Sir, they do scandal me upon the road here!
A poor quotidian rack of mutton roasted
Dry to be grated! and that driven down
With beer and butter-milk, mingled together.
It is against my freehold, my inheritance.
Wine is the word that glads the heart of man,
And mine's the house of wine. _Sack,_ says my bush,
_Be merry and drink Sherry,_ that's my posie.
Ben Jonson's _New Inn._
"Have a care o' us, Monkbarns (distinguishing him by his territorial
epithet, always most agreeable to the ear of a Scottish proprietor), is
this you? I little thought to have seen your honour here till the summer
session was ower."
"Ye donnard auld deevil," answered his guest, his Scottish accent
predominating when in anger though otherwise not particularly
remarkable,--"ye donnard auld crippled idiot, what have I to do with the
session, or the geese that flock to it, or the hawks that pick their
pinions for them?"
"Troth, and that's true," said mine host, who, in fact, only spoke upon a
very general recollection of the stranger's original education, yet would
have been sorry not to have been supposed accurate as to the station and
profession of him, or any other occasional guest--"That's very true,--but
I thought ye had some law affair of your ain to look after--I have ane
mysell--a ganging plea that my father left me, and his father afore left
to him. It's about our back-yard--ye'll maybe hae heard of it in the
Parliament-house, Hutchison against Mackitchinson--it's a weel-kenn'd
plea--its been four times in afore the fifteen, and deil ony thing the
wisest o' them could make o't, but just to send it out again to the
outer-house.--O it's a beautiful thing to see how lang and how carefully
justice is considered in this country!"
"Hold your tongue, you fool," said the traveller, but in great
good-humour, "and tell us what you can give this young gentleman and me
"Ou, there's fish, nae doubt,--that's sea-trout and caller haddocks,"
said Mackitchinson, twisting his napkin; "and ye'll be for a mutton-chop,
and there's cranberry tarts, very weel preserved, and--and there's just
ony thing else ye like."
"Which is to say, there is nothing else whatever? Well, well, the fish
and the chop, and the tarts, will do very well. But don't imitate the
cautious delay that you praise in the courts of justice. Let there be no
remits from the inner to the outer house, hear ye me?"
"Na, na," said Mackitchinson, whose long and heedful perusal of volumes
of printed session papers had made him acquainted with some law phrases
--"the denner shall be served _quam primum_ and that _peremptorie._" And
with the flattering laugh of a promising host, he left them in his sanded
parlour, hung with prints of the Four Seasons.
As, notwithstanding his pledge to the contrary, the glorious delays of
the law were not without their parallel in the kitchen of the inn, our
younger traveller had an opportunity to step out and make some inquiry of
the people of the house concerning the rank and station of his companion.
The information which he received was of a general and less authentic
nature, but quite sufficient to make him acquainted with the name,
history, and circumstances of the gentleman, whom we shall endeavour, in
a few words, to introduce more accurately to our readers.
Jonathan Oldenbuck, or Oldinbuck, by popular contraction Oldbuck, of
Monkbarns, was the second son of a gentleman possessed of a small
property in the neighbourhood of a thriving seaport town on the
north-eastern coast of Scotland, which, for various reasons, we shall
denominate Fairport. They had been established for several generations,
as landowners in the county, and in most shires of England would have
been accounted a family of some standing But the shire of----was filled
with gentlemen of more ancient descent and larger fortune. In the last
generation, also, the neighbouring gentry had been almost uniformly
Jacobites, while the proprietors of Monkbarns, like the burghers of the
town near which they were settled, were steady assertors of the
Protestant succession. The latter had, however, a pedigree of their own,
on which they prided themselves as much as those who despised them valued
their respective Saxon, Norman, or Celtic genealogies. The first
Oldenbuck, who had settled in their family mansion shortly after the
Reformation, was, they asserted, descended from one of the original
printers of Germany, and had left his country in consequence of the
persecutions directed against the professors of the Reformed religion. He
had found a refuge in the town near which his posterity dwelt, the more
readily that he was a sufferer in the Protestant cause, and certainly not
the less so, that he brought with him money enough to purchase the small
estate of Monkbarns, then sold by a dissipated laird, to whose father it
had been gifted, with other church lands, on the dissolution of the great
and wealthy monastery to which it had belonged. The Oldenbucks were
therefore, loyal subjects on all occasions of insurrection; and, as they
kept up a good intelligence with the borough, it chanced that the Laird
of Monkbarns, who flourished in 1745, was provost of the town during that
ill-fated year, and had exerted himself with much spirit in favour of
King George, and even been put to expenses on that score, which,
according to the liberal conduct of the existing government towards their
friends, had never been repaid him. By dint of solicitation, however, and
borough interest, he contrived to gain a place in the customs, and, being
a frugal, careful man, had found himself enabled to add considerably to
his paternal fortune. He had only two sons, of whom, as we have hinted,
the present laird was the younger, and two daughters, one of whom still
flourished in single blessedness, and the other, who was greatly more
juvenile, made a love-match with a captain in the _Forty-twa,_ who had no
other fortune but his commission and a Highland pedigree. Poverty
disturbed a union which love would otherwise have made happy, and Captain
M'Intyre, in justice to his wife and two children, a boy and girl, had
found himself obliged to seek his fortune in the East Indies. Being
ordered upon an expedition against Hyder Ally, the detachment to which he
belonged was cut off, and no news ever reached his unfortunate wife,
whether he fell in battle, or was murdered in prison, or survived in what
the habits of the Indian tyrant rendered a hopeless captivity. She sunk
under the accumulated load of grief and uncertainty, and left a son and
daughter to the charge of her brother, the existing Laird of Monkbarns.
