Tantissimi classici della letteratura e della cultura politica,
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Abbe Prevost - MANON LESCAUT
Alcott, Louisa M. - AN OLDFASHIONED GIRL
Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE MEN
Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE WOMEN
Alcott, Louisa May - JACK AND JILL
Alcott, Louisa May - LIFE LETTERS AND JOURNALS
Andersen, Hans Christian - FAIRY TALES
Anonimo - BEOWULF
Ariosto, Ludovico - ORLANDO ENRAGED
Aurelius, Marcus - MEDITATIONS
Austen, Jane - EMMA
Austen, Jane - MANSFIELD PARK
Austen, Jane - NORTHANGER ABBEY
Austen, Jane - PERSUASION
Austen, Jane - PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
Austen, Jane - SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
Authors, Various - LETTERS OF ABELARD AND HELOISE
Authors, Various - SELECTED ENGLISH LETTERS
Autori Vari - THE WORLD ENGLISH BIBLE
Bacon, Francis - THE ADVANCEMENT OF LEARNING
Balzac, Honore de - EUGENIE GRANDET
Balzac, Honore de - FATHER GORIOT
Baroness Orczy - THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL
Barrie, J. M. - PETER AND WENDY
Barrie, James M. - PETER PAN
Bierce, Ambrose - THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY
Blake, William - SONGS OF INNOCENCE AND EXPERIENCE
Boccaccio, Giovanni - DECAMERONE
Brent, Linda - INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF A SLAVE GIRL
Bronte, Charlotte - JANE EYRE
Bronte, Charlotte - VILLETTE
Buchan, John - GREENMANTLE
Buchan, John - MR STANDFAST
Buchan, John - THE 39 STEPS
Bunyan, John - THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS
Burckhardt, Jacob - THE CIVILIZATION OF THE RENAISSANCE IN ITALY
Burnett, Frances H. - A LITTLE PRINCESS
Burnett, Frances H. - LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY
Burnett, Frances H. - THE SECRET GARDEN
Butler, Samuel - EREWHON
Carlyle, Thomas - PAST AND PRESENT
Carlyle, Thomas - THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
Cellini, Benvenuto - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Cervantes - DON QUIXOTE
Chaucer, Geoffrey - THE CANTERBURY TALES
Chesterton, G. K. - A SHORT HISTORY OF ENGLAND
Chesterton, G. K. - THE BALLAD OF THE WHITE HORSE
Chesterton, G. K. - THE INNOCENCE OF FATHER BROWN
Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH
Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
Chesterton, G. K. - THE WISDOM OF FATHER BROWN
Chesterton, G. K. - TWELVE TYPES
Chesterton, G. K. - WHAT I SAW IN AMERICA
Chesterton, Gilbert K. - HERETICS
Chopin, Kate - AT FAULT
Chopin, Kate - BAYOU FOLK
Chopin, Kate - THE AWAKENING AND SELECTED SHORT STORIES
Clark Hall, John R. - A CONCISE ANGLOSAXON DICTIONARY
Clarkson, Thomas - AN ESSAY ON THE SLAVERY AND COMMERCE OF THE HUMAN SPECIES
Clausewitz, Carl von - ON WAR
Coleridge, Herbert - A DICTIONARY OF THE FIRST OR OLDEST WORDS IN THE ENGLISH
Coleridge, S. T. - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
Coleridge, S. T. - HINTS TOWARDS THE FORMATION OF A MORE COMPREHENSIVE THEORY
Coleridge, S. T. - THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER
Collins, Wilkie - THE MOONSTONE
Collodi - PINOCCHIO
Conan Doyle, Arthur - A STUDY IN SCARLET
Conan Doyle, Arthur - MEMOIRS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE RETURN OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE SIGN OF THE FOUR
Conrad, Joseph - HEART OF DARKNESS
Conrad, Joseph - LORD JIM
Conrad, Joseph - NOSTROMO
Conrad, Joseph - THE NIGGER OF THE NARCISSUS
Conrad, Joseph - TYPHOON
Crane, Stephen - LAST WORDS
Crane, Stephen - MAGGIE
Crane, Stephen - THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE
Crane, Stephen - WOUNDS IN THE RAIN
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: HELL
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PARADISE
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PURGATORY
Darwin, Charles - THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF CHARLES DARWIN
Darwin, Charles - THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES
Defoe, Daniel - A GENERAL HISTORY OF THE PYRATES
Defoe, Daniel - A JOURNAL OF THE PLAGUE YEAR
Defoe, Daniel - CAPTAIN SINGLETON
Defoe, Daniel - MOLL FLANDERS
Defoe, Daniel - ROBINSON CRUSOE
Defoe, Daniel - THE COMPLETE ENGLISH TRADESMAN
Defoe, Daniel - THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF ROBINSON CRUSOE
Deledda, Grazia - AFTER THE DIVORCE
Dickens, Charles - A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Dickens, Charles - A TALE OF TWO CITIES
Dickens, Charles - BLEAK HOUSE
Dickens, Charles - DAVID COPPERFIELD
Dickens, Charles - DONBEY AND SON
Dickens, Charles - GREAT EXPECTATIONS
Dickens, Charles - HARD TIMES
Dickens, Charles - LETTERS VOLUME 1
Dickens, Charles - LITTLE DORRIT
Dickens, Charles - MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT
Dickens, Charles - NICHOLAS NICKLEBY
Dickens, Charles - OLIVER TWIST
Dickens, Charles - OUR MUTUAL FRIEND
Dickens, Charles - PICTURES FROM ITALY
Dickens, Charles - THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD
Dickens, Charles - THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP
Dickens, Charles - THE PICKWICK PAPERS
Dickinson, Emily - POEMS
Dostoevsky, Fyodor - CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV
Du Maurier, George - TRILBY
Dumas, Alexandre - THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
Dumas, Alexandre - THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK
Dumas, Alexandre - THE THREE MUSKETEERS
Eliot, George - DANIEL DERONDA
Eliot, George - MIDDLEMARCH
Eliot, George - SILAS MARNER
Eliot, George - THE MILL ON THE FLOSS
Engels, Frederick - THE CONDITION OF THE WORKING-CLASS IN ENGLAND IN 1844
Equiano - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Esopo - FABLES
Fenimore Cooper, James - THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS
Fielding, Henry - TOM JONES
France, Anatole - THAIS
France, Anatole - THE GODS ARE ATHIRST
France, Anatole - THE LIFE OF JOAN OF ARC
France, Anatole - THE SEVEN WIVES OF BLUEBEARD
Frank Baum, L. - THE PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ
Frank Baum, L. - THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ
Franklin, Benjamin - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Frazer, James George - THE GOLDEN BOUGH
Freud, Sigmund - DREAM PSYCHOLOGY
Galsworthy, John - COMPLETE PLAYS
Galsworthy, John - STRIFE
Galsworthy, John - STUDIES AND ESSAYS
Galsworthy, John - THE FIRST AND THE LAST
Galsworthy, John - THE FORSYTE SAGA
Galsworthy, John - THE LITTLE MAN
Galsworthy, John - THE SILVER BOX
Galsworthy, John - THE SKIN GAME
Gaskell, Elizabeth - CRANFORD
Gaskell, Elizabeth - MARY BARTON
Gaskell, Elizabeth - NORTH AND SOUTH
Gaskell, Elizabeth - THE LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE
Gay, John - THE BEGGAR'S OPERA
Gentile, Maria - THE ITALIAN COOK BOOK
Gilbert and Sullivan - PLAYS
Goethe - FAUST
Gogol - DEAD SOULS
Goldsmith, Oliver - SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER
Goldsmith, Oliver - THE VICAR OF WAKEFIELD
Grahame, Kenneth - THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS
Grimm, Brothers - FAIRY TALES
Harding, A. R. - GINSENG AND OTHER MEDICINAL PLANTS
Hardy, Thomas - A CHANGED MAN AND OTHER TALES
Hardy, Thomas - FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
Hardy, Thomas - JUDE THE OBSCURE
Hardy, Thomas - TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES
Hardy, Thomas - THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE
Hartley, Cecil B. - THE GENTLEMEN'S BOOK OF ETIQUETTE
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - LITTLE MASTERPIECES
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - THE SCARLET LETTER
Henry VIII - LOVE LETTERS TO ANNE BOLEYN
Henry, O. - CABBAGES AND KINGS
Henry, O. - SIXES AND SEVENS
Henry, O. - THE FOUR MILLION
Henry, O. - THE TRIMMED LAMP
Henry, O. - WHIRLIGIGS
Hindman Miller, Gustavus - TEN THOUSAND DREAMS INTERPRETED
Hobbes, Thomas - LEVIATHAN
Homer - THE ILIAD
Homer - THE ODYSSEY
Hornaday, William T. - THE EXTERMINATION OF THE AMERICAN BISON
Hume, David - A TREATISE OF HUMAN NATURE
Hume, David - AN ENQUIRY CONCERNING HUMAN UNDERSTANDING
Hume, David - DIALOGUES CONCERNING NATURAL RELIGION
Ibsen, Henrik - A DOLL'S HOUSE
Ibsen, Henrik - AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE
Ibsen, Henrik - GHOSTS
Ibsen, Henrik - HEDDA GABLER
Ibsen, Henrik - JOHN GABRIEL BORKMAN
Ibsen, Henrik - ROSMERHOLM
Ibsen, Henrik - THE LADY FROM THE SEA
Ibsen, Henrik - THE MASTER BUILDER
Ibsen, Henrik - WHEN WE DEAD AWAKEN
Irving, Washington - THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW
James, Henry - ITALIAN HOURS
James, Henry - THE ASPERN PAPERS
James, Henry - THE BOSTONIANS
James, Henry - THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY
James, Henry - THE TURN OF THE SCREW
James, Henry - WASHINGTON SQUARE
Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN IN A BOAT
Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN ON THE BUMMEL
Jevons, Stanley - POLITICAL ECONOMY
Johnson, Samuel - A GRAMMAR OF THE ENGLISH TONGUE
Jonson, Ben - THE ALCHEMIST
Jonson, Ben - VOLPONE
Joyce, James - A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN
Joyce, James - CHAMBER MUSIC
Joyce, James - DUBLINERS
Joyce, James - ULYSSES
Keats, John - ENDYMION
Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1817
Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1820
King James - THE BIBLE
Kipling, Rudyard - CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS
Kipling, Rudyard - INDIAN TALES
Kipling, Rudyard - JUST SO STORIES
Kipling, Rudyard - KIM
Kipling, Rudyard - THE JUNGLE BOOK
Kipling, Rudyard - THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING
Kipling, Rudyard - THE SECOND JUNGLE BOOK
Lawrence, D. H - THE RAINBOW
Lawrence, D. H - THE WHITE PEACOCK
Lawrence, D. H - TWILIGHT IN ITALY
Lawrence, D. H. - AARON'S ROD
Lawrence, D. H. - SONS AND LOVERS
Lawrence, D. H. - THE LOST GIRL
Lawrence, D. H. - WOMEN IN LOVE
Lear, Edward - BOOK OF NONSENSE
Lear, Edward - LAUGHABLE LYRICS
Lear, Edward - MORE NONSENSE
Lear, Edward - NONSENSE SONG
Leblanc, Maurice - ARSENE LUPIN VS SHERLOCK HOLMES
Leblanc, Maurice - THE ADVENTURES OF ARSENE LUPIN
Leblanc, Maurice - THE CONFESSIONS OF ARSENE LUPIN
Leblanc, Maurice - THE HOLLOW NEEDLE
Leblanc, Maurice - THE RETURN OF ARSENE LUPIN
Lehmann, Lilli - HOW TO SING
Leroux, Gaston - THE MAN WITH THE BLACK FEATHER
Leroux, Gaston - THE MYSTERY OF THE YELLOW ROOM
Leroux, Gaston - THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
London, Jack - MARTIN EDEN
London, Jack - THE CALL OF THE WILD
London, Jack - WHITE FANG
Machiavelli, Nicolo' - THE PRINCE
Malthus, Thomas - PRINCIPLE OF POPULATION
Mansfield, Katherine - THE GARDEN PARTY AND OTHER STORIES
Marlowe, Christopher - THE JEW OF MALTA
Marryat, Captain - THE CHILDREN OF THE NEW FOREST
Maupassant, Guy De - BEL AMI
Melville, Hermann - MOBY DICK
Melville, Hermann - TYPEE
Mill, John Stuart - PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY
Milton, John - PARADISE LOST
Mitra, S. M. - HINDU TALES FROM THE SANSKRIT
Montaigne, Michel de - ESSAYS
Montgomery, Lucy Maud - ANNE OF GREEN GABLES
More, Thomas - UTOPIA
Nesbit, E. - FIVE CHILDREN AND IT
Nesbit, E. - THE PHOENIX AND THE CARPET
Nesbit, E. - THE RAILWAY CHILDREN
Nesbit, E. - THE STORY OF THE AMULET
Newton, Isaac - OPTICKS
Nietsche, Friedrich - BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL
Nietsche, Friedrich - THUS SPAKE ZARATHUSTRA
Nightingale, Florence - NOTES ON NURSING
Owen, Wilfred - POEMS
Ozaki, Yei Theodora - JAPANESE FAIRY TALES
Pascal, Blaise - PENSEES
Pellico, Silvio - MY TEN YEARS IMPRISONMENT
Perrault, Charles - FAIRY TALES
Pirandello, Luigi - THREE PLAYS
Plato - THE REPUBLIC
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 1
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 2
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 3
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 4
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 5
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER
Potter, Beatrix - THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT
Proust, Marcel - SWANN'S WAY
Radcliffe, Ann - A SICILIAN ROMANCE
Ricardo, David - ON THE PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY AND TAXATION
Richardson, Samuel - PAMELA
Rider Haggard, H. - ALLAN QUATERMAIN
Rider Haggard, H. - KING SOLOMON'S MINES
Rousseau, J. J. - THE ORIGIN AND FOUNDATION OF INEQUALITY AMONG MANKIND
Ruskin, John - THE SEVEN LAMPS OF ARCHITECTURE
Schiller, Friedrich - THE DEATH OF WALLENSTEIN
Schiller, Friedrich - THE PICCOLOMINI
Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE ART OF CONTROVERSY
Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE WISDOM OF LIFE
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - FLAPPERS AND PHILOSOPHERS
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THE BEAUTIFUL AND DAMNED
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THIS SIDE OF PARADISE
Scott, Walter - IVANHOE
Scott, Walter - QUENTIN DURWARD
Scott, Walter - ROB ROY
Scott, Walter - THE BRIDE OF LAMMERMOOR
Scott, Walter - WAVERLEY
Sedgwick, Anne Douglas - THE THIRD WINDOW
Sewell, Anna - BLACK BEAUTY
Shakespeare, William - COMPLETE WORKS
Shakespeare, William - HAMLET
Shakespeare, William - OTHELLO
Shakespeare, William - ROMEO AND JULIET
Shelley, Mary - FRANKENSTEIN
Shelley, Percy Bysshe - A DEFENCE OF POETRY AND OTHER ESSAYS
Shelley, Percy Bysshe - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
Sheridan, Richard B. - THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL
Sienkiewicz, Henryk - QUO VADIS
Smith, Adam - THE WEALTH OF NATIONS
Smollett, Tobias - TRAVELS THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY
Spencer, Herbert - ESSAYS ON EDUCATION AND KINDRED SUBJECTS
Spyri, Johanna - HEIDI
Sterne, Laurence - A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY
Sterne, Laurence - TRISTRAM SHANDY
Stevenson, Robert Louis - A CHILD'S GARDEN OF VERSES
Stevenson, Robert Louis - ESSAYS IN THE ART OF WRITING
Stevenson, Robert Louis - KIDNAPPED
Stevenson, Robert Louis - NEW ARABIAN NIGHTS
Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE BLACK ARROW
Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE
Stevenson, Robert Louis - TREASURE ISLAND
Stoker, Bram - DRACULA
Strindberg, August - LUCKY PEHR
Strindberg, August - MASTER OLOF
Strindberg, August - THE RED ROOM
Strindberg, August - THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS
Strindberg, August - THERE ARE CRIMES AND CRIMES
Swift, Jonathan - A MODEST PROPOSAL
Swift, Jonathan - A TALE OF A TUB
Swift, Jonathan - GULLIVER'S TRAVELS
Swift, Jonathan - THE BATTLE OF THE BOOKS AND OTHER SHORT PIECES
Tagore, Rabindranath - FRUIT GATHERING
Tagore, Rabindranath - THE GARDENER
Tagore, Rabindranath - THE HUNGRY STONES AND OTHER STORIES
Thackeray, William - BARRY LYNDON
Thackeray, William - VANITY FAIR
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE BOOK OF SNOBS
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE ROSE AND THE RING
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE VIRGINIANS
Thoreau, Henry David - WALDEN
Tolstoi, Leo - A LETTER TO A HINDU
Tolstoy, Lev - ANNA KARENINA
Tolstoy, Lev - WAR AND PEACE
Trollope, Anthony - AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Trollope, Anthony - BARCHESTER TOWERS
Trollope, Anthony - FRAMLEY PARSONAGE
Trollope, Anthony - THE EUSTACE DIAMONDS
Trollope, Anthony - THE MAN WHO KEPT HIS MONEY IN A BOX
Trollope, Anthony - THE WARDEN
Trollope, Anthony - THE WAY WE LIVE NOW
Twain, Mark - LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI
Twain, Mark - SPEECHES
Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN
Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER
Twain, Mark - THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER
Vari, Autori - THE MAGNA CARTA
Verga, Giovanni - SICILIAN STORIES
Verne, Jules - 20000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS
Verne, Jules - A JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH
Verne, Jules - ALL AROUND THE MOON
Verne, Jules - AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS
Verne, Jules - FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON
Verne, Jules - FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON
Verne, Jules - MICHAEL STROGOFF
Verne, Jules - THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
Voltaire - PHILOSOPHICAL DICTIONARY
Vyasa - MAHABHARATA
Wallace, Edgar - SANDERS OF THE RIVER
Wallace, Edgar - THE DAFFODIL MYSTERY
Wallace, Lew - BEN HUR
Webster, Jean - DADDY LONG LEGS
Wedekind, Franz - THE AWAKENING OF SPRING
Wells, H. G. - KIPPS
Wells, H. G. - THE INVISIBLE MAN
Wells, H. G. - THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU
Wells, H. G. - THE STOLEN BACILLUS AND OTHER INCIDENTS
Wells, H. G. - THE TIME MACHINE
Wells, H. G. - THE WAR OF THE WORLDS
Wells, H. G. - WHAT IS COMING
Wharton, Edith - THE AGE OF INNOCENCE
White, Andrew Dickson - FIAT MONEY INFLATION IN FRANCE
Wilde, Oscar - A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE
Wilde, Oscar - AN IDEAL HUSBAND
Wilde, Oscar - DE PROFUNDIS
Wilde, Oscar - LADY WINDERMERE'S FAN
Wilde, Oscar - SALOME
Wilde, Oscar - SELECTED POEMS
Wilde, Oscar - THE BALLAD OF READING GAOL
Wilde, Oscar - THE CANTERVILLE GHOST
Wilde, Oscar - THE HAPPY PRINCE AND OTHER TALES
Wilde, Oscar - THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST
Wilde, Oscar - THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GREY
Wilde, Oscar - THE SOUL OF MAN
Wilson, Epiphanius - SACRED BOOKS OF THE EAST
Wollstonecraft, Mary - A VINDICATION OF THE RIGHTS OF WOMAN
Woolf, Virgina - NIGHT AND DAY
Woolf, Virgina - THE VOYAGE OUT
Woolf, Virginia - JACOB'S ROOM
Woolf, Virginia - MONDAY OR TUESDAY
Wordsworth, William - POEMS
Wordsworth, William - PROSE WORKS
Zola, Emile - THERESE RAQUIN
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ISTRUZIONI D'USO DETTAGLIATE
BY SIR WALTER SCOTT.
How have I sinn'd, that this affliction
Should light so heavy on me? I have no more sons,
And this no more mine own.--My grand curse
Hang o'er his head that thus transformed thee!--
Travel? I'll send my horse to travel next.
You have requested me, my dear friend, to bestow some of that leisure,
with which Providence has blessed the decline of my life, in registering
the hazards and difficulties which attended its commencement. The
recollection of those adventures, as you are pleased to term them, has
indeed left upon my mind a chequered and varied feeling of pleasure and
of pain, mingled, I trust, with no slight gratitude and veneration to the
Disposer of human events, who guided my early course through much risk
and labour, that the ease with which he has blessed my prolonged life
might seem softer from remembrance and contrast. Neither is it possible
for me to doubt, what you have often affirmed, that the incidents which
befell me among a people singularly primitive in their government and
manners, have something interesting and attractive for those who love to
hear an old man's stories of a past age.
Still, however, you must remember, that the tale told by one friend, and
listened to by another, loses half its charms when committed to paper;
and that the narratives to which you have attended with interest, as
heard from the voice of him to whom they occurred, will appear less
deserving of attention when perused in the seclusion of your study. But
your greener age and robust constitution promise longer life than will,
in all human probability, be the lot of your friend. Throw, then, these
sheets into some secret drawer of your escritoire till we are separated
from each other's society by an event which may happen at any moment, and
which must happen within the course of a few--a very few years. When we
are parted in this world, to meet, I hope, in a better, you will, I am
well aware, cherish more than it deserves the memory of your departed
friend, and will find in those details which I am now to commit to paper,
matter for melancholy, but not unpleasing reflection. Others bequeath to
the confidants of their bosom portraits of their external features--I put
into your hands a faithful transcript of my thoughts and feelings, of my
virtues and of my failings, with the assured hope, that the follies and
headstrong impetuosity of my youth will meet the same kind construction
and forgiveness which have so often attended the faults of my matured
One advantage, among the many, of addressing my Memoirs (if I may give
these sheets a name so imposing) to a dear and intimate friend, is, that
I may spare some of the details, in this case unnecessary, with which I
must needs have detained a stranger from what I have to say of greater
interest. Why should I bestow all my tediousness upon you, because I have
you in my power, and have ink, paper, and time before me? At the same
time, I dare not promise that I may not abuse the opportunity so
temptingly offered me, to treat of myself and my own concerns, even
though I speak of circumstances as well known to you as to myself. The
seductive love of narrative, when we ourselves are the heroes of the
events which we tell, often disregards the attention due to the time and
patience of the audience, and the best and wisest have yielded to its
fascination. I need only remind you of the singular instance evinced by
the form of that rare and original edition of Sully's Memoirs, which you
(with the fond vanity of a book-collector) insist upon preferring to that
which is reduced to the useful and ordinary form of Memoirs, but which I
think curious, solely as illustrating how far so great a man as the
author was accessible to the foible of self-importance. If I recollect
rightly, that venerable peer and great statesman had appointed no fewer
than four gentlemen of his household to draw up the events of his life,
under the title of Memorials of the Sage and Royal Affairs of State,
Domestic, Political, and Military, transacted by Henry IV., and so forth.
These grave recorders, having made their compilation, reduced the Memoirs
containing all the remarkable events of their master's life into a
narrative, addressed to himself in "propria persona." And thus, instead
of telling his own story, in the third person, like Julius Caesar, or in
the first person, like most who, in the hall, or the study, undertake to
be the heroes of their own tale, Sully enjoyed the refined, though
whimsical pleasure, of having the events of his life told over to him by
his secretaries, being himself the auditor, as he was also the hero, and
probably the author, of the whole book. It must have been a great sight
to have seen the ex-minister, as bolt upright as a starched ruff and
laced cassock could make him, seated in state beneath his canopy, and
listening to the recitation of his compilers, while, standing bare in his
presence, they informed him gravely, "Thus said the duke--so did the duke
infer--such were your grace's sentiments upon this important
point--such were your secret counsels to the king on that other
emergency,"--circumstances, all of which must have been much better
known to their hearer than to themselves, and most of which could only
be derived from his own special communication.
My situation is not quite so ludicrous as that of the great Sully, and
yet there would be something whimsical in Frank Osbaldistone giving Will
Tresham a formal account of his birth, education, and connections in the
world. I will, therefore, wrestle with the tempting spirit of P. P.,
Clerk of our Parish, as I best may, and endeavour to tell you nothing
that is familiar to you already. Some things, however, I must recall to
your memory, because, though formerly well known to you, they may have
been forgotten through lapse of time, and they afford the ground-work of
You must remember my father well; for, as your own was a member of the
mercantile house, you knew him from infancy. Yet you hardly saw him in
his best days, before age and infirmity had quenched his ardent spirit of
enterprise and speculation. He would have been a poorer man, indeed, but
perhaps as happy, had he devoted to the extension of science those active
energies, and acute powers of observation, for which commercial pursuits
found occupation. Yet, in the fluctuations of mercantile speculation,
there is something captivating to the adventurer, even independent of the
hope of gain. He who embarks on that fickle sea, requires to possess the
skill of the pilot and the fortitude of the navigator, and after all may
be wrecked and lost, unless the gales of fortune breathe in his favour.
This mixture of necessary attention and inevitable hazard,--the frequent
and awful uncertainty whether prudence shall overcome fortune, or fortune
baffle the schemes of prudence, affords full occupation for the powers,
as well as for the feelings of the mind, and trade has all the
fascination of gambling without its moral guilt.
Early in the 18th century, when I (Heaven help me) was a youth of some
twenty years old, I was summoned suddenly from Bourdeaux to attend my
father on business of importance. I shall never forget our first
interview. You recollect the brief, abrupt, and somewhat stern mode in
which he was wont to communicate his pleasure to those around him.
Methinks I see him even now in my mind's eye;--the firm and upright
figure,--the step, quick and determined,--the eye, which shot so keen and
so penetrating a glance,--the features, on which care had already planted
wrinkles,--and hear his language, in which he never wasted word in vain,
expressed in a voice which had sometimes an occasional harshness, far
from the intention of the speaker.
When I dismounted from my post-horse, I hastened to my father's
apartment. He was traversing it with an air of composed and steady
deliberation, which even my arrival, although an only son unseen for four
years, was unable to discompose. I threw myself into his arms. He was a
kind, though not a fond father, and the tear twinkled in his dark eye,
but it was only for a moment.
"Dubourg writes to me that he is satisfied with you, Frank."
"I am happy, sir"--
"But I have less reason to be so" he added, sitting down at his bureau.
"I am sorry, sir"--
"Sorry and happy, Frank, are words that, on most occasions, signify
little or nothing--Here is your last letter."
He took it out from a number of others tied up in a parcel of red tape,
and curiously labelled and filed. There lay my poor epistle, written on
the subject the nearest to my heart at the time, and couched in words
which I had thought would work compassion if not conviction,--there, I
say, it lay, squeezed up among the letters on miscellaneous business in
which my father's daily affairs had engaged him. I cannot help smiling
internally when I recollect the mixture of hurt vanity, and wounded
feeling, with which I regarded my remonstrance, to the penning of which
there had gone, I promise you, some trouble, as I beheld it extracted
from amongst letters of advice, of credit, and all the commonplace
lumber, as I then thought them, of a merchant's correspondence. Surely,
thought I, a letter of such importance (I dared not say, even to myself,
so well written) deserved a separate place, as well as more anxious
consideration, than those on the ordinary business of the counting-house.
But my father did not observe my dissatisfaction, and would not have
minded it if he had. He proceeded, with the letter in his hand. "This,
Frank, is yours of the 21st ultimo, in which you advise me (reading from
my letter), that in the most important business of forming a plan, and
adopting a profession for life, you trust my paternal goodness will hold
you entitled to at least a negative voice; that you have insuperable--ay,
insuperable is the word--I wish, by the way, you would write a more
distinct current hand--draw a score through the tops of your t's, and
open the loops of your l's--insuperable objections to the arrangements
which I have proposed to you. There is much more to the same effect,
occupying four good pages of paper, which a little attention to
perspicuity and distinctness of expression might have comprised within as
many lines. For, after all, Frank, it amounts but to this, that you will
not do as I would have you."
"That I cannot, sir, in the present instance, not that I will not."
"Words avail very little with me, young man," said my father, whose
inflexibility always possessed the air of the most perfect calmness of
self-possession. ""Can not" may be a more civil phrase than "will not,"
but the expressions are synonymous where there is no moral impossibility.
But I am not a friend to doing business hastily; we will talk this matter
over after dinner.--Owen!"
Owen appeared, not with the silver locks which you were used to venerate,
for he was then little more than fifty; but he had the same, or an
exactly similar uniform suit of light-brown clothes,--the same pearl-grey
silk stockings,--the same stock, with its silver buckle,--the same
plaited cambric ruffles, drawn down over his knuckles in the parlour, but
in the counting-house carefully folded back under the sleeves, that they
might remain unstained by the ink which he daily consumed;--in a word,
the same grave, formal, yet benevolent cast of features, which continued
to his death to distinguish the head clerk of the great house of
Osbaldistone and Tresham.
"Owen," said my father, as the kind old man shook me affectionately by
the hand, "you must dine with us to-day, and hear the news Frank has
brought us from our friends in Bourdeaux."
Owen made one of his stiff bows of respectful gratitude; for, in those
days, when the distance between superiors and inferiors was enforced in a
manner to which the present times are strangers, such an invitation was a
favour of some little consequence.
I shall long remember that dinner-party. Deeply affected by feelings of
anxiety, not unmingled with displeasure, I was unable to take that active
share in the conversation which my father seemed to expect from me; and I
too frequently gave unsatisfactory answers to the questions with which he
assailed me. Owen, hovering betwixt his respect for his patron, and his
love for the youth he had dandled on his knee in childhood, like the
timorous, yet anxious ally of an invaded nation, endeavoured at every
blunder I made to explain my no-meaning, and to cover my retreat;
manoeuvres which added to my father's pettish displeasure, and brought a
share of it upon my kind advocate, instead of protecting me. I had not,
while residing in the house of Dubourg, absolutely conducted myself like
A clerk condemn'd his father's soul to cross,
Who penn'd a stanza when he should engross;--
but, to say truth, I had frequented the counting-house no more than I had
thought absolutely necessary to secure the good report of the Frenchman,
long a correspondent of our firm, to whom my father had trusted for
initiating me into the mysteries of commerce. In fact, my principal
attention had been dedicated to literature and manly exercises. My father
did not altogether discourage such acquirements, whether mental or
personal. He had too much good sense not to perceive, that they sate
gracefully upon every man, and he was sensible that they relieved and
dignified the character to which he wished me to aspire. But his chief
ambition was, that I should succeed not merely to his fortune, but to the
views and plans by which he imagined he could extend and perpetuate the
wealthy inheritance which he designed for me.
Love of his profession was the motive which he chose should be most
ostensible, when he urged me to tread the same path; but he had others
with which I only became acquainted at a later period. Impetuous in his
schemes, as well as skilful and daring, each new adventure, when
successful, became at once the incentive, and furnished the means, for
farther speculation. It seemed to be necessary to him, as to an ambitious
conqueror, to push on from achievement to achievement, without stopping
to secure, far less to enjoy, the acquisitions which he made. Accustomed
to see his whole fortune trembling in the scales of chance, and dexterous
at adopting expedients for casting the balance in his favour, his health
and spirits and activity seemed ever to increase with the animating
hazards on which he staked his wealth; and he resembled a sailor,
accustomed to brave the billows and the foe, whose confidence rises on
the eve of tempest or of battle. He was not, however, insensible to the
changes which increasing age or supervening malady might make in his own
constitution; and was anxious in good time to secure in me an assistant,
who might take the helm when his hand grew weary, and keep the vessel's
way according to his counsel and instruction. Paternal affection, as well
as the furtherance of his own plans, determined him to the same
conclusion. Your father, though his fortune was vested in the house, was
only a sleeping partner, as the commercial phrase goes; and Owen, whose
probity and skill in the details of arithmetic rendered his services
invaluable as a head clerk, was not possessed either of information or
talents sufficient to conduct the mysteries of the principal management.
If my father were suddenly summoned from life, what would become of the
world of schemes which he had formed, unless his son were moulded into a
commercial Hercules, fit to sustain the weight when relinquished by the
falling Atlas? and what would become of that son himself, if, a stranger
to business of this description, he found himself at once involved in the
labyrinth of mercantile concerns, without the clew of knowledge necessary
for his extraction? For all these reasons, avowed and secret, my father
was determined I should embrace his profession; and when he was
determined, the resolution of no man was more immovable. I, however, was
also a party to be consulted, and, with something of his own pertinacity,
I had formed a determination precisely contrary. It may, I hope, be some
palliative for the resistance which, on this occasion, I offered to my
father's wishes, that I did not fully understand upon what they were
founded, or how deeply his happiness was involved in them. Imagining
myself certain of a large succession in future, and ample maintenance in
the meanwhile, it never occurred to me that it might be necessary, in
order to secure these blessings, to submit to labour and limitations
unpleasant to my taste and temper. I only saw in my father's proposal for
my engaging in business, a desire that I should add to those heaps of
wealth which he had himself acquired; and imagining myself the best judge
of the path to my own happiness, I did not conceive that I should
increase that happiness by augmenting a fortune which I believed was
already sufficient, and more than sufficient, for every use, comfort, and
Accordingly, I am compelled to repeat, that my time at Bourdeaux had not
been spent as my father had proposed to himself. What he considered as
the chief end of my residence in that city, I had postponed for every
other, and would (had I dared) have neglected altogether. Dubourg, a
favoured and benefited correspondent of our mercantile house, was too
much of a shrewd politician to make such reports to the head of the firm
concerning his only child, as would excite the displeasure of both; and
he might also, as you will presently hear, have views of selfish
advantage in suffering me to neglect the purposes for which I was placed
under his charge. My conduct was regulated by the bounds of decency and
good order, and thus far he had no evil report to make, supposing him so
disposed; but, perhaps, the crafty Frenchman would have been equally
complaisant, had I been in the habit of indulging worse feelings than
those of indolence and aversion to mercantile business. As it was, while
I gave a decent portion of my time to the commercial studies he
recommended, he was by no means envious of the hours which I dedicated to
other and more classical attainments, nor did he ever find fault with me
for dwelling upon Corneille and Boileau, in preference to Postlethwayte
(supposing his folio to have then existed, and Monsieur Dubourg able to
have pronounced his name), or Savary, or any other writer on commercial
economy. He had picked up somewhere a convenient expression, with which
he rounded off every letter to his correspondent,--"I was all," he said,
"that a father could wish."
