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Chapter 17

Of seats they tell, where priests, 'mid tapers dim,
Breathed the warm prayer, or tuned the midnight hymn
To scenes like these the fainting soul retired;
Revenge and Anger in these cells expired:
By Pity soothed, Remorse lost half her fears,
And softened Pride dropped penitential tears.
Crabbe's Borough.

The morning of Friday was as serene and beautiful as if no pleasure party
had been intended; and that is a rare event, whether in novel-writing or
real life. Lovel, who felt the genial influence of the weather, and
rejoiced at the prospect of once more meeting with Miss Wardour, trotted
forward to the place of rendezvous with better spirits than he had for
some time enjoyed. His prospects seemed in many respects to open and
brighten before him--and hope, although breaking like the morning sun
through clouds and showers, appeared now about to illuminate the path
before him. He was, as might have been expected from this state of
spirits, first at the place of meeting,--and, as might also have been
anticipated, his looks were so intently directed towards the road from
Knockwinnock Castles that he was only apprized of the arrival of the
Monkbarns division by the gee-hupping of the postilion, as the
post-chaise lumbered up behind him. In this vehicle were pent up, first,
the stately figure of Mr. Oldbuck himself; secondly, the scarce less
portly person of the Reverend Mr. Blattergowl, minister of Trotcosey, the
parish in which Monkbarns and Knockwinnock were both situated. The
reverend gentleman was equipped in a buzz wig, upon the top of which was
an equilateral cocked hat. This was the paragon of the three yet
remaining wigs of the parish, which differed, as Monkbarns used to
remark, like the three degrees of comparison--Sir Arthur's ramilies being
the positive, his own bob-wig the comparative, and the overwhelming
grizzle of the worthy clergyman figuring as the superlative. The
superintendent of these antique garnitures, deeming, or affecting to
deem, that he could not well be absent on an occasion which assembled all
three together, had seated himself on the board behind the carriage,
"just to be in the way in case they wanted a touch before the gentlemen
sat down to dinner." Between the two massive figures of Monkbarns and the
clergyman was stuck, by way of bodkin, the slim form of Mary M'Intyre,
her aunt having preferred a visit to the manse, and a social chat with
Miss Beckie Blattergowl, to investigating the ruins of the priory of
Saint Ruth.

As greetings passed between the members of the Monkbarns party and Mr.
Lovel, the Baronet's carriage, an open barouche, swept onward to the
place of appointment, making, with its smoking bays, smart drivers, arms,
blazoned panels, and a brace of outriders, a strong contrast with the
battered vehicle and broken-winded backs which had brought thither the
Antiquary and his followers. The principal seat of the carriage was
occupied by Sir Arthur and his daughter. At the first glance which passed
betwixt Miss Wardour and Lovel, her colour rose considerably;--but she
had apparently made up her mind to receive him as a friend, and only as
such, and there was equal composure and courtesy in the mode of her reply
to his fluttered salutation. Sir Arthur halted the barouche to shake his
preserver kindly by the hand, and intimate the pleasure he had on this
opportunity of returning him his personal thanks; then mentioned to him,
in a tone of slight introduction, "Mr. Dousterswivel, Mr. Lovel."

Lovel took the necessary notice of the German adept, who occupied the
front seat of the carriage, which is usually conferred upon dependants or
inferiors. The ready grin and supple inclination with which his
salutation, though slight, was answered by the foreigner, increased the
internal dislike which Lovel had already conceived towards him; and it
was plain, from the lower of the Antiquary's shaggy eye-brow, that he too
looked with displeasure on this addition to the company. Little more than
distant greeting passed among the members of the party, until, having
rolled on for about three miles beyond the place at which they met, the
carriages at length stopped at the sign of the Four Horse-shoes, a small
hedge inn, where Caxon humbly opened the door, and let down the step of
the hack-chaise, while the inmates of the barouche were, by their more
courtly attendants, assisted to leave their equipage.

Here renewed greetings passed: the young ladies shook hands; and Oldbuck,
completely in his element, placed himself as guide and cicerone at the
head of the party, who were now to advance on foot towards the object of
their curiosity. He took care to detain Lovel close beside him as the
best listener of the party, and occasionally glanced a word of
explanation and instruction to Miss Wardour and Mary M'Intyre, who
followed next in order. The Baronet and the clergyman he rather avoided,
as he was aware both of them conceived they understood such matters as
well, or better than he did; and Dousterswivel, besides that he looked on
him as a charlatan, was so nearly connected with his apprehended loss in
the stock of the mining company, that he could not abide the sight of
him. These two latter satellites, therefore, attended upon the orb of Sir
Arthur, to whom, moreover, as the most important person of the society,
they were naturally induced to attach themselves.

