The Tales of the Crusaders was determined upon as the title of the
following series of the Novels, rather by the advice of the few
friends whom, death has now rendered still fewer, than by the
author's own taste. Not but that he saw plainly enough the
interest which might be excited by the very name of the Crusaders,
but he was conscious at the same time that that interest was of a
character which it might be more easy to create than to satisfy,
and that by the mention of so magnificent a subject each reader
might be induced to call up to his imagination a sketch so
extensive and so grand that it might not be in the power of the
author to fill it up, who would thus stand in the predicament of
the dwarf bringing with him a standard to measure his own stature,
and showing himself, therefore, says Sterne, "a dwarf more ways
It is a fact, if it were worth while to examine it, that the
publisher and author, however much their general interests are the
same, may be said to differ so far as title pages are concerned;
and it is a secret of the tale-telling art, if it could be termed
a secret worth knowing, that a taking-title, as it is called, best
answers the purpose of the bookseller, since it often goes far to
cover his risk, and sells an edition not unfrequently before the
public have well seen it. But the author ought to seek more
permanent fame, and wish that his work, when its leaves are first
cut open, should be at least fairly judged of. Thus many of the
best novelists have been anxious to give their works such titles
as render it out of the reader's power to conjecture their
contents, until they should have an opportunity of reading them.
All this did not prevent the Tales of the Crusaders from being the
title fixed on; and the celebrated year of projects (eighteen
hundred and twenty-five) being the time of publication, an
introduction was prefixed according to the humour of the day.
The first tale of the series was influenced in its structure,
rather by the wish to avoid the general expectations which might
be formed from the title, than to comply with any one of them, and
so disappoint the rest. The story was, therefore, less an incident
belonging to the Crusades, than one which was occasioned by the
singular cast of mind introduced and spread wide by those
memorable undertakings. The confusion among families was not the
least concomitant evil of the extraordinary preponderance of this
superstition. It was no unusual thing for a Crusader, returning
from his long toils of war and pilgrimage, to find his family
augmented by some young off-shoot, of whom the deserted matron
could give no very accurate account, or perhaps to find his
marriage-bed filled, and that, instead of becoming nurse to an old
man, his household dame had preferred being the lady-love of a
young one. Numerous are the stories of this kind told in different
parts of Europe; and the returned knight or baron, according to
his temper, sat down good naturedly contented with the account
which his lady gave of a doubtful matter, or called in blood and
fire to vindicate his honour, which, after all, had been
endangered chiefly by his forsaking his household gods to seek
adventures in Palestine.
Scottish tradition, quoted, I think, in some part of the Border
Minstrelsy, ascribes to the clan of Tweedie, a family once stout
and warlike, a descent which would not have misbecome a hero of
antiquity. A baron, somewhat elderly we may suppose, had wedded a
buxom young lady, and some months after their union he left her to
ply the distaff alone in his old tower, among the mountains of the
county of Peebles, near the sources of the Tweed. He returned
after seven or eight years, no uncommon space for a pilgrimage to
Palestine, and found his family had not been lonely in his
absence, the lady having; been cheered by the arrival of a
stranger, (of whose approach she could give the best account of
any one,) who hung on her skirts, and called her mammy, and was
just such as the baron would have longed to call his son, but that
he could by no means make his age correspond, according to the
doctrine of civilians, with his own departure for Palestine. He
applied to his wife, therefore, for the solution of this dilemma.
The lady, after many floods of tears, which she had reserved for
the occasion, informed the honest gentleman, that, walking one day
alone by the banks of the infant river, a human form arose from a
deep eddy, still known and termed Tweed-pool, who deigned to
inform her that he was the tutelar genius of the stream, and,
_bongre malgre_, became the father of the sturdy fellow,
whose appearance had so much surprised her husband. This story,
however suitable to Pagan times, would have met with full credence
from few of the baron's contemporaries, but the wife was young and
beautiful, the husband old and in his dotage; her family (the
Frazers, it is believed) were powerful and warlike, and the baron
had had fighting enough in the holy wars. The event was, that he
believed, or seemed to believe, the tale, and remained contented
with the child with whom his wife and the Tweed had generously
presented him. The only circumstance which preserved the memory of
the incident was, that the youth retained the name of Tweed, or
Tweedie. The baron, meanwhile, could not, as the old Scotch song
says, "Keep the cradle rowing," and the Tweed apparently thought
one natural son was family enough for a decent Presbyterian lover;
and so little gall had the baron in his composition, that having
bred up the young Tweed as his heir while he lived, he left him in
that capacity when he died, and the son of the river-god founded
the family of Drummelzier and others, from whom have flowed, in
the phrase of the Ettrick Shepherd, "many a brave fellow, and many
a bauld feat."
