Waverley, by Sir Walter Scott

Chapter XXI

Rather Unimportant

‘I was turned back,’ said Fergus to Edward, as they galloped from Preston to Pinkie House, ‘by a message from the Prince. But I suppose you know the value of this most noble Colonel Talbot as a prisoner. He is held one of the best officers among the red-coats, a special friend and favourite of the Elector himself, and of that dreadful hero, the Duke of Cumberland, who has been summoned from his triumphs at Fontenoy to come over and devour us poor Highlanders alive. Has he been telling you how the bells of St. James’s ring? Not “turn again, Whittington,” like those of Bow, in the days of yore?’

‘Fergus!’ said Waverley, with a reproachful look.

‘Nay, I cannot tell what to make of you,’ answered the Chief of Mac-Ivor, ‘you are blown about with every wind of doctrine. Here have we gained a victory unparalleled in history, and your behaviour is praised by every living mortal to the skies, and the Prince is eager to thank you in person, and all our beauties of the White Rose are pulling caps for you; — and you, the preux chevalier of the day, are stooping on your horse’s neck like a butter-woman riding to market, and looking as black as a funeral!’

‘I am sorry for poer Colonel Gardiner’s death; he was once very kind to me.’

‘Why, then, be sorry for five minutes, and then be glad again; his chance to-day may be ours to-morrow; and what does it signify? The next best thing to victory is honourable death; but it is a PIS-ALLER, and one would rather a foe had it than one’s self.’

‘But Colonel Talbot has informed me that my father and uncle are both imprisoned by government on my account.’

‘We’ll put in bail, my boy; old Andrew Ferrara 89 shall lodge his security; and I should like to see him put to justify it in Westminster Hall!’

‘Nay, they are already at liberty, upon bail of a more civic disposition.’

‘Then why is thy noble spirit cast down, Edward? Dost think that the Elector’s ministers are such doves as to set their enemies at liberty at this critical moment if they could or durst confine and punish them? Assure thyself that either they have no charge against your relations on which they can continue their imprisonment, or else they are afraid of our friends, the jolly Cavaliers of old England. At any rate, you need not be apprehensive upon their account; and we will find some means of conveying to them assurances of your safety.’

Edward was silenced but not satisfied with these reasons. He had now been more than once shocked at the small degree of sympathy which Fergus exhibited for the feelings even of those whom he loved, if they did not correspond with his own mood at the time, and more especially if they thwarted him while earnest in a favourite pursuit. Fergus sometimes indeed observed that he had offended Waverley, but, always intent upon some favourite plan or project of his own, he was never sufficiently aware of the extent or duration of his displeasure, so that the reiteration of these petty offences somewhat cooled the volunteer’s extreme attachment to his officer.

The Chevalier received Waverley with his usual favour, and paid him many compliments on his distinguished bravery. He then took him apart, made many inquiries concerning Colonel Talbot, and when he had received all the information which Edward was able to give concerning him and his connexions, he proceeded — ‘I cannot but think, Mr. Waverley, that since this gentleman is so particularly connected with our worthy and excellent friend, Sir Everard Waverley, and since his lady is of the house of Blandeville, whose devotion to the true and loyal principles of the Church of England is so generally known, the Colonel’s own private sentiments cannot be unfavorable to us, whatever mask he may have assumed to accommodate himself to the times.’

‘If I am to judge from the language he this day held to me, I am under the necessity of differing widely from your Royal Highness.’

‘Well, it is worth making a trial at least. I therefore entrust you with the charge of Colonel Talbot, with power to act concerning him as you think most advisable; and I hope you will find means of ascertaining what are his real dispositions towards our Royal Father’s restoration.’

‘I am convinced,’ said Waverley, bowing,‘that if Colonel Talbot chooses to grant his parole, it may be securely depended upon; but if he refuses it, I trust your Royal Highness will devolve on some other person than the nephew of his friend the task of laying him under the necessary restraint.’

‘I will trust him with no person but you,’ said the Prince, smiling, but peremptorily repeating his mandate; ‘it is of importance to my service that there should appear to be a good intelligence between you, even if you are unable to gain his confidence in earnest. You will therefore receive him into your quarters, and in case he declines giving his parole, you must apply for a proper guard. I beg you will go about this directly. We return to Edinburgh tomorrow.’

Being thus remanded to the vicinity of Preston, Waverley lost the Baron of Bradwardine’s solemn act of homage. So little, however, was he at this time in love with vanity, that he had quite forgotten the ceremony in which Fergus had laboured to engage his curiosity. But next day a formal ‘Gazette’ was circulated, containing a detailed account of the battle of Gladsmuir, as the Highlanders chose to denominate their victory. It concluded with an account of the court afterwards held by the Chevalier at Pinkie House, which contained this among other high-flown descriptive paragraphs: —

