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The present work completes a series of fictitious narratives, intended to
illustrate the manners of Scotland at three different periods. _Waverley_
embraced the age of our fathers, _Guy Mannering_ that of our own youth,
and the _Antiquary_ refers to the last ten years of the eighteenth
century. I have, in the two last narratives especially, sought my
principal personages in the class of society who are the last to feel the
influence of that general polish which assimilates to each other the
manners of different nations. Among the same class I have placed some of
the scenes in which I have endeavoured to illustrate the operation of the
higher and more violent passions; both because the lower orders are less
restrained by the habit of suppressing their feelings, and because I
agree, with my friend Wordsworth, that they seldom fail to express them
in the strongest and most powerful language. This is, I think, peculiarly
the case with the peasantry of my own country, a class with whom I have
long been familiar. The antique force and simplicity of their language,
often tinctured with the Oriental eloquence of Scripture, in the mouths
of those of an elevated understanding, give pathos to their grief, and
dignity to their resentment.

I have been more solicitous to describe manners minutely than to arrange
in any case an artificial and combined narrative, and have but to regret
that I felt myself unable to unite these two requisites of a good Novel.

The knavery of the adept in the following sheets may appear forced and
improbable; but we have had very late instances of the force of
superstitious credulity to a much greater extent, and the reader may be
assured, that this part of the narrative is founded on a fact of actual

I have now only to express my gratitude to the Public for the
distinguished reception which, they have given to works, that have little
more than some truth of colouring to recommend them, and to take my
respectful leave, as one who is not likely again to solicit their favour.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

To the above advertisement, which was prefixed to the first edition of
the Antiquary, it is necessary in the present edition to add a few words,
transferred from the Introduction to the Chronicles of the Canongate,
respecting the character of Jonathan Oldbuck.

"I may here state generally, that although I have deemed historical
personages free subjects of delineation, I have never on any occasion
violated the respect due to private life. It was indeed impossible that
traits proper to persons, both living and dead, with whom I have had
intercourse in society, should not have risen to my pen in such works as
Waverley, and those which, followed it. But I have always studied to
generalise the portraits, so that they should still seem, on the whole,
the productions of fancy, though possessing some resemblance to real
individuals. Yet I must own my attempts have not in this last particular
been uniformly successful. There are men whose characters are so
peculiarly marked, that the delineation of some leading and principal
feature, inevitably places the whole person before you in his
individuality. Thus the character of Jonathan Oldbuck in the Antiquary,
was partly founded on that of an old friend of my youth, to whom I am
indebted for introducing me to Shakspeare, and other invaluable favours;
but I thought I had so completely disguised the likeness, that it could
not be recognised by any one now alive. I was mistaken, however, and
indeed had endangered what I desired should be considered as a secret;
for I afterwards learned that a highly respectable gentleman, one of the
few surviving friends of my father, and an acute critic, had said, upon
the appearance of the work, that he was now convinced who was the author
of it, as he recognised, in the Antiquary, traces of the character of a
very intimate friend* of my father's family."

* [The late George Constable of Wallace Craigie, near Dundee.]

I have only farther to request the reader not to suppose that my late
respected friend resembled Mr. Oldbuck, either in his pedigree, or the
history imputed to the ideal personage. There is not a single incident in
the Novel which is borrowed from his real circumstances, excepting the
fact that he resided in an old house near a flourishing seaport, and that
the author chanced to witness a scene betwixt him and the female
proprietor of a stage-coach, very similar to that which commences the
history of the Antiquary. An excellent temper, with a slight degree of
subacid humour; learning, wit, and drollery, the more poignant that they
were a little marked by the peculiarities of an old bachelor; a soundness
of thought, rendered more forcible by an occasional quaintness of
expression, were, the author conceives, the only qualities in which the
creature of his imagination resembled his benevolent and excellent old

The prominent part performed by the Beggar in the following narrative,
induces the author to prefix a few remarks of that character, as it
formerly existed in Scotland, though it is now scarcely to be traced.

Many of the old Scottish mendicants were by no means to be confounded
with the utterly degraded class of beings who now practise that wandering
trade. Such of them as were in the habit of travelling through a
particular district, were usually well received both in the farmer's ha',
and in the kitchens of the country gentlemen. Martin, author of the
_Reliquiae Divi Sancti Andreae,_ written in 1683, gives the following
account of one class of this order of men in the seventeenth century, in
terms which would induce an antiquary like Mr. Oldbuck to regret its
extinction. He conceives them to be descended from the ancient bards, and
proceeds:---"They are called by others, and by themselves, Jockies, who
go about begging; and use still to recite the Sloggorne (gathering-words
or war-cries) of most of the true ancient surnames of Scotland, from old
experience and observation. Some of them I have discoursed, and found to
have reason and discretion. One of then told me there were not now above
twelve of them in the whole isle; but he remembered when they abounded,
so as at one time he was one of five that usually met at St. Andrews."

