Sometimes he thinks that Heaven this pageant sent,
And ordered all the pageants as they went;
Sometimes that only 'twas wild Fancy's play,--
The loose and scattered relics of the day.
We must now request our readers to adjourn to the breakfast parlour of
Mr. Oldbuck, who, despising the modern slops of tea and coffee, was
substantially regaling himself, _more majorum,_ with cold roast-beef, and
a glass of a sort of beverage called _mum_--a species of fat ale, brewed
from wheat and bitter herbs, of which the present generation only know
the name by its occurrence in revenue acts of parliament, coupled with
cider, perry, and other excisable commodities. Lovel, who was seduced to
taste it, with difficulty refrained from pronouncing it detestable, but
_did_ refrain, as he saw he should otherwise give great offence to his
host, who had the liquor annually prepared with peculiar care, according
to the approved recipe bequeathed to him by the so-often mentioned
Aldobrand Oldenbuck. The hospitality of the ladies offered Lovel a
breakfast more suited to modern taste, and while he was engaged in
partaking of it, he was assailed by indirect inquiries concerning the
manner in which he had passed the night.
"We canna compliment Mr. Lovel on his looks this morning, brother--but he
winna condescend on any ground of disturbance he has had in the night
time. I am certain he looks very pale, and when he came here he was as
fresh as a rose."
"Why, sister, consider this rose of yours has been knocked about by sea
and wind all yesterday evening, as if he had been a bunch of kelp or
tangle, and how the devil would you have him retain his colour?"
"I certainly do still feel somewhat fatigued," said Lovel,
"notwithstanding the excellent accommodations with which your hospitality
so amply supplied me."
"Ah, sir!" said Miss Oldbuck looking at him with a knowing smile, or what
was meant to be one, "ye'll not allow of ony inconvenience, out of
civility to us."
"Really, madam," replied Lovel, "I had no disturbance; for I cannot term
such the music with which some kind fairy favoured me."
"I doubted Mary wad waken you wi' her skreighing; she dinna ken I had
left open a chink of your window, for, forbye the ghaist, the Green Room
disna vent weel in a high wind--But I am judging ye heard mair than
Mary's lilts yestreen. Weel, men are hardy creatures--they can gae
through wi' a' thing. I am sure, had I been to undergo ony thing of that
nature,--that's to say that's beyond nature--I would hae skreigh'd out at
once, and raised the house, be the consequence what liket--and, I dare
say, the minister wad hae done as mickle, and sae I hae tauld him,--I ken
naebody but my brother, Monkbarns himsell, wad gae through the like o't,
if, indeed, it binna you, Mr. Lovel."
"A man of Mr. Oldbuck's learning, madam," answered the questioned party,
"would not be exposed to the inconvenience sustained by the Highland
gentleman you mentioned last night."
"Ay, ay--ye understand now where the difficulty lies. Language? he has
ways o' his ain wad banish a' thae sort o' worricows as far as the
hindermost parts of Gideon" (meaning possibly Midian), "as Mr.
Blattergowl says--only ane widna be uncivil to ane's forbear, though he
be a ghaist. I am sure I will try that receipt of yours, brother, that ye
showed me in a book, if onybody is to sleep in that room again, though I
think, in Christian charity, ye should rather fit up the matted-room
--it's a wee damp and dark, to be sure, but then we hae sae seldom
occasion for a spare bed."
"No, no, sister;--dampness and darkness are worse than spectres--ours are
spirits of light, and I would rather have you try the spell."
"I will do that blythely, Monkbarns, an I had the ingredients, as my
cookery book ca's them--There was _vervain_ and _dill_--I mind that
--Davie Dibble will ken about them, though, maybe, he'll gie them Latin
names--and Peppercorn, we hae walth o' them, for"--
"Hypericon, thou foolish woman!" thundered Oldbuck; "d'ye suppose you're
making a haggis--or do you think that a spirit, though he be formed of
air, can be expelled by a receipt against wind?--This wise Grizel of
mine, Mr. Lovel, recollects (with what accuracy you may judge) a charm
which I once mentioned to her, and which, happening to hit her
superstitious noddle, she remembers better than anything tending to a
useful purpose, I may chance to have said for this ten years. But many an
old woman besides herself"--
"Auld woman, Monkbarns!" said Miss Oldbuck, roused something above her
usual submissive tone; "ye really are less than civil to me."
