The pawkie auld carle cam ower the lea,
Wi' mony good-e'ens and good-morrows to me,
Saying, Kind Sir, for your courtesy,
Will ye lodge a silly puir man?
The Gaberlunzie Man.
Our two friends moved through a little orchard, where the aged
apple-trees, well loaded with fruit, showed, as is usual in the
neighbourhood of monastic buildings, that the days of the monks had not
always been spent in indolence, but often dedicated to horticulture and
gardening. Mr. Oldbuck failed not to make Lovel remark, that the planters
of those days were possessed of the modern secret of preventing the roots
of the fruit-trees from penetrating the till, and compelling them to
spread in a lateral direction, by placing paving-stones beneath the trees
when first planted, so as to interpose between their fibres and the
subsoil. "This old fellow," he said, "which was blown down last summer,
and still, though half reclined on the ground, is covered with fruit, has
been, as you may see, accommodated with such a barrier between his roots
and the unkindly till. That other tree has a story:--the fruit is called
the Abbot's Apple; the lady of a neighbouring baron was so fond of it,
that she would often pay a visit to Monkbarns, to have the pleasure of
gathering it from the tree. The husband, a jealous man, belike, suspected
that a taste so nearly resembling that of Mother Eve prognosticated a
similar fall. As the honour of a noble family is concerned, I will say no
more on the subject, only that the lands of Lochard and Cringlecut still
pay a fine of six bolls of barley annually, to atone the guilt of their
audacious owner, who intruded himself and his worldly suspicions upon the
seclusion of the Abbot and his penitent.--Admire the little belfry rising
above the ivy-mantled porch--there was here a _hospitium, hospitals,_ or
_hospitamentum_ (for it is written all these various ways in the old
writings and evidents), in which the monks received pilgrims. I know our
minister has said, in the Statistical Account, that the _hospitium_ was
situated either in the lands of Haltweary or upon those of Half-starvet;
but he is incorrect, Mr. Lovel--that is the gate called still the
Palmer's Port, and my gardener found many hewn stones, when he was
trenching the ground for winter celery, several of which I have sent as
specimens to my learned friends, and to the various antiquarian societies
of which I am an unworthy member. But I will say no more at present; I
reserve something for another visit, and we have an object of real
curiosity before us."
While he was thus speaking, he led the way briskly through one or two
rich pasture-meadows, to an open heath or common, and so to the top of a
gentle eminence. "Here," he said, "Mr. Lovel, is a truly remarkable
"It commands a fine view," said his companion, looking around him.
"True: but it is not for the prospect I brought you hither; do you see
nothing else remarkable?--nothing on the surface of the ground?"
"Why, yes; I do see something like a ditch, indistinctly marked."
"Indistinctly!--pardon me, sir, but the indistinctness must be in your
powers of vision. Nothing can be more plainly traced--a proper _agger_ or
_vallum,_ with its corresponding ditch or _fossa._ Indistinctly! why,
Heaven help you, the lassie, my niece, as light-headed a goose as
womankind affords, saw the traces of the ditch at once. Indistinct!--why,
the great station at Ardoch, or that at Burnswark in Annandale, may be
clearer, doubtless, because they are stative forts, whereas this was only
an occasional encampment. Indistinct!--why, you must suppose that fools,
boors, and idiots, have ploughed up the land, and, like beasts and
ignorant savages, have thereby obliterated two sides of the square, and
greatly injured the third; but you see, yourself, the fourth side is
Lovel endeavoured to apologize, and to explain away his ill-timed phrase,
and pleaded his inexperience. But he was not at once quite successful.
His first expression had come too frankly and naturally not to alarm the
Antiquary, and he could not easily get over the shock it had given him.
"My dear sir," continued the senior, "your eyes are not inexperienced:
you know a ditch from level ground, I presume, when you see them?
Indistinct! why, the very common people, the very least boy that can herd
a cow, calls it the Kaim of Kinprunes; and if that does not imply an
ancient camp, I am ignorant what does."
Lovel having again acquiesced, and at length lulled to sleep the
irritated and suspicious vanity of the Antiquary, he proceeded in his
task of cicerone. "You must know," he said, "our Scottish antiquaries
have been greatly divided about the local situation of the final conflict
between Agricola and the Caledonians; some contend for Ardoch in
Strathallan, some for Innerpeffry, some for the Raedykes in the Mearns,
and some are for carrying the scene of action as far north as Blair in
Athole. Now, after all this discussion," continued the old gentleman,
with one of his slyest and most complacent looks, "what would you think,
Mr. Lovel,--I say, what would you think,--if the memorable scene of
conflict should happen to be on the very spot called the Kaim of
Kinprunes, the property of the obscure and humble individual who now
speaks to you?" Then, having paused a little, to suffer his guest to
digest a communication so important, he resumed his disquisition in a
higher tone. "Yes, my good friend, I am indeed greatly deceived if this
place does not correspond with all the marks of that celebrated place of
action. It was near to the Grampian mountains--lo! yonder they are,
mixing and contending with the sky on the skirts of the horizon! It was
_in conspectu classis_--in sight of the Roman fleet; and would any
admiral, Roman or British, wish a fairer bay to ride in than that on your
right hand? It is astonishing how blind we professed antiquaries
sometimes are! Sir Robert Sibbald, Saunders Gordon, General Roy, Dr.