The tale of the Noble Moringer is somewhat of the same nature--it
exists in a collection of German popular songs, entitled, Sammlung
Deutschen Volkslieder, Berlin, 1807; published by Messrs. Busching
and Von der Hagen. The song is supposed to be extracted from a
manuscript chronicle of Nicholas Thomann, chaplain to St. Leonard
in Wissenhorn, and dated 1533. The ballad, which is popular in
Germany, is supposed from the language, to have been composed in
the fifteenth century. The Noble Moringer, a powerful baron of
Germany, about to set out on a pilgrimage to the land of St.
Thomas, with the geography of which we are not made acquainted,
resolves to commit his castle, dominions, and lady, to the vassal
who should pledge him to keep watch over them till the seven years
of his pilgrimage were accomplished. His chamberlain, an elderly
and a cautious man, declines the trust, observing, that seven
days, instead of seven years, would be the utmost space to which
he would consent to pledge himself for the fidelity of any woman.
The esquire of the Noble Moringer confidently accepts the trust
refused by the chamberlain, and the baron departs on his
pilgrimage. The seven years are now elapsed, all save a single day
and night, when, behold, a vision descends on the noble pilgrim as
he sleeps in the land of the stranger.
"It was the noble Moringer, within an orchard slept,
When on the Baron's slumbering sense a boding vision crept,
And whispered in his ear a voice,'
'Tis time. Sir Knight, to wake--
Thy lady and thy heritage another master take.
"'Thy tower another banner knows, thy steeds another rein,
And stoop them to another's will, thy gallant vassal train;
And she, the lady of thy love, so faithful once and fair,
This night, within thy father's hall, she weds Marstetten's heir.'"
The Moringer starts up and prays to his patron St. Thomas, to
rescue him from the impending shame, which his devotion to his
patron had placed him in danger of incurring. St. Thomas, who must
have felt the justice of the imputation, performs a miracle. The
Moringer's senses were drenched in oblivion, and when he waked he
lay in a well-known spot of his own domain; on his right the
Castle of his fathers, and on his left the mill, which, as usual,
was built not far distant from the Castle.
"He leaned upon his pilgrim's staff, and to the mill he drew--
So altered was his goodly form that none their master knew.
The baron to the miller said, 'Good friend, for charity,
Tell a poor pilgrim, in your land, what tidings may there be?'
"The miller answered him again--'He knew of little news,
Save that the lady of the land did a new bridegroom choose;
Her husband died in distant land, such is the constant word,
His death sits heavy on our souls, he was a worthy lord.
"'Of him I held the little mill, which wins me living free--
God rest the baron in his grave, he aye was kind to me!
And when St. Martin's tide comes round, and millers take their toll,
The priest that prays for Moringer shall have both cope and stole.'"
The baron proceeds to the Castle gate, which is bolted to prevent
intrusion, while the inside of the mansion rung with preparations
for the marriage of the lady. The pilgrim prayed the porter for
entrance, conjuring him by his own sufferings, and for the sake of
the late Moringer; by the orders of his lady, the warder gave him
"Then up the hall paced Moringer, his step was sad and slow;
It sat full heavy on his heart, none seemed their lord to know.
He sat him on a lowly bench, oppressed with wo and wrong;
Short while he sat, but ne'er to him seemed little space so long.
"Now spent was day, and feasting o'er, and come was evening hour,
The time was nigh when new made brides retire to nuptial bower,
'Our Castle's wont,' a bride's man said, 'hath been both firm and long--
No guest to harbour in our halls till he shall chant a song.'"
When thus called upon, the disguised baron sung the following
"'Chill flows the lay of frozen age,' 'twas thus the pilgrim sung,
'Nor golden mead, nor garment gay, unlocks his heavy tongue.
Once did I sit, thou bridegroom gay, at board as rich as thine,
And by my side as fair a bride, with all her charms, was mine.
"'But time traced furrows on my face, and I grew silver hair'd,
For locks of brown, and cheeks of youth, she left this brow and beard;
Once rich, but now a palmer poor, I tread life's latest stage,
And mingle with your bridal mirth the lay of frozen age.'"
The lady, moved at the doleful recollections which the palmer's
song recalled, sent to him a cup of wine. The palmer, having
exhausted the goblet, returned it, and having first dropped in the
cup his nuptial ring, requested the lady to pledge her venerable
"The ring hath caught the lady's eye, she views it close and near,
Then might you hear her shriek aloud, 'The Moringer is here!'
