The Bride of Lammermoor HTML version

Chapter 1
By Cauk and keel to win your bread,
Wi' whigmaleeries for them wha need,
Whilk is a gentle trade indeed
To carry the gaberlunzie on.
Old Song.
FEW have been in my secret while I was compiling these narratives, nor is it
probable that they will ever become public during the life of their author. Even
were that event to happen, I am not ambitious of the honoured distinction, digito
monstrari. I confess that, were it safe to cherish such dreams at all, I should more
enjoy the thought of remaining behind the curtain unseen, like the ingenious
manager of Punch and his wife Joan, and enjoying the astonishment and
conjectures of my audience. Then might I, perchance, hear the productions of the
obscure Peter Pattieson praised by the judicious and admired by the feeling,
engrossing the young and attracting even the old; while the critic traced their
fame up to some name of literary celebrity, and the question when, and by
whom, these tales were written filled up the pause of conversation in a hundred
circles and coteries. This I may never enjoy during my lifetime; but farther than
this, I am certain, my vanity should never induce me to aspire.
I am too stubborn in habits, and too little polished in manners, to envy or aspire
to the honours assigned to my literary contemporaries. I could not think a whit
more highly of myself were I found worthy to "come in place as a lion" for a winter
in the great metropolis. I could not rise, turn round, and show all my honours,
from the shaggy mane to the tufted tail, "roar you an't were any nightingale," and
so lie down again like a well- behaved beast of show, and all at the cheap and
easy rate of a cup of coffee and a slice of bread and butter as thin as a wafer.
And I could ill stomach the fulsome flattery with which the lady of the evening
indulges her show-monsters on such occasions, as she crams her parrots with
sugar-plums, in order to make them talk before company. I cannot be tempted to
"come aloft" for these marks of distinction, and, like imprisoned Samson, I would
rather remain--if such must be the alternative--all my life in the mill-house,
grinding for my very bread, than be brought forth to make sport for the Philistine
lords and ladies. This proceeds from no dislike, real or affected, to the aristocracy
of these realms. But they have their place, and I have mine; and, like the iron and
earthen vessels in the old fable, we can scarce come into collision without my
being the sufferer in every sense. It may be otherwise with the sheets which I am
now writing. These may be opened and laid aside at pleasure; by amusing
themselves with the perusal, the great will excite no false hopes; by neglecting or
condemning them, they will inflict no pain; and how seldom can they converse
with those whose minds have toiled for their delight without doing either the one
or the other.
In the better and wiser tone of feeling with Ovid only expresses in one line to
retract in that which follows, I can address these quires--
Parve, nec invideo, sine me, liber, ibis in urbem.