It frequently happens that the most beautiful points of Scottish scenery
lie hidden in some sequestered dell, and that you may travel through the
country in every direction without being aware of your vicinity to what
is well worth seeing, unless intention or accident carry you to the very
spot. This is particularly the case in the country around Fairport, which
is, generally speaking, open, unenclosed, and bare. But here and there
the progress of rills, or small rivers, has formed dells, glens, or as
they are provincially termed, _dens,_ on whose high and rocky banks trees
and shrubs of all kinds find a shelter, and grow with a luxuriant
profusion, which is the more gratifying, as it forms an unexpected
contrast with the general face of the country. This was eminently the
case with the approach to the ruins of Saint Ruth, which was for some
time merely a sheep-track, along the side of a steep and bare hill. By
degrees, however, as this path descended, and winded round the hillside,
trees began to appear, at first singly, stunted, and blighted, with locks
of wool upon their trunks, and their roots hollowed out into recesses, in
which the sheep love to repose themselves--a sight much more gratifying
to the eye of an admirer of the picturesque than to that of a planter or
forester. By and by the trees formed groups, fringed on the edges, and
filled up in the middle, by thorns and hazel bushes; and at length these
groups closed so much together, that although a broad glade opened here
and there under their boughs, or a small patch of bog or heath occurred
which had refused nourishment to the seed which they sprinkled round, and
consequently remained open and waste, the scene might on the whole be
termed decidedly woodland. The sides of the valley began to approach each
other more closely; the rush of a brook was heard below, and between the
intervals afforded by openings in the natural wood, its waters were seen
hurling clear and rapid under their silvan canopy.

Oldbuck now took upon himself the full authority of cicerone, and
anxiously directed the company not to go a foot-breadth off the track
which he pointed out to them, if they wished to enjoy in full perfection
what they came to see. "You are happy in me for a guide, Miss Wardour,"
exclaimed the veteran, waving his hand and head in cadence as he repeated
with emphasis,

I know each lane, and every alley green,
Dingle, or bushy dell, of this wild wood,
And every bosky bower from side to side. *

* (Milton's _Comus._)

Ah! deuce take it!--that spray of a bramble has demolished all Caxon's
labours, and nearly canted my wig into the stream--so much for
recitations, _hors de propos._"

"Never mind, my dear sir," said Miss Wardour; "you have your faithful
attendant ready to repair such a disaster when it happens, and when you
appear with it as restored to its original splendour, I will carry on the

So sinks the day-star in the ocean bed,
And yet anon repairs his drooping head,
And tricks his beams, and with new-spangled ore
Flames on the forehead"--*

* (_Lycidas._)

"O! enough, enough!" answered Oldbuck; "I ought to have known what it was
to give you advantage over me--But here is what will stop your career of
satire, for you are an admirer of nature, I know." In fact, when they had
followed him through a breach in a low, ancient, and ruinous wall, they
came suddenly upon a scene equally unexpected and interesting.

They stood pretty high upon the side of the glen, which had suddenly
opened into a sort of amphitheatre to give room for a pure and profound
lake of a few acres extent, and a space of level ground around it. The
banks then arose everywhere steeply, and in some places were varied by
rocks--in others covered with the copse, which run up, feathering their
sides lightly and irregularly, and breaking the uniformity of the green
pasture-ground.--Beneath, the lake discharged itself into the huddling
and tumultuous brook, which had been their companion since they had
entered the glen. At the point at which it issued from "its parent lake,"
stood the ruins which they had come to visit. They were not of great
extent; but the singular beauty, as well as the wild and sequestered
character of the spot on which they were situated, gave them an interest
and importance superior to that which attaches itself to architectural
remains of greater consequence, but placed near to ordinary houses, and
possessing less romantic accompaniments. The eastern window of the church
remained entire, with all its ornaments and tracery work; and the sides,
upheld by flying buttresses whose airy support, detached from the wall
against which they were placed, and ornamented with pinnacles and carved
work, gave a variety and lightness to the building. The roof and western
end of the church were completely ruinous; but the latter appeared to
have made one side of a square, of which the ruins of the conventual
buildings formed other two, and the gardens a fourth. The side of these
buildings which overhung the brook, was partly founded on a steep and
precipitous rock; for the place had been occasionally turned to military
purposes, and had been taken with great slaughter during Montrose's wars.
The ground formerly occupied by the garden was still marked by a few
orchard trees. At a greater distance from the buildings were detached
oaks and elms and chestnuts, growing singly, which had attained great
size. The rest of the space between the ruins and the hill was a
close-cropt sward, which the daily pasture of the sheep kept in much
finer order than if it had been subjected to the scythe and broom. The
whole scene had a repose, which was still and affecting without being
monotonous. The dark, deep basin, in which the clear blue lake reposed,
reflecting the water lilies which grew on its surface, and the trees
which here and there threw their arms from the banks, was finely
contrasted with the haste and tumult of the brook which broke away from
the outlet, as if escaping from confinement and hurried down the glen,
wheeling around the base of the rock on which the ruins were situated,
and brawling in foam and fury with every shelve and stone which
obstructed its passage. A similar contrast was seen between the level
green meadow, in which the ruins were situated, and the large
timber-trees which were scattered over it, compared with the precipitous
banks which arose at a short distance around, partly fringed with light
and feathery underwood, partly rising in steeps clothed with purple
heath, and partly more abruptly elevated into fronts of grey rock,
chequered with lichen, and with those hardy plants which find root even
in the most and crevices of the crags.

