Chapter 1 Go call a coach, and let a coach be call'd And let the man who calleth be the caller; And in his calling let him nothing call, But Coach! O for a coach, ye gods! It was early on a fine summer's day, near the end of the eighteenth century, when a young man, of genteel appearance journeying towards the north-east of Scotland, provided himself with a ticket in one of those public carriages which travel between Edinburgh and the Queensferry, at which place, as the name implies, and is is well known to all my northern readers, there is a passage-boat for crossing the Frith of Forth.
The coach was calculated to carry six regular passengers, besides such interlopers as the coachman could pick up by the way, and intrude upon those who were legally in possession. The tickets, which conferred right to a seat in this vehicle of little ease, were dispensed by a sharp-looking old dame, with a pair of spectacles on a very thin nose, who inhabited a "laigh shop", anglice, a cellar, opening to the High Street by a strait and steep stair, at the bottom of which she sold tape, thread, needles, skeins of worsted, coarse linen cloth, and such feminine gear, to those who had the courage and skill to descend to the profundity [Page 2 ] of her dwelling, without falling headlong themselves, or throwing down any of the numerous articles which, piled on each side of the descent, indicated the profession of the trader below.
The written hand-bill which, pasted on a projecting board, announced that the Queensferry Diligence, or Hawes Fly, departed precisely at twelve o'clock on Tuesday the fifteenth July, l7-, in order to secure for travellers the opportunity of passing the Frith with the flood-tide, lied on the present occasion like a bulletin; for although that hour was pealed from Saint Giles's steeple, and repeated bY The Tron, no coach appeared upon the appointed stand. It is true, only two tickets had been taken out, and possibly the lady of the subterranean mansion might have an under- standing with her Automedon, that, in such cases, a little space was to be allowed for the chance of filling up the vacant spaces - or the said Automedon might have been attending a funeral, and be delayed by the necessity of stripping his vehicle of its lugubrious trappings - or he might have stayed to take a half-mutchkin extraordinary with his crony the hostler -or- in short, he did not make his appearance.
The young gentleman, who began to grow somewhat impatient, was now joined by a companion in this petty misery of human life - the person who had taken out the other pace. He who is bent upon a journey is usually easily to be distinguished from his fellow-citizens. The boots, the greatcoat, the umbrella, the little bundle in his hand, the hat pulled over his resolved brows, the determined importance of his pace, his brief answers to the salutations of lounging acquaintances, are all marks by which the experienced traveller in mail-coach or diligence can dis- tinguish, at a distance, the companion of his future journey, as he pushes onward to the place of rendezvous.
It is then [Page 3 ] that, with worldly wisdom, the first comer hastens to secure the best berth in the competitorshimself, and to make the most convenient arrangement for his baggage before the arrival of his companions.
Our youth, who was gifted with little prudence of any sort, and who was, moreover, by the absence of the coach, depreved of the power of availing himself of his priority of choice, amused himself, instead, by speculating upon the occupation and character of the personage who was now come to the coach office.
He was a good looking man of the age of sixty, perhaps older, but his hale complexion and firm step announced that years had not impaired his strength or health.
His counte- nance was of the true Scottish cast, strongly marked, and rather harsh in features, with a shrewd and penetrating eye, and a countenance in which habitual gravity was enlivened by a cast of ironical humour.
His dress was uniform, and of a colour becoming his age and gravity; a wig, well dressed and powdered, surmounted by a slouched hat, had something of a professional air. He might be a clergyman, yet his appearance was more that of a man of the world than usually belongs to the Kirk of Scotland, and his first ejacula- tion put the matter beyond question.
He arrived with a hurried pace, and, casting an alarmed glance towards the dial-plate of the church, then looking at the place where the coach should have been, exclaimed, "Deil's in it - I am too late after all! The old gentleman, apparently conscious of his own want of punctuality, did not at first feel courageous enough to censure that of the coachman.
He took a parcel, containing apparently a large folio, from a little boy who followed him, and, patting hin on the head, bid him go back and tell Mr.
B-, that if he had known he was to have had so much time, he would have put another [Page 4 ] word or two, to their bargain, - then told the boy to mind his business, and he would be as thriving a lad as ever usted a duodecimo. The boy lingered, perhaps in hopes of a penny to buy marbles; but none was forthcoming. Our senior leaned his little bundle upon one of the posts at the head of the staircase, and, facing the traveller who had first arrived, waited in silence for about five minutes the arrival of the expected diligence.
At length, after one or two impatient glances at the progress of the minute-hand of the clock, having compared it with his own watch, a huge and antique gold repeater, and having twitched about his features to give due emphasis to one or two peevish pshaws, he hailed the old lady of the cavern.
