Chronicles of the Canongate is a collection of stories by Sir Walter Scott, published in 1827 and 1828. They are named after the Canongate, in Edinburgh.
1st series (short stories, 1827):
"The Highland Widow"
"The Two Drovers"
2nd series (novel, 1828):
"The Surgeon's Daughter"
St Valentine's Day, or, The Fair Maid of Perth
The second series is sometimes taken as part of the Waverley Novels.
The Highland Widow
The MacTavish family lived near Oban in 1775. Hamish MacTavish Mohr ("Senior"), a daring freebooter, had met his death in an encounter with the Saxon red-coats, by whom the Highlands were garrisoned after the battle of Culloden. His wife, who had shared all his dangers, strove to inspire their only son with his father's love of adventure and hatred of servile toil; but as he grew up the lad evinced no inclination for lawless pursuits, and, unable to endure his mother's taunts at his want of spirit, enlisted in one of the regiments formed in Scotland to oppose the French in the American war of independence. Before sailing he sent her some money by Phadraick, and returned to spend a few days with her, when she fiercely reproached him for daring to act in opposition to her will, and, failing to alter his purpose, drugged his parting-cup, thus causing him to exceed his furlough, and render himself liable to the lash as a deserter. She then urged him to flee to her kinsmen, while she baffled his pursuers; but he resolved to await the arrival of the sergeant and men of his regiment who, he felt sure, would be sent to arrest him. They came, and, on being summoned to surrender, he shot the sergeant dead. The other soldiers secured him, and he was marched as a prisoner to Dumbarton castle, where he was tried by court-martial and condemned to be shot. His captain and a Presbyterian minister interceded for him; but the English general in command was determined to make an example, and the next morning his sentence was carried out in the presence of his comrades.
His mother, who had attempted to follow him, was met by the minister wandering in a wild glen, and on hearing her son's fate, she uttered terrible imprecations, and renounced all further intercourse with the world. She lived, however, for many years in her lonely cottage, regarded with awe and pity by her neighbours as the victim of destiny, rather than the voluntary cause of her son's death and her own wretchedness. At length, while two women, who had been set to watch her last moments, were sleeping, she disappeared from her bed, and was never heard of again.
The Two Drovers
In 1795, Robin Oig was just starting from Doune with a drove of cattle for England, when his father's sister, who was supposed to be gifted with second sight, drew his dirk from the folds of his plaid, and, exclaiming that there was Saxon blood on it, induced him to entrust the weapon to Morrison, who undertook to return it when asked for. At Falkirk the Highlander met his bosom friend, Wakefield, and they travelled southwards together. Having reached Cumberland, they separated to hire pasturage for their beasts, and it happened that while the Englishman bargained with the bailiff, the Highlander came to terms with the squire, and they thus both secured the same enclosure. On discovering this, Wakefield reproached his comrade with having played him false, and, angrily refusing his offer that they should share the field, had to be content with a barren moor belonging to the landlord of the alehouse, where they had agreed to pass the night.
The squire had invited Oig to sup with him, and mentioned having passed Morrison a few miles off. On reaching the inn the Highlander met with a cold reception from the assembled company, who sided with Wakefield, and egged him on to challenge Oig to a Cumberland tussle. But the Highlander would have shaken hands, and, refusing to fight except with swords, he attempted to leave the room. Wakefield, however, opposed his doing so, and struck him senseless to the ground. Frantic with rage when he revived, and prevented by the hostess from attacking his comrade, Oig sullenly went out, warning him to beware. Striding over the moonlit moor to meet Morrison, he obtained his dirk on the pretence that he had enlisted, and, returning to the alehouse, he stabbed Wakefield through the heart.
At his trial the judge made every allowance for the provocation Oig had received, but pointed out to the jury that, as he went to recover possession of his weapon, there was ample time for his passion to have subsided, and for him to have reflected on the guilt of his meditated revenge. He was, accordingly, convicted of murder, and having been sentenced to be hanged, he met his fate with the observation, "I give a life for the life I took, and what can I do more?"
Table of Contents:
Introduction to Chronicles of the Canongate.
Appendix to Introduction.
CHRONICLES OF THE CANONGATE — INTRODUCTORY.
CHAPTER I. Mr. Chrystal Croftangry’s Account of Himself.
CHAPTER II. In which Mr. Croftangry Continues His Story.
CHAPTER III. Mr. Croftangry, Inter Alia, Revisits Glentanner.
CHAPTER IV. Mr. Croftangry Bids Adieu to Clydesdale.
CHAPTER V. Mr. Croftangry Settles in the Canongate.
CHAPTER VI. Mr. Croftangry’s Account of Mrs. Bethune Baliol.
CHAPTER VII. Mrs. Baliol Assists Mr. Croftangry in His Literary Speculations.
THE HIGHLAND WIDOW
THE TWO DROVERS.
Mr. Croftangry Introduces Another Tale.