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'Tis said that words and signs have power
Lay of the Last Minstrel.
INTRODUCTION-(1829.) of showing my gratitude for your hospitality. Let
me only request that I may be informed of the The Novel or Romance of WAVERLEY made its exact minute of the birth ; and I hope to be able way to the public slowly, of course, at first, but put you in possession of some particulars, which afterwards with such accumulating popularity as may influence, in an important manner, the future to encourage the author to a second attempt. He prospects of the child now about to come into this looked about for a name and a subject; and the busy and changeful world. I will not conceal from manner in which the novels were composed cannot you that I am skilful in understanding and interbe better illustrated than by reciting the simple preting the movements of those planetary bodies narrative on which Guy Mannering was originally which exert their influences on the destiny of morfounded; but to which, in the progress of the work, tals. It is a science which I do not practise, like the production ceased to bear any, even the most others who call themselves astrologers, for hire or distant resemblance. The tale was originally told reward; for I have a competent estate, and only me by an old servant of my father's, an excellent use the knowledge I possess for the benefit of those old Highlander, without a fault, unless a prefer- in whom I feel an interest.” The Laird bowed in ence to mountain-dew over less potent liquors be respect and gratitude, and the stranger was acaccounted one. He believed as firmly in the story, commodated with an apartment which commanded as in any part of his creed.
an ample view of the astral regions. A grave and elderly person, according to old The guest spent a part of the night in ascertainJohn MacKinlay's account, while travelling in the ing the position of the heavenly bodies, and calcuwilder parts of Galloway, was benighted. With lating their probable influence; until at length the difficulty he found his way to a country-seat, where, result of his observations induced him to send for with the hospitality of the time and country, he the father, and conjure him, in the most solemn was readily admitted. The owner of the house, a manner, to cause the assistants to retard the birth, gentleman of good fortune, was much struck by if practicable, were it but for five minutes. The the reverend appearance of his guest, and apolo- answer declared this to be impossible; and almost gized to him for a certain degree of confusion which in the instant that the message was returned, the must unavoidably attend his reception, and could father and his guest were made acquainted with not escape his eye. The lady of the house was, he the birth of a boy. said, confined to her apartment, and on the point The Astrologer on the morrow met the party who of making her husband a father for the first time, gathered around the breakfast table, with looks so though they had been ten years married. At such grave and ominous, as to alarm the fears of the an emergency, the Laird said, he feared his guest father, who had hitherto exulted in the prospects might meet with some apparent neglect.
held out by the birth of an heir to his ancient pro* Not so, sir,” said the stranger ; “ my wants perty, failing which event it must have passed to a are few, and easily supplied, and I trust the pre- distant branch of the family. He hastened to draw sent circumstances may even afford an opportunity the stranger into a private room.
“ I fear from your looks," said the father, “ that the boy in religious knowledge. If he be bred up you have bad tidings to tell me of my young stran as I advise, I think it will be best that he come to ger: perhaps God will resume the blessing he has my house at the time when the fatal and decisive bestowed ere he attains the age of manhood! or period approaches, that is, before he has attained perhaps he is destined to be unworthy of the affec- his twenty-first year complete. If you send him tion which we are naturally disposed to devote to such as I desire, I humbly trust that God will proour offspring?"
tect his own, through whatever strong temptation “ Neither the one nor the other,” answered the his fate may subject him to.” He then gave his stranger: “ unless my judgment greatly err, the in-host his address, which was a country-seat near a fant will survive the years of minority, and in tem- post-town in the south of England, and bid him an per and disposition will prove all that his parents affectionate farewell. can wish. But with much in his horoscope which The mysterious stranger departed, but his words promises many blessings, there is one evil influence remained impressed upon the mind of the anxious strongly predominant, which threatens to subject parent. He lost his lady while his boy was still in him to an unhallowed and unhappy temptation about infancy. This calamity, I think, had been predicted the time when he shall attain the age of twenty-one, by the Astrologer; and thus his confidence, which, which period, the constellations intimate, will be like most people of the period, he had freely given the crisis of his fate. In what shape, or with what to the science, was riveted and confirmed. The peculiar urgency, this temptation may beset him, utmost care, therefore, was taken to carry into efmy art cannot discover.”