Macleuchar, aware that she had a defensive part to sustain in the encounter which was to follow, was in no hurry to hasten the discussion by returning a ready answer. Macleuchar - Good woman with an elevated voice - then apart, "Old doited hag, she's as deaf as a post - I say, Mrs. Macleuchar, eager to take up the quarrel upon a defensible ground; "I scorn your words, sir; you are an uncivil person, and I desire you will not stand there to slander me at my ain stairhead.
Macleuchar, relapsing into deafness. Macleuchar now ascended her trap stair for such it might be called, though constructed of stone , until her nose came upon a level with the pavement; then, after wiping her spectacles to look for that which she well knew was not to be found, she exclaimed, with well-feigned astonish- ment, "Gude guide us - saw ever anybody the like o'that!
Ignatius returned to Spain to arrange with Xavier's family—he also was of the northern mountain race of Spain—and with the kindred of three others of his followers. His military training made him dream of forming a spiritual knighthood to battle for the salvation of souls: Going home tired but very relaxrd.
He would take a post-chaise - he would call a hackney -coach - he would take four horses - he must - -he would be on the north side to-day - and all the expenses of his journey, besides damages, direct and consequential, [Page 6 ] arising from delay, should be accumulated on the devoted head of Mrs. There was something so comic in his pettish resentment, that the younger traveller, who was in no such pressing hurry to depart, could not help being amused with it, especially as it was obvious, that every now and then the old gentleman, though very angry, could not help laughing at his own vehemence.
Macleuchar began also to join in the laughter, he quickly put a stop to her ill-timed merriment. Answer; and for once in thy long, useless, and evil life, let it be in the words of truth and sincerity - hast thou such a coach? Macleuchar, totally exhausted by having been so long the butt of his rhetoric, "take back your three shillings, and mak me quit o' ye.
With ineffable pleasure, Mrs. Macleuchar, should be held responsible for all the consequences that might ensue. The coach had continued in motion for a mile or two before the stranger had completely repossessed himself of his equanimity, as was manifested by the doleful ejacula- tions, whihc he made from time to time, on the too great probability, or even certainity, of their missing the flood- tide.
By degrees, however, his wrath subsided; he wiped his brows, relaxed his frown, and, undoing the parcel in his hand, produced his folio, on which he gazed from time to time with the knowing look of an amateur, admiring its height and condition, and ascertaining, by a minute and individual inspection of each leaf, that the volume was uninjured and entire from title-page to colophon.
His fellow- traveller took the liberty of inquiring the subject of his studies. He lifted up his eyes with something of a sarcastic glance, as if he supposed the young querist would not relish, or perhaps understand, his answer, and pro- nounced the book to be Sandy Gordon's Itinerarium - [Page 8 ] Septentrionale, a book illustrative of the Roman remains in Scotland.
The querist unappalled by this learned title, proceeded to put several questions, which indicated, that he had made good use of a good education, and, although not possessed of minute information on the subject of anti- quities, had yet acquaintance enough with the classics to render him an interested and intelligent auditor when they were enlarged upon.
The elder traveller, observing with pleasure the capacity of his temporary companion to under- stand and answer him, plunged, nothing loath, into a sea of discussion concerning urns, vases, votive altars, Roman camps, and the rules of castrametation. The pleasure of this discourse had such a dulcifying tendency, that, although two causes of delay occurred, each of much more serious duration than that which had drawn down his wrath upon the unlucky Mrs.
Macleuchar, our Antiquary only bestowed on the delay the honour of a few episodical poohs and pshaws, which rather seemed to regard the interruption of his disquisition than the retarda- tion of his journey. The first of these stops was occasioned by the breaking of a spring, which half an hour's labour hardly repaired. The second, the Antiquary was himself accessory, if not the principal cause of it; for, observing that one of the horses had cast a fore-foot shoe, he apprised the coach- man of this important deficiency.
If you don't stop directly and carry the poor brute to the next smithy, I'll have you punished, if there's a justice of peace in Mid-Lothian;" and, opening the coach [Page 9 ] door, out he jumped, while the coachman obeyed his orders, muttering, that "if the gentlemen lost the tide now, they could not say but it was their ain fault, since he was willing to get on. But were I compelled to decompose the motives of my worthy friend for such was the gentleman in the sober suit, with powdered wig and slouched hat , I should say, that, although he certainly would not in any case have suffered the coachman to proceed while the horse was unfit for service, and likely to suffer by being urged forward, yet the man of whipcord escaped some severe abuse and re- proach by the agreeable mode which the traveller found out to pass the interval of delay.
