The Bride of Lammermoor HTML version
Well, lord, we have not got that which we have;
'Tis not enough our foes are this time fled,
Being opposites of such repairing nature.
Henry VI. Part II.
IN the gorge of a pass or mountain glen, ascending from the fertile plains of East
Lothian, there stood in former times an extensive castle, of which only the ruins
are now visible. Its ancient proprietors were a race of powerful and warlike
carons, who bore the same name with the castle itself, which was Ravenswood.
Their line extended to a remote period of antiquity, and they had intermarried
with the Douglasses, Humes, Swintons, Hays, and other families of power and
distinction in the same country. Their history was frequently involved in that of
Scotland itself, in whose annals their feats are recorded. The Castle of
Ravenswood, occupying, and in some measure commanding, a pass betweixt
Berwickshire, or the Merse, as the southeastern province of Scotland is termed,
and the Lothians, was of importance both in times of foreign war and domestic
discord. It was frequently beseiged with ardour, and defended with obstinacy,
and, of course, its owners played a conspicuous part in story. But their house
had its revolutions, like all sublunary things: it became greatly declined from its
splendour about the middle of the 17th century; and towards the period of the
Revolution, the last proprietor of Ravenswood Castle saw himself compelled to
part with the ancient family seat, and to remove himself to a lonely and sea-
beaten tower, which, situated on the bleak shores between St. Abb's Head and
the village of Eyemouth, looked out on the lonely and boisterous German Ocean.
A black domain of wild pasture-land surrounded their new residence, and formed
the remains of their property.
Lord Ravenswood, the heir of this ruined family, was far from bending his mind to
his new condition of life. In the civil war of 1689 he had espoused the sinking
side, and although he had escaped without the forfeiture of life or land, his blood
had been attainted, and his title abolished. He was now called Lord Ravenswood
only in courtesy.
This forfeited nobleman inherited the pride and turbulence, though not the
forture, of his house, and, as he imputed the final declension of his family to a
particular individual, he honoured that person with his full portion of hatred. This
was the very man who had now become, by purchase, proprietor of
Ravenswood, and the domains of which the heir of the house now stood
dispossessed. He was descended of a family much less ancient than that of Lord
Ravenswood, and which had only risen to wealth and political importance during
the great civil wars. He himself had been bred to the bar, and had held high
offices in the state, maintaining through life the character of a skilful fisher in the
troubled waters of a state divided by factions, and governed by delegated
authority; and of one who contrived to amass considerable sums of money in a
country where there was but little to be gathered, and who equally knew the