The Bride of Lammermoor HTML version

Chapter 17
Here is a father now,
Will truck his daughter for a foreign venture,
Make her the stop-gap to some canker'd feud,
Or fling her o'er, like Jonah, to the fishes,
To appease the sea at highest.
THE Lord Keeper opened his discourse with an appearance of unconcern,
marking, however, very carefully, the effect of his communication upon young
"You are aware," he said, "my young friend, that suspicion is the natural vice of
our unsettled times, and exposes the best and wisest of us to the imposition of
artful rascals. If I had been disposed to listen to such the other day, or even if I
had been the wily politicians which you have been taught to believe me, you,
Master of Ravenswood, instead of being at freedom, and with fully liberty to
solicit and act against me as you please, in defence of what you suppose to be
your rights, would have been in the Castle of Edinburgh, or some other state
prison; or, if you had escaped that destiny, it must have been by flight to a foreign
country, and at the risk of a sentence of fugitation."
"My Lord Keeper," said the Master, "I think you would not jest on such a subject;
yet it seems impossible you can be in earnest."
"Innocence," said the Lord Keeper, "is also confident, and sometimes, though
very excusably, presumptuously so."
"I do not understand," said Ravenswood, "how a consciouness of innocence can
be, in any case, accounted presumtuous."
"Imprudent, at least, it may be called," said Sir William Ashton, "since it is apt to
lead us into the mistake of supposeing that sufficiently evident to others of which,
in fact, we are only conscious ourselves. I have known a rogue, for this very
reason, make a better defence than an innocent man could have done in the
same circumstances of suspicion. Having no consciousness of innocence to
support him, such a fellow applies himself to all the advantages which the law will
afford him, and sometimes--if his counsel be men of talent--succeeds in
compelling his judges to receive him as innocent. I remember the celebrated
case of Sir Coolie Condiddle of Condiddle, who was tried for theft under trust, of
which all the world knew him guilty, and yet was not only acquitted, but lived to sit
in judgment on honester folk."
"Allow me to beg you will return to the point," said the Master; "you seemed to
say that I had suffered under some suspicion."
"Suspicion, Master! Ay, truly, and I can show you the proofs of it; if I happen only
to have them with me. Here, Lockhard." His attendant came. "Fetch me the little
private mail with the padlocks, that I recommended to your particular charge, d'ye
"Yes, my lord." Lockhard vanished; and the Keeper continued, as if half speaking
to himself.