Short summary - Old Mortality - Walter Scott

British literature summaries - 2020

Short summary - Old Mortality
Walter Scott

On May 5, 1679, in the quiet outback of Upper Ward Clydesdale, a place in Scotland, all new participants arrive at the annual show. Smart ladies and gentlemen, a motley crowd of onlookers. The picture is quite peaceful. But it only seems. The Privy Council, the highest executive in Scotland, mercilessly punished those vassals who missed the show without good reason. Even the manager of the wealthy estate Tillindelema Garrionon, gaining participants in the show, ran into resistance from mother Moz, who deceived him, saying that her son Cuddy Hedrig is sick. I had to take Gusyonka Gibby, a puny kid, who had tragic consequences.

Scotland at this time was going through the last years of the era of religious wars. Tories and Whigs, Protestant Puritans and Catholics were at enmity with each other for religious reasons.

But back to the review. Among the arrivals is the owner of Tillandsdema - the widow of Lady Margaret Bellenden with her lovely granddaughter Edith. After various competitions in agility and strength, the main Competition began - for the title of “Captain Butt”. The carcass of the bird was hung, studded with colorful feathers, which made it look like a parrot - hence the name. You had to be a very sharp and dexterous shooter to get into such a small target.

In the final of the competition, two remained. One of them is Henry Moreton, the son of the late Presbyterian chief. He "inherited from his father undaunted courage and resilience, an irreconcilable attitude to any kind of violence, both in politics and in religion <...> His commitment to his convictions, not raised by the yeast of the Puritan spirit, was free from all fanaticism." His rival is the noble Lord Evendel, a rich man of noble family, an adherent of royal authority and an important person in the country. After three attempts, Henry Morton defeated. In the future, their fate will be intertwined more than once - they are both fascinated by Edith.

Henry Morton modestly celebrates his victory at the Shelter. Royal sergeant Boswell lifts one stranger busy with dinner. The skirmish ends with the victory of a stranger who is forced to leave the "Shelter". He imposes himself on his companions to Henry Morton. On the way, they meet an old woman who warns of an ambush of royal soldiers. A stranger asks for shelter for the night. Henry Morton hesitates - the stranger dislikes him. In addition, after the death of his father, he lives with his uncle, a very tight-fisted man whom he does not want to endanger. Then the stranger calls his name - Burley Belfur. Morton was called by his father. They were friends, Belfur saved Morton Sr. from death. But they disagreed with each other from the fact that Belfur became a violent fanatic and linked his fate with a party of protesters. Morton doesn't know yet that Belfur is the murderer of the Archbishop of St. Andrew. True to filial duty and innate philanthropy, he gives shelter to Belfur in his uncle's stable.

The meeting with Belfur tragically affected the fate of Morton. The next day, he is arrested by Sergeant Boswell. Of the concepts of honor, Henry Morton does not deny that he hid Belfur, but he did not know that Belfur was involved in the brutal murder of the archbishop, and, in addition, he performed a duty to the memory of his father. Henry Morton hopes that these circumstances will greatly mitigate his guilt, and awaits a fair trial.

A little later they arrested the peasant Caddy Hedrig and his mother. Here is how it was. When everyone was leaving the competition, the Goose Djib6i, unable to cope with huge over-boots, tortured the horse so much with spurs that it started to buck. The woe-warrior became the general laughing stock of Lady Margaret Bellenden, who only now found out that Mother Moz refused to send her son to watch. Lady Morton reproaches mother Moz, who lives, not suffering the need, for ingratitude. The stubborn fanatic agrees to better leave the hatched nest, but not to sacrifice her religious beliefs. The exhortations of Caddy’s son, who has a natural peasant mind and is completely alien to the mother’s intransigence, do not help. It's a shame to leave his homeland and because of the handmaid Edith - Jenny Dennison, with whom he is in love. But the deed is done. They set off for Uncle Morton's estate, Milnwood, where they hope to find shelter. When the soldiers came to old Milnwood, Mother Moz broke out in curses and curses. Cuddy couldn't stop her. Her violent attacks aggravated the position of Henry Morton and caused the arrest of her son and herself. The soldiers who made the arrest, of course, did not hesitate to get some wine and extort money from the old uncle, promising to handle softer with his nephew.

