Conclusion, by Dr. Dryasdust

In a Letter to the Author of Waverley

Walter Scott

I AM truly sorry, my worthy and much-respected sir, that my anxious researches have neither, in the form of letters, nor of diaries or other memoranda, been able to discover more than I have hitherto transmitted, of the history of the Redgauntlet family. But I observe in an old newspaper called the Whitehall Gazette, of which I fortunately possess a file for several years, that Sir Arthur Darsie Redgauntlet was presented to his late Majesty at the drawing-room, by Lieut.-General Campbell—upon which the editor observes, in the way of comment, that we were going, remis atque velis, into the interests of the Pretender, since a Scot had presented a Jacobite at Court. I am sorry I have not room (the frank being only uncial) for his further observations, tending to show the apprehensions entertained by many well-instructed persons of the period, that the young king might himself be induced to become one of the Stuarts’ faction,—a catastrophe from which it has pleased Heaven to preserve these kingdoms.

I perceive also, by a marriage-contract in the family repositories, that Miss Lilias Redgauntlet of Redgauntlet, about eighteen months after the transactions you have commemorated, intermarried with Alan Fairford, Esq., Advocate, of Clinkdollar, who, I think, we may not unreasonably conclude to be the same person whose name occurs so frequently in the pages of your narration. In my last excursion to Edinburgh, I was fortunate enough to discover an old caddie, from whom, at the expense of a bottle of whisky and half a pound of tobacco, I extracted the important information, that he knew Peter Peebles very well, and had drunk many a mutchkin with him in Caddie Fraser’s time. He said that he lived ten years after King George’s accession, in the momentary expectation of winning his cause every day in the session time, and every hour in the day, and at last fell down dead, in what my informer called a “perplexity fit,” upon a proposal for a composition being made to him in the Outer House. I have chosen to retain my informer’s phrase, not being able justly to determine whether it is a corruption of the word apoplexy, as my friend Mr. Oldbuck supposes, or the name of some peculiar disorder incidental to those who have concern in the courts of law, as many callings and conditions of men have diseases appropriate to themselves. The same caddie also remembered Blind Willie Stevenson, who was called Wandering Willie, and who ended his days “unco beinly, in Sir Arthur Redgauntlet’s ha’ neuk.” “He had done the family some good turn,” he said, “specially when ane of the Argyle gentlemen was coming down on a wheen of them that had the ‘auld leaven’ about them, and wad hae taen every man of them, and nae less nor headed and hanged them. But Willie, and a friend they had, called Robin the Rambler, gae them warning, by playing tunes such as ‘The Campbells are coming’ and the like, whereby they got timeous warning to take the wing.” I need not point out to your acuteness, my worthy sir, that this seems to refer to some inaccurate account of the transactions in which you seem so much interested.

Respecting Redgauntlet, about whose subsequent history you are more particularly inquisitive, I have learned from an excellent person who was a priest in the Scottish Monastery of Ratisbon, before its suppression, that he remained for two or three years in the family of the Chevalier, and only left it at last in consequence of some discords in that melancholy household. As he had hinted to General Campbell, he exchanged his residence for the cloister, and displayed in the latter part of his life, a strong sense of the duties of religion, which in his earlier days he had too much neglected, being altogether engaged in political speculations and intrigues. He rose to the situation of prior, in the house which he belonged to, and which was of a very strict order of religion. He sometimes received his countrymen, whom accident brought to Ratisbon, and curiosity induced to visit the Monastery of ——. But it was remarked, that though he listened with interest and attention, when Britain, or particularly Scotland, became the subject of conversation, yet he never either introduced or prolonged the subject, never used the English language, never inquired about English affairs, and, above all, never mentioned his own family. His strict observation of the rules of his order gave him, at the time of his death, some pretensions to be chosen a saint, and the brethren of the Monastery of —— made great efforts for that effect, and brought forward some plausible proofs of miracles. But there was a circumstance which threw a doubt over the subject, and prevented the consistory from acceding to the wishes of the worthy brethren. Under his habit, and secured in a small silver box, he had worn perpetually around his neck a lock of-hair, which the fathers avouched to be a relic. But the Avvocato del Diabolo, in combating (as was his official duty) the pretensions of the candidate for sanctity, made it at least equally probable that the supposed relic was taken from the head of a brother of the deceased prior, who had been executed for adherence to the Stuart family in 1745-6; and the motto, Haud obliviscendum, seemed to intimate a tone of mundane feeling and recollection of injuries, which made it at least doubtful whether, even in the quiet and gloom of the cloister, Father Hugo had forgotten the sufferings and injuries of the House of Redgauntlet.

June 10, 1824,

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