« AnteriorContinuar »
to the genealogical pedigree; an authority which Sir Everard was never known to contradict. In short, a proposal was made to Mr. Richard Waverley, that his son should travel, under the direction of his present tutor, Mr. Pembroke, with a suitable allowance from the Baronet's liberalily. The falher himself saw no objection to this overture ; but upon mentioning it casually at the table of the minister, the great man looked grave. The reason was explained in private. The unhappy turn of Sir Everard's politics, the minister observed, was such as would render it highly improper that a young gentleman of such hopeful prospects should travel on the Continent with a tutor doubtless of his uncle's choosing, and directing his course by his instructions. What might Mr. Edward Waverley's society be at Paris, what at Rome, where all manner of snares were spread by the Pretender and his sons—these were points for Mr. Waverley to consider. This he could himself say, that he knew his Majesty had such a just sense of Mr. Richard Waverley's merits, that if his son adopted the army for a few years, a troop, he believed, might be reckoned upon in one of the dragoon regiments lately returned from Flanders.
A hint thus conveyed and enforced was not to be neglected with impunity; and Richard Waverley, though with great dread of shocking his brother's prejudices, deemed he could not avoid accepting the commission thus offered him for his son. The truth is, he calculated much, and justly, upon Sir Everard's fondness for Edward, which made him unlikely to resent any step that he might take in due submission to parental authority. Two letters announced this determination to the Baronet and his nephew. The latter barely communicated the fact, and pointed out the necessary preparations for joining his regiment. To his brother, Richard was more diffuse and circuitous. He coincided with him, in the most flattering manner, in the propriety of his son's seeing a little more of the world, and was even humble in expressions of gratitude for his proposed assistance; was, however, deeply concerned that it was now, unfortunately, not in Edward's power exactly to comply with the plan which had been chalked out by his best friend and benefaclor. He himself had thought with pain on the boy's inactivity, at an age when all his ancestors had borne arms; even Royalty itself had deigned to inquire whether young Waverley was not now in Flanders, at an age when his grandfather was already bleeding for his king in the Great Civil War. This was accompanied by an offer of a troop of horse. What could he do? There was no time to consult his brother's inclinations, even if he could have conceived there might be objections on his part to his nephew's following the glorious career of his predecessors. And, in short, that Edward was now (the intermediate sleps of cornet and lieutenant being overleapt with great agility) Captain Waverley, of Gardiner's regiment of dra
goons, which he must join in their quaters at Dundee in Scotland, in the course of a month.
Sir Everard Waverley received this intimation with a mixture of feelings. At the period of the Hanoverian succession he had withdrawn from parliament, and his conduct, in the memorable year 1715, had not been allogether unsuspected. There were reports of private musters of tenants and horses in Waverley-Chase by moonlight, and of cases of carbines and pistols purchased in Holland, and addressed to the Baronet, but intercepted by the vigilance of a riding officer of the excise, who was afterwards tossed in a blanket on a moonless night, by an association of stout yeomen for his officiousness. Nay, it was even said, that at the arrest of Sir William Wyndham, the leader of the Tory party, a letter from Sir Everard was found in the pocket of his nightgown. But there was no overt act which an altainder could be founded on, and government, contented with suppressing the insurrection of 1715, felt it neither prudent nor safe to push their vengeance farther than against those unfortunate gentlemen who actually took up arms.
Nor did Sir Everard's apprehensions of personal consequences seem to correspond with the reports spread among his Whig neighbours. It was well known that he had supplied with money several of the distressed Northumbrians and Scotchmen, who, after being made prisoners at Preston in Lancashire, were imprisoned in Newgate and the Marshalsea, and it was his solicilor and ordinary counsel who conducted the defence of some of these unfortunate gentlemen at their trial. It was generally supposed, however, thal, had ministers possessed any real proof of Sir Everard's accession to the rebellion, he either would not have ventured thus to brave the existing government, or at least would not have done so with impunity. The feelings which then dictated his proceedings were those of a young man, and at an agitating period. Since that time Sir Everard's jacobilism had been gradually decaying, like a fire which burns out for want of fuel. His Tory and High-church principles were kept up hy some occasional exercise at elections and quarler-sessions; but those respecting hereditary right were fallen into a sort of abeyance. Yet it jarred severely upon his feelings, that his nephew should go into the army under the Brunswick dynasty ; and the more so, as, independent of his high and conscientious ideas of paternal authority, it was impossible, or at least highly imprudent, to interfere authorilatively to prevent it. This suppressed vexation gave rise to many poohs and pshaws, which were placed to the account of an incipient fitof gout, until, having sent for the Army List, the worthy Baronet consoled himself with reckoning the descendants of the houses of genuine loyalty, Mordaunls, Granvilles, and Stanleys, whose names were to be found in that military record; and, calling up all his feelings of family grandeur and warlike glory, he concluded, with
logic something like Falstaff's, that when war was at hand, although it were shame to be on any side but one, it were worse shame to be idle than to be on the worst side, though blacker than usurpation could make it. As for Aunt Rachel, her scheme had not exactly terminated according to her wishes, but she was under the necessity of submitting to circumstances; and her mortification was diverted by the employment she found in fitting out her nephew for the campaign, and greatly consoled by the prospect of beholding him blaze in complete uniform.