Then might you see her start from seat, while tears in torrents fell,
But if she wept for joy or wo, the ladies best can tell.
"Full loud she utter'd thanks to Heaven, and every saintly power,
That had restored the Moringer before the midnight hour;
And loud she utter'd vow on vow, that never was there bride,
That had like her preserved her troth, or been so sorely tried.
"'Yes, here I claim the praise,' she said, 'to constant matrons due,
Who keep the troth, that they have plight, so stedfastly and true;
For count the term howe'er you will, so that you count aright,
Seven twelvemonths and a day are out when bells toll twelve to-night.'
"It was Marstetten then rose up, his falchion there he drew,
He kneeled before The Moringer, and down his weapon threw;
'My oath and knightly faith are broke,' these were the words he said;
'Then take, my liege, thy vassal's sword, and take thy vassal's head.
"The noble Moringer, he smiled, and then aloud did say,
'He gathers wisdom that hath roamed seven twelvemonths and a day,
My daughter now hath fifteen years, fame speaks her sweet and fair;
I give her for the bride you lose, and name her for my heir.
"'The young bridegroom hath youthful bride, the old bridegroom the old,
Whose faith were kept till term and tide so punctually were told.
But blessings on the warder kind that oped my castle gate,
For had I come at morrow tide, I came a day too late.'"
There is also, in the rich field of German romance, another
edition of this story, which has been converted by M. Tieck (whose
labours of that kind have been so remarkable) into the subject of
one of his romantic dramas. It is, however, unnecessary to detail
it, as the present author adopted his idea of the tale chiefly
from the edition preserved in the mansion of Haighhall, of old the
mansion-house of the family of Braidshaigh, now possessed by their
descendants on the female side, the Earls of Balcarras. The story
greatly resembles that of the Noble Moringer, only there is no
miracle of St. Thomas to shock the belief of good Protestants. I
am permitted, by my noble friends, the lord and lady of Haighhall,
to print the following extract from the family genealogy.
Sir William Bradshaghe 2d
Sone to Sr John was a
great traveller and a
Souldyer and married
Mabell daughter and
Sole heire of Hugh
Noris de Haghe and
Blackrode and had issue
EN. 8. E 2.
of this Mabel is a story by tradition of undouted
verity that in Sr William Bradshage's absence
(being 10 yeares away in the wares) she
married a welsh kt. Sr William retorninge
from the wars came in a Palmers habit amongst
the Poore to haghe. Who when she saw &
congetringe that that he favoured her former
husband wept, for which the kt chasticed her
at wich Sr William went and made him selfe
Knawne to his Tennants in wch space the kt
fled, but neare to Newton Parke Sr William overtooke
him and slue him. The said Dame
Mabell was enjoyned by her confessor to
doe Pennances by going onest every week
barefout and bare legg'd to a Crosse ner Wigan
from the haghe wilest she lived & is called
Mabb to this day; & ther monument Lyes
in wigan Church as you see ther Portrd.
An: Dom: 1315.
There were many vestiges around Haighhall, both of the Catholic
penances of the Lady Mabel, and the history of this unfortunate
transaction in particular; the whole history was within the memory
of man portrayed upon a glass window in the hall, where
unfortunately it has not been preserved. Mab's Cross is still
extant. An old ruinous building is said to have been the place
where the Lady Mabel was condemned to render penance, by walking
hither from Haighhall barefooted and barelegged for the
performance of her devotions. This relic, to which an anecdote so
curious is annexed, is now unfortunately ruinous. Time and
whitewash, says Mr. Roby, have altogether defaced the effigies of
the knight and lady on the tomb. The particulars are preserved in
Mr. Roby's Traditions of Lancashire, [Footnote: A very elegant
work, 2 vols. 1829. By J. Roby, M.R.S.L.] to which the reader is
referred for further particulars. It does not appear that Sir
William Braidshaigh was irreparably offended against the too hasty
Lady Mabel, although he certainly showed himself of a more fiery
mould than the Scottish and German barons who were heroes of the
former tales. The tradition, which the author knew very early in
life, was told to him by the late Lady Balcarras. He was so much
struck with it, that being at that time profuse of legendary lore,
he inserted it in the shape of a note to Waverley, the first of
his romantic offences. Had he then known, as he now does, the
value of such a story, it is likely that, as directed in the
inimitable receipt for making an epic poem, preserved in the
Guardian, he would have kept it for some future opportunity.