fect the severe and almost ascetic plan of education “ Your knowledge, then, can afford us no de- which the sage had enjoined. A tutor of the strictest fence," said the anxious father, “ against the threat principles was employed to superintend the youth's ened evil?”
education; he was surrounded by domestics of the “ Pardon me,” answered the stranger, " it can. most established character, and closely watched and The influence of the constellations is powerful ; looked after by the anxious father himself. but He, who made the heavens, is more powerful The years of infancy, childhood, and boyhood, than all, if his aid be invoked in sincerity and passed as the father could have wished. A young truth. You ought to dedicate this boy to the im- Nazarene could not have been bred up with more mediate service of his Maker, with as much since- rigour. All that was evil was withheld from his rity as Samuel was devoted to the worship in the observation ; - he only heard what was pure in Temple by his parents. You must regard him as precept - he only witnessed what was worthy in a being separated from the rest of the world. In practice. childhood, in boyhood, you must surround him But when the boy began to be lost in the youth, with the pious and virtuous, and protect him, to the attentive father saw cause for alarm. Shades of the utmost of your power, from the sight or hear- sadness, which gradually assumeda darker character, ing of any crime, in word or action. He must be began to overcloud the young man's temper. Tears, educated in religious and moral principles of the which seemed involuntary, broken sleep, moonlight strictest description. Let him not enter the world, wanderings, and a melancholy for which he could lest he learn to partake of its follies, or perhaps assign no reason, seemed to threaten at once his of its vices. In short, preserve him as far as bodily health, and the stability of his mind. The possible from all sin, save that of which too great Astrologer was consulted by letter, and returned a portion belongs to all the fallen race of Adam. for answer, that this fitful state of mind was but the With the approach of his twenty-first birth-day commencement of his trial, and that the poor youth comes the crisis of his fate. If he survive it, he must undergo more and more desperate struggles will be happy and prosperous on earth, and a chosen with the evil that assailed him. There was no hope vessel among those elected for heaven. But if of remedy, save that he showed steadiness of mind it be otherwise" -The Astrologer stopped, and in the study of the Scriptures. “ He suffers," consighed deeply.
tinued the letter of the sage, “ from the awakening “ Sir," replied the parent, still more alarmed of those harpies, the passions, which have slept with than before, “ your words are so kind, your advice him as with others, till the period of life which he 50 serious, that I will pay the deepest attention to has now attained. Better, far better, that they your behests. But can you not aid me farther in torment him by ungrateful cravings, than that he this most important concern? Believe me, I will should have to repent having satiated them by crinot be ungrateful.”
minal indulgence." “I require and deserve no gratitude for doing The dispositions of the young man were so excela good action," said the stranger, “ in especial for lent, that he combated, by reason and religion, the contributing all that lies in my power to save from fits of gloom which at times overcast his mind, and an abhorred fate the harmless infant to whom, it was not till he attained the commencement of his under a singular conjunction of planets, last night twenty-first year, that they assumed a character gave life. There is my address; you may write to which made his father tremble for the consequences, me from time to time concerning the progress of It seemed as if the gloomiest and most hideous of
mental maladies was taking the form of religious portant points of religion, to satisfy himself that he despair. Still the youth was gentle, courteous, af- could render a reason for the faith that was in him. fectionate, and submissive to his father's will, and During the examination, the youth, in spite of himresisted with all his power the dark suggestions self, felt his mind occasionally wander, and his rewhich were breathed into his mind, as it seemed, collections go in quest of the beautiful vision who by some emanation of the Evil Principle, exhorting had shared their meal at noon. On such occasions him, like the wicked wife of Job, to curse God and the Astrologer looked grave, and shook his head at die.
this relaxation of attention; yet, on the whole, he The time at length arrived when he was to per- was pleased with the youth's replies. form what was then thought a long and somewhat At sunset the young man was made to take the perilous journey, to the mansion of the early friend bath ; and, having done so, he was directed to attire who had calculated his nativity. His road lay himself in a robe, somewhat like that worn by Arthrough several places of interest, and he enjoyed menians, having his long hair combed down on his the amusement of travelling, more than he himself shoulders, and his neck, hands, and feet bare. In thought would have been possible. Thus he did this guise he was conducted into a remote chamber not reach the place of his destination till noon, on totally devoid of furniture, excepting a lamp, a chair, the day preceding his birth-day. It seemed as if and a table, on which lay a Bible. “ Here," said he had been carried away with an unwonted tide of the Astrologer, “ I must leave you alone, to pass pleasurable sensation, so as to forget, in some de- the most critical period of your life. If you can, by gree, what his father had communicated concerning recollection of the great truths of which we have the purpose of his journey. He halted at length spoken, repel the attacks which will be made on your before a respectable but solitary old mansion, to courage and your principles, you have nothing to apwhich he was directed as the abode of his father's prehend. But the trial will be severe and arduous." friend.