The race of Jockies (of the above description) has, I suppose, been long
extinct in Scotland; but the old remembered beggar, even in my own time,
like the Baccoch, or travelling cripple of Ireland, was expected to merit
his quarters by something beyond an exposition of his distresses. He was
often a talkative, facetious fellow, prompt at repartee, and not withheld
from exercising his powers that way by any respect of persons, his
patched cloak giving him the privilege of the ancient jester. To be a
_gude crack,_ that is, to possess talents for conversation, was essential
to the trade of a "puir body" of the more esteemed class; and Burns, who
delighted in the amusement their discourse afforded, seems to have looked
forward with gloomy firmness to the possibility of himself becoming one
day or other a member of their itinerant society. In his poetical works,
it is alluded to so often, as perhaps to indicate that he considered the
consummation as not utterly impossible. Thus in the fine dedication of
his works to Gavin Hamilton, he says,--

And when I downa yoke a naig,
Then, Lord be thankit, I can beg.

Again, in his Epistle to Davie, a brother Poet, he states, that in their
closing career--

The last o't, the warst o't,
Is only just to beg.

And after having remarked, that

To lie in kilns and barns at e'en,
When banes are crazed and blude is thin,

Is doubtless great distress; the bard reckons up, with true poetical
spirit, the free enjoyment of the beauties of nature, which might
counterbalance the hardship and uncertainty of the life, even of a
mendicant. In one of his prose letters, to which I have lost the
reference, he details this idea yet more seriously, and dwells upon it,
as not ill adapted to his habits and powers.

As the life of a Scottish mendicant of the eighteenth century seems to
have been contemplated without much horror by Robert Burns, the author
can hardly have erred in giving to Edie Ochiltree something of poetical
character and personal dignity, above the more abject of his miserable
calling. The class had, intact, some privileges. A lodging, such as it
was, was readily granted to them in some of the out-houses, and the usual
_awmous_ (alms) of a handful of meal (called a _gowpen_) was scarce
denied by the poorest cottager. The mendicant disposed these, according
to their different quality, in various bags around his person, and thus
carried about with him the principal part of his sustenance, which he
literally received for the asking. At the houses of the gentry, his cheer
was mended by scraps of broken meat, and perhaps a Scottish "twalpenny,"
or English penny, which was expended in snuff or whiskey. In fact, these
indolent peripatetics suffered much less real hardship and want of food,
than the poor peasants from whom they received alms.

If, in addition to his personal qualifications, the mendicant chanced to
be a King's Bedesman, or Blue-Gown, he belonged, in virtue thereof, to
the aristocracy of his order, and was esteemed a parson of great

These Bedesmen are an order of paupers to whom the Kings of Scotland were
in the custom of distributing a certain alms, in conformity with the
ordinances of the Catholic Church, and who where expected in return to
pray for the royal welfare and that of the state. This order is still
kept up. Their number is equal to the number of years which his Majesty
has lived; and one Blue-Gown additional is put on the roll for every
returning royal birth-day. On the same auspicious era, each Bedesman
receives a new cloak, or gown of coarse cloth, the colour light blue,
with a pewter badge, which confers on them the general privilege of
asking alms through all Scotland,--all laws against sorning, masterful
beggary, and every other species of mendicity, being suspended in favour
of this privileged class. With his cloak, each receives a leathern purse,
containing as many shillings Scots (videlicet, pennies sterling) as the
sovereign is years old; the zeal of their intercession for the king's
long life receiving, it is to be supposed, a great stimulus from their
own present and increasing interest in the object of their prayers. On
the same occasion one of the Royal Chaplains preaches a sermon to the
Bedesmen, who (as one of the reverend gentlemen expressed himself) are
the most impatient and inattentive audience in the world. Something of
this may arise from a feeling on the part of the Bedesmen, that they are
paid for their own devotions, not for listening to those of others. Or,
more probably, it arises from impatience, natural, though indecorous in
men bearing so venerable a character, to arrive at the conclusion of the
ceremonial of the royal birth-day, which, so far as they are concerned,
ends in a lusty breakfast of bread and ale; the whole moral and religious
exhibition terminating in the advice of Johnson's "Hermit hoar" to his

Come, my lad, and drink some beer.

Of the charity bestowed on these aged Bedesmen in money and clothing,
there are many records in the Treasurer's accompts. The following
extract, kindly supplied by Mr. Macdonald of the Register House, may
interest those whose taste is akin to that of Jonathan Oldbuck of


In the Account of Sir Robert Melvill of Murdocarney,
Treasurer-Depute of King James IV., there are the following Payments:--

"Junij 1590.

"Item, to Mr. Peter Young, Elimosinar, twentie four gownis of blew
clayth, to be gevin to xxiiij auld men, according to the yeiris of his
hienes age, extending to viii xx viii elnis clayth; price of the elne
xxiiij _s. _ Inde, ij _c_j _li. _xij _s. _

"Item, for sextene elnis bukrum to the saidis gownis, price of the elne x
_s. _ Inde,viij _li. _

"Item, twentie four pursis, and in ilk purse twentie four schelling
Inde, xxciij _li. _ xvj _s. _

"Item, the price of ilk purse iiij _d. _ Inde, viij _s. _

"Item, for making of the saidis gownis viij _li. _"

In the Account of John, Earl of Mar, Great Treasurer of Scotland, and of
Sir Gideon Murray of Enbank, Treasurer-Depute, the Blue-Gowns also appear

"Junij 1617.

