Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

narrow, and winding stair, leaving Mr. Rubrick and Waverley to follow at more leisure, while he should announce their approach to his daughter.

After having climbed this perpendicular cork-screw until their brains were almost giddy, they arrived in a little matted lobby, which served as an anteroom to Rose's sanctum sanctorum, and through which they entered her parlour. It was a small, but pleasant apartment, opening to the south, and hung with tapestry; adorned besides with two pictures, one of her mother, in the dress of a shepherdess, with a bell-hoop, the other of the Baron, in his tenth year, in a blue coat, embroidered waistcoat, laced hat, and, bag-wig, with a bow in his hand. Edward could not help smiling at the costume, and at the old resemblance between the round, smooth, red-cheeked, staring visage in the portrait, and the gaunt, bearded, bollow-eyed, swarthy features, which travelling, fatigues of war, and advanced age, had bestowed on the original. The Baron joined in the laugh. Truly,” he said, “that picture was a woman's fantasy of my good mother's; (a daughter of the Laird of Tulliellum, Captain Waverley; I indicated the house to you when we were on the top of the Shinnyheuch; it was burnt by the Dutch auxiliaries brought in by the Government in 1715;) I never sate for my pourtraicture but once since that was painted, and it was at the special and reiterated request of the Marechal Duke of Berwick."

The good old gentleman did not mention, what Mr. Rubrick afterwards told Edward, that the duke had done him this honour on account of his being the first to mount the breach of a fort in Savoy during the memorable campaign of 1709, and his having there defended himself with his half-pike for nearly ten minutes before any support reached him. To do the Baron justice, although sufficiently prone to dwell upon, and even to exaggerate his family dignity and consequence, he was too much a man of real courage ever to allude to such personal acts of merit as he had himself manifested.

Miss Rose now appeared from the interior room of her apartment, to welcome her father and his friends. The little labours in which she had been employed obviously showed a natural taste,

which required only cultivation. Her father had taught her French and Italian, and a few of the ordinary authors in those languages ornamented her shelves. He had endeavoured also to be her preceptor in music; but as he began with the more abstruse doctrines of the science, and was not perhaps master of them himself, she had made no proficiency farther than to be able to accompany her voice with the harpsichord; but even this was not very common in Scotland at that period. To make amends, she sang with great taste and feeling, and with a respect to the sense of what she uttered that might be proposed in example to ladies of much superior musical talent. Her natural good sense taught her, that if, as we are assured by high authority, music be “married to immortal verse,

they are very often divorced by the performer io a most shameful manner. It was perhaps owing to this sensibility to poetry, and power of combining its expression with those of the musical notes, that her singing gave more pleasure to all the unlearned in music, and even to many of the learned, than could have been communicated by a much finer voice and more brilliant execution, unguided by the same delicacy of feeling.

A bartizan, or projecting gallery, before the windows of her parlour, served to illustrate another of Rose's pursuits; for it was crowded with flowers of different kinds, which she had taken under her special protection. A projecting turret gave access to this Gothic balcony, which commanded a most beautiful prospect. The formal garden, with its high bounding walls, lay below, contracted, as it seemed, to a mere parterre; while the view extended heyond them down a wooded glen, where the small river was sometimes visible, sometimes hidden in copse. The eye might be delayed by a desire to rest on the rocks, which here and there rose from the dell with massive or spiry fronts, or it might dwell on the noble, though ruined tower, which was here beheld in all its dignity, frowning from a promontory over the river. To the left were seen two or three cottages, a part of the village; the brow of the hill concealed the others. The glen, or dell, terminated by a sheet of water, called Loch Veolan, into which the brook discharged itself, and which now glistened in the western

The distant country seemed open and varied in surface,

was

sun,

though not wooded; and there was nothing to interrupt the view until the scene was bounded by a ridge of distant and blue hills, which formed the southern boundary of the strath, or valley. To this pleasant station Miss Bradwardine had ordered coffee.

The view of the old tower, or fortalice, introduced some family anecdotes and tales of Scottish chivalry, which the Baron told with great enthusiasm. The projecting peak of an impending crag whích rose near it, had acquired the name of St. Swithin's Chair. It was the scene of a peculiar superstition, of which Mr. Rubrick mentioned some curious particulars, which reminded Waverley of a rhyme quoted by Edgar in King Lear; and Rose was called upon to sing a little legend, in which they had been interwoven by some village poet,

Who, noteless as the race from which he sprung,

Saved others' names, but left bis own unsung. The sweetness of her voice, and the simple beauty of her music, gave all the advantage wbich the minstrel could have desired, and which his poetry so much wanted. I almost doubt if it can be read with patience, destitute of these advantages; although I conjecture the following copy to have been somewhat corrected by Waverley, to suit the taste of those who might not relish pure antiquity.