As, however, the tale had not been completely told, and was a very
interesting one, and as it was sufficiently interwoven with the
Crusades, the wars between the Welsh and the Norman lords of the
Marches was selected as a period when all freedoms might be taken
with the strict truth of history without encountering any well
known fact which might render the narrative improbable. Perhaps,
however, the period which vindicates the probability of the tale,
will, with its wars and murders, be best found described in the
following passage of Gryffyth Ap Edwin's wars.
"This prince in conjunction with Algar, Earl of Chester, who had
been banished from England as a traitor, in the reign of Edward
the Confessor, marched into Herefordshire and wasted all that
fertile country with fire and sword, to revenge the death of his
brother Rhees, whose head had been brought to Edward in pursuance
of an order sent by the King on account of the depredations which
he had committed against the English on the borders. To stop these
ravages the Earl of Hereford, who was nephew to Edward, advanced
with an army, not of English alone, but of mercenary Normans and
French, whom he had entertained in his service, against Gryffyth
and Algar. He met them near Hereford, and offered them battle,
which the Welsh monarch, who had won five pitched battles before,
and never had fought without conquering, joyfully accepted. The
earl had commanded his English forces to fight on horseback, in
imitation of the Normans, against their usual custom; but the
Welsh making a furious and desperate charge, that nobleman
himself, and the foreign cavalry led by him, were so daunted at
the view of them, that they shamefully fled without fighting;
which being seen by the English, they also turned their backs on
the enemy, who, having killed or wounded as many of them as they
could come up with in their flight, entered triumphantly into
Hereford, spoiled and fired the city, razed the walls to the
ground, slaughtered some of the citizens, led many of them
captive, and (to use the words of the Welsh Chronicle) left
nothing in the town but blood and ashes. After this exploit they
immediately returned into Wales, undoubtedly from a desire of
securing their prisoners, and the rich plunder they had gained.
The King of England hereupon commanded Earl Harold to collect a
great army from all parts of the kingdom, and assembling them at
Gloucester, advanced from thence to invade the dominions of
Gryffyth in North Wales. He performed his orders, and penetrated
into that country without resistance from the Welsh; Gryffyth and
Algar returning into some parts of South Wales. What were their
reasons for this conduct we are not well informed; nor why Harold
did not pursue his advantage against them; but it appears that he
thought it more advisable at this time to treat with, than subdue,
them; for he left North Wales, and employed himself in rebuilding
the walls of Hereford, while negotiations were carrying on with
Gryffyth which soon after produced the restoration of Algar, and a
peace with that king, not very honourable to England, as he made
no satisfaction for the mischief he had done in the war, nor any
submissions to Edward. Harold must doubtless have had some private
and forcible motives to conclude such a treaty. The very next year the
Welsh monarch, upon what quarrel we, know not, made a new incursion
into England, and killed the Bishop of Hereford, the Sheriff of the county,
and many more of the English, both ecclesiastics and laymen. Edward
was counselled by Harold, and Leofrick, Earl of Mercia, to make
peace with him again; which he again broke; nor could he be
restrained by any means, from these barbarous inroads, before the
year one, thousand and sixty-three; when Edward, whose patience
and pacific disposition had been too much abused, commissioned
Harold to assemble the whole strength of the kingdom, and make war
upon him in his own country till he had subdued or destroyed him.
That general acted so vigorously, and with so much celerity, that
he had like to have surprised him in his palace: but just before
the English forces arrived at his gate, having notice of the
danger that threatened him, and seeing no other means of safety,
he threw himself with a few of his household into one of his ships
which happened at the instant to be ready to sail and put to
sea."--LYTTLETON'S _Hist. of England_, vol. ii. p. 338.
This passage will be found to bear a general resemblance to the
fictitious tale told, in the Romance.
ABBOTSFORD, 1_st June_, 1832.