"There was the retreat of learning in the days of darkness, Mr. Lovel!"
said Oldbuck,--around whom the company had now grouped themselves while
they admired the unexpected opening of a prospect so romantic;--"there
reposed the sages who were aweary of the world, and devoted either to
that which was to come, or to the service of the generations who should
follow them in this. I will show you presently the library;--see that
stretch of wall with square-shafted windows--there it existed, stored, as
an old manuscript in my possession assures me, with five thousand
volumes. And here I might well take up the lamentation of the learned
Leland, who, regretting the downfall of the conventual libraries,
exclaims, like Rachel weeping for her children, that if the Papal laws,
decrees, decretals, clementines, and other such drugs of the devil--yea,
if Heytesburg's sophisms, Porphyry's universals, Aristotle's logic, and
Dunse's divinity, with such other lousy legerdemains (begging your
pardon, Miss Wardour) and fruits of the bottomless pit,--had leaped out
of our libraries, for the accommodation of grocers, candlemakers,
soapsellers, and other worldly occupiers, we might have been therewith
contented. But to put our ancient chronicles, our noble histories, our
learned commentaries, and national muniments, to such offices of contempt
and subjection, has greatly degraded our nation, and showed ourselves
dishonoured in the eyes of posterity to the utmost stretch of time--O
negligence most unfriendly to our land!"

"And, O John Knox" said the Baronet, "through whose influence, and under
whose auspices, the patriotic task was accomplished!"

The Antiquary, somewhat in the situation of a woodcock caught in his own
springe, turned short round and coughed, to excuse a slight blush as he
mustered his answer--"as to the Apostle of the Scottish Reformation"--

But Miss Wardour broke in to interrupt a conversation so dangerous.
"Pray, who was the author you quoted, Mr. Oldbuck?"

"The learned Leland, Miss Wardour, who lost his senses on witnessing the
destruction of the conventual libraries in England."

"Now, I think," replied the young lady, "his misfortune may have saved
the rationality of some modern antiquaries, which would certainly have
been drowned if so vast a lake of learning had not been diminished by

"Well, thank Heaven, there is no danger now--they have hardly left us a
spoonful in which to perform the dire feat."

So saying, Mr. Oldbuck led the way down the bank, by a steep but secure
path, which soon placed them on the verdant meadow where the ruins stood.
"There they lived," continued the Antiquary, "with nought to do but to
spend their time in investigating points of remote antiquity,
transcribing manuscripts, and composing new works for the information of

"And," added the Baronet, "in exercising the rites of devotion with a
pomp and ceremonial worthy of the office of the priesthood."

"And if Sir Arthur's excellence will permit," said the German, with a low
bow, "the monksh might also make de vary curious experiment in deir
laboraties, both in chemistry and _magia naturalis._"

"I think," said the clergyman, "they would have enough to do in
collecting the teinds of the parsonage and vicarage of three good

"And all," added Miss Wardour, nodding to the Antiquary, "without
interruption from womankind."

"True, my fair foe," said Oldbuck; "this was a paradise where no Eve was
admitted, and we may wonder the rather by what chance the good fathers
came to lose it."

With such criticisms on the occupations of those by whom the ruins had
been formerly possessed, they wandered for some time from one moss-grown
shrine to another, under the guidance of Oldbuck, who explained, with
much plausibility, the ground-plan of the edifice, and read and expounded
to the company the various mouldering inscriptions which yet were to be
traced upon the tombs of the dead, or under the vacant niches of the
sainted images.

