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The Antiquary and Lovel—the Sanctum

Sir Arthur and Miss Wardour

The Rescue of Sir Arthur and Miss Wardour

Eddie Ochiltree Visits Miss Wardour

Mrs. Heukbane and Mrs. Shortcake

St. Ruth (arbroath Abbey)

The Ruins of St. Ruth


I knew Anselmo. He was shrewd and prudent,
Wisdom and cunning had their shares of him;
But he was shrewish as a wayward child,
And pleased again by toys which childhood please;
As—-book of fables, graced with print of wood,
Or else the jingling of a rusty medal,
Or the rare melody of some old ditty,
That first was sung to please King Pepin's cradle


The present work completes a series of fictitious narratives, intended
to illustrate the manners of Scotland at three different periods.
Waverley embraced the age of our fathers, Guy Mannering that of our own
youth, and the Antiquary refers to the last ten years of the eighteenth
century. I have, in the two last narratives especially, sought my
principal personages in the class of society who are the last to feel
the influence of that general polish which assimilates to each other the
manners of different nations. Among the same class I have placed some
of the scenes in which I have endeavoured to illustrate the operation of
the higher and more violent passions; both because the lower orders are
less restrained by the habit of suppressing their feelings, and because
I agree, with my friend Wordsworth, that they seldom fail to express
them in the strongest and most powerful language. This is, I think,
peculiarly the case with the peasantry of my own country, a class with
whom I have long been familiar. The antique force and simplicity
of their language, often tinctured with the Oriental eloquence of
Scripture, in the mouths of those of an elevated understanding, give
pathos to their grief, and dignity to their resentment.

I have been more solicitous to describe manners minutely than to arrange
in any case an artificial and combined narrative, and have but to regret
that I felt myself unable to unite these two requisites of a good Novel.

The knavery of the adept in the following sheets may appear forced
and improbable; but we have had very late instances of the force of
superstitious credulity to a much greater extent, and the reader may be
assured, that this part of the narrative is founded on a fact of actual

I have now only to express my gratitude to the Public for the
distinguished reception which, they have given to works, that have
little more than some truth of colouring to recommend them, and to take
my respectful leave, as one who is not likely again to solicit their

To the above advertisement, which was prefixed to the first edition
of the Antiquary, it is necessary in the present edition to add a
few words, transferred from the Introduction to the Chronicles of the
Canongate, respecting the character of Jonathan Oldbuck.

"I may here state generally, that although I have deemed historical
personages free subjects of delineation, I have never on any occasion
violated the respect due to private life. It was indeed impossible that
traits proper to persons, both living and dead, with whom I have had
intercourse in society, should not have risen to my pen in such works
as Waverley, and those which, followed it. But I have always studied to
generalise the portraits, so that they should still seem, on the whole,
the productions of fancy, though possessing some resemblance to real
individuals. Yet I must own my attempts have not in this last particular
been uniformly successful. There are men whose characters are so
peculiarly marked, that the delineation of some leading and principal
feature, inevitably places the whole person before you in his
individuality. Thus the character of Jonathan Oldbuck in the Antiquary,
was partly founded on that of an old friend of my youth, to whom I am
indebted for introducing me to Shakspeare, and other invaluable favours;
but I thought I had so completely disguised the likeness, that it could
not be recognised by any one now alive. I was mistaken, however, and
indeed had endangered what I desired should be considered as a secret;
for I afterwards learned that a highly respectable gentleman, one of the
few surviving friends of my father, and an acute critic, had said, upon
the appearance of the work, that he was now convinced who was the author
of it, as he recognised, in the Antiquary, traces of the character of a
very intimate friend* of my father's family."

* [The late George Constable of Wallace Craigie, near Dundee.]