The history of that proprietor himself is soon told. Being, as we have
said, a second son, his father destined him to a share in a substantial
mercantile concern, carried on by some of his maternal relations. From
this Jonathan's mind revolted in the most irreconcilable manner. He was
then put apprentice to the profession of a writer, or attorney, in which
he profited so far, that he made himself master of the whole forms of
feudal investitures, and showed such pleasure in reconciling their
incongruities, and tracing their origin, that his master had great hope
he would one day be an able conveyancer. But he halted upon the
threshold, and, though he acquired some knowledge of the origin and
system of the law of his country, he could never be persuaded to apply it
to lucrative and practical purposes. It was not from any inconsiderate
neglect of the advantages attending the possession of money that he thus
deceived the hopes of his master. "Were he thoughtless or light-headed, or
_rei suae prodigus,_" said his instructor, "I would know what to make of
him. But he never pays away a shilling without looking anxiously after
the change, makes his sixpence go farther than another lad's half-crown,
and wilt ponder over an old black-letter copy of the acts of parliament
for days, rather than go to the golf or the change-house; and yet he will
not bestow one of these days on a little business of routine, that would
put twenty shillings in his pocket--a strange mixture of frugality and
industry, and negligent indolence--I don't know what to make of him."
But in process of time his pupil gained the means of making what he
pleased of himself; for his father having died, was not long survived by
his eldest son, an arrant fisher and fowler, who departed this life, in
consequence of a cold caught in his vocation, while shooting ducks in the
swamp called Kittlefittingmoss, notwithstanding his having drunk a bottle
of brandy that very night to keep the cold out of his stomach. Jonathan,
therefore, succeeded to the estate, and with it to the means of
subsisting without the hated drudgery of the law. His wishes were very
moderate; and as the rent of his small property rose with the improvement
of the country, it soon greatly exceeded his wants and expenditure; and
though too indolent to make money, he was by no means insensible to the
pleasure of beholding it accumulate. The burghers of the town near which
he lived regarded him with a sort of envy, as one who affected to divide
himself from their rank in society, and whose studies and pleasures
seemed to them alike incomprehensible. Still, however, a sort of
hereditary respect for the Laird of Monkbarns, augmented by the knowledge
of his being a ready-money man, kept up his consequence with this class
of his neighbours. The country gentlemen were generally above him in
fortune, and beneath him in intellect, and, excepting one with whom he
lived in habits of intimacy, had little intercourse with Mr. Oldbuck of
Monkbarns. He, had, however, the usual resources, the company of the
clergyman, and of the doctor, when he chose to request it, and also his
own pursuits and pleasures, being in correspondence with most of the
virtuosi of his time, who, like himself, measured decayed entrenchments,
made plans of ruined castles, read illegible inscriptions, and wrote
essays on medals in the proportion of twelve pages to each letter of the
legend. Some habits of hasty irritation he had contracted, partly, it was
said in the borough of Fairport, from an early disappointment in love in
virtue of which he had commenced misogynist, as he called it, but yet
more by the obsequious attention paid to him by his maiden sister and his
orphan niece, whom he had trained to consider him as the greatest man
upon earth, and whom he used to boast of as the only women he had ever
seen who were well broke in and bitted to obedience; though, it must be
owned, Miss Grizzy Oldbuck was sometimes apt to _jibb_ when he pulled the
reins too tight. The rest of his character must be gathered from the
story, and we dismiss with pleasure the tiresome task of recapitulation.
During the time of dinner, Mr. Oldbuck, actuated by the same curiosity
which his fellow-traveller had entertained on his account, made some
advances, which his aye and station entitled him to do in a more direct
manner, towards ascertaining the name, destination, and quality of his
His name, the young gentleman said, was Lovel.
"What! the cat, the rat, and Lovel our dog? Was he descended from King
"He had no pretensions," he said, "to call himself a whelp of that
litter; his father was a north-of-England gentleman. He was at present
travelling to Fairport (the town near to which Monkbarns was situated),
and, if he found the place agreeable, might perhaps remain there for some
"Was Mr. Lovel's excursion solely for pleasure?"
"Perhaps on business with some of the commercial people of Fairport?"
"It was partly on business, but had no reference to commerce."