Stokely,--why, it escaped all of them. I was unwilling to say a word
about it till I had secured the ground, for it belonged to auld Johnnie
Howie, a bonnet-laird* hard by, and many a communing we had before he and
I could agree.
* A bonnet-laird signifies a petty proprietor, wearing the dress, along
with the habits of a yeoman.
At length--I am almost ashamed to say it--but I even brought my mind to
give acre for acre of my good corn-land for this barren spot. But then it
was a national concern; and when the scene of so celebrated an event
became my own, I was overpaid.--Whose patriotism would not grow warmer,
as old Johnson says, on the plains of Marathon? I began to trench the
ground, to see what might be discovered; and the third day, sir, we found
a stone, which I have transported to Monkbarns, in order to have the
sculpture taken off with plaster of Paris; it bears a sacrificing vessel,
and the letters A. D. L. L. which may stand, without much violence, for
_Agricola Dicavit Libens Lubens._"
"Certainly, sir; for the Dutch Antiquaries claim Caligula as the founder
of a light-house, on the sole authority of the letters C. C. P. F., which
they interpret _Caius Caligula Pharum Fecit._"
"True, and it has ever been recorded as a sound exposition. I see we
shall make something of you even before you wear spectacles,
notwithstanding you thought the traces of this beautiful camp indistinct
when you first observed them."
"In time, sir, and by good instruction"--
"--You will become more apt--I doubt it not. You shall peruse, upon your
next visit to Monkbarns, my trivial Essay upon Castrametation, with some
particular Remarks upon the Vestiges of Ancient Fortifications lately
discovered by the Author at the Kaim of Kinprunes. I think I have pointed
out the infallible touchstone of supposed antiquity. I premise a few
general rules on that point, on the nature, namely, of the evidence to be
received in such cases. Meanwhile be pleased to observe, for example,
that I could press into my service Claudian's famous line,
Ille Caledoniis posuit qui castra pruinis.
For _pruinis,_ though interpreted to mean _hoar frosts,_ to which I own
we are somewhat subject in this north-eastern sea-coast, may also signify
a locality, namely, _Prunes;_ the _Castra Pruinis posita_ would therefore
be the Kaim of Kinprunes. But I waive this, for I am sensible it might be
laid hold of by cavillers as carrying down my Castra to the time of
Theodosius, sent by Valentinian into Britain as late as the year 367, or
thereabout. No, my good friend, I appeal to people's eye-sight. Is not
here the Decuman gate? and there, but for the ravage of the horrid
plough, as a learned friend calls it, would be the Praetorian gate. On
the left hand you may see some slight vestiges of the _porta sinistra,_
and on the right, one side of the _porta dextra_ wellnigh entire. Here,
then, let us take our stand, on this tumulus, exhibiting the foundation
of ruined buildings,--the central point--the _praetorium,_ doubtless, of
the camp. From this place, now scarce to be distinguished but by its
slight elevation and its greener turf from the rest of the fortification,
we may suppose Agricola to have looked forth on the immense army of
Caledonians, occupying the declivities of yon opposite hill,--the
infantry rising rank over rank, as the form of ground displayed their
array to its utmost advantage,--the cavalry and _covinarii,_ by which I
understand the charioteers--another guise of folks from your Bond-street
four-in-hand men, I trow--scouring the more level space below--
--See, then, Lovel--See--
See that huge battle moving from the mountains!
Their gilt coats shine like dragon scales;--their march
Like a rough tumbling storm.--See them, and view them,
And then see Rome no more!--
Yes, my dear friend, from this stance it is probable--nay, it is nearly
certain, that Julius Agricola beheld what our Beaumont has so admirably
described!--From this very Praetorium"--
A voice from behind interrupted his ecstatic description--"Praetorian
here, Praetorian there, I mind the bigging o't."
