Waverley, by Sir Walter Scott

Chapter XIV

A Discovery — Waverley Becomes Domesticated at Tully-Veolan

The next day Edward arose betimes, and in a morning walk around the house and its vicinity came suddenly upon a small court in front of the dog-kennel, where his friend Davie was employed about his four-footed charge. One quick glance of his eye recognised Waverley, when, instantly turning his back, as if he had not observed him, he began to sing part of an old ballad:—

Young men will love thee more fair and more fast;

Heard ye so merry the little bird sing?

Old men’s love the longest will last,

And the throstle-cock’s head is under his wing.

The young man’s wrath is like light straw on fire;

Heard ye so merry the little bird sing?

But like red-hot steel is the old man’s ire,

And the throstle-cock’s head is under his wing.

The young man will brawl at the evening board;

Heard ye so merry the little bird sing?

But the old man will draw at the dawning the sword,

And the throstle-cock’s head is under his wing.

Waverley could not avoid observing that Davie laid something like a satirical emphasis on these lines. He therefore approached, and endeavoured, by sundry queries, to elicit from him what the innuendo might mean; but Davie had no mind to explain, and had wit enough to make his folly cloak his knavery. Edward could collect nothing from him, excepting that the Laird of Balmawhapple had gone home yesterday morning ‘wi’ his boots fu’ o’ bluid.’ In the garden, however, he met the old butler, who no longer attempted to conceal that, having been bred in the nursery line with Sumack and Co. of Newcastle, he sometimes wrought a turn in the flower-borders to oblige the Laird and Miss Rose. By a series of queries, Edward at length discovered, with a painful feeling of surprise and shame, that Balmawhapple’s submission and apology had been the consequence of a rencontre with the Baron before his guest had quitted his pillow, in which the younger combatant had been disarmed and wounded in the sword arm.

Greatly mortified at this information, Edward sought out his friendly host, and anxiously expostulated with him upon the injustice he had done him in anticipating his meeting with Mr. Falconer, a circumstance which, considering his youth and the profession of arms which he had just adopted, was capable of being represented much to his prejudice. The Baron justified himself at greater length than I choose to repeat. He urged that the quarrel was common to them, and that Balmawhapple could not, by the code of honour, evite giving satisfaction to both, which he had done in his case by an honourable meeting, and in that of Edward by such a palinode as rendered the use of the sword unnecessary, and which, being made and accepted, must necessarily sopite the whole affair.

With this excuse, or explanation, Waverley was silenced, if not satisfied; but he could not help testifying some displeasure against the Blessed Bear, which had given rise to the quarrel, nor refrain from hinting that the sanctified epithet was hardly appropriate. The Baron observed, he could not deny that ‘the Bear, though allowed by heralds as a most honourable ordinary, had, nevertheless, somewhat fierce, churlish, and morose in his disposition (as might be read in Archibald Simson, pastor of Dalkeith’s ‘Hieroglyphica Animalium’) and had thus been the type of many quarrels and dissensions which had occurred in the house of Bradwardine; of which,’ he continued, ‘I might commemorate mine own unfortunate dissension with my third cousin by the mother’s side, Sir Hew Halbert, who was so unthinking as to deride my family name, as if it had been QUASI BEAR-WARDEN; a most uncivil jest, since it not only insinuated that the founder of our house occupied such a mean situation as to be a custodier of wild beasts, a charge which, ye must have observed, is only entrusted to the very basest plebeians; but, moreover, seemed to infer that our coat-armour had not been achieved by honourable actions in war, but bestowed by way of paranomasia, or pun, upon our family appellation, — a sort of bearing which the French call armoires parlantes, the Latins arma cantantia, and your English authorities canting heraldry, 36 being indeed a species of emblazoning more befitting canters, gaberlunzies, and such like mendicants, whose gibberish is formed upon playing upon the word, than the noble, honourable, and useful science of heraldry, which assigns armorial bearings as the reward of noble and generous actions, and not to tickle the ear with vain quodlibets, such as are found in jestbooks.’ Of his quarrel with Sir Hew he said nothing more than that it was settled in a fitting manner.

Having been so minute with respect to the diversions of Tully- Veolan on the first days of Edward’s arrival, for the purpose of introducing its inmates to the reader’s acquaintance, it becomes less necessary to trace the progress of his intercourse with the same accuracy. It is probable that a young man, accustomed to more cheerful society, would have tired of the conversation of so violent an assertor of the ‘boast of heraldry’ as the Baron; but Edward found an agreeable variety in that of Miss Bradwardine, who listened with eagerness to his remarks upon literature, and showed great justness of taste in her answers. The sweetness of her disposition had made her submit with complacency, and even pleasure, to the course of reading prescribed by her father, although it not only comprehended several heavy folios of history, but certain gigantic tomes in high-church polemics. In heraldry he was fortunately contented to give her only such a slight tincture as might be acquired by perusal of the two folio volumes of Nisbet. Rose was indeed the very apple of her father’s eye. Her constant liveliness, her attention to all those little observances most gratifying to those who would never think of exacting them, her beauty, in which he recalled the features of his beloved wife, her unfeigned piety, and the noble generosity of her disposition, would have justified the affection of the most doting father.