My father never quarrelled with a phrase, however frequently repeated,
provided it seemed to him distinct and expressive; and Addison himself
could not have found expressions so satisfactory to him as, "Yours
received, and duly honoured the bills enclosed, as per margin."
Knowing, therefore, very well what he desired me to, be, Mr. Osbaldistone
made no doubt, from the frequent repetition of Dubourg's favourite
phrase, that I was the very thing he wished to see me; when, in an evil
hour, he received my letter, containing my eloquent and detailed apology
for declining a place in the firm, and a desk and stool in the corner of
the dark counting-house in Crane Alley, surmounting in height those of
Owen, and the other clerks, and only inferior to the tripod of my father
himself. All was wrong from that moment. Dubourg's reports became as
suspicious as if his bills had been noted for dishonour. I was summoned
home in all haste, and received in the manner I have already communicated
I begin shrewdly to suspect the young man of a terrible
taint--Poetry; with which idle disease if he be infected,
there's no hope of him in astate course. "Actum est" of him
for a commonwealth's man, if he goto't in rhyme once.
Ben Jonson's "Bartholomew Fair."
My father had, generally speaking, his temper under complete
self-command, and his anger rarely indicated itself by words, except in
a sort of dry testy manner, to those who had displeased him. He never
used threats, or expressions of loud resentment. All was arranged with
him on system, and it was his practice to do "the needful" on every
occasion, without wasting words about it. It was, therefore, with a
bitter smile that he listened to my imperfect answers concerning the
state of commerce in France, and unmercifully permitted me to involve
myself deeper and deeper in the mysteries of agio, tariffs, tare and
tret; nor can I charge my memory with his having looked positively
angry, until he found me unable to explain the exact effect which the
depreciation of the louis d'or had produced on the negotiation of bills
of exchange. "The most remarkable national occurrence in my time," said
my father (who nevertheless had seen the Revolution)--"and he knows no
more of it than a post on the quay!"
"Mr. Francis," suggested Owen, in his timid and conciliatory manner,
"cannot have forgotten, that by an "arret" of the King of France, dated
1st May 1700, it was provided that the "porteur," within ten days after
due, must make demand"--
"Mr. Francis," said my father, interrupting him, "will, I dare say,
recollect for the moment anything you are so kind as hint to him. But,
body o' me! how Dubourg could permit him! Hark ye, Owen, what sort of a
youth is Clement Dubourg, his nephew there, in the office, the
"One of the cleverest clerks, sir, in the house; a prodigious young man
for his time," answered Owen; for the gaiety and civility of the young
Frenchman had won his heart.
"Ay, ay, I suppose "he" knows something of the nature of exchange.
Dubourg was determined I should have one youngster at least about my hand
who understood business. But I see his drift, and he shall find that I do
so when he looks at the balance-sheet. Owen, let Clement's salary be paid
up to next quarter-day, and let him ship himself back to Bourdeaux in his
father's ship, which is clearing out yonder."
"Dismiss Clement Dubourg, sir?" said Owen, with a faltering voice.
"Yes, sir, dismiss him instantly; it is enough to have a stupid
Englishman in the counting-house to make blunders, without keeping a
sharp Frenchman there to profit by them."
I had lived long enough in the territories of the "Grand Monarque" to
contract a hearty aversion to arbitrary exertion of authority, even if it
had not been instilled into me with my earliest breeding; and I could not
refrain from interposing, to prevent an innocent and meritorious young
man from paying the penalty of having acquired that proficiency which my
father had desired for me.
"I beg pardon, sir," when Mr. Osbaldistone had done speaking; "but I
think it but just, that if I have been negligent of my studies, I should
pay the forfeit myself. I have no reason to charge Monsieur Dubourg with
having neglected to give me opportunities of improvement, however little
I may have profited by them; and with respect to Monsieur Clement
"With respect to him, and to you, I shall take the measures which I see
needful," replied my father; "but it is fair in you, Frank, to take your
own blame on your own shoulders--very fair, that cannot be denied.--I
cannot acquit old Dubourg," he said, looking to Owen, "for having merely
afforded Frank the means of useful knowledge, without either seeing that
he took advantage of them or reporting to me if he did not. You see,
Owen, he has natural notions of equity becoming a British merchant."
"Mr. Francis," said the head-clerk, with his usual formal inclination of
the head, and a slight elevation of his right hand, which he had acquired
by a habit of sticking his pen behind his ear before he spoke--"Mr.
Francis seems to understand the fundamental principle of all moral
accounting, the great ethic rule of three. Let A do to B, as he would
have B do to him; the product will give the rule of conduct required."
My father smiled at this reduction of the golden rule to arithmetical
form, but instantly proceeded.
"All this signifies nothing, Frank; you have been throwing away your time
like a boy, and in future you must learn to live like a man. I shall put
you under Owen's care for a few months, to recover the lost ground."
I was about to reply, but Owen looked at me with such a supplicatory and
warning gesture, that I was involuntarily silent.
"We will then," continued my father, "resume the subject of mine of the
1st ultimo, to which you sent me an answer which was unadvised and
unsatisfactory. So now, fill your glass, and push the bottle to Owen."
Want of courage--of audacity if you will--was never my failing. I
answered firmly, "I was sorry that my letter was unsatisfactory,
unadvised it was not; for I had given the proposal his goodness had made
me, my instant and anxious attention, and it was with no small pain that
I found myself obliged to decline it."
My father bent his keen eye for a moment on me, and instantly withdrew
it. As he made no answer, I thought myself obliged to proceed, though
with some hesitation, and he only interrupted me by monosyllables.--"It
is impossible, sir, for me to have higher respect for any character than
I have for the commercial, even were it not yours."
"It connects nation with nation, relieves the wants, and contributes to
the wealth of all; and is to the general commonwealth of the civilised
world what the daily intercourse of ordinary life is to private society,
or rather, what air and food are to our bodies."
"And yet, sir, I find myself compelled to persist in declining to adopt a
character which I am so ill qualified to support."
"I will take care that you acquire the qualifications necessary. You are
no longer the guest and pupil of Dubourg."
"But, my dear sir, it is no defect of teaching which I plead, but my own
inability to profit by instruction."
"Nonsense.--Have you kept your journal in the terms I desired?"
"Be pleased to bring it here."
The volume thus required was a sort of commonplace book, kept by my
father's recommendation, in which I had been directed to enter notes of
the miscellaneous information which I had acquired in the course of my
studies. Foreseeing that he would demand inspection of this record, I had
been attentive to transcribe such particulars of information as he would
most likely be pleased with, but too often the pen had discharged the
task without much correspondence with the head. And it had also happened,
that, the book being the receptacle nearest to my hand, I had
occasionally jotted down memoranda which had little regard to traffic. I
now put it into my father's hand, devoutly hoping he might light on
nothing that would increase his displeasure against me. Owen's face,
which had looked something blank when the question was put, cleared up at
my ready answer, and wore a smile of hope, when I brought from my
apartment, and placed before my father, a commercial-looking volume,
rather broader than it was long, having brazen clasps and a binding of
rough calf. This looked business-like, and was encouraging to my
benevolent well-wisher. But he actually smiled with pleasure as he heard
my father run over some part of the contents, muttering his critical
remarks as he went on.
""--Brandies--Barils and barricants, also tonneaux.--At Nantz 29--Velles
to the barique at Cognac and Rochelle 27--At Bourdeaux 32"--Very right,
Frank--"Duties on tonnage and custom-house, see Saxby's Tables"--That's
not well; you should have transcribed the passage; it fixes the thing in
the memory--"Reports outward and inward--Corn debentures--Over-sea
Lub-fish." You should have noted that they are all, nevertheless to be
entered as titlings.--How many inches long is a titling?"
Owen, seeing me at fault, hazarded a whisper, of which I fortunately
caught the import.
"Eighteen inches, sir."--
"And a lub-fish is twenty-four--very right. It is important to remember
this, on account of the Portuguese trade--But what have we here?--
"Bourdeaux founded in the year--Castle of the Trompette--Palace of
Gallienus"--Well, well, that's very right too.--This is a kind of
waste-book, Owen, in which all the transactions of the day,--emptions,
orders, payments, receipts, acceptances, draughts, commissions, and
advices,--are entered miscellaneously."
"That they may be regularly transferred to the day-book and ledger,"
answered Owen: "I am glad Mr. Francis is so methodical."
I perceived myself getting so fast into favour, that I began to fear the
consequence would be my father's more obstinate perseverance in his
resolution that I must become a merchant; and as I was determined on the
contrary, I began to wish I had not, to use my friend Mr. Owen's phrase,
been so methodical. But I had no reason for apprehension on that score;
for a blotted piece of paper dropped out of the book, and, being taken up
by my father, he interrupted a hint from Owen, on the propriety of
securing loose memoranda with a little paste, by exclaiming, "To the
memory of Edward the Black Prince--What's all this?--verses!--By Heaven,
Frank, you are a greater blockhead than I supposed you!"
My father, you must recollect, as a man of business, looked upon the
labour of poets with contempt; and as a religious man, and of the
dissenting persuasion, he considered all such pursuits as equally trivial
and profane. Before you condemn him, you must recall to remembrance how
too many of the poets in the end of the seventeenth century had led their
lives and employed their talents. The sect also to which my father
belonged, felt, or perhaps affected, a puritanical aversion to the
lighter exertions of literature. So that many causes contributed to
augment the unpleasant surprise occasioned by the ill-timed discovery of
this unfortunate copy of verses. As for poor Owen, could the bob-wig
which he then wore have uncurled itself, and stood on end with horror, I
am convinced the morning's labour of the friseur would have been undone,
merely by the excess of his astonishment at this enormity. An inroad on
the strong-box, or an erasure in the ledger, or a mis-summation in a
fitted account, could hardly have surprised him more disagreeably. My
father read the lines sometimes with an affectation of not being able to
understand the sense--sometimes in a mouthing tone of mock heroic--always
with an emphasis of the most bitter irony, most irritating to the nerves
of an author.
"O for the voice of that wild horn,
On Fontarabian echoes borne,
The dying hero's call,
That told imperial Charlemagne,
How Paynim sons of swarthy Spain
Had wrought his champion's fall.
""Fontarabian echoes!"" continued my father, interrupting himself; "the
Fontarabian Fair would have been more to the purpose--"Paynim!"--What's
Paynim?--Could you not say Pagan as well, and write English at least, if
you must needs write nonsense?--
"Sad over earth and ocean sounding.
And England's distant cliffs astounding.
Such are the notes should say
How Britain's hope, and France's fear,
Victor of Cressy and Poitier,
In Bordeaux dying lay."
"Poitiers, by the way, is always spelt with an "s," and I know no reason
why orthography should give place to rhyme.--
"'Raise my faint head, my squires,' he said,
'And let the casement be display'd,
That I may see once more
The splendour of the setting sun
Gleam on thy mirrored wave, Garonne,
And Blaye's empurpled shore.
""Garonne" and "sun" is a bad rhyme. Why, Frank, you do not even
understand the beggarly trade you have chosen.
"'Like me, he sinks to Glory's sleep,
His fall the dews of evening steep,
As if in sorrow shed,
So soft shall fall the trickling tear,
When England's maids and matrons hear
Of their Black Edward dead.
"'And though my sun of glory set,
Nor France, nor England, shall forget
The terror of my name;
And oft shall Britain's heroes rise,
New planets in these southern skies,
Through clouds of blood and flame.'
"A cloud of flame is something new--Good-morrow, my masters all, and a
merry Christmas to you!--Why, the bellman writes better lines." He then
tossed the paper from him with an air of superlative contempt, and
concluded--"Upon my credit, Frank, you are a greater blockhead than I
took you for."
What could I say, my dear Tresham? There I stood, swelling with indignant
mortification, while my father regarded me with a calm but stern look of
scorn and pity; and poor Owen, with uplifted hands and eyes, looked as
striking a picture of horror as if he had just read his patron's name in
the Gazette. At length I took courage to speak, endeavouring that my tone
of voice should betray my feelings as little as possible.
"I am quite aware, sir, how ill qualified I am to play the conspicuous
part in society you have destined for me; and, luckily, I am not
ambitious of the wealth I might acquire. Mr. Owen would be a much more
effective assistant." I said this in some malice, for I considered Owen
as having deserted my cause a little too soon.
"Owen!" said my father--"The boy is mad--actually insane. And, pray, sir,
if I may presume to inquire, having coolly turned me over to Mr. Owen
(although I may expect more attention from any one than from my son),
what may your own sage projects be?"
"I should wish, sir," I replied, summoning up my courage, "to travel for
two or three years, should that consist with your pleasure; otherwise,
although late, I would willingly spend the same time at Oxford or
"In the name of common sense! was the like ever heard?--to put yourself
to school among pedants and Jacobites, when you might be pushing your
fortune in the world! Why not go to Westminster or Eton at once, man, and
take to Lilly's Grammar and Accidence, and to the birch, too, if you like
"Then, sir, if you think my plan of improvement too late, I would
willingly return to the Continent."
"You have already spent too much time there to little purpose, Mr.
"Then I would choose the army, sir, in preference to any other active
line of life."
"Choose the d--l!" answered my father, hastily, and then checking
himself--"I profess you make me as great a fool as you are yourself. Is
he not enough to drive one mad, Owen?"--Poor Owen shook his head, and
looked down. "Hark ye, Frank," continued my father, "I will cut all this
matter very short. I was at your age when my father turned me out of
doors, and settled my legal inheritance on my younger brother. I left
Osbaldistone Hall on the back of a broken-down hunter, with ten guineas
in my purse. I have never crossed the threshold again, and I never will.
I know not, and I care not, if my fox-hunting brother is alive, or has
broken his neck; but he has children, Frank, and one of them shall be my
son if you cross me farther in this matter."
"You will do your pleasure," I answered--rather, I fear, with more sullen
indifference than respect, "with what is your own."
"Yes, Frank, what I have "is" my own, if labour in getting, and care in
augmenting, can make a right of property; and no drone shall feed on my
honeycomb. Think on it well: what I have said is not without reflection,
and what I resolve upon I will execute."
"Honoured sir!--dear sir!" exclaimed Owen, tears rushing into his eyes,
"you are not wont to be in such a hurry in transacting business of
importance. Let Mr. Francis run up the balance before you shut the
account; he loves you, I am sure; and when he puts down his filial
obedience to the "per contra," I am sure his objections will disappear."
"Do you think I will ask him twice," said my father, sternly, "to be my
friend, my assistant, and my confidant?--to be a partner of my cares and
of my fortune?--Owen, I thought you had known me better."
He looked at me as if he meant to add something more, but turned
instantly away, and left the room abruptly. I was, I own, affected by
this view of the case, which had not occurred to me; and my father would
probably have had little reason to complain of me, had he commenced the
discussion with this argument.
But it was too late. I had much of his own obduracy of resolution, and
Heaven had decreed that my sin should be my punishment, though not to the
extent which my transgression merited. Owen, when we were left alone,
continued to look at me with eyes which tears from time to time
moistened, as if to discover, before attempting the task of intercessor,
upon what point my obstinacy was most assailable. At length he began,
with broken and disconcerted accents,--"O L--d, Mr. Francis!--Good
Heavens, sir!--My stars, Mr. Osbaldistone!--that I should ever have seen
this day--and you so young a gentleman, sir!--For the love of Heaven!
look at both sides of the account--think what you are going to lose--a
noble fortune, sir--one of the finest houses in the City, even under the
old firm of Tresham and Trent, and now Osbaldistone and Tresham--You
might roll in gold, Mr. Francis--And, my dear young Mr. Frank, if there
was any particular thing in the business of the house which you disliked,
I would" (sinking his voice to a whisper) "put it in order for you
termly, or weekly, or daily, if you will--Do, my dear Mr. Francis, think
of the honour due to your father, that your days may be long in the
"I am much obliged to you, Mr. Owen," said I--"very much obliged indeed;
but my father is best judge how to bestow his money. He talks of one of
my cousins: let him dispose of his wealth as he pleases--I will never
sell my liberty for gold."
"Gold, sir?--I wish you saw the balance-sheet of profits at last term--It
was in five figures--five figures to each partner's sum total, Mr.
Frank--And all this is to go to a Papist, and a north-country booby, and
a disaffected person besides--It will break my heart, Mr. Francis, that
have been toiling more like a dog than a man, and all for love of
the firm. Think how it will sound, Osbaldistone, Tresham, and
Osbaldistone--or perhaps, who knows" (again lowering his voice),
"Osbaldistone, Osbaldistone, and Tresham, for our Mr. Osbaldistone can
buy them all out."
"But, Mr. Owen, my cousin's name being also Osbaldistone, the name of the
company will sound every bit as well in your ears."
"O fie upon you, Mr. Francis, when you know how well I love you--Your
cousin, indeed!--a Papist, no doubt, like his father, and a disaffected
person to the Protestant succession--that's another item, doubtless."
"There are many very good men Catholics, Mr. Owen," rejoined I.
As Owen was about to answer with unusual animation, my father re-entered
"You were right," he said, "Owen, and I was wrong; we will take more time
to think over this matter.--Young man, you will prepare to give me an
answer on this important subject this day month."
I bowed in silence, sufficiently glad of a reprieve, and trusting it
might indicate some relaxation in my father's determination.
The time of probation passed slowly, unmarked by any accident whatever. I
went and came, and disposed of my time as I pleased, without question or
criticism on the part of my father. Indeed, I rarely saw him, save at
meal-times, when he studiously avoided a discussion which you may well
suppose I was in no hurry to press onward. Our conversation was of the
news of the day, or on such general topics as strangers discourse upon to
each other; nor could any one have guessed, from its tenor, that there
remained undecided betwixt us a dispute of such importance. It haunted
me, however, more than once, like the nightmare. Was it possible he would
keep his word, and disinherit his only son in favour of a nephew whose
very existence he was not perhaps quite certain of? My grandfather's
conduct, in similar circumstances, boded me no good, had I considered the
matter rightly. But I had formed an erroneous idea of my father's
character, from the importance which I recollected I maintained with him
and his whole family before I went to France. I was not aware that there
are men who indulge their children at an early age, because to do so
interests and amuses them, and who can yet be sufficiently severe when
the same children cross their expectations at a more advanced period. On
the contrary, I persuaded myself, that all I had to apprehend was some
temporary alienation of affection--perhaps a rustication of a few weeks,
which I thought would rather please me than otherwise, since it would
give me an opportunity of setting about my unfinished version of Orlando
Furioso, a poem which I longed to render into English verse. I suffered
this belief to get such absolute possession of my mind, that I had
resumed my blotted papers, and was busy in meditation on the
oft-recurring rhymes of the Spenserian stanza, when I heard a low and
cautious tap at the door of my apartment. "Come in," I said, and Mr. Owen
entered. So regular were the motions and habits of this worthy man, that
in all probability this was the first time he had ever been in the second
story of his patron's house, however conversant with the first; and I am
still at a loss to know in what manner he discovered my apartment.
"Mr. Francis," he said, interrupting my expression of surprise and
pleasure at seeing, him, "I do not know if I am doing well in what I am
about to say--it is not right to speak of what passes in the
compting-house out of doors--one should not tell, as they say, to the
post in the warehouse, how many lines there are in the ledger. But young
Twineall has been absent from the house for a fortnight and more, until
two days since."
"Very well, my dear sir, and how does that concern us?"
"Stay, Mr. Francis;--your father gave him a private commission; and I am
sure he did not go down to Falmouth about the pilchard affair; and the
Exeter business with Blackwell and Company has been settled; and the
mining people in Cornwall, Trevanion and Treguilliam, have paid all they
are likely to pay; and any other matter of business must have been put
through my books:--in short, it's my faithful belief that Twineall has
been down in the north."
"Do you really suppose?" so said I, somewhat startled.
"He has spoken about nothing, sir, since he returned, but his new boots,
and his Ripon spurs, and a cockfight at York--it's as true as the
multiplication-table. Do, Heaven bless you, my dear child, make up your
mind to please your father, and to be a man and a merchant at once."
I felt at that instant a strong inclination to submit, and to make Owen
happy by requesting him to tell my father that I resigned myself to his
disposal. But pride--pride, the source of so much that is good and so
much that is evil in our course of life, prevented me. My acquiescence
stuck in my throat; and while I was coughing to get it up, my father's
voice summoned Owen. He hastily left the room, and the opportunity was
My father was methodical in everything. At the very same time of the day,
in the same apartment, and with the same tone and manner which he had
employed an exact month before, he recapitulated the proposal he had made
for taking me into partnership, and assigning me a department in the
counting-house, and requested to have my final decision. I thought at the
time there was something unkind in this; and I still think that my
father's conduct was injudicious. A more conciliatory treatment would, in
all probability, have gained his purpose. As it was, I stood fast, and,
as respectfully as I could, declined the proposal he made to me.
Perhaps--for who can judge of their own heart?--I felt it unmanly to
yield on the first summons, and expected farther solicitation, as at
least a pretext for changing my mind. If so, I was disappointed; for my
father turned coolly to Owen, and only said, "You see it is as I told
you.--Well, Frank" (addressing me), "you are nearly of age, and as well
qualified to judge of what will constitute your own happiness as you
ever are like to be; therefore, I say no more. But as I am not bound to
give in to your plans, any more than you are compelled to submit to
mine, may I ask to know if you have formed any which depend on my
I answered, not a little abashed, "That being bred to no profession, and
having no funds of my own, it was obviously impossible for me to subsist
without some allowance from my father; that my wishes were very moderate;
and that I hoped my aversion for the profession to which he had designed
me, would not occasion his altogether withdrawing his paternal support
"That is to say, you wish to lean on my arm, and yet to walk your own
way? That can hardly be, Frank;--however, I suppose you mean to obey my
directions, so far as they do not cross your own humour?"
I was about to speak--"Silence, if you please," he continued. "Supposing
this to be the case, you will instantly set out for the north of England,
to pay your uncle a visit, and see the state of his family. I have chosen
from among his sons (he has six, I believe) one who, I understand, is
most worthy to fill the place I intended for you in the counting-house.
But some farther arrangements may be necessary, and for these your
presence may be requisite. You shall have farther instructions at
Osbaldistone Hall, where you will please to remain until you hear from
me. Everything will be ready for your departure to-morrow morning."
With these words my father left the apartment.
"What does all this mean, Mr. Owen?" said I to my sympathetic friend,
whose countenance wore a cast of the deepest dejection.
"You have ruined yourself, Mr. Frank, that's all. When your father talks
in that quiet determined manner, there will be no more change in him than
in a fitted account."
And so it proved; for the next morning, at five o'clock, I found myself
on the road to York, mounted on a reasonably good horse, and with fifty
guineas in my pocket; travelling, as it would seem, for the purpose of
assisting in the adoption of a successor to myself in my father's house
and favour, and, for aught I knew, eventually in his fortune also.
The slack sail shifts from side to side,
The boat, untrimm'd, admits the tide,
Borne down, adrift, at random tost,
The oar breaks short, the rudder's lost.
I have tagged with rhyme and blank verse the subdivisions of this
important narrative, in order to seduce your continued attention by
powers of composition of stronger attraction than my own. The preceding
lines refer to an unfortunate navigator, who daringly unloosed from its
moorings a boat, which he was unable to manage, and thrust it off into
the full tide of a navigable river. No schoolboy, who, betwixt frolic and
defiance, has executed a similar rash attempt, could feel himself, when
adrift in a strong current, in a situation more awkward than mine, when I
found myself driving, without a compass, on the ocean of human life.
There had been such unexpected ease in the manner in which my father
slipt a knot, usually esteemed the strongest which binds society
together, and suffered me to depart as a sort of outcast from his family,
that it strangely lessened the confidence in my own personal
accomplishments, which had hitherto sustained me. Prince Prettyman, now a
prince, and now a fisher's son, had not a more awkward sense of his
degradation. We are so apt, in our engrossing egotism, to consider all
those accessories which are drawn around us by prosperity, as pertaining
and belonging to our own persons, that the discovery of our unimportance,
when left to our own proper resources, becomes inexpressibly mortifying.
As the hum of London died away on my ear, the distant peal of her
steeples more than once sounded to my ears the admonitory "Turn again,"
erst heard by her future Lord Mayor; and when I looked back from Highgate
on her dusky magnificence, I felt as if I were leaving behind me comfort,
opulence, the charms of society, and all the pleasures of cultivated
But the die was cast. It was, indeed, by no means probable that a late
and ungracious compliance with my father's wishes would have reinstated
me in the situation which I had lost. On the contrary, firm and strong of
purpose as he himself was, he might rather have been disgusted than
conciliated by my tardy and compulsory acquiescence in his desire that I
should engage in commerce. My constitutional obstinacy came also to my
aid, and pride whispered how poor a figure I should make, when an airing
of four miles from London had blown away resolutions formed during a
month's serious deliberation. Hope, too, that never forsakes the young
and hardy, lent her lustre to my future prospects. My father could not be
serious in the sentence of foris-familiation, which he had so
unhesitatingly pronounced. It must be but a trial of my disposition,
which, endured with patience and steadiness on my part, would raise me in
his estimation, and lead to an amicable accommodation of the point in
dispute between us. I even settled in my own mind how far I would concede
to him, and on what articles of our supposed treaty I would make a firm
stand; and the result was, according to my computation, that I was to be
reinstated in my full rights of filiation, paying the easy penalty of
some ostensible compliances to atone for my past rebellion.
In the meanwhile, I was lord of my person, and experienced that feeling
of independence which the youthful bosom receives with a thrilling
mixture of pleasure and apprehension. My purse, though by no means amply
replenished, was in a situation to supply all the wants and wishes of a
traveller. I had been accustomed, while at Bourdeaux, to act as my own
valet; my horse was fresh, young, and active, and the buoyancy of my
spirits soon surmounted the melancholy reflections with which my journey
I should have been glad to have journeyed upon a line of road better
calculated to afford reasonable objects of curiosity, or a more
interesting country, to the traveller. But the north road was then, and
perhaps still is, singularly deficient in these respects; nor do I
believe you can travel so far through Britain in any other direction
without meeting more of what is worthy to engage the attention. My mental
ruminations, notwithstanding my assumed confidence, were not always of an
unchequered nature. The Muse too,--the very coquette who had led me into
this wilderness,--like others of her sex, deserted me in my utmost need,
and I should have been reduced to rather an uncomfortable state of
dulness, had it not been for the occasional conversation of strangers who
chanced to pass the same way. But the characters whom I met with were of
a uniform and uninteresting description. Country parsons, jogging
homewards after a visitation; farmers, or graziers, returning from a
distant market; clerks of traders, travelling to collect what was due to
their masters, in provincial towns; with now and then an officer going
down into the country upon the recruiting service, were, at this period,
the persons by whom the turnpikes and tapsters were kept in exercise. Our
speech, therefore, was of tithes and creeds, of beeves and grain, of
commodities wet and dry, and the solvency of the retail dealers,
occasionally varied by the description of a siege, or battle, in
Flanders, which, perhaps, the narrator only gave me at second hand.
Robbers, a fertile and alarming theme, filled up every vacancy; and the
names of the Golden Farmer, the Flying Highwayman, Jack Needham, and
other Beggars' Opera heroes, were familiar in our mouths as household
words. At such tales, like children closing their circle round the fire
when the ghost story draws to its climax, the riders drew near to each
other, looked before and behind them, examined the priming of their
pistols, and vowed to stand by each other in case of danger; an
engagement which, like other offensive and defensive alliances, sometimes
glided out of remembrance when there was an appearance of actual peril.
Of all the fellows whom I ever saw haunted by terrors of this nature, one
poor man, with whom I travelled a day and a half, afforded me most
amusement. He had upon his pillion a very small, but apparently a very
weighty portmanteau, about the safety of which he seemed particularly
solicitous; never trusting it out of his own immediate care, and
uniformly repressing the officious zeal of the waiters and ostlers, who
offered their services to carry it into the house. With the same
precaution he laboured to conceal, not only the purpose of his journey,
and his ultimate place of destination, but even the direction of each
day's route. Nothing embarrassed him more than to be asked by any one,
whether he was travelling upwards or downwards, or at what stage he
intended to bait. His place of rest for the night he scrutinised with the
most anxious care, alike avoiding solitude, and what he considered as bad
neighbourhood; and at Grantham, I believe, he sate up all night to avoid
sleeping in the next room to a thick-set squinting fellow, in a black
wig, and a tarnished gold-laced waistcoat. With all these cares on his
mind, my fellow traveller, to judge by his thews and sinews, was a man
who might have set danger at defiance with as much impunity as most men.
He was strong and well built; and, judging from his gold-laced hat and
cockade, seemed to have served in the army, or, at least, to belong to
the military profession in one capacity or other. His conversation also,
though always sufficiently vulgar, was that of a man of sense, when the
terrible bugbears which haunted his imagination for a moment ceased to
occupy his attention. But every accidental association recalled them. An
open heath, a close plantation, were alike subjects of apprehension; and
the whistle of a shepherd lad was instantly converted into the signal of
a depredator. Even the sight of a gibbet, if it assured him that one
robber was safely disposed of by justice, never failed to remind him how
many remained still unhanged.
I should have wearied of this fellow's company, had I not been still more
tired of my own thoughts. Some of the marvellous stories, however, which
he related, had in themselves a cast of interest, and another whimsical
point of his peculiarities afforded me the occasional opportunity of
amusing myself at his expense. Among his tales, several of the
unfortunate travellers who fell among thieves, incurred that calamity
from associating themselves on the road with a well-dressed and
entertaining stranger, in whose company they trusted to find protection
as well as amusement; who cheered their journey with tale and song,
protected them against the evils of over-charges and false reckonings,
until at length, under pretext of showing a near path over a desolate
common, he seduced his unsuspicious victims from the public road into
some dismal glen, where, suddenly blowing his whistle, he assembled his
comrades from their lurking-place, and displayed himself in his true
colours--the captain, namely, of the band of robbers to whom his unwary
fellow-travellers had forfeited their purses, and perhaps their lives.
Towards the conclusion of such a tale, and when my companion had wrought
himself into a fever of apprehension by the progress of his own
narrative, I observed that he usually eyed me with a glance of doubt and
suspicion, as if the possibility occurred to him, that he might, at that
very moment, be in company with a character as dangerous as that which
his tale described. And ever and anon, when such suggestions pressed
themselves on the mind of this ingenious self-tormentor, he drew off from
me to the opposite side of the high-road, looked before, behind, and
around him, examined his arms, and seemed to prepare himself for flight
or defence, as circumstances might require.
The suspicion implied on such occasions seemed to me only momentary, and
too ludicrous to be offensive. There was, in fact, no particular
reflection on my dress or address, although I was thus mistaken for a
robber. A man in those days might have all the external appearance of a
gentleman, and yet turn out to be a highwayman. For the division of
labour in every department not having then taken place so fully as since
that period, the profession of the polite and accomplished adventurer,
who nicked you out of your money at White's, or bowled you out of it at
Marylebone, was often united with that of the professed ruffian, who on
Bagshot Heath, or Finchley Common, commanded his brother beau to stand
and deliver. There was also a touch of coarseness and hardness about the
manners of the times, which has since, in a great degree, been softened
and shaded away. It seems to me, on recollection, as if desperate men had
less reluctance then than now to embrace the most desperate means of
retrieving their fortune. The times were indeed past, when Anthony-a-Wood
mourned over the execution of two men, goodly in person, and of
undisputed courage and honour, who were hanged without mercy at Oxford,
merely because their distress had driven them to raise contributions on
the highway. We were still farther removed from the days of "the mad
Prince and Poins." And yet, from the number of unenclosed and extensive
heaths in the vicinity of the metropolis, and from the less populous
state of remote districts, both were frequented by that species of
mounted highwaymen, that may possibly become one day unknown, who carried
on their trade with something like courtesy; and, like Gibbet in the
Beaux Stratagem, piqued themselves on being the best behaved men on the
road, and on conducting themselves with all appropriate civility in the
exercise of their vocation. A young man, therefore, in my circumstances
was not entitled to be highly indignant at the mistake which confounded
him with this worshipful class of depredators.
