The Bride of Lammermoor HTML version

Chapter 21
Marall: Sir, the man of honour's come,
Newly alighted----
Overreach: In without reply,
And do as I command....
Is the loud music I gave order for
Ready to receive him?
New Way to pay Old Debts.
SIR WILLIAM ASHTON, although a man of sense, legal information, and great
practical knowledge of the world, had yet some points of character which
corresponded better with the timidity of his disposition and the supple arts by
which he had risen in the world, than to the degree of eminence which he had
attained; as they tended to show an original mediocrity of understanding,
however highly it had been cultivated, and a native meanness of disposition,
however carefully veiled. He loved the ostentatious display of his wealth, less as
a man to whom habit has made it necessary, than as one to whom it is still
delightful from its novelty. The most trivial details did not escape him; and Lucy
soon learned to watch the flush of scorn which crossed Ravenswood's cheek,
when he heard her father gravely arguing with Lockhard, nay, even with the old
housekeeper, upon circumstances which, in families of rank, are left uncared for,
because it is supposed impossible they can be neglected.
"I could pardon Sir William," said Ravenswood, one evening after he had left the
room, "some general anxiety upon this occasion, for the Marquis's visit is an
honour, and should be received as such; but I am worn out by these miserable
minutiae of the buttery, and the larder, and the very hencoop--they drive me
beyond my patience; I would rather endure the poverty of Wolf's Crag than be
pestered with the wealth of Ravenswood Castle."
"And yet," said Lucy, "it was by attention to these minutiae that my father
acquired the property----"
"Which my ancestors sold for lack of it," replied Ravenswood. "Be it so; a porter
still bears but a burden, though the burden be of gold."
Lucy sighed; she perceived too plainly that her lover held in scorn the manners
and habits of a father to whom she had long looked up as her best and most
partial friend, whose fondness had often consoled her for her mother's
contemptuous harshness.
The lovers soon discovered that they differed upon other and no less important
topics. Religion, the mother of peace, was, in those days of discord, so much
misconstrued and mistaken, that her rules and forms were the subject of the
most opposite opinions and the most hotsile animosities. The Lord Keeper, being
a Whig, was, of course, a Presbyterian, and had found it convenient, at different
periods, to express greater zeal for the kirk than perhaps he really felt. His family,
equally of course, were trained under the same institution. Ravenswood, as we
know, was a High Churchman, or Episcopalian, and frequently objected to Lucy
the fanaticism of some of her own communion, while she intimated, rather than