His features then assumed a pathetic solemnity, the The servants who came to take his horse, told tears stood in his eyes, and his voice faltered with him he had been expected for two days. He was emotion as he said, “ Dear child, at whose coming led into a study, where the stranger, now a vener into the world I foresaw this fatal trial, may God able old man, who had been his father's guest, met give thee grace to support it with firmness !” him with a shade of displeasure, as well as gravity, The young man was left alone; and hardly did he on his brow. “Young man,” he said, “ wherefore find himself so, when, like a swarm of demons, the so slow on a journey of such importance ?" _“I recollection of all his sins of omission and commisthought,” replied the guest, blushing and looking sion, rendered even more terrible by the scrupulousdownward, “ that there was no harm in travelling ness with which he had been educated, rushed on his slowly, and satisfying my curiosity, providing i mind, and, like furies armed with fiery scourges, could reach your residence by this day; for such seemed determined to drive him to despair. As was my father's charge.” –“ You were to blame," he combated these horrible recollections with disreplied the sage, “ in lingering, considering that tracted feelings, but with a resolved mind, he bethe avenger of blood was pressing on your footsteps. came aware that his arguments were answered by But you are come at last, and we will hope for the the sophistry of another, and that the dispute was best, though the conflict in which you are to be en- no longer confined to his own thoughts. The Author gaged will be found more dreadful, the longer it is of Evil was present in the room with him in bodily postponed. But first, accept of such refreshments shape, and, potent with spirits of a melancholy cast, as nature requires to satisfy, but not to pamper, the was impressing upon him the desperation of his appetite."
state, and urging suicide as the readiest mode to The old man led the way into a summer parlour, put an end to his sinful career. Amid his errors, where a frugal meal was placed on the table. As the pleasure he had taken in prolonging his journey they sat down to the board, they were joined by a unnecessarily, and the attention which he had beyoung lady about eighteen years of age, and so stowed on the beauty of the fair female, when his lovely, that the sight of her carried off the feel thoughts ought to have been dedicated to the reliings of the young stranger from the peculiarity and gious discourse of her father, were set before him mystery of his own lot, and riveted his attention to in the darkest colours; and he was treated as one everything she did or said. She spoke little, and it who, having sinned against light, was therefore dewas on the most serious subjects. She played on servedly left a prey to the Prince of Darkness. the harpsichord at her father's command, but it As the fated and influential hour rolled on, the was hymns with which she accompanied the instru- terrors of the hateful Presence grew more conment. At length, on a sign from the sage, she left founding to the mortal senses of the victim, and the room, turning on the young stranger, as she the knot of the accursed sophistry became more indeparted, a look of inexpressible anxiety and inextricable in appearance, at least to the prey whom terest.
its meshes surrounded. He had not power to exThe old man then conducted the youth to his plain the assurance of pardon which he continued study, and conversed with him upon the most im- to assert, or to name the victorious name in which
he trusted. But his faith did not abandon him, have thought that a person of this description ought, though he lacked for a time the power of express- from his knowledge of the thousand ways in which ing it. “Say what you will,” was his answer to human eyes could be deceived, to have been less the Tempter—“ I know there is as much betwixt than others subject to the fantasies of superstition. the two boards of this Book as can insure me for- Perhaps the habitual use of those abstruse calcugiveness for my transgressions, and safety for my lations, by which, in a manner surprising to the soul.” As he spoke, the clock, which announced artist himself, many tricks upon cards, &c., are the lapse of the fatal hour, was heard to strike. performed, induced this gentleman to study the The speech and intellectual powers of the youth combination of the stars and planets, with the exwere instantly and fully restored; he burst forth pectation of obtaining prophetic communications. into prayer, and expressed, in the most glowing He constructed a scheme of his own nativity, terms, his reliance on the truth and on the Author calculated according to such rules of art as he could of the gospel. The demon retired, yelling and dis- collect from the best astrological authors. The comfited, and the old man, entering the apartment, result of the past he found agreeable to what had with tears congratulated his guest on his victory in hitherto befallen him, but in the important prothe fated struggle.