I have only farther to request the reader not to suppose that my late
respected friend resembled Mr. Oldbuck, either in his pedigree, or the
history imputed to the ideal personage. There is not a single incident
in the Novel which is borrowed from his real circumstances, excepting
the fact that he resided in an old house near a flourishing seaport, and
that the author chanced to witness a scene betwixt him and the female
proprietor of a stage-coach, very similar to that which commences the
history of the Antiquary. An excellent temper, with a slight degree of
subacid humour; learning, wit, and drollery, the more poignant that
they were a little marked by the peculiarities of an old bachelor; a
soundness of thought, rendered more forcible by an occasional quaintness
of expression, were, the author conceives, the only qualities in which
the creature of his imagination resembled his benevolent and excellent
old friend.

The prominent part performed by the Beggar in the following narrative,
induces the author to prefix a few remarks of that character, as it
formerly existed in Scotland, though it is now scarcely to be traced.

Many of the old Scottish mendicants were by no means to be confounded
with the utterly degraded class of beings who now practise that
wandering trade. Such of them as were in the habit of travelling through
a particular district, were usually well received both in the farmer's
ha', and in the kitchens of the country gentlemen. Martin, author of
the Reliquiae Divi Sancti Andreae, written in 1683, gives the following
account of one class of this order of men in the seventeenth century,
in terms which would induce an antiquary like Mr. Oldbuck to regret its
extinction. He conceives them to be descended from the ancient bards,
and proceeds:—-"They are called by others, and by themselves,
Jockies, who go about begging; and use still to recite the Sloggorne
(gathering-words or war-cries) of most of the true ancient surnames
of Scotland, from old experience and observation. Some of them I have
discoursed, and found to have reason and discretion. One of them told
me there were not now above twelve of them in the whole isle; but he
remembered when they abounded, so as at one time he was one of five that
usually met at St. Andrews."

The race of Jockies (of the above description) has, I suppose, been long
extinct in Scotland; but the old remembered beggar, even in my own time,
like the Baccoch, or travelling cripple of Ireland, was expected to
merit his quarters by something beyond an exposition of his distresses.
He was often a talkative, facetious fellow, prompt at repartee, and not
withheld from exercising his powers that way by any respect of persons,
his patched cloak giving him the privilege of the ancient jester. To
be a gude crack, that is, to possess talents for conversation, was
essential to the trade of a "puir body" of the more esteemed class; and
Burns, who delighted in the amusement their discourse afforded, seems to
have looked forward with gloomy firmness to the possibility of himself
becoming one day or other a member of their itinerant society. In his
poetical works, it is alluded to so often, as perhaps to indicate that
he considered the consummation as not utterly impossible. Thus in the
fine dedication of his works to Gavin Hamilton, he says,—

And when I downa yoke a naig,
Then, Lord be thankit, I can beg.

Again, in his Epistle to Davie, a brother Poet, he states, that in their
closing career—

The last o't, the warst o't,
Is only just to beg.

And after having remarked, that

To lie in kilns and barns at e'en,
When banes are crazed and blude is thin,

Is doubtless great distress; the bard reckons up, with true poetical
spirit, the free enjoyment of the beauties of nature, which might
counterbalance the hardship and uncertainty of the life, even of
a mendicant. In one of his prose letters, to which I have lost the
reference, he details this idea yet more seriously, and dwells upon it,
as not ill adapted to his habits and powers.

As the life of a Scottish mendicant of the eighteenth century seems to
have been contemplated without much horror by Robert Burns, the author
can hardly have erred in giving to Edie Ochiltree something of poetical
character and personal dignity, above the more abject of his miserable
calling. The class had, intact, some privileges. A lodging, such as
it was, was readily granted to them in some of the out-houses, and the
usual awmous (alms) of a handful of meal (called a gowpen) was scarce
denied by the poorest cottager. The mendicant disposed these, according
to their different quality, in various bags around his person, and thus
carried about with him the principal part of his sustenance, which he
literally received for the asking. At the houses of the gentry, his
cheer was mended by scraps of broken meat, and perhaps a Scottish
"twalpenny," or English penny, which was expended in snuff or whiskey.
In fact, these indolent peripatetics suffered much less real hardship
and want of food, than the poor peasants from whom they received alms.