Both at once turned round, Lovel with surprise, and Oldbuck with mingled
surprise and indignation, at so uncivil an interruption. An auditor had
stolen upon them, unseen and unheard, amid the energy of the Antiquary's
enthusiastic declamation, and the attentive civility of Lovel. He had the
exterior appearance of a mendicant. A slouched hat of huge dimensions; a
long white beard which mingled with his grizzled hair; an aged but
strongly marked and expressive countenance, hardened, by climate and
exposure, to a right brick-dust complexion; a long blue gown, with a
pewter badge on the right arm; two or three wallets, or bags, slung
across his shoulder, for holding the different kinds of meal, when he
received his charity in kind from those who were but a degree richer than
himself:--all these marked at once a beggar by profession, and one of
that privileged class which are called in Scotland the King's Bedesmen,
or, vulgarly, Blue-Gowns.
"What is that you say, Edie?" said Oldbuck, hoping, perhaps, that his
ears had betrayed their duty--"what were you speaking about!"
"About this bit bourock, your honour," answered the undaunted Edie; "I
mind the bigging o't."
"The devil you do! Why, you old fool, it was here before you were born,
and will be after you are hanged, man!"
"Hanged or drowned, here or awa, dead or alive, I mind the bigging o't."
"You--you--you--," said the Antiquary, stammering between confusion and
anger, "you strolling old vagabond, what the devil do you know about it?"
"Ou, I ken this about it, Monkbarns--and what profit have I for telling
ye a lie?--l just ken this about it, that about twenty years syne, I, and
a wheen hallenshakers like mysell, and the mason-lads that built the lang
dike that gaes down the loaning, and twa or three herds maybe, just set
to wark, and built this bit thing here that ye ca' the--the--Praetorian,
and a' just for a bield at auld Aiken Drum's bridal, and a bit blithe
gae-down wi' had in't, some sair rainy weather. Mair by token, Monkbarns,
if ye howk up the bourock, as ye seem to have began, yell find, if ye hae
not fund it already, a stane that ane o' the mason-callants cut a ladle
on to have a bourd at the bridegroom, and he put four letters on't,
that's A. D. L. L.--Aiken Drum's Lang Ladle--for Aiken was ane o' the
kale-suppers o' Fife."
"This," thought Lovel to himself, "is a famous counterpart to the story
of _Keip on this syde._" He then ventured to steal a glance at our
Antiquary, but quickly withdrew it in sheer compassion. For, gentle
reader, if thou hast ever beheld the visage of a damsel of sixteen, whose
romance of true love has been blown up by an untimely discovery, or of a
child of ten years, whose castle of cards has been blown down by a
malicious companion, I can safely aver to you, that Jonathan Oldbuck of
Monkbarns looked neither more wise nor less disconcerted.
"There is some mistake about this," he said, abruptly turning away from
"Deil a bit on my side o' the wa'," answered the sturdy beggar; "I never
deal in mistakes, they aye bring mischances.--Now, Monkbarns, that young
gentleman, that's wi' your honour, thinks little of a carle like me; and
yet, I'll wager I'll tell him whar he was yestreen at the gloamin, only
he maybe wadna like to hae't spoken o' in company."
Lovel's soul rushed to his cheeks, with the vivid blush of
"Never mind the old rogue," said Mr. Oldbuck; "don't suppose I think the
worse of you for your profession; they are only prejudiced fools and
coxcombs that do so. You remember what old Tully says in his oration,
_pro Archia poeta,_ concerning one of your confraternity--_quis nostrum
tam anino agresti ac duro fuit--ut--ut_--I forget the Latin--the meaning
is, which of us was so rude and barbarous as to remain unmoved at the
death of the great Roscius, whose advanced age was so far from preparing
us for his death, that we rather hoped one so graceful, so excellent in
his art, ought to be exempted from the common lot of mortality? So the
Prince of Orators spoke of the stage and its professor."
The words of the old man fell upon Lovel's ears, but without conveying
any precise idea to his mind, which was then occupied in thinking by what
means the old beggar, who still continued to regard him with a
countenance provokingly sly and intelligent, had contrived to thrust
himself into any knowledge of his affairs. He put his hand in his pocket
as the readiest mode of intimating his desire of secrecy, and securing
the concurrence of the person whom he addressed; and while he bestowed on
him an alms, the amount of which rather bore proportion to his fears than
to his charity, looked at him with a marked expression, which the
mendicant, a physiognomist by profession, seemed perfectly to
understand.--"Never mind me, sir--I am no tale-pyet; but there are mair
een in the warld than mine," answered he as he pocketed Lovel's bounty,
but in a tone to be heard by him alone, and with an expression which
amply filled up what was left unspoken. Then turning to Oldbuck--"I am
awa' to the manse, your honour. Has your honour ony word there, or to Sir
Arthur, for I'll come in by Knockwinnock Castle again e'en?"
