Susan Edmonstone Ferrier.

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be generally found that either the good or the bad fortune of one or
other of the parties is the subject of universal wonder. In short, a
marriage which excites no surprise, pity, or indignation, must be
something that has never yet been witnessed on the face of this round
world. It is greatly to be feared none of my readers will sympathise in
the feelings of the good spinster on this occasion, as she poured them
forth in the following _extempore_ or _improvisatorial_ strain:-

"Well, Mary, I declare I'm perfectly confounded with all you have been
telling me! I'm sure I never heard the like of it! It seems but the
t'other day since you began your sampler; and it looks just
like yesterday since your father and mother were married. And such a work
as there was at your nursing! I'm sure your poor grandfather was out of
all patience about it. And now to think that you are going to be
married! not but what it's a thing we all expected, for there's no doubt
England's the place for young women to get husbands - we always said
that, you know; not but what I dare say you might have been married,
too, if you had stayed in the Highlands, and to a real Highlander, too,
which, of course, would have been still better for us all; for it will
be a sad thing if you are obliged to stay in England, Mary; but I hope
there's no chance of that: you know Colonel Lennox can easily sell his
place, and buy an estate in the Highlands. There's a charming property,
I know, to be sold just now, that _marches_ with Glenfern. To be sure
it's on the wrong side of the hill - there's no denying that; but then,
there's I can't tell you how many thousand acres of fine muir for
shooting, and I daresay Colonel Lennox is a keen sportsman; and they say
a great deal of it might be very much improved. We must really inquire
after it, Mary, and you must speak to Colonel Lennox about it, for you
know such a property as that may be snapped up in a minute."

Mary assented to all that was said; and Grizzy proceeded -

"I wonder you never brought Colonel Lennox to see us, Mary. I'm sure he
must think it very odd. To be sure, Sir Sampson's situation is some
excuse; but at any rate I wonder you never spoke about him. We all found
out your Aunt Bella's attachment from the very first, just from her
constantly speaking about Major M'Tavish and the militia; and we had a
good guess of Betsy's too, from the day her face turned so red after
giving Captain M'Nab for her toast; but you have really kept yours very
close, for I declare I never once suspected such a thing. I wonder if
that was Colonel Lennox that I saw you part with at the door one
day - tall, and with brown hair, and a bluecoat. I asked Lady Maclaughlan
if she knew who it was, and she said it was Admiral Benbow; but I think
she must have been mistaken, for I daresay now it was just Colonel
Lennox. Lennox - I'm sure I should be able to remember something about
somebody of that name; but my memory's not so good as it used to be, for
I have so many things, you know, to think about, with Sir Sampson, that
I declare sometimes my head's quite confused; yet I think always there's
something about them. I wish to goodness Lady Maclaughlan was come from
the dentist's, that I might consult her about it; for of course, you'll
do nothing without consulting all your friends - I know you've too much
sense for that. An here's Sir Sampson coming; it will be a fine piece of
news to tell him."

Sir Sampson having been now wheeled in by the still active Philistine,
and properly arranged with the assistance of Miss Grizzy, she took her
usual station by the side of his easy chair, and began to shout into his

"Here's my niece Mary, Sir Sampson; you remember her when she was
little, I daresay - you know you used to call her the fairy of
Lochmarlie; and I'm sure we all thought for long she would have been a
perfect fairy, she was so little; but she's tall enough now, you see,
and she's going to be married to a fine young man. None of us know him
yet, but I think I must have seen him; and at any rate I'm to see him
to-morrow, and you'll see him too, Sir Sampson, for Mary is to bring him
to call here, and he'll tell you all about the battle of Waterloo, and
the Highlanders; for he's half a Highlander too, and I'm certain he'll buy
the Dhuanbog estate, and then, when my niece Mary marries Colonel
Lennox - "

"Lennox!" repeated Sir Sampson, his little dim eyes kindling at the
name - "Who talks of Lennox I - I - I won't suffer it. Where's my Lady?
Lennox! - he's a scoundrel! You shan't marry a Lennox!" Turning to
Grizzy, "Call Philistine, and my Lady." And his agitation was so great
that even Grizzy, although accustomed for forty years to witness similar
ebullitions, became alarmed.

"You see it's all for fear of my marrying," whispered she to Mary.
"I'm sure such a disinterested attachment, it's impossible for me
ever to repay it!"