MINUTES OF SEDERUNT OF A GENERAL MEETING OF THE SHAREHOLDERS
DESIGNING TO FORM A JOINT-STOCK COMPANY, UNITED FOR THE PURPOSE OF
WRITING AND PUBLISHING THE CLASS OF WORKS CALLED THE WAVERLEY
HELD IN THE WATERLOO TAVERN, REGENT'S BRIDGE, EDINBURGH, 1_st
[The reader must have remarked, that the various editions of the
proceedings at this meeting were given in the public papers with
rather more than usual inaccuracy. The cause of this was no ill-
timed delicacy on the part of the gentlemen of the press to assert
their privilege of universal presence wherever a few are met
together, and to commit to the public prints whatever may then and
there pass of the most private nature. But very unusual and
arbitrary methods were resorted to on the present occasion to
prevent the reporters using a right which is generally conceded to
them by almost all meetings, whether of a political or commercial
description. Our own reporter, indeed, was bold enough to secrete
himself under the Secretary's table, and was not discovered till
the meeting was well-nigh over. We are sorry to say, he suffered
much in person from fists and toes, and two or three principal
pages were torn out of his note-book, which occasions his report
to break off abruptly. We cannot but consider this behaviour as
more particularly illiberal on the part of men who are themselves
a kind of gentlemen of the press; and they ought to consider
themselves as fortunate that the misused reporter has sought no
other vengeance than from the tone of acidity with which he has
seasoned his account of their proceedings.--_Edinburgh
A meeting of the gentlemen and others interested in the celebrated
publications called the Waverley Novels, having been called by
public advertisement, the same was respectably attended by various
literary characters of eminence. And it being in the first place
understood that individuals were to be denominated by the names
assigned to them in the publications in question, the Eidolon, or
image of the author, was unanimously called to the chair, and
Jonathan Oldbuck, Esq. of Monkbarns, was requested to act as
The Preses then addressed the meeting to the following purpose:--
"Gentlemen, I need scarcely remind you, that we have a joint
interest in the valuable property which has accumulated under our
common labours. While the public have been idly engaged in
ascribing to one individual or another the immense mass of various
matter, which the labours of many had accumulated, you, gentlemen,
well know, that every person in this numerous assembly has had his
share in the honours and profits of our common success. It is,
indeed, to me a mystery, how the sharp-sighted could suppose so
huge a mass of sense and nonsense, jest and earnest, humorous and
pathetic, good, bad, and indifferent, amounting to scores of
volumes, could be the work of one hand, when we know the doctrine
so well laid down by the immortal Adam Smith, concerning the
division of labour. Were those who entertained an opinion so
strange, not wise enough to know, that it requires twenty pairs of
hands to make a thing so trifling as a pin--twenty couple of dogs
to kill an animal so insignificant as a fox?--"
"Hout, man!" said a stout countryman, "I have a grew-bitch at home
will worry the best tod in Pomoragrains, before ye could say,
"Who is that person?" said the Preses, with some warmth, as it
appeared to us.
"A son of Dandy Dinmont's," answered the unabashed rustic. "God,
ye may mind him, I think!--ane o' the best in your aught, I
reckon. And, ye see, I am come into the farm, and maybe something
mair, and a whoen shares in this buik-trade of yours."
"Well, well," replied the Preses, "peace, I pray thee, peace.
Gentlemen, when thus interrupted, I was on the point of
introducing the business of this meeting, being, as is known to
most of you, the discussion of a proposition now on your table,
which I myself had the honour to suggest at last meeting, namely,
that we do apply to the Legislature for an Act of Parliament in
ordinary, to associate us into a corporate body, and give us a
_personi standi in judicio_, with full power to prosecute and
bring to conviction all encroachers upon our exclusive privilege,
in the manner therein to be made and provided. In a letter from
the ingenious Mr. Dousterswivel which I have received---"
Oldbuck, warmly--"I object to that fellow's name being mentioned;
he is a common swindler."
"For shame, Mr. Oldbuck," said the Preses, "to use such terms
respecting the ingenious inventor of the great patent machine
erected at Groningen, where they put in raw hemp at one end, and
take out ruffled shirts at the other, without the aid of hackle or
rippling-comb--loom, shuttle, or weaver--scissors, needle, or
seamstress. He had just completed it, by the addition of a piece
of machinery to perform the work of the laundress; but when it was
exhibited before his honour the burgomaster, it had the
inconvenience of heating the smoothing-irons red-hot; excepting
which, the experiment was entirely satisfactory. He will become as
rich as a Jew."
"Well," added Mr. Oldbuck, "if the scoundrel--"
"Scoundrel, Mr. Oldbuck," said the Preses, "is a most unseemly
expression, and I must call you to order. Mr. Dousterswivel is
only an eccentric genius."
"Pretty much the same in the Greek," muttered Mr. Oldbuck; and
then said aloud, "and if this eccentric genius has work enough in
singeing the Dutchman's linen, what the devil has he to do here?"
"Why, he is of opinion, that at the expense of a little mechanism,
some part of the labour of composing these novels might be saved
by the use of steam." There was a murmur of disapprobation at this
proposal, and the words, "Blown up," and "Bread taken out of our
mouths," and "They might as well construct a steam parson," were
whispered. And it was not without repeated calls to order, that
the Preses obtained an opportunity of resuming his address.