Neither was I offended. On the contrary, I found amusement in alternately
exciting, and lulling to sleep, the suspicions of my timorous companion,
and in purposely so acting as still farther to puzzle a brain which
nature and apprehension had combined to render none of the clearest. When
my free conversation had lulled him into complete security, it required
only a passing inquiry concerning the direction of his journey, or the
nature of the business which occasioned it, to put his suspicions once
more in arms. For example, a conversation on the comparative strength and
activity of our horses, took such a turn as follows:--
"O sir," said my companion, "for the gallop I grant you; but allow me to
say, your horse (although he is a very handsome gelding--that must be
owned,) has too little bone to be a good roadster. The trot, sir"
(striking his Bucephalus with his spurs),--"the trot is the true pace for
a hackney; and, were we near a town, I should like to try that
daisy-cutter of yours upon a piece of level road (barring canter) for a
quart of claret at the next inn."
"Content, sir," replied I; "and here is a stretch of ground very
"Hem, ahem," answered my friend with hesitation; "I make it a rule of
travelling never to blow my horse between stages; one never knows what
occasion he may have to put him to his mettle: and besides, sir, when I
said I would match you, I meant with even weight; you ride four stone
lighter than I."
"Very well; but I am content to carry weight. Pray, what may that
portmanteau of yours weigh?"
"My p-p-portmanteau?" replied he, hesitating--"O very little--a
feather--just a few shirts and stockings."
"I should think it heavier, from its appearance. I'll hold you the quart
of claret it makes the odds betwixt our weight."
"You're mistaken, sir, I assure you--quite mistaken," replied my friend,
edging off to the side of the road, as was his wont on these alarming
"Well, I am willing to venture the wine; or, I will bet you ten pieces to
five, that I carry your portmanteau on my croupe, and out-trot you into
This proposal raised my friend's alarm to the uttermost. His nose changed
from the natural copper hue which it had acquired from many a comfortable
cup of claret or sack, into a palish brassy tint, and his teeth chattered
with apprehension at the unveiled audacity of my proposal, which seemed
to place the barefaced plunderer before him in full atrocity. As he
faltered for an answer, I relieved him in some degree by a question
concerning a steeple, which now became visible, and an observation that
we were now so near the village as to run no risk from interruption on
the road. At this his countenance cleared up: but I easily perceived that
it was long ere he forgot a proposal which seemed to him so fraught with
suspicion as that which I had now hazarded. I trouble you with this
detail of the man's disposition, and the manner in which I practised upon
it, because, however trivial in themselves, these particulars were
attended by an important influence on future incidents which will occur
in this narrative. At the time, this person's conduct only inspired me
with contempt, and confirmed me in an opinion which I already
entertained, that of all the propensities which teach mankind to torment
themselves, that of causeless fear is the most irritating, busy, painful,
The Scots are poor, cries surly English pride.
True is the charge; nor by themselves denied.
Are they not, then, in strictest reason clear,
Who wisely come to mend their fortunes here?
There was, in the days of which I write, an old-fashioned custom on the
English road, which I suspect is now obsolete, or practised only by the
vulgar. Journeys of length being made on horseback, and, of course, by
brief stages, it was usual always to make a halt on the Sunday in some
town where the traveller might attend divine service, and his horse have
the benefit of the day of rest, the institution of which is as humane to
our brute labourers as profitable to ourselves. A counterpart to this
decent practice, and a remnant of old English hospitality, was, that the
landlord of a principal inn laid aside his character of a publican on the
seventh day, and invited the guests who chanced to be within his walls to
take a part of his family beef and pudding. This invitation was usually
complied with by all whose distinguished rank did not induce them to
think compliance a derogation; and the proposal of a bottle of wine after
dinner, to drink the landlord's health, was the only recompense ever
offered or accepted.
I was born a citizen of the world, and my inclination led me into all
scenes where my knowledge of mankind could be enlarged; I had, besides,
no pretensions to sequester myself on the score of superior dignity, and
therefore seldom failed to accept of the Sunday's hospitality of mine
host, whether of the Garter, Lion, or Bear. The honest publican, dilated
into additional consequence by a sense of his own importance, while
presiding among the guests on whom it was his ordinary duty to attend,
was in himself an entertaining, spectacle; and around his genial orbit,
other planets of inferior consequence performed their revolutions. The
wits and humorists, the distinguished worthies of the town or village,
the apothecary, the attorney, even the curate himself, did not disdain to
partake of this hebdomadal festivity. The guests, assembled from
different quarters, and following different professions, formed, in
language, manners, and sentiments, a curious contrast to each other, not
indifferent to those who desired to possess a knowledge of mankind in its
It was on such a day, and such an occasion, that my timorous acquaintance
and I were about to grace the board of the ruddy-faced host of the Black
Bear, in the town of Darlington, and bishopric of Durham, when our
landlord informed us, with a sort of apologetic tone, that there was a
Scotch gentleman to dine with us.
"A gentleman!--what sort of a gentleman?" said my companion somewhat
hastily--his mind, I suppose, running on gentlemen of the pad, as they
were then termed.
"Why, a Scotch sort of a gentleman, as I said before," returned mine
host; "they are all gentle, ye mun know, though they ha' narra shirt to
back; but this is a decentish hallion--a canny North Briton as e'er
cross'd Berwick Bridge--I trow he's a dealer in cattle."
"Let us have his company, by all means," answered my companion; and then,
turning to me, he gave vent to the tenor of his own reflections. "I
respect the Scotch, sir; I love and honour the nation for their sense of
morality. Men talk of their filth and their poverty: but commend me to
sterling honesty, though clad in rags, as the poet saith. I have been
credibly assured, sir, by men on whom I can depend, that there was never
known such a thing in Scotland as a highway robbery."
"That's because they have nothing to lose," said mine host, with the
chuckle of a self-applauding wit.
"No, no, landlord," answered a strong deep voice behind him, "it's e'en
because your English gaugers and supervisors,* that you have sent down
benorth the Tweed, have taen up the trade of thievery over the heads of
the native professors."
* The introduction of gaugers, supervisors, and examiners, was one of the
great complaints of the Scottish nation, though a natural consequence of
"Well said, Mr. Campbell," answered the landlord; "I did not think
thoud'st been sae near us, mon. But thou kens I'm an outspoken Yorkshire
tyke. And how go markets in the south?"
"Even in the ordinar," replied Mr. Campbell; "wise folks buy and sell,
and fools are bought and sold."
"But wise men and fools both eat their dinner," answered our jolly
entertainer; "and here a comes--as prime a buttock of beef as e'er hungry
men stuck fork in."
So saying, he eagerly whetted his knife, assumed his seat of empire at
the head of the board, and loaded the plates of his sundry guests with
his good cheer.
This was the first time I had heard the Scottish accent, or, indeed, that
I had familiarly met with an individual of the ancient nation by whom it
was spoken. Yet, from an early period, they had occupied and interested
my imagination. My father, as is well known to you, was of an ancient
family in Northumberland, from whose seat I was, while eating the
aforesaid dinner, not very many miles distant. The quarrel betwixt him
and his relatives was such, that he scarcely ever mentioned the race from
which he sprung, and held as the most contemptible species of vanity, the
weakness which is commonly termed family pride. His ambition was only to
be distinguished as William Osbaldistone, the first, at least one of the
first, merchants on Change; and to have proved him the lineal
representative of William the Conqueror would have far less flattered his
vanity than the hum and bustle which his approach was wont to produce
among the bulls, bears, and brokers of Stock-alley. He wished, no doubt,
that I should remain in such ignorance of my relatives and descent as
might insure a correspondence between my feelings and his own on this
subject. But his designs, as will happen occasionally to the wisest,
were, in some degree at least, counteracted by a being whom his pride
would never have supposed of importance adequate to influence them in any
way. His nurse, an old Northumbrian woman, attached to him from his
infancy, was the only person connected with his native province for whom
he retained any regard; and when fortune dawned upon him, one of the
first uses which he made of her favours, was to give Mabel Rickets a
place of residence within his household. After the death of my mother,
the care of nursing me during my childish illnesses, and of rendering all
those tender attentions which infancy exacts from female affection,
devolved on old Mabel. Interdicted by her master from speaking to him on
the subject of the heaths, glades, and dales of her beloved
Northumberland, she poured herself forth to my infant ear in descriptions
of the scenes of her youth, and long narratives of the events which
tradition declared to have passed amongst them. To these I inclined my
ear much more seriously than to graver, but less animated instructors.
Even yet, methinks I see old Mabel, her head slightly agitated by the
palsy of age, and shaded by a close cap, as white as the driven
snow,--her face wrinkled, but still retaining the healthy tinge which it
had acquired in rural labour--I think I see her look around on the brick
walls and narrow street which presented themselves before our windows,
as she concluded with a sigh the favourite old ditty, which I then
preferred, and--why should I not tell the truth?--which I still prefer
to all the opera airs ever minted by the capricious brain of an Italian
Oh, the oak, the ash, and the bonny ivy tree,
They flourish best at home in the North Countrie!
Now, in the legends of Mabel, the Scottish nation was ever freshly
remembered, with all the embittered declamation of which the narrator was
capable. The inhabitants of the opposite frontier served in her
narratives to fill up the parts which ogres and giants with seven-leagued
boots occupy in the ordinary nursery tales. And how could it be
otherwise? Was it not the Black Douglas who slew with his own hand the
heir of the Osbaldistone family the day after he took possession of his
estate, surprising him and his vassals while solemnizing a feast suited
to the occasion? Was it not Wat the Devil, who drove all the year-old
hogs off the braes of Lanthorn-side, in the very recent days of my
grandfather's father? And had we not many a trophy, but, according to old
Mabel's version of history, far more honourably gained, to mark our
revenge of these wrongs? Did not Sir Henry Osbaldistone, fifth baron of
the name, carry off the fair maid of Fairnington, as Achilles did his
Chryseis and Briseis of old, and detain her in his fortress against all
the power of her friends, supported by the most mighty Scottish chiefs of
warlike fame? And had not our swords shone foremost at most of those
fields in which England was victorious over her rival? All our family
renown was acquired--all our family misfortunes were occasioned--by the
Warmed by such tales, I looked upon the Scottish people during my
childhood, as a race hostile by nature to the more southern inhabitants
of this realm; and this view of the matter was not much corrected by the
language which my father sometimes held with respect to them. He had
engaged in some large speculations concerning oak-woods, the property of
Highland proprietors, and alleged, that he found them much more ready to
make bargains, and extort earnest of the purchase-money, than punctual in
complying on their side with the terms of the engagements. The Scottish
mercantile men, whom he was under the necessity of employing as a sort of
middle-men on these occasions, were also suspected by my father of having
secured, by one means or other, more than their own share of the profit
which ought to have accrued. In short, if Mabel complained of the
Scottish arms in ancient times, Mr. Osbaldistone inveighed no less
against the arts of these modern Sinons; and between them, though without
any fixed purpose of doing so, they impressed my youthful mind with a
sincere aversion to the northern inhabitants of Britain, as a people
bloodthirsty in time of war, treacherous during truce, interested,
selfish, avaricious, and tricky in the business of peaceful life, and
having few good qualities, unless there should be accounted such, a
ferocity which resembled courage in martial affairs, and a sort of wily
craft which supplied the place of wisdom in the ordinary commerce of
mankind. In justification, or apology, for those who entertained such
prejudices, I must remark, that the Scotch of that period were guilty of
similar injustice to the English, whom they branded universally as a race
of purse-proud arrogant epicures. Such seeds of national dislike remained
between the two countries, the natural consequences of their existence as
separate and rival states. We have seen recently the breath of a
demagogue blow these sparks into a temporary flame, which I sincerely
hope is now extinguished in its own ashes. *
* This seems to have been written about the time of Wilkes and Liberty.
It was, then, with an impression of dislike, that I contemplated the
first Scotchman I chanced to meet in society. There was much about him
that coincided with my previous conceptions. He had the hard features and
athletic form said to be peculiar to his country, together with the
national intonation and slow pedantic mode of expression, arising from a
desire to avoid peculiarities of idiom or dialect. I could also observe
the caution and shrewdness of his country in many of the observations
which he made, and the answers which he returned. But I was not prepared
for the air of easy self-possession and superiority with which he seemed
to predominate over the company into which he was thrown, as it were by
accident. His dress was as coarse as it could be, being still decent;
and, at a time when great expense was lavished upon the wardrobe, even of
the lowest who pretended to the character of gentleman, this indicated
mediocrity of circumstances, if not poverty. His conversation intimated
that he was engaged in the cattle trade, no very dignified professional
pursuit. And yet, under these disadvantages, he seemed, as a matter of
course, to treat the rest of the company with the cool and condescending
politeness which implies a real, or imagined, superiority over those
towards whom it is used. When he gave his opinion on any point, it was
with that easy tone of confidence used by those superior to their society
in rank or information, as if what he said could not be doubted, and was
not to be questioned. Mine host and his Sunday guests, after an effort or
two to support their consequence by noise and bold averment, sunk
gradually under the authority of Mr. Campbell, who thus fairly possessed
himself of the lead in the conversation. I was tempted, from curiosity,
to dispute the ground with him myself, confiding in my knowledge of the
world, extended as it was by my residence abroad, and in the stores with
which a tolerable education had possessed my mind. In the latter respect
he offered no competition, and it was easy to see that his natural powers
had never been cultivated by education. But I found him much better
acquainted than I was myself with the present state of France, the
character of the Duke of Orleans, who had just succeeded to the regency
of that kingdom, and that of the statesmen by whom he was surrounded; and
his shrewd, caustic, and somewhat satirical remarks, were those of a man
who had been a close observer of the affairs of that country.
On the subject of politics, Campbell observed a silence and moderation
which might arise from caution. The divisions of Whig and Tory then shook
England to her very centre, and a powerful party, engaged in the Jacobite
interest, menaced the dynasty of Hanover, which had been just established
on the throne. Every alehouse resounded with the brawls of contending
politicians, and as mine host's politics were of that liberal description
which quarrelled with no good customer, his hebdomadal visitants were
often divided in their opinion as irreconcilably as if he had feasted the
Common Council. The curate and the apothecary, with a little man, who
made no boast of his vocation, but who, from the flourish and snap of his
fingers, I believe to have been the barber, strongly espoused the cause
of high church and the Stuart line. The excise-man, as in duty bound, and
the attorney, who looked to some petty office under the Crown, together
with my fellow-traveller, who seemed to enter keenly into the contest,
staunchly supported the cause of King George and the Protestant
succession. Dire was the screaming--deep the oaths! Each party appealed
to Mr. Campbell, anxious, it seemed, to elicit his approbation.
"You are a Scotchman, sir; a gentleman of your country must stand up for
hereditary right," cried one party.
"You are a Presbyterian," assumed the other class of disputants; "you
cannot be a friend to arbitrary power."
"Gentlemen," said our Scotch oracle, after having gained, with some
difficulty, a moment's pause, "I havena much dubitation that King George
weel deserves the predilection of his friends; and if he can haud the
grip he has gotten, why, doubtless, he may made the gauger, here, a
commissioner of the revenue, and confer on our friend, Mr. Quitam, the
preferment of solicitor-general; and he may also grant some good deed or
reward to this honest gentleman who is sitting upon his portmanteau,
which he prefers to a chair: And, questionless, King James is also a
grateful person, and when he gets his hand in play, he may, if he be so
minded, make this reverend gentleman archprelate of Canterbury, and Dr.
Mixit chief physician to his household, and commit his royal beard to the
care of my friend Latherum. But as I doubt mickle whether any of the
competing sovereigns would give Rob Campbell a tass of aquavitae, if he
lacked it, I give my vote and interest to Jonathan Brown, our landlord,
to be the King and Prince of Skinkers, conditionally that he fetches us
another bottle as good as the last."
This sally was received with general applause, in which the landlord
cordially joined; and when he had given orders for fulfilling the
condition on which his preferment was to depend, he failed not to
acquaint them, "that, for as peaceable a gentleman as Mr. Campbell was,
he was, moreover, as bold as a lion--seven highwaymen had he defeated
with his single arm, that beset him as he came from Whitson-Tryste."
"Thou art deceived, friend Jonathan," said Campbell, interrupting him;
"they were but barely two, and two cowardly loons as man could wish to
"And did you, sir, really," said my fellow-traveller, edging his chair (I
should have said his portmanteau) nearer to Mr. Campbell, "really and
actually beat two highwaymen yourself alone?"
"In troth did I, sir," replied Campbell; "and I think it nae great thing
to make a sang about."
"Upon my word, sir," replied my acquaintance, "I should be happy to have
the pleasure of your company on my journey--I go northward, sir."
This piece of gratuitous information concerning the route he proposed to
himself, the first I had heard my companion bestow upon any one, failed
to excite the corresponding confidence of the Scotchman.
"We can scarce travel together," he replied, drily. "You, sir, doubtless,
are well mounted, and I for the present travel on foot, or on a Highland
shelty, that does not help me much faster forward."
So saying, he called for a reckoning for the wine, and throwing down the
price of the additional bottle which he had himself introduced, rose as
if to take leave of us. My companion made up to him, and taking him by
the button, drew him aside into one of the windows. I could not help
overhearing him pressing something--I supposed his company upon the
journey, which Mr. Campbell seemed to decline.
"I will pay your charges, sir," said the traveller, in a tone as if he
thought the argument should bear down all opposition.
"It is quite impossible," said Campbell, somewhat contemptuously; "I have
business at Rothbury."
"But I am in no great hurry; I can ride out of the way, and never miss a
day or so for good company."
"Upon my faith, sir," said Campbell, "I cannot render you the service you
seem to desiderate. I am," he added, drawing himself up haughtily,
"travelling on my own private affairs, and if ye will act by my
advisement, sir, ye will neither unite yourself with an absolute stranger
on the road, nor communicate your line of journey to those who are asking
ye no questions about it." He then extricated his button, not very
ceremoniously, from the hold which detained him, and coming up to me as
the company were dispersing, observed, "Your friend, sir, is too
communicative, considering the nature of his trust."
"That gentleman," I replied, looking towards the traveller, "is no friend
of mine, but an acquaintance whom I picked up on the road. I know neither
his name nor business, and you seem to be deeper in his confidence than I
"I only meant," he replied hastily, "that he seems a thought rash in
conferring the honour of his company on those who desire it not."
"The gentleman," replied I, "knows his own affairs best, and I should be
sorry to constitute myself a judge of them in any respect."
Mr. Campbell made no farther observation, but merely wished me a good
journey, and the party dispersed for the evening.
Next day I parted company with my timid companion, as I left the great
northern road to turn more westerly in the direction of Osbaldistone
Manor, my uncle's seat. I cannot tell whether he felt relieved or
embarrassed by my departure, considering the dubious light in which he
seemed to regard me. For my own part, his tremors ceased to amuse me,
and, to say the truth, I was heartily glad to get rid of him.
How melts my beating heart as I behold
Each lovely nymph, our island's boast and pride,
Push on the generous steed, that sweeps along
O'er rough, o'er smooth, nor heeds the steepy hill,
Nor falters in the extended vale below!
I approached my native north, for such I esteemed it, with that
enthusiasm which romantic and wild scenery inspires in the lovers of
nature. No longer interrupted by the babble of my companion, I could now
remark the difference which the country exhibited from that through which
I had hitherto travelled. The streams now more properly deserved the
name, for, instead of slumbering stagnant among reeds and willows, they
brawled along beneath the shade of natural copsewood; were now hurried
down declivities, and now purled more leisurely, but still in active
motion, through little lonely valleys, which, opening on the road from
time to time, seemed to invite the traveller to explore their recesses.
The Cheviots rose before me in frowning majesty; not, indeed, with the
sublime variety of rock and cliff which characterizes mountains of the
primary class but huge, round-headed, and clothed with a dark robe of
russet, gaining, by their extent and desolate appearance, an influence
upon the imagination, as a desert district possessing a character of its
The abode of my fathers, which I was now approaching, was situated in a
glen, or narrow valley, which ran up among those hills. Extensive
estates, which once belonged to the family of Osbaldistone, had been long
dissipated by the misfortunes or misconduct of my ancestors; but enough
was still attached to the old mansion, to give my uncle the title of a
man of large property. This he employed (as I was given to understand by
some inquiries which I made on the road) in maintaining the prodigal
hospitality of a northern squire of the period, which he deemed essential
to his family dignity.
From the summit of an eminence I had already had a distant view of
Osbaldistone Hall, a large and antiquated edifice, peeping out from a
Druidical grove of huge oaks; and I was directing my course towards it,
as straightly and as speedily as the windings of a very indifferent road
would permit, when my horse, tired as he was, pricked up his ears at the
enlivening notes of a pack of hounds in full cry, cheered by the
occasional bursts of a French horn, which in those days was a constant
accompaniment to the chase. I made no doubt that the pack was my uncle's,
and drew up my horse with the purpose of suffering the hunters to pass
without notice, aware that a hunting-field was not the proper scene to
introduce myself to a keen sportsman, and determined when they had passed
on, to proceed to the mansion-house at my own pace, and there to await
the return of the proprietor from his sport. I paused, therefore, on a
rising ground, and, not unmoved by the sense of interest which that
species of silvan sport is so much calculated to inspire (although my
mind was not at the moment very accessible to impressions of this
nature), I expected with some eagerness the appearance of the huntsmen.
The fox, hard run, and nearly spent, first made his appearance from the
copse which clothed the right-hand side of the valley. His drooping
brush, his soiled appearance, and jaded trot, proclaimed his fate
impending; and the carrion crow, which hovered over him, already
considered poor Reynard as soon to be his prey. He crossed the stream
which divides the little valley, and was dragging himself up a ravine on
the other side of its wild banks, when the headmost hounds, followed by
the rest of the pack in full cry, burst from the coppice, followed by the
huntsman and three or four riders. The dogs pursued the trace of Reynard
with unerring instinct; and the hunters followed with reckless haste,
regardless of the broken and difficult nature of the ground. They were
tall, stout young men, well mounted, and dressed in green and red, the
uniform of a sporting association, formed under the auspices of old Sir
Hildebrand Osbaldistone.--"My cousins!" thought I, as they swept past me.
The next reflection was, what is my reception likely to be among these
worthy successors of Nimrod? and how improbable is it that I, knowing
little or nothing of rural sports, shall find myself at ease, or happy,
in my uncle's family. A vision that passed me interrupted these
It was a young lady, the loveliness of whose very striking features was
enhanced by the animation of the chase and the glow of the exercise,
mounted on a beautiful horse, jet black, unless where he was flecked by
spots of the snow-white foam which embossed his bridle. She wore, what
was then somewhat unusual, a coat, vest, and hat, resembling those of a
man, which fashion has since called a riding habit. The mode had been
introduced while I was in France, and was perfectly new to me. Her long
black hair streamed on the breeze, having in the hurry of the chase
escaped from the ribbon which bound it. Some very broken ground, through
which she guided her horse with the most admirable address and presence
of mind, retarded her course, and brought her closer to me than any of
the other riders had passed. I had, therefore, a full view of her
uncommonly fine face and person, to which an inexpressible charm was
added by the wild gaiety of the scene, and the romance of her singular
dress and unexpected appearance. As she passed me, her horse made, in his
impetuosity, an irregular movement, just while, coming once more upon
open ground, she was again putting him to his speed. It served as an
apology for me to ride close up to her, as if to her assistance. There
was, however, no cause for alarm; it was not a stumble, nor a false step;
and, if it had, the fair Amazon had too much self-possession to have been
deranged by it. She thanked my good intentions, however, by a smile, and
I felt encouraged to put my horse to the same pace, and to keep in her
immediate neighbourhood. The clamour of "Whoop! dead! dead!"--and the
corresponding flourish of the French horn, soon announced to us that
there was no more occasion for haste, since the chase was at a close. One
of the young men whom we had seen approached us, waving the brush of the
fox in triumph, as if to upbraid my fair companion,
"I see," she replied,--"I see; but make no noise about it: if Phoebe,"
she said, patting the neck of the beautiful animal on which she rode,
"had not got among the cliffs, you would have had little cause for
They met as she spoke, and I observed them both look at me, and converse
a moment in an under-tone, the young lady apparently pressing the
sportsman to do something which he declined shyly, and with a sort of
sheepish sullenness. She instantly turned her horse's head towards me,
saying,--"Well, well, Thornie, if you won't, I must, that's all.--Sir,"
she continued, addressing me, "I have been endeavouring to persuade this
cultivated young gentleman to make inquiry of you whether, in the course
of your travels in these parts, you have heard anything of a friend of
ours, one Mr. Francis Osbaldistone, who has been for some days expected
at Osbaldistone Hall?"
I was too happy to acknowledge myself to be the party inquired after, and
to express my thanks for the obliging inquiries of the young lady.
"In that case, sir," she rejoined, "as my kinsman's politeness seems to
be still slumbering, you will permit me (though I suppose it is highly
improper) to stand mistress of ceremonies, and to present to you young
Squire Thorncliff Osbaldistone, your cousin, and Die Vernon, who has also
the honour to be your accomplished cousin's poor kinswoman."
There was a mixture of boldness, satire, and simplicity in the manner in
which Miss Vernon pronounced these words. My knowledge of life was
sufficient to enable me to take up a corresponding tone as I expressed my
gratitude to her for her condescension, and my extreme pleasure at having
met with them. To say the truth, the compliment was so expressed, that
the lady might easily appropriate the greater share of it, for Thorncliff
seemed an arrant country bumpkin, awkward, shy, and somewhat sulky
withal. He shook hands with me, however, and then intimated his intention
of leaving me that he might help the huntsman and his brothers to couple
up the hounds,--a purpose which he rather communicated by way of
information to Miss Vernon than as apology to me.
"There he goes," said the young lady, following him with eyes in which
disdain was admirably painted--"the prince of grooms and cock-fighters,
and blackguard horse-coursers. But there is not one of them to mend
another.--Have you read Markham?" said Miss Vernon.
"Read whom, ma'am?--I do not even remember the author's name."
"O lud! on what a strand are you wrecked!" replied the young lady. "A
poor forlorn and ignorant stranger, unacquainted with the very Alcoran of
the savage tribe whom you are come to reside among--Never to have heard
of Markham, the most celebrated author on farriery! then I fear you are
equally a stranger to the more modern names of Gibson and Bartlett?"
"I am, indeed, Miss Vernon."
"And do you not blush to own it?" said Miss Vernon. "Why, we must
forswear your alliance. Then, I suppose, you can neither give a ball, nor
a mash, nor a horn!"
"I confess I trust all these matters to an ostler, or to my groom."
"Incredible carelessness!--And you cannot shoe a horse, or cut his mane
and tail; or worm a dog, or crop his ears, or cut his dew-claws; or
reclaim a hawk, or give him his casting-stones, or direct his diet when
he is sealed; or"--
"To sum up my insignificance in one word," replied I, "I am profoundly
ignorant in all these rural accomplishments."
"Then, in the name of Heaven, Mr. Francis Osbaldistone, what "can" you
"Very little to the purpose, Miss Vernon; something, however, I can
pretend to--When my groom has dressed my horse I can ride him, and when
my hawk is in the field, I can fly him."
"Can you do this?" said the young lady, putting her horse to a canter.
There was a sort of rude overgrown fence crossed the path before us, with
a gate composed of pieces of wood rough from the forest; I was about to
move forward to open it, when Miss Vernon cleared the obstruction at a
flying leap. I was bound in point of honour to follow, and was in a
moment again at her side. "There are hopes of you yet," she said. "I was
afraid you had been a very degenerate Osbaldistone. But what on earth
brings you to Cub-Castle?--for so the neighbours have christened this
hunting-hall of ours. You might have stayed away, I suppose, if you
I felt I was by this time on a very intimate footing with my beautiful
apparition, and therefore replied, in a confidential under-tone--"Indeed,
my dear Miss Vernon, I might have considered it as a sacrifice to be a
temporary resident in Osbaldistone Hall, the inmates being such as you
describe them; but I am convinced there is one exception that will make
amends for all deficiencies."
"O, you mean Rashleigh?" said Miss Vernon.
"Indeed I do not; I was thinking--forgive me--of some person much nearer
"I suppose it would be proper not to understand your civility?--But that
is not my way--I don't make a courtesy for it because I am sitting on
horseback. But, seriously, I deserve your exception, for I am the only
conversable being about the Hall, except the old priest and Rashleigh."
"And who is Rashleigh, for Heaven's sake?"
"Rashleigh is one who would fain have every one like him for his own
sake. He is Sir Hildebrand's youngest son--about your own age, but not
so--not well looking, in short. But nature has given him a mouthful of
common sense, and the priest has added a bushelful of learning; he is
what we call a very clever man in this country, where clever men are
scarce. Bred to the church, but in no hurry to take orders."
"To the Catholic Church?"
"The Catholic Church? what Church else?" said the young lady. "But I
forgot--they told me you are a heretic. Is that true, Mr. Osbaldistone?"
"I must not deny the charge."
"And yet you have been abroad, and in Catholic countries?"
"For nearly four years."
"You have seen convents?"
"Often; but I have not seen much in them which recommended the Catholic
"Are not the inhabitants happy?"
"Some are unquestionably so, whom either a profound sense of devotion, or
an experience of the persecutions and misfortunes of the world, or a
natural apathy of temper, has led into retirement. Those who have adopted
a life of seclusion from sudden and overstrained enthusiasm, or in hasty
resentment of some disappointment or mortification, are very miserable.
The quickness of sensation soon returns, and like the wilder animals in a
menagerie, they are restless under confinement, while others muse or
fatten in cells of no larger dimensions than theirs."
"And what," continued Miss Vernon, "becomes of those victims who are
condemned to a convent by the will of others? what do they resemble?
especially, what do they resemble, if they are born to enjoy life, and
feel its blessings?"
"They are like imprisoned singing-birds," replied I, "condemned to wear
out their lives in confinement, which they try to beguile by the exercise
of accomplishments which would have adorned society had they been left at
"I shall be," returned Miss Vernon--"that is," said she, correcting
herself--"I should be rather like the wild hawk, who, barred the free
exercise of his soar through heaven, will dash himself to pieces against
the bars of his cage. But to return to Rashleigh," said she, in a more
lively tone, "you will think him the pleasantest man you ever saw in your
life, Mr. Osbaldistone,--that is, for a week at least. If he could find
out a blind mistress, never man would be so secure of conquest; but the
eye breaks the spell that enchants the ear.--But here we are in the court
of the old hall, which looks as wild and old-fashioned as any of its
inmates. There is no great toilette kept at Osbaldistone Hall, you must
know; but I must take off these things, they are so unpleasantly
warm,--and the hat hurts my forehead, too," continued the lively girl,
taking it off, and shaking down a profusion of sable ringlets, which,
half laughing, half blushing, she separated with her white slender
fingers, in order to clear them away from her beautiful face and
piercing hazel eyes. If there was any coquetry in the action, it was
well disguised by the careless indifference of her manner. I could not
help saying, "that, judging of the family from what I saw, I should
suppose the toilette a very unnecessary care."
"That's very politely said--though, perhaps, I ought not to understand in
what sense it was meant," replied Miss Vernon; "but you will see a better
apology for a little negligence when you meet the Orsons you are to live
amongst, whose forms no toilette could improve. But, as I said before,
the old dinner-bell will clang, or rather clank, in a few minutes--it
cracked of its own accord on the day of the landing of King Willie, and
my uncle, respecting its prophetic talent, would never permit it to be
mended. So do you hold my palfrey, like a duteous knight, until I send
some more humble squire to relieve you of the charge."
She threw me the rein as if we had been acquainted from our childhood,
jumped from her saddle, tripped across the courtyard, and entered at a
side-door, leaving me in admiration of her beauty, and astonished with
the over-frankness of her manners, which seemed the more extraordinary at
a time when the dictates of politeness, flowing from the court of the
Grand Monarque Louis XIV., prescribed to the fair sex an unusual severity
of decorum. I was left awkwardly enough stationed in the centre of the
court of the old hall, mounted on one horse, and holding another in my
The building afforded little to interest a stranger, had I been disposed
to consider it attentively; the sides of the quadrangle were of various
architecture, and with their stone-shafted latticed windows, projecting
turrets, and massive architraves, resembled the inside of a convent, or
of one of the older and less splendid colleges of Oxford. I called for a
domestic, but was for some time totally unattended to; which was the more
provoking, as I could perceive I was the object of curiosity to several
servants, both male and female, from different parts of the building, who
popped out their heads and withdrew them, like rabbits in a warren,
before I could make a direct appeal to the attention of any individual.
The return of the huntsmen and hounds relieved me from my embarrassment,
and with some difficulty I got one down to relieve me of the charge of
the horses, and another stupid boor to guide me to the presence of Sir
Hildebrand. This service he performed with much such grace and good-will,
as a peasant who is compelled to act as guide to a hostile patrol; and in
the same manner I was obliged to guard against his deserting me in the
labyrinth of low vaulted passages which conducted to "Stun Hall," as he
called it, where I was to be introduced to the gracious presence of my
We did, however, at length reach a long vaulted room, floored with stone,
where a range of oaken tables, of a weight and size too massive ever to
be moved aside, were already covered for dinner. This venerable
apartment, which had witnessed the feasts of several generations of the
Osbaldistone family, bore also evidence of their success in field sports.
Huge antlers of deer, which might have been trophies of the hunting of
Chevy Chace, were ranged around the walls, interspersed with the stuffed
skins of badgers, otters, martins, and other animals of the chase. Amidst
some remnants of old armour, which had, perhaps, served against the
Scotch, hung the more valued weapons of silvan war, cross-bows, guns of
various device and construction, nets, fishing-rods, otter-spears,
hunting-poles, with many other singular devices, and engines for taking
or killing game. A few old pictures, dimmed with smoke, and stained with
March beer, hung on the walls, representing knights and ladies, honoured,
doubtless, and renowned in their day; those frowning fearfully from huge
bushes of wig and of beard; and these looking delightfully with all their
might at the roses which they brandished in their hands.
