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The number of persons to whom the secret was necessarily intrusted, or communicated by chance, amounted, I should think, to twenty at least, to whom I am greatly obliged for the fidelity with which they observed their trust, until the derangement of the affairs of my publishers, Messrs Constable and Co., and the exposure of their accomptbooks, which was the necessary consequence, rendered secrecy no longer possible. The particulars attending the avowal have been laid before the public in the introduction to the Chronicles of the Canongate.
The preliminary advertisement has given a sketch of the purpose of this edition. I have some reason to fear that the notes which accompany the tales, as now published, may be thought too miscellaneous and too egotistical. It may be some apology for this, that the publication was intended to be posthumous, and still more, that old men may be permitted to speak long, because they cannot in the course of nature have long time to speak. In preparing the present edition, I have done all that I can do to explain the nature of my materials, and the use I have made of them; nor is it probable that I shall again revise or even read these tales. I was therefore desirous rather to exceed in the portion of new and explanatory matter which is added to this edition, than that the reader should have reason to complain that the information communicated was of a general and merely nominal character. It remains to be tried whether the public (like a child to whom a watch is shown) will, after having been satiated with looking at the outside, acquire some new
interest in the object when it is opened, and the internal machinery displayed to them.
That Waverley and its successors have had their day of favour and popularity, must be admitted with sincere gratitude; and the author has studied (with the prudence of a beauty whose reign has been rather long) to supply, by the assistance of art, the charms which novelty no longer affords.
Farther explanation respecting the Edition, is the business of the publishers, not of the author; and here, therefore, the latter has accomplished his task of Introduction and explanation. If, like a spoiled child, he has sometimes abused or trifled with the indulgence of the public, he feels himself entitled to full belief, when he exculpates himself from the charge of having been at any time insensible of their kindness.
ABBOTSFORD, ist January, 1829.
FRAGMENT OF A ROMANCE WHICH WAS TO HAVE
THOMAS THE RHYMER.
The sun was nearly set behind the distant mountains of Liddesdale, when a few of the scattered and terrified inhabitants of the village of Hersildoun, which had four days before been burned by a predatory band of English Borderers, were now busied in repairing their ruined dwellings. One high tower in the centre of the village alone exhibited no appearance of devastation. It was surrounded with court-walls, and the outer gate was barred and bolted. The bushes and brambles which grew around, and had even insinuated their branches beneath the gate, plainly showed that it must have been many years since it had been opened. While the cottages
· It is not to be supposed that these fragments are given as possessing any intrinsic value of themselves; but there may be some curiosity attached to them, as to the first etchings of a plate,
ich are accounted interesting by those who have, in any degree, been interested in the more finished works of the artist.
around lay in smoking ruins, this pile, deserted and desolate, as it seemed to be, had suffered nothing from the violence of the invaders; and the wretched beings who were endeavouring to repair their miserable huts against nightfall, seemed to neglect the preferable shelter which it might have afforded them, without the necessity of labour.
Before the day had quite gone down, a knight, richly armed, and mounted upon an ambling hackney, rode slowly into the village. His attendants were a lady, apparently young and beautiful, who rode by his side upon a dappled palfrey ; his squire, who carried his helmet and lance, and led his battle-horse, a noble steed, richly caparisoned. A page and four yeomen, bearing bows and quivers, short swords, and targets of a span breadth, completed his equipage, which, though small, denoted him to be a man of high rank.
He stopped and addressed several of the inhabitants whom curiosity had withdrawn from their labour to gaze at him ; but at the sound of his voice, and still more on perceiving the St George's Cross in the caps of his followers, they fled, with a loud cry, « that the Southrons were returned.» The knight endeavoured to expostulate with the fugitives, who were chiefly aged men, women, and children; but their dread of the English name accelerated their flight, and in a few minutes, excepting the knight and his attendants, the place was deserted by all. He paced through the village to seek a shelter for the night, and despairing to find one either in the inaccessible tower, or the plundered huts of the peasantry, he directed his course to the left hand, where he spied a small decent habitation, apparently the abode of a man considerably above the common rank. After much knocking, the proprietor at length showed himself at the window,—and, speaking in the English dialect, with great signs of apprehension, demanded their business. The warrior replied, that his quality was an English knight and baron, and that
he was travelling to the court of the King of Scotland, on affairs of consequence to both kingdoms. « Pardon
my hesitation, noble Sir Knight," said the old man, as he unbolted and unbarred his doors - Pardon my
hesitation; but we are here exposed to too many intrusions, to admit of our exercising unlimited and unsuspicious hospitality. What I have is yours ; and God send your mission may bring back peace and the good days of our old Queen Margaret.»
Amen, worthy Franklin,» quoth the Knight: « Did you know her ? »
I came to this country in her train,» said the Franklin; « and the care of some of her jointure lands, which she devolved on me, occasioned my settling here.»
« And how do you, being an Englishman,» said the Knight, « protect your life and property here, when one of your nation cannot obtain a single night's lodging, or a draught of water, were he thirsty?»
Marry, noble sir,” answered the Franklin, « use, as they say, will make a man live in a lion's den : and, as I settled here in a quiet time, and have never given cause of offence, I am respected by my neighbours, and even, as you see, by our forayers from England.»
« I rejoice to hear it, and accept your hospitality. Isabella, my love, our worthy host will provide you a bed.My daughter, good Franklin, is ill at ease.
We will occupy your
house till the Scottish King shall return from his northern expedition — meanwhile call me Lord Lacy of Chester.»
The attendants of the Baron, assisted by the Franklin, were now busied in disposing of the horses, and arranging the table for some refreshment for Lord Lacy and his fair companion. While they sat down to it, they were attended by their host and his daughter, whom custom did. not permit to eat in their presence, and who afterwards withdrew to an outer chamber, where the squire and page (both young men of noble birth) partook of supper, and