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Chapter 5
Choice Of A Profession
From the minuteness with which I have traced Waverley's pursuits, and the bias which
these unavoidably communicated to his imagination, the reader may perhaps anticipate,
in the following tale, an imitation of the romance of Cervantes. But he will do my
prudence injustice in the supposition. My intention is not to follow the steps of that
inimitable author, in describing such total perversion of intellect as misconstrues the
objects actually presented to the senses, but that more common aberration from sound
judgement, which apprehends occurrences indeed in their reality, but communicates to
them a tincture of its own romantic tone and colouring. So far was Edward Waverley
from expecting general sympathy with his own feelings, or concluding that the present
state of things was calculated to exhibit the reality of those visions in which he loved to
indulge, that he dreaded nothing more than the detection of such sentiments as were
dictated by his musings, he neither had nor wished to have a confidant, with whom to
communicate his reveries; and so sensible was he of the ridicule attached to them, that,
had he been to choose between any punishment short of ignominy, and the necessity of
giving a cold and composed account of the ideal world in which he lived the better part of
his days, I think he would not have hesitated to prefer the former infliction. This secrecy
became doubly precious, as he felt in advancing life the influence of the awakening
passions. Female forms of exquisite grace and beauty began to mingle in his mental
adventures; nor was he long without looking abroad to compare the creatures of his own
imagination with the females of actual life.
The list of the beauties who displayed their hebdomadal finery at the parish church of
Waverley was neither numerous nor select. By far the most passable was Miss Sissly, or,
as she rather chose to be called, Miss Cecilia Stubbs, daughter of Squire Stubbs at the
Grange. I know not whether it was by the 'merest accident in the world,' a phrase which,
from female lips, does not always exclude MALICE PREPENSE, or whether it was from
a conformity of taste, that Miss Cecilia more than once crossed Edward in his favourite
walks through Waverley-Chase. He had not as yet assumed courage to accost her on
these occasions; but the meeting was not without its effect. A romantic lover is a strange
idolater, who sometimes cares not out of what log he frames the object of his adoration;
at least, if nature has given that object any passable proportion of personal charms, he can
easily play the jeweller and Dervise in the Oriental tale, [See Hoppner's tale of The Seven
Lovers.] and supply her richly, out of the stores of his own imagination, with supernatural
beauty, and all the properties of intellectual wealth.
But ere the charms of Miss Cecilia Stubbs had erected her into a positive goddess, or
elevated her at least to a level with the saint her namesake, Mrs. Rachel Waverley gained
some intimation which determined her to prevent the approaching apotheosis. Even the
most simple and unsuspicious of the female sex have (God bless them!) an instinctive
sharpness of perception in such matters, which sometimes goes the length of observing
partialities that never existed, but rarely misses to detect such as pass actually under their