Edward Waverley himself received with animated and undefined surprise this most unexpected intelligence. It was, as a fine old poem expresses it,“ like a fire to heather set,” that covers a solitary bill with smoke, and illumines it at the same time with dusky fire. His tutor, or, I should say, Mr. Pembroke, for he scarce assumed the name of tutor, picked up about Edward's room some fragments of irregular verse, which he appeared to have composed under the influence of the agitating feelings occasioned by this sudden page being turned up to him in the book of life. The doctor, who was a believer in all poetry which was composed by his friends, and written out in fair straight lines, with a capital at the beginning of each, communicated this treasure to Aunt Rachel, who, with her spectacles dimmed with tears, transferred them to her commonplace book, among choice receipts for cookery and medicine, favourite texts, and portions from High-church divines, and a few songs, amatory and jacobitical, which she had caroll'd in her younger days, from whence her nephew's poetical tentamina were extracted, when the volume itself, with other authentic records of the Waverley family, were exposed to the inspection of the unworthy editor of this memorable history. If they afford the reader no higher amusement, they will serve, at least , better than narrative of any kind, to acquaint him with the wit and irregular spirit of our hero :
Late, when the Autumn evening fell
But distant winds began to wake,
And donn'd at once his sable cloak,
Yet, with a stern delight and strange,
So, on the idle dreams of youth,
In sober prose, as perhaps these verses intimate less decidedly, the transient idea of Miss Cecilia Stubbs passed from Captain Waverley's heart amid the turmoil which his new destinies excited. She appeared, indeed, in full splendour in her father's pew upon the Sunday, when he attended service for the last lime at the old parish church, upon which occasion, at the request of his uncle and Aunt Rachel, he was induced (nothing loth, if the truth must be told) to present himself in full uniform.
There is no better antidote against entertaining too high an opinion of others, than having an excellent one of ourselves at the very same time. Miss Stubbs had indeed summoned up every assistance which art could afford to beauty ; but, alas! hoop, patches, frizzled locks, and a new mantua of genuine French silk, were lost upon a young officer of dragoons, who wore, for the first time, his goldlaced hat, jack-boots, and broadsword. I know not whether, like the champion of an old ballad,
His heart was all on honour bent,
He could not stoop to love;
or whether the deep and flaming bars of embroidered gold, which now fenced his breast, defied the artillery of Cecilia's eyes; but every arrow was launched at him in vain.
Yet did I mark where Cupid's shaft did light;
Craving pardon for my heroics, (which I am unable in cerlain cases to resist giving way to,) it is a melancholy fact, that my bistory must here take leave of the fair Cecilia, who, like many a daughter of Eve, after the departure of Edward, and the dissipalion of certain idle visions which she had adopled, quietly contented herself with a pis-aller, and gave her band, at the distance of six months, to the aforesaid Jonas, son of the baronel's steward, and heir (no unfertile prospect) to a steward's fortune ; besides the snug probability of succeeding to his father's office. All these advantages moved Squire Stubbs, as much as the ruddy brow and manly form of the suitor influenced his daughter, to abale somewhat in the article of their gentry; and so the match was concluded. None seemed more gratified than Aunt Rachel, who had hitherto looked rather askance upon the presumptuous damsel, (as much so, peradventure, as her nature would permit, ) but who, on the first appearance of the new-married pair at church, honoured the bride with a smile and a profound courtesy, in presence of the rector, the curate, the clerk, and the whole congregation of the united parishes of the Waverley cum Beverley.
I beg pardon, once and for all, of those readers who take up novels merely for amusement, for plaguing them so long with old-fashioned politics, and Whig and Tory, and Hanoverians and Jacobites. The truth is, I cannot promise them that this story shall be intelligible, not to say probable, without it. My plan requires that I -should explain the motives on which its action proceeded, and these
motives necessarily arose from the feelings, prejudices, and parties, of the times. I do not invile my fair readers, whose sex and impatience give them the grealest right to complain of these circumstances, into a flying chariot drawn by hippogriffs, or moved by enchantment. Mine is a humble English post-chaise, drawn upon four wheels, and keeping his majesty's highway. Such as dislike the vehicle may leave it al the next halt, and wait for the conveyance of prince Hussein's tapestry, or Malek the Weaver's flying sentry-box. Those who are contented to remain with me will be occasionally exposed to the dulness inseparable from heavy roads, sleep hills, sloughs, and other lerrestrial retardations; but, with tolerable horses and a civil driver, (as the advertisements have it,) I engage to