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The Black Dwarf

Walter Scott

  Produced by An Anonymous Volunteer and David Widger


  by Sir Walter Scott


  I. Tales of my Landlord Introduction by "Jedediah Cleishbotham" II. Introduction to THE BLACK DWARF III. Main text of THE BLACK DWARF

  Note: Footnotes in the printed book have been inserted in the etext in square brackets ("[]") close to the place where they were referenced by a suffix in the original text. Text in italics has been written in capital letters.




  As I may, without vanity, presume that the name and official descriptionprefixed to this Proem will secure it, from the sedate and reflectingpart of mankind, to whom only I would be understood to address myself,such attention as is due to the sedulous instructor of youth, and thecareful performer of my Sabbath duties, I will forbear to hold upa candle to the daylight, or to point out to the judicious thoserecommendations of my labours which they must necessarily anticipatefrom the perusal of the title-page. Nevertheless, I am not unaware,that, as Envy always dogs Merit at the heels, there may be those whowill whisper, that albeit my learning and good principles cannot(lauded be the heavens) be denied by any one, yet that my situation atGandercleugh hath been more favourable to my acquisitions in learningthan to the enlargement of my views of the ways and works of the presentgeneration. To the which objection, if, peradventure, any such shall bestarted, my answer shall be threefold:

  First, Gandercleugh is, as it were, the central part--the navel (SIFAS SIT DICERE) of this our native realm of Scotland; so that men, fromevery corner thereof, when travelling on their concernments of business,either towards our metropolis of law, by which I mean Edinburgh, ortowards our metropolis and mart of gain, whereby I insinuate Glasgow,are frequently led to make Gandercleugh their abiding stage and place ofrest for the night. And it must be acknowledged by the most sceptical,that I, who have sat in the leathern armchair, on the left-hand side ofthe fire, in the common room of the Wallace Inn, winter and summer,for every evening in my life, during forty years bypast (the ChristianSabbaths only excepted), must have seen more of the manners and customsof various tribes and people, than if I had sought them out by myown painful travel and bodily labour. Even so doth the tollman at thewell-frequented turn-pike on the Wellbraehead, sitting at his ease inhis own dwelling, gather more receipt of custom, than if, moving forthupon the road, he were to require a contribution from each person whomhe chanced to meet in his journey, when, according to the vulgar adage,he might possibly be greeted with more kicks than halfpence.

  But, secondly, supposing it again urged, that Ithacus, the most wise ofthe Greeks, acquired his renown, as the Roman poet hath assured us, byvisiting states and men, I reply to the Zoilus who shall adhere to thisobjection, that, DE FACTO, I have seen states and men also; for I havevisited the famous cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, the former twice,and the latter three times, in the course of my earthly pilgrimage. And,moreover, I had the honour to sit in the General Assembly (meaning, asan auditor, in the galleries thereof), and have heard as much goodlyspeaking on the law of patronage, as, with the fructification thereofin mine own understanding, hath made me be considered as an oracle uponthat doctrine ever since my safe and happy return to Gandercleugh.

  Again--and thirdly, If it be nevertheless pretended that my informationand knowledge of mankind, however extensive, and however painfullyacquired, by constant domestic enquiry, and by foreign travel, is,natheless, incompetent to the task of recording the pleasant narrativesof my Landlord, I will let these critics know, to their own eternalshame and confusion as well as to the abashment and discomfiture of allwho shall rashly take up a song against me, that I am NOT the writer,redacter, or compiler, of the Tales of my Landlord; nor am I, in onesingle iota, answerable for their contents, more or less. And now, yegeneration of critics, who raise yourselves up as if it were brazenserpents, to hiss with your tongues, and to smite with your stings, bowyourselves down to your native dust, and acknowledge that yours havebeen the thoughts of ignorance, and the words of vain foolishness. Lo!ye are caught in your own snare, and your own pit hath yawned for you.Turn, then, aside from the task that is too heavy for you; destroynot your teeth by gnawing a file; waste not your strength by spurningagainst a castle wall; nor spend your breath in contending in swiftnesswith a fleet steed; and let those weigh the Tales of my Landlord, whoshall bring with them the scales of candour cleansed from the rust ofprejudice by the hands of intelligent modesty. For these alone they werecompiled, as will appear from a brief narrative which my zeal for truthcompelled me to make supplementary to the present Proem.

  It is well known that my Landlord was a pleasing and a facetious man,acceptable unto all the parish of Gandercleugh, excepting only theLaird, the Exciseman, and those for whom he refused to draw liquor upontrust. Their causes of dislike I will touch separately, adding my ownrefutation thereof.

  His honour, the Laird, accused our Landlord, deceased, of havingencouraged, in various times and places, the destruction of hares,rabbits, fowls black and grey, partridges, moor-pouts, roe-deer, andother birds and quadrupeds, at unlawful seasons, and contrary to thelaws of this realm, which have secured, in their wisdom, the slaughterof such animals for the great of the earth, whom I have remarked to takean uncommon (though to me, an unintelligible) pleasure therein. Now, inhumble deference to his honour, and in justifiable defence of my frienddeceased, I reply to this charge, that howsoever the form of suchanimals might appear to be similar to those so protected by the law, yetit was a mere DECEPTIO VISUS; for what resembled hares were, in fact,HILL-KIDS, and those partaking of the appearance of moor-fowl, weretruly WOOD PIGEONS and consumed and eaten EO NOMINE, and not otherwise.

