The Bride of Lammermoor HTML version

Chapter 3
Over Gods forebode, then said the King,
That thou shouldst shoot at me.
William Bell, Clim 'o the Cleugh, etc.
On the morning after the funeral, the legal officer whose authority had been
found insufficient to effect an interruption of the funeral solemnities of the late
Lord Ravenswood, hastened to state before the Keeper the resistance which he
had met with in the execution of his office.
The statesman was seated in a spacious library, once a banqueting-room in the
old Castle of Ravenswood, as was evident from the armorial insignia still
displayed on the carved roof, which was vaulted with Spanish chestnut, and on
the stained glass of the casement, through which gleamed a dim yet rich light on
the long rows of shelves, bending under the weight of legal commentators and
monkish historians, whose ponderous volumes formed the chief and most valued
contents of a Scottish historian [library] of the period. On the massive oaken table
and reading-desk lay a confused mass of letters, petitions, and parchments; to
toil amongst which was the pleasure at once and the plague of Sir William
Ashton's life. His appearance was grave and even noble, well becoming one who
held an high office in the state; and it was not save after long and intimate
conversation with him upon topics of pressing and personal interest, that a
stranger could have discovered something vacillating and uncertain in his
resolutions; an infirmity of purpose, arising from a cautious and timid disposition,
which, as he was conscious of its internal influence on his mind, he was, from
pride as well as policy, most anxious to conceal from others. He listened with
great apparent composure to an exaggerated account of the tumult which had
taken place at the funeral, of the contempt thrown on his own authority and that
of the church and state; nor did he seem moved even by the faithful report of the
insulting and threatening language which had been uttered by young
Ravenswood and others, and obviously directed against himself. He heard, also,
what the man had been able to collect, in a very distorted and aggravated shape,
of the toasts which had been drunk, and the menaces uttered, at the susequent
entertainment. In fine, he made careful notes of all these particulars, and of the
names of the persons by whom, in case of need, an accusation, founded upon
these violent proceedings, could be witnessed and made good, and dismissed
his informer, secure that he was now master of the remaining fortune, and even
of the personal liberty, of young Ravenswood.
When the door had closed upon the officer of the law, the Lord Keeper remained
for a moment in deep meditation; then, starting from his seat, paced the
apartment as one about to take a sudden and energetic resolution. "Young
Ravenswood," he muttered, "is now mine--he is my own; he has placed himself
in my hand, and he shall bend or break. I have not forgot the determined and
dogged obstinacy with which his father fought every point to the last, resisted
every effort at compromise, embroiled me in lawsuits, and attempted to assail my
character when he could not otherwise impugn my rights. This boy he has left