The detachment follows in the Till-amplitude. Here, Henry Morton and the other arrested are awaiting a decision on their fate. Edith, with the help of her agile handmaid Jennis and wallet, gets a date with Henry. Upon learning that his fate will be decided by John Graham Cleverhouse, a fanatic like Belfur, only from the opposite camp, she sends an intentional note to her uncle Major Bellend, an old friend of Cleverhouse.

But no intercession and efforts could change the decisions of the old warriors - execution. Henry Morton did not flinch during interrogation, refused to answer Cleverhouse's questions. He demanded a trial, and Cleverhouse considered his own court sufficient. So Henry Morton is faced with the arbitrariness of power, and this outrages his just heart.

Two fanatics decided the fate of a talented, honest young man, by common efforts putting him outside the law. However, at the last moment he is saved by Lord Evenl, who at one time rendered service to Cleverhouse.

A message arrives in the castle that the Belfur supporters have revolted. Despite the significant numerical superiority of the rebels and the convenience of their position, Kleverhaus decides to attack the enemy. Scots perish on both sides. The royal troops are forced to retreat. Morton now saves Lord Evendell from the certain death. He helps him escape. Evendel lost a lot of blood and would not have reached the castle, but he was sheltered and bandaged by his wounds by a blind old woman who at one time warned Belfur about an ambush. She is a true believer, she does not care what religion a person is - if he is in trouble, he needs to be helped.

Henry Morton and Cuddy, who began to serve him, were in the camp of Belfur. There were people here who were “enlightened by spiritual pride” and “clouded by outrageous fanaticism”, were here also insecure, preoccupied, wishing that they had made a hasty decision. Consent was not observed even among the spiritual pastors of the rebels. The irreconcilable preachers Mack Bryer and Tympanus do not accept the position of Shepherd Peter Poundtext, who took the indulgence ...

Burley hoped, by introducing Henry Morton to the Council, to get a man who was easy to manipulate. But he was cruelly mistaken - Henry Morton was used to thinking on his own, his brains were not obscured by any fanaticism, and he was used to being firmly guided by philanthropy and tolerance.

The first serious clash occurred among them because of the fate of the inhabitants of Tillendemlem, who were besieged by the victorious rebels.

Habakkuk the Many-angry, holy fool, whose speeches were considered prophetic, demanded death for all, and "let their corpses become fat for the land of their fathers." He was supported by the evil fanatics priests Tympanum and Mac Brier. Poundtext believes that the Devil entered the Multi-Angry, after the enemies had kept him imprisoned for a long time. To Henry Morton, all this seems to be vile and sacrilegeous. In anger, he wants to leave the camp, Burley reproaches him for being too quickly exhausted. He cites the parliamentary armies of the one thousand sixty-forty years, in which Father Morton served.

What Henry objects to: “But their actions were wisely guided, and their irrepressible religious zeal found a way out for themselves in prayers and sermons, without introducing cruelty into their behavior.”

Burley managed to convince the young man to stay. He is sent at the head of the army to drive Cleverhouse out of Glasgow. Morton is reluctant to go for it - he is worried about the fate of the defenders of Tillarism.

Morton successfully leads the military. The rebels occupy Glasgow. The Privy Council of Scotland is shocked by the size of the resistance and paralyzed by fear. There is a lull in hostilities. Morton, tormented by the unknown, comes back. He learns that Belfur captured Lord Evendell, who made a sortie to get provisions, as the estate defenders are starving. Maid Edith Jenny, sneaking out of the castle, talks about the terrible situation of the inhabitants of the estate - they are starving, and the soldiers, called upon to protect them, are ready to raise a rebellion. Henry Morton seeks Burley's return under his guard Lord Evendell. And at night, secretly sends all the inhabitants of the castle to the Duke of Monmouth in Edinburgh, handing a letter to Evendel, which outlines the main reasons for the uprising, with the elimination of which most of the rebels lay down their arms. Henry Morton stands for peace he sees the meaninglessness of the war, and this, and not just his love for Edith, is dictated by his act. This mission would be successful if all Whigs were as moderate in their demands as Morton, and all adherents of the Tory King were impartial in evaluating events.