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Waverley and Rose Bradwardine — Etched by Ben. Damman

His anxiety on her behalf did not, however, seem to extend itself in that quarter where, according to the general opinion, it is most efficiently displayed, in labouring, namely, to establish her in life, either by a large dowry or a wealthy marriage. By an old settlement, almost all the landed estates of the Baron went, after his death, to a distant relation; and it was supposed that Miss Bradwardine would remain but slenderly provided for, as the good gentleman’s cash matters had been too long under the exclusive charge of Bailie Macwheeble to admit of any great expectations from his personal succession. It is true, the said Bailie loved his patron and his patron’s daughter next (though at an incomparable distance) to himself. He thought it was possible to set aside the settlement on the male line, and had actually procured an opinion to that effect (and, as he boasted, without a fee) from an eminent Scottish counsel, under whose notice he contrived to bring the point while consulting him regularly on some other business. But the Baron would not listen to such a proposal for an instant. On the contrary, he used to have a perverse pleasure in boasting that the barony of Bradwardine was a male fief, the first charter having been given at that early period when women were not deemed capable to hold a feudal grant; because, according to Les coustusmes de Normandie, c’est l’homme ki se bast et ki conseille; or, as is yet more ungallantly expressed by other authorities, all of whose barbarous names he delighted to quote at full length, because a woman could not serve the superior, or feudal lord, in war, on account of the decorum of her sex, nor assist him with advice, because of her limited intellect, nor keep his counsel, owing to the infirmity of her disposition. He would triumphantly ask, how it would become a female, and that female a Bradwardine, to be seen employed in servitio exuendi, seu detrahendi, caligas regis post battaliam? that is, in pulling off the king’s boots after an engagement, which was the feudal service by which he held the barony of Bradwardine. ‘No,’ he said, ‘beyond hesitation, procul dubio, many females, as worthy as Rose, had been excluded, in order to make way for my own succession, and Heaven forbid that I should do aught that might contravene the destination of my forefathers, or impinge upon the right of my kinsman, Malcolm Bradwardine of Inchgrabbit, an honourable, though decayed branch of my own family.’

The Bailie, as prime minister, having received this decisive communication from his sovereign, durst not press his own opinion any farther, but contented himself with deploring, on all suitable occasions, to Saunderson, the minister of the interior, the laird’s self-willedness, and with laying plans for uniting Rose with the young Laird of Balmawhapple, who had a fine estate, only moderately burdened, and was a faultless young gentleman, being as sober as a saint — if you keep brandy from him and him from brandy — and who, in brief, had no imperfection but that of keeping light company at a time; such as Jinker, the horse-couper, and Gibby Gaethroughwi’t, the piper o’ Cupar; ‘o’ whilk follies, Mr. Saunderson, he’ll mend, he’ll mend,’ pronounced the Bailie.

‘Like sour ale in simmer,’ added Davie Gellatley, who happened to be nearer the conclave than they were aware of.

Miss Bradwardine, such as we have described her, with all the simplicity and curiosity of a recluse, attached herself to the opportunities of increasing her store of literature which Edward’s visit afforded her. He sent for some of his books from his quarters, and they opened to her sources of delight of which she had hitherto had no idea. The best English poets, of every description, and other works on belles-lettres, made a part of this precious cargo. Her music, even her flowers, were neglected, and Saunders not only mourned over, but began to mutiny against, the labour for which he now scarce received thanks. These new pleasures became gradually enhanced by sharing them with one of a kindred taste. Edward’s readiness to comment, to recite, to explain difficult passages, rendered his assistance invaluable; and the wild romance of his spirit delighted a character too young and inexperienced to observe its deficiencies. Upon subjects which interested him, and when quite at ease, he possessed that flow of natural, and somewhat florid eloquence, which has been supposed as powerful even as figure, fashion, fame, or fortune, in winning the female heart. There was, therefore, an increasing danger in this constant intercourse to poor Rose’s peace of mind, which was the more imminent as her father was greatly too much abstracted in his studies, and wrapped up in his own dignity, to dream of his daughter’s incurring it. The daughters of the house of Bradwardine were, in his opinion, like those of the house of Bourbon or Austria, placed high above the clouds of passion which might obfuscate the intellects of meaner females; they moved in another sphere, were governed by other feelings, and amenable to other rules than those of idle and fantastic affection. In short, he shut his eyes so resolutely to the natural consequences of Edward’s intimacy with Miss Bradwardine, that the whole neighbourhood concluded that he had opened them to the advantages of a match between his daughter and the wealthy young Englishman, and pronounced him much less a fool than he had generally shown himself in cases where his own interest was concerned.

