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Chapter I
The title of this work has not been chosen without the grave and solid deliberation, which
matters of importance demand from the prudent. Even its first, or general denomination,
was the result of no common research or selection, although, according to the example of
my predecessors, I had only to seize upon the most sounding and euphonic surname that
English history or topography affords, and elect it at once as the title of my work, and the
name of my hero. But, alas! what could my readers have expected from the chivalrous
epithets of Howard, Mordaunt, Mortimer, or Stanley, or from the softer and more
sentimental sounds of Belmour, Belville, Belfield, and Belgrave, but pages of inanity,
similar to those which have been so christened for half a century past? I must modestly
admit I am too diffident of my own merit to place it in unnecessary opposition to
preconceived associations; I have, therefore, like a maiden knight with his white shield,
assumed for my hero, WAVERLEY, an uncontaminated name, bearing with its sound
little of good or evil, excepting what the reader shall hereafter be pleased to affix to it.
But my second or supplemental title was a matter of much more difficult election, since
that, short as it is, may be held as pledging the author to some special mode of laying his
scene, drawing his characters, and managing his adventures. Had I, for example,
announced in my frontispiece, 'Waverley, a Tale of other Days,' must not every novel
reader have anticipated a castle scarce less than that of Udolpho, of which the eastern
wing had long been uninhabited, and the keys either lost, or consigned to the care of
some aged butler or housekeeper, whose trembling steps, about the middle of the second
volume, were doomed to guide the hero, or heroine, to the ruinous precincts? Would not
the owl have shrieked and the cricket cried in my very title- page? and could it have been
possible for me, with a moderate attention to decorum, to introduce any scene more lively
than might be produced by the jocularity of a clownish but faithful valet, or the garrulous
narrative of the heroine's fille-de- chambre, when rehearsing the stories of blood and
horror which she had heard in the servants' hall? Again, had my title borne 'Waverley, a
Romance from the German,' what head so obtuse as not to image forth a profligate abbot,
an oppressive duke, a secret and mysterious association of Rosycrucians and Illuminati,
with all their properties of black cowls, caverns, daggers, electrical machines, trap-doors,
and dark-lanterns? Or if I had rather chosen to call my work a 'Sentimental Tale,' would it
not have been a sufficient presage of a heroine with a profusion of auburn hair, and a
harp, the soft solace of her solitary hours, which she fortunately finds always the means
of transporting from castle to cottage, although she herself be sometimes obliged to jump
out of a two-pair-of-stairs window, and is more than once bewildered on her journey,
alone and on foot, without any guide but a blowzy peasant girl, whose jargon she hardly
can understand? Or again, if my WAVERLEY had been entitled 'A Tale of the Times,'
wouldst thou not, gentle reader, have demanded from me a dashing sketch of the
fashionable world, a few anecdotes of private scandal thinly veiled, and if lusciously
painted, so much the better? a heroine from Grosvenor Square, and a hero from the
Barouche Club or the Four-in-hand, with a set of subordinate characters from the
elegantes of Queen Anne Street East, or the dashing heroes of the Bow Street Office? I