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Chapter 26

Room for the master of the ring, ye swains,
Divide your crowded ranks--before him march
The rural minstrelsy, the rattling drum,
The clamorous war-pipe, and far-echoing horn.
Rural Sports.--SOMERVILLE.

No long space intervened ere Roland Graeme was able to discover among
the crowd of revellers, who gambolled upon the open space which
extends betwixt the village and the lake, a person of so great
importance as Dr. Luke Lundin, upon whom devolved officially the
charge of representing the lord of the land, and who was attended for
support of his authority by a piper, a drummer, and four sturdy clowns
armed with rusty halberds, garnished with party-coloured ribbons;
myrmidons who, early as the day was, had already broken more than one
head in the awful names of the Laird of Lochleven and his chamberlain.

[Footnote: At Scottish fairs, the bailie, or magistrate, deputed by
the lord in whose name the meeting is held, attends the fair with his
guard, decides trifling disputes, and punishes on the spot any petty
delinquencies. His attendants are usually armed with halberds, and
sometimes, at least, escorted by music. Thus, in the "Life and Death
of Habbie Simpson," we are told of that famous minstrel,--

"At fairs he play'd before the spear-men,
And gaily graithed in their gear-men;--
Steel bonnets, jacks, and swords shone clear then,
Like ony bead;
Now wha shall play before sic weir-men,
Since Habbie's dead! ]

As soon as this dignitary was informed that the castle skiff had
arrived, with a gallant, dressed like a lord's son at the least, who
desired presently to speak to him, he adjusted his ruff and his black
coat, turned round his girdle till the garnished hilt of his long
rapier became visible, and walked with due solemnity towards the
beach. Solemn indeed he was entitled to be, even on less important
occasions, for he had been bred to the venerable study of medicine, as
those acquainted with the science very soon discovered from the
aphorisms which ornamented his discourse. His success had not been
equal to his pretensions; but as he was a native of the neighbouring
kingdom of Fife, and bore distant relation to, or dependence upon, the
ancient family of Lundin of that Ilk, who were bound in close
friendship with the house of Lochleven, he had, through their
interest, got planted comfortably enough in his present station upon
the banks of that beautiful lake. The profits of his chamberlainship
being moderate, especially in those unsettled times, he had eked it
out a little with some practice in his original profession; and it was
said that the inhabitants of the village and barony of Kinross were
not more effectually thirled (which may be translated enthralled) to
the baron's mill, than they were to the medical monopoly of the
chamberlain. Wo betide the family of the rich boor, who presumed to
depart this life without a passport from Dr. Luke Lundin! for if his
representatives had aught to settle with the baron, as it seldom
happened otherwise, they were sure to find a cold friend in the
chamberlain. He was considerate enough, however, gratuitously to help
the poor out of their ailments, and sometimes out of all their other
distresses at the same time.

Formal, in a double proportion, both as a physician and as a person in
office, and proud of the scraps of learning which rendered his
language almost universally unintelligible, Dr. Luke Lundin approached
the beach, and hailed the page as he advanced towards him.--"The
freshness of the morning upon you, fair sir--You are sent, I warrant
me, to see if we observe here the regimen which her good ladyship hath
prescribed, for eschewing all superstitious observances and idle
anilities in these our revels. I am aware that her good ladyship would
willingly have altogether abolished and abrogated them--But as I had
the honour to quote to her from the works of the learned Hercules of
Saxony, _omnis curatio est vel canonica vel coacta_,--that is,
fair sir, (for silk and velvet have seldom their Latin _ad
unguem_,) every cure must be wrought either by art and induction of
rule, or by constraint; and the wise physician chooseth the former.
Which argument her ladyship being pleased to allow well of, I have
made it my business so to blend instruction and caution with
delight--_fiat mixtio_, as we say--that I can answer that the
vulgar mind will be defecated and purged of anile and Popish fooleries
by the medicament adhibited, so that the _primae vice_ being
cleansed, Master Henderson, or any other able pastor, may at will
throw in tonics, and effectuate a perfect moral cure, _tuto, cito,

"I have no charge, Dr. Lundin," replied the page--

"Call me not doctor," said the chamberlain, "since I have laid aside
my furred gown and bonnet, and retired me into this temporality of

"Oh, sir," said the page, who was no stranger by report to the
character of this original, "the cowl makes not the monk, neither the
cord the friar--we have all heard of the cures wrought by Dr.