I had just time to give a glance at these matters, when about twelve
blue-coated servants burst into the hall with much tumult and talk, each
rather employed in directing his comrades than in discharging his own
duty. Some brought blocks and billets to the fire, which roared, blazed,
and ascended, half in smoke, half in flame, up a huge tunnel, with an
opening wide enough to accommodate a stone seat within its ample vault,
and which was fronted, by way of chimney-piece, with a huge piece of
heavy architecture, where the monsters of heraldry, embodied by the art
of some Northumbrian chisel, grinned and ramped in red free-stone, now
japanned by the smoke of centuries. Others of these old-fashioned
serving-men bore huge smoking dishes, loaded with substantial fare;
others brought in cups, flagons, bottles, yea barrels of liquor. All
tramped, kicked, plunged, shouldered, and jostled, doing as little
service with as much tumult as could well be imagined. At length, while
the dinner was, after various efforts, in the act of being arranged upon
the board, "the clamour much of men and dogs," the cracking of whips,
calculated for the intimidation of the latter, voices loud and high,
steps which, impressed by the heavy-heeled boots of the period, clattered
like those in the statue of the "Festin de Pierre,"* announced the
arrival of those for whose benefit the preparations were made.
* Now called Don Juan.
The hubbub among the servants rather increased than diminished as this
crisis approached. Some called to make haste,--others to take
time,--some exhorted to stand out of the way, and make room for Sir
Hildebrand and the young squires,--some to close round the table and be
"in" the way,--some bawled to open, some to shut, a pair of
folding-doors which divided the hall from a sort of gallery, as I
afterwards learned, or withdrawing-room, fitted up with black wainscot.
Opened the doors were at length, and in rushed curs and men,--eight
dogs, the domestic chaplain, the village doctor, my six cousins, and my
The rude hall rocks--they come, they come,--
The din of voices shakes the dome;--
In stalk the various forms, and, drest
In varying morion, varying vest,
All march with haughty step--all proudly shake the crest.
If Sir Hildebrand Osbaldistone was in no hurry to greet his nephew, of
whose arrival he must have been informed for some time, he had important
avocations to allege in excuse. "Had seen thee sooner, lad," he
exclaimed, after a rough shake of the hand, and a hearty welcome to
Osbaldistone Hall, "but had to see the hounds kennelled first. Thou art
welcome to the Hall, lad--here is thy cousin Percie, thy cousin Thornie,
and thy cousin John--your cousin Dick, your cousin Wilfred, and--stay,
where's Rashleigh?--ay, here's Rashleigh--take thy long body aside
Thornie, and let's see thy brother a bit--your cousin Rashleigh. So, thy
father has thought on the old Hall, and old Sir Hildebrand at
last--better late than never--Thou art welcome, lad, and there's enough.
Where's my little Die?--ay, here she comes--this is my niece Die, my
wife's brother's daughter--the prettiest girl in our dales, be the other
who she may--and so now let's to the sirloin."--
To gain some idea of the person who held this language, you must suppose,
my dear Tresham, a man aged about sixty, in a hunting suit which had once
been richly laced, but whose splendour had been tarnished by many a
November and December storm. Sir Hildebrand, notwithstanding the
abruptness of his present manner, had, at one period of his life, known
courts and camps; had held a commission in the army which encamped on
Hounslow Heath previous to the Revolution--and, recommended perhaps by
his religion, had been knighted about the same period by the unfortunate
and ill-advised James II. But the Knight's dreams of further preferment,
if he ever entertained any, had died away at the crisis which drove his
patron from the throne, and since that period he had spent a sequestered
life upon his native domains. Notwithstanding his rusticity, however, Sir
Hildebrand retained much of the exterior of a gentleman, and appeared
among his sons as the remains of a Corinthian pillar, defaced and
overgrown with moss and lichen, might have looked, if contrasted with the
rough unhewn masses of upright stones in Stonhenge, or any other
Druidical temple. The sons were, indeed, heavy unadorned blocks as the
eye would desire to look upon. Tall, stout, and comely, all and each of
the five eldest seemed to want alike the Promethean fire of intellect,
and the exterior grace and manner, which, in the polished world,
sometimes supply mental deficiency. Their most valuable moral quality
seemed to be the good-humour and content which was expressed in their
heavy features, and their only pretence to accomplishment was their
dexterity in field sports, for which alone they lived. The strong Gyas,
and the strong Cloanthus, are not less distinguished by the poet, than
the strong Percival, the strong Thorncliff, the strong John, Richard, and
Wilfred Osbaldistones, were by outward appearance.
But, as if to indemnify herself for a uniformity so uncommon in her
productions, Dame Nature had rendered Rashleigh Osbaldistone a striking
contrast in person and manner, and, as I afterwards learned, in temper
and talents, not only to his brothers, but to most men whom I had
hitherto met with. When Percie, Thornie, and Co. had respectively nodded,
grinned, and presented their shoulder rather than their hand, as their
father named them to their new kinsman, Rashleigh stepped forward, and
welcomed me to Osbaldistone Hall, with the air and manner of a man of the
world. His appearance was not in itself prepossessing. He was of low
stature, whereas all his brethren seemed to be descendants of Anak; and
while they were handsomely formed, Rashleigh, though strong in person,
was bull-necked and cross-made, and from some early injury in his youth
had an imperfection in his gait, so much resembling an absolute halt,
that many alleged that it formed the obstacle to his taking orders; the
Church of Rome, as is well known, admitting none to the clerical
profession who labours under any personal deformity. Others, however,
ascribed this unsightly defect to a mere awkward habit, and contended
that it did not amount to a personal disqualification from holy orders.
The features of Rashleigh were such, as, having looked upon, we in vain
wish to banish from our memory, to which they recur as objects of painful
curiosity, although we dwell upon them with a feeling of dislike, and
even of disgust. It was not the actual plainness of his face, taken
separately from the meaning, which made this strong impression. His
features were, indeed, irregular, but they were by no means vulgar; and
his keen dark eyes, and shaggy eyebrows, redeemed his face from the
charge of commonplace ugliness. But there was in these eyes an expression
of art and design, and, on provocation, a ferocity tempered by caution,
which nature had made obvious to the most ordinary physiognomist, perhaps
with the same intention that she has given the rattle to the poisonous
snake. As if to compensate him for these disadvantages of exterior,
Rashleigh Osbaldistone was possessed of a voice the most soft, mellow,
and rich in its tones that I ever heard, and was at no loss for language
of every sort suited to so fine an organ. His first sentence of welcome
was hardly ended, ere I internally agreed with Miss Vernon, that my new
kinsman would make an instant conquest of a mistress whose ears alone
were to judge his cause. He was about to place himself beside me at
dinner, but Miss Vernon, who, as the only female in the family, arranged
all such matters according to her own pleasure, contrived that I should
sit betwixt Thorncliff and herself; and it can scarce be doubted that I
favoured this more advantageous arrangement.
"I want to speak with you," she said, "and I have placed honest Thornie
betwixt Rashleigh and you on purpose. He will be like--
Feather-bed 'twixt castle wall
And heavy brunt of cannon ball,
while I, your earliest acquaintance in this intellectual family, ask of
you how you like us all?"
"A very comprehensive question, Miss Vernon, considering how short while
I have been at Osbaldistone Hall."
"Oh, the philosophy of our family lies on the surface--there are minute
shades distinguishing the individuals, which require the eye of an
intelligent observer; but the species, as naturalists I believe call it,
may be distinguished and characterized at once."
"My five elder cousins, then, are I presume of pretty nearly the same
"Yes, they form a happy compound of sot, gamekeeper, bully, horse-jockey,
and fool; but as they say there cannot be found two leaves on the same
tree exactly alike, so these happy ingredients, being mingled in somewhat
various proportions in each individual, make an agreeable variety for
those who like to study character."
"Give me a sketch, if you please, Miss Vernon."
"You shall have them all in a family-piece, at full length--the favour is
too easily granted to be refused. Percie, the son and heir, has more of
the sot than of the gamekeeper, bully, horse-jockey, or fool--My precious
Thornie is more of the bully than the sot, gamekeeper, jockey, or
fool--John, who sleeps whole weeks amongst the hills, has most of the
gamekeeper--The jockey is powerful with Dickon, who rides two hundred
miles by day and night to be bought and sold at a horse-race--And the
fool predominates so much over Wilfred's other qualities, that he may be
termed a fool positive."
"A goodly collection, Miss Vernon, and the individual varieties belong to
a most interesting species. But is there no room on the canvas for Sir
"I love my uncle," was her reply: "I owe him some kindness (such it was
meant for at least), and I will leave you to draw his picture yourself,
when you know him better."
"Come," thought I to myself, "I am glad there is some forbearance. After
all, who would have looked for such bitter satire from a creature so
young, and so exquisitely beautiful?"
"You are thinking of me," she said, bending her dark eyes on me, as if
she meant to pierce through my very soul.
"I certainly was," I replied, with some embarrassment at the determined
suddenness of the question, and then, endeavouring to give a
complimentary turn to my frank avowal--"How is it possible I should think
of anything else, seated as I have the happiness to be?"
She smiled with such an expression of concentrated haughtiness as she
alone could have thrown into her countenance. "I must inform you at once,
Mr. Osbaldistone, that compliments are entirely lost upon me; do not,
therefore, throw away your pretty sayings--they serve fine gentlemen who
travel in the country, instead of the toys, beads, and bracelets, which
navigators carry to propitiate the savage inhabitants of newly-discovered
lands. Do not exhaust your stock in trade;--you will find natives in
Northumberland to whom your fine things will recommend you--on me they
would be utterly thrown away, for I happen to know their real value."
I was silenced and confounded.
"You remind me at this moment," said the young lady, resuming her lively
and indifferent manner, "of the fairy tale, where the man finds all the
money which he had carried to market suddenly changed into pieces of
slate. I have cried down and ruined your whole stock of complimentary
discourse by one unlucky observation. But come, never mind it--You are
belied, Mr. Osbaldistone, unless you have much better conversation than
these "fadeurs," which every gentleman with a toupet thinks himself
obliged to recite to an unfortunate girl, merely because she is dressed
in silk and gauze, while he wears superfine cloth with embroidery. Your
natural paces, as any of my five cousins might say, are far preferable to
your complimentary amble. Endeavour to forget my unlucky sex; call me Tom
Vernon, if you have a mind, but speak to me as you would to a friend and
companion; you have no idea how much I shall like you."
"That would be a bribe indeed," returned I.
"Again!" replied Miss Vernon, holding up her finger; "I told you I would
not bear the shadow of a compliment. And now, when you have pledged my
uncle, who threatens you with what he calls a brimmer, I will tell you
what you think of me."
The bumper being pledged by me, as a dutiful nephew, and some other
general intercourse of the table having taken place, the continued and
business-like clang of knives and forks, and the devotion of cousin
Thorncliff on my right hand, and cousin Dickon, who sate on Miss Vernon's
left, to the huge quantities of meat with which they heaped their plates,
made them serve as two occasional partitions, separating us from the rest
of the company, and leaving us to our "tete-a-tete." "And now," said
I, "give me leave to ask you frankly, Miss Vernon, what you suppose I am
thinking of you!--I could tell you what I really "do" think, but you have
"I do not want your assistance. I am conjuror enough to tell your
thoughts without it. You need not open the casement of your bosom; I see
through it. You think me a strange bold girl, half coquette, half romp;
desirous of attracting attention by the freedom of her manners and
loudness of her conversation, because she is ignorant of what the
Spectator calls the softer graces of the sex; and perhaps you think I
have some particular plan of storming you into admiration. I should be
sorry to shock your self-opinion, but you were never more mistaken. All
the confidence I have reposed in you, I would have given as readily to
your father, if I thought he could have understood me. I am in this happy
family as much secluded from intelligent listeners as Sancho in the
Sierra Morena, and when opportunity offers, I must speak or die. I assure
you I would not have told you a word of all this curious intelligence,
had I cared a pin who knew it or knew it not."
"It is very cruel in you, Miss Vernon, to take away all particular marks
of favour from your communications, but I must receive them on your own
terms.--You have not included Mr. Rashleigh Osbaldistone in your domestic
She shrunk, I thought, at this remark, and hastily answered, in a much
lower tone, "Not a word of Rashleigh! His ears are so acute when his
selfishness is interested, that the sounds would reach him even through
the mass of Thorncliff's person, stuffed as it is with beef,
venison-pasty, and pudding."
"Yes," I replied; "but peeping past the living screen which divides us,
before I put the question, I perceived that Mr. Rashleigh's chair was
empty--he has left the table."
"I would not have you be too sure of that," Miss Vernon replied. "Take my
advice, and when you speak of Rashleigh, get up to the top of
Otterscope-hill, where you can see for twenty miles round you in every
direction--stand on the very peak, and speak in whispers; and, after all,
don't be too sure that the bird of the air will not carry the matter,
Rashleigh has been my tutor for four years; we are mutually tired of each
other, and we shall heartily rejoice at our approaching separation."
"Mr. Rashleigh leaves Osbaldistone Hall, then?"
"Yes, in a few days;--did you not know that?--your father must keep his
resolutions much more secret than Sir Hildebrand. Why, when my uncle was
informed that you were to be his guest for some time, and that your
father desired to have one of his hopeful sons to fill up the lucrative
situation in his counting-house which was vacant by your obstinacy, Mr.
Francis, the good knight held a "cour ple'nie're" of all his family,
including the butler, housekeeper, and gamekeeper. This reverend assembly
of the peers and household officers of Osbaldistone Hall was not
convoked, as you may suppose, to elect your substitute, because, as
Rashleigh alone possessed more arithmetic than was necessary to calculate
the odds on a fighting cock, none but he could be supposed qualified for
the situation. But some solemn sanction was necessary for transforming
Rashleigh's destination from starving as a Catholic priest to thriving as
a wealthy banker; and it was not without some reluctance that the
acquiescence of the assembly was obtained to such an act of degradation."
"I can conceive the scruples--but how were they got over?"
"By the general wish, I believe, to get Rashleigh out of the house,"
replied Miss Vernon. "Although youngest of the family, he has somehow or
other got the entire management of all the others; and every one is
sensible of the subjection, though they cannot shake it off. If any one
opposes him, he is sure to rue having done so before the year goes about;
and if you do him a very important service, you may rue it still more."
"At that rate," answered I, smiling, "I should look about me; for I have
been the cause, however unintentionally, of his change of situation."
"Yes; and whether he regards it as an advantage or disadvantage, he will
owe you a grudge for it--But here comes cheese, radishes, and a bumper to
church and king, the hint for chaplains and ladies to disappear; and I,
the sole representative of womanhood at Osbaldistone Hall, retreat, as in
She vanished as she spoke, leaving me in astonishment at the mingled
character of shrewdness, audacity, and frankness, which her conversation
displayed. I despair conveying to you the least idea of her manner,
although I have, as nearly as I can remember, imitated her language. In
fact, there was a mixture of untaught simplicity, as well as native
shrewdness and haughty boldness, in her manner, and all were modified and
recommended by the play of the most beautiful features I had ever beheld.
It is not to be thought that, however strange and uncommon I might think
her liberal and unreserved communications, a young man of two-and-twenty
was likely to be severely critical on a beautiful girl of eighteen, for
not observing a proper distance towards him. On the contrary, I was
equally diverted and flattered by Miss Vernon's confidence, and that
notwithstanding her declaration of its being conferred on me solely
because I was the first auditor who occurred, of intelligence enough to
comprehend it. With the presumption of my age, certainly not diminished
by my residence in France, I imagined that well-formed features, and a
handsome person, both which I conceived myself to possess, were not
unsuitable qualifications for the confidant of a young beauty. My vanity
thus enlisted in Miss Vernon's behalf, I was far from judging her with
severity, merely for a frankness which I supposed was in some degree
justified by my own personal merit; and the feelings of partiality, which
her beauty, and the singularity of her situation, were of themselves
calculated to excite, were enhanced by my opinion of her penetration and
judgment in her choice of a friend.
After Miss Vernon quitted the apartment, the bottle circulated, or rather
flew, around the table in unceasing revolution. My foreign education had
given me a distaste to intemperance, then and yet too common a vice among
my countrymen. The conversation which seasoned such orgies was as little
to my taste, and if anything could render it more disgusting, it was the
relationship of the company. I therefore seized a lucky opportunity, and
made my escape through a side door, leading I knew not whither, rather
than endure any longer the sight of father and sons practising the same
degrading intemperance, and holding the same coarse and disgusting
conversation. I was pursued, of course, as I had expected, to be
reclaimed by force, as a deserter from the shrine of Bacchus. When I
heard the whoop and hollo, and the tramp of the heavy boots of my
pursuers on the winding stair which I was descending, I plainly foresaw I
should be overtaken unless I could get into the open air. I therefore
threw open a casement in the staircase, which looked into an
old-fashioned garden, and as the height did not exceed six feet, I jumped
out without hesitation, and soon heard far behind the "hey whoop! stole
away! stole away!" of my baffled pursuers. I ran down one alley, walked
fast up another; and then, conceiving myself out of all danger of
pursuit, I slackened my pace into a quiet stroll, enjoying the cool air
which the heat of the wine I had been obliged to swallow, as well as that
of my rapid retreat, rendered doubly grateful.
As I sauntered on, I found the gardener hard at his evening employment,
and saluted him, as I paused to look at his work.
"Good even, my friend."
"Gude e'en--gude e'en t'ye," answered the man, without looking up, and in
a tone which at once indicated his northern extraction.
"Fine weather for your work, my friend."
"It's no that muckle to be compleened o'," answered the man, with that
limited degree of praise which gardeners and farmers usually bestow on
the very best weather. Then raising his head, as if to see who spoke to
him, he touched his Scotch bonnet with an air of respect, as he observed,
"Eh, gude safe us!--it's a sight for sair een, to see a gold-laced
jeistiecor in the Ha'garden sae late at e'en."
"A gold-laced what, my good friend?"
"Ou, a jeistiecor*--that's a jacket like your ain, there. They
* Perhaps from the French "Juste-au-corps."
hae other things to do wi' them up yonder--unbuttoning them to make room
for the beef and the bag-puddings, and the claret-wine, nae doubt--that's
the ordinary for evening lecture on this side the border."
"There's no such plenty of good cheer in your country, my good friend," I
replied, "as to tempt you to sit so late at it."
"Hout, sir, ye ken little about Scotland; it's no for want of gude
vivers--the best of fish, flesh, and fowl hae we, by sybos, ingans,
turneeps, and other garden fruit. But we hae mense and discretion, and
are moderate of our mouths;--but here, frae the kitchen to the ha', it's
fill and fetch mair, frae the tae end of the four-and-twenty till the
tother. Even their fast days--they ca' it fasting when they hae the best
o' sea-fish frae Hartlepool and Sunderland by land carriage, forbye
trouts, grilses, salmon, and a' the lave o't, and so they make their very
fasting a kind of luxury and abomination; and then the awfu' masses and
matins of the puir deceived souls--But I shouldna speak about them, for
your honour will be a Roman, I'se warrant, like the lave."
"Not I, my friend; I was bred an English presbyterian, or dissenter."
"The right hand of fellowship to your honour, then," quoth the gardener,
with as much alacrity as his hard features were capable of expressing,
and, as if to show that his good-will did not rest on words, he plucked
forth a huge horn snuff-box, or mull, as he called it, and proffered a
pinch with a most fraternal grin.
Having accepted his courtesy, I asked him if he had been long a domestic
at Osbaldistone Hall.
"I have been fighting with wild beasts at Ephesus," said he, looking
towards the building, "for the best part of these four-and-twenty years,
as sure as my name's Andrew Fairservice."
"But, my excellent friend, Andrew Fairservice, if your religion and your
temperance are so much offended by Roman rituals and southern
hospitality, it seems to me that you must have been putting yourself to
an unnecessary penance all this while, and that you might have found a
service where they eat less, and are more orthodox in their worship. I
dare say it cannot be want of skill which prevented your being placed
more to your satisfaction."
"It disna become me to speak to the point of my qualifications," said
Andrew, looking round him with great complacency; "but nae doubt I should
understand my trade of horticulture, seeing I was bred in the parish of
Dreepdaily, where they raise lang-kale under glass, and force the early
nettles for their spring kale. And, to speak truth, I hae been flitting
every term these four-and-twenty years; but when the time comes, there's
aye something to saw that I would like to see sawn,--or something to maw
that I would like to see mawn,--or something to ripe that I would like to
see ripen,--and sae I e'en daiker on wi' the family frae year's end to
year's end. And I wad say for certain, that I am gaun to quit at
Cannlemas, only I was just as positive on it twenty years syne, and I
find mysell still turning up the mouls here, for a' that. Forbye that, to
tell your honour the evendown truth, there's nae better place ever
offered to Andrew. But if your honour wad wush me to ony place where I
wad hear pure doctrine, and hae a free cow's grass, and a cot, and a
yard, and mair than ten punds of annual fee, and where there's nae leddy
about the town to count the apples, I'se hold mysell muckle indebted
"Bravo, Andrew! I perceive you'll lose no preferment for want of asking
"I canna see what for I should," replied Andrew; "it's no a generation to
wait till ane's worth's discovered, I trow."
"But you are no friend, I observe, to the ladies."
"Na, by my troth, I keep up the first gardener's quarrel to them. They're
fasheous bargains--aye crying for apricocks, pears, plums, and apples,
summer and winter, without distinction o' seasons; but we hae nae slices
o' the spare rib here, be praised for't! except auld Martha, and she's
weel eneugh pleased wi' the freedom o' the berry-bushes to her sister's
weans, when they come to drink tea in a holiday in the housekeeper's
room, and wi' a wheen codlings now and then for her ain private supper."
"You forget your young mistress."
"What mistress do I forget?--whae's that?"
"Your young mistress, Miss Vernon."
"What! the lassie Vernon?--She's nae mistress o' mine, man. I wish she
was her ain mistress; and I wish she mayna be some other body's mistress
or it's lang--She's a wild slip that."
"Indeed!" said I, more interested than I cared to own to myself, or to
show to the fellow--"why, Andrew, you know all the secrets of this
"If I ken them, I can keep them," said Andrew; "they winna work in my
wame like harm in a barrel, I'se warrant ye. Miss Die is--but it's
neither beef nor brose o' mine."
And he began to dig with a great semblance of assiduity.
"What is Miss Vernon, Andrew? I am a friend of the family, and should
like to know."
"Other than a gude ane, I'm fearing," said Andrew, closing one eye hard,
and shaking his head with a grave and mysterious look--"something
glee'd--your honour understands me?"
"I cannot say I do," said I, "Andrew; but I should like to hear you
explain yourself;" and therewithal I slipped a crown-piece into Andrew's
horn-hard hand. The touch of the silver made him grin a ghastly smile, as
he nodded slowly, and thrust it into his breeches pocket; and then, like
a man who well understood that there was value to be returned, stood up,
and rested his arms on his spade, with his features composed into the
most important gravity, as for some serious communication.
"Ye maun ken, then, young gentleman, since it imports you to know, that
Miss Vernon is"--
Here breaking off, he sucked in both his cheeks, till his lantern jaws
and long chin assumed the appearance of a pair of nut-crackers; winked
hard once more, frowned, shook his head, and seemed to think his
physiognomy had completed the information which his tongue had not fully
"Good God!" said I--"so young, so beautiful, so early lost!"
"Troth ye may say sae--she's in a manner lost, body and saul; forby being
a Papist, I'se uphaud her for"--and his northern caution prevailed, and
he was again silent.
"For what, sir?" said I sternly. "I insist on knowing the plain meaning
of all this."
"On, just for the bitterest Jacobite in the haill shire."
"Pshaw! a Jacobite?--is that all?"
Andrew looked at me with some astonishment, at hearing his information
treated so lightly; and then muttering, "Aweel, it's the warst thing I
ken aboot the lassie, howsoe'er," he resumed his spade, like the king of
the Vandals, in Marmontel's late novel.
"Bardolph."--The sheriff, with a monstrous watch, is at the door.
Henry IV. "First Part."
I found out with some difficulty the apartment which was destined for my
accommodation; and having secured myself the necessary good-will and
attention from my uncle's domestics, by using the means they were most
capable of comprehending, I secluded myself there for the remainder of
the evening, conjecturing, from the fair way in which I had left my new
relatives, as well as from the distant noise which continued to echo from
the stone-hall (as their banqueting-room was called), that they were not
likely to be fitting company for a sober man.
"What could my father mean by sending me to be an inmate in this strange
family?" was my first and most natural reflection. My uncle, it was
plain, received me as one who was to make some stay with him, and his
rude hospitality rendered him as indifferent as King Hal to the number of
those who fed at his cost. But it was plain my presence or absence would
be of as little importance in his eyes as that of one of his blue-coated
serving-men. My cousins were mere cubs, in whose company I might, if I
liked it, unlearn whatever decent manners, or elegant accomplishments, I
had acquired, but where I could attain no information beyond what
regarded worming dogs, rowelling horses, and following foxes. I could
only imagine one reason, which was probably the true one. My father
considered the life which was led at Osbaldistone Hall as the natural and
inevitable pursuits of all country gentlemen, and he was desirous, by
giving me an opportunity of seeing that with which he knew I should be
disgusted, to reconcile me, if possible, to take an active share in his
own business. In the meantime, he would take Rashleigh Osbaldistone into
the counting-house. But he had an hundred modes of providing for him, and
that advantageously, whenever he chose to get rid of him. So that,
although I did feel a certain qualm of conscience at having been the
means of introducing Rashleigh, being such as he was described by Miss
Vernon, into my father's business--perhaps into his confidence--I subdued
it by the reflection that my father was complete master of his own
affairs--a man not to be imposed upon, or influenced by any one--and that
all I knew to the young gentleman's prejudice was through the medium of a
singular and giddy girl, whose communications were made with an
injudicious frankness, which might warrant me in supposing her
conclusions had been hastily or inaccurately formed. Then my mind
naturally turned to Miss Vernon herself; her extreme beauty; her very
peculiar situation, relying solely upon her reflections, and her own
spirit, for guidance and protection; and her whole character offering
that variety and spirit which piques our curiosity, and engages our
attention in spite of ourselves. I had sense enough to consider the
neighbourhood of this singular young lady, and the chance of our being
thrown into very close and frequent intercourse, as adding to the
dangers, while it relieved the dulness, of Osbaldistone Hall; but I could
not, with the fullest exertion of my prudence, prevail upon myself to
regret excessively this new and particular hazard to which I was to be
exposed. This scruple I also settled as young men settle most
difficulties of the kind--I would be very cautious, always on my guard,
consider Miss Vernon rather as a companion than an intimate; and all
would do well enough. With these reflections I fell asleep, Miss Vernon,
of course, forming the last subject of my contemplation.
Whether I dreamed of her or not, I cannot satisfy you, for I was tired
and slept soundly. But she was the first person I thought of in the
morning, when waked at dawn by the cheerful notes of the hunting horn. To
start up, and direct my horse to be saddled, was my first movement; and
in a few minutes I was in the court-yard, where men, dogs, and horses,
were in full preparation. My uncle, who, perhaps, was not entitled to
expect a very alert sportsman in his nephew, bred as he had been in
foreign parts, seemed rather surprised to see me, and I thought his
morning salutation wanted something of the hearty and hospitable tone
which distinguished his first welcome. "Art there, lad?--ay, youth's aye
rathe--but look to thysell--mind the old song, lad--
He that gallops his horse on Blackstone edge
May chance to catch a fall."
I believe there are few young men, and those very sturdy moralists, who
would not rather be taxed with some moral peccadillo than with want of
knowledge in horsemanship. As I was by no means deficient either in skill
or courage, I resented my uncle's insinuation accordingly, and assured
him he would find me up with the hounds.
"I doubtna, lad," was his reply; "thou'rt a rank rider, I'se warrant
thee--but take heed. Thy father sent thee here to me to be bitted, and I
doubt I must ride thee on the curb, or we'll hae some one to ride thee on
the halter, if I takena the better heed."
As this speech was totally unintelligible to me--as, besides, it did not
seem to be delivered for my use, or benefit, but was spoken as it were
aside, and as if expressing aloud something which was passing through the
mind of my much-honoured uncle, I concluded it must either refer to my
desertion of the bottle on the preceding evening, or that my uncle's
morning hours being a little discomposed by the revels of the night
before, his temper had suffered in proportion. I only made the passing
reflection, that if he played the ungracious landlord, I would remain the
shorter while his guest, and then hastened to salute Miss Vernon, who
advanced cordially to meet me. Some show of greeting also passed between
my cousins and me; but as I saw them maliciously bent upon criticising my
dress and accoutrements, from the cap to the stirrup-irons, and sneering
at whatever had a new or foreign appearance, I exempted myself from the
task of paying them much attention; and assuming, in requital of their
grins and whispers, an air of the utmost indifference and contempt, I
attached myself to Miss Vernon, as the only person in the party whom I
could regard as a suitable companion. By her side, therefore, we sallied
forth to the destined cover, which was a dingle or copse on the side of
an extensive common. As we rode thither, I observed to Diana, "that I did
not see my cousin Rashleigh in the field;" to which she replied,--"O
no--he's a mighty hunter, but it's after the fashion of Nimrod, and his
game is man."
The dogs now brushed into the cover, with the appropriate encouragement
from the hunters--all was business, bustle, and activity. My cousins were
soon too much interested in the business of the morning to take any
further notice of me, unless that I overheard Dickon the horse-jockey
whisper to Wilfred the fool--"Look thou, an our French cousin be nat off
a' first burst."
To which Wilfred answered, "Like enow, for he has a queer outlandish
binding on's castor."
Thorncliff, however, who in his rude way seemed not absolutely insensible
to the beauty of his kinswoman, appeared determined to keep us company
more closely than his brothers,--perhaps to watch what passed betwixt
Miss Vernon and me--perhaps to enjoy my expected mishaps in the chase. In
the last particular he was disappointed. After beating in vain for the
greater part of the morning, a fox was at length found, who led us a
chase of two hours, in the course of which, notwithstanding the
ill-omened French binding upon my hat, I sustained my character as a
horseman to the admiration of my uncle and Miss Vernon, and the secret
disappointment of those who expected me to disgrace it. Reynard, however,
proved too wily for his pursuers, and the hounds were at fault. I could
at this time observe in Miss Vernon's manner an impatience of the close
attendance which we received from Thorncliff Osbaldistone; and, as that
active-spirited young lady never hesitated at taking the readiest means
to gratify any wish of the moment, she said to him, in a tone of
reproach--"I wonder, Thornie, what keeps you dangling at my horse's
crupper all this morning, when you know the earths above Woolverton-mill
are not stopt."
"I know no such an thing then, Miss Die, for the miller swore himself as
black as night, that he stopt them at twelve o'clock midnight that was."
"O fie upon you, Thornie! would you trust to a miller's word?--and these
earths, too, where we lost the fox three times this season! and you on
your grey mare, that can gallop there and back in ten minutes!"
"Well, Miss Die, I'se go to Woolverton then, and if the earths are not
stopt, I'se raddle Dick the miller's bones for him."
"Do, my dear Thornie; horsewhip the rascal to purpose--via--fly away, and
about it;"--Thorncliff went off at the gallop--"or get horsewhipt
yourself, which will serve my purpose just as well.--I must teach them
all discipline and obedience to the word of command. I am raising a
regiment, you must know. Thornie shall be my sergeant-major, Dickon my
riding-master, and Wilfred, with his deep dub-a-dub tones, that speak but
three syllables at a time, my kettle-drummer."
"Rashleigh shall be my scout-master." "And will you find no employment
for me, most lovely colonel?"
"You shall have the choice of being pay-master, or plunder-master, to the
corps. But see how the dogs puzzle about there. Come, Mr. Frank, the
scent's cold; they won't recover it there this while; follow me, I have a
view to show you."
And in fact, she cantered up to the top of a gentle hill, commanding an
extensive prospect. Casting her eyes around, to see that no one was near
us, she drew up her horse beneath a few birch-trees, which screened us
from the rest of the hunting-field--"Do you see yon peaked, brown, heathy
hill, having something like a whitish speck upon the side?"
"Terminating that long ridge of broken moorish uplands?--I see it
"That whitish speck is a rock called Hawkesmore-crag, and Hawkesmore-crag
is in Scotland."
"Indeed! I did not think we had been so near Scotland."
"It is so, I assure you, and your horse will carry you there in two
"I shall hardly give him the trouble; why, the distance must be eighteen
miles as the crow flies."
"You may have my mare, if you think her less blown--I say, that in two
hours you may be in Scotland."
"And I say, that I have so little desire to be there, that if my horse's
head were over the Border, I would not give his tail the trouble of
following. What should I do in Scotland?"
"Provide for your safety, if I must speak plainly. Do you understand me
now, Mr. Frank?"
"Not a whit; you are more and more oracular."
"Then, on my word, you either mistrust me most unjustly, and are a better
dissembler than Rashleigh Osbaldistone himself, or you know nothing of
what is imputed to you; and then no wonder you stare at me in that grave
manner, which I can scarce see without laughing."