"Not less than just, Grizel: however, I include in the same class many a
sounding name, from Jamblichus down to Aubrey, who have wasted their time
in devising imaginary remedies for non-existing diseases.--But I hope, my
young friend, that, charmed or uncharmed--secured by the potency of
With vervain and with dill,
That hinder witches of their will,
or left disarmed and defenceless to the inroads of the invisible world,
you will give another night to the terrors of the haunted apartment, and
another day to your faithful and feal friends."
"I heartily wish I could, but"--
"Nay, but me no _buts_--I have set my heart upon it."
"I am greatly obliged, my dear sir, but"--
"Look ye there, now--_but_ again!--I hate _but;_ I know no form of
expression in which he can appear, that is amiable, excepting as a _butt_
of sack. But is to me a more detestable combination of letters than _no_
itself._No_ is a surly, honest fellow--speaks his mind rough and round at
once._But_ is a sneaking, evasive, half-bred, exceptuous sort of a
conjunction, which comes to pull away the cup just when it is at your
--it does allay
The good precedent--fie upon _but yet!_
_But yet_ is as a jailor to bring forth
Some monstrous malefactor."
"Well, then," answered Lovel, whose motions were really undetermined at
the moment, "you shall not connect the recollection of my name with so
churlish a particle. I must soon think of leaving Fairport, I am afraid
--and I will, since you are good enough to wish it, take this opportunity
of spending another day here."
"And you shall be rewarded, my boy. First, you shall see John o' the
Girnel's grave, and then we'll walk gently along the sands, the state of
the tide being first ascertained (for we will have no more Peter Wilkins'
adventures, no more Glum and Gawrie work), as far as Knockwinnock Castle,
and inquire after the old knight and my fair foe--which will but be
barely civil, and then"--
"I beg pardon, my dear sir; but, perhaps, you had better adjourn your
visit till to-morrow--I am a stranger, you know."
"And are, therefore, the more bound to show civility, I should suppose.
But I beg your pardon for mentioning a word that perhaps belongs only to
a collector of antiquities--I am one of the old school,
When courtiers galloped o'er four counties
The ball's fair partner to behold,
And humbly hope she caught no cold."
"Why, if--if--if you thought it would be expected--but I believe I had
"Nay, nay, my good friend, I am not so old-fashioned as to press you to
what is disagreeable, neither--it is sufficient that I see there is some
_remora,_ some cause of delay, some mid impediment, which I have no title
to inquire into. Or you are still somewhat tired, perhaps;--I warrant I
find means to entertain your intellects without fatiguing your limbs--I
am no friend to violent exertion myself--a walk in the garden once a-day
is exercise, enough for any thinking being--none but a fool or a
fox-hunter would require more. Well, what shall we set about?--my Essay
on Castrametation--but I have that in _petto_ for our afternoon cordial;
--or I will show you the controversy upon Ossian's Poems between
Mac-Cribb and me. I hold with the acute Orcadian--he with the defenders
of the authenticity;--the controversy began in smooth, oily, lady-like
terms, but is now waxing more sour and eager as we get on--it already
partakes somewhat of old Scaliger's style. I fear the rogue will get some
scent of that story of Ochiltree's--but at worst, I have a hard repartee
for him on the affair of the abstracted Antigonus--I will show you his
last epistle and the scroll of my answer--egad, it is a trimmer!"
So saying, the Antiquary opened a drawer, and began rummaging among a
quantity of miscellaneous papers, ancient and modern. But it was the
misfortune of this learned gentleman, as it may be that of many learned
and unlearned, that he frequently experienced, on such occasions, what
Harlequin calls _l'embarras des richesses;_ in other words, the abundance
of his collection often prevented him from finding the article he sought
for. "Curse the papers!--I believe," said Oldbuck, as he shuffled them to
and fro--"I believe they make themselves wings like grasshoppers, and fly
away bodily--but here, in the meanwhile, look at that little treasure."