Belfur is furious due to the liberation of Evendell and the inhabitants of the estate Tillensheml. He convenes a council of war to decide what to do next. At this council, undergoing the fierce attacks of Burley, Tympanum and Ephraim Mac Brayer, Henry Morton courageously defends his position - concluding peace on honorable terms that ensure freedom of belief and the inviolability of the rebels. Poundtext supports it. And it is not known how this council would end if the messengers had not reported that the Duke of Monmouth was already on his way with a considerable army.

Once again, Henry Morton takes up a peacekeeping mission - he agrees to go to the camp of Monmouth for negotiations.

Monmouth and his generals - Delzela and Cleverhouse - agree to negotiate subject to the complete surrender of weapons. Cleverhouse recognizes his guilt before Morton and offers him salvation. But Morton considers it dishonorable to leave his comrades. Morton's mission gave the rebels a one-hour delay.

Returning to his own, Morton once again tries to persuade them to peace. But in vain ...

The army of the Prositerians is defeated. Henry Morton is in the hands of the most extreme fanatics from his camp - the Cameronians, led by Mac Brier. Cleverhouse rescues him from execution, whom faithful Cuddy called for help.

The Privy Council judges the rebels. He pardoned Cuddy, but sentenced Henry Morton to exile. However, Lord Evendel and Cleverhouse, sending Morton to Holland, provided him with letters of recommendation.

And Berkeley Belfur again managed to escape from retaliation.

Years passed. A new era has begun in the history of Scotland. There was a change of dynasties. King William was prudently tolerant, and the country escaped the horrors of civil war. People gradually came to their senses and, instead of political and religious debates, went about their usual business - tillage and craft. The victorious Whigs restored Presbyterianism as a national religion, but far from the extremes of the non-conformists and Cameronians. Only Graham Cleverhouse, leading a handful of people dissatisfied with the new order, was hiding in the mountains, and the Jacobites, who had become a disgraced party, arranged secret gatherings. These were the last centers of resistance. The time of religious wars for Europe has passed.

But what about our heroes? Cuddy married Jenny, is engaged in peasant labor and has children. It was at his house that Henry Morton stopped, returning incognito to his homeland. He learns that the estate of Tillenshil was from Lady Margaret and that Edith was taken away by Basil Olyphant, their distant relative. This happened thanks to Belfur, during the sack of the estate that stole a document proving the rights of Lady Margaret Bellenden to it. Henry Morton is considered dead, as news came that his ship was wrecked. And soon the wedding of Lord Evendell and Edith Bellenden will take place.

This prompts Henry Morton to act.

But first, he visits his uncle’s house. From an old faithful maid Alison Ullis, he learns that his uncle gave up his spirit and left his great nephew a fortune. Henry Morton talks about his service in a foreign land, in Switzerland, in the province, where he left with the rank of major general.

Henry Morton takes refuge in Belfur with the help of that very old woman, Elizabeth Mac Lure, who warned them of an ambush and then rescued Lord Evendell. He learns that Burley Belfour is now friends with Cleverhouse, and Lord Evendel did not want to deal with him. And he hated the lord for that.

Morton finds Burley with a Bible and a naked broadsword in his hands. Morton needed a document on the estate, but Burley burned it at the stake and tried to kill Morton. Morton eludes him.

The old woman, Mac Lure, informs Morton of the impending assassination attempt on Lord Evendel, organized by Basil Olyphant, who has long been seeking the hand of Edith and wants to remove a successful rival. A cavalry detachment led by Olyphant and Belfur ambushes Evendela. Cuddy's bullet kills Olyphant, Belfur also dies, taking several lives with him. Dies and Lord Evendel. And now nothing interferes with the happiness of Henry Morton and Edith Bellenden, and Cuddy enthusiastically returned to his house in Tillendelme and engaged in the most important thing on earth - tilling.