Then turning to Sir Sampson, she sought to soothe his perturbation by
oft-repeated assurances that it was not her but her niece Mary that was
going to be married to Colonel Lennox. But in vain; Sir Sampson
quivered, and panted, and muttered; and the louder Grizzy screamed out
the truth the more his irritation increased. Recourse was now had to
Philistine; and Mary, thoroughly ashamed of the éclat attending
the disclosure of her secret, and finding she could be of no use, stole
away in the midst of Miss Grizzy's endless _verbiage_, but as she
descended the stairs she still heard the same assurance resounding - "I
can assure you, Sir Sampson, it's not me, but my niece Mary that's going
to be married to Colonel Lennox," etc.

On returning to Beech Park she said nothing of what had passed either to
Lady Emily or Colonel Lennox - aware of the amusement it would furnish to
both; and she felt that her aunt required all the dignity with which she
could invest her before presenting her to her future nephew. The only
delay to her marriage now rested with herself; but she was desirous it
should take place under the roof which had sheltered her infancy, and
sanctioned by the presence of those whom she had ever regarded as her
parents. Lady Emily, Colonel Lennox, and her brother had all endeavoured
to combat this resolution, but in vain; and it was therefore settled
that she should remain to witness the union of her brother and her
cousin, and then return to Lochmarlie. But all Mary's preconceived plans
were threatened with a downfall by the receipt of the following letter
from Miss Jacky: -

GLENFERN CASTLE, - -SHIRIE, _June_ 19, 181 - .

"It _is_ impossible for _language_ to express to _you_ the _shame,_
grief, amazement, and _indignation,_ with _which_ we are _all_ filled at
the distressing, the _ignominious_ disclosure that has _just_ taken
_place_ concerning you, _through_ our most _excellent_ friend Miss P.
M'Pry. Oh, Mary, _how_ have you _deceived_ us all!!! What a _dagger
_have _you_ plunged into _all_ our hearts! Your _poor _Aunt _Grizzy!_
how my _heart_ bleeds _for_ her! What a difficult part _has_ she to
act! and at her _time_ of life! with her acute _feelings!_ with her
devoted _attachment _to the _house_ of M'Laughlan! What a _blow!_ and a
_blow _from your _hand!_ Oh, Mary, I _must_ again repeat, how _have_ you
deceived us _all_!!! Yet _do_ not imagine I mean to _reproach_ you!
Much, much of the blame is _doubtless _imputable to the errors of _your_
education! At the _same _time, even these _offer_ no justification of
your _conduct _upon the present occasion! You are now (I lament to say
it!) _come_ to that time of _life_ when _you_ ought to know _what_ is
right; or, where you entertain _any_ doubts, you ought _most_
unquestionably to _apply_ to those _who_, you _may_ be certain, _are_
well qualified to direct you. _But,_ instead _of_ that, you have
_pursued_ a diametrically opposite _plan:_ a plan which _might_ have
_ended_ in your destruction! Oh, Mary, _I_ cannot too _often _repeat,
how have _you_ deceived us all!!! From no _lips _but those of Miss M'Pry
_would_ I have believed _what_ I have heard, videlicet, that you (oh,
Mary!) have, for many, many months _past,_ been carrying on a
clandestine _correspondence _with a _young_ man, unknown, unsuspected by
_all_ your friends here! and that _young_ man, the very _last_ man on
the face of the _earth_ whom you, or any of _us,_ ought to have given
our countenance _to!_ The very man, in _short,_ whom we were all
_bound,_ by every _principle_ of duty, gratitude, and esteem, to have
shunned, and who you are _bound, _from this _moment,_ to renounce for
ever. How you ever _came _to be acquainted _with_ Colonel Charles Lennox
of Rose Hall is a mystery none of us can fathom; but surely the person,
_whoever _it was that _brought_ it about, has much, _much_ to answer
for! Mrs. Douglas (to whom I _thought_ it proper to _make _an immediate
_communication_ on the subject) pretends to _have_ been well informed of
all that has _been_ going on, and even insists that _your_ acquaintance
_with_ the Lennox family _took_ place through Lady M'Laughlan! _But_
that we _all_ know to be _morally_ impossible. Lady M'Laughlan is the
_very_ last person in the _world_ who would have _introduced_ you, or
any _young_ creature for whom she had the _slightest_ regard, to a
Lennox, the _mortal enemy of the M'Laughlan race!_ I most _sincerely_
trust she is spared the _shock_ we have all experienced at this painful
_disclosure. _With her _high_ principles, and _great_ regard for us, I
tremble to think _what_ might be the consequences! And dear Sir Sampson,
in his delicate state, how _would_ he ever be able to _stand_ such a
blow! and a blow, too, from your _hand,_ Mary! you, who he _was_ always
_like_ a father to! _Many_ a time, I am sure, _have_ you sat upon his
_knee,_ and you certainly _cannot_ have forgot the _elegant_ Shetland
pony he presented you _with_ the day you was five _years_ old! And
_what_ a return for such favours!