So saying, he put into his hand a case made of oak, fenced at the corner
with silver roses and studs--"Pr'ythee, undo this button," said he, as he
observed Lovel fumbling at the clasp. He did so,--the lid opened, and
discovered a thin quarto, curiously bound in black shagreen--"There, Mr.
Lovel--there is the work I mentioned to you last night--the rare quarto
of the Augsburg Confession, the foundation at once and the bulwark of the
Reformation drawn up by the learned and venerable Melancthon, defended by
the Elector of Saxony, and the other valiant hearts who stood up for
their faith, even against the front of a powerful and victorious emperor,
and imprinted by the scarcely less venerable and praiseworthy Aldobrand
Oldenbuck, my happy progenitor, during the yet more tyrannical attempts
of Philip II. to suppress at once civil and religious liberty. Yes, sir
--for printing this work, that eminent man was expelled from his
ungrateful country, and driven to establish his household gods even here
at Monkbarns, among the ruins of papal superstition and domination.
--Look upon his venerable effigies, Mr. Lovel, and respect the honourable
occupation in which it presents him, as labouring personally at the
press for the diffusion of Christian and political knowledge.--And see
here his favourite motto, expressive of his independence and self-
reliance, which scorned to owe anything to patronage that was not earned
by desert--expressive also of that firmness of mind and tenacity of
purpose recommended by Horace. He was indeed a man who would have stood
firm, had his whole printing-house, presses, fonts, forms, great and
small pica, been shivered to pieces around him--Read, I say, his motto,
--for each printer had his motto, or device, when that illustrious art
was first practised. My ancestor's was expressed, as you see, in the
Teutonic phrase, Kunst macht Gunst--that is, skill, or prudence, in
availing ourselves of our natural talents and advantages, will compel
favour and patronage, even where it is withheld from prejudice or
"And that," said Lovel, after a moment's thoughtful silence--"that, then,
is the meaning of these German words?"
"Unquestionably. You perceive the appropriate application to a
consciousness of inward worth, and of eminence in a useful and honourable
art.--Each printer in those days, as I have already informed you, had his
device, his impresa, as I may call it, in the same manner as the doughty
chivalry of the age, who frequented tilt and tournament. My ancestor
boasted as much in his, as if he had displayed it over a conquered field
of battle, though it betokened the diffusion of knowledge, not the
effusion of blood. And yet there is a family tradition which affirms him
to have chosen it from a more romantic circumstance."
"And what is that said to have been, my good sir?" inquired his young
"Why, it rather encroaches on my respected predecessor's fame for
prudence and wisdom--_Sed semel insanivimus omnes_--everybody has played
the fool in their turn. It is said, my ancestor, during his
apprenticeship with the descendant of old Faust, whom popular tradition
hath sent to the devil under the name of Faustus, was attracted by a
paltry slip of womankind, his master's daughter, called Bertha--they
broke rings, or went through some idiotical ceremony, as is usual on such
idle occasions as the plighting of a true-love troth, and Aldobrand set
out on his journey through Germany, as became an honest _hand-werker;_
for such was the custom of mechanics at that time, to make a tour through
the empire, and work at their trade for a time in each of the most
eminent towns, before they finally settled themselves for life. It was a
wise custom; for, as such travellers were received like brethren in each
town by those of their own handicraft, they were sure, in every case, to
have the means either of gaining or communicating knowledge. When my
ancestor returned to Nuremburg, he is said to have found his old master
newly dead, and two or three gallant young suitors, some of them
half-starved sprigs of nobility forsooth, in pursuit of the _Yung-fraw_
Bertha, whose father was understood to have bequeathed her a dowry which
might weigh against sixteen armorial quarters. But Bertha, not a bad
sample of womankind, had made a vow she would only marry that man who
would work her father's press. The skill, at that time, was as rare as
wonderful; besides that the expedient rid her at once of most of her
_gentle_ suitors, who would have as soon wielded a conjuring wand as a
composing stick. Some of the more ordinary typographers made the attempt:
but none were sufficiently possessed of the mystery--But I tire you."