"What is the reason," at length Miss Wardour asked the Antiquary, "why
tradition has preserved to us such meagre accounts of the inmates of
these stately edifices, raised with such expense of labour and taste, and
whose owners were in their times personages of such awful power and
importance? The meanest tower of a freebooting baron or squire who lived
by his lance and broadsword, is consecrated by its appropriate legend,
and the shepherd will tell you with accuracy the names and feats of its
inhabitants;--but ask a countryman concerning these beautiful and
extensive remains--these towers, these arches, and buttresses, and
shafted windows, reared at such cost,--three words fill up his answer
--they were made up by the monks lang syne.'"

The question was somewhat puzzling. Sir Arthur looked upward, as if
hoping to be inspired with an answer--Oldbuck shoved back his wig--the
clergyman was of opinion that his parishioners were too deeply impressed
with the true presbyterian doctrine to preserve any records concerning
the papistical cumberers of the land, offshoots as they were of the great
overshadowing tree of iniquity, whose roots are in the bowels of the
seven hills of abomination--Lovel thought the question was best resolved
by considering what are the events which leave the deepest impression on
the minds of the common people--"These," he contended, "were not such as
resemble the gradual progress of a fertilizing river, but the headlong
and precipitous fury of some portentous flood. The eras by which the
vulgar compute time, have always reference to some period of fear and
tribulation, and they date by a tempest, an earthquake, or burst of civil
commotion. When such are the facts most alive, in the memory of the
common people, we cannot wonder," he concluded, "that the ferocious
warrior is remembered, and the peaceful abbots are abandoned to
forgetfulness and oblivion."

"If you pleashe, gentlemans and ladies, and ashking pardon of Sir Arthur
and Miss Wardour, and this worthy clergymansh, and my goot friend Mr.
Oldenbuck, who is my countrymansh, and of goot young Mr. Lofel also, I
think it is all owing to de hand of glory."

"The hand of what?" exclaimed Oldbuck.

"De hand of glory, my goot Master Oldenbuck, which is a vary great and
terrible secrets--which de monksh used to conceal their treasures when
they were triven from their cloisters by what you call de Reform."

"Ay, indeed! tell us about that," said Oldbuck, "for these are secrets
worth knowing."

"Why, my goot Master Oldenbuck, you will only laugh at me--But de hand of
glory is vary well known in de countries where your worthy progenitors
did live--and it is hand cut off from a dead man, as has been hanged for
murther, and dried very nice in de shmoke of juniper wood; and if you put
a little of what you call yew wid your juniper, it will not be any
better--that is, it will not be no worse--then you do take something of
de fatsh of de bear, and of de badger, and of de great eber, as you call
de grand boar, and of de little sucking child as has not been christened
(for dat is very essentials), and you do make a candle, and put it into
de hand of glory at de proper hour and minute, with de proper ceremonish,
and he who seeksh for treasuresh shall never find none at all,"

"I dare take my corporal oath of that conclusion," said the Antiquary.
"And was it the custom, Mr. Dousterswivel, in Westphalia, to make use of
this elegant candelabrum?"

"Alwaysh, Mr. Oldenbuck, when you did not want nobody to talk of nothing
you wash doing about--And the monksh alwaysh did this when they did hide
their church-plates, and their great chalices, and de rings, wid very
preshious shtones and jewels."

"But, notwithstanding, you knights of the Rosy Cross have means, no
doubt, of breaking the spell, and discovering what the poor monks have
put themselves to so much trouble to conceal?"

"Ah! goot Mr. Oldenbuck," replied the adept, shaking his head
mysteriously, "you was very hard to believe; but if you had seen de great
huge pieces of de plate so massive, Sir Arthur,--so fine fashion, Miss
Wardour--and de silver cross dat we did find (dat was Schroepfer and my
ownself) for de Herr Freygraf, as you call de Baron Von Blunderhaus, I do
believe you would have believed then."

"Seeing _is_ believing indeed. But what was your art--what was your
mystery, Mr. Dousterswivel?"

"Aha, Mr. Oldenbuck! dat is my little secret, mine goot sir--you sall
forgife me that I not tell that. But I will tell you dere are various
ways--yes, indeed, dere is de dream dat you dream tree times--dat is a
vary goot way."

"I am glad of that," said Oldbuck; "I have a friend" (with a side-glance
to Lovel) "who is peculiarly favoured by the visits of Queen Mab."

"Den dere is de sympathies, and de antipathies, and de strange properties
and virtues natural of divers herb, and of de little divining-rod."

"I would gladly rather see some of these wonders than hear of them," said
Miss Wardour.