"Upon my word of honour, Miss Vernon," said I, with an impatient feeling
of her childish disposition to mirth, "I have not the most distant
conception of what you mean. I am happy to afford you any subject of
amusement, but I am quite ignorant in what it consists."
"Nay, there's no sound jest after all," said the young lady, composing
herself; "only one looks so very ridiculous when he is fairly perplexed.
But the matter is serious enough. Do you know one Moray, or Morris, or
some such name?"
"Not that I can at present recollect."
"Think a moment. Did you not lately travel with somebody of such a name?"
"The only man with whom I travelled for any length of time was a fellow
whose soul seemed to lie in his portmanteau."
"Then it was like the soul of the licentiate Pedro Garcias, which lay
among the ducats in his leathern purse. That man has been robbed, and he
has lodged an information against you, as connected with the violence
done to him."
"You jest, Miss Vernon!"
"I do not, I assure you--the thing is an absolute fact."
"And do you," said I, with strong indignation, which I did not attempt to
suppress, "do you suppose me capable of meriting such a charge?"
"You would call me out for it, I suppose, had I the advantage of being a
man--You may do so as it is, if you like it--I can shoot flying, as well
as leap a five-barred gate."
"And are colonel of a regiment of horse besides," replied I, reflecting
how idle it was to be angry with her--"But do explain the present jest to
"There's no jest whatever," said Diana; "you are accused of robbing this
man, and my uncle believes it as well as I did."
"Upon my honour, I am greatly obliged to my friends for their good
"Now do not, if you can help it, snort, and stare, and snuff the wind,
and look so exceedingly like a startled horse--There's no such offence as
you suppose--you are not charged with any petty larceny or vulgar
felony--by no means. This fellow was carrying money from Government, both
specie and bills, to pay the troops in the north; and it is said he has
been also robbed of some despatches of great consequence."
"And so it is high treason, then, and not simple robbery, of which I am
"Certainly--which, you know, has been in all ages accounted the crime of
a gentleman. You will find plenty in this country, and one not far from
your elbow, who think it a merit to distress the Hanoverian government by
every means possible."
"Neither my politics nor my morals, Miss Vernon, are of a description so
"I really begin to believe that you are a Presbyterian and Hanoverian in
good earnest. But what do you propose to do?"
"Instantly to refute this atrocious calumny.--Before whom," I asked, "was
this extraordinary accusation laid."
"Before old Squire Inglewood, who had sufficient unwillingness to receive
it. He sent tidings to my uncle, I suppose, that he might smuggle you
away into Scotland, out of reach of the warrant. But my uncle is sensible
that his religion and old predilections render him obnoxious to
Government, and that, were he caught playing booty, he would be disarmed,
and probably dismounted (which would be the worse evil of the two), as a
Jacobite, papist, and suspected person."*
* On occasions of public alarm, in the beginning of the eighteenth
century, the horses of the Catholics were often seized upon, as they were
always supposed to be on the eve of rising in rebellion.
"I can conceive that, sooner than lose his hunters, he would give up his
"His nephew, nieces, sons--daughters, if he had them, and whole
generation," said Diana;--"therefore trust not to him, even for a single
moment, but make the best of your way before they can serve the warrant."
"That I shall certainly do; but it shall be to the house of this Squire
Inglewood--Which way does it lie?"
"About five miles off, in the low ground, behind yonder plantations--you
may see the tower of the clock-house."
"I will be there in a few minutes," said I, putting my horse in motion.
"And I will go with you, and show you the way," said Diana, putting her
palfrey also to the trot.
"Do not think of it, Miss Vernon," I replied. "It is not--permit me the
freedom of a friend--it is not proper, scarcely even delicate, in you to
go with me on such an errand as I am now upon."
"I understand your meaning," said Miss Vernon, a slight blush crossing
her haughty brow;--"it is plainly spoken;" and after a moment's pause she
added, "and I believe kindly meant."
"It is indeed, Miss Vernon. Can you think me insensible of the interest
you show me, or ungrateful for it?" said I, with even more earnestness
than I could have wished to express. "Yours is meant for true kindness,
shown best at the hour of need. But I must not, for your own sake--for
the chance of misconstruction--suffer you to pursue the dictates of your
generosity; this is so public an occasion--it is almost like venturing
into an open court of justice."
"And if it were not almost, but altogether entering into an open court of
justice, do you think I would not go there if I thought it right, and
wished to protect a friend? You have no one to stand by you--you are a
stranger; and here, in the outskirts of the kingdom, country justices do
odd things. My uncle has no desire to embroil himself in your affair;
Rashleigh is absent, and were he here, there is no knowing which side he
might take; the rest are all more stupid and brutal one than another. I
will go with you, and I do not fear being able to serve you. I am no fine
lady, to be terrified to death with law-books, hard words, or big wigs."
"But my dear Miss Vernon"--
"But my dear Mr. Francis, be patient and quiet, and let me take my own
way; for when I take the bit between my teeth, there is no bridle will
Flattered with the interest so lovely a creature seemed to take in my
fate, yet vexed at the ridiculous appearance I should make, by carrying a
girl of eighteen along with me as an advocate, and seriously concerned
for the misconstruction to which her motives might be exposed, I
endeavoured to combat her resolution to accompany me to Squire
Inglewood's. The self-willed girl told me roundly, that my dissuasions
were absolutely in vain; that she was a true Vernon, whom no
consideration, not even that of being able to do but little to assist
him, should induce to abandon a friend in distress; and that all I could
say on the subject might be very well for pretty, well-educated,
well-behaved misses from a town boarding-school, but did not apply to
her, who was accustomed to mind nobody's opinion but her own.
While she spoke thus, we were advancing hastily towards Inglewood Place,
while, as if to divert me from the task of further remonstrance, she drew
a ludicrous picture of the magistrate and his clerk.--Inglewood
was--according to her description--a white-washed Jacobite; that is, one
who, having been long a non-juror, like most of the other gentlemen of the
country, had lately qualified himself to act as a justice, by taking the
oaths to Government. "He had done so," she said, "in compliance with the
urgent request of most of his brother squires, who saw, with regret, that
the palladium of silvan sport, the game-laws, were likely to fall into
disuse for want of a magistrate who would enforce them; the nearest
acting justice being the Mayor of Newcastle, and he, as being rather
inclined to the consumption of the game when properly dressed, than to
its preservation when alive, was more partial, of course, to the cause of
the poacher than of the sportsman. Resolving, therefore, that it was
expedient some one of their number should sacrifice the scruples of
Jacobitical loyalty to the good of the community, the Northumbrian
country gentlemen imposed the duty on Inglewood, who, being very inert in
most of his feelings and sentiments, might, they thought, comply with any
political creed without much repugnance. Having thus procured the body of
justice, they proceeded," continued Miss Vernon, "to attach to it a
clerk, by way of soul, to direct and animate its movements. Accordingly
they got a sharp Newcastle attorney, called Jobson, who, to vary my
metaphor, finds it a good thing enough to retail justice at the sign of
Squire Inglewood, and, as his own emoluments depend on the quantity of
business which he transacts, he hooks in his principal for a great deal
more employment in the justice line than the honest squire had ever
bargained for; so that no apple-wife within the circuit of ten miles can
settle her account with a costermonger without an audience of the
reluctant Justice and his alert clerk, Mr. Joseph Jobson. But the most
ridiculous scenes occur when affairs come before him, like our business
of to-day, having any colouring of politics. Mr. Joseph Jobson (for
which, no doubt, he has his own very sufficient reasons) is a prodigious
zealot for the Protestant religion, and a great friend to the present
establishment in church and state. Now, his principal, retaining a sort
of instinctive attachment to the opinions which he professed openly until
he relaxed his political creed with the patriotic view of enforcing the
law against unauthorized destroyers of black-game, grouse, partridges,
and hares, is peculiarly embarrassed when the zeal of his assistant
involves him in judicial proceedings connected with his earlier faith;
and, instead of seconding his zeal, he seldom fails to oppose to it a
double dose of indolence and lack of exertion. And this inactivity does
not by any means arise from actual stupidity. On the contrary, for one
whose principal delight is in eating and drinking, he is an alert,
joyous, and lively old soul, which makes his assumed dulness the more
diverting. So you may see Jobson on such occasions, like a bit of a
broken down blood-tit condemned to drag an overloaded cart, puffing,
strutting, and spluttering, to get the Justice put in motion, while,
though the wheels groan, creak, and revolve slowly, the great and
preponderating weight of the vehicle fairly frustrates the efforts of the
willing quadruped, and prevents its being brought into a state of actual
progression. Nay more, the unfortunate pony, I understand, has been heard
to complain that this same car of justice, which he finds it so hard to
put in motion on some occasions, can on others run fast enough down hill
of its own accord, dragging his reluctant self backwards along with it,
when anything can be done of service to Squire Inglewood's quondam
friends. And then Mr. Jobson talks big about reporting his principal to
the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if it were not for his
particular regard and friendship for Mr. Inglewood and his family."
As Miss Vernon concluded this whimsical description, we found ourselves
in front of Inglewood Place, a handsome, though old-fashioned building.
which showed the consequence of the family.
"Sir," quoth the Lawyer, "not to flatter ye,
You have as good and fair a battery
As heart could wish, and need not shame
The proudest man alive to claim."
Our horses were taken by a servant in Sir Hildebrand's livery, whom we
found in the court-yard, and we entered the house. In the entrance-hall I
was somewhat surprised, and my fair companion still more so, when we met
Rashleigh Osbaldistone, who could not help showing equal wonder at our
"Rashleigh," said Miss Vernon, without giving him time to ask any
question, "you have heard of Mr. Francis Osbaldistone's affair, and you
have been talking to the Justice about it?"
"Certainly," said Rashleigh, composedly--"it has been my business here.--
I have been endeavouring," he said, with a bow to me, "to render my
cousin what service I can. But I am sorry to meet him here."
"As a friend and relation, Mr. Osbaldistone, you ought to have been sorry
to have met me anywhere else, at a time when the charge of my reputation
required me to be on this spot as soon as possible."
"True; but judging from what my father said, I should have supposed a
short retreat into Scotland--just till matters should be smoothed over in
a quiet way"--
I answered with warmth, "That I had no prudential measures to observe,
and desired to have nothing smoothed over;--on the contrary, I was come
to inquire into a rascally calumny, which I was determined to probe to
"Mr. Francis Osbaldistone is an innocent man, Rashleigh," said Miss
Vernon, "and he demands an investigation of the charge against him, and I
intend to support him in it."
"You do, my pretty cousin?--I should think, now, Mr. Francis Osbaldistone
was likely to be as effectually, and rather more delicately, supported by
my presence than by yours."
"Oh, certainly; but two heads are better than one, you know."
"Especially such a head as yours, my pretty Die," advancing and taking
her hand with a familiar fondness, which made me think him fifty times
uglier than nature had made him. She led him, however, a few steps aside;
they conversed in an under voice, and she appeared to insist upon some
request which he was unwilling or unable to comply with. I never saw so
strong a contrast betwixt the expression of two faces. Miss Vernon's,
from being earnest, became angry; her eyes and cheeks became more
animated, her colour mounted, she clenched her little hand, and stamping
on the ground with her tiny foot, seemed to listen with a mixture of
contempt and indignation to the apologies, which, from his look of civil
deference, his composed and respectful smile, his body rather drawing
back than advanced, and other signs of look and person, I concluded him
to be pouring out at her feet. At length she flung away from him, with "I
"will" have it so."
"It is not in my power--there is no possibility of it.--Would you think
it, Mr. Osbaldistone?" said he, addressing me--
"You are not mad?" said she, interrupting him.
"Would you think it?" said he, without attending to her hint--"Miss
Vernon insists, not only that I know your innocence (of which, indeed, it
is impossible for any one to be more convinced), but that I must also be
acquainted with the real perpetrators of the outrage on this fellow--if
indeed such an outrage has been committed. Is this reasonable, Mr.
"I will not allow any appeal to Mr. Osbaldistone, Rashleigh," said the
young lady; "he does not know, as I do, the incredible extent and
accuracy of your information on all points."
"As I am a gentleman, you do me more honour than I deserve."
"Justice, Rashleigh--only justice:--and it is only justice which I expect
at your hands."
"You are a tyrant, Diana," he answered, with a sort of sigh--"a
capricious tyrant, and rule your friends with a rod of iron. Still,
however, it shall be as you desire. But you ought not to be here--you
know you ought not;--you must return with me."
Then turning from Diana, who seemed to stand undecided, he came up to me
in the most friendly manner, and said, "Do not doubt my interest in what
regards you, Mr. Osbaldistone. If I leave you just at this moment, it is
only to act for your advantage. But you must use your influence with your
cousin to return; her presence cannot serve you, and must prejudice
"I assure you, sir," I replied, "you cannot be more convinced of this
than I; I have urged Miss Vernon's return as anxiously as she would
permit me to do."
"I have thought on it," said Miss Vernon after a pause, "and I will not
go till I see you safe out of the hands of the Philistines. Cousin
Rashleigh, I dare say, means well; but he and I know each other well.
Rashleigh, I will not go;--I know," she added, in a more soothing tone,
"my being here will give you more motive for speed and exertion."
"Stay then, rash, obstinate girl," said Rashleigh; "you know but too well
to whom you trust;" and hastening out of the hall, we heard his horse's
feet a minute afterwards in rapid motion.
"Thank Heaven he is gone!" said Diana. "And now let us seek out the
"Had we not better call a servant?"
"Oh, by no means; I know the way to his den--we must burst on him
I did follow her accordingly, as she tripped up a few gloomy steps,
traversed a twilight passage, and entered a sort of ante-room, hung round
with old maps, architectural elevations, and genealogical trees. A pair
of folding-doors opened from this into Mr. Inglewood's sitting apartment,
from which was heard the fag-end of an old ditty, chanted by a voice
which had been in its day fit for a jolly bottle-song.
"O, in Skipton-in-Craven
Is never a haven,
But many a day foul weather;
And he that would say
A pretty girl nay,
I wish for his cravat a tether."
"Heyday!" said Miss Vernon, "the genial Justice must have dined
already--I did not think it had been so late."
It was even so. Mr. Inglewood's appetite having been sharpened by his
official investigations, he had antedated his meridian repast, having
dined at twelve instead of one o'clock, then the general dining hour in
England. The various occurrences of the morning occasioned our arriving
some time after this hour, to the Justice the most important of the
four-and-twenty, and he had not neglected the interval.
"Stay you here," said Diana. "I know the house, and I will call a
servant; your sudden appearance might startle the old gentleman even to
choking;" and she escaped from me, leaving me uncertain whether I ought
to advance or retreat. It was impossible for me not to hear some part of
what passed within the dinner apartment, and particularly several
apologies for declining to sing, expressed in a dejected croaking voice,
the tones of which, I conceived, were not entirely new to me.
"Not sing, sir? by our Lady! but you must--What! you have cracked my
silver-mounted cocoa-nut of sack, and tell me that you cannot sing!--Sir,
sack will make a cat sing, and speak too; so up with a merry stave, or
trundle yourself out of my doors!--Do you think you are to take up all my
valuable time with your d-d declarations, and then tell me you cannot
"Your worship is perfectly in rule," said another voice, which, from its
pert conceited accent, might be that of the cleric, "and the party must
be conformable; he hath "canet" written on his face in court hand."
"Up with it then," said the Justice, "or by St. Christopher, you shall
crack the cocoa-nut full of salt-and-water, according to the statute for
such effect made and provided."
Thus exhorted and threatened, my quondam fellow-traveller, for I could no
longer doubt that he was the recusant in question, uplifted, with a voice
similar to that of a criminal singing his last psalm on the scaffold, a
most doleful stave to the following effect:--
"Good people all, I pray give ear,
A woeful story you shall hear,
'Tis of a robber as stout as ever
Bade a true man stand and deliver.
With his foodle doo fa loodle loo.
"This knave, most worthy of a cord,
Being armed with pistol and with sword,
'Twixt Kensington and Brentford then
Did boldly stop six honest men.
With his foodle doo, etc.
"These honest men did at Brentford dine,
Having drank each man his pint of wine,
When this bold thief, with many curses,
Did say, You dogs, your lives or purses.
With his foodle doo," etc.
I question if the honest men, whose misfortune is commemorated in this
pathetic ditty, were more startled at the appearance of the bold thief
than the songster was at mine; for, tired of waiting for some one to
announce me, and finding my situation as a listener rather awkward, I
presented myself to the company just as my friend Mr. Morris, for such,
it seems, was his name, was uplifting the fifth stave of his doleful
ballad. The high tone with which the tune started died away in a quaver
of consternation on finding himself so near one whose character he
supposed to be little less suspicious than that of the hero of his
madrigal, and he remained silent, with a mouth gaping as if I had brought
the Gorgon's head in my hand.
The Justice, whose eyes had closed under the influence of the somniferous
lullaby of the song, started up in his chair as it suddenly ceased, and
stared with wonder at the unexpected addition which the company had
received while his organs of sight were in abeyance. The clerk, as I
conjectured him to be from his appearance, was also commoved; for,
sitting opposite to Mr. Morris, that honest gentleman's terror
communicated itself to him, though he wotted not why.
[Illustration: Frank at Judge Inglewood's--104]
I broke the silence of surprise occasioned by my abrupt entrance.--"My
name, Mr. Inglewood, is Francis Osbaldistone; I understand that some
scoundrel has brought a complaint before you, charging me with being
concerned in a loss which he says he has sustained."
"Sir," said the Justice, somewhat peevishly, "these are matters I never
enter upon after dinner;--there is a time for everything, and a justice
of peace must eat as well as other folks."
The goodly person of Mr. Inglewood, by the way, seemed by no means to
have suffered by any fasts, whether in the service of the law or of
"I beg pardon for an ill-timed visit, sir; but as my reputation is
concerned, and as the dinner appears to be concluded"--
"It is not concluded, sir," replied the magistrate; "man requires
digestion as well as food, and I protest I cannot have benefit from my
victuals unless I am allowed two hours of quiet leisure, intermixed with
harmless mirth, and a moderate circulation of the bottle."
"If your honour will forgive me," said Mr. Jobson, who had produced and
arranged his writing implements in the brief space that our conversation
afforded; "as this is a case of felony, and the gentleman seems something
impatient, the charge is "contra pacem domini regis""--
"D--n "dominie regis!"" said the impatient Justice--"I hope it's no
treason to say so; but it's enough to made one mad to be worried in this
way. Have I a moment of my life quiet for warrants, orders, directions,
acts, bails, bonds, and recognisances?--I pronounce to you, Mr. Jobson,
that I shall send you and the justiceship to the devil one of these
"Your honour will consider the dignity of the office one of the quorum
and custos rotulorum, an office of which Sir Edward Coke wisely saith,
The whole Christian world hath not the like of it, so it be duly
"Well," said the Justice, partly reconciled by this eulogium on the
dignity of his situation, and gulping down the rest of his
dissatisfaction in a huge bumper of claret, "let us to this gear then,
and get rid of it as fast as we can.--Here you, sir--you, Morris--you,
knight of the sorrowful countenance--is this Mr. Francis Osbaldistone the
gentleman whom you charge with being art and part of felony?"
"I, sir?" replied Morris, whose scattered wits had hardly yet reassembled
themselves; "I charge nothing--I say nothing against the gentleman,"
"Then we dismiss your complaint, sir, that's all, and a good riddance--
Push about the bottle--Mr. Osbaldistone, help yourself."
Jobson, however, was determined that Morris should not back out of the
scrape so easily. "What do you mean, Mr. Morris?--Here is your own
declaration--the ink scarce dried--and you would retract it in this
"How do I know," whispered the other in a tremulous tone, "how many
rogues are in the house to back him? I have read of such things in
Johnson's Lives of the Highwaymen. I protest the door opens"--
And it did open, and Diana Vernon entered--"You keep fine order here,
Justice--not a servant to be seen or heard of."
"Ah!" said the Justice, starting up with an alacrity which showed that he
was not so engrossed by his devotions to Themis or Comus, as to forget
what was due to beauty--"Ah, ha! Die Vernon, the heath-bell of Cheviot,
and the blossom of the Border, come to see how the old bachelor keeps
house? Art welcome, girl, as flowers in May."
"A fine, open, hospitable house you do keep, Justice, that must be
allowed--not a soul to answer a visitor."
"Ah, the knaves! they reckoned themselves secure of me for a couple of
hours--But why did you not come earlier?--Your cousin Rashleigh dined
here, and ran away like a poltroon after the first bottle was out--But
you have not dined--we'll have something nice and ladylike--sweet and
pretty like yourself, tossed up in a trice."
"I may eat a crust in the ante-room before I set out," answered Miss
Vernon--"I have had a long ride this morning; but I can't stay long,
Justice--I came with my cousin, Frank Osbaldistone, there, and I must
show him the way back again to the Hall, or he'll lose himself in the
"Whew! sits the wind in that quarter?" inquired the Justice--
"She showed him the way, she showed him the way,
She showed him the way to woo.
What! no luck for old fellows, then, my sweet bud of the wilderness?"
"None whatever, Squire Inglewood; but if you will be a good kind Justice,
and despatch young Frank's business, and let us canter home again, I'll
bring my uncle to dine with you next week, and we'll expect merry
"And you shall find them, my pearl of the Tyne--Zookers, lass, I never
envy these young fellows their rides and scampers, unless when you come
across me. But I must not keep you just now, I suppose?--I am quite
satisfied with Mr. Francis Osbaldistone's explanation--here has been some
mistake, which can be cleared at greater leisure."
"Pardon me, sir," said I; "but I have not heard the nature of the
"Yes, sir," said the clerk, who, at the appearance of Miss Vernon, had
given up the matter in despair, but who picked up courage to press
farther investigation on finding himself supported from a quarter whence
assuredly he expected no backing--"Yes, sir, and Dalton saith, That he
who is apprehended as a felon shall not be discharged upon any man's
discretion, but shall be held either to bail or commitment, paying to the
clerk of the peace the usual fees for recognisance or commitment."
The Justice, thus goaded on, gave me at length a few words of
It seems the tricks which I had played to this man Morris had made a
strong impression on his imagination; for I found they had been arrayed
against me in his evidence, with all the exaggerations which a timorous
and heated imagination could suggest. It appeared also, that on the day
he parted from me, he had been stopped on a solitary spot and eased of
his beloved travelling-companion, the portmanteau, by two men, well
mounted and armed, having their faces covered with vizards.
One of them, he conceived, had much of my shape and air, and in a
whispering conversation which took place betwixt the freebooters, he
heard the other apply to him the name of Osbaldistone. The declaration
farther set forth, that upon inquiring into the principles of the family
so named, he, the said declarant, was informed that they were of the
worst description, the family, in all its members, having been Papists
and Jacobites, as he was given to understand by the dissenting clergyman
at whose house he stopped after his rencontre, since the days of William
Upon all and each of these weighty reasons, he charged me with being
accessory to the felony committed upon his person; he, the said
declarant, then travelling in the special employment of Government, and
having charge of certain important papers, and also a large sum in
specie, to be paid over, according to his instructions, to certain
persons of official trust and importance in Scotland.
Having heard this extraordinary accusation, I replied to it, that the
circumstances on which it was founded were such as could warrant no
justice, or magistrate, in any attempt on my personal liberty. I admitted
that I had practised a little upon the terrors of Mr. Morris, while we
travelled together, but in such trifling particulars as could have
excited apprehension in no one who was one whit less timorous and jealous
than himself. But I added, that I had never seen him since we parted, and
if that which he feared had really come upon him, I was in nowise
accessory to an action so unworthy of my character and station in life.
That one of the robbers was called Osbaldistone, or that such a name was
mentioned in the course of the conversation betwixt them, was a trifling
circumstance, to which no weight was due. And concerning the disaffection
alleged against me, I was willing to prove, to the satisfaction of the
Justice, the clerk, and even the witness himself, that I was of the same
persuasion as his friend the dissenting clergyman; had been educated as a
good subject in the principles of the Revolution, and as such now
demanded the personal protection of the laws which had been assured by
that great event.
The Justice fidgeted, took snuff, and seemed considerably embarrassed,
while Mr. Attorney Jobson, with all the volubility of his profession, ran
over the statute of the 34 Edward III., by which justices of the peace
are allowed to arrest all those whom they find by indictment or
suspicion, and to put them into prison. The rogue even turned my own
admissions against me, alleging, "that since I had confessedly, upon my
own showing, assumed the bearing or deportment of a robber or malefactor,
I had voluntarily subjected myself to the suspicions of which I
complained, and brought myself within the compass of the act, having
wilfully clothed my conduct with all the colour and livery of guilt."
I combated both his arguments and his jargon with much indignation and
scorn, and observed, "That I should, if necessary, produce the bail of my
relations, which I conceived could not be refused, without subjecting the
magistrate in a misdemeanour."
"Pardon me, my good sir--pardon me," said the insatiable clerk; "this is
a case in which neither bail nor mainprize can be received, the felon who
is liable to be committed on heavy grounds of suspicion, not being
replevisable under the statute of the 3d of King Edward, there being in
that act an express exception of such as be charged of commandment, or
force, and aid of felony done;" and he hinted that his worship would do
well to remember that such were no way replevisable by common writ, nor
At this period of the conversation a servant entered, and delivered a
letter to Mr. Jobson. He had no sooner run it hastily over, than he
exclaimed, with the air of one who wished to appear much vexed at the
interruption, and felt the consequence attached to a man of multifarious
avocations--"Good God!--why, at this rate, I shall have neither time to
attend to the public concerns nor my own--no rest--no quiet--I wish to
Heaven another gentleman in our line would settle here!"
"God forbid!" said the Justice in a tone of "sotto-voce" deprecation;
"some of us have enough of one of the tribe."
"This is a matter of life and death, if your worship pleases."
"In God's name! no more justice business, I hope," said the alarmed
"No--no," replied Mr. Jobson, very consequentially; "old Gaffer Rutledge
of Grime's-hill is subpoenaed for the next world; he has sent an express
for Dr. Kill-down to put in bail--another for me to arrange his worldly
"Away with you, then," said Mr. Inglewood, hastily; "his may not be a
replevisable case under the statute, you know, or Mr. Justice Death may
not like the doctor for a "main pernor," or bailsman."
"And yet," said Jobson, lingering as he moved towards the door, "if my
presence here be necessary--I could make out the warrant for committal in
a moment, and the constable is below--And you have heard," he said,
lowering his voice, "Mr. Rashleigh's opinion"--the rest was lost in a
The Justice replied aloud, "I tell thee no, man, no--we'll do nought till
thou return, man; 'tis but a four-mile ride--Come, push the bottle, Mr.
Morris--Don't be cast down, Mr. Osbaldistone--And you, my rose of the
wilderness--one cup of claret to refresh the bloom of your cheeks."
Diana started, as if from a reverie, in which she appeared to have been
plunged while we held this discussion. "No, Justice--I should be afraid
of transferring the bloom to a part of my face where it would show to
little advantage; but I will pledge you in a cooler beverage;" and
filling a glass with water, she drank it hastily, while her hurried
manner belied her assumed gaiety.
I had not much leisure to make remarks upon her demeanour, however, being
full of vexation at the interference of fresh obstacles to an instant
examination of the disgraceful and impertinent charge which was brought
against me. But there was no moving the Justice to take the matter up in
absence of his clerk, an incident which gave him apparently as much
pleasure as a holiday to a schoolboy. He persisted in his endeavours to
inspire jollity into a company, the individuals of which, whether
considered with reference to each other, or to their respective
situations, were by no means inclined to mirth. "Come, Master Morris,
you're not the first man that's been robbed, I trow--grieving ne'er
brought back loss, man. And you, Mr. Frank Osbaldistone, are not the
first bully-boy that has said stand to a true man. There was Jack
Winterfield, in my young days, kept the best company in the land--at
horse-races and cock-fights who but he--hand and glove was I with Jack.
Push the bottle, Mr. Morris, it's dry talking--Many quart bumpers have I
cracked, and thrown many a merry main with poor Jack--good family--ready
wit--quick eye--as honest a fellow, barring the deed he died for--we'll
drink to his memory, gentlemen--Poor Jack Winterfield--And since we talk
of him, and of those sort of things, and since that d--d clerk of mine
has taken his gibberish elsewhere, and since we're snug among ourselves,
Mr. Osbaldistone, if you will have my best advice, I would take up this
matter--the law's hard--very severe--hanged poor Jack Winterfield at
York, despite family connections and great interest, all for easing a fat
west-country grazier of the price of a few beasts--Now, here is honest
Mr. Morris, has been frightened, and so forth--D--n it, man, let the poor
fellow have back his portmanteau, and end the frolic at once."
Morris's eyes brightened up at this suggestion, and he began to hesitate
forth an assurance that he thirsted for no man's blood, when I cut the
proposed accommodation short, by resenting the Justice's suggestion as an
insult, that went directly to suppose me guilty of the very crime which I
had come to his house with the express intention of disavowing. We were
in this awkward predicament when a servant, opening the door, announced,
"A strange gentleman to wait upon his honour;" and the party whom he thus
described entered the room without farther ceremony.
[Illustration: Die Vernon at Judge Inglewood's--112]
One of the thieves come back again! I'll stand close,
He dares not wrong me now, so near the house,
And call in vain 'tis, till I see him offer it.
"A stranger!" echoed the Justice--"not upon business, I trust, for I'll
His protestation was cut short by the answer of the man himself. "My
business is of a nature somewhat onerous and particular," said my
acquaintance, Mr. Campbell--for it was he, the very Scotchman whom I had
seen at Northallerton--"and I must solicit your honour to give instant
and heedful consideration to it.--I believe, Mr. Morris," he added,
fixing his eye on that person with a look of peculiar firmness and almost
ferocity--"I believe ye ken brawly what I am--I believe ye cannot have
forgotten what passed at our last meeting on the road?" Morris's jaw
dropped--his countenance became the colour of tallow--his teeth
chattered, and he gave visible signs of the utmost consternation. "Take
heart of grace, man," said Campbell, "and dinna sit clattering your jaws
there like a pair of castanets! I think there can be nae difficulty in
your telling Mr. Justice, that ye have seen me of yore, and ken me to be
a cavalier of fortune, and a man of honour. Ye ken fu' weel ye will be
some time resident in my vicinity, when I may have the power, as I will
possess the inclination, to do you as good a turn."
"Sir--sir--I believe you to be a man of honour, and, as you say, a man of
fortune. Yes, Mr. Inglewood," he added, clearing his voice, "I really
believe this gentleman to be so."
"And what are this gentleman's commands with me?" said the Justice,
somewhat peevishly. "One man introduces another, like the rhymes in the
'house that Jack built,' and I get company without either peace or
"Both shall be yours, sir," answered Campbell, "in a brief period of
time. I come to release your mind from a piece of troublesome duty, not
to make increment to it."
"Body o' me! then you are welcome as ever Scot was to England, and that's
not saying much. But get on, man--let's hear what you have got to say at
"I presume, this gentleman," continued the North Briton, "told you there
was a person of the name of Campbell with him, when he had the mischance
to lose his valise?"
"He has not mentioned such a name, from beginning to end of the matter,"
said the Justice.
"Ah! I conceive--I conceive," replied Mr. Campbell;--"Mr. Morris was
kindly afeared of committing a stranger into collision wi' the judicial
forms of the country; but as I understand my evidence is necessary to the
compurgation of one honest gentleman here, Mr. Francis Osbaldistone, wha
has been most unjustly suspected, I will dispense with the precaution. Ye
will therefore" (he added addressing Morris with the same determined look
and accent) "please tell Mr. Justice Inglewood, whether we did not travel
several miles together on the road, in consequence of your own anxious
request and suggestion, reiterated ance and again, baith on the evening
that we were at Northallerton, and there declined by me, but afterwards
accepted, when I overtook ye on the road near Cloberry Allers, and was
prevailed on by you to resign my ain intentions of proceeding to
Rothbury; and, for my misfortune, to accompany you on your proposed
"It's a melancholy truth," answered Morris, holding down his head, as he
gave this general assent to the long and leading question which Campbell
put to him, and seemed to acquiesce in the statement it contained with
"And I presume you can also asseverate to his worship, that no man is
better qualified than I am to bear testimony in this case, seeing that I
was by you, and near you, constantly during the whole occurrence."
"No man better qualified, certainly," said Morris, with a deep and
"And why the devil did you not assist him, then," said the Justice,
"since, by Mr. Morris's account, there were but two robbers; so you were
two to two, and you are both stout likely men?"
"Sir, if it please your worship," said Campbell, "I have been all my life
a man of peace and quietness, noways given to broils or batteries. Mr.
Morris, who belongs, as I understand, or hath belonged, to his Majesty's
army, might have used his pleasure in resistance, he travelling, as I
also understand, with a great charge of treasure; but, for me, who had
but my own small peculiar to defend, and who am, moreover, a man of a
pacific occupation, I was unwilling to commit myself to hazard in the
I looked at Campbell as he muttered these words, and never recollect to
have seen a more singular contrast than that between the strong daring
sternness expressed in his harsh features, and the air of composed
meekness and simplicity which his language assumed. There was even a
slight ironical smile lurking about the corners of his mouth, which
seemed, involuntarily as it were, to intimate his disdain of the quiet
and peaceful character which he thought proper to assume, and which led
me to entertain strange suspicions that his concern in the violence done
to Morris had been something very different from that of a
fellow-sufferer, or even of a mere spectator.