"By no means; pray, proceed, Mr. Oldbuck--I listen with uncommon
"Ah! it is all folly. However--Aldobrand arrived in the ordinary dress,
as we would say, of a journeyman printer--the same in which he had
traversed Germany, and conversed with Luther, Melancthon, Erasmus, and
other learned men, who disdained not his knowledge, and the power he
possessed of diffusing it, though hid under a garb so homely. But what
appeared respectable in the eyes of wisdom, religion, learning, and
philosophy, seemed mean, as might readily be supposed, and disgusting, in
those of silly and affected womankind, and Bertha refused to acknowledge
her former lover, in the torn doublet, skin cap, clouted shoes, and
leathern apron, of a travelling handicraftsman or mechanic. He claimed
his privilege, however, of being admitted to a trial; and when the rest
of the suitors had either declined the contest, or made such work as the
devil could not read if his pardon depended on it, all eyes were bent on
the stranger. Aldobrand stepped gracefully forward, arranged the types
without omission of a single letter, hyphen, or comma, imposed them
without deranging a single space, and pulled off the first proof as clear
and free from errors, as if it had been a triple revise! All applauded
the worthy successor of the immortal Faustus--the blushing maiden
acknowledged her error in trusting to the eye more than the intellect
--and the elected bridegroom thenceforward chose for his impress or device
the appropriate words, _Skill wins favour._'--But what is the matter with
you?--you are in a brown study! Come, I told you this was but trumpery
conversation for thinking people--and now I have my hand on the Ossianic
"I beg your pardon," said Lovel; "I am going to appear very silly and
changeable in your eyes, Mr. Oldbuck--but you seemed to think Sir Arthur
might in civility expect a call from me?"
"Psha! psha! I can make your apology; and if you must leave us so soon as
you say, what signifies how you stand in his honours good graces?--And I
warn you that the Essay on Castrametation is something prolix, and will
occupy the time we can spare after dinner, so you may lose the Ossianic
Controversy if we do not dedicate this morning to it. We will go out to
my ever-green bower, my sacred holly-tree yonder, and have it _fronde
Sing heigh-ho! heigh-ho! for the green holly,
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly.
But, egad," continued the old gentleman, "when I look closer at you, I
begin to think you may be of a different opinion. Amen with all my heart
--I quarrel with no man's hobby, if he does not run it a tilt against
mine, and if he does--let him beware his eyes. What say you?--in the
language of the world and worldlings base, if you can condescend to so
mean a sphere, shall we stay or go?"
"In the language of selfishness, then, which is of course the language of
the world--let us go by all means."
"Amen, amen, quo' the Earl Marshall," answered Oldbuck, as he exchanged
his slippers for a pair of stout walking shoes, with _cutikins,_ as he
called them, of black cloth. He only interrupted the walk by a slight
deviation to the tomb of John o' the Girnel, remembered as the last
bailiff of the abbey who had resided at Monkbarns. Beneath an old
oak-tree upon a hillock, sloping pleasantly to the south, and catching a
distant view of the sea over two or three rich enclosures, and the
Mussel-crag, lay a moss-grown stone, and, in memory of the departed
worthy, it bore an inscription, of which, as Mr. Oldbuck affirmed (though
many doubted), the defaced characters could be distinctly traced to the
Here lyeth John o' ye Girnell;
Erth has ye nit, and heuen ye kirnell.
In hys tyme ilk wyfe's hennis clokit,
Ilka gud mannis herth wi' bairnis was stokit.
He deled a boll o' bear in firlottis fyve,
Four for ye halie kirke, and ane for puir mennis wyvis.
"You see how modest the author of this sepulchral commendation was;--he
tells us that honest John could make five firlots, or quarters, as you
would say, out of the boll, instead of four,--that he gave the fifth to
the wives of the parish, and accounted for the other four to the abbot
and chapter--that in his time the wives' hens always laid eggs--and devil
thank them, if they got one-fifth of the abbey rents; and that honest
men's hearths were never unblest with offspring--an addition to the
miracle, which they, as well as I, must have considered as perfectly
unaccountable. But come on--leave we Jock o' the Girnel, and let us jog
on to the yellow sands, where the sea, like a repulsed enemy, is now
retreating from the ground on which he gave us battle last night."
