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tured sable. But the deep ruling impulse is the same in both cases; and the proud peer, who can now only ruin his neighbour according to law, by protracted suits, is the genuine descendant of the baron who wrapped the castle of his competitor in flames, and knocked him on the head as he endeavoured to escape from the conflagration. It is from the great book of Nature, the same through a thousand editions, whether of black-letter, or wire-wove and hot-pressed, that I have venturously essayed to read a chapter to the public. Some favourable opportunities of contrast have been afforded me, by the state of society in the northern part of the island at the period of my history, and once to vary and to illustrate may serve the moral lessons which I would willingly consider as the most important part of my plan, although I am sensible how short these will fall of their aim, if I shall be found unable to mix them with amusement,- a task not quite so easy in this critical generation as it was "Sixty Years Since."
Ir is, then, sixty years since Edward Waverley, the hero of the following pages, took leave of his family to join the regiment of dragoons in which he had lately obtained a commission. It was a melancholy day at Waverley-Honour when the young officer parted with Sir Everard, the affectionate old uncle to whose title and estate he was presumptive heir. A difference in political opinions had early separated the baronet from his younger brother, Richard Waverley, the father of our hero. Sir Everard had inherited from his sires the whole train of tory or high-church predilections and prejudices,
which had distinguished the house of Waverley since the great civil war. Richard, on the contrary, who was ten years younger, beheld himself born to the fortune of a second brother, and anticipated neither dignity nor entertainment in sustaining the character of Will Wimble. He saw early, that to succeed in the race of life, it was necessary he should carry as little weight as possible. Painters talk of the difficulty of expressing the existence of compound passions in the same features at the same moment: It would be no less difficult for the moralist to analyze the mixed motives which unite to form the impulse of our actions. Richard Waverley read and satisfied himself from history and sound argument, that, in the words of the old song,
Passive obedience was a jest,
And pshaw! was non-resistance.
Yet reason would have probably been unable to remove hereditary prejudice, could Richard have anticipated that Sir Everard, taking to heart an early disappointment, would have remained a bachelor at seventytwo. The prospect of succession, however remote, might in that case, have led him to endure dragging through the greater part of his life as "Master Richard at the Hall, the baronet's brother," in hopes that ere its conclusion he should be distinguished as Sir Richard Waverley of Waverley-Honour, successor to a princely estate, and to extended political connections as head of the country interest. But this was a consummation of things not to be expected at Richard's outset, when Sir Everard was in the prime of life, and certain to be an acceptable suitor in almost any family, whether wealth or beauty should be the object of his pursuit, and when, indeed, his speedy marriage was a report which regularly amused the neighbourhood once a year. His brother therefore saw no road to independence save that of relying upon his own exertions, and adopting a political creed more consonant both to reason and his own interest than the
hereditary faith of Sir Everard in high-church and the house of Stuart. He therefore read his recantation at the beginning of his career, and entered life as an avowed whig, and friend of the Hanover succession.
The Ministry of the period were prudently anxious to diminish the phalanx of opposition. The tory nobility, depending for their reflected lustre upon the sunshine of a court, had for some time been gradually reconciling themselves to the new dynasty. But the wealthy country gentlemen of England, a rank which retained, with much of ancient manners and primitive integrity, a great proportion of obstinate and unyielding prejudice, stood aloof in haughty and sullen opposition, and cast many a look of mingled regret and hope to Bois le Duc, Avignon, and Italy. The accession of the near relation of one of these steady and inflexible opponents was considered as a means of bringing over more converts, and therefore Richard Waverley met. with a share of ministerial favour more than proportioned to his talents or his political importance. It was, however, discovered that he had respectable parts for public business, and the first admittance to the minister's levee being negotiated, his success became rapid. Sir Everard learned from the public News Letter, first, that Richard Waverley Esquire, was returned for the ministerial borough of Barterfaith; next, that Richard Waverley Esquire, had taken a distinguished part in the
debate upon the Excise Bill in the support of government, and, lastly, that Richard Waverley Esquire, had been honoured with a seat at one of those boards where the pleasure of serving the country is combined with other important gratifications, which, to render them the more acceptable, occur regularly once a quarter.
Although these events followed each other so closely that the sagacity of the editor of a modern newspaper would have presaged the two last even while he announced the first, yet they came upon Sir Everard gradually, and drop by drop, as it were, distilled
through the cool and procrastinating alembic of Dyer's Weekly Letter. For it may be observed in passing, that, instead of those mail-coaches, by means of which every mechanic at his six-penny club may nightly learn from twenty contradictory channels the yesterday's news of the capital, a weekly post brought, in those days, to Waverley-Honour, a Weekly Intelligencer, which, after it had gratified Sir Everard's curiosity, his sisters, and that of his aged butler, was regularly transferred from the hall to the rectory, from the rectory to Squire Stubb's at the Grange, from the Squire to the baronet's steward at his neat white house on the heath, from the steward to the bailiff, and from him through a huge circle of honest dames and gaffers, by whose hard and horny hands it was generally worn to pieces in about a month after its arrival.
The slow succession of intelligence was of some advantage to Richard Waverley in the case before us. For had the sum total of his enormities reached the ears of Sir Everard at once, there can be no doubt the new commissioner would have had little reason to pique himself on the success of his politics. The baronet, although the mildest of
sensitive points in human beings, was not without
character; his brother's conduct had wounded these deeply; the Waverley estate was fettered by no entail, (or it had never entered into the head of any of its former possessors that one of their progeny could be guilty of the atrocities laid by Dyer's Letter to the door of Richard,) and if it had, the marriage of the proprietor might have been fatal to a collateral heir. These various ideas floated through the brain of Sir Everard, without, however, producing any determinate conclusion.
He examined the tree of his genealogy, which, emblazoned with many an emblematic mark of honour and heroic achievement, hung upon the well-varnished wainscot of his hall. The nearest descendants of Sir Hildebrand Waverley, failing those of his eldest son Wilfred,
of whom Sir Everard and his brother were the only representatives, were, as this honoured register informed him, (and indeed, as he himself well knew) the Waverleys of Highley Park, com. Hants; with whom the main branch, or rather stock, of the house had renounced all connection since the great law-suit in 1670. This scion had committed a further offence against the head and source of their gentility, by the intermarriage of `their representative with Judith, heiress of Oliver Bradshawe, of Highley Park, whose arms, the same with those of Bradshawe the regicide, they had quartered with the ancient coat of Waverley. These offences, however, had vanished from Sir Everard's recollection in the heat of his resentment, and had Lawyer Clippurse, for whom his groom was despatched express, arrived but an hour earlier, he might have had the benefit of drawing a new settlement of the lordship and manor of Waverley-Honour, with all its dependencies. But an hour of cool reflection is a great matter, when employed in weighing the comparative evils of two measures, to neither of which we are internally partial. Lawyer Clippurse found his patron involved in deep study, which he was too respectful to disturb, otherwise than by producing his paper and leathern ink-case, as prepared to minute his honour's commands. Even this slight manœuvre was embarrassing to Sir Everard, who felt it as a reproach to his indecision. He looked at the attorney with some desire to issue his fiat, when the sun, emerging from behind a cloud, poured at once its chequered light through the stained window of the gloomy cabinet in which they were seated. The baronet's eye, as he raised it to the splendour, fell right upon the central scutcheon, impressed with the same device which his ancestor was said to have borne in the field of Hastings; three ermines passant, argent, in a field azure, with its appropriate motto, sans tache. "May our name rather perish," thought Sir Everard, "than that ancient 2 VOL. I.