"Ah, but, my much-honoured young lady, this is not de time or de way to
do de great wonder of finding all de church's plate and treasure; but to
oblige you, and Sir Arthur my patron, and de reverend clergymans, and
goot Mr. Oldenbuck, and young Mr. Lofel, who is a very goot young
gentleman also, I will show you dat it is possible, a vary possible, to
discover de spring, of water, and de little fountain hidden in de ground,
without any mattock, or spade, or dig at all."

"Umph!" quoth the Antiquary, "I have heard of that conundrum. That will
be no very productive art in our country;--you should carry that property
to Spain or Portugal, and turn it to good account."

"Ah! my goot Master Oldenbuck, dere is de Inquisition and de Auto-da-fe'
--they would burn me, who am but a simple philosopher, for one great

"They would cast away their coals then," said Oldbuck; "but," continued
he, in a whisper to Lovel, "were they to pillory him for one of the most
impudent rascals that ever wagged a tongue, they would square the
punishment more accurately with his deserts. But let us see: I think he
is about to show us some of his legerdemain."

In truth, the German was now got to a little copse-thicket at some
distance from the ruins, where he affected busily to search for such a
wand as would suit the purpose of his mystery: and after cutting and
examining, and rejecting several, he at length provided himself with a
small twig of hazel terminating in a forked end, which he pronounced to
possess the virtue proper for the experiment that he was about to
exhibit. Holding the forked ends of the wand, each between a finger and
thumb, and thus keeping the rod upright, he proceeded to pace the ruined
aisles and cloisters, followed by the rest of the company in admiring
procession. "I believe dere was no waters here," said the adept, when he
had made the round of several of the buildings, without perceiving any of
those indications which he pretended to expect--"I believe those Scotch
monksh did find de water too cool for de climate, and alwaysh drank de
goot comfortable, Rhinewine. But, aha!--see there!" Accordingly, the
assistants observed the rod to turn in his fingers, although he pretended
to hold it very tight.--"Dere is water here about, sure enough," and,
turning this way and that way, as the agitation of the divining-rod
seemed to increase or diminish, he at length advanced into the midst of a
vacant and roofless enclosure which had been the kitchen of the priory,
when the rod twisted itself so as to point almost straight downwards.
"Here is de place," said the adept, "and if you do not find de water
here, I will give you all leave to call me an impudent knave."

"I shall take that license," whispered the Antiquary to Lovel, "whether
the water is discovered or no."

A servant, who had come up with a basket of cold refreshments, was now
despatched to a neighbouring forester's hut for a mattock and pick-axe.
The loose stones and rubbish being removed from the spot indicated by the
German, they soon came to the sides of a regularly-built well; and when a
few feet of rubbish were cleared out by the assistance of the forester
and his sons, the water began to rise rapidly, to the delight of the
philosopher, the astonishment of the ladies, Mr. Blattergowl, and Sir
Arthur, the surprise of Lovel, and the confusion of the incredulous
Antiquary. He did not fail, however, to enter his protest in Lovers ear
against the miracle. "This is a mere trick," he said; "the rascal had
made himself sure of the existence of this old well, by some means or
other, before he played off this mystical piece of jugglery. Mark what he
talks of next. I am much mistaken if this is not intended as a prelude to
some more serious fraud. See how the rascal assumes consequence, and
plumes himself upon the credit of his success, and how poor Sir Arthur
takes in the tide of nonsense which he is delivering to him as principles
of occult science!"

"You do see, my goot patron, you do see, my goot ladies, you do see,
worthy Dr. Bladderhowl, and even Mr. Lofel and Mr. Oldenbuck may see, if
they do will to see, how art has no enemy at all but ignorance. Look at
this little slip of hazel nuts--it is fit for nothing at all but to whip
de little child"--("I would choose a cat and nine tails for your
occasions," whispered Oldbuck apart)--"and you put it in the hands of a
philosopher--paf! it makes de grand discovery. But this is nothing, Sir
Arthur,--nothing at all, worthy Dr. Botherhowl--nothing at all, ladies
--nothing at all, young Mr. Lofel and goot Mr. Oldenbuck, to what art can
do. Ah! if dere was any man that had de spirit and de courage, I would
show him better things than de well of water--I would show him"--

"And a little money would be necessary also, would it not?" said the

"Bah! one trifle, not worth talking about, maight be necessaries,"
answered the adept.

"I thought as much," rejoined the Antiquary, drily; "and I, in the
meanwhile, without any divining-rod, will show you an excellent venison
pasty, and a bottle of London particular Madeira, and I think that will
match all that Mr. Dousterswivel's art is like to exhibit."

The feast was spread _fronde super viridi,_ as Oldbuck expressed himself,
under a huge old tree called the Prior's Oak, and the company, sitting
down around it, did ample honour to the, contents of the basket.

Sir Walter Scott

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