Here he paused; and Mr. Oldbuck, having pushed his inquiries as far as
good manners permitted, was obliged to change the conversation. The
Antiquary, though by no means an enemy to good cheer, was a determined
foe to all unnecessary expense on a journey; and upon his companion
giving a hint concerning a bottle of port wine, he drew a direful picture
of the mixture, which, he said, was usually sold under that denomination,
and affirming that a little punch was more genuine and better suited for
the season, he laid his hand upon the bell to order the materials. But
Mackitchinson had, in his own mind, settled their beverage otherwise, and
appeared bearing in his hand an immense double quart bottle, or magnum,
as it is called in Scotland, covered with saw-dust and cobwebs, the
warrants of its antiquity.
"Punch!" said he, catching that generous sound as he entered the parlour,
"the deil a drap punch ye'se get here the day, Monkbarns, and that ye may
lay your account wi'."
"What do you mean, you impudent rascal?"
"Ay, ay, it's nae matter for that--but do you mind the trick ye served me
the last time ye were here!"
"I trick you!"
"Ay, just yoursell, Monkbarns. The Laird o' Tamlowrie and Sir Gilbert
Grizzlecleuch, and Auld Rossballoh, and the Bailie, were just setting in
to make an afternoon o't, and you, wi' some o' your auld-warld stories,
that the mind o' man canna resist, whirl'd them to the back o' beyont to
look at the auld Roman camp--Ah, sir!" turning to Lovel, "he wad wile the
bird aff the tree wi' the tales he tells about folk lang syne--and did
not I lose the drinking o' sax pints o' gude claret, for the deil ane wad
hae stirred till he had seen that out at the least?"
"D'ye hear the impudent scoundrel!" said Monkbarns, but laughing at the
same time; for the worthy landlord, as he used to boast, know the measure
of a guest's foot as well as e'er a souter on this side Solway; "well,
well, you may send us in a bottle of port."
"Port! na, na! ye maun leave port and punch to the like o' us, it's
claret that's fit for you lairds; and, I dare say, nane of the folk ye
speak so much o' ever drank either of the twa."
"Do you hear how absolute the knave is? Well, my young friend, we must
for once prefer the _Falernian_ to the _vile Sabinum._"
The ready landlord had the cork instantly extracted, decanted the wine
into a vessel of suitable capaciousness, and, declaring it _parfumed_ the
very room, left his guests to make the most of it.
Mackitchinson's wine was really good, and had its effect upon the spirits
of the elder guest, who told some good stories, cut some sly jokes, and
at length entered into a learned discussion concerning the ancient
dramatists; a ground on which he found his new acquaintance so strong,
that at length he began to suspect he had made them his professional
study. "A traveller partly for business and partly for pleasure?--why,
the stage partakes of both; it is a labour to the performers, and
affords, or is meant to afford, pleasure to the spectators. He seems, in
manner and rank, above the class of young men who take that turn; but I
remember hearing them say, that the little theatre at Fairport was to
open with the performance of a young gentleman, being his first
appearance on any stage.--If this should be thee, Lovel!--Lovel? yes,
Lovel or Belville are just the names which youngsters are apt to assume
on such occasions--on my life, I am sorry for the lad."
Mr. Oldbuck was habitually parsimonious, but in no respects mean; his
first thought was to save his fellow-traveller any part of the expense of
the entertainment, which he supposed must be in his situation more or
less inconvenient. He therefore took an opportunity of settling privately
with Mr. Mackitchinson. The young traveller remonstrated against his
liberality, and only acquiesced in deference to his years and
The mutual satisfaction which they found in each other's society induced
Mr. Oldbuck to propose, and Lovel willingly to accept, a scheme for
travelling together to the end of their journey. Mr. Oldbuck intimated a
wish to pay two-thirds of the hire of a post-chaise, saying, that a
proportional quantity of room was necessary to his accommodation; but
this Mr. Lovel resolutely declined. Their expense then was mutual, unless
when Lovel occasionally slipt a shilling into the hand of a growling
postilion; for Oldbuck, tenacious of ancient customs, never extended his
guerdon beyond eighteen-pence a stage. In this manner they travelled,
until they arrived at Fairport* about two o'clock on the following day.
* [The "Fairport" of this novel is supposed to refer to the town of *
Arbroath, in Forfarshire, and "Musselcrag," _post,_ to the fishing
village of * Auchmithie, in the same county.]
Lovel probably expected that his travelling companion would have invited
him to dinner on his arrival; but his consciousness of a want of ready
preparation for unexpected guests, and perhaps some other reasons,
prevented Oldbuck from paying him that attention. He only begged to see
him as early as he could make it convenient to call in a forenoon,
recommended him to a widow who had apartments to let, and to a person who
kept a decent ordinary; cautioning both of them apart, that he only knew
Mr. Lovel as a pleasant companion in a post-chaise, and did not mean to
guarantee any bills which he might contract while residing at Fairport.
The young gentleman's figure and manners; not to mention a well-furnished
trunk, which soon arrived by sea, to his address at Fairport, probably
went as far in his favour as the limited recommendation of his