who, after this event, resided more constantly in London, was too much interested in his own plans of wealth and ambition, to notice more respecting Edward, than that he was of a very bookish turn, and probably destined to be a bishop. If he could have discovered and analysed his son's waking dreams, he would have formed a very different conclusion.
I have already hinted, that the dainty, squeamish, and fastidious taste acquired by a surfeit of idle reading, had not only rendered our hero unfit for serious and sober study, it had even disgusted him in some degree with that in which he had hitherto indulged.
He was in his sixteenth year, when his habits of abstraction and love of solitude became so much marked, as to excite Sir Everard's affectionate apprehension. He tried to counterbalance these propensities, by engaging his nephew in field sports, which had been the chief pleasure of his own youthful days. But although Edward eagerly carried the gun for one season, yet when practice had given him some dexterity, the pastime ceased to afford him amusement.
In the succeeding spring, the perusal of old Isaac Walton's fascinating volume determined Edward to become 'a brother of the angle.' But of all diversions which ingenuity ever devised for the relief of idleness, fishing is the worst qualified to amuse a man who is at once indolent and impatient; and our hero's rod was speedily flung aside. Society and example, which, more than any other motives, master and sway the natural bent of our passions, might have had their usual effect upon the youthful visionary: but the neighbourhood was thinly inhabited, and the homebred young squires whom it afforded, were not of a class fit to form Edward's usual companions, far less to excite him to emulation in the practice of those pastimes which composed the serious business of their lives.
There were a few other youths of better education, and a more liberal character; but from their society also our hero was in some degree excluded. Sir Everard had, upon the death of Queen Anne, resigned his seat in Parliament, and, as his age increased and the number of his contemporaries diminished, had gradually withdrawn himself from society; so that when, upon any particular occasion, Edward mingled with accomplished and well-educated young men of his own rank and expectations, he felt an inferiority in their company, not so much from deficiency of information, as from the want of the skill to command and to arrange that which he possessed. A deep and increasing sensibility added to this dislike of society. The idea of having committed the slightest solecism in politeness, whether real or imaginary, was agony to him; for perhaps even guilt itself does not impose upon some minds so keen a sense of shame and remorse, as a modest, sensitive, and inexperienced youth feels from the consciousness of having neglected etiquette, or excited ridicule. Where we are not at ease, we cannot be happy; and therefore it is not surprising, that Edward Waverley supposed that he disliked and was unfitted for society, merely because he had not yet acquired the habit of living in it with ease and comfort, and of reciprocally giving and receiving pleasure.
The hours he spent with his uncle and aunt were exhausted in listening to the oft-repeated tale of narrative old age. Yet even there his imagination, the predominant faculty of his mind, was frequently excited. Family tradition and genealogical history, upon which much of Sir Everard's discourse turned, is the very reverse of amber, which, itself a valuable substance, usually includes flies, straws, and other trifles; whereas these studies, being themselves very insignificant and trifling, do nevertheless serve to perpetuate a great deal of what is rare and valuable in ancient manners, and to record many curious and minute facts, which could have been preserved and conveyed through no other medium. If, therefore, Edward Waverley yawned at times over the dry deduction of his line of ancestors, with their various intermarriages, and inwardly deprecated the remorseless and protracted accuracy with which the worthy Sir Everard rehearsed the various degrees of propinquity between the house of Waverley-Honour and the doughty barons, knights, and squires, to whom they stood allied; if (notwithstanding his obligations to the three ermines passant) he sometimes cursed in his heart the jargon of heraldry, its griffins, its moldwarps, its wyverns, and its dragons with all the bitterness of Hotspur himself, there were moments when these communications interested his fancy and rewarded his attention.
The deeds of Wilibert of Waverley in the Holy Land, his long absence and perilous adventures, his supposed death, and his return in the evening when the betrothed of his heart had wedded the hero who had protected her from insult and oppression during his absence; the generosity with which the Crusader relinquished his claims, and sought in a neighbouring cloister that peace which passeth not away; 1—to these and similar tales he would hearken till his heart glowed and his eye glistened. Nor was he less affected, when his aunt, Mrs. Rachel, narrated the sufferings and fortitude of Lady Alice Waverley during the Great Civil War. The benevolent features of the venerable spinster kindled into more majestic expression, as she told how Charles had, after the field of Worcester, found a day's refuge at Waverley-Honour; and how, when a troop of cavalry were approaching to search the mansion, Lady Alice dismissed her youngest son with a handful of domestics, charging them to make good with their lives an hour's diversion, that the king might have that space for escape, 'And, God help her,' would Mrs. Rachel continue, fixing her eyes upon the heroine's portrait as she spoke, 'full dearly did she purchase the safety of her prince with the life of her darling child. They brought him here a prisoner, mortally wounded; and you may trace the drops of his blood from the great hall door along the little gallery, and up to the saloon, where they laid him down to die at his mother's feet. But there was comfort exchanged between them; for he knew from the glance of his mother's eye, that the purpose of his desperate defence was attained. Ah! I remember,' she continued, 'I remember well to have seen one that knew and loved him. Miss Lucy St. Aubin lived and died a maid for his sake, though one of the most beautiful and wealthy matches in this country; all the world ran after her, but she wore widow's mourning all her life for poor William, for they were betrothed though not married, and died in—I cannot think of the date; but I remember, in the November of that very year, when she found herself sinking, she desired to be brought to Waverley-Honour once more, and visited all the places where she had been with my grand-uncle, and caused the carpets to be raised that she might trace the impression of his blood, and if tears could have washed it out, it had not been there now; for there was not a dry eye in the house. You would have thought, Edward, that the very trees mourned for her, for their leaves dropped around her without a gust of wind; and, indeed, she looked like one that would never see them green again.'
From such legends our hero would steal away to indulge the fancies they excited. In the corner of the large and sombre library, with no other light than was afforded by the decaying brands on its ponderous and ample hearth, he would exercise for hours that internal sorcery, by which past or imaginary events are presented in action, as it were, to the eye of the muser. Then arose in long and fair array the splendour of the bridal feast at Waverley Castle; the tall and emaciated form of its real lord, as he stood in his pilgrim's weeds, an unnoticed spectator of the festivities of his supposed heir and intended bride; the electrical shock occasioned by the discovery; the springing of the vassals to arms; the astonishment of the bridegroom; the terror and confusion of the bride; the agony with which Wilibert observed that her heart as well as consent was in these nuptials; the air of dignity, yet of deep feeling, with which he flung down the half-drawn sword, and turned away for ever from the house of his ancestors. Then would he change the scene, and fancy would at his wish represent Aunt Rachel's tragedy. He saw the Lady Waverley seated in her bower, her ear strained to every sound, her heart throbbing with double agony, now listening to the decaying echo of the hoofs of the king's horse, and when that had died away, hearing in every breeze that shook the trees of the park, the noise of the remote skirmish. A distant sound is heard like the rushing of a swollen stream; it comes nearer, and Edward can plainly distinguish the galloping of horses, the cries and shouts of men, with straggling pistol-shots between, rolling forwards to the Hall. The lady starts up—a terrified menial rushes in—but why pursue such a description?
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