"Toys, young sir--trifles," answered the leech with grave disclamation
of superior skill; "the hit-or-miss practice of a poor retired
gentleman, in a short cloak and doublet--Marry, Heaven sent its
blessing--and this I must say, better fashioned mediciners have
brought fewer patients through--_lunga roba corta scienzia_,
saith the Italian--ha, fair sir, you have the language?"

Roland Graeme did not think it necessary to expound to this learned
Theban whether he understood him or no; but, leaving that matter
uncertain, he told him he came in quest of certain packages which
should have arrived at Kinross, and been placed under the
chamberlain's charge the evening before.

"Body o' me!" said Doctor Lundin, "I fear our common carrier, John
Auchtermuchty, hath met with some mischance, that he came not up last
night with his wains--bad land this to journey in, my master; and the
fool will travel by night too, although, (besides all maladies from
your _tussis_ to your _pestis_, which walk abroad in the
night-air,) he may well fall in with half a dozen swash-bucklers, who
will ease him at once of his baggage and his earthly complaints. I
must send forth to inquire after him, since he hath stuff of the
honourable household on hand--and, by our Lady, he hath stuff of mine
too--certain drugs sent me from the city for composition of my
alexipharmics--this gear must be looked to.--Hodge," said he,
addressing one of his redoubted body-guard, "do thou and Toby Telford
take the mickle brown aver and the black cut-tailed mare, and make out
towards the Kerry-craigs, and see what tidings you can have of
Auchtermuchty and his wains--I trust it is only the medicine of the
pottle-pot, (being the only _medicamentum_ which the beast
useth,) which hath caused him to tarry on the road. Take the ribbons
from your halberds, ye knaves, and get on your jacks, plate-sleeves,
and knapskulls, that your presence may work some terror if you meet
with opposers." He then added, turning to Roland Graeme, "I warrant
me, we shall have news of the wains in brief season. Meantime it will
please you to look upon the sports; but first to enter my poor lodging
and take your morning's cup. For what saith the school of Salerno?

_Poculum, mane haustum,
Restaurat naturam exhaustam."_

"Your learning is too profound for me," replied the page; "and so
would your draught be likewise, I fear."

"Not a whit, fair sir--a cordial cup of sack, impregnated with
wormwood, is the best anti-pestilential draught; and, to speak truth,
the pestilential miasmata are now very rife in the atmosphere. We live
in a happy time, young man," continued he, in a tone of grave irony,
"and have many blessings unknown to our fathers--Here are two
sovereigns in the land, a regnant and a claimant--that is enough of
one good thing--but if any one wants more, he may find a king in every
peel-house in the country; so if we lack government, it is not for
want of governors. Then have we a civil war to phlebotomize us every
year, and to prevent our population from starving for want of
food--and for the same purpose we have the Plague proposing us a
visit, the best of all recipes for thinning a land, and converting
younger brothers into elder ones. Well, each man in his vocation. You
young fellows of the sword desire to wrestle, fence, or so forth, with
some expert adversary; and for my part, I love to match myself for
life or death against that same Plague."

As they proceeded up the street of the little village towards the
Doctor's lodgings, his attention was successively occupied by the
various personages whom he met, and pointed out to the notice of his

"Do you see that fellow with the red bonnet, the blue jerkin, and the
great rough baton in his hand?--I believe that clown hath the strength
of a tower--he has lived fifty years in the world, and never
encouraged the liberal sciences by buying one penny-worth of
medicaments.--But see you that man with the _facies
hippocratica_?" said he, pointing out a thin peasant, with swelled
legs, and a most cadaverous countenance; "that I call one of the
worthiest men in the barony--he breakfasts, luncheons, dines, and sups
by my advice, and not without my medicine; and, for his own single
part, will go farther to clear out a moderate stock of pharmaceutics,
than half the country besides.--How do you, my honest friend?" said he
to the party in question, with a tone of condolence.