If the Baron, however, had really meditated such an alliance, the indifference of Waverley would have been an insuperable bar to his project. Our hero, since mixing more freely with the world, had learned to think with great shame and confusion upon his mental legend of Saint Cecilia, and the vexation of these reflections was likely, for some time at least, to counterbalance the natural susceptibility of his disposition. Besides, Rose Bradwardine, beautiful and amiable as we have described her, had not precisely the sort of beauty or merit which captivates a romantic imagination in early youth. She was too frank, too confiding, too kind; amiable qualities, undoubtedly, but destructive of the marvellous, with which a youth of imagination delights to dress the empress of his affections. Was it possible to bow, to tremble, and to adore, before the timid, yet playful little girl, who now asked Edward to mend her pen, now to construe a stanza in Tasso, and now how to spell a very — very long word in her version of it? All these incidents have their fascination on the mind at a certain period of life, but not when a youth is entering it, and rather looking out for some object whose affection may dignify him in his own eyes than stooping to one who looks up to him for such distinction. Hence, though there can be no rule in so capricious a passion, early love is frequently ambitious in choosing its object; or, which comes to the same, selects her (as in the case of Saint Cecilia aforesaid) from a situation that gives fair scope for le beau ideal, which the reality of intimate and familiar life rather tends to limit and impair. I knew a very accomplished and sensible young man cured of a violent passion for a pretty woman, whose talents were not equal to her face and figure, by being permitted to bear her company for a whole afternoon. Thus, it is certain, that had Edward enjoyed such an opportunity of conversing with Miss Stubbs, Aunt Rachel’s precaution would have been unnecessary, for he would as soon have fallen in love with the dairy-maid. And although Miss Bradwardine was a very different character, it seems probable that the very intimacy of their intercourse prevented his feeling for her other sentiments than those of a brother for an amiable and accomplished sister; while the sentiments of poor Rose were gradually, and without her being conscious, assuming a shade of warmer affection.

I ought to have said that Edward, when he sent to Dundee for the books before mentioned, had applied for, and received permission, extending his leave of absence. But the letter of his commanding officer contained a friendly recommendation to him not to spend his time exclusively with persons who, estimable as they might be in a general sense, could not be supposed well affected to a government which they declined to acknowledge by taking the oath of allegiance. The letter further insinuated, though with great delicacy, that although some family connections might be supposed to render it necessary for Captain Waverley to communicate with gentlemen who were in this unpleasant state of suspicion, yet his father’s situation and wishes ought to prevent his prolonging those attentions into exclusive intimacy. And it was intimated, that, while his political principles were endangered by communicating with laymen of this description, he might also receive erroneous impressions in religion from the prelatic clergy, who so perversely laboured to set up the royal prerogative in things sacred.

This last insinuation probably induced Waverley to set both down to the prejudices of his commanding officer. He was sensible that Mr. Bradwardine had acted with the most scrupulous delicacy, in never entering upon any discussion that had the most remote tendency to bias his mind in political opinions, although he was himself not only a decided partisan of the exiled family, but had been trusted at different times with important commissions for their service. Sensible, therefore, that there was no risk of his being perverted from his allegiance, Edward felt as if he should do his uncle’s old friend injustice in removing from a house where he gave and received pleasure and amusement, merely to gratify a prejudiced and ill-judged suspicion. He therefore wrote a very general answer, assuring his commanding officer that his loyalty was not in the most distant danger of contamination, and continued an honoured guest and inmate of the house of Tully-Veolan.

36 Although canting heraldry is generally reprobated, it seems nevertheless to have been adopted in the arms and mottos of many honourable families. Thus the motto of the Vernons, Ver non semper viret, is a perfect pun, and so is that of the Onslows, Festina lente. The Periissem ni per-iissem of the Anstruthers is liable to a similar objection. One of that ancient race, finding that an antagonist, with whom he had fixed a friendly meeting, was determined to take the opportunity of assassinating him, prevented the hazard by dashing out his brains with a battle-axe. Two sturdy arms, brandishing such a weapon, form the usual crest of the family, with the above motto, Periissem ni per-iissem — I had died, unless I had gone through with it.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/s/scott/walter/waverley/chapter14.html

Last updated Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 22:29