‘Since that fatal treaty which annihilates Scotland as an independent nation, it has not been our happiness to see her princes receive, and her nobles discharge, those acts of feudal homage which, founded upon the splendid actions of Scottish valour, recall the memory of her early history, with the manly and chivalrous simplicity of the ties which united to the Crown the homage of the warriors by whom it was repeatedly upheld and defended. But on the evening of the 20th our memories were refreshed with one of those ceremonies which belong to the ancient days of Scotland’s glory. After the circle was formed, Cosmo Comyne Bradwardine of that ilk, colonel in the service, etc., etc., etc., came before the Prince, attended by Mr. D. Macwheeble, the Bailie of his ancient barony of Bradwardine (who, we understand, has been lately named a commissary), and, under form of instrument, claimed permission to perform to the person of his Royal Highness, as representing his father, the service used and wont, for which, under a charter of Robert Bruce (of which the original was produced and inspected by the Masters of his Royal Highness’s Chancery for the time being), the claimant held the barony of Bradwardine and lands of Tully-Veolan. His claim being admitted and registered, his Royal Highness having placed his foot upon a cushion, the Baron of Bradwardine, kneeling upon his right knee, proceeded to undo the latchet of the brogue, or low-heeled Highland shoe, which our gallant young hero wears in compliment to his brave followers. When this was performed, his Royal Highness declared the ceremony completed; and, embracing the gallant veteran, protested that nothing but compliance with an ordinance of Robert Bruce could have induced him to receive even the symbolical performance of a menial office from hands which had fought so bravely to put the crown upon the head of his father. The Baron of Bradwardine then took instruments in the hands of Mr. Commissary Macwheeble, bearing that all points and circumstances of the act of homage had been rite et solenniter acta et peracta; and a corresponding entry was made in the protocol of the Lord High Chamberlain and in the record of Chancery. We understand that it is in contemplation of his Royal Highness, when his Majesty’s pleasure can be known, to raise Colonel Bradwardine to the peerage, by the title of Viscount Bradwardine of Bradwardine and Tully-Veolan, and that, in the meanwhile, his Royal Highness, in his father’s name and authority, has been pleased to grant him an honourable augmentation to his paternal coat of arms, being a budget or boot-jack, disposed saltier-wise with a naked broadsword, to be borne in the dexter cantle of the shield; and, as an additional motto, on a scroll beneath, the words, “Draw and draw off.”’

‘Were it not for the recollection of Fergus’s raillery,’ thought Waverley to himself, when he had perused this long and grave document,’ how very tolerably would all this sound, and how little should I have thought of connecting it with any ludicrous idea! Well, after all, everything has its fair as well as its seamy side; and truly I do not see why the Baron’s boot-jack may not stand as fair in heraldry as the water-buckets, waggons, cart-wheels, plough-socks, shuttles, candlesticks, and other ordinaries, conveying ideas of anything save chivalry, which appear in the arms of some of our most ancient gentry.’

This, however, is an episode in respect to the principal story.

When Waverley returned to Preston and rejoined Colonel Talbot, he found him recovered from the strong and obvious emotions with which a concurrence of unpleasing events had affected him. He had regained his natural manner, which was that of an English gentleman and soldier, manly, open and generous, but not unsusceptible of prejudice against those of a different country, or who opposed him in political tenets. When Waverley acquainted Colonel Talbot with the Chevalier’s purpose to commit him to his charge, ‘I did not think to have owed so much obligation to that young gentleman,’ he said, ‘as is implied in this destination. I can at least cheerfully join in the prayer of the honest Presbyterian clergyman, that, as he has come among us seeking an earthly crown, his labours may be speedily rewarded with a heavenly one.90 I shall willingly give my parole not to attempt an escape without your knowledge, since, in fact, it was to meet you that I came to Scotland; and I am glad it has happened even under this predicament. But I suppose we shall be but a short time together. Your Chevalier (that is a name we may both give to him), with his plaids and blue caps, will, I presume, be continuing his crusade southward?’

‘Not as I hear; I believe the army makes some stay in Edinburgh to collect reinforcements.’

‘And to besiege the Castle?’ said Talbot, smiling sarcastically. ‘Well, unless my old commander, General Preston, turn false metal, or the Castle sink into the North Loch, events which I deem equally probable, I think we shall have some time to make up our acquaintance. I have a guess that this gallant Chevalier has a design that I should be your proselyte; and, as I wish you to be mine, there cannot be a more fair proposal than to afford us fair conference together. But, as I spoke today under the influence of feelings I rarely give way to, I hope you will excuse my entering again upon controversy till we are somewhat better acquainted.’

89 The name of Andrea de Ferrara is inscribed on all the Scottish broadswords which are accounted of peculiar excellence. Who this artist was, what were his fortunes, and when he flourished, have hitherto defied the research of antiquaries; only it is in general believed that Andrea de Ferrara was a Spanish or Italian artificer, brought over by James IV or V to instruct the Scots in the manufacture of sword blades. Most barbarous nations excel in the fabrication of arms; and the Scots had attained great proficiency in forging swords so early as the field of Pinkie; at which period the historian Patten describes them as ‘all notably broad and thin, universally made to slice, and of such exceeding good temper that, as I never saw any so good, so I think it hard to devise better.’ — Account of Somerset’s Expedition.

It may be observed that the best and most genuine Andrea Ferraras have a crown marked on the blade.

90 The clergyman’s name was Mac-Vicar. Protected by the cannon of the Castle, he preached every Sunday in the West Kirk while the Highlanders were in possession of Edinburgh, and it was in presence of some of the Jacobites that he prayed for Prince Charles Edward in the terms quoted in the text.

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