Perhaps some suspicious crossed the Justice's mind at the moment, for he
exclaimed, as if by way of ejaculation, "Body o' me! but this is a
The North Briton seemed to guess at what was passing in his mind; for he
went on, with a change of manner and tone, dismissing from his
countenance some part of the hypocritical affectation of humility which
had made him obnoxious to suspicion, and saying, with a more frank and
unconstrained air, "To say the truth, I am just ane o' those canny folks
wha care not to fight but when they hae gotten something to fight for,
which did not chance to be my predicament when I fell in wi' these loons.
But that your worship may know that I am a person of good fame and
character, please to cast your eye over that billet."
Mr. Inglewood took the paper from his hand, and read, half aloud, "These
are to certify, that the bearer, Robert Campbell of--of some place which
I cannot pronounce," interjected the Justice--"is a person of good
lineage, and peaceable demeanour, travelling towards England on his own
proper affairs, &c. &c. &c. Given under our hand, at our Castle of
"A slight testimonial, sir, which I thought fit to impetrate from that
worthy nobleman" (here he raised his hand to his head, as if to touch his
hat), "MacCallum More."
"MacCallum who, sir?" said the Justice.
"Whom the Southern call the Duke of Argyle."
"I know the Duke of Argyle very well to be a nobleman of great worth and
distinction, and a true lover of his country. I was one of those that
stood by him in 1714, when he unhorsed the Duke of Marlborough out of his
command. I wish we had more noblemen like him. He was an honest Tory in
those days, and hand and glove with Ormond. And he has acceded to the
present Government, as I have done myself, for the peace and quiet of his
country; for I cannot presume that great man to have been actuated, as
violent folks pretend, with the fear of losing his places and regiment.
His testimonial, as you call it, Mr. Campbell, is perfectly satisfactory;
and now, what have you got to say to this matter of the robbery?"
"Briefly this, if it please your worship,--that Mr. Morris might as weel
charge it against the babe yet to be born, or against myself even, as
against this young gentleman, Mr. Osbaldistone; for I am not only free to
depone that the person whom he took for him was a shorter man, and a
thicker man, but also, for I chanced to obtain a glisk of his visage, as
his fause-face slipped aside, that he was a man of other features and
complexion than those of this young gentleman, Mr. Osbaldistone. And I
believe," he added, turning round with a natural, yet somewhat sterner
air, to Mr. Morris, "that the gentleman will allow I had better
opportunity to take cognisance wha were present on that occasion than he,
being, I believe, much the cooler o' the twa."
"I agree to it, sir--I agree to it perfectly," said Morris, shrinking
back as Campbell moved his chair towards him to fortify his appeal--"And
I incline, sir," he added, addressing Mr. Inglewood, "to retract my
information as to Mr. Osbaldistone; and I request, sir, you will permit
him, sir, to go about his business, and me to go about mine also; your
worship may have business to settle with Mr. Campbell, and I am rather in
haste to be gone."
"Then, there go the declarations," said the Justice, throwing them into
the fire--"And now you are at perfect liberty, Mr Osbaldistone. And you,
Mr. Morris, are set quite at your ease."
"Ay," said Campbell, eyeing Morris as he assented with a rueful grin to
the Justice's observations, "much like the ease of a tod under a pair of
harrows--But fear nothing, Mr. Morris; you and I maun leave the house
thegither. I will see you safe--I hope you will not doubt my honour, when
I say sae--to the next highway, and then we part company; and if we do
not meet as friends in Scotland, it will be your ain fault."
With such a lingering look of terror as the condemned criminal throws,
when he is informed that the cart awaits him, Morris arose; but when on
his legs, appeared to hesitate. "I tell thee, man, fear nothing,"
reiterated Campbell; "I will keep my word with you--Why, thou sheep's
heart, how do ye ken but we may can pick up some speerings of your
valise, if ye will be amenable to gude counsel?--Our horses are ready.
Bid the Justice fareweel, man, and show your Southern breeding."
Morris, thus exhorted and encouraged, took his leave, under the escort of
Mr. Campbell; but, apparently, new scruples and terrors had struck him
before they left the house, for I heard Campbell reiterating assurances
of safety and protection as they left the ante-room--"By the soul of my
body, man, thou'rt as safe as in thy father's kailyard--Zounds! that a
chield wi' sic a black beard should hae nae mair heart than a
hen-partridge!--Come on wi' ye, like a frank fallow, anes and for aye."
The voices died away, and the subsequent trampling of their horses
announced to us that they had left the mansion of Justice Inglewood.
The joy which that worthy magistrate received at this easy conclusion of
a matter which threatened him with some trouble in his judicial capacity,
was somewhat damped by reflection on what his clerk's views of the
transaction might be at his return. "Now, I shall have Jobson on my
shoulders about these d--d papers--I doubt I should not have destroyed
them, after all--But hang it! it is only paying his fees, and that will
make all smooth--And now, Miss Die Vernon, though I have liberated all
the others, I intend to sign a writ for committing you to the custody of
Mother Blakes, my old housekeeper, for the evening, and we will send for
my neighbour Mrs. Musgrave, and the Miss Dawkins, and your cousins, and
have old Cobs the fiddler, and be as merry as the maids; and Frank
Osbaldistone and I will have a carouse that will make us fit company for
you in half-an-hour."
"Thanks, most worshipful," returned Miss Vernon; "but, as matters stand,
we must return instantly to Osbaldistone Hall, where they do not know
what has become of us, and relieve my uncle of his anxiety on my cousin's
account, which is just the same as if one of his own sons were
"I believe it truly," said the Justice; "for when his eldest son, Archie,
came to a bad end, in that unlucky affair of Sir John Fenwick's, old
Hildebrand used to hollo out his name as readily as any of the remaining
six, and then complain that he could not recollect which of his sons had
been hanged. So, pray hasten home, and relieve his paternal solicitude,
since go you must. But hark thee hither, heath-blossom," he said, pulling
her towards him by the hand, and in a good-humoured tone of admonition,
"another time let the law take its course, without putting your pretty
finger into her old musty pie, all full of fragments of law
gibberish--French and dog-Latin--And, Die, my beauty, let young fellows
show each other the way through the moors, in case you should lose your
own road, while you are pointing out theirs, my pretty Will o' the
With this admonition, he saluted and dismissed Miss Vernon, and took an
equally kind farewell of me.
"Thou seems to be a good tight lad, Mr. Frank, and I remember thy father
too--he was my playfellow at school. Hark thee, lad,--ride early at
night, and don't swagger with chance passengers on the king's highway.
What, man! all the king's liege subjects are not bound to understand
joking, and it's ill cracking jests on matters of felony. And here's poor
Die Vernon too--in a manner alone and deserted on the face of this wide
earth, and left to ride, and run, and scamper, at her own silly pleasure.
Thou must be careful of Die, or, egad, I will turn a young fellow again
on purpose, and fight thee myself, although I must own it would be a
great deal of trouble. And now, get ye both gone, and leave me to my pipe
of tobacco, and my meditations; for what says the song--
The Indian leaf doth briefly burn;
So doth man's strength to weakness turn
The fire of youth extinguished quite,
Comes age, like embers, dry and white.
Think of this as you take tobacco."*
* [The lines here quoted belong to or were altered from a set of verses
at one time very popular in England, beginning, "Tobacco that is withered
quite." In Scotland, the celebrated Ralph Erskine, author of the "Gospel
Sonnets," published what he called ""Smoking Spiritualized," in two
parts. The first part being an Old Meditation upon Smoking Tobacco." It
This Indian weed now withered quite,
Tho' green at noon, cut down at night,
Shows thy decay;
All flesh is hay.
Thus thank, and smoke tobacco.]
I was much pleased with the gleams of sense and feeling which escaped
from the Justice through the vapours of sloth and self-indulgence,
assured him of my respect to his admonitions, and took a friendly
farewell of the honest magistrate and his hospitable mansion.
We found a repast prepared for us in the ante-room, which we partook of
slightly, and rejoined the same servant of Sir Hildebrand who had taken
our horses at our entrance, and who had been directed, as he informed
Miss Vernon, by Mr. Rashleigh, to wait and attend upon us home. We rode a
little way in silence, for, to say truth, my mind was too much bewildered
with the events of the morning, to permit me to be the first to break it.
At length Miss Vernon exclaimed, as if giving vent to her own
reflections, "Well, Rashleigh is a man to be feared and wondered at, and
all but loved; he does whatever he pleases, and makes all others his
puppets--has a player ready to perform every part which he imagines, and
an invention and readiness which supply expedients for every emergency."
"You think, then," said I, answering rather to her meaning, than to the
express words she made use of, "that this Mr. Campbell, whose appearance
was so opportune, and who trussed up and carried off my accuser as a
falcon trusses a partridge, was an agent of Mr. Rashleigh
"I do guess as much," replied Diana; "and shrewdly suspect, moreover,
that he would hardly have appeared so very much in the nick of time, if I
had not happened to meet Rashleigh in the hall at the Justice's."
"In that case, my thanks are chiefly due to you, my fair preserver."
"To be sure they are," returned Diana; "and pray, suppose them paid, and
accepted with a gracious smile, for I do not care to be troubled with
hearing them in good earnest, and am much more likely to yawn than to
behave becoming. In short, Mr. Frank, I wished to serve you, and I have
fortunately been able to do so, and have only one favour to ask in
return, and that is, that you will say no more about it.--But who comes
here to meet us, 'bloody with spurring, fiery-red with haste?' It is the
subordinate man of law, I think--no less than Mr. Joseph Jobson."
And Mr. Joseph Jobson it proved to be, in great haste, and, as it
speedily appeared, in most extreme bad humour. He came up to us, and
stopped his horse, as we were about to pass with a slight salutation.
"So, sir--so, Miss Vernon--ay, I see well enough how it is--bail put in
during my absence, I suppose--I should like to know who drew the
recognisance, that's all. If his worship uses this form of procedure
often, I advise him to get another clerk, that's all, for I shall
"Or suppose he get this present clerk stitched to his sleeve, Mr.
Jobson," said Diana; "would not that do as well? And pray, how does
Farmer Rutledge, Mr. Jobson? I hope you found him able to sign, seal, and
This question seemed greatly to increase the wrath of the man of law. He
looked at Miss Vernon with such an air of spite and resentment, as laid
me under a strong temptation to knock him off his horse with the butt-end
of my whip, which I only suppressed in consideration of his
"Farmer Rutledge, ma'am?" said the clerk, as soon as his indignation
permitted him to articulate, "Farmer Rutledge is in as handsome enjoyment
of his health as you are--it's all a bam, ma'am--all a bamboozle and a
bite, that affair of his illness; and if you did not know as much before,
you know it now, ma'am."
"La you there now!" replied Miss Vernon, with an affectation of extreme
and simple wonder, "sure you don't say so, Mr. Jobson?"
"But I "do" say so, ma'am," rejoined the incensed scribe; "and
moreover I say, that the old miserly clod-breaker called me
pettifogger--pettifogger, ma'am--and said I came to hunt for a job,
ma'am--which I have no more right to have said to me than any other
gentleman of my profession, ma'am--especially as I am clerk to the
peace, having and holding said office under "Trigesimo Septimo Henrici
Octavi" and "Primo Gulielmi," the first of King William, ma'am, of
glorious and immortal memory--our immortal deliverer from papists and
pretenders, and wooden shoes and warming pans, Miss Vernon."
"Sad things, these wooden shoes and warming pans," retorted the young
lady, who seemed to take pleasure in augmenting his wrath;--"and it is a
comfort you don't seem to want a warming pan at present, Mr. Jobson. I am
afraid Gaffer Rutledge has not confined his incivility to language--Are
you sure he did not give you a beating?"
"Beating, ma'am!--no"--(very shortly)--"no man alive shall beat me, I
promise you, ma'am."
"That is according as you happen to merit, sir," said I: "for your mode
of speaking to this young lady is so unbecoming, that, if you do not
change your tone, I shall think it worth while to chastise you myself."
"Chastise, sir? and--me, sir?--Do you know whom you speak to, sir?"
"Yes, sir," I replied; "you say yourself you are clerk of peace to the
county; and Gaffer Rutledge says you are a pettifogger; and in neither
capacity are you entitled to be impertinent to a young lady of fashion."
Miss Vernon laid her hand on my arm, and exclaimed, "Come, Mr.
Osbaldistone, I will have no assaults and battery on Mr. Jobson; I am
not in sufficient charity with him to permit a single touch of your
whip--why, he would live on it for a term at least. Besides, you have
already hurt his feelings sufficiently--you have called him
"I don't value his language, Miss," said the clerk, somewhat crestfallen:
"besides, impertinent is not an actionable word; but pettifogger is
slander in the highest degree, and that I will make Gaffer Rutledge know
to his cost, and all who maliciously repeat the same, to the breach of
the public peace, and the taking away of my private good name."
"Never mind that, Mr. Jobson," said Miss Vernon; "you know, where there
is nothing, your own law allows that the king himself must lose his
rights; and for the taking away of your good name, I pity the poor fellow
who gets it, and wish you joy of losing it with all my heart."
"Very well, ma'am--good evening, ma'am--I have no more to say--only there
are laws against papists, which it would be well for the land were they
better executed. There's third and fourth Edward VI., of antiphoners,
missals, grailes, professionals, manuals, legends, pies, portuasses, and
those that have such trinkets in their possession, Miss Vernon--and
there's summoning of papists to take the oaths--and there are popish
recusant convicts under the first of his present Majesty--ay, and there
are penalties for hearing mass--See twenty-third of Queen Elizabeth, and
third James First, chapter twenty-fifth. And there are estates to be
registered, and deeds and wills to be enrolled, and double taxes to be
made, according to the acts in that case made and provided"--
"See the new edition of the Statutes at Large, published under the
careful revision of Joseph Jobson, Gent., Clerk of the Peace," said Miss
"Also, and above all," continued Jobson,--"for I speak to your
warning--you, Diana Vernon, spinstress, not being a "femme couverte,"
and being a convict popish recusant, are bound to repair to your own
dwelling, and that by the nearest way, under penalty of being held felon
to the king--and diligently to seek for passage at common ferries, and
to tarry there but one ebb and flood; and unless you can have it in such
places, to walk every day into the water up to the knees, assaying to
"A sort of Protestant penance for my Catholic errors, I suppose," said
Miss Vernon, laughing.--"Well, I thank you for the information, Mr.
Jobson, and will hie me home as fast as I can, and be a better
housekeeper in time coming. Good-night, my dear Mr. Jobson, thou mirror
of clerical courtesy."
"Good-night, ma'am, and remember the law is not to be trifled with."
And we rode on our separate ways.
"There he goes for a troublesome mischief-making tool," said Miss Vernon,
as she gave a glance after him; "it is hard that persons of birth and rank
and estate should be subjected to the official impertinence of such a
paltry pickthank as that, merely for believing as the whole world
believed not much above a hundred years ago--for certainly our Catholic
Faith has the advantage of antiquity at least."
"I was much tempted to have broken the rascal's head," I replied.
"You would have acted very like a hasty young man," said Miss Vernon;
"and yet, had my own hand been an ounce heavier than it is, I think I
should have laid its weight upon him. Well, it does not signify
complaining, but there are three things for which I am much to be pitied,
if any one thought it worth while to waste any compassion upon me."
"And what are these three things, Miss Vernon, may I ask?"
"Will you promise me your deepest sympathy, if I tell you?"
"Certainly;--can you doubt it?" I replied, closing my horse nearer to
hers as I spoke, with an expression of interest which I did not attempt
"Well, it is very seducing to be pitied, after all; so here are my three
grievances: In the first place, I am a girl, and not a young fellow, and
would be shut up in a mad-house if I did half the things that I have a
mind to;--and that, if I had your happy prerogative of acting as you
list, would make all the world mad with imitating and applauding me."
"I can't quite afford you the sympathy you expect upon this score," I
replied; "the misfortune is so general, that it belongs to one half of
the species; and the other half"--
"Are so much better cared for, that they are jealous of their
prerogatives," interrupted Miss Vernon--"I forgot you were a party
interested. Nay," she said, as I was going to speak, "that soft smile is
intended to be the preface of a very pretty compliment respecting the
peculiar advantages which Die Vernon's friends and kinsmen enjoy, by her
being born one of their Helots; but spare me the utterance, my good
friend, and let us try whether we shall agree better on the second count
of my indictment against fortune, as that quill-driving puppy would call
it. I belong to an oppressed sect and antiquated religion, and, instead
of getting credit for my devotion, as is due to all good girls beside, my
kind friend, Justice Inglewood, may send me to the house of correction,
merely for worshipping God in the way of my ancestors, and say, as old
Pembroke did to the Abbess of Wilton,* when he usurped her convent and
establishment, 'Go spin, you jade,--Go spin.'"
* Note F. The Abbess of Wilton.
"This is not a cureless evil," said I gravely. "Consult some of our
learned divines, or consult your own excellent understanding, Miss
Vernon; and surely the particulars in which our religious creed differs
from that in which you have been educated"--
"Hush!" said Diana, placing her fore-finger on her mouth,--"Hush! no more
of that. Forsake the faith of my gallant fathers! I would as soon, were I
a man, forsake their banner when the tide of battle pressed hardest
against it, and turn, like a hireling recreant, to join the victorious
"I honour your spirit, Miss Vernon; and as to the inconveniences to which
it exposes you, I can only say, that wounds sustained for the sake of
conscience carry their own balsam with the blow."
"Ay; but they are fretful and irritating, for all that. But I see, hard
of heart as you are, my chance of beating hemp, or drawing out flax into
marvellous coarse thread, affects you as little as my condemnation to
coif and pinners, instead of beaver and cockade; so I will spare myself
the fruitless pains of telling my third cause of vexation."
"Nay, my dear Miss Vernon, do not withdraw your confidence, and I will
promise you, that the threefold sympathy due to your very unusual causes
of distress shall be all duly and truly paid to account of the third,
providing you assure me, that it is one which you neither share with all
womankind, nor even with every Catholic in England, who, God bless you,
are still a sect more numerous than we Protestants, in our zeal for
church and state, would desire them to be."
"It is indeed," said Diana, with a manner greatly altered, and more
serious than I had yet seen her assume, "a misfortune that well merits
compassion. I am by nature, as you may easily observe, of a frank and
unreserved disposition--a plain true-hearted girl, who would willingly
act openly and honestly by the whole world, and yet fate has involved me
in such a series of nets and toils, and entanglements, that I dare hardly
speak a word for fear of consequences--not to myself, but to others."
"That is indeed a misfortune, Miss Vernon, which I do most sincerely
compassionate, but which I should hardly have anticipated."
"O, Mr. Osbaldistone, if you but knew--if any one knew, what difficulty I
sometimes find in hiding an aching heart with a smooth brow, you would
indeed pity me. I do wrong, perhaps, in speaking to you even thus far on
my own situation; but you are a young man of sense and penetration--you
cannot but long to ask me a hundred questions on the events of this
day--on the share which Rashleigh has in your deliverance from this petty
scrape--upon many other points which cannot but excite your attention;
and I cannot bring myself to answer with the necessary falsehood and
finesse--I should do it awkwardly, and lose your good opinion, if I have
any share of it, as well as my own. It is best to say at once, Ask me no
questions,--I have it not in my power to reply to them."
Miss Vernon spoke these words with a tone of feeling which could not but
make a corresponding impression upon me. I assured her she had neither to
fear my urging her with impertinent questions, nor my misconstruing her
declining to answer those which might in themselves be reasonable, or at
"I was too much obliged," I said, "by the interest she had taken in my
affairs, to misuse the opportunity her goodness had afforded me of prying
into hers--I only trusted and entreated, that if my services could at any
time be useful, she would command them without doubt or hesitation."
"Thank you--thank you," she replied; "your voice does not ring the cuckoo
chime of compliment, but speaks like that of one who knows to what he
pledges himself. If--but it is impossible--but yet, if an opportunity
should occur, I will ask you if you remember this promise; and I assure
you, I shall not be angry if I find you have forgotten it, for it is
enough that you are sincere in your intentions just now--much may occur
to alter them ere I call upon you, should that moment ever come, to
assist Die Vernon, as if you were Die Vernon's brother."
"And if I were Die Vernon's brother," said I, "there could not be less
chance that I should refuse my assistance--And now I am afraid I must not
ask whether Rashleigh was willingly accessory to my deliverance?"
"Not of me; but you may ask it of himself, and depend upon it, he will
say "yes;" for rather than any good action should walk through the world
like an unappropriated adjective in an ill-arranged sentence, he is
always willing to stand noun substantive to it himself."
"And I must not ask whether this Campbell be himself the party who eased
Mr. Morris of his portmanteau,--or whether the letter, which our friend
the attorney received, was not a finesse to withdraw him from the scene
of action, lest he should have marred the happy event of my deliverance?
And I must not ask"--
"You must ask nothing of me," said Miss Vernon; "so it is quite in vain
to go on putting cases. You are to think just as well of me as if I had
answered all these queries, and twenty others besides, as glibly as
Rashleigh could have done; and observe, whenever I touch my chin just so,
it is a sign that I cannot speak upon the topic which happens to occupy
your attention. I must settle signals of correspondence with you, because
you are to be my confidant and my counsellor, only you are to know
nothing whatever of my affairs."
"Nothing can be more reasonable," I replied, laughing; "and the extent of
your confidence will, you may rely upon it, only be equalled by the
sagacity of my counsels."
This sort of conversation brought us, in the highest good-humour with
each other, to Osbaldistone Hall, where we found the family far advanced
in the revels of the evening.
"Get some dinner for Mr. Osbaldistone and me in the library," said Miss
Vernon to a servant.--"I must have some compassion upon you," she added,
turning to me, "and provide against your starving in this mansion of
brutal abundance; otherwise I am not sure that I should show you my
private haunts. This same library is my den--the only corner of the
Hall-house where I am safe from the Ourang-Outangs, my cousins. They
never venture there, I suppose for fear the folios should fall down and
crack their skulls; for they will never affect their heads in any other
way--So follow me."
And I followed through hall and bower, vaulted passage and winding stair,
until we reached the room where she had ordered our refreshments.
In the wide pile, by others heeded not,
Hers was one sacred solitary spot,
Whose gloomy aisles and bending shelves contain
For moral hunger food, and cures for moral pain.
The library at Osbaldistone Hall was a gloomy room, whose antique oaken
shelves bent beneath the weight of the ponderous folios so dear to the
seventeenth century, from which, under favour be it spoken, we have
distilled matter for our quartos and octavos, and which, once more
subjected to the alembic, may, should our sons be yet more frivolous than
ourselves, be still farther reduced into duodecimos and pamphlets. The
collection was chiefly of the classics, as well foreign as ancient
history, and, above all, divinity. It was in wretched order. The priests,
who in succession had acted as chaplains at the Hall, were, for many
years, the only persons who entered its precincts, until Rashleigh's
thirst for reading had led him to disturb the venerable spiders, who had
muffled the fronts of the presses with their tapestry. His destination
for the church rendered his conduct less absurd in his father's eyes,
than if any of his other descendants had betrayed so strange a
propensity, and Sir Hildebrand acquiesced in the library receiving some
repairs, so as to fit it for a sitting-room. Still an air of
dilapidation, as obvious as it was uncomfortable, pervaded the large
apartment, and announced the neglect from which the knowledge which its
walls contained had not been able to exempt it. The tattered tapestry,
the worm-eaten shelves, the huge and clumsy, yet tottering, tables,
desks, and chairs, the rusty grate, seldom gladdened by either sea-coal
or faggots, intimated the contempt of the lords of Osbaldistone Hall for
learning, and for the volumes which record its treasures.
"You think this place somewhat disconsolate, I suppose?" said Diana, as I
glanced my eye round the forlorn apartment; "but to me it seems like a
little paradise, for I call it my own, and fear no intrusion. Rashleigh
was joint proprietor with me, while we were friends."
"And are you no longer so?" was my natural question. Her fore-finger
immediately touched her dimpled chin, with an arch look of prohibition.
"We are still "allies,"" she continued, "bound, like other confederate
powers, by circumstances of mutual interest; but I am afraid, as will
happen in other cases, the treaty of alliance has survived the amicable
dispositions in which it had its origin. At any rate, we live less
together; and when he comes through that door there, I vanish through
this door here; and so, having made the discovery that we two were one
too many for this apartment, as large as it seems, Rashleigh, whose
occasions frequently call him elsewhere, has generously made a cession of
his rights in my favour; so that I now endeavour to prosecute alone the
studies in which he used formerly to be my guide."
"And what are those studies, if I may presume to ask?"
"Indeed you may, without the least fear of seeing my fore-finger raised
to my chin. Science and history are my principal favourites; but I also
study poetry and the classics."
"And the classics? Do you read them in the original?"
"Unquestionably. Rashleigh, who is no contemptible scholar, taught me
Greek and Latin, as well as most of the languages of modern Europe. I
assure you there has been some pains taken in my education, although I
can neither sew a tucker, nor work cross-stitch, nor make a pudding,
nor--as the vicar's fat wife, with as much truth as elegance, good-will,
and politeness, was pleased to say in my behalf--do any other useful
thing in the varsal world."
"And was this selection of studies Rashleigh's choice, or your own, Miss
Vernon?" I asked.
"Um!" said she, as if hesitating to answer my question,--"It's not worth
while lifting my finger about, after all. Why, partly his and partly
mine. As I learned out of doors to ride a horse, and bridle and saddle
him in cue of necessity, and to clear a five-barred gate, and fire a gun
without winking, and all other of those masculine accomplishments that my
brute cousins run mad after, I wanted, like my rational cousin, to read
Greek and Latin within doors, and make my complete approach to the tree
of knowledge, which you men-scholars would engross to yourselves, in
revenge, I suppose, for our common mother's share in the great original
"And Rashleigh indulged your propensity to learning?"
"Why, he wished to have me for his scholar, and he could but teach me
that which he knew himself--he was not likely to instruct me in the
mysteries of washing lace-ruffles, or hemming cambric handkerchiefs, I
"I admit the temptation of getting such a scholar, and have no doubt that
it made a weighty consideration on the tutor's part."
"Oh, if you begin to investigate Rashleigh's motives, my finger touches
my chin once more. I can only be frank where my own are inquired into.
But to resume--he has resigned the library in my favour, and never enters
without leave had and obtained; and so I have taken the liberty to make
it the place of deposit for some of my own goods and chattels, as you may
see by looking round you."
"I beg pardon, Miss Vernon, but I really see nothing around these walls
which I can distinguish as likely to claim you as mistress."
"That is, I suppose, because you neither see a shepherd or shepherdess
wrought in worsted, and handsomely framed in black ebony, or a stuffed
parrot,--or a breeding-cage, full of canary birds,--or a housewife-case,
broidered with tarnished silver,--or a toilet-table with a nest of
japanned boxes, with as many angles as Christmas minced-pies,--or a
broken-backed spinet,--or a lute with three strings,--or rock-work,--or
shell-work,--or needle-work, or work of any kind,--or a lap-dog with a
litter of blind puppies--None of these treasures do I possess," she
continued, after a pause, in order to recover the breath she had lost in
enumerating them--"But there stands the sword of my ancestor Sir Richard
Vernon, slain at Shrewsbury, and sorely slandered by a sad fellow called
Will Shakspeare, whose Lancastrian partialities, and a certain knack at
embodying them, has turned history upside down, or rather inside
out;--and by that redoubted weapon hangs the mail of the still older
Vernon, squire to the Black Prince, whose fate is the reverse of his
descendant's, since he is more indebted to the bard who took the trouble
to celebrate him, for good-will than for talents,--
Amiddes the route you may discern one
Brave knight, with pipes on shield, ycleped Vernon
Like a borne fiend along the plain he thundered,
Prest to be carving throtes, while others plundered.
"Then there is a model of a new martingale, which I invented myself--a
great improvement on the Duke of Newcastle's; and there are the hood and
bells of my falcon Cheviot, who spitted himself on a heron's bill at
Horsely-moss--poor Cheviot, there is not a bird on the perches below, but
are kites and riflers compared to him; and there is my own light
fowling-piece, with an improved firelock; with twenty other treasures,
each more valuable than another--And there, that speaks for itself."
She pointed to the carved oak frame of a full-length portrait by Vandyke,
on which were inscribed, in Gothic letters, the words "Vernon semper
viret." I looked at her for explanation. "Do you not know," said she,
with some surprise, "our motto--the Vernon motto, where,
Like the solemn vice iniquity,
We moralise two meanings in one word
And do you not know our cognisance, the pipes?" pointing to the armorial
bearings sculptured on the oaken scutcheon, around which the legend was
"Pipes!--they look more like penny-whistles--But, pray, do not be angry
with my ignorance," I continued, observing the colour mount to her
cheeks, "I can mean no affront to your armorial bearings, for I do not
even know my own."
"You an Osbaldistone, and confess so much!" she exclaimed. "Why, Percie,
Thornie, John, Dickon--Wilfred himself, might be your instructor. Even
ignorance itself is a plummet over you."
"With shame I confess it, my dear Miss Vernon, the mysteries couched
under the grim hieroglyphics of heraldry are to me as unintelligible as
those of the pyramids of Egypt."
"What! is it possible?--Why, even my uncle reads Gwillym sometimes of a
winter night--Not know the figures of heraldry!--of what could your
father be thinking?"
"Of the figures of arithmetic," I answered; "the most insignificant unit
of which he holds more highly than all the blazonry of chivalry. But,
though I am ignorant to this inexpressible degree, I have knowledge and
taste enough to admire that splendid picture, in which I think I can
discover a family likeness to you. What ease and dignity in the
attitude!--what richness of colouring--what breadth and depth of shade!"
"Is it really a fine painting?" she asked.
"I have seen many works of the renowned artist," I replied, "but never
beheld one more to my liking!"
"Well, I know as little of pictures as you do of heraldry," replied Miss
Vernon; "yet I have the advantage of you, because I have always admired
the painting without understanding its value."
"While I have neglected pipes and tabors, and all the whimsical
combinations of chivalry, still I am informed that they floated in the
fields of ancient fame. But you will allow their exterior appearance is
not so peculiarly interesting to the uninformed spectator as that of a
fine painting.--Who is the person here represented?"
"My grandfather. He shared the misfortunes of Charles I., and, I am sorry
to add, the excesses of his son. Our patrimonial estate was greatly
impaired by his prodigality, and was altogether lost by his successor, my
unfortunate father. But peace be with them who have got it!--it was lost
in the cause of loyalty."
"Your father, I presume, suffered in the political dissensions of the
"He did indeed;--he lost his all. And hence is his child a dependent
orphan--eating the bread of others--subjected to their caprices, and
compelled to study their inclinations; yet prouder of having had such a
father, than if, playing a more prudent but less upright part, he had
left me possessor of all the rich and fair baronies which his family once
As she thus spoke, the entrance of the servants with dinner cut off all
conversation but that of a general nature.
When our hasty meal was concluded, and the wine placed on the table, the
domestic informed us, "that Mr. Rashleigh had desired to be told when our
dinner was removed."
"Tell him," said Miss Vernon, "we shall be happy to see him if he will
step this way--place another wineglass and chair, and leave the room.--
You must retire with him when he goes away," she continued, addressing
herself to me; "even "my" liberality cannot spare a gentleman above eight
hours out of the twenty-four; and I think we have been together for at
least that length of time."
"The old scythe-man has moved so rapidly," I answered, "that I could not
count his strides."
"Hush!" said Miss Vernon, "here comes Rashleigh;" and she drew off her
chair, to which I had approached mine rather closely, so as to place a
greater distance between us. A modest tap at the door,--a gentle manner
of opening when invited to enter,--a studied softness and humility of
step and deportment, announced that the education of Rashleigh
Osbaldistone at the College of St. Omers accorded well with the ideas I
entertained of the manners of an accomplished Jesuit. I need not add,
that, as a sound Protestant, these ideas were not the most favourable.
"Why should you use the ceremony of knocking," said Miss Vernon, "when
you knew that I was not alone?"
This was spoken with a burst of impatience, as if she had felt that
Rashleigh's air of caution and reserve covered some insinuation of
impertinent suspicion. "You have taught me the form of knocking at this
door so perfectly, my fair cousin," answered Rashleigh, without change of
voice or manner, "that habit has become a second nature."
"I prize sincerity more than courtesy, sir, and you know I do," was Miss
"Courtesy is a gallant gay, a courtier by name and by profession,"
replied Rashleigh, "and therefore most fit for a lady's bower."
"But Sincerity is the true knight," retorted Miss Vernon, "and therefore
much more welcome, cousin. But to end a debate not over amusing to your
stranger kinsman, sit down, Rashleigh, and give Mr. Francis Osbaldistone
your countenance to his glass of wine. I have done the honours of the
dinner, for the credit of Osbaldistone Hall."
Rashleigh sate down, and filled his glass, glancing his eye from Diana to
me, with an embarrassment which his utmost efforts could not entirely
disguise. I thought he appeared to be uncertain concerning the extent of
confidence she might have reposed in me, and hastened to lead the
conversation into a channel which should sweep away his suspicion that
Diana might have betrayed any secrets which rested between them. "Miss
Vernon," I said, "Mr. Rashleigh, has recommended me to return my thanks
to you for my speedy disengagement from the ridiculous accusation of
Morris; and, unjustly fearing my gratitude might not be warm enough to
remind me of this duty, she has put my curiosity on its side, by
referring me to you for an account, or rather explanation, of the events
of the day."