"Order!--Order! Pray, support the chair. Hear, hear, hear the
"Gentlemen, it is to be premised, that this mechanical operation
can only apply to those parts of the narrative which are at
present composed out of commonplaces, such as the love-speeches of
the hero, the description of the heroine's person, the moral
observations of all sorts, and the distribution of happiness at
the conclusion of the piece. Mr. Dousterswivel has sent me some
drawings, which go far to show, that by placing the words and
phrases technically employed on these subjects, in a sort of
framework, like that of the Sage of Laputa, and changing them by
such a mechanical process as that by which weavers of damask alter
their patterns, many new and happy combinations cannot fail to
occur, while the author, tired of pumping his own brains, may have
an agreeable relaxation in the use of his fingers."
"I speak for information, Mr. Preses," said the Rev. Mr. Lawrence
Templeton; "but I am inclined to suppose the late publication of
Walladmor to have been the work of Dousterswivel, by the help of
the steam-engine." [Footnote: A Romance, by the Author of
Waverley, having been expected about this time at the great
commercial mart of literature, the Fair of Leipsic, an ingenious
gentleman of Germany, finding that none such appeared, was so kind
as to supply its place with a work, in three volumes, called
Walladmor, to which he prefixed the Christian and surname at full
length. The character of this work is given with tolerable
fairness in the text. ]
"For shame, Mr. Templeton," said the Preses; "there are good
things in Walladmor, I assure you, had the writer known any thing
about the country in which he laid the scene."
"Or had he had the wit, like some of ourselves, to lay the scene
in such a remote or distant country that nobody should be able to
back-speer [Footnote: Scottish for cross-examine him.] him," said
"Why, as to that," said the Preses, "you must consider the thing
was got up for the German market, where folks are no better judges
of Welsh manners than of Welsh crw." [Footnote: The ale of the
ancient British is called crw in their native language.]
"I make it my prayer that this be not found the fault of our own
next venture," said Dr. Dryasdust, pointing to some books which
lay on the table. "I fear the manners expressed in that
'Betrothed' of ours, will scarce meet the approbation of the
Cymmerodion; I could have wished that Llhuyd had been looked into
--that Powel had been consulted--that Lewis's History had been
quoted, the preliminary dissertations particularly, in order to
give due weight to the work."
"Weight!" said Captain Clutterbuck; "by my soul, it is heavy
enough already, Doctor."
"Speak to the chair," said the Preses, rather peevishly.
"To the chair, then, I say it," said Captain Clutterbuck, "that
'The Betrothed' is heavy enough to break down the chair of John of
Gaunt, or Cador-Edris itself. I must add, however, that, in my
poor mind, 'The Talisman' goes more trippingly off." [Footnote:
This was an opinion universally entertained among the friends of
"It is not for me to speak," said the worthy minister of Saint
Ronan's Well; "but yet I must say, that being so long engaged upon
the Siege of Ptolemais, my work ought to have been brought out,
humble though it be, before any other upon a similar subject at
"Your Siege, Parson!" said Mr. Oldbuck, with great contempt; "will
you speak of your paltry prose-doings in my presence, whose great
Historical Poem, in twenty books, with notes in proportion, has
been postponed _ad Grcecas Kalendas?_" The Preses, who
appeared to suffer a great deal during this discussion, now spoke
with dignity and determination. "Gentlemen," he said, "this sort
of discussion is highly irregular. There is a question before you,
and to that, gentlemen, I must confine your attention. Priority of
publication, let me remind you, gentlemen, is always referred to
the Committee of Criticism, whose determination on such subjects
is without appeal. I declare I will leave the chair, if any more
extraneous matter be introduced.--And now, gentlemen, that we are
once more in order, I would wish to have some gentleman speak upon
the question, whether, as associated to carry on a joint-stock
trade in fictitious narrative, in prose and verse, we ought not to
be incorporated by Act of Parliament? What say you, gentlemen, to
the proposal? _Vis unita fortior_, is an old and true adage."
"_Societas mater discordiarum_, is a brocard as ancient and
as veritable," said Oldbuck, who seemed determined, on this
occasion, to be pleased with no proposal that was announced by the
"Come, Monkbarns," said the Preses, in his most coaxing manner,
"you have studied the monastic institutions deeply, and know there
must be a union of persons and talents to do any thing
respectable, and attain a due ascendance over the spirit of the
age. _Tres faciunt collegium_--it takes three monks to make a
"And nine tailors to make a man," replied Oldbuck, not in the
least softened in his opposition; "a quotation as much to the
purpose as the other."