"Item, to James Murray, merchant, for fyftene scoir sex elnis and aine
half elne of blew claith to be gownis to fyftie ane aigeit men, according
to the yeiris of his Majesteis age, at xl _s. _ the elne
Inde,vj _c_ xiij _li. _

"Item, to workmen for careing the blewis to James Aikman, tailyeour, his
hous xiij _s. _ iiij _d. _

"Item, for sex elnis and ane half of harden to the saidis gownis, at vj
_s. _ viij _d. _ the elne Inde,xliij _s. _iiij _d. _

"Item, to the said workmen for careing of the gownis fra the said James
Aikman's hous to the palace of Halyrudehous xviij _s. _

"Item, for making the saidis fyftie ane gownis, at xij _s. _ the peice
Inde,xxx _li. _xij _s. _

"Item, for fyftie ane pursis to the said puire menlj _s. _

"Item, to Sir Peter Young,li _s. _ to be put in everie ane of the saidis
ljpursis to the said poore men j _c_xxxl jj _s. _

"Item, to the said Sir Peter, to buy breid and drink to the said puir men
vj _li. _xiij _s. _iiij _d. _

"Item, to the said Sir Peter, to be delt amang uther puire folk j _c_li.

"Item, upoun the last day of Junii to Doctor Young, Deane of Winchester,
Elimozinar Deput to his Majestic, twentie fyve pund sterling, to be gevin
to the puir be the way in his Majesteis progress Inde,iij _c li. _"

I have only to add, that although the institution of King's Bedesmen
still subsists, they are now seldom to be seen on the streets of
Edinburgh, of which their peculiar dress made them rather a
characteristic feature.

Having thus given an account of the genus and species to which Edie
Ochiltree appertains, the author may add, that the individual he had in
his eye was Andrew Gemmells, an old mendicant of the character described,
who was many years since well known, and must still be remembered, in the
vales of Gala, Tweed, Ettrick, Yarrow, and the adjoining country.

The author has in his youth repeatedly seen and conversed with Andrew,
but cannot recollect whether he held the rank of Blue-Gown. He was a
remarkably fine old figure, very tall, and maintaining a soldierlike or
military manner and address. His features were intelligent, with a
powerful expression of sarcasm. His motions were always so graceful, that
he might almost have been suspected of having studied them; for he might,
on any occasion, have, served as a model for an artist, so remarkably
striking were his ordinary attitudes. Andrew Gemmells had little of the
cant of his calling; his wants were food and shelter, or a trifle of
money, which he always claimed, and seemed to receive as his due. He,
sung a good song, told a good story, and could crack a severe jest with
all the acumen of Shakespeare's jesters, though without using, like them,
the cloak of insanity. It was some fear of Andrew's satire, as much as a
feeling of kindness or charity, which secured him the general good
reception which he enjoyed everywhere. In fact, a jest of Andrew
Gemmells, especially at the expense of a person of consequence, flew
round the circle which he frequented, as surely as the bon-mot of a man
of established character for wit glides through the fashionable world,
Many of his good things are held in remembrance, but are generally too
local and personal to be introduced here.

Andrew had a character peculiar to himself among his tribe for aught I
ever heard. He was ready and willing to play at cards or dice with any
one who desired such amusement. This was more in the character of the
Irish itinerant gambler, called in that country a "carrow," than of the
Scottish beggar. But the late Reverend Doctor Robert Douglas, minister of
Galashiels, assured the author, that the last time he saw Andrew
Gemmells, he was engaged in a game at brag with a gentleman of fortune,
distinction, and birth. To preserve the due gradations of rank, the party
was made at an open window of the chateau, the laird sitting on his chair
in the inside, the beggar on a stool in the yard; and they played on the
window-sill. The stake was a considerable parcel of silver. The author
expressing some surprise, Dr. Douglas observed, that the laird was no
doubt a humourist or original; but that many decent persons in those
times would, like him, have thought there was nothing extraordinary in
passing an hour, either in card-playing or conversation, with Andrew

This singular mendicant had generally, or was supposed to have, much
money about his person, as would have been thought the value of his life
among modern foot-pads. On one occasion, a country gentleman, generally
esteemed a very narrow man, happening to meet Andrew, expressed great
regret that he had no silver in his pocket, or he would have given him
sixpence. --"I can give you change for a note, laird," replied Andrew.

Like most who have arisen to the head of their profession, the modern
degradation which mendicity has undergone was often the subject of
Andrew's lamentations. As a trade, he said, it was forty pounds a-year
worse since he had first practised it. On another occasion he observed,
begging was in modern times scarcely the profession of a gentleman; and
that, if he had twenty sons, he would not easily be induced to breed one
of them up in his own line. When or where this _laudator temporis acti_
closed his wanderings, the author never heard with certainty; but most
probably, as Burns says,

--he died a cadger-powny's death,
At some dike side.

The author may add another picture of the same kind as Edie Ochiltree and
Andrew Gemmells; considering these illustrations as a sort of gallery,
open to the reception of anything which may elucidate former manners, or
amuse the reader.