$t. $within's Chair.
On Hallow-Mass Eve, ere ye boune ye to rest,
Ever beware that your couch be bless'd;
Sign it with cross, and sain it with bead,
Sing the Ave, and say the Creed.
For on Hallow-Mass Eve the Night-Hag will ride,
And all ber nine-fold sweeping on by her side,
Whether the wind sing lowly or loud,
Sailing through moonsbine or swath'd in the cloud.
The Lady she sat in St. Swithin's Chair,
The dew of the night has damp'd her bair:
Her cheek was pale - but resolved and high
Was the word of her lip and the glance of her eye.
She mutter'd the spell of Swithin bold,
When his naked foot traced the midnight wold,
When he stopp'd the Hag as she rode the night,
And bade her descend, and her promise plight.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

He that dare sit on St. Swithin's Chair,
When the Night-Hag wings the troubled air,
Questions three, when he speaks the spell,
He may ask, and she must tell.
The Baron has been with King Robert his liege,
These three long years in battle and siege;
News are there none of his weal or his woe,
And fain the Lady bis fate would know.
She shudders and stops as the charm she speaks; -
Is it the moody owl that shrieks ?
Or is it that sound, betwixt laughter and scream
The voice of the Demon who haunts the stream ?
The moan of the wind sunk silent and low,
And the roaring torrent has ceased to flow;
The calm was more dreadful than raging storm,

When the cold grey mist brought the ghastly Form! “I am sorry to disappoint the company, especially Captain Waverley, who listens with such laudable gravity; it is but a fragment, although I think there are other verses, describing the return of the Baron from the wars, and how the lady was found clay-cold upon the grounsill-ledge.""

“It is onò of those figments," observed Mr. Bradwardine, *with which the early history of distinguished families was deformed in the times of superstition; as that of Rome, and other ancient nations, had their prodigies, Sir, the which you may read in ancient histories, or in the little work compiled by Julius Obsequens, and inscribed by the learned Scheffer, the editor, to his patron, Benedictus Skytte, Baron of Dudershoff.”

“My father has a strange defiance of the marvellous, Captain Waverley,” observed Rose, “and once stood firm when a whole synod of Presbyterian divines were put to the rout by a sudden apparition of the foul fiend.”

Waverley looked as if desirous to hear more.

“Must I tell my story as well as sing my song? Well - Once upon a time there lived an old woman, called Janet Gellatley, who was suspected to be a witch, on the infallible grounds that she was very old, very ugly, very poor, and had two sons, one of whom was a poet, and the other a fool, which visitation, all the neighbourhood agreed, had come upon her for the sin of

taste,

witchcraft. And she was imprisoned for a week in the steeple of the parish church, and sparely supplied with food, and not permitted to sleep until she herself became as much persuaded of her being a witch as her accusers; and in this lucid and happy state of mind was brought forth to make a clean breast, that is, to make open confession of her sorceries, before all the Whig gentry and ministers in the vicinity, who were no conjurors themselves. My father went to see fair play between the witch and the clergy; for the witch had been born on his estate. And while the witch was confessing that the Enemy appeared, and made his addresses to her as a handsome black man, which, if you could have seen poor old blear-eyed Janet, reflected little honour on Apollyon's

and while the auditors listened with astonished ears, and the clerk recorded with a trembling band, she, all of a sudden, changed the low mumbling tone with which she spoke, into a shrill yell, and exclaimed, ‘Look to yourselves ! look to yourselves! I see the Evil One sitting in the midst of ye.' The surprise was general, and terror and flight its immediate consequences. Happy were those who were next the door; and many were the disasters that befell hats, bands, cuffs, and wigs , before they could get out of the church, where they left the obstinate prelatist to settle matters with the witch and her admirer, at his own peril or pleasure."

Risu solvuntur tabulæ," said the Baron; "when they recovered their panic trepidation, they were too much ashamed to bring any wakening of the process against Janet Gellatley.". This anecdote led into a long discussion of

All those idle thoughts and fantasies,

Devices, dreams, opinions unsound,

Shows, visions, soothsays, and prophecies,

And all that feigned is, as leasings, tales, and lies. With such conversation, and the romantic legends which it introduced, closed our hero's second evening in the house of Tully-Veolan.

See Note L. Witchcraft.

« AnteriorContinuar »