  Again, the Exciseman pretended, that my deceased Landlord did encouragethat species of manufacture called distillation, without having anespecial permission from the Great, technically called a license, fordoing so. Now, I stand up to confront this falsehood; and in defianceof him, his gauging-stick, and pen and inkhorn, I tell him, that Inever saw, or tasted, a glass of unlawful aqua vitae in the house ofmy Landlord; nay, that, on the contrary, we needed not such devices, inrespect of a pleasing and somewhat seductive liquor, which was vendedand consumed at the Wallace Inn, under the name of MOUNTAIN DEW. Ifthere is a penalty against manufacturing such a liquor, let him show methe statute; and when he does, I'll tell him if I will obey it or no.

  Concerning those who came to my Landlord for liquor, and went thirstyaway, for lack of present coin, or future credit, I cannot but say ithas grieved my bowels as if the case had been mine own. Nevertheless, myLandlord considered the necessities of a thirsty soul, and would permitthem, in extreme need, and when their soul was impoverished for lackof moisture, to drink to the full value of their watches and wearingapparel, exclusively of their inferior habiliments, which he wasuniformly inexorable in obliging them to retain, for the credit of thehouse. As to mine own part, I may well say, that he never refused methat modicum of refreshment with which I am wont to recruit nature afterthe fatigues of my school. It is true, I taught his five sons Englishand Latin, writing, book-keeping, with a tincture of mathematics, andthat I instructed his daughter in psalmody. Nor do I remember me ofany fee or HONORARIUM received from him on account of these my labours,except the compotations aforesaid. Nevertheless this compensation suitedmy humour well, since it is a hard sentence to bid a dry throat waittill quarter-day.

  But, truly, were I to speak my simple conceit and belief, I think myLandlord was chiefly moved to waive in my behalf the usual requisitionof a symbol, or reckoning, from the ple
asure he was wont to take in myconversation, which, though solid and edifying in the main, was, likea well-built palace, decorated with facetious narratives and devices,tending much to the enhancement and ornament thereof. And so pleased wasmy Landlord of the Wallace in his replies during such colloquies, thatthere was no district in Scotland, yea, and no peculiar, and, as itwere, distinctive custom therein practised, but was discussed betwixtus; insomuch, that those who stood by were wont to say, it was wortha bottle of ale to hear us communicate with each other. And not a fewtravellers, from distant parts, as well as from the remote districts ofour kingdom, were wont to mingle in the conversation, and to tell newsthat had been gathered in foreign lands, or preserved from oblivion inthis our own.

  Now I chanced to have contracted for teaching the lower classes with ayoung person called Peter, or Patrick, Pattieson, who had been educatedfor our Holy Kirk, yea, had, by the license of presbytery, his voiceopened therein as a preacher, who delighted in the collection of oldentales and legends, and in garnishing them with the flowers of poesy,whereof he was a vain and frivolous professor. For he followed not theexample of those strong poets whom I proposed to him as a pattern, butformed versification of a flimsy and modern texture, to the compoundingwhereof was necessary small pains and less thought. And hence I havechid him as being one of those who bring forward the fatal revolutionprophesied by Mr. Robert Carey, in his Vaticination on the Death of thecelebrated Dr. John Donne:

  Now thou art gone, and thy strict laws will be Too hard for libertines in poetry; Till verse (by thee refined) in this last age Turn ballad rhyme.

  I had also disputations with him touching his indulging rather aflowing and redundant than a concise and stately diction in his proseexercitations. But notwithstanding these symptoms of inferior taste,and a humour of contradicting his betters upon passages of dubiousconstruction in Latin authors, I did grievously lament when PeterPattieson was removed from me by death, even as if he had been theoffspring of my own loins. And in respect his papers had been left inmy care (to answer funeral and death-bed expenses), I conceived myselfentitled to dispose of one parcel thereof, entitled, "Tales of myLandlord," to one cunning in the trade (as it is called) of bookselling.He was a mirthful man, of small stature, cunning in counterfeiting ofvoices, and in making facetious tales and responses, and whom I have tolaud for the truth of his dealings towards me.

  Now, therefore, the world may see the injustice that charges me withincapacity to write these narratives, seeing, that though I have provedthat I could have written them if I would, yet, not having done so,the censure will deservedly fall, if at all due, upon the memory of Mr.Peter Pattieson; whereas I must be justly entitled to the praise,when any is due, seeing that, as the Dean of St. Patrick's wittily andlogically expresseth it,

  That without which a thing is not, Is CAUSA SINE QUA NON.

  The work, therefore, is unto me as a child is to a parent; in the whichchild, if it proveth worthy, the parent hath honour and praise; but, ifotherwise, the disgrace will deservedly attach to itself alone.

  I have only further to intimate, that Mr. Peter Pattieson, in arrangingthese Tales for the press, hath more consulted his own fancy than theaccuracy of the narrative; nay, that he hath sometimes blended twoor three stories together for the mere grace of his plots. Of whichinfidelity, although I disapprove and enter my testimony against it, yetI have not taken upon me to correct the same, in respect it was the willof the deceased, that his manuscript should be submitted to the presswithout diminution or alteration. A fanciful nicety it was on the partof my deceased friend, who, if thinking wisely, ought rather to haveconjured me, by all the tender ties of our friendship and commonpursuits, to have carefully revised, altered, and augmented, at myjudgment and discretion. But the will of the dead must be scrupulouslyobeyed, even when we weep over their pertinacity and self-delusion. So,gentle reader, I bid you farewell, recommending you to such fare as themountains of your own country produce; and I will only farther premise,that each Tale is preceded by a short introduction, mentioning thepersons by whom, and the circumstances under which, the materialsthereof were collected.