The author's contemporaries at the university of Edinburgh will probably
remember the thin, wasted form of a venerable old Bedesman, who stood by
the Potterrow-Port, now demolished, and, without speaking a syllable,
gently inclined his head, and offered his hat, but with the least
possible degree of urgency, towards each individual who passed. This man
gained, by silence and the extenuated and wasted appearance of a palmer
from a remote country, the same tribute which was yielded to Andrew
Gemmells' sarcastic humour and stately deportment. He was understood to
be able to maintain a son a student in the theological classes of the
University, at the gate of which the father was a mendicant. The young
man was modest and inclined to learning, so that a student of the same
age, and whose parents where rather of the lower order, moved by seeing
him excluded from the society of other scholars when the secret of his
birth was suspected, endeavoured to console him by offering him some
occasional civilities. The old mendicant was grateful for this attention
to his son, and one day, as the friendly student passed, he stooped
forward more than usual, as if to intercept his passage. The scholar drew
out a halfpenny, which he concluded was the beggar's object, when he was
surprised to receive his thanks for the kindness he had shown to Jemmie,
and at the same time a cordial invitation to dine with them next
Saturday, "on a shoulder of mutton and potatoes," adding, "ye'll put on
your clean sark, as I have company." The student was strongly tempted to
accept this hospitable proposal, as many in his place would probably have
done; but, as the motive might have been capable of misrepresentation, he
thought it most prudent, considering the character and circumstances of
the old man, to decline the invitation.

Such are a few traits of Scottish mendicity, designed to throw light on a
Novel in which a character of that description plays a prominent part. We
conclude, that we have vindicated Edie Ochiltree's right to the
importance assigned him; and have shown, that we have known one beggar
take a hand at cards with a person of distinction, and another give
dinner parties.

I know not if it be worth while to observe, that the Antiquary,* was not
so well received on its first appearance as either of its predecessors,
though in course of time it rose to equal, and, with some readers,
superior popularity.

* Note A. Mottoes.




"THE ANTIQUARY" was begun in 1815; the bargain for its publication by
Constable was made in the October of that year. On December 22 Scott
wrote to Morritt: "I shall set myself seriously to 'The Antiquary,' of
which I have only a very general sketch at present; but when once I get
my pen to the paper it will walk fast enough. I am sometimes tempted to
leave it alone, and try whether it will not write as well without the
assistance of my head as with it,--a hopeful prospect for the reader!'"
It is amazing enough that he even constructed "a general sketch," for to
such sketches he confesses that he never could keep constant. "I have
generally written to the middle of one of these novels without having the
least idea how it was to end,--in short, in the _hab nab at a venture
style_ of composition" (Journal, Feb. 24, 1828). Yet it is almost
impossible but that the plot of "The Antiquary" should have been duly
considered. Scott must have known from the first who Lovel was to turn
out to be, and must have recognised in the hapless bride of Lord
Glenallan the object of the Antiquary's solitary and unfortunate passion.
To introduce another Wandering Heir immediately after the Harry Bertram
of "Guy Mannering" was rather audacious. But that old favourite, the Lost
Heir, is nearly certain to be popular. For the Antiquary's immortal
sorrow Scott had a model in his own experience. "What a romance to tell!
--and told, I fear, it will one day be. And then my three years of
dreaming and my two years of wakening will be chronicled doubtless. But
the dead will feel no pain." The dead, as Aristotle says, if they care
for such things at all, care no more than we do for what has passed in a

The general sketch probably began to take full shape about the last day
of 1815. On December 29 Scott wrote to Ballantyne:--


I've done, thank'God, with the long yarns
Of the most prosy of Apostles--Paul,1
And now advance, sweet heathen of Monkbarns,
Step out, old quizz, as fast as I can scrawl.

In "The Antiquary" Scott had a subject thoroughly to his mind. He had
been an antiquary from his childhood. His earliest pence had been devoted
to that collection of printed ballads which is still at Abbotsford. These
he mentions in the unfinished fragment of his "Reliquiae Trotcosienses,"
in much the same words as in his manuscript note on one of the seven

"This little collection of Stall tracts and ballads was formed by me,
when a boy, from the baskets of the travelling pedlars. Until put into
its present decent binding it had such charms for the servants that it
was repeatedly, and with difficulty, recovered from their clutches. It
contains most of the pieces that were popular about thirty years since,
and, I dare say, many that could not now be procured for any price

Nor did he collect only--

"The rare melody of some old ditties
That first were sung to please King Pepin's cradle.