"But I fondly trust it _is_ not yet too late. You have _only_ to give up
this unworthy attachment, and all _will_ be forgotten and _forgiven_;
and we will all receive you as if _nothing_ had happened. Oh, Mary! I
must, for the last _time_ repeat, how have you deceived us _all_!

"I am your distressed aunt,


P.S. - I conclude abruptly, in _order_ to leave _room_ for your Aunt Nicky
to _state_ her sentiments also on this _most_ afflicting subject."

Nicky's appendix was as follows: -

"DEAR MARY - Jacky has read her letter to us. It is most excellent. We
are all much affected by it. Not a word but deserves to be printed. I
can add nothing. You see, if you marry Colonel L. none of us can be at
your marriage. How could we? I hope you will think twice about it.
Second thoughts are best. What's done cannot be undone. Yours,

"N. D."

Mary felt somewhat in the situation of the sleeper awakened, as she
perused these mysterious anathemas; and rubbed her eyes more than once
in hopes of dispelling the mist that she thought must needs be upon
them. But in vain: it seemed only to increase with every effort she made
to remove it. Not a single ray of light fell on the palpable obscure of
Miss Jacky's composition, that could enable her to penetrate the dark
profound that encompassed her. She was aware, indeed, that when her aunt
meant to be pathetic or energetic she always had recourse to the longest
and the strongest words she could possibly lay her hands upon; and Mary
had been well accustomed to hear her childish faults and juvenile
indiscretions denounced in the most awful terms as crimes of the deepest
dye. Many an exordium she had listened to on the tearing of her frock,
or the losing of her glove, that might have served as a preface to the
"Newgate Calendar," "Colquhoun on the Police," or any other register of
crimes. Still she had always been able to detect some clue to her own
misdeeds; but here even conjecture was baffled, and in vain she sought
for some resting-place for her imagination, in the probable misdemeanour
of her lover. But even allowing all possible latitude for Jacky's pen,
she was forced to acknowledge there must be some ground for her aunt to
build upon. Superficial as her structures generally were, like
children's card-houses, they had always something to rest upon; though
(unlike them) her creations were invariably upon a gigantic scale.

Mary had often reflected with surprise that, although Lady Maclauglan
had been the person to introduce her to Mrs. Lennox, no intercourse had
taken place between the families themselves; and when she had mentioned
them to each other Mrs. Lennox had only sighed, and Lady Maclaughlan had
humphed. She despaired of arriving at the knowledge of the truth from
her aunts. Grizzy's brain was a mere wisp of contradictions; and Jacky's
mind was of that violent hue that cast its own shade upon every object
that came in contact with it. To mention the matter to Colonel Lennox
was only to make the relations ridiculous; and, in short, although it
was a formidable step, the result of her deliberation was to go to
Lady Maclaughlan, and request a solution of her aunt's dark sayings. She
therefore departed for Milsom Street, and, upon entering the
drawing-room, found Grizzy alone, and evidently in even more than usual

"Oh, Mary!" cried she, as her niece entered, "I'm sure I'm thankful
you're come. I was just wishing for you. You can't think how much
mischief your yesterday's visit has done. It's a thousand pities, I
declare, that ever you said a word about your marriage to Sir Sampson.
But of course I don't mean to blame you, Mary. You know you couldn't
help it; so don't vex yourself, for you know that will not make the
thing any better now. Only if Sir Sampson should die - to be sure I must
always think it was that that killed him; and I'm sure it at will soon
kill me too-such a friend - oh, Mary!" Here a burst of grief choked poor
Miss Grizzy's utterance.

"My dear aunt," said Mary, "you certainly must be mistaken. Sir Sampson
seems to retain no recollection of me. It is therefore impossible that I
could cause him any pain or agitation."