Thus saying, he led the way to the sands. Upon the links or downs close
to them, were seen four or five huts inhabited by fishers, whose boats,
drawn high upon the beach, lent the odoriferous vapours of pitch melting
under a burning sun, to contend with those of the offals of fish and
other nuisances usually collected round Scottish cottages. Undisturbed by
these complicated steams of abomination, a middle-aged woman, with a face
which had defied a thousand storms, sat mending a net at the door of one
of the cottages. A handkerchief close bound about her head, and a coat
which had formerly been that of a man, gave her a masculine air, which
was increased by her strength, uncommon stature, and harsh voice. "What
are ye for the day, your honour?" she said, or rather screamed, to
Oldbuck; "caller haddocks and whitings--a bannock-fluke and a
"How much for the bannock-fluke and cock-padle?" demanded the Antiquary.
"Four white shillings and saxpence," answered the Naiad.
"Four devils and six of their imps!" retorted the Antiquary; "do you
think I am mad, Maggie?"
"And div ye think," rejoined the virago, setting her arms akimbo, "that
my man and my sons are to gae to the sea in weather like yestreen and the
day--sic a sea as it's yet outby--and get naething for their fish, and be
misca'd into the bargain, Monkbarns? It's no fish ye're buying--it's
"Well, Maggie, I'll bid you fair--I'll bid you a shilling for the fluke
and the cock-padle, or sixpence separately--and if all your fish are as
well paid, I think your man, as you call him, and your sons, will make a
"Deil gin their boat were knockit against the Bell-Rock rather! it wad be
better, and the bonnier voyage o' the twa. A shilling for thae twa bonnie
fish! Od, that's ane indeed!"
"Well, well, you old beldam, carry your fish up to Monkbarns, and see
what my sister will give you for them."
"Na, na, Monkbarns, deil a fit--I'll rather deal wi' yoursell; for though
you're near enough, yet Miss Grizel has an unco close grip--I'll gie ye
them" (in a softened tone) "for three-and-saxpence."
"Eighteen-pence, or nothing!"
"Eighteen-pence!!!" (in a loud tone of astonishment, which declined into
a sort of rueful whine, when the dealer turned as if to walk away)--"Yell
no be for the fish then?"--(then louder, as she saw him moving off)
--"I'll gie ye them--and--and--and a half-a-dozen o' partans to make the
sauce, for three shillings and a dram."
"Half-a-crown then, Maggie, and a dram."
"Aweel, your honour maun hae't your ain gate, nae doubt; but a dram's
worth siller now--the distilleries is no working."
"And I hope they'll never work again in my time," said Oldbuck.
"Ay, ay--it's easy for your honour, and the like o' you gentle-folks to
say sae, that hae stouth and routh, and fire and fending and meat and
claith, and sit dry and canny by the fireside--but an ye wanted fire, and
meat, and dry claes, and were deeing o' cauld, and had a sair heart,
whilk is warst ava', wi' just tippence in your pouch, wadna ye be glad to
buy a dram wi't, to be eilding and claes, and a supper and heart's ease
into the bargain, till the morn's morning?"
"It's even too true an apology, Maggie. Is your goodman off to sea this
morning, after his exertions last night?"
"In troth is he, Monkbarns; he was awa this morning by four o'clock, when
the sea was working like barm wi' yestreen's wind, and our bit coble
dancing in't like a cork."
"Well, he's an industrious fellow. Carry the fish up to Monkbarns."
"That I will--or I'll send little Jenny, she'll rin faster; but I'll ca'
on Miss Grizzy for the dram mysell, and say ye sent me."
A nondescript animal, which might have passed for a mermaid, as it was
paddling in a pool among the rocks, was summoned ashore by the shrill
screams of its dam; and having been made decent, as her mother called it,
which was performed by adding a short red cloak to a petticoat, which was
at first her sole covering, and which reached scantily below her knee,
the child was dismissed with the fish in a basket, and a request on the
part of Monkbarns that they might be prepared for dinner. "It would have
been long," said Oldbuck, with much self-complacency, "ere my womankind
could have made such a reasonable bargain with that old skin-flint,
though they sometimes wrangle with her for an hour together under my
study window, like three sea-gulls screaming and sputtering in a gale of
wind. But come, wend we on our way to Knockwinnock."