If, in addition to his personal qualifications, the mendicant chanced to
be a King's Bedesman, or Blue-Gown, he belonged, in virtue thereof,
to the aristocracy of his order, and was esteemed a parson of great

These Bedesmen are an order of paupers to whom the Kings of Scotland
were in the custom of distributing a certain alms, in conformity with
the ordinances of the Catholic Church, and who where expected in return
to pray for the royal welfare and that of the state. This order is still
kept up. Their number is equal to the number of years which his Majesty
has lived; and one Blue-Gown additional is put on the roll for every
returning royal birth-day. On the same auspicious era, each Bedesman
receives a new cloak, or gown of coarse cloth, the colour light blue,
with a pewter badge, which confers on them the general privilege of
asking alms through all Scotland,—all laws against sorning, masterful
beggary, and every other species of mendicity, being suspended in favour
of this privileged class. With his cloak, each receives a leathern
purse, containing as many shillings Scots (videlicet, pennies sterling)
as the sovereign is years old; the zeal of their intercession for the
king's long life receiving, it is to be supposed, a great stimulus
from their own present and increasing interest in the object of their
prayers. On the same occasion one of the Royal Chaplains preaches a
sermon to the Bedesmen, who (as one of the reverend gentlemen expressed
himself) are the most impatient and inattentive audience in the world.
Something of this may arise from a feeling on the part of the Bedesmen,
that they are paid for their own devotions, not for listening to those
of others. Or, more probably, it arises from impatience, natural, though
indecorous in men bearing so venerable a character, to arrive at the
conclusion of the ceremonial of the royal birth-day, which, so far as
they are concerned, ends in a lusty breakfast of bread and ale; the
whole moral and religious exhibition terminating in the advice of
Johnson's "Hermit hoar" to his proselyte,

Come, my lad, and drink some beer.

Of the charity bestowed on these aged Bedesmen in money and clothing,
there are many records in the Treasurer's accompts. The following
extract, kindly supplied by Mr. Macdonald of the Register House, may
interest those whose taste is akin to that of Jonathan Oldbuck of
Monkbarns. BLEW GOWNIS.

In the Account of Sir Robert Melvill of Murdocarney,
Treasurer-Depute of King James VI., there are the following Payments:—

"Junij 1590.

"Item, to Mr. Peter Young, Elimosinar, twentie four gownis of blew
clayth, to be gevin to xxiiij auld men, according to the yeiris of his
hienes age, extending to viii xx viii elnis clayth; price of the elne
xxiiij s. Inde, ij cj li. xij s.

"Item, for sextene elnis bukrum to the saidis gownis, price of the elne x
s. Inde,viij li.

"Item, twentie four pursis, and in ilk purse twentie four schelling
Inde, xxciij li. xvj s.
"Item, the price of ilk purse iiij d. Inde, viij s.

"Item, for making of the saidis gownis viij li. "

In the Account of John, Earl of Mar, Great Treasurer of Scotland, and of
Sir Gideon Murray of Enbank, Treasurer-Depute, the Blue-Gowns also appear

"Junij 1617.

"Item, to James Murray, merchant, for fyftene scoir sex elnis and aine
half elne of blew claith to be gownis to fyftie ane aigeit men, according
to the yeiris of his Majesteis age, at xl s. the elne
Inde,vj c xiij li.

"Item, to workmen for careing the blewis to James Aikman, tailyeour, his
hous xiij s. iiij d.

"Item, for sex elnis and ane half of harden to the saidis gownis, at vj
s. viij d. the elne Inde,xliij s. iiij d.

"Item, to the said workmen for careing of the gownis fra the said James
Aikman's hous to the palace of Halyrudehous xviij s.

"Item, for making the saidis fyftie ane gownis, at xij s. the peice
Inde,xxx li. xij s.

"Item, for fyftie ane pursis to the said puire menlj s.

"Item, to Sir Peter Young,li s. to be put in everie ane of the saidis
ljpursis to the said poore men j cxxxl jj s.