"Oh certainly!" said Grizzy. "There's no doubt Sir Sampson has quite
forgot you, Mary - and no wonder-with your being so long away; but I
daresay he'll come to know you yet. But I'm sure I hope to goodness
he'll never know you as Mrs. Lennox, Mary. That would break his heart
altogether; for you know the Lennoxes have always been the greatest
enemies of the Maclaughlans, - and of course Sir Sampson can't bear
anybody of the name, which is quite natural. And it was very thoughtless
in me to have forgot that till Philistine put me in mind of it, and poor
Sir Sampson has had a very bad night; so I'm sure I hope, Mary, you'll
never think any more about Colonel Lennox; and, take my word for it,
you'll get plenty of husbands yet. Now, since there's a peace, there
will be plenty of fine young officers coming home. There's young
Balquhadan, a captain, I know, in some regiment; and there's
Dhalahulish, and Lochgrunason, and - " But Miss Grizzy's ideas here shot
out into so many ramifications upon so many different branches of the
county tree, that it would be in vain for any but a true Celt to attempt
to follow her.

Mary again tried to lead her back to the subject of the Lennoxes, in
hopes of being able to extract some spark of knowledge from the dark
chaos of her brain.

"Oh, I'm sure, Mary, if you want to hear about that, I can tell you
plenty about the Lennoxes; or at any rate about the Maclaughlans, which
is the same thing. But I must first find my huswife."

To save Miss Grizzy's reminiscence, a few words will suffice to clear up
the mystery. A family feud of remote origin had long subsisted between
the families of Lennox and Maclaughlan, which had been carefully
transmitted from father to son, till the hereditary brand had been
deposited in the breast of Sir Sampson. By the death of many intervening
heirs General Lennox, then a youth, was next in succession to the
Maclaughlan estate; but the power of alienating it was vested in Sir
Sampson, as the last remaining heir of the entail. By the mistaken zeal
of their friends both were, at an early period, placed in the same
regiment, in the hope that constant as association together would
quickly destroy their mutual prejudices, and produce a reconciliation.
But the inequalities were too great ever to assimilate. Sir Sampson
possessed a large fortune, a deformed person, and a weak, vain,
irritable mind. General (then Ensign) Lennox had no other patrimony than
his sword - a handsome person, high spirit, and dauntless courage. With
these tempers, it may easily be conceived that a thousand trifling
events occurred to keep alive the hereditary animosity. Sir Sampson's
mind expected from his poor kinsman a degree of deference and respect
which the other, so far from rendering, rather sought opportunities of
showing his contempt for, and of thwarting and ridiculing him upon every
occasion, till Sir Sampson was obliged to quit the regiment. From that
time it was understood that all bearing the name of Lennox were for ever
excluded from the succession to the Maclaughlan estates; and it was
deemed a sort of petty treason even to name the name of a Lennox in
presence of this dignified chieftain.

Many years had worn away, and Sir Sampson had passed through the various
modifications of human nature, from the "mewling infant" to "mere
oblivion," without having become either wiser or better. His mind
remained the same - irascible and vindictive to the last. Lady
Maclaughlan had too much sense to attempt to reason or argue him out of
his prejudices, but she contrived to prevent him from ever executing a
new entail. She had known and esteemed both General and Mrs. Lennox
before her marriage with Sir Sampson, and she was too firm and decided
in her predilections ever to abandon them; and while she had the credit
of sharing in all her husband's animosity, she was silently protecting
the lawful rights of those who had long ceased to consider them as such.
General Lennox had always understood that he and his family were under
Sir Sampson's _ban_, and he possessed too high a spirit ever to express
a regret, or even allude to the circumstances. It had therefore made a
very faint impression on the minds of any of his family, and in the long
lapse of years had been almost forgot by Mrs. Lennox, till recalled by
Lady Maclaughlan's letter. But she had been silent on the subject to
Mary; for she could not conceal from herself that her husband had been
to blame - that the heat and violence of his temper had often led him to
provoke and exasperate where mildness and forbearance would have soothed
and conciliated, without detracting from his dignity; but her gentle
heart shrank from the task of unnecessarily disclosing the faults of
the man she had loved; and then she heard Mary talk with rapture of the
wild beauties of Lochmarlie, she had only sighed to think that the pride
and prejudice of others had alienated the inheritance of her son.

But all this Mary was still in ignorance of, for Miss Grizzy had gone
completely astray in the attempt to trace the rise and progress of the
Lennox and Maclaughlan feud. Happily Lady Maclauglan's entrance
extricated her from her labyrinth, as it as the signal for her to repair
to Sir Sampson. Mary, in some little confusion, was beginning to express
to her Ladyship regret at hearing that Sir Sampson had been so unwell,
when she was stopped.