"Indeed?" answered Rashleigh; "I should have thought" (looking keenly at
Miss Vernon) "that the lady herself might have stood interpreter;" and
his eye, reverting from her face, sought mine, as if to search, from the
expression of my features, whether Diana's communication had been as
narrowly limited as my words had intimated. Miss Vernon retorted his
inquisitorial glance with one of decided scorn; while I, uncertain
whether to deprecate or resent his obvious suspicion, replied, "If it is
your pleasure, Mr. Rashleigh, as it has been Miss Vernon's, to leave me
in ignorance, I must necessarily submit; but, pray, do not withhold your
information from me on the ground of imagining that I have already
obtained any on the subject. For I tell you, as a man of honour, I am as
ignorant as that picture of anything relating to the events I have
witnessed to-day, excepting that I understand from Miss Vernon, that you
have been kindly active in my favour."
"Miss Vernon has overrated my humble efforts," said Rashleigh, "though I
claim full credit for my zeal. The truth is, that as I galloped back to
get some one of our family to join me in becoming your bail, which was
the most obvious, or, indeed, I may say, the only way of serving you
which occurred to my stupidity, I met the man Cawmil--Colville--Campbell,
or whatsoever they call him. I had understood from Morris that he was
present when the robbery took place, and had the good fortune to prevail
on him (with some difficulty, I confess) to tender his evidence in your
exculpation--which I presume was the means of your being released from an
"Indeed?--I am much your debtor for procuring such a seasonable evidence
in my behalf. But I cannot see why (having been, as he said, a
fellow-sufferer with Morris) it should have required much trouble to
persuade him to step forth and bear evidence, whether to convict the
actual robber, or free an innocent person."
"You do not know the genius of that man's country, sir," answered
Rashleigh;--"discretion, prudence, and foresight, are their leading
qualities; these are only modified by a narrow-spirited, but yet ardent
patriotism, which forms as it were the outmost of the concentric bulwarks
with which a Scotchman fortifies himself against all the attacks of a
generous philanthropical principle. Surmount this mound, you find an
inner and still dearer barrier--the love of his province, his village,
or, most probably, his clan; storm this second obstacle, you have a
third--his attachment to his own family--his father, mother, sons,
daughters, uncles, aunts, and cousins, to the ninth generation. It is
within these limits that a Scotchman's social affection expands itself,
never reaching those which are outermost, till all means of discharging
itself in the interior circles have been exhausted. It is within these
circles that his heart throbs, each pulsation being fainter and fainter,
till, beyond the widest boundary, it is almost unfelt. And what is worst
of all, could you surmount all these concentric outworks, you have an
inner citadel, deeper, higher, and more efficient than them all--a
Scotchman's love for himself."
"All this is extremely eloquent and metaphorical, Rashleigh," said Miss
Vernon, who listened with unrepressed impatience; "there are only two
objections to it: first, it is "not" true; secondly, if true, it is
nothing to the purpose."
"It "is" true, my fairest Diana," returned Rashleigh; "and moreover, it
is most instantly to the purpose. It is true, because you cannot deny
that I know the country and people intimately, and the character is drawn
from deep and accurate consideration--and it is to the purpose, because
it answers Mr. Francis Osbaldistone's question, and shows why this same
wary Scotchman, considering our kinsman to be neither his countryman, nor
a Campbell, nor his cousin in any of the inextricable combinations by
which they extend their pedigree; and, above all, seeing no prospect of
personal advantage, but, on the contrary, much hazard of loss of time and
delay of business"--
"With other inconveniences, perhaps, of a nature yet more formidable,"
interrupted Miss Vernon.
"Of which, doubtless, there might be many," said Rashleigh, continuing in
the same tone--"In short, my theory shows why this man, hoping for no
advantage, and afraid of some inconvenience, might require a degree of
persuasion ere he could be prevailed on to give his testimony in favour
of Mr. Osbaldistone."
"It seems surprising to me," I observed, "that during the glance I cast
over the declaration, or whatever it is termed, of Mr. Morris, he should
never have mentioned that Campbell was in his company when he met the
"I understood from Campbell, that he had taken his solemn promise not to
mention that circumstance," replied Rashleigh: "his reason for exacting
such an engagement you may guess from what I have hinted--he wished to
get back to his own country, undelayed and unembarrassed by any of the
judicial inquiries which he would have been under the necessity of
attending, had the fact of his being present at the robbery taken air
while he was on this side of the Border. But let him once be as distant
as the Forth, Morris will, I warrant you, come forth with all he knows
about him, and, it may be, a good deal more. Besides, Campbell is a very
extensive dealer in cattle, and has often occasion to send great droves
into Northumberland; and, when driving such a trade, he would be a great
fool to embroil himself with our Northumbrian thieves, than whom no men
who live are more vindictive."
"I dare be sworn of that," said Miss Vernon, with a tone which implied
something more than a simple acquiescence in the proposition.
"Still," said I, resuming the subject, "allowing the force of the reasons
which Campbell might have for desiring that Morris should be silent with
regard to his promise when the robbery was committed, I cannot yet see
how he could attain such an influence over the man, as to make him
suppress his evidence in that particular, at the manifest risk of
subjecting his story to discredit."
Rashleigh agreed with me, that it was very extraordinary, and seemed to
regret that he had not questioned the Scotchman more closely on that
subject, which he allowed looked extremely mysterious. "But," he asked,
immediately after this acquiescence, "are you very sure the circumstance
of Morris's being accompanied by Campbell is really not alluded to in his
"I read the paper over hastily," said I; "but it is my strong impression
that no such circumstance is mentioned;--at least, it must have been
touched on very slightly, since it failed to catch my attention."
"True, true," answered Rashleigh, forming his own inference while he
adopted my words; "I incline to think with you, that the circumstance
must in reality have been mentioned, but so slightly that it failed to
attract your attention. And then, as to Campbell's interest with Morris,
I incline to suppose that it must have been gained by playing upon his
fears. This chicken-hearted fellow, Morris, is bound, I understand, for
Scotland, destined for some little employment under Government; and,
possessing the courage of the wrathful dove, or most magnanimous mouse,
he may have been afraid to encounter the ill-will of such a kill-cow as
Campbell, whose very appearance would be enough to fright him out of his
little wits. You observed that Mr. Campbell has at times a keen and
animated manner--something of a martial cast in his tone and bearing."
"I own," I replied, "that his expression struck me as being occasionally
fierce and sinister, and little adapted to his peaceable professions. Has
he served in the army?"
"Yes--no--not, strictly speaking, "served;" but he has been, I believe,
like most of his countrymen, trained to arms. Indeed, among the hills,
they carry them from boyhood to the grave. So, if you know anything of
your fellow-traveller, you will easily judge, that, going to such a
country, he will take cue to avoid a quarrel, if he can help it, with any
of the natives. But, come, I see you decline your wine--and I too am a
degenerate Osbaldistone, so far as respects the circulation of the
bottle. If you will go to my room, I will hold you a hand at piquet."
We rose to take leave of Miss Vernon, who had from time to time
suppressed, apparently with difficulty, a strong temptation to break in
upon Rashleigh's details. As we were about to leave the room, the
smothered fire broke forth.
"Mr. Osbaldistone," she said, "your own observation will enable you to
verify the justice, or injustice, of Rashleigh's suggestions concerning
such individuals as Mr. Campbell and Mr. Morris. But, in slandering
Scotland, he has borne false witness against a whole country; and I
request you will allow no weight to his evidence."
"Perhaps," I answered, "I may find it somewhat difficult to obey your
injunction, Miss Vernon; for I must own I was bred up with no very
favourable idea of our northern neighbours."
"Distrust that part of your education, sir," she replied, "and let the
daughter of a Scotchwoman pray you to respect the land which gave her
parent birth, until your own observation has proved them to be unworthy
of your good opinion. Preserve your hatred and contempt for
dissimulation, baseness, and falsehood, wheresoever they are to be met
with. You will find enough of all without leaving England.--Adieu,
gentlemen, I wish you good evening."
And she signed to the door, with the manner of a princess dismissing her
We retired to Rashleigh's apartment, where a servant brought us coffee
and cards. I had formed my resolution to press Rashleigh no farther on
the events of the day. A mystery, and, as I thought, not of a favourable
complexion, appeared to hang over his conduct; but to ascertain if my
suspicions were just, it was necessary to throw him off his guard. We cut
for the deal, and were soon earnestly engaged in our play. I thought I
perceived in this trifling for amusement (for the stake which Rashleigh
proposed was a mere trifle) something of a fierce and ambitious temper.
He seemed perfectly to understand the beautiful game at which he played,
but preferred, as it were on principle, the risking bold and precarious
strokes to the ordinary rules of play; and neglecting the minor and
better-balanced chances of the game, he hazarded everything for the
chance of piqueing, repiqueing, or capoting his adversary. So soon as the
intervention of a game or two at piquet, like the music between the acts
of a drama, had completely interrupted our previous course of
conversation, Rashleigh appeared to tire of the game, and the cards were
superseded by discourse, in which he assumed the lead.
More learned than soundly wise--better acquainted with men's minds than
with the moral principles that ought to regulate them, he had still
powers of conversation which I have rarely seen equalled, never excelled.
Of this his manner implied some consciousness; at least, it appeared to
me that he had studied hard to improve his natural advantages of a
melodious voice, fluent and happy expression, apt language, and fervid
imagination. He was never loud, never overbearing, never so much occupied
with his own thoughts as to outrun either the patience or the
comprehension of those he conversed with. His ideas succeeded each other
with the gentle but unintermitting flow of a plentiful and bounteous
spring; while I have heard those of others, who aimed at distinction in
conversation, rush along like the turbid gush from the sluice of a
mill-pond, as hurried, and as easily exhausted. It was late at night ere
I could part from a companion so fascinating; and, when I gained my own
apartment, it cost me no small effort to recall to my mind the character
of Rashleigh, such as I had pictured him previous to this
So effectual, my dear Tresham, does the sense of being pleased and amused
blunt our faculties of perception and discrimination of character, that I
can only compare it to the taste of certain fruits, at once luscious and
poignant, which renders our palate totally unfit for relishing or
distinguishing the viands which are subsequently subjected to its
What gars ye gaunt, my merrymen a'?
What gars ye look sae dreary?
What gars ye hing your head sae sair
In the castle of Balwearie?
Old Scotch Ballad.
The next morning chanced to be Sunday, a day peculiarly hard to be got
rid of at Osbaldistone Hall; for after the formal religious service of
the morning had been performed, at which all the family regularly
attended, it was hard to say upon which individual, Rashleigh and Miss
Vernon excepted, the fiend of ennui descended with the most abundant
outpouring of his spirit. To speak of my yesterday's embarrassment amused
Sir Hildebrand for several minutes, and he congratulated me on my
deliverance from Morpeth or Hexham jail, as he would have done if I had
fallen in attempting to clear a five-barred gate, and got up without
"Hast had a lucky turn, lad; but do na be over venturous again. What,
man! the king's road is free to all men, be they Whigs, be they Tories."
"On my word, sir, I am innocent of interrupting it; and it is the most
provoking thing on earth, that every person will take it for granted that
I am accessory to a crime which I despise and detest, and which would,
moreover, deservedly forfeit my life to the laws of my country."
"Well, well, lad; even so be it; I ask no questions--no man bound to tell
on himsell--that's fair play, or the devil's in't."
Rashleigh here came to my assistance; but I could not help thinking that
his arguments were calculated rather as hints to his father to put on a
show of acquiescence in my declaration of innocence, than fully to
"In your own house, my dear sir--and your own nephew--you will not surely
persist in hurting his feelings by seeming to discredit what he is so
strongly interested in affirming. No doubt, you are fully deserving of
all his confidence, and I am sure, were there anything you could do to
assist him in this strange affair, he would have recourse to your
goodness. But my cousin Frank has been dismissed as an innocent man, and
no one is entitled to suppose him otherwise. For my part, I have not the
least doubt of his innocence; and our family honour, I conceive, requires
that we should maintain it with tongue and sword against the whole
"Rashleigh," said his father, looking fixedly at him, "thou art a sly
loon--thou hast ever been too cunning for me, and too cunning for most
folks. Have a care thou provena too cunning for thysell--two faces under
one hood is no true heraldry. And since we talk of heraldry, I'll go and
This resolution he intimated with a yawn, resistless as that of the
Goddess in the Dunciad, which was responsively echoed by his giant sons,
as they dispersed in quest of the pastimes to which their minds severally
inclined them--Percie to discuss a pot of March beer with the steward in
the buttery,--Thorncliff to cut a pair of cudgels, and fix them in their
wicker hilts,--John to dress May-flies,--Dickon to play at pitch and toss
by himself, his right hand against his left,--and Wilfred to bite his
thumbs and hum himself into a slumber which should last till dinner-time,
if possible. Miss Vernon had retired to the library.
Rashleigh and I were left alone in the old hall, from which the servants,
with their usual bustle and awkwardness, had at length contrived to hurry
the remains of our substantial breakfast. I took the opportunity to
upbraid him with the manner in which he had spoken of my affair to his
father, which I frankly stated was highly offensive to me, as it seemed
rather to exhort Sir Hildebrand to conceal his suspicions, than to root
"Why, what can I do, my dear friend?" replied Rashleigh "my father's
disposition is so tenacious of suspicions of all kinds, when once they
take root (which, to do him justice, does not easily happen), that I have
always found it the best way to silence him upon such subjects, instead
of arguing with him. Thus I get the better of the weeds which I cannot
eradicate, by cutting them over as often as they appear, until at length
they die away of themselves. There is neither wisdom nor profit in
disputing with such a mind as Sir Hildebrand's, which hardens itself
against conviction, and believes in its own inspirations as firmly as we
good Catholics do in those of the Holy Father of Rome."
"It is very hard, though, that I should live in the house of a man, and
he a near relation too, who will persist in believing me guilty of a
"My father's foolish opinion, if one may give that epithet to any opinion
of a father's, does not affect your real innocence; and as to the
disgrace of the fact, depend on it, that, considered in all its bearings,
political as well as moral, Sir Hildebrand regards it as a meritorious
action--a weakening of the enemy--a spoiling of the Amalekites; and you
will stand the higher in his regard for your supposed accession to it."
"I desire no man's regard, Mr. Rashleigh, on such terms as must sink me
in my own; and I think these injurious suspicions will afford a very good
reason for quitting Osbaldistone Hall, which I shall do whenever I can
communicate on the subject with my father."
The dark countenance of Rashleigh, though little accustomed to betray its
master's feelings, exhibited a suppressed smile, which he instantly
chastened by a sigh. "You are a happy man, Frank--you go and come, as the
wind bloweth where it listeth. With your address, taste, and talents, you
will soon find circles where they will be more valued, than amid the dull
inmates of this mansion; while I--" he paused.
"And what is there in your lot that can make you or any one envy
mine,--an outcast, as I may almost term myself, from my father's house
"Ay, but," answered Rashleigh, "consider the gratified sense of
independence which you must have attained by a very temporary
sacrifice,--for such I am sure yours will prove to be; consider the
power of acting as a free agent, of cultivating your own talents in the
way to which your taste determines you, and in which you are well
qualified to distinguish yourself. Fame and freedom are cheaply
purchased by a few weeks' residence in the North, even though your place
of exile be Osbaldistone Hall. A second Ovid in Thrace, you have not his
reasons for writing Tristia."
"I do not know," said I, blushing as became a young scribbler, "how you
should be so well acquainted with my truant studies."
"There was an emissary of your father's here some time since, a young
coxcomb, one Twineall, who informed me concerning your secret sacrifices
to the muses, and added, that some of your verses had been greatly
admired by the best judges."
Tresham, I believe you are guiltless of having ever essayed to build the
lofty rhyme; but you must have known in your day many an apprentice and
fellow-craft, if not some of the master-masons, in the temple of Apollo.
Vanity is their universal foible, from him who decorated the shades of
Twickenham, to the veriest scribbler whom he has lashed in his Dunciad. I
had my own share of this common failing, and without considering how
little likely this young fellow Twineall was, by taste and habits, either
to be acquainted with one or two little pieces of poetry, which I had at
times insinuated into Button's coffee-house, or to report the opinion of
the critics who frequented that resort of wit and literature, I almost
instantly gorged the bait; which Rashleigh perceiving, improved his
opportunity by a diffident, yet apparently very anxious request to be
permitted to see some of my manuscript productions.
"You shall give me an evening in my own apartment," he continued; "for I
must soon lose the charms of literary society for the drudgery of
commerce, and the coarse every-day avocations of the world. I repeat it,
that my compliance with my father's wishes for the advantage of my
family, is indeed a sacrifice, especially considering the calm and
peaceful profession to which my education destined me."
I was vain, but not a fool, and this hypocrisy was too strong for me to
swallow. "You would not persuade me," I replied, "that you really regret
to exchange the situation of an obscure Catholic priest, with all its
privations, for wealth and society, and the pleasures of the world?"
Rashleigh saw that he had coloured his affectation of moderation too
highly, and, after a second's pause, during which, I suppose, he
calculated the degree of candour which it was necessary to use with me
(that being a quality of which he was never needlessly profuse), he
answered, with a smile--"At my age, to be condemned, as you say, to
wealth and the world, does not, indeed, sound so alarming as perhaps it
ought to do. But, with pardon be it spoken, you have mistaken my
destination--a Catholic priest, if you will, but not an obscure one. No,
sir,--Rashleigh Osbaldistone will be more obscure, should he rise to be
the richest citizen in London, than he might have been as a member of a
church, whose ministers, as some one says, 'set their sandall'd feet on
princes.' My family interest at a certain exiled court is high, and the
weight which that court ought to possess, and does possess, at Rome is
yet higher--my talents not altogether inferior to the education I have
received. In sober judgment, I might have looked forward to high eminence
in the church--in the dream of fancy, to the very highest. Why might
not"--(he added, laughing, for it was part of his manner to keep much of
his discourse apparently betwixt jest and earnest)--"why might not
Cardinal Osbaldistone have swayed the fortunes of empires, well-born and
well-connected, as well as the low-born Mazarin, or Alberoni, the son of
an Italian gardener?"
"Nay, I can give you no reason to the contrary; but in your place I
should not much regret losing the chance of such precarious and invidious
"Neither would I," he replied, "were I sure that my present establishment
was more certain; but that must depend upon circumstances which I can
only learn by experience--the disposition of your father, for example."
"Confess the truth without finesse, Rashleigh; you would willingly know
something of him from me?"
"Since, like Die Vernon, you make a point of following the banner of the
good knight Sincerity, I reply--certainly."
"Well, then, you will find in my father a man who has followed the paths
of thriving more for the exercise they afforded to his talents, than for
the love of the gold with which they are strewed. His active mind would
have been happy in any situation which gave it scope for exertion, though
that exertion had been its sole reward. But his wealth has accumulated,
because, moderate and frugal in his habits, no new sources of expense
have occurred to dispose of his increasing income. He is a man who hates
dissimulation in others; never practises it himself; and is peculiarly
alert in discovering motives through the colouring of language. Himself
silent by habit, he is readily disgusted by great talkers; the rather,
that the circumstances by which he is most interested, afford no great
scope for conversation. He is severely strict in the duties of religion;
but you have no reason to fear his interference with yours, for he
regards toleration as a sacred principle of political economy. But if you
have any Jacobitical partialities, as is naturally to be supposed, you
will do well to suppress them in his presence, as well as the least
tendency to the highflying or Tory principles; for he holds both in utter
detestation. For the rest, his word is his own bond, and must be the law
of all who act under him. He will fail in his duty to no one, and will
permit no one to fail towards him; to cultivate his favour, you must
execute his commands, instead of echoing his sentiments. His greatest
failings arise out of prejudices connected with his own profession, or
rather his exclusive devotion to it, which makes him see little worthy of
praise or attention, unless it be in some measure connected with
"O rare-painted portrait!" exclaimed Rashleigh, when I was
silent--"Vandyke was a dauber to you, Frank. I see thy sire before me in
all his strength and weakness; loving and honouring the King as a sort
of lord mayor of the empire, or chief of the board of trade--venerating
the Commons, for the acts regulating the export trade--and respecting
the Peers, because the Lord Chancellor sits on a woolsack."
"Mine was a likeness, Rashleigh; yours is a caricature. But in return for
the "carte du pays" which I have unfolded to you, give me some lights on
the geography of the unknown lands"--
"On which you are wrecked," said Rashleigh. "It is not worth while; it is
no Isle of Calypso, umbrageous with shade and intricate with silvan
labyrinth--but a bare ragged Northumbrian moor, with as little to
interest curiosity as to delight the eye; you may descry it in all its
nakedness in half an hour's survey, as well as if I were to lay it down
before you by line and compass."
"O, but something there is, worthy a more attentive survey--What say you
to Miss Vernon? Does not she form an interesting object in the landscape,
were all round as rude as Iceland's coast?"
I could plainly perceive that Rashleigh disliked the topic now presented
to him; but my frank communication had given me the advantageous title to
make inquiries in my turn. Rashleigh felt this, and found himself obliged
to follow my lead, however difficult he might find it to play his cards
successfully. "I have known less of Miss Vernon," he said, "for some
time, than I was wont to do formerly. In early age I was her tutor; but
as she advanced towards womanhood, my various avocations,--the gravity of
the profession to which I was destined,--the peculiar nature of her
engagements,--our mutual situation, in short, rendered a close and
constant intimacy dangerous and improper. I believe Miss Vernon might
consider my reserve as unkindness, but it was my duty; I felt as much as
she seemed to do, when compelled to give way to prudence. But where was
the safety in cultivating an intimacy with a beautiful and susceptible
girl, whose heart, you are aware, must be given either to the cloister or
to a betrothed husband?"
"The cloister or a betrothed husband?" I echoed--"Is that the alternative
destined for Miss Vernon?"
"It is indeed," said Rashleigh, with a sigh. "I need not, I suppose,
caution you against the danger of cultivating too closely the friendship
of Miss Vernon;--you are a man of the world, and know how far you can
indulge yourself in her society with safety to yourself, and justice to
her. But I warn you, that, considering her ardent temper, you must let
your experience keep guard over her as well as yourself, for the specimen
of yesterday may serve to show her extreme thoughtlessness and neglect of
There was something, I was sensible, of truth, as well as good sense, in
all this; it seemed to be given as a friendly warning, and I had no right
to take it amiss; yet I felt I could with pleasure have run Rashleigh
Osbaldistone through the body all the time he was speaking.
"The deuce take his insolence!" was my internal meditation. "Would he
wish me to infer that Miss Vernon had fallen in love with that
hatchet-face of his, and become degraded so low as to require his shyness
to cure her of an imprudent passion? I will have his meaning from him,"
was my resolution, "if I should drag it out with cart-ropes."
For this purpose, I placed my temper under as accurate a guard as I
could, and observed, "That, for a lady of her good sense and acquired
accomplishments, it was to be regretted that Miss Vernon's manners were
rather blunt and rustic."
"Frank and unreserved, at least, to the extreme," replied Rashleigh:
"yet, trust me, she has an excellent heart. To tell you the truth, should
she continue her extreme aversion to the cloister, and to her destined
husband, and should my own labours in the mine of Plutus promise to
secure me a decent independence, I shall think of reviewing our
acquaintance and sharing it with Miss Vernon."
"With all his fine voice, and well-turned periods," thought I, "this same
Rashleigh Osbaldistone is the ugliest and most conceited coxcomb I ever
"But," continued Rashleigh, as if thinking aloud, "I should not like to
"Supplant Thorncliff!--Is your brother Thorncliff," I inquired, with
great surprise, "the destined husband of Diana Vernon?"
"Why, ay, her father's commands, and a certain family-contract, destined
her to marry one of Sir Hildebrand's sons. A dispensation has been
obtained from Rome to Diana Vernon to marry "Blank" Osbaldistone, Esq.,
son of Sir Hildebrand Osbaldistone, of Osbaldistone Hall, Bart., and so
forth; and it only remains to pitch upon the happy man whose name shall
fill the gap in the manuscript. Now, as Percie is seldom sober, my father
pitched on Thorncliff, as the second prop of the family, and therefore
most proper to carry on the line of the Osbaldistones."
"The young lady," said I, forcing myself to assume an air of pleasantry,
which, I believe, became me extremely ill, "would perhaps have been
inclined to look a little lower on the family-tree, for the branch to
which she was desirous of clinging."
"I cannot say," he replied. "There is room for little choice in our
family; Dick is a gambler, John a boor, and Wilfred an ass. I believe my
father really made the best selection for poor Die, after all."
"The present company," said I, "being always excepted."
"Oh, my destination to the church placed me out of the question;
otherwise I will not affect to say, that, qualified by my education both
to instruct and guide Miss Vernon, I might not have been a more
creditable choice than any of my elders."
"And so thought the young lady, doubtless?"
"You are not to suppose so," answered Rashleigh, with an affectation of
denial which was contrived to convey the strongest affirmation the case
admitted of: "friendship--only friendship--formed the tie betwixt us, and
the tender affection of an opening mind to its only instructor--Love came
not near us--I told you I was wise in time."
I felt little inclination to pursue this conversation any farther, and
shaking myself clear of Rashleigh, withdrew to my own apartment, which I
recollect I traversed with much vehemence of agitation, repeating aloud
the expressions which had most offended me.--"Susceptible--ardent--tender
affection--Love--Diana Vernon, the most beautiful creature I ever beheld,
in love with him, the bandy-legged, bull-necked, limping scoundrel!
Richard the Third in all but his hump-back!--And yet the opportunities he
must have had during his cursed course of lectures; and the fellow's
flowing and easy strain of sentiment; and her extreme seclusion from
every one who spoke and acted with common sense; ay, and her obvious
pique at him, mixed with admiration of his talents, which looked as like
the result of neglected attachment as anything else--Well, and what is it
to me, that I should storm and rage at it? Is Diana Vernon the first
pretty girl that has loved and married an ugly fellow? And if she were
free of every Osbaldistone of them, what concern is it of mine?--a
Catholic--a Jacobite--a termagant into the boot--for me to look that way
were utter madness."
By throwing such reflections on the flame of my displeasure, I subdued it
into a sort of smouldering heart-burning, and appeared at the
dinner-table in as sulky a humour as could well be imagined.
Drunk?--and speak parrot?--and squabble?--swagger?--
Swear?--and discourse fustian with one's own shadow?
I have already told you, my dear Tresham, what probably was no news to
you, that my principal fault was an unconquerable pitch of pride, which
exposed me to frequent mortification. I had not even whispered to myself
that I loved Diana Vernon; yet no sooner did I hear Rashleigh talk of her
as a prize which he might stoop to carry off, or neglect, at his
pleasure, than every step which the poor girl had taken, in the innocence
and openness of her heart, to form a sort of friendship with me, seemed
in my eyes the most insulting coquetry.--"Soh! she would secure me as a
"pis aller," I suppose, in case Mr. Rashleigh Osbaldistone should not
take compassion upon her! But I will satisfy her that I am not a person
to be trepanned in that manner--I will make her sensible that I see
through her arts, and that I scorn them."
I did not reflect for a moment, that all this indignation, which I had no
right whatever to entertain, proved that I was anything but indifferent
to Miss Vernon's charms; and I sate down to table in high ill-humour with
her and all the daughters of Eve.
Miss Vernon heard me, with surprise, return ungracious answers to one or
two playful strokes of satire which she threw out with her usual freedom
of speech; but, having no suspicion that offence was meant, she only
replied to my rude repartees with jests somewhat similar, but polished by
her good temper, though pointed by her wit. At length she perceived I was
really out of humour, and answered one of my rude speeches thus:--
"They say, Mr. Frank, that one may gather sense from fools--I heard
cousin Wilfred refuse to play any longer at cudgels the other day with
cousin Thornie, because cousin Thornie got angry, and struck harder than
the rules of amicable combat, it seems, permitted. 'Were I to break your
head in good earnest,' quoth honest Wilfred, 'I care not how angry you
are, for I should do it so much the more easily but it's hard I should
get raps over the costard, and only pay you back in make-believes'--Do
you understand the moral of this, Frank?"
"I have never felt myself under the necessity, madam, of studying how to
extract the slender portion of sense with which this family season their
"Necessity! and madam!--You surprise me, Mr. Osbaldistone."
"I am unfortunate in doing so."
"Am I to suppose that this capricious tone is serious? or is it only
assumed, to make your good-humour more valuable?"
"You have a right to the attention of so many gentlemen in this family,
Miss Vernon, that it cannot be worth your while to inquire into the cause
of my stupidity and bad spirits."
"What!" she said, "am I to understand, then, that you have deserted my
faction, and gone over to the enemy?"
Then, looking across the table, and observing that Rashleigh, who was
seated opposite, was watching us with a singular expression of interest
on his harsh features, she continued--
"Horrible thought!--Ay, now I see 'tis true,
For the grim-visaged Rashleigh smiles on me,
And points at thee for his!--
Well, thank Heaven, and the unprotected state which has taught me
endurance, I do not take offence easily; and that I may not be forced to
quarrel, whether I like it or no, I have the honour, earlier than usual,
to wish you a happy digestion of your dinner and your bad humour."
And she left the table accordingly.
Upon Miss Vernon's departure, I found myself very little satisfied with
my own conduct. I had hurled back offered kindness, of which
circumstances had but lately pointed out the honest sincerity, and I had
but just stopped short of insulting the beautiful, and, as she had said
with some emphasis, the unprotected being by whom it was proffered. My
conduct seemed brutal in my own eyes. To combat or drown these painful
reflections, I applied myself more frequently than usual to the wine
which circulated on the table.
The agitated state of my feelings combined with my habits of temperance
to give rapid effect to the beverage. Habitual topers, I believe, acquire
the power of soaking themselves with a quantity of liquor that does
little more than muddy those intellects which in their sober state are
none of the clearest; but men who are strangers to the vice of
drunkenness as a habit, are more powerfully acted upon by intoxicating
liquors. My spirits, once aroused, became extravagant; I talked a great
deal, argued upon what I knew nothing of, told stories of which I forgot
the point, then laughed immoderately at my own forgetfulness; I accepted
several bets without having the least judgment; I challenged the giant
John to wrestle with me, although he had kept the ring at Hexham for a
year, and I never tried so much as a single fall.
My uncle had the goodness to interpose and prevent this consummation of
drunken folly, which, I suppose, would have otherwise ended in my neck
It has even been reported by maligners, that I sung a song while under
this vinous influence; but, as I remember nothing of it, and never
attempted to turn a tune in all my life before or since, I would
willingly hope there is no actual foundation for the calumny. I was
absurd enough without this exaggeration. Without positively losing my
senses, I speedily lost all command of my temper, and my impetuous
passions whirled me onward at their pleasure. I had sate down sulky and
discontented, and disposed to be silent--the wine rendered me loquacious,
disputatious, and quarrelsome. I contradicted whatever was asserted, and
attacked, without any respect to my uncle's table, both his politics and
his religion. The affected moderation of Rashleigh, which he well knew
how to qualify with irritating ingredients, was even more provoking to me
than the noisy and bullying language of his obstreperous brothers. My
uncle, to do him justice, endeavoured to bring us to order; but his
authority was lost amidst the tumult of wine and passion. At length,
frantic at some real or supposed injurious insinuation, I actually struck
Rashleigh with my fist. No Stoic philosopher, superior to his own passion
and that of others, could have received an insult with a higher degree of
scorn. What he himself did not think it apparently worth while to resent,
Thorncliff resented for him. Swords were drawn, and we exchanged one or
two passes, when the other brothers separated us by main force; and I
shall never forget the diabolical sneer which writhed Rashleigh's wayward
features, as I was forced from the apartment by the main strength of two
of these youthful Titans. They secured me in my apartment by locking the
door, and I heard them, to my inexpressible rage, laugh heartily as they
descended the stairs. I essayed in my fury to break out; but the
window-grates, and the strength of a door clenched with iron, resisted my
efforts. At length I threw myself on my bed, and fell asleep amidst vows
of dire revenge to be taken in the ensuing day.
But with the morning cool repentance came. I felt, in the keenest manner,
the violence and absurdity of my conduct, and was obliged to confess that
wine and passion had lowered my intellects even below those of Wilfred
Osbaldistone, whom I held in so much contempt. My uncomfortable
reflections were by no means soothed by meditating the necessity of an
apology for my improper behaviour, and recollecting that Miss Vernon must
be a witness of my submission. The impropriety and unkindness of my
conduct to her personally, added not a little to these galling
considerations, and for this I could not even plead the miserable excuse
Under all these aggravating feelings of shame and degradation, I
descended to the breakfast hall, like a criminal to receive sentence. It
chanced that a hard frost had rendered it impossible to take out the
hounds, so that I had the additional mortification to meet the family,
excepting only Rashleigh and Miss Vernon, in full divan, surrounding the
cold venison pasty and chine of beef. They were in high glee as I
entered, and I could easily imagine that the jests were furnished at my
expense. In fact, what I was disposed to consider with serious pain, was
regarded as an excellent good joke by my uncle, and the greater part of
my cousins. Sir Hildebrand, while he rallied me on the exploits of the
preceding evening, swore he thought a young fellow had better be thrice
drunk in one day, than sneak sober to bed like a Presbyterian, and leave
a batch of honest fellows, and a double quart of claret. And to back this
consolatory speech, he poured out a large bumper of brandy, exhorting me
to swallow "a hair of the dog that had bit me."