"Item, to the said Sir Peter, to buy breid and drink to the said puir men
vj li. xiij s. iiij d.

"Item, to the said Sir Peter, to be delt amang uther puire folk j cli.

"Item, upoun the last day of Junii to Doctor Young, Deane of Winchester,
Elimozinar Deput to his Majestic, twentie fyve pund sterling, to be gevin
to the puir be the way in his Majesteis progress Inde,iij c li. "

I have only to add, that although the institution of King's Bedesmen
still subsists, they are now seldom to be seen on the streets
of Edinburgh, of which their peculiar dress made them rather a
characteristic feature.

Having thus given an account of the genus and species to which Edie
Ochiltree appertains, the author may add, that the individual he had
in his eye was Andrew Gemmells, an old mendicant of the character
described, who was many years since well known, and must still be
remembered, in the vales of Gala, Tweed, Ettrick, Yarrow, and the
adjoining country.

The author has in his youth repeatedly seen and conversed with Andrew,
but cannot recollect whether he held the rank of Blue-Gown. He was a
remarkably fine old figure, very tall, and maintaining a soldierlike
or military manner and address. His features were intelligent, with a
powerful expression of sarcasm. His motions were always so graceful,
that he might almost have been suspected of having studied them; for
he might, on any occasion, have, served as a model for an artist, so
remarkably striking were his ordinary attitudes. Andrew Gemmells had
little of the cant of his calling; his wants were food and shelter, or
a trifle of money, which he always claimed, and seemed to receive as his
due. He, sung a good song, told a good story, and could crack a severe
jest with all the acumen of Shakespeare's jesters, though without using,
like them, the cloak of insanity. It was some fear of Andrew's satire,
as much as a feeling of kindness or charity, which secured him the
general good reception which he enjoyed everywhere. In fact, a jest of
Andrew Gemmells, especially at the expense of a person of consequence,
flew round the circle which he frequented, as surely as the bon-mot of
a man of established character for wit glides through the fashionable
world, Many of his good things are held in remembrance, but are
generally too local and personal to be introduced here.

Andrew had a character peculiar to himself among his tribe for aught I
ever heard. He was ready and willing to play at cards or dice with any
one who desired such amusement. This was more in the character of the
Irish itinerant gambler, called in that country a "carrow," than of the
Scottish beggar. But the late Reverend Doctor Robert Douglas, minister
of Galashiels, assured the author, that the last time he saw Andrew
Gemmells, he was engaged in a game at brag with a gentleman of fortune,
distinction, and birth. To preserve the due gradations of rank, the
party was made at an open window of the chateau, the laird sitting on
his chair in the inside, the beggar on a stool in the yard; and they
played on the window-sill. The stake was a considerable parcel of
silver. The author expressing some surprise, Dr. Douglas observed, that
the laird was no doubt a humourist or original; but that many decent
persons in those times would, like him, have thought there was
nothing extraordinary in passing an hour, either in card-playing or
conversation, with Andrew Gemmells.

This singular mendicant had generally, or was supposed to have, much
money about his person, as would have been thought the value of his life
among modern foot-pads. On one occasion, a country gentleman, generally
esteemed a very narrow man, happening to meet Andrew, expressed great
regret that he had no silver in his pocket, or he would have given him
sixpence.—"I can give you change for a note, laird," replied Andrew.

Like most who have arisen to the head of their profession, the modern
degradation which mendicity has undergone was often the subject of
Andrew's lamentations. As a trade, he said, it was forty pounds a-year
worse since he had first practised it. On another occasion he observed,
begging was in modern times scarcely the profession of a gentleman; and
that, if he had twenty sons, he would not easily be induced to breed one
of them up in his own line. When or where this laudator temporis acti
closed his wanderings, the author never heard with certainty; but most
probably, as Burns says,

—he died a cadger-powny's death,
At some dike side.

The author may add another picture of the same kind as Edie Ochiltree
and Andrew Gemmells; considering these illustrations as a sort of
gallery, open to the reception of anything which may elucidate former
manners, or amuse the reader.