"Walter had soon begun to gather out-of-the-way things of all sorts. He
had more books than shelves [sic]; a small painted cabinet with Scotch
and Roman coins in it, and so forth. A claymore and Lochaber axe, given
him by old Invernahyle, mounted guard on a little print of Prince
Charlie; and Broughton's Saucer was hooked up on the wall below it."
He had entered literature through the ruined gateway of archleology, in
the "Border Minstrelsy," and his last project was an edition of
Perrault's "Contes de Ma Mere l'Oie." As pleasant to him as the purchase
of new lands like Turn Again, bought dearly, as in Monkbarns's case, from
"bonnet lauds," was a fresh acquisition of an old book or of old armour.
Yet, with all his enthusiasm, he did not please the antiquaries of his
own day. George Chalmers, in Constable's "Life and Correspondence"
(i. 431), sneers at his want of learning. "His notes are loose and
unlearned, as they generally are." Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe, his
friend in life, disported himself in jealous and ribald mockery of
Scott's archaeological knowledge, when Scott was dead. In a letter of
the enigmatic Thomas Allen, or James Stuart Hay, father of John Sobieski
and Charles Edward Stuart, this mysterious person avers that he never
knew Scott's opinion to be held as of any value by antiquaries (1829).
They probably missed in him "a sort of pettifogging intimacy with dates,
names, and trifling matters of fact,--a tiresome and frivolous accuracy
of memory" which Sir Arthur Wardour reproves in Monkbarns. Scott, in
brief, was not as Dry-as-dust; all the dead bones that he touches come
to life. He was as great an archeologist as a poet can be, and, with
Virgil, was the greatest antiquary among poets. Like Monkbarns, he was
not incapable of being beguiled. As Oldbuck bought the bodle from the
pedlar at the price of a rare coin, so Scott took Surtees's "Barthram's
Dirge," and his Latin legend of the tourney with the spectre knight, for
genuine antiquities. No Edie Ochiltree ever revealed to him the truth
about these forgeries, and the spectre knight, with the ballad of
"Anthony Featherstonhaugh," hold their own in "Marmion," to assure the
world that this antiquary was gullible when the sleight was practised by
a friend. "Non est tanti," he would have said, had he learned the truth;
for he was ever conscious of the humorous side of the study of the
mouldering past. "I do not know anything which relieves the mind so much
from the sullens as a trifling discourse about antiquarian oldwomanries.
It is like knitting a stocking,--diverting the mind without occupying
it." ("Journal," March 9, 1828).

Begun about Jan. 1, 1816, "The Antiquary" was published before May 16,
1816, when Scott writes to say that he has sent Mr. Morritt the novel
"some time since." "It is not so interesting as its predecessors; the
period does not admit of so much romantic situation. But it has been
more fortunate than any of them in the sale, for six thousand went off
in the first six days, and it is now at press again." The Preface of the
first edition ends with the melancholy statement that the author "takes
his respectful leave, as one who is not likely again to solicit favour."
Apparently Scott had already determined not to announce his next novels
("The Black Dwarf" and "Old Mortality") as "by the Author of Waverley."
Mr. Constable, in the biography of his father, says (iii. 84): "Even
before the publication of 'The Antiquary,' John Ballantyne had been
impowered by the Author to negotiate with Mr. Murray and Mr. Blackwood
for the first series of the 'Tales of my Landlord.'" The note of
withdrawal from the stage, in the first edition of "The Antiquary," was
probably only a part of another experiment on public sagacity. As
Lockhart says, Mr. Murray and Mr. Blackwood thought that the consequent
absence of the Author of "Waverley's" name from the "Tales of my
Landlord" would "check very much the first success of the book;" but
they risked this, "to disturb Constable's tenure."

Scott's temporary desertion of Constable in the "Tales of my Landlord"
may have had various motives. There was a slight grudge against
Constable, born of some complications of the Ballantynes' affairs.
Perhaps the mere amusement of the experiment on public sagacity was one
of the more powerful reasons for the change. In our day Lord Lytton and
Mr. Trollope made similar trials of their popularity when anonymous, the
former author with the greater success. The idea of these masquerades and
veils of the incognito appears to have bewitched Constable. William
Godwin was writing for him his novel "Mandeville," and Godwin had
obviously been counselled to try a disguise. He says (Jan. 30, 1816) "I
have amused my imagination a thousand times since last we parted with the
masquerade you devised for me. The world is full of wonder. An old
favourite is always reviewed with coldness. . . . 'Pooh,' they say;
'Godwin has worn his pen to the stump!' . . . But let me once be equipped
with a significant mask and an unknown character from your masquerade
shop, and admitted to figure in with the 'Last Minstrel,' the 'Lady of
the Lake,' and 'Guy Mannering' in the Scottish carnival, Gods! how the
boys and girls will admire me! 'Here is a new wonder!' they will say.
'Ah, this is something like! Here is Godwin beaten on his own ground. . .
Here is for once a Scottish writer that they cannot say has anything of
the Scotchman about him.'"

However, Mr. Godwin did not don the mask and domino. "Mandeville" came
out about the same time as "Rob Roy;" but the "craziness of the public"
for the Author of "Waverley" was not changed into a passion for the
father-in-law of Shelley.

"'The Antiquary,' after a little pause of hesitation, attained popularity
not inferior to 'Guy Mannering,' and though the author appears for a
moment to have shared the doubts which he read in the countenance of
James Ballantyne, it certainly was, in the sequel, his chief favourite
among all his novels.'"

