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waiting-woman were drawn from imagination; and on rereading my tale, after the lapse of a few years, and comparing its effect with my remembrance of my worthy friend's oral narration, which was certainly extremely affecting, I cannot but suspect myself of having marred its simplicity by some of those interpolations which, at the time when I penned them, no doubt passed with myself for embellishments.
The next tale, entitled The Two Drovers, I learned from another old friend, the late George Constable, Esq., of Wallace-Craigie, rear Dundee, whom I have already introduced to my reader as the original Antiquary of Monkbarns. He had been present, I think, at the trial at Carlisle, and seldom mentioned the venerable judge's charge to the jury without shedding tears, which had peculiar pathos, as flowing down features carrying rather a sarcastic or almost a cynical expression.
This worthy gentleman's reputation for shrewd Scottish sense, knowledge of our national antiquities, and a racy humour peculiar to himself, must be still remembered. For myself, I have pride in recording that for many years we were, in Wordsworth's language,
A pair of friends, though I was young,
W. S. ABBOTSFORD, Aug. 15, 1831.
CHRONICLES OF THE
MR. CHRYSTAL CROFTANGRY'S ACCOUNT OF HIMSELF
Sic itur ad astra
'This is the path to heaven. Such is the ancient motto attached to the armorial bearings of the Canongate, and which is inscribed, with greater or less propriety, upon all the public buildings, from the church to the pillory, in the ancient quarter of Edinburgh which bears, or rather once bore, the same relation to the Good Town that Westminster does to London, being still possessed of the palace of the sovereign, as it formerly was dignified by the residence of the principal nobility and gentry. I may, therefore, with some propriety, put the same motto at the head of the literary undertaking by which I hope to illustrate the hitherto undistinguished name of Chrystal Croftangry.
The public may desire to know something of an author who pitches at such height his ambitious expectations. The gentle reader, therefore -- for I am much of Captain Bobadil's humour, and could to no other extend myself so far -- the gentle reader, then, will be pleased to understand, that I am a Scottish gentleman of the old school, with a fortune, temper, and person rather the worse for wear. I have known the world for these forty years, having written myself man nearly since that period, and I do not think it is much mended. But this is an opinion which I keep to myself when I am among younger folk, for I recollect, in my youth, quizzing the sexagenarians who carried back their ideas of a perfect state of society to the days of laced coats and triple ruffles, and some of them to the blood and blows of the Forty-five. Therefore I am cautious in exercising the right of censorship, which is supposed to be acquired by men arrived at, or approaching, the mysterious period of life when the numbers of seven and nine multiplied into each other form what sages have termed the grand climacteric.
Of the earlier part of my life it is only necessary to say, that I swept the boards of the Parliament House with the skirts of my gown for the usual number of years during which young lairds were in my time expected to keep term, got no fees, laughed and made others laugh, drank claret at Bayle's, Fortune's, and Walker's, and eat oysters in the Covenant Close.
Becoming my own master, I flung my gown at the barkeeper, and commenced gay man on my own account. In Edinburgh, I ran into all the expensive society which the place then afforded. When I went to my house in the shire of Lanark, I emulated to the utmost the expenses of men of large fortune, and had my hunters, my first-rate pointers, my gamecocks, and feeders. I can more easily forgive myself for these follies than for others of a still more blamable kind, so indifferently cloaked over, that my poor mother thought herself obliged to leave my habitation, and betake herself to a small, inconvenient jointure-house, which she occupied till her death. I think, however, I was not exclusively to blame in this separation, and I believe my mother afterwards condemned herself for being too hasty. Thank God, the adversity which destroyed the means of continuing my dissipation restored me to the affections of my surviving parent!
My course of life could not last. I ran too fast to run long; and when I would have checked iny career, I was perhaps too near the brink of the precipice. Some mishaps I prepared by my own folly, others came upon me unawares. I put my estate out to nurse to a fat man of business, who smothered the babe he should have brought back to me in health and strength, and, in dispute with this honest gentleman, I found, like a skilful general, that my position would be most judiciously assumed by taking it up near the Abbey of Holyrood." It was then I first became acquainted with the quarter, which my little work will, I hope, render immortal, and grew familiar with those magnificent wilds, through which the kings of Scotland once chased the dark-brown deer, but which were chiefly recommended to me in those days by their being inaccessible to those metaphysical persons whom the law of the neighbouring country terms John Doe and Richard Roe. In short, the precincts of the palace are now best known as being a place of refuge at any time from all pursuit for civil debt.
Dire was the strife betwixt my quondam doer and myself; during which my motions were circumscribed, like those of some conjured demon, within a circle,
1 See Note 18.
which, beginning at the northern gate of the King's Park, thence running northways, is bounded on the left by the king's garden-wall, and the gutter, or kennel, in a line wherewith it crosses the High Street to the Watergate, and passing through the sewer, is bounded by the walls of the tennis-court and physic-garden, etc. It then follows the wall of the churchyard, joins the north-west wall of St. Ann's yards, and going east to the clack millhouse, turns southward to the turnstile in the king's park-wall, and includes the whole King's Park within the sanctuary.'
These limits, which I abridge from the accurate Maitland, once marked the girth, or asylum, belonging to the Abbey of Holyrood, and which, being still an appendage to the royal palace, has retained the privilege of an asylum for civil debt. One would think the space sufficiently extensive for a man to stretch his limbs in, as, besides a reasonable proportion of level ground, considering that the scene lies in Scotland, it includes within its precincts the mountain of Arthur's Seat, and the rocks and pasture land called Salisbury Crags. But yet it is inexpressible how, after a certain time had elapsed, I used to long for Sunday, which permitted me to extend my walk without limitation. During the other six days of the week I felt a sickness of heart which, but for the speedy approach of the hebdomadal day of liberty, I could hardly have endured. I experienced the impatience of a mastiff, who tugs in vain to extend the limits which his chain permits.
Day after day I walked by the side of the kennel which divides the sanctuary from the unprivileged part of the Canongate; and though the month was July, and the