"Never mind these lads laughing, nevoy," he continued; "they would have
been all as great milksops as yourself, had I not nursed them, as one may
say, on the toast and tankard."
Ill-nature was not the fault of my cousins in general; they saw I was
vexed and hurt at the recollections of the preceding evening, and
endeavoured, with clumsy kindness, to remove the painful impression they
had made on me. Thorncliff alone looked sullen and unreconciled. This
young man had never liked me from the beginning; and in the marks of
attention occasionally shown me by his brothers, awkward as they were, he
alone had never joined. If it was true, of which, however, I began to
have my doubts, that he was considered by the family, or regarded
himself, as the destined husband of Miss Vernon, a sentiment of jealousy
might have sprung up in his mind from the marked predilection which it
was that young lady's pleasure to show for one whom Thorncliff might,
perhaps, think likely to become a dangerous rival.
Rashleigh at last entered, his visage as dark as mourning weed--brooding,
I could not but doubt, over the unjustifiable and disgraceful insult I
had offered to him. I had already settled in my own mind how I was to
behave on the occasion, and had schooled myself to believe, that true
honour consisted not in defending, but in apologising for, an injury so
much disproportioned to any provocation I might have to allege.
I therefore hastened to meet Rashleigh, and to express myself in the
highest degree sorry for the violence with which I had acted on the
preceding evening. "No circumstances," I said, "could have wrung from me
a single word of apology, save my own consciousness of the impropriety of
my behaviour. I hoped my cousin would accept of my regrets so sincerely
offered, and consider how much of my misconduct was owing to the
excessive hospitality of Osbaldistone Hall."
"He shall be friends with thee, lad," cried the honest knight, in the
full effusion of his heart; "or d--n me, if I call him son more!--Why,
Rashie, dost stand there like a log? "Sorry for it" is all a gentleman
can say, if he happens to do anything awry, especially over his claret. I
served in Hounslow, and should know something, I think, of affairs of
honour. Let me hear no more of this, and we'll go in a body and rummage
out the badger in Birkenwood-bank."
Rashleigh's face resembled, as I have already noticed, no other
countenance that I ever saw. But this singularity lay not only in the
features, but in the mode of changing their expression. Other
countenances, in altering from grief to joy, or from anger to
satisfaction, pass through some brief interval, ere the expression of the
predominant passion supersedes entirely that of its predecessor. There is
a sort of twilight, like that between the clearing up of the darkness and
the rising of the sun, while the swollen muscles subside, the dark eye
clears, the forehead relaxes and expands itself, and the whole
countenance loses its sterner shades, and becomes serene and placid.
Rashleigh's face exhibited none of these gradations, but changed almost
instantaneously from the expression of one passion to that of the
contrary. I can compare it to nothing but the sudden shifting of a scene
in the theatre, where, at the whistle of the prompter, a cavern
disappears, and a grove arises.
My attention was strongly arrested by this peculiarity on the present
occasion. At Rashleigh's first entrance, "black he stood as night!" With
the same inflexible countenance he heard my excuse and his father's
exhortation; and it was not until Sir Hildebrand had done speaking, that
the cloud cleared away at once, and he expressed, in the kindest and most
civil terms, his perfect satisfaction with the very handsome apology I
"Indeed," he said, "I have so poor a brain myself, when I impose on it
the least burden beyond my usual three glasses, that I have only, like
honest Cassio, a very vague recollection of the confusion of last
night--remember a mass of things, but nothing distinctly--a quarrel, but
nothing wherefore--So, my dear Cousin," he continued, shaking me kindly
by the hand, "conceive how much I am relieved by finding that I have to
receive an apology, instead of having to make one--I will not have a
word said upon the subject more; I should be very foolish to institute
any scrutiny into an account, when the balance, which I expected to be
against me, has been so unexpectedly and agreeably struck in my favour.
You see, Mr. Osbaldistone, I am practising the language of Lombard
Street, and qualifying myself for my new calling."
As I was about to answer, and raised my eyes for the purpose, they
encountered those of Miss Vernon, who, having entered the room unobserved
during the conversation, had given it her close attention. Abashed and
confounded, I fixed my eyes on the ground, and made my escape to the
breakfast-table, where I herded among my busy cousins.
My uncle, that the events of the preceding day might not pass out of our
memory without a practical moral lesson, took occasion to give Rashleigh
and me his serious advice to correct our milksop habits, as he termed
them, and gradually to inure our brains to bear a gentlemanlike quantity
of liquor, without brawls or breaking of heads. He recommended that we
should begin piddling with a regular quart of claret per day, which, with
the aid of March beer and brandy, made a handsome competence for a
beginner in the art of toping. And for our encouragement, he assured us
that he had known many a man who had lived to our years without having
drunk a pint of wine at a sitting, who yet, by falling into honest
company, and following hearty example, had afterwards been numbered among
the best good fellows of the time, and could carry off their six bottles
under their belt quietly and comfortably, without brawling or babbling,
and be neither sick nor sorry the next morning.
Sage as this advice was, and comfortable as was the prospect it held out
to me, I profited but little by the exhortation--partly, perhaps,
because, as often as I raised my eyes from the table, I observed Miss
Vernon's looks fixed on me, in which I thought I could read grave
compassion blended with regret and displeasure. I began to consider how I
should seek a scene of explanation and apology with her also, when she
gave me to understand she was determined to save me the trouble of
soliciting an interview. "Cousin Francis," she said, addressing me by the
same title she used to give to the other Osbaldistones, although I had,
properly speaking, no title to be called her kinsman, "I have encountered
this morning a difficult passage in the Divina Comme'dia of Dante; will
you have the goodness to step to the library and give me your assistance?
and when you have unearthed for me the meaning of the obscure Florentine,
we will join the rest at Birkenwood-bank, and see their luck at
unearthing the badger."
I signified, of course, my readiness to wait upon her. Rashleigh made an
offer to accompany us. "I am something better skilled," he said, "at
tracking the sense of Dante through the metaphors and elisions of his
wild and gloomy poem, than at hunting the poor inoffensive hermit yonder
out of his cave."
"Pardon me, Rashleigh," said Miss Vernon, "but as you are to occupy Mr.
Francis's place in the counting-house, you must surrender to him the
charge of your pupil's education at Osbaldistone Hall. We shall call you
in, however, if there is any occasion; so pray do not look so grave upon
it. Besides, it is a shame to you not to understand field-sports--What
will you do should our uncle in Crane-Alley ask you the signs by which
you track a badger?"
"Ay, true, Die,--true," said Sir Hildebrand, with a sigh, "I misdoubt
Rashleigh will be found short at the leap when he is put to the trial. An
he would ha' learned useful knowledge like his brothers, he was bred up
where it grew, I wuss; but French antics, and book-learning, with the new
turnips, and the rats, and the Hanoverians, ha' changed the world that I
ha' known in Old England--But come along with us, Rashie, and carry my
hunting-staff, man; thy cousin lacks none of thy company as now, and I
wonna ha' Die crossed--It's ne'er be said there was but one woman in
Osbaldistone Hall, and she died for lack of her will."
Rashleigh followed his father, as he commanded, not, however, ere he had
whispered to Diana, "I suppose I must in discretion bring the courtier,
Ceremony, in my company, and knock when I approach the door of the
"No, no, Rashleigh," said Miss Vernon; "dismiss from your company the
false archimage Dissimulation, and it will better ensure your free access
to our classical consultations."
So saying, she led the way to the library, and I followed--like a
criminal, I was going to say, to execution; but, as I bethink me, I have
used the simile once, if not twice before. Without any simile at all,
then, I followed, with a sense of awkward and conscious embarrassment,
which I would have given a great deal to shake off. I thought it a
degrading and unworthy feeling to attend one on such an occasion, having
breathed the air of the Continent long enough to have imbibed the notion
that lightness, gallantry, and something approaching to well-bred
self-assurance, should distinguish the gentleman whom a fair lady selects
for her companion in a "tete-a-tete."
My English feelings, however, were too many for my French education, and
I made, I believe, a very pitiful figure, when Miss Vernon, seating
herself majestically in a huge elbow-chair in the library, like a judge
about to hear a cause of importance, signed to me to take a chair
opposite to her (which I did, much like the poor fellow who is going to
be tried), and entered upon conversation in a tone of bitter irony.
Dire was his thought, who first in poison steeped
The weapon formed for slaughter--direr his,
And worthier of damnation, who instilled
The mortal venom in the social cup,
To fill the veins with death instead of life.
"Upon my Word, Mr. Francis Osbaldistone," said Miss Vernon, with the air
of one who thought herself fully entitled to assume the privilege of
ironical reproach, which she was pleased to exert, "your character
improves upon us, sir--I could not have thought that it was in you.
Yesterday might be considered as your assay-piece, to prove yourself
entitled to be free of the corporation of Osbaldistone Hall. But it was a
"I am quite sensible of my ill-breeding, Miss Vernon, and I can only say
for myself that I had received some communications by which my spirits
were unusually agitated. I am conscious I was impertinent and absurd."
"You do yourself great injustice," said the merciless monitor--"you have
contrived, by what I saw and have since heard, to exhibit in the course
of one evening a happy display of all the various masterly qualifications
which distinguish your several cousins;--the gentle and generous temper
of the benevolent Rashleigh,--the temperance of Percie,--the cool courage
of Thorncliff,--John's skill in dog-breaking,--Dickon's aptitude to
betting,--all exhibited by the single individual, Mr. Francis, and that
with a selection of time, place, and circumstance, worthy the taste and
sagacity of the sapient Wilfred."
"Have a little mercy, Miss Vernon," said I; for I confess I thought the
schooling as severe as the case merited, especially considering from what
quarter it came, "and forgive me if I suggest, as an excuse for follies I
am not usually guilty of, the custom of this house and country. I am far
from approving of it; but we have Shakspeare's authority for saying, that
good wine is a good familiar creature, and that any man living may be
overtaken at some time."
"Ay, Mr. Francis, but he places the panegyric and the apology in the
mouth of the greatest villain his pencil has drawn. I will not, however,
abuse the advantage your quotation has given me, by overwhelming you with
the refutation with which the victim Cassio replies to the tempter Iago.
I only wish you to know, that there is one person at least sorry to see a
youth of talents and expectations sink into the slough in which the
inhabitants of this house are nightly wallowing."
"I have but wet my shoe, I assure you, Miss Vernon, and am too sensible
of the filth of the puddle to step farther in."
"If such be your resolution," she replied, "it is a wise one. But I was
so much vexed at what I heard, that your concerns have pressed before my
own,--You behaved to me yesterday, during dinner, as if something had
been told you which lessened or lowered me in your opinion--I beg leave
to ask you what it was?"
I was stupified. The direct bluntness of the demand was much in the style
one gentleman uses to another, when requesting explanation of any part of
his conduct in a good-humoured yet determined manner, and was totally
devoid of the circumlocutions, shadings, softenings, and periphrasis,
which usually accompany explanations betwixt persons of different sexes
in the higher orders of society.
I remained completely embarrassed; for it pressed on my recollection,
that Rashleigh's communications, supposing them to be correct, ought to
have rendered Miss Vernon rather an object of my compassion than of my
pettish resentment; and had they furnished the best apology possible for
my own conduct, still I must have had the utmost difficulty in detailing
what inferred such necessary and natural offence to Miss Vernon's
feelings. She observed my hesitation, and proceeded, in a tone somewhat
more peremptory, but still temperate and civil--"I hope Mr. Osbaldistone
does not dispute my title to request this explanation. I have no relative
who can protect me; it is, therefore, just that I be permitted to protect
I endeavoured with hesitation to throw the blame of my rude behaviour
upon indisposition--upon disagreeable letters from London. She suffered
me to exhaust my apologies, and fairly to run myself aground, listening
all the while with a smile of absolute incredulity.
"And now, Mr. Francis, having gone through your prologue of excuses, with
the same bad grace with which all prologues are delivered, please to draw
the curtain, and show me that which I desire to see. In a word, let me
know what Rashleigh says of me; for he is the grand engineer and first
mover of all the machinery of Osbaldistone Hall."
"But, supposing there was anything to tell, Miss Vernon, what does he
deserve that betrays the secrets of one ally to another?--Rashleigh, you
yourself told me, remained your ally, though no longer your friend."
"I have neither patience for evasion, nor inclination for jesting, on the
present subject. Rashleigh cannot--ought not--dare not, hold any language
respecting me, Diana Vernon, but what I may demand to hear repeated. That
there are subjects of secrecy and confidence between us, is most certain;
but to such, his communications to you could have no relation; and with
such, I, as an individual, have no concern."
I had by this time recovered my presence of mind, and hastily determined
to avoid making any disclosure of what Rashleigh had told me in a sort of
confidence. There was something unworthy in retailing private
conversation; it could, I thought, do no good, and must necessarily give
Miss Vernon great pain. I therefore replied, gravely, "that nothing but
frivolous talk had passed between Mr. Rashleigh Osbaldistone and me on
the state of the family at the Hall; and I protested, that nothing had
been said which left a serious impression to her disadvantage. As a
gentleman," I said, "I could not be more explicit in reporting private
She started up with the animation of a Camilla about to advance into
battle. "This shall not serve your turn, sir,--I must have another answer
from you." Her features kindled--her brow became flushed--her eye glanced
wild-fire as she proceeded--"I demand such an explanation, as a woman
basely slandered has a right to demand from every man who calls himself a
gentleman--as a creature, motherless, friendless, alone in the world,
left to her own guidance and protection, has a right to require from
every being having a happier lot, in the name of that God who sent "them"
into the world to enjoy, and "her" to suffer. You shall not deny me--or,"
she added, looking solemnly upwards, "you will rue your denial, if there
is justice for wrong either on earth or in heaven."
I was utterly astonished at her vehemence, but felt, thus conjured, that
it became my duty to lay aside scrupulous delicacy, and gave her briefly,
but distinctly, the heads of the information which Rashleigh had conveyed
She sate down and resumed her composure, as soon as I entered upon the
subject, and when I stopped to seek for the most delicate turn of
expression, she repeatedly interrupted me with "Go on--pray, go on; the
first word which occurs to you is the plainest, and must be the best. Do
not think of my feelings, but speak as you would to an unconcerned third
Thus urged and encouraged, I stammered through all the account which
Rashleigh had given of her early contract to marry an Osbaldistone, and
of the uncertainty and difficulty of her choice; and there I would
willingly have paused. But her penetration discovered that there was
still something behind, and even guessed to what it related.
"Well, it was ill-natured of Rashleigh to tell this tale on me. I am like
the poor girl in the fairy tale, who was betrothed in her cradle to the
Black Bear of Norway, but complained chiefly of being called Bruin's
bride by her companions at school. But besides all this, Rashleigh said
something of himself with relation to me--Did he not?"
"He certainly hinted, that were it not for the idea of supplanting his
brother, he would now, in consequence of his change of profession, be
desirous that the word Rashleigh should fill up the blank in the
dispensation, instead of the word Thorncliff."
"Ay? indeed?" she replied--"was he so very condescending?--Too much
honour for his humble handmaid, Diana Vernon--And she, I suppose, was to
be enraptured with joy could such a substitute be effected?"
"To confess the truth, he intimated as much, and even farther
"What?--Let me hear it all!" she exclaimed, hastily.
"That he had broken off your mutual intimacy, lest it should have given
rise to an affection by which his destination to the church would not
permit him to profit."
"I am obliged to him for his consideration," replied Miss Vernon, every
feature of her fine countenance taxed to express the most supreme degree
of scorn and contempt. She paused a moment, and then said, with her usual
composure, "There is but little I have heard from you which I did not
expect to hear, and which I ought not to have expected; because, bating
one circumstance, it is all very true. But as there are some poisons so
active, that a few drops, it is said, will infect a whole fountain, so
there is one falsehood in Rashleigh's communication, powerful enough to
corrupt the whole well in which Truth herself is said to have dwelt. It
is the leading and foul falsehood, that, knowing Rashleigh as I have
reason too well to know him, any circumstance on earth could make me
think of sharing my lot with him. No," she continued with a sort of
inward shuddering that seemed to express involuntary horror, "any lot
rather than that--the sot, the gambler, the bully, the jockey, the
insensate fool, were a thousand times preferable to Rashleigh:--the
convent--the jail--the grave, shall be welcome before them all."
There was a sad and melancholy cadence in her voice, corresponding with
the strange and interesting romance of her situation. So young, so
beautiful, so untaught, so much abandoned to herself, and deprived of all
the support which her sex derives from the countenance and protection of
female friends, and even of that degree of defence which arises from the
forms with which the sex are approached in civilised life,--it is scarce
metaphorical to say, that my heart bled for her. Yet there was an
expression of dignity in her contempt of ceremony--of upright feeling in
her disdain of falsehood--of firm resolution in the manner in which she
contemplated the dangers by which she was surrounded, which blended my
pity with the warmest admiration. She seemed a princess deserted by her
subjects, and deprived of her power, yet still scorning those formal
regulations of society which are created for persons of an inferior rank;
and, amid her difficulties, relying boldly and confidently on the justice
of Heaven, and the unshaken constancy of her own mind.
I offered to express the mingled feelings of sympathy and admiration with
which her unfortunate situation and her high spirit combined to impress
me, but she imposed silence on me at once.
"I told you in jest," she said, "that I disliked compliments--I now tell
you in earnest, that I do not ask sympathy, and that I despise
consolation. What I have borne, I have borne--What I am to bear I will
sustain as I may; no word of commiseration can make a burden feel one
feather's weight lighter to the slave who must carry it. There is only
one human being who could have assisted me, and that is he who has rather
chosen to add to my embarrassment--Rashleigh Osbaldistone.--Yes! the time
once was that I might have learned to love that man--But, great God! the
purpose for which he insinuated himself into the confidence of one
already so forlorn--the undeviating and continued assiduity with which he
pursued that purpose from year to year, without one single momentary
pause of remorse or compassion--the purpose for which he would have
converted into poison the food he administered to my mind--Gracious
Providence! what should I have been in this world, and the next, in body
and soul, had I fallen under the arts of this accomplished villain!"
I was so much struck with the scene of perfidious treachery which these
words disclosed, that I rose from my chair hardly knowing what I did,
laid my hand on the hilt of my sword, and was about to leave the
apartment in search of him on whom I might discharge my just indignation.
Almost breathless, and with eyes and looks in which scorn and indignation
had given way to the most lively alarm, Miss Vernon threw herself between
me and the door of the apartment.
"Stay!" she said--"stay!--however just your resentment, you do not know
half the secrets of this fearful prison-house." She then glanced her eyes
anxiously round the room, and sunk her voice almost to a whisper--"He
bears a charmed life; you cannot assail him without endangering other
lives, and wider destruction. Had it been otherwise, in some hour of
justice he had hardly been safe, even from this weak hand. I told you,"
she said, motioning me back to my seat, "that I needed no comforter. I
now tell you I need no avenger."
I resumed my seat mechanically, musing on what she said, and recollecting
also, what had escaped me in my first glow of resentment, that I had no
title whatever to constitute myself Miss Vernon's champion. She paused to
let her own emotions and mine subside, and then addressed me with more
"I have already said that there is a mystery connected with Rashleigh, of
a dangerous and fatal nature. Villain as he is, and as he knows he stands
convicted in my eyes, I cannot--dare not, openly break with or defy him.
You also, Mr. Osbaldistone, must bear with him with patience, foil his
artifices by opposing to them prudence, not violence; and, above all, you
must avoid such scenes as that of last night, which cannot but give him
perilous advantages over you. This caution I designed to give you, and it
was the object with which I desired this interview; but I have extended
my confidence farther than I proposed."
I assured her it was not misplaced.
"I do not believe that it is," she replied. "You have that in your face
and manners which authorises trust. Let us continue to be friends. You
need not fear," she said, laughing, while she blushed a little, yet
speaking with a free and unembarrassed voice, "that friendship with us
should prove only a specious name, as the poet says, for another feeling.
I belong, in habits of thinking and acting, rather to your sex, with
which I have always been brought up, than to my own. Besides, the fatal
veil was wrapt round me in my cradle; for you may easily believe I have
never thought of the detestable condition under which I may remove it.
The time," she added, "for expressing my final determination is not
arrived, and I would fain have the freedom of wild heath and open air
with the other commoners of nature, as long as I can be permitted to
enjoy them. And now that the passage in Dante is made so clear, pray go
and see what has become of the badger-baiters. My head aches so much that
I cannot join the party."
I left the library, but not to join the hunters. I felt that a solitary
walk was necessary to compose my spirits before I again trusted myself in
Rashleigh's company, whose depth of calculating villany had been so
strikingly exposed to me. In Dubourg's family (as he was of the reformed
persuasion) I had heard many a tale of Romish priests who gratified, at
the expense of friendship, hospitality, and the most sacred ties of
social life, those passions, the blameless indulgence of which is denied
by the rules of their order. But the deliberate system of undertaking the
education of a deserted orphan of noble birth, and so intimately allied
to his own family, with the perfidious purpose of ultimately seducing
her, detailed as it was by the intended victim with all the glow of
virtuous resentment, seemed more atrocious to me than the worst of the
tales I had heard at Bourdeaux, and I felt it would be extremely
difficult for me to meet Rashleigh, and yet to suppress the abhorrence
with which he impressed me. Yet this was absolutely necessary, not only
on account of the mysterious charge which Diana had given me, but because
I had, in reality, no ostensible ground for quarrelling with him.
I therefore resolved, as far as possible, to meet Rashleigh's
dissimulation with equal caution on my part during our residence in the
same family; and when he should depart for London, I resolved to give
Owen at least such a hint of his character as might keep him on his guard
over my father's interests. Avarice or ambition, I thought, might have as
great, or greater charms, for a mind constituted like Rashleigh's, than
unlawful pleasure; the energy of his character, and his power of assuming
all seeming good qualities, were likely to procure him a high degree of
confidence, and it was not to be hoped that either good faith or
gratitude would prevent him from abusing it. The task was somewhat
difficult, especially in my circumstances, since the caution which I
threw out might be imputed to jealousy of my rival, or rather my
successor, in my father's favour. Yet I thought it absolutely necessary
to frame such a letter, leaving it to Owen, who, in his own line, was
wary, prudent, and circumspect, to make the necessary use of his
knowledge of Rashleigh's true character. Such a letter, therefore, I
indited, and despatched to the post-house by the first opportunity.
At my meeting with Rashleigh, he, as well as I, appeared to have taken up
distant ground, and to be disposed to avoid all pretext for collision. He
was probably conscious that Miss Vernon's communications had been
unfavourable to him, though he could not know that they extended to
discovering his meditated villany towards her. Our intercourse,
therefore, was reserved on both sides, and turned on subjects of little
interest. Indeed, his stay at Osbaldistone Hall did not exceed a few days
after this period, during which I only remarked two circumstances
respecting him. The first was the rapid and almost intuitive manner in
which his powerful and active mind seized upon and arranged the
elementary principles necessary to his new profession, which he now
studied hard, and occasionally made parade of his progress, as if to show
me how light it was for him to lift the burden which I had flung down
from very weariness and inability to carry it. The other remarkable
circumstance was, that, notwithstanding the injuries with which Miss
Vernon charged Rashleigh, they had several private interviews together of
considerable length, although their bearing towards each other in public
did not seem more cordial than usual.
When the day of Rashleigh's departure arrived, his father bade him
farewell with indifference; his brothers with the ill-concealed glee of
school-boys who see their task-master depart for a season, and feel a joy
which they dare not express; and I myself with cold politeness. When he
approached Miss Vernon, and would have saluted her she drew back with a
look of haughty disdain; but said, as she extended her hand to him,
"Farewell, Rashleigh; God reward you for the good you have done, and
forgive you for the evil you have meditated."
"Amen, my fair cousin," he replied, with an air of sanctity, which
belonged, I thought, to the seminary of Saint Omers; "happy is he whose
good intentions have borne fruit in deeds, and whose evil thoughts have
perished in the blossom."
These were his parting words. "Accomplished hypocrite!" said Miss Vernon
to me, as the door closed behind him--"how nearly can what we most
despise and hate, approach in outward manner to that which we most
I had written to my father by Rashleigh, and also a few lines to Owen,
besides the confidential letter which I have already mentioned, and which
I thought it more proper and prudent to despatch by another conveyance.
In these epistles, it would have been natural for me to have pointed out
to my father and my friend, that I was at present in a situation where I
could improve myself in no respect, unless in the mysteries of hunting
and hawking; and where I was not unlikely to forget, in the company of
rude grooms and horse-boys, any useful knowledge or elegant
accomplishments which I had hitherto acquired. It would also have been
natural that I should have expressed the disgust and tedium which I was
likely to feel among beings whose whole souls were centred in
field-sports or more degrading pastimes--that I should have complained of
the habitual intemperance of the family in which I was a guest, and the
difficulty and almost resentment with which my uncle, Sir Hildebrand,
received any apology for deserting the bottle. This last, indeed, was a
topic on which my father, himself a man of severe temperance, was likely
to be easily alarmed, and to have touched upon this spring would to a
certainty have opened the doors of my prison-house, and would either have
been the means of abridging my exile, or at least would have procured me
a change of residence during my rustication.
I say, my dear Tresham, that, considering how very unpleasant a prolonged
residence at Osbaldistone Hall must have been to a young man of my age,
and with my habits, it might have seemed very natural that I should have
pointed out all these disadvantages to my father, in order to obtain his
consent for leaving my uncle's mansion. Nothing, however, is more
certain, than that I did not say a single word to this purpose in my
letters to my father and Owen. If Osbaldistone Hall had been Athens in
all its pristine glory of learning, and inhabited by sages, heroes, and
poets, I could not have expressed less inclination to leave it.
If thou hast any of the salt of youth left in thee, Tresham, thou wilt be
at no loss to account for my silence on a topic seemingly so obvious.
Miss Vernon's extreme beauty, of which she herself seemed so little
conscious--her romantic and mysterious situation--the evils to which she
was exposed--the courage with which she seemed to face them--her manners,
more frank than belonged to her sex, yet, as it seemed to me,
exceeding in frankness only from the dauntless consciousness of her
innocence,--above all, the obvious and flattering distinction which she
made in my favour over all other persons, were at once calculated to
interest my best feelings, to excite my curiosity, awaken my
imagination, and gratify my vanity. I dared not, indeed, confess to
myself the depth of the interest with which Miss Vernon inspired me, or
the large share which she occupied in my thoughts. We read together,
walked together, rode together, and sate together. The studies which she
had broken off upon her quarrel with Rashleigh, she now resumed, under
the auspices of a tutor whose views were more sincere, though his
capacity was far more limited.
In truth, I was by no means qualified to assist her in the prosecution of
several profound studies which she had commenced with Rashleigh, and
which appeared to me more fitted for a churchman than for a beautiful
female. Neither can I conceive with what view he should have engaged
Diana in the gloomy maze of casuistry which schoolmen called philosophy,
or in the equally abstruse though more certain sciences of mathematics
and astronomy; unless it were to break down and confound in her mind the
difference and distinction between the sexes, and to habituate her to
trains of subtle reasoning, by which he might at his own time invest that
which is wrong with the colour of that which is right. It was in the same
spirit, though in the latter case the evil purpose was more obvious, that
the lessons of Rashleigh had encouraged Miss Vernon in setting at nought
and despising the forms and ceremonial limits which are drawn round
females in modern society. It is true, she was sequestrated from all
female company, and could not learn the usual rules of decorum, either
from example or precept; yet such was her innate modesty, and accurate
sense of what was right and wrong, that she would not of herself have
adopted the bold uncompromising manner which struck me with so much
surprise on our first acquaintance, had she not been led to conceive that
a contempt of ceremony indicated at once superiority of understanding and
the confidence of conscious innocence. Her wily instructor had, no doubt,
his own views in levelling those outworks which reserve and caution erect
around virtue. But for these, and for his other crimes, he has long since
answered at a higher tribunal.
Besides the progress which Miss Vernon, whose powerful mind readily
adopted every means of information offered to it, had made in more
abstract science, I found her no contemptible linguist, and well
acquainted both with ancient and modern literature. Were it not that
strong talents will often go farthest when they seem to have least
assistance, it would be almost incredible to tell the rapidity of Miss
Vernon's progress in knowledge; and it was still more extraordinary, when
her stock of mental acquisitions from books was compared with her total
ignorance of actual life. It seemed as if she saw and knew everything,
except what passed in the world around her;--and I believe it was this
very ignorance and simplicity of thinking upon ordinary subjects, so
strikingly contrasted with her fund of general knowledge and information,
which rendered her conversation so irresistibly fascinating, and rivetted
the attention to whatever she said or did; since it was absolutely
impossible to anticipate whether her next word or action was to display
the most acute perception, or the most profound simplicity. The degree of
danger which necessarily attended a youth of my age and keen feelings
from remaining in close and constant intimacy with an object so amiable,
and so peculiarly interesting, all who remember their own sentiments at
my age may easily estimate.
Yon lamp its line of quivering light
Shoots from my lady's bower;
But why should Beauty's lamp be bright
At midnight's lonely hour?
The mode of life at Osbaldistone Hall was too uniform to admit of
description. Diana Vernon and I enjoyed much of our time in our mutual
studies; the rest of the family killed theirs in such sports and pastimes
as suited the seasons, in which we also took a share. My uncle was a man
of habits, and by habit became so much accustomed to my presence and mode
of life, that, upon the whole, he was rather fond of me than otherwise. I
might probably have risen yet higher in his good graces, had I employed
the same arts for that purpose which were used by Rashleigh, who,
availing himself of his father's disinclination to business, had
gradually insinuated himself into the management of his property. But
although I readily gave my uncle the advantage of my pen and my
arithmetic so often as he desired to correspond with a neighbour, or
settle with a tenant, and was, in so far, a more useful inmate in his
family than any of his sons, yet I was not willing to oblige Sir
Hildebrand by relieving him entirely from the management of his own
affairs; so that, while the good knight admitted that nevoy Frank was a
steady, handy lad, he seldom failed to remark in the same breath, that he
did not think he should ha' missed Rashleigh so much as he was like to
As it is particularly unpleasant to reside in a family where we are at
variance with any part of it, I made some efforts to overcome the
ill-will which my cousins entertained against me. I exchanged my laced
hat for a jockey-cap, and made some progress in their opinion; I broke a
young colt in a manner which carried me further into their good graces. A
bet or two opportunely lost to Dickon, and an extra health pledged with
Percie, placed me on an easy and familiar footing with all the young
squires, except Thorncliff.
I have already noticed the dislike entertained against me by this young
fellow, who, as he had rather more sense, had also a much worse temper,
than any of his brethren. Sullen, dogged, and quarrelsome, he regarded my
residence at Osbaldistone Hall as an intrusion, and viewed with envious
and jealous eyes my intimacy with Diana Vernon, whom the effect proposed
to be given to a certain family-compact assigned to him as an intended
spouse. That he loved her, could scarcely be said, at least without much
misapplication of the word; but he regarded her as something appropriated
to himself, and resented internally the interference which he knew not
how to prevent or interrupt. I attempted a tone of conciliation towards
Thorncliff on several occasions; but he rejected my advances with a
manner about as gracious as that of a growling mastiff, when the animal
shuns and resents a stranger's attempts to caress him. I therefore
abandoned him to his ill-humour, and gave myself no further trouble about
Such was the footing upon which I stood with the family at Osbaldistone
Hall; but I ought to mention another of its inmates with whom I
occasionally held some discourse. This was Andrew Fairservice, the
gardener who (since he had discovered that I was a Protestant) rarely
suffered me to pass him without proffering his Scotch mull for a social
pinch. There were several advantages attending this courtesy. In the
first place, it was made at no expense, for I never took snuff; and
secondly, it afforded an excellent apology to Andrew (who was not
particularly fond of hard labour) for laying aside his spade for several
minutes. But, above all, these brief interviews gave Andrew an
opportunity of venting the news he had collected, or the satirical
remarks which his shrewd northern humour suggested.
"I am saying, sir," he said to me one evening, with a face obviously
charged with intelligence, "I hae been down at the Trinlay-knowe."
"Well, Andrew, and I suppose you heard some news at the alehouse?"
"Na, sir; I never gang to the yillhouse--that is unless ony neighbour was
to gie me a pint, or the like o' that; but to gang there on ane's ain
coat-tail, is a waste o' precious time and hard-won siller.--But I was
doun at the Trinlay-knowe, as I was saying, about a wee bit business o'
my ain wi' Mattie Simpson, that wants a forpit or twa o' peers that will
never be missed in the Ha'-house--and when we were at the thrangest o'
our bargain, wha suld come in but Pate Macready the travelling merchant?"
"Pedlar, I suppose you mean?"
"E'en as your honour likes to ca' him; but it's a creditable calling and
a gainfu', and has been lang in use wi' our folk. Pate's a far-awa cousin
o' mine, and we were blythe to meet wi' ane anither."
"And you went and had a jug of ale together, I suppose, Andrew?--For
Heaven's sake, cut short your story."
"Bide a wee--bide a wee; you southrons are aye in sic a hurry, and
this is something concerns yourself, an ye wad tak patience to
hear't--Yill?--deil a drap o' yill did Pate offer me; but Mattie gae us
baith a drap skimmed milk, and ane o' her thick ait jannocks, that was
as wat and raw as a divot. O for the bonnie girdle cakes o' the
north!--and sae we sat doun and took out our clavers."
"I wish you would take them out just now. Pray, tell me the news, if you
have got any worth telling, for I can't stop here all n
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