As Scott said to Terry, "If a man will paint from nature, he will be
likely to amuse those who are daily looking at it." The years which saw
the first appearance of "Guy Mannering" also witnessed that of "Emma." By
the singular chance, or law, which links great authors closely in time,
giving us novelists in pairs, Miss Austen was "drawing from nature" at
the very moment when Scott was wedding nature with romance. How
generously and wisely he admired her is familiar, and it may, to some,
seem curious that he never deliberately set himself to a picture of
ordinary life, free from the intrusion of the unusual, of the heroic.
Once, looking down at the village which lies on the Tweed, opposite
Melrose, he remarked that under its roofs tragedies and tales were
doubtless being lived. 'I undertake to say there is some real romance at
this moment going on down there, that, if it could have justice done to
it, would be well worth all the fiction that was ever spun out of human
brains.' But the example he gave was terrible,--"anything more dreadful
was never conceived by Crabbe;" yet, adds Lockhart, "it would never have
entered into his head to elaborate such a tale." He could not dwell in
the unbroken gloom dear to some modern malingerers. But he could easily
have made a tale of common Scotch life, dark with the sorrow of
Mucklebackit, and bright with the mirth of Cuddie Headrigg. There was,
however, this difficulty,--that Scott cared not to write a story of a
single class. "From the peer to the ploughman," all society mingles in
each of his novels. A fiction of middle-class life did not allure him,
and he was not at the best, but at his worst, as Sydney Smith observed,
in the light talk of society. He could admire Miss Austen, and read her
novels again and again; but had he attempted to follow her, by way of
variety, then inevitably wild as well as disciplined humour would have
kept breaking in, and his fancy would have wandered like the old knights
of Arthur's Court, "at adventure." "St. Ronan's Well" proved the truth of
all this. Thus it happens that, in "The Antiquary," with all his sympathy
for the people, with all his knowledge of them, he does not confine
himself to their cottages. As Lockhart says, in his admirable piece of
criticism, he preferred to choose topics in which he could display "his
highest art, that of skilful contrast."

Even the tragic romance of "Waverley" does not set off its Macwheebles
and Callum Begs better than the oddities of Jonathan Oldbuck and his
circle are relieved, on the one hand by the stately gloom of the
Glenallans, on the other by the stern affliction of the poor fisherman,
who, when discovered repairing "the auld black bitch of a boat," in which
his boy had been lost, and congratulated by his visitors on being capable
of the exertion, makes answer, "And what would you have me to do, unless
I wanted to see four children starve, because one is drowned? It 's weel
with you gentles, that can sit in the house with handkerchers at your
een, when ye lose a friend; but the like o' us maun to our work again,
if our hearts were beating as hard as ony hammer." And to his work again
Scott had to go when he lost the partner of his life.

The simple unsought charm which Lockhart notes in "The Antiquary" may
have passed away in later works, when what had been the amusement of
happy days became the task of sadness. But this magic "The Antiquary"
keeps perhaps beyond all its companions,--the magic of pleasant memories
and friendly associations. The sketches of the epoch of expected
invasion, with its patriotic musters and volunteer drillings, are
pictures out of that part in the author's life which, with his early
Highland wanderings ("Waverley") and his Liddesdale raids ("Guy
Mannering"), was most dear to him. In "Redgauntlet," again, he makes, as
Alan Fairford, a return on his youth and his home, and in "Rob Roy" he
revives his Highland recollections, his Highland lairds of "the blawing,
bleezing stories." None of the rest of the tales are so intimate in their
connection with Scott's own personal history. "The Antiquary" has always,
therefore, been held in the very first rank of his novels.

As far as plot goes, though Godwin denied that it had any story, "The
Antiquary" may be placed among the most careful. The underplot of the
Glenallans, gloomy almost beyond endurance, is very ingeniously made to
unravel the mystery of Lovel. The other side-narrative, that of
Dousterswivel, is the weak point of the whole; but this Scott justifies
by "very late instances of the force of superstitious credulity, to a
much greater extent." Some occurrence of the hour may have suggested the
knavish adept with his divining-rod. But facts are never a real excuse
for the morally incredible, or all but incredible, in fiction. On the
wealth and vraisemblance and variety of character it were superfluous to
dilate. As in Shakspeare, there is not even a minor person but lives and
is of flesh and blood, if we except, perhaps, Dousterswivel and Sir
Arthur Wardour. Sir Arthur is only Sir Robert Hazlewood over again, with
a slightly different folly and a somewhat more amiable nature. Lovel's
place, as usual, is among the shades of heroes, and his love-affair is
far less moving, far more summarily treated, than that of Jenny Caxon.
The skilful contrasts are perhaps most remarkable when we compare Elspeth
of the Burnfoot with the gossiping old women in the post-office at
Fairport,--a town studied perhaps from Arbroath. It was the opinion of
Sydney Smith that every one of the novels, before "The Fortunes of
Nigel," contained a Meg Merrilies and a Dominie Sampson. He may have
recognized a male Meg in Edie Ochiltree,--the invaluable character who is
always behind a wall, always overhears everything, and holds the threads
of the plot. Or he may have been hypercritical enough to think that
Elspeth of the Burnfoot is the Meg of the romance. Few will agree with
him that Meg Merrilies, in either of these cases, is "good, but good too

The supposed "originals" of certain persons in the tale have been topics
of discussion. The character of Oldbuck, like most characters in fiction,
is a combination of traits observed in various persons. Scott says, in a
note to the Ashiestiel fragment of Autobiography, that Mr. George
Constable, an old friend of his father's, "had many of those
peculiarities of character which long afterwards I tried to develop in
the character of Jonathan Oldbuck." Sir Walter, when a child, made Mr.
Constable's acquaintance at Prestonpans in 1777, where he explored the
battle-field "under the learned guidance of Dalgetty." Mr. Constable
first introduced him to Shakspeare's plays, and gave him his first German
dictionary. Other traits may have been suggested by John Clerk of Eldin,
whose grandfather was the hero of the story "Praetorian here, Praetorian
there, I made it wi' a flaughter spade." Lockhart is no doubt right in
thinking that Oldbuck is partly a caricature of Oldbuck's creator,--Sir
Walter indeed frankly accepted the kinship; and the book which he began
on his own collection he proposed to style "Reliquim Trotcosienses; or,
the Gabions of Jonathan Oldbuck."