"My dear child, don't learn to tell lies. You don't care two pence for
Sir Sampson. I know all. You are going to be married to Charles Lennox.
I'm glad of it. I wished you to marry him. Whether you'll thank me for
that twenty years hence, _I_ can't tell - you can't tell - he can't
tell - God knows - humph! Your aunts will tell you he is Beelzebub,
because his father said he could make a Sir Sampson out of a mouldy
lemon. Perhaps he could. I don't know but your aunts are fools. You know
what fools are, and so do I. There are plenty of fools in the world; but
if they had not been sent for some wise purpose they wouldn't have been
here; and since they are here they have as good a right to have
elbow-room in the world as the wisest. Sir Sampson hated General Lennox
because he laughed at him; and if Sir Sampson had lived a hundred years
ago, his hatred might have been a fine thing to talk about now. It is
the same passion that makes heroes of your De Montforts, and your
Manuels, and your Corsairs, and all the rest of them; but they wore
cloaks and daggers, and these are the supporters of hatred. Everybody
laughs at the hatred of a little old man in a cocked hat. You may laugh
too. So now, God bless you! Continue as you are, and marry the man you
like, though the world should set its teeth against you. 'Tis not
every woman can be trusted to do that - farewell!" And with a cordial
salute they parted.

Mary was too well accustomed to Lady Maclaughlan's style not to
comprehend that her marriage with Colonel Lennox was an event she had
long wished for and now most warmly sanctioned; and she hastened home to
convey the glad tidings in a letter to her aunts, though doubtful if the
truth itself would be able to pierce its way through their prejudices.

Another stroke of palsy soon rendered Sir Sampson unconscious even to
the charms of Grizzy's conversation, and as she was no longer of use to
him, and was evidently at a loss how to employ herself, Mary proposed
that she should accompany her back to Lochmarlie, to which she yielded a
joyful assent. Once convinced of Lady Maclaughlan's approbation of her
niece's marriage she could think and talk of nothing else.

Some wise individuals have thought that most people act from the
inspiration of either a good or an evil power: to which class Miss
Grizzy belonged would have puzzled the most profound metaphysician to
determine. She was, in fact, a Maclaughlanite; but to find the _root_ of
Maclaughlan is another difficulty - thought is lost.

Colonel Lennox, although a little startled at his first introduction to
his future aunt, soon came to understand the _naiveté_ of her
character; and his enlarged mind and good temper made such ample
allowance for her weaknesses, that she protested, with tears in her
eyes, she never knew the like of him - she never could think enough of
him. She wished to goodness Sir Sampson was himself again, and could
only see him; she was sure he would think just as she did, etc. etc.

The day of Lady Emily's marriage arrived, and found her in a more
serious mood than she had hitherto appeared in; though it seemed
doubtful whether it was most occasioned by her own prospects or the
thoughts of parting with Mary, who with Aunt Grizzy, was to set off for
Lochmarlie immediately after witnessing the ceremony. Edward and his
bride would fain have accompanied her; but Lord Courtland was too much
accustomed to his daughter and amused by his nephew to bear their
absence, and they therefore yielded the point, though with reluctance.
"This is all for want of a little opposition to have braced my nerves,"
said Lady Emily, as she dropped a few tears. "I verily believe I should
have wept outright had I not happily descried Dr. Redgill shrugging his
shoulders at me; that has given a filip to my spirits. After all, 'tis
perhaps a foolish action I've committed. The icy bonds of matrimony are
upon me already; I feel myself turning into a fond, faithful, rational,
humble, meek-spirited wife! Alas! I must now turn my head into a museum,
and hang up all my smart sayings inside my brain, there to petrify, as
warnings to all pert misses. Dear Mary! if ever I am good for anything,
it will be to you I owe it!"

Mary could only embrace her cousin in silence, as she parted from her
brother and her with the deepest emotion, and, assisted by Colonel
Lennox (who was to follow), took her station by the side of her aunt.

"I wish you a pleasant journey, Miss Mary," cried Dr. Redgill. "The game
season is coming on, and - " But the carriage drove off; and the rest of
the sentence was dispersed by the wind; and all that could be collected
was, "grouse always acceptable - friends at a distance - roebuck stuffed
with heather carries well at all times," etc. etc.

To one less practised in her ways, and less gifted with patience, the
eternal babbling of Aunt Grizzy as a travelling companion would have
occasioned considerable ennui, if not spleen. There are perhaps few
greater trials of temper than that of travelling with a person who
thinks it necessary to be actively pleasant, without a moment's

Online LibrarySusan Edmonstone FerrierMarriage → online text (page 37 of 38)