Oldbuck started as from a dream; and, in a hurried tone, where vexation
strove with a wish to conceal it, paying, at the same time, a tribute to
Edie's smooth, greasy, unlined hat, he said, "Go down, go down to
Monkbarns--let them give you some dinner--Or stay; if you do go to the
manse, or to Knockwinnock, ye need say nothing about that foolish story
"Who, I?" said the mendicant--"Lord bless your honour, naebody sall ken a
word about it frae me, mair than if the bit bourock had been there since
Noah's flood. But, Lord, they tell me your honour has gien Johnnie Howie
acre for acre of the laigh crofts for this heathery knowe! Now, if he has
really imposed the bourock on ye for an ancient wark, it's my real
opinion the bargain will never haud gude, if you would just bring down
your heart to try it at the law, and say that he beguiled ye."
"Provoking scoundrel!" muttered the indignant Antiquary between his
teeths--"I'll have the hangman's lash and his back acquainted for this."
And then, in a louder tone,--"Never mind, Edie--it is all a mistake."
"Troth, I am thinking sae," continued his tormentor, who seemed to have
pleasure in rubbing the galled wound, "troth, I aye thought sae; and it's
no sae lang since I said to Luckie Gemmers, Never think you, luckie' said
I, that his honour Monkbarns would hae done sic a daft-like thing as to
gie grund weel worth fifty shillings an acre, for a mailing that would be
dear o'a pund Scots. Na, na,' quo' I, depend upon't the lard's been
imposed upon wi that wily do-little deevil, Johnnie Howie.' But Lord haud
a care o' us, sirs, how can that be,' quo' she again, when the laird's
sae book-learned, there's no the like o' him in the country side, and
Johnnie Howie has hardly sense eneugh to ca' the cows out o' his
kale-yard?' Aweel, aweel,' quo' I, but ye'll hear he's circumvented him
with some of his auld-warld stories,'--for ye ken, laird, yon other time
about the bodle that ye thought was an auld coin"--
"Go to the devil!" said Oldbuck; and then in a more mild tone, as one
that was conscious his reputation lay at the mercy of his antagonist, he
added--"Away with you down to Monkbarns, and when I come back, I'll send
ye a bottle of ale to the kitchen."
"Heaven reward your honour!" This was uttered with the true mendicant
whine, as, setting his pike-staff before him, he began to move in the
direction of Monkbarns.--"But did your honour," turning round, "ever get
back the siller ye gae to the travelling packman for the bodle?"
"Curse thee, go about thy business!"
"Aweel, aweel, sir, God bless your honour! I hope ye'll ding Johnnie
Howie yet, and that I'll live to see it." And so saying, the old beggar
moved off, relieving Mr. Oldbuck of recollections which were anything
rather than agreeable.
"Who is this familiar old gentleman?" said Lovel, when the mendicant was
out of hearing.
"O, one of the plagues of the country--I have been always against
poor's-rates and a work-house--I think I'll vote for them now, to have
that scoundrel shut up. O, your old-remembered guest of a beggar becomes
as well acquainted with you as he is with his dish--as intimate as one of
the beasts familiar to man which signify love, and with which his own
trade is especially conversant. Who is he?--why, he has gone the vole--
has been soldier, ballad-singer, travelling tinker, and is now a beggar.
He is spoiled by our foolish gentry, who laugh at his jokes, and rehearse
Edie Ochiltree's good thing's as regularly as Joe Miller's."
"Why, he uses freedom apparently, which is the, soul of wit," answered
"O ay, freedom enough," said the Antiquary; "he generally invents some
damned improbable lie or another to provoke you, like that nonsense he
talked just now--not that I'll publish my tract till I have examined the
thing to the bottom."
"In England," said Lovel, "such a mendicant would get a speedy cheek."
"Yes, your churchwardens and dog-whips would make slender allowance for
his vein of humour! But here, curse him! he is a sort of privileged
nuisance--one of the last specimens of the old fashioned Scottish
mendicant, who kept his rounds within a particular space, and was the
news-carrier, the minstrel, and sometimes the historian of the district.
That rascal, now, knows more old ballads and traditions than any other
man in this and the four next parishes. And after all," continued he,
softening as he went on describing Edie's good gifts, "the dog has some
good humour. He has borne his hard fate with unbroken spirits, and it's
cruel to deny him the comfort of a laugh at his betters. The pleasure of
having quizzed me, as you gay folk would call it, will be meat and drink
to him for a day or two. But I must go back and look after him, or he
will spread his d--d nonsensical story over half the country."*
* Note C. Praetorium.
So saying our heroes parted, Mr. Oldbuck to return to his _hospitium_ at
Monkbarns, and Lovel to pursue his way to Fairport, where he arrived
without farther adventure.