"Very weakly, sir, since I took the electuary," answered the patient;
"it neighboured ill with the two spoonfuls of pease-porridge and the

"Pease-porridge and kirnmilk! Have you been under medicine these ten
years, and keep your diet so ill?--the next morning take the electuary
by itself, and touch nothing for six hours."--The poor object bowed,
and limped off.

The next whom the Doctor deigned to take notice of, was a lame fellow,
by whom the honour was altogether undeserved, for at sight of the
mediciner, he began to shuffle away in the crowd as fast as his
infirmities would permit.

"There is an ungrateful hound for you," said Doctor Lundin; "I cured
him of the gout in his feet, and now he talks of the chargeableness of
medicine, and makes the first use of his restored legs to fly from his
physician. His _podagra_ hath become a _chiragra_, as honest
Martial hath it--the gout has got into his fingers, and he cannot
draw his purse. Old saying and true,

Praemia cum poscit medicus, Sathan est.

We are angels when we come to cure--devils when we ask payment--but I
will administer a purgation to his purse I warrant him. There is his
brother too, a sordid chuff.--So ho, there! Saunders Darlet! you have
been ill, I hear?"

"Just got the turn, as I was thinking to send to your honour, and I am
brawly now again--it was nae great thing that ailed me."

"Hark you, sirrah," said the Doctor, "I trust you remember you are
owing to the laird four stones of barleymeal, and a bow of oats; and I
would have you send no more such kain-fowls as you sent last season,
that looked as wretchedly as patients just dismissed from a
plague-hospital; and there is hard money owing besides."

"I was thinking, sir," said the man, _more Scotico_, that is,
returning no direct answer on the subject on which he was addressed,
"my best way would be to come down to your honour, and take your
advice yet, in case my trouble should come back."

"Do so, then, knave," replied Lundin, "and remember what
Ecclesiasticus saith--'Give place to the physician-let him not go from
thee, for thou hast need of him.'"

His exhortation was interrupted by an apparition, which seemed to
strike the doctor with as much horror and surprise, as his own visage
inflicted upon sundry of those persons whom he had addressed.

The figure which produced this effect on the Esculapius of the
village, was that of a tall old woman, who wore a high-crowned hat and
muffler. The first of these habiliments added apparently to her
stature, and the other served to conceal the lower part of her face,
and as the hat itself was slouched, little could be seen besides two
brown cheek-bones, and the eyes of swarthy fire, that gleamed from
under two shaggy gray eyebrows. She was dressed in a long
dark-coloured robe of unusual fashion, bordered at the skirts, and on
the stomacher, with a sort of white trimming resembling the Jewish
phylacteries, on which were wrought the characters of some unknown
language. She held in her hand a walking staff of black ebony.

"By the soul of Celsus," said Doctor Luke Lundin, "it is old Mother
Nicneven herself--she hath come to beard me within mine own bounds,
and in the very execution of mine office! Have at thy coat, Old Woman,
as the song says--Hob Anster, let her presently be seized and
committed to the tolbooth; and if there are any zealous brethren here
who would give the hag her deserts, and duck her, as a witch, in the
loch, I pray let them in no way be hindered."

But the myrmidons of Dr. Lundin showed in this case no alacrity to do
his bidding. Hob Anster even ventured to remonstrate in the name of
himself and his brethren. "To be sure he was to do his honour's
bidding; and for a' that folks said about the skill and witcheries of
Mother Nicneven, he would put his trust in God, and his hand on her
collar, without dreadour. But she was no common spaewife, this Mother
Nicneven, like Jean Jopp that lived in the Bricrie-baulk. She had
lords and lairds that would ruffle for her. There was Moncrieff of
Tippermalloch, that was Popish, and the laird of Carslogie, a kend
Queen's man, were in the fair, with wha kend how mony swords and
bucklers at their back; and they would be sure to make a break-out if
the officers meddled with the auld Popish witch-wife, who was sae weel
friended; mair especially as the laird's best men, such as were not in
the castle, were in Edinburgh with him, and he doubted his honour the
Doctor would find ower few to make a good backing, if blades were

The doctor listened unwillingly to this prudential counsel, and was
only comforted by the faithful promise of his satellite, that "the old
woman should," as he expressed it, "be ta'en canny the next time she
trespassed on the bounds."