spect of the future a singular difficulty occurred. The young man was afterwards married to the There were two years, during the course of which beautiful maiden, the first sight of whom had made he could by no means obtain any exact knowledge such an impression on him, and they were con whether the subject of the scheme would be dead signed over at the close of the story to domestic or alive. Anxious concerning so remarkable a cirhappiness.—So ended John MacKinlay's legend. cumstance, he gave the scheme to a brother Astro
The author of Waverley had imagined a possi- loger, who was also baffled in the same manner. bility of framing an interesting, and perhaps not At one period he found the native, or subject, was an unedifying, tale, out of the incidents of the life certainly alive— at another, that he was unques. of a doomed individual, whose efforts at good and tionably dead; but a space of two years extended virtuous conduct were to be for ever disappointed between these two terms, during which he could by the intervention, as it were, of some malevolent find no certainty as to his death or existence. being, and who was at last to come off victorious The Astrologer marked the remarkable circumfrom the fearful struggle. In short, something was stance in his Diary, and continued his exhibitions meditated upon a plan resembling the imaginative in various parts of the empire, until the period was tale of Sintram and his companions, by Mons. Le about to expire, during which his existence had Baron de la Motte Fouqué,-although, if it then been warranted as actually ascertained. At last, existed, the author had not seen it.
while he was exhibiting to a numerous audience The scheme projected may be traced in the three his usual tricks of legerdemain, the hands, whose or four first chapters of the work, but farther con- activity had so often baffled the closest observer, sideration induced the author to lay his purpose suddenly lost their power, the cards dropped from aside. It appeared, on mature consideration, that them, and he sunk down a disabled paralytic. In Astrology, though its influence was once received this state the artist languished for two years, when and admitted by Bacon himself, does not now re- he was at length removed by death. It is said that tain influence over the general mind sufficient even the Diary of this modern Astrologer will soon be to constitute the mainspring of a romance. Be- given to the public. sides, it occurred, that to do justice to such a sub The fact, if truly reported, is one of those sinject would have required not only more talent than gular coincidences which occasionally appear, difthe author could be conscious of possessing, but fering so widely from ordinary calculation, yet also involved doctrines and discussions of a nature without which irregularities, human life would not too serious for his purpose, and for the character present to mortals, looking into futurity, the abyss of the narrative. In changing his plan, however, of impenetrable darkness which it is the pleasure which was done in the course of printing, the early of the Creator it should offer to them. Were every sheets retained the vestiges of the original tenor thing to happen in the ordinary train of events, the of the story, although they now hang upon it as future would be subject to the rules of arithmetic, an unnecessary and unnatural incumbrance. The like the chances of gaming. But extraordinary cause of such vestiges occurring is now explained, events, and wonderful runs of luck, defy the caleuand apologized for.
lations of mankind, and throw impenetrable darkIt is here worthy of observation, that while the ness on future contingencies. astrological doctrines have fallen into general con To the above anecdote, another, still more retempt, and been supplanted by superstitions of a cent, may be here added. The author was lately more gross and far less beautiful character, they honoured with a letter from a gentleman deeply have, even in modern days, retained some votaries. skilled in these mysteries, who kindly undertook to
One of the most remarkable believers in that calculate the nativity of the writer of Guy Manforgotten and despised science, was a late eminent nering, who might be supposed to be friendly to professor of the art of legerdemain. One would the divine art which he professed. But it was im
possible to supply data for the construction of a * Jean set up a loud shout of joyful recognition horoscope, had the native been otherwise desirous -Eh, sirs ! the winsome Gudeman of Lochside ! of it, since all those who could supply the minutiæ Light down, light down; for ye mauna gang farof day, hour, and minute, have been long removed ther the night, and a friend's house sae near.' The from the mortal sphere.