"Come, come," said the Preses, "you know the Prince of Orange
said to Mr. Seymour, 'Without an association, we are a rope of
"I know," replied Oldbuck, "it would have been as seemly that none
of the old leaven had been displayed on this occasion, though you
be the author of a Jacobite novel. I know nothing of the Prince of
Orange after 1688; but I have heard a good deal of the immortal
William the Third."
"And to the best of my recollection," said Mr. Templeton,
whispering to Oldbuck, "it was Seymour made the remark to the
Prince, not the Princo to Seymour. But this is a specimen of our
friend's accuracy, poor gentleman: He trusts too much to his
memory! of late years--failing fast, sir--breaking up."
"And breaking down, too," said Mr. Oldbuck. "But what can you
expect of a man too fond of his own hasty and flashy compositions,
to take the assistance of men of reading and of solid parts?"
"No whispering--no caballing--no private business, gentlemen,"
said the unfortunate Preses, who reminded us somewhat of a
Highland drover engaged in gathering and keeping in the straight
road his excursive black cattle.
"I have not yet heard," he continued, "a single reasonable
objection to applying for the Act of Parliament, of which the
draught lies on the table. You must be aware that the extremes of
rude and of civilized society are, in these our days, on the point
of approaching to each other. In the patriarchal period, a man is
his own weaver, tailor, butcher, shoemaker, and so forth; and, in
the age of Stock-companies, as the present may be called, an
individual may be said, in one sense, to exercise the same
plurality of trades. In fact, a man who has dipt largely into
these speculations, may combine his own expenditure with the
improvement of his own income, just like the ingenious hydraulic
machine, which, by its very waste, raises its own supplies of
water. Such a person buys his bread from his own Baking Company,
his milk and cheese from his own Dairy Company, takes off a new
coat for the benefit of his own Clothing Company, illuminates his
house to advance his own Gas Establishment, and drinks an
additional bottle of wine for the benefit of the General Wine
Importation Company, of which he is himself a member. Every act,
which would otherwise be one of mere extravagance, is, to such a
person, seasoned with the _odor lucri_, and reconciled to
prudence. Even if the price of the article consumed be
extravagant, and the quality indifferent, the person, who is in a
manner his own customer, is only imposed upon for his own benefit.
Nay, if the Joint-stock Company of Undertakers shall unite with
the Medical Faculty, as proposed by the late facetious Doctor G--,
under the firm of Death and the Doctor, the shareholder might
contrive to secure to his heirs a handsome slice of his own death-
bed and funeral expenses. In short, Stock-Companies are the
fashion of the age, and an Incorporating Act will, I think, be
particularly useful in bringing back the body, over whom I have
the honour to preside, to a spirit of subordination, highly
necessary to success in every enterprise where joint wisdom,
talent, and labour, are to be employed. It is with regret that I
state, that, besides several differences amongst yourselves, I
have not myself for some time been treated with that deference
among you which circumstances entitled me to expect."
"_Hinc illa lachryma_," muttered Mr. Oldbuck.
"But," continued the Chairman, "I see other gentlemen impatient to
deliver their opinions, and I desire to stand in no man's way. I
therefore--my place in this chair forbidding me to originate the
motion--beg some gentleman may move a committee for revising the
draught of the bill now upon the table, and which has been duly
circulated among those having interest, and take the necessary
measures to bring it before the House early next session."
There was a short murmur in the meeting, and at length Mr. Oldbuck
again rose. "It seems, sir," he said, addressing the chair, "that
no one present is willing to make the motion you point at. I am
sorry no more qualified person has taken upon him to show any
reasons in the contrair, and that it has fallen on me, as we
Scotsmen say, to bell-the-cat with you; anent whilk phrase,
Pitscottie hath a pleasant jest of the great Earl of Angus--"
Here a gentleman whispered to the speaker, "Have a care of
Pitscottie" and, Mr. Oldbuck, as if taking the hint, went on.
"But that's neither here nor there--Well, gentlemen, to be short,
I think it unnecessary to enter into the general reasonings whilk
have this day been delivered, as I may say, _ex cathedra_;
nor will I charge our worthy Preses with an attempt to obtain over
us, _per ambages_, and under colour of an Act of Parliament,
a despotic authority, inconsistent with our freedom. But this I
will say, that times are so much changed above stairs, that
whereas last year you might have obtained an act incorporating a
Stock Company for riddling ashes, you will not be able to procure
one this year for gathering pearls. What signifies, then, wasting
the time of the meeting, by inquiring whether or not we ought to
go in at a door which we know to be bolted and barred in our face,
and in the face of all the companies for fire or air, land or
water, which we have of late seen blighted!"