The author's contemporaries at the university of Edinburgh will probably
remember the thin, wasted form of a venerable old Bedesman, who stood
by the Potterrow-Port, now demolished, and, without speaking a syllable,
gently inclined his head, and offered his hat, but with the least
possible degree of urgency, towards each individual who passed. This man
gained, by silence and the extenuated and wasted appearance of a palmer
from a remote country, the same tribute which was yielded to Andrew
Gemmells' sarcastic humour and stately deportment. He was understood to
be able to maintain a son a student in the theological classes of the
University, at the gate of which the father was a mendicant. The young
man was modest and inclined to learning, so that a student of the same
age, and whose parents where rather of the lower order, moved by seeing
him excluded from the society of other scholars when the secret of his
birth was suspected, endeavoured to console him by offering him some
occasional civilities. The old mendicant was grateful for this attention
to his son, and one day, as the friendly student passed, he stooped
forward more than usual, as if to intercept his passage. The scholar
drew out a halfpenny, which he concluded was the beggar's object, when
he was surprised to receive his thanks for the kindness he had shown to
Jemmie, and at the same time a cordial invitation to dine with them next
Saturday, "on a shoulder of mutton and potatoes," adding, "ye'll put on
your clean sark, as I have company." The student was strongly tempted
to accept this hospitable proposal, as many in his place would
probably have done; but, as the motive might have been capable of
misrepresentation, he thought it most prudent, considering the character
and circumstances of the old man, to decline the invitation.

Such are a few traits of Scottish mendicity, designed to throw light on
a Novel in which a character of that description plays a prominent
part. We conclude, that we have vindicated Edie Ochiltree's right to the
importance assigned him; and have shown, that we have known one beggar
take a hand at cards with a person of distinction, and another give
dinner parties.

I know not if it be worth while to observe, that the Antiquary,* was not
so well received on its first appearance as either of its predecessors,
though in course of time it rose to equal, and, with some readers,
superior popularity.

* Note A. Mottoes.


"THE ANTIQUARY" was begun in 1815; the bargain for its publication by
Constable was made in the October of that year. On December 22 Scott
wrote to Morritt: "I shall set myself seriously to 'The Antiquary,' of
which I have only a very general sketch at present; but when once I get
my pen to the paper it will walk fast enough. I am sometimes tempted to
leave it alone, and try whether it will not write as well without the
assistance of my head as with it,—a hopeful prospect for the reader!'"
It is amazing enough that he even constructed "a general sketch," for
to such sketches he confesses that he never could keep constant. "I have
generally written to the middle of one of these novels without having
the least idea how it was to end,—in short, in the hab nab at a venture
style of composition" (Journal, Feb. 24, 1828). Yet it is almost
impossible but that the plot of "The Antiquary" should have been duly
considered. Scott must have known from the first who Lovel was to
turn out to be, and must have recognised in the hapless bride of
Lord Glenallan the object of the Antiquary's solitary and unfortunate
passion. To introduce another Wandering Heir immediately after the Harry
Bertram of "Guy Mannering" was rather audacious. But that old favourite,
the Lost Heir, is nearly certain to be popular. For the Antiquary's
immortal sorrow Scott had a model in his own experience. "What a romance
to tell!—and told, I fear, it will one day be. And then my three years
of dreaming and my two years of wakening will be chronicled doubtless.
But the dead will feel no pain." The dead, as Aristotle says, if they
care for such things at all, care no more than we do for what has passed
in a dream.

The general sketch probably began to take full shape about the last day
of 1815. On December 29 Scott wrote to Ballantyne:—

I've done, thank'God, with the long yarns
Of the most prosy of Apostles—Paul,1
And now advance, sweet heathen of Monkbarns,
Step out, old quizz, as fast as I can scrawl.

In "The Antiquary" Scott had a subject thoroughly to his mind. He
had been an antiquary from his childhood. His earliest pence had

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Online LibraryWalter ScottThe Antiquary — Volume 01 → online text (page 1 of 21)