Another person who added a few points to Oldbuck was "Sandy Gordon,"
author of the "Itinerarium Septentrionale" (1726), the very folio which
Monkbarns carried in the dilatory coach to Queensferry. Gordon had been
a student in the University of Aberdeen; he was an amateur in many arts,
but antiquarianism was his favourite hobby. He was an acquaintance of Sir
John Clerk of Eldin, the hero of the Praetorium. The words of Gordon in
his "Itinerarium," where he describes the battle of the Grampians, have
supplied, or suggested, the speech of Monkbarns at the Kaim of Kinprunes.
The great question was, Where is the Mons Grampius of Tacitus? Dismissing
Camden's Grantsbain, because he does not know where it is, Gordon says,
"As for our Scotch Antiquaries, they are so divided that some will have
it to be in the shire of Angus, or in the Mearns, some at the Blair of
Athol in Perthshire, or Ardoch in Strathallan, and others at
Inverpeffery." Gordon votes for Strathern, "half a mile short of the Kirk
of Comrie." This spot is both at the foot of the Montes Grampii, "and
boasts a Roman camp capable of holding an army fit to encounter so
formidable a number as thirty thousand Caledonians. . . . Here is the
Porta Decumana, opposite the Prcetoria, together with the dextra and
sinistra gates," all discovered by Sandy Gordon. "Moreover, the situation
of the ground is so very exact with the description given by Tacitus,
that in all my travels through Britain I never beheld anything with more
pleasure. . . . Nor is it difficult, in viewing this ground, to say where
the Covinarii, or Charioteers, stood. In fine, to an Antiquary, this is a
ravishing scene." He adds the argument "that Galgacus's name still
remains on this ground, for the moor on which the camp stood is called to
this day Galdachan, or Galgachan Rosmoor." All this lore Gordon
illustrates by an immense chart of a camp, and a picture of very small
Montes Grampii, about the size and shape of buns. The plate is dedicated
to his excellency General Wade.

In another point Monkbapns borrows from Gordon. Sandy has a plate (page
20) of "The Roman Sacellum of Mars Signifer, vulgarly called 'Arthur's
Oon.' With regard to its shape, it is not unlike the famous Pantheon at
Rome before the noble Portico was added to it by Marcus Agrippa." Gordon
agrees with Stukeley in attributing Arthur's Oon to Agricola, and here
Monkbarns and Lovel adopt almost his words. "Time has left Julius
Agricola's very name on the place; . . . and if ever those initial
letters J. A. M. P. M. P. T., mentioned by Sir Robert Sibbald, were
engraven on a stone in this building, it may not be reckoned altogether
absurd that they should bear this reading, JULIUS AGRICOLA MAGNUS
either accept or reject as he pleases. However, I think it may be as
probably received as that inscription on Caligula's Pharos in Holland,
which having these following letters, C. C. P. F., is read Caius Caligula
Pharum Fecit." "This," Monkbarns adds, "has ever been recorded as a sound

The character of Edie Ochiltree, Scott himself avers to have been
suggested by Andrew Gemmells, pleasantly described in the Introduction.
Mr. Chambers, in "Illustrations of the Author of 'Waverley," clears up a
point doubtful in Scott's memory, by saying that Geimells really was a
Blue-Gown. He rode a horse of his own, and at races was a bookmaker. He
once dropped at Rutherford, in Teviotdale, a clue of yarn containing
twenty guineas. Like Edie Ochiltree, he had served at Fontenoy. He died
at Roxburgh Newton in 1793, at the age of one hundred and five, according
to his own reckoning. "His wealth was the means of enriching a nephew in
Ayrshire, who is now (1825) a considerable landholder there, and belongs
to a respectable class of society."

An old Irus of similar character patrolled Teviotdale, while Andrew
Gemmells was attached to Ettrick and Yarrow. This was Blind Willie Craw.
Willie was the Society Journal of Hawick, and levied blackmail on the
inhabitants. He is thus described by Mr. Grieve, in the Diary already
quoted: "He lived at Branxholme Town, in a free house set apart for the
gamekeeper, and for many a year carried all the bread from Hawick used in
my father's family. He came in that way at breakfast-time, and got a
wallet which he put it in, and returned at dinner-time with the 'bawbee
rows' and two loaves. He laid the town of Hawick under contribution for
bawbees, and he knew the history of every individual, and went rhyming
through the town from door to door; and as he knew something against
every one which they would rather wish should not be rehearsed, a bawbee
put a stop to the paragraph which they wished suppressed. Willie Craw was
the son of a gamekeeper of the duke's, and enjoyed a free house at
Branxholme Town as long as he lived."

