The Bride of Lammermoor HTML version

Introduction To The Bride Of Lammermoor
THE Author, on a former occasion, declined giving the real source from which he
drew the tragic subject of this history, because, though occurring at a distant
period, it might possibly be unpleasing to the feelings of the descendants of the
parties. But as he finds an account of the circumstances given in the Notes to
Law's Memorials, by his ingenious friend, Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe, Esq., and
also indicated in his reprint of the Rev. Mr. Symson's poems appended to the
Large Description of Galloway, as the original of the Bride of Lammermoor, the
Author feels himself now at liberty to tell the tale as he had it from connexions of
his own, who lived very near the period, and were closely related to the family of
the bride.
It is well known that the family of Dalrymple, which has produced, within the
space of two centuries, as many men of talent, civil and military, and of literary,
political, and professional eminence, as any house in Scotland, first rose into
distinction in the person of James Dalrymple, one of the most eminent lawyers
that ever lived, though the labours of his powerful mind were unhappily exercised
on a subject so limited as Scottish jurisprudence, on which he has composed an
admirable work.
He married Margaret, daughter to Ross of Balneel, with whom he obtained a
considerable estate. She was an able, politic, and high-minded woman, so
successful in what she undertook, that the vulgar, no way partial to her husband
or her family, imputed her success to necromancy. According to the popular
belief, this Dame Margaret purchased the temporal prosperity of her family from
the Master whom she served under a singular condition, which is thus narrated
by the historian of her grandson, the great Earl of Stair: "She lived to a great age,
and at her death desired that she might not be put under ground, but that her
coffin should stand upright on one end of it, promising that while she remained in
that situation the Dalrymples should continue to flourish. What was the old lady's
motive for the request, or whether she really made such a promise, I shall not
take upon me to determine; but it's certain her coffin stands upright in the isle of
the church of Kirklistown, the burial-place belonging to the family." The talents of
this accomplished race were suifficient to have accounted for the dignities which
many members of the family attained, without any supernatural assistance. But
their extraordinary prosperity was attended by some equally singular family
misfortunes, of which that which befell their eldest daughter was at once
unaccountable and melancholy.
Miss Janet Dalrymple, daughter of the first Lord Stair and Dame Margaret Ross,
had engaged herself without the knowledge of her parents to the Lord
Rutherford, who was not acceptable to them either on account of his political
principles or his want of fortune. The young couple broke a piece of gold
together, and pledged their troth in the most solemn manner; and it is said the
young lady imprecated dreadful evils on herself should she break her plighted
faith. Shortly after, a suitor who was favoured by Lord Stair, and still more so by
his lady, paid his addresses to Miss Dalrymple. The young lady refused the
proposal, and being pressed on the subject, confessed her secret engagement.