"And in that event," said the Doctor to his companion, "fire and fagot
shall be the best of her welcome."

This he spoke in hearing of the dame herself, who even then, and in
passing the Doctor, shot towards him from under her gray eyebrows a
look of the most insulting and contemptuous superiority.

"This way," continued the physician, "this way," marshalling his guest
into his lodging,--"take care you stumble not over a retort, for it is
hazardous for the ignorant to walk in the ways of art."

The page found all reason for the caution; for besides stuffed birds,
and lizards, and snakes bottled up, and bundles of simples made up,
and other parcels spread out to dry, and all the confusion, not to
mention the mingled and sickening smells, incidental to a druggist's
stock in trade, he had also to avoid heaps of charcoal crucibles,
bolt-heads, stoves, and the other furniture of a chemical laboratory.

Amongst his other philosophical qualities, Doctor Lundin failed not to
be a confused sloven, and his old dame housekeeper, whose life, as she
said, was spent in "redding him up," had trotted off to the mart of
gaiety with other and younger folks. Much chattering and jangling
therefore there was among jars, and bottles, and vials, ere the Doctor
produced the salutiferous potion which he recommended so strongly, and
a search equally long and noisy followed, among broken cans and
cracked pipkins, ere he could bring forth a cup out of which to drink
it. Both matters being at length achieved, the Doctor set the example
to his guest, by quaffing off a cup of the cordial, and smacking his
lips with approbation as it descended his gullet.--Roland, in turn,
submitted to swallow the potion which his host so earnestly
recommended, but which he found so insufferably bitter, that he became
eager to escape from the laboratory in search of a draught of fair
water to expel the taste. In spite of his efforts, he was nevertheless
detained by the garrulity of his host, till he gave him some account
of Mother Nicneven.

"I care not to speak of her," said the Doctor, "in the open air, and
among the throng of people; not for fright, like yon cowardly dog
Anster, but because I would give no occasion for a fray, having no
leisure to look to stabs, slashes, and broken bones. Men call the old
hag a prophetess--I do scarce believe she could foretell when a brood
of chickens will chip the shell--Men say she reads the heavens--my
black bitch knows as much of them when she sits baying the moon--Men
pretend the ancient wretch is a sorceress, a witch, and, what
not--_Inter nos_, I will never contradict a rumour which may
bring her to the stake which she so justly deserves; but neither will
I believe that the tales of witches which they din into our ears are
aught but knavery, cozenage, and old women's fables."

"In the name of Heaven, what is she then," said the page, "that you
make such a stir about her?"

"She is one of those cursed old women," replied the Doctor, "who take
currently and impudently upon themselves to act as advisers and curers
of the sick, on the strength of some trash of herbs, some rhyme of
spells, some julap or diet, drink or cordial."

"Nay, go no farther," said the page; "if they brew cordials, evil be
their lot and all their partakers!"

"You say well, young man," said Dr. Lundin; "for mine own part, I know
no such pests to the commonwealth as these old incarnate devils, who
haunt the chambers of the brain-sick patients, that are mad enough to
suffer them to interfere with, disturb, and let, the regular process
of a learned and artificial cure, with their sirups, and their julaps,
and diascordium, and mithridate, and my Lady What-shall-call'um's
powder, and worthy Dame Trashem's pill; and thus make widows and
orphans, and cheat the regular and well-studied physician, in order to
get the name of wise women and skeely neighbours, and so forth. But no
more on't--Mother Nicneven [Footnote: This was the name given to the
grand Mother Witch, the very Hecate of Scottish popular superstition.
Her name was bestowed, in one or two instances, upon sorceresses, who
were held to resemble her by their superior skill in "Hell's black
grammar."] and I will meet one day, and she shall know there is danger
in dealing with the Doctor."

"It is a true word, and many have found it," said the page; "but under
your favour, I would fain walk abroad for a little, and see these

"It is well moved," said the Doctor, "and I too should be showing
myself abroad. Moreover the play waits us, young man-to-day, _totus
mundus agit histrionem_."--And they sallied forth accordingly into
the mirthful scene.

Sir Walter Scott