Here there was a general clamour, seemingly of approbation, in
which the words might be distinguished, "Needless to think of it"--
"Money thrown away"--"Lost before the committee," &c. &c. &c. But
above the tumult, the voices of two gentlemen, in different
corners of the room, answered each other clear and loud, like the
blows of the two figures on Saint Dunstan's clock; and although
the Chairman, in much agitation, endeavoured to silence them, his
interruption had only the effect of cutting their words up into
_First Voice_. "The Lord Chan--"
_Second Voice_. "The Lord Lau--"
_Chairman_, (loudly.) "Scandalum magnatum!"
_First Voice_. "The Lord Chancel--"
_Second Voice_. "The Lord Lauder--"
_Chairman_, (_louder yet_.) "Breach of Privilege!"
_First Voice_. "The Lord Chancellor--"
_Second Voice_. "My Lord Lauderdale--"
_Chairman_, (_at the highest pitch of his voice_.)
"Called before the House!"
_Both Voices together_. "Will never consent to such a bill."
A general assent seemed to follow this last proposition, which was
propounded with as much emphasis as could be contributed by the
united clappers of the whole meeting, joined to those of the
voices already mentioned.
Several persons present seemed to consider the business of the
meeting as ended, and were beginning to handle their hats and
canes, with a view to departure, when the Chairman, who had thrown
himself back in his chair, with an air of manifest mortification
and displeasure, again drew himself up, and commanded attention.
All stopped, though some shrugged their shoulders, as if under the
predominating influence of a _bore_. But the tenor of his
discourse soon excited anxious attention.
"I perceive, gentlemen," he said, "that you are like the young
birds, who are impatient to leave their mother's nest--take care
your own penfeathers are strong enough to support you; since, as
for my part, I am tired of supporting on my wing such a set of
ungrateful gulls. But it signifies nothing speaking--I will no
longer avail myself of such weak ministers as you--I will discard
you--I will unbeget you, as Sir Anthony Absolute says--I will
leave you and your whole hacked stock in trade--your caverns and
your castles--your modern antiques, and your antiquated moderns--
your confusion of times, manners, and circumstances--your
properties, as player-folk say of scenery and dresses--the whole
of your exhausted expedients, to the fools who choose to deal with
them. I will vindicate my own fame with my own right hand, without
appealing to such halting assistants,
'Whom I have used for sport, rather than need.'
--I will lay my foundations better than on quicksands--I will rear
my structure of better materials than painted cards; in a word, I
will write HISTORY!"
There was a tumult of surprise, amid which our reporter detected
the following expressions:--"The devil you will!"--"You, my dear
sir, _you?_"--"The old gentleman forgets that he is the
greatest liar since Sir John Mandeville."
"Not the worse historian for that," said Oldbuck, "since history,
you know, is half fiction."
"I'll answer for that half being forthcoming" said the former
speaker; "but for the scantling of truth which is necessary after
all, Lord help us!--Geoffrey of Monmouth will be Lord Clarendon to
As the confusion began to abate, more than one member of the
meeting was seen to touch his forehead significantly, while
Captain Clutterbuck humm'd
Be by your friends advised,
Too rash, too hasty, dad,
Maugre your bolts and wise head,
The world will think you mad.
"The world, and you, gentlemen, may think what you please," said
the Chairman, elevating his voice; "but I intend to write the most
wonderful book which the world ever read--a book in which every
incident shall be incredible, yet strictly true--a work recalling
recollections with which the ears of this generation once tingled,
and which shall be read by our children with an admiration
approaching to incredulity. Such shall be the LIFE OF NAPOLEON
BONAPARTE by the AUTHOR OF WAVERLEY."
In the general start and exclamation which followed this
annunciation, Mr. Oldbuck dropped his snuff-box; and the Scottish
rappee, which dispersed itself in consequence, had effects upon
the nasal organs of our reporter, ensconced as he was under the
secretary's table, which occasioned his being discovered and
extruded in the illiberal and unhandsome manner we have mentioned,
with threats of farther damage to his nose, ears, and other
portions of his body, on the part especially of Captain
Clutterbuck. Undismayed by these threats, which indeed those of
his profession are accustomed to hold at defiance, our young man
hovered about the door of the tavern, but could only bring us the
farther intelligence, that the meeting had broken up in about a
quarter of an hour after his expulsion, "in much-admired
Sorry, no summary available yet.