Had Burns ever betaken himself to the gaberlunzie's life, which he speaks
of in one of his poems as "the last o't, the worst o't," he would have
proved a much more formidable satirist than poor Willie Craw, the last of
the "blind crowders." Burns wrote, of course, in a spirit of reckless
humour; but he could not, even in sport, have alluded to the life as
"suited to his habits and powers," had gaberlunzies been mere mendicants.
In Herd's collection of Ballads is one on the ancient Scottish beggar:--

In Scotland there lived a humble beggar,
He had nor house, nor hald, nor hame;
But he was well liked by ilk a body,
And they gave him sunkets to rax his wame.

A sieve fu' o' meal, a handfu' o' groats,
A dad o' a bannock, or pudding bree,
Cauld porridge, or the lickings o' plates,
Wad make him as blythe as a body could be.

The dress and trade of the beggar are said to have been adopted by James
V. in his adventures, and tradition attributes to him a song, "The
Gaberlunzie Man."

One of Edie's most charming traits is his readiness to "fight for his
dish, like the laird for his land," when a French invasion was expected.
Scott places the date of "The False Alarm," when he himself rode a
hundred miles to join his regiment, on Feb. 2, 1804.

Lockhart gives it as an event of 1805 (vol. ii. p. 275). The occasion
gave great pleasure to Scott, on account of the patriotism and courage
displayed by all classes. "Me no muckle to fight for?" says Edie. "Isna
there the country to fight for, and the burns I gang dandering beside,
and the hearths o' the gudewives that gie me my bit bread, and the bits
o' weans that come toddling to play wi' me when I come about a landward
town?" Edie had fought at Fontenoy, and was of the old school. Scott
would have been less pleased with a recruit from St. Boswells, on the
Tweed. This man was a shoemaker, John Younger, a very intelligent and
worthy person, famous as an angler and writer on angling, who has left an
account of the "False Alarm" in his memoirs. His view was that the
people, unlike Edie, had nothing to fight for, that only the rich had any
reason to be patriotic, that the French had no quarrel with the poor. In
fact, Mr. Younger was a cosmopolitan democrat, and sneered at the old
Border glories of the warlike days. Probably, however, he would have done
his duty, had the enemy landed, and, like Edie, might have remembered the
"burns he dandered beside," always with a fishingrod in his hand.

The Editor cannot resist the temptation to add that the patriotic
lady mentioned in Scott's note, who "would rather have seen her son
dead on that hearth than hear that he had been a horse's length
behind his companions," was his paternal great-grandmother, Mrs.
John Lang. Her husband, who died shortly afterwards, so that she was
a widow when Scott conversed with her, chanced to be chief
magistrate of Selkirk. His family was aroused late one night by the
sound of a carriage hurrying down the steep and narrow street. Lord
Napier was bringing, probably from Hawick, the tidings that the
beacons were ablaze. The town-bell was instantly rung, the
inhabitants met in the marketplace, where Scott's statue now stands,
and the whole force, with one solitary exception, armed and marched
to Dalkeith. According to the gentleman whose horse and arms were
sent on to meet him, it was intended, if the French proved
victorious, that the population of the Border towns should abandon
their homes and retire to the hills.

No characters in the "Antiquary," except Monkbarns and Edie Ochiltree,
seem to have been borrowed from notable originals. The frauds of
Dousterswivel, Scott says, are rendered plausible by "very late instances
of the force of superstitious credulity to a much greater extent." He can
hardly be referring to the career of Cagliostro, but he may have had in
his memory some unsuccessful mining speculations by Charles Earl of
Traquair, who sought for lead and found little or none in Traquair hills.
The old "Statistical Account of Scotland" (vol. xii. p. 370) says nothing
about imposture, and merely remarks that "the noble family of Traquair
have made several attempts to discover lead mines, and have found
quantities of the ore of that metal, though not adequate to indemnify the
expenses of working, and have therefore given up the attempt." This was
published in 1794, so twenty years had passed when "The Antiquary" was
written. If there was here an "instance of superstitious credulity," it
was not "a very late instance." The divining, or "dowsing," rod of
Dousterswivel still keeps its place in mining superstition and in the
search for wells.

With "The Antiquary" most contemporary reviews of the novels lose their
interest. Their author had firmly established his position, at least till
"The Monastery" caused some murmurings. Even the "Quarterly Review" was
infinitely more genial in its reception of "The Antiquary" than of "Guy
Mannering." The critic only grumbled at Lovel's feverish dreams, which,
he thought, showed an intention to introduce the marvellous. He
complained of "the dark dialect of Anglified Erse," but found comfort in
the glossary appended. The "Edinburgh Review" pronounced the chapter on
the escape from the tide to be "I the very best description we have ever
met, inverse or in prose, in ancient or in modern writing." No reviewer
seems to have noticed that the sun is made to set in the sea, on the east
coast of Scotland. The "Edinburgh," however, declared that the Antiquary,
"at least in so far as he is an Antiquary," was the chief blemish on the
book. The "sweet heathen of Monkbarns" has not suffered from this
disparagement. The "British Critic" pledged its reputation that Scott was
the author. If an argument were wanted, "it would be that which has been
applied to prove the authenticity of the last book of the Iliad,--that
Homer must have written it, because no one else could." Alas! that
argument does not convince German critics.

Sir Walter Scott

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