So much time was consumed by these interruptions of their journey, that when they descended the hill above the Hawes for so the inn on the southern side of the Queens- ferry is denominated , the experienced eye of the Antiquary at once discerned, from the extent of wet sand, and the number of black stones and rocks, covered with seaweed, which were visible along the skirts of the shore, that the hour of tide was past.
The young traveller expected a burst of indignation; but whether, as Croaker says in "The Good- natured Man," our hero had exhausted himself in fretting away his misfortunes beforehand, so that he did not feel when they actually arrived, or whether he found the company in which he was placed too congenial to lead him [Page 10 ] to repine at anything which delayed his journey, it is certain that he submitted to his lot with much resignation.
Thou shouldst have called it the Sloth - Fly! But, however, time and tide tarry for no man; and so, my young fruend, we'll have a snack here at the Hawes, which is a very decent sort of a place, and I'll be very happy to finish the account I was giving you of the difference between the mode of entrenching castra stativa and castra aestiva, things confounded by too many of our historians. Lack-a-day, if they had ta'en the pains to satisfy their own eyes, instead of following each other's blind guidance!
Chapter 2 Sir, they do scandal me upon the road here! A poor quotidian rack of mutton roasted Dry to be grated! It is against my freehold, my inheritance. WINE is the word that glads the heartof man, And mine's the house of wine. Sack, says my bush, Be merry and drink Sherry, that's my posie BEN JOHNSON's New Inn As the senior traveller descended the crazy steps of the diligence at the inn, he was greeted by the fat, gouty, pursy landlord, with that mixture of familiarity and respect which [Page 11 ] the Scotch innkeepers of the old school used to assume towards their more valued customers.
I little thought to have seen your honour here till the summer session was ower. It's about our back-yard - ye'll maybe hae heard of it in the Parliament House, Hutchinson against Mackitchinson - it's a weel-kenn'd plea- it's been four times afore the fifteen, and deil onything the wisest o' them could make o't, but just to send it out again to the Outer House - Oh, it's a beautiful thing to see how lang and how carefully justice is considered in this country!
Well, [Page 12 ] well, the fish and the chop, and the tarts, will do very well. But don't imitate the cautious delay that you praise in the courts of justice. Let there be no remits from the inner to the outer house, hear ye me? As, notwithstanding his pledge to the contrary, the glorious delays of the law were not without their parallel in the kitchen of the inn, our younger traveller had an opportunity to step out and make some inquiry of the people of the house concerning the rank and station of his companion.
The information which he received was of a general and less authentic nature, but quite sufficient to make him acquainted with the name, history, and circum- stances of the gentleman, whom we shall endeavour, in a few words, to introduce more accurately to our readers. Jonathan Oldenbuck, or Oldinbuck, by popular con- traction Oldbuck, of Monkbarns, was the second son of a gentleman possessed of a small property in the neighbour- hood of a thriving seaport town on the north-eastern coast of Scotland, which, for various reasons, we shall denominate Fairport.
If a transatlantic liner touched at one of the northern ports, such as Vigo, Santander, Bilbao, it would open up an untrodden Switzerland with fertile valleys and noble hills. The cottage is always clean and well equipped.
They had been established for several genera- tions as landholders in the county, and in most shires of England would have been accounted a family of some standing. But the shire of - was filled with gentlemen of more ancient descent and larger fortune. In the last generation also, the neighbouring gentry had been almost uniformly Jacobites, while the proprietors of Monkbarns, like the burghers of the town near which they were settled, were steady assertors of the Protestant succession.
The [Page 13 ] latter had, however, a pedigree of their own, on which they prided themselves as much as those who despised them valued their respective Saxon, Norman, or Celtic genealogies. The first Oldenbuck, who had settled in their family mansion shortly after the Reformation, was, they asserted, descended from one of the original printers of Germany, and had left his country in consequence of the persecutions directed against the professors of the Reformed religion.
He had found a refuge in the town near which his posterity dwelt, the more readily that he was a sufferer in the Pro- testant cause, and certainly not the less so, that he brought with him money enough to purchase the small estate of Monkbarns, then sold by a dissipated laird, to whose father it had been gifted, with other church lands, on the dissolu- tion of the great and wealthy monastery to which it had belonged.
The Oldenbucks were therefore loyal subjects on all occasions of insurrections; and, as they kept up a good intelligence with the borough, it chanced that the Laird of Monkbarns, who flourished in , was provost of the town during that ill-fated year, and had exerted himself with much spirit in favour of King George, and even been put to expenses on that score, which, according to the liberal conduct of the existing government towards their friends, had never been repaid him.