farmer was obliged to dismount, and accept of the Having thus given some account of the first idea, gipsy's offer of supper and a bed. There was plenty or rude sketch, of the story, which was soon de- of meat in the barn, however it might be come by, parted from, the author, in following out the plan and preparations were going on for a plentiful reof the present edition, has to mention the prototypes past, which the farmer, to the great increase of his of the principal characters in Guy Mannering. anxiety, observed, was calculated for ten or twelve
Some circumstances of local situation gave the guests, of the same description, probably, with his author, in his youth, an opportunity of seeing a landlady. bttle, and hearing a great deal, about that de “ Jean left him in no doubt on the subject. She graded class who are called gipsies; who are in brought to his recollection the story of the stolen most cases a mixed race, between the ancient sow, and mentioned how much pain and vexation Egyptians who arrived in Europe about the be- it liad given her. Like other philosophers, she ginning of the fifteenth century, and vagrants of remarked that the world grew worse daily; and, European descent.
like other parents, that the bairns got out of her The individual gipsy upon whom the character guiding, and neglected the old gipsy regulations, of Meg Merrilies was founded, was well known which commanded them to respect, in their depreabout the middle of the last century, by the name dations, the property of their benefactors. The end of Jean Gordon, an inhabitant of the village of of all this was, an inquiry what money the farmer kirk Yetholm, in the Cheviot hills, adjoining to had about him, and an urgent request, or command, the English Border. The author gave the public that he would make her his purse-keeper, since the some account of this remarkable person, in one of bairns, as she called her sons, would be soon home. the early Numbers of Blackwood's Magazine, to the poor farmer made a virtue of necessity, told the following purpose :
his story, and surrendered his gold to Jean's cus* My father remembered old Jean Gordon of tody. She made him put a few shillings in his Yetholm, who had great sway among her tribe. pocket, observing it would excite suspicion should She was quite a Meg Merrilies, and possessed the he be found travelling altogether penniless. savage virtue of fidelity in the same perfection. “ This arrangement being made, the farmer lay Having been often hospitably received at the farm- down on a sort of shake-doren, as the Scotch call it, house of Lochside, near Yetholm, she had care or bed-clothes disposed upon some straw, but, as fully abstained from committing any depredations will easily be believed, slept not. on the farmer's property. But her sons (nine in “ About midnight the gang returned, with vanumber) had not, it seems, the same delicacy, rious artilces of plunder, and talked over their and stole a brood-sow from their kind entertainer. exploits in language which made the farmer tremJean was mortified at this ungrateful conduct, and ble. They were not long in discovering they had so much ashamed of it, that she absented herself a guest, and demanded of Jean whom she had got from Lochside for several years.
there. " It happened, in course of time, that in conse « • E'en the winsome Gudeman of Lochside, quence of some temporary pecuniary necessity, the poor body,' replied Jean;' he's been at Newcastle Goodman of Lochside was obliged to go to New- seeking siller to pay his rent, honest man, but deileastle to raise some money to pay his rent. He be-lickit he's been able to gather in, and sae he's succeeded in his purpose, but returning through gaun e’en hame wi’ a toom purse and a sair heart.' the mountains of Cheviot, he was bevighted and « • That may be, Jean,' replied one of the ban
ditti, ' but we maun ripe his pouches a bit, and see “ A light, glimmering through the window of a if the tale be true or no.' Jean set up her throat in large waste barn, which had survived the farm- exclamations against this breach of hospitality, but house to which it had once belonged, guided him without producing any change in their determinato a place of shelter; and when he knocked at the tion. The farmer soon heard their stifled whispers door, it was opened by Jean Gordon. Her very and light steps by his bedside, and understood they remarkable figure, for she was nearly six feet high, were rummaging his clothes. When they found and her equally remarkable features and dress, the money which the providence of Jean Gordon rendered it impossible to mistake her for a mo had made him retain, they held a consultation if ment, though he had not seen her for years; and they should take it or no; but the smallness of the to meet with such a character in so solitary a place, booty, and the vehemence of Jean’s remonstrances, and probably at no great distance from her clan, determined them in the negative. They caroused was a grievous surprise to the poor man, whose rent and went to rest. As soon as day dawned, Jean (to lose which would have been ruin) was about roused her guest, produced his horse, which she his person.
had accommodated behind the hallan, and guided VOL. I.
lost his way.