By dint of solicita- tion, however, and borough interest, he contrived to gain a place in the customs, and, being a frugal, careful man, had found himself enabled to add considerably to his paternal fortune.
He had only two sons, of whom, as we have hinted, the present laird was the younger, and two daughters, one of whom still flourished in single blessedness, and the other, who was greatly more juvenile, made a love-match with a captain in the Forty-twa, who had no other fortune but his commission and a Highland pedigree. Poverty disturbed a union which love would otherwise have made [Page 14 ] happy, and Captain M'Intyre, in justice to his wife and two children, a boy and girl, had found himself obliged to seek his fortune in the East Indies.
Being ordered upon an expedition against Hyder Ally, the detachment to which he belonged was cut off, and no news ever reached his un- fortunate wife whether he fell in battle, or was murdered in prison, or survived, in what the habits of the Indian tyrant rendered a hopeless captivity.
She sunk under the accumu- lated load of grief and uncertainty, and left a son and daughter to the charge of her brother, the existing Laird of Monkbarns. The history of that proprietor himself is soon told. Being, as we have said, a second son, his father destined him to a share in a substantial mercantile concern, carried on by some of his maternal relations.
From this Jonathan's mind revolted in the most irreconcilable manner. He was then put apprentice to the profession of a writer, or attorney, in which he profited so far, that he made himself master of the whole forms of feudal investitures, and showed such pleasure in reconciling their incongruities, and tracing their origin, that his master had great hope he would one day be an able conveyancer.
But he halted upon the threshold, and, though he acquired some knowledge of the origin and system of the law of his country, he could never be per- suaded to apply it to lucrative and practical purposes. It was not from any inconsiderate neglect of the advantages attending the possession of money that he thus deceived the hopes of his master. But he never pays away a shilling without looking anxiously after the change, makes his sixpence go farther than another lad's half-crown, and will ponder over an old black-letter copy of the Acts of Parlia- ment for days, rather than go to the golf or the change- [Page 15 ] house; and yet he will not bestow one of these days on a little business of routine, that would put twenty shillings in his pocket - a strange mixture of frugality and industry, and negligent indolence - I don't know what to make of him.
Jonathan, therefore, succeeded to the estate, and with it to the means of subsisting without the hated drudgery of the law. His wishes were very moderate; and as the rent of his small property rose with the improve- ment of the country, it soon greatly exceeded his wants and expenditure; and though too indolent to make money, he was by no means insensible to the pleasure of beholding it accumulate. The burghers of the town near which he lived regarded him with a sort of envy, as one who affected to divide himself from their rank in society, and whose studies and pleasures seemed to them like incomprehensivle.
Still, however, a sort of hereditary respect for the Laird of Monkbarns, augmented by the knowledge of his being a ready-money man, kept up his consequence with this class of his neighbours. The country gentlemen were generally above him in fortune, and beneath him in intellect, and, excepting one with whom he lived in habits of intimacy, had little intercourse with Mr.
He had, however, the usual resources, the company of the clergyman, and of the doctor, when he chose to request it, and also his own pursuits and pleasures, being in corre- spondence with most of the virtuosi of his time, who, like himself, measured decayed entrenchments, made plans of [Page 16 ] ruined castles, read illegible inscriptions, and wrote essays on medals in the proportion of twelve pages to each letter of the legend.
Some habits of hasty irritation he had contracted, partly, it was said in the borough of Fairport, from an early disappointment in love, in virtue of which he had commenced misogynist, as he called it, but yet more by the obsequious attention paid to him by his maiden sister and his orphan niece, whom he had trained to con- sider him as the greatest man upon earth, and whom he used to boast of as the only women he had ever seen who were well broke in and bitted to obedience; though, it must be owned, Miss Grizzy Oldbuck was sometimes apt to jibb when he pulled the reins too tight.
The rest of his character must be gathered from the story, and we dismiss with pleasure the tiresome task of recapitulation. During the time of dinner, Mr. Oldbuck, actuated by the same curiosity which his fellow-traveller had entertained on his account, made some advances, which his age and station entitled him to do in a more direct manner, towards ascer- taining the name, destination, and quality of his young companion.
His name, the young gentleman said, was Lovel. Was he descended from King Richard's favourite? He was at present travelling to Fairport the town near to which Monkbarns was situated , and, if he found the place agreeable, might perhaps remain there for some weeks.
Lovel's excursion solely for pleasure? Oldbuck having pushed his inquiries as far as good manners permitted, was obliged to change the conversation.
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