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Note from electronic text creator: I have compiled a word list with
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by GEORGE MACDONALD, LL.D.
And gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche.
TO THE MEMORY OF
LADY NOEL BYRON,
THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED,
WITH A LOVE STRONGER THAN DEATH.
With him there was a Ploughman, was his brother.
A trewé swinker, and a good was he,
Living in peace and perfect charity.
God loved he best with all his trewé heart,
At allé timés, were it gain or smart,
And then his neighébour right as himselve.
CHAUCER.--Prologue to the Canterbury Tales.
Of all the flowers in the mead,
Then love I roost these flowers white and rede,
Such that men callen daisies in our town.
I renne blithe
As soon as ever the sun ginneth west,
To see this flower, how it will go to rest,
For fear of night, so hateth she darkness;
Her cheer is plainly spread in the brightness
Of the sunne, for there it will unclose.
CHAUCER--Prologue to the Legend of Good Women.
"Meg! whaur are ye gaein' that get, like a wull shuttle? Come in to
Meg's mother stood at the cottage door, with arms akimbo and clouded
brow, calling through the boles of a little forest of fir-trees
after her daughter. One would naturally presume that the phrase she
employed, comparing her daughter's motions to those of a shuttle
that had "gane wull," or lost its way, implied that she was watching
her as she threaded her way through the trees. But although she
could not see her, the fir-wood was certainly the likeliest place
for her daughter to be in; and the figure she employed was not in
the least inapplicable to Meg's usual mode of wandering through the
trees, that operation being commonly performed in the most erratic
manner possible. It was the ordinary occupation of the first hour
of almost every day of Margaret's life. As soon as she woke in the
morning, the fir-wood drew her towards it, and she rose and went.
Through its crowd of slender pillars, she strayed hither and
thither, in an aimless manner, as if resignedly haunting the
neighbourhood of something she had lost, or, hopefully, that of a
treasure she expected one day to find.
It did not seem that she had heard her mother's call, for no
response followed; and Janet Elginbrod returned into the cottage,
where David of the same surname, who was already seated at the white
deal table with "the beuk," or large family bible before him,
straightway commenced reading a chapter in the usual routine from
the Old Testament, the New being reserved for the evening devotions.
The chapter was the fortieth of the prophet Isaiah; and as the
voice of the reader re-uttered the words of old inspiration, one
might have thought that it was the voice of the ancient prophet
himself, pouring forth the expression of his own faith in his
expostulations with the unbelief of his brethren. The chapter
finished--it is none of the shortest, and Meg had not yet
returned--the two knelt, and David prayed thus:
"O Thou who holdest the waters in the hollow of ae han', and
carriest the lambs o' thy own making in thy bosom with the other
han', it would be altogether unworthy o' thee, and o' thy Maijesty
o' love, to require o' us that which thou knowest we cannot bring
unto thee, until thou enrich us with that same. Therefore, like
thine own bairns, we boo doon afore thee, an' pray that thou wouldst
tak' thy wull o' us, thy holy an' perfect an' blessed wull o' us;
for, O God, we are a' thine ain. An' for oor lassie, wha's oot amo'
thy trees, an' wha' we dinna think forgets her Maker, though she may
whiles forget her prayers, Lord, keep her a bonnie lassie in thy
sicht, as white and clean in thy een as she is fair an' halesome in
oors; an' oh! we thank thee, Father in heaven, for giein' her to us.
An' noo, for a' oor wrang-duins an' ill-min'ins, for a' oor sins
and trespasses o' mony sorts, dinna forget them, O God, till thou
pits them a' richt, an' syne exerceese thy michty power e'en ower
thine ain sel, an' clean forget them a'thegither; cast them ahint
thy back, whaur e'en thine ain een shall ne'er see them again, that
we may walk bold an' upricht afore thee for evermore, an' see the
face o' Him wha was as muckle God in doin' thy biddin', as gin he
had been ordering' a' thing Himsel. For his sake, Ahmen."
I hope my readers will not suppose that I give this as a specimen of
Scotch prayers. I know better than that. David was an unusual man,
and his prayers were unusual prayers. The present was a little more
so in its style, from the fact that one of the subjects of it was
absent, a circumstance that rarely happened. But the degree of
difference was too small to be detected by any but those who were
quite accustomed to his forms of thought and expression. How much
of it Janet understood or sympathized with, it is difficult to say;
for anything that could be called a thought rarely crossed the
threshold of her utterance. On this occasion, the moment the prayer
was ended, she rose from her knees, smoothed down her check apron,
and went to the door; where, shading her eyes from the sun with her
hand, she peered from under its penthouse into the fir-wood, and
said in a voice softened apparently by the exercise in which she had
taken a silent share,
"Whaur can the lassie be?"
And where was the lassie? In the fir-wood, to be sure, with the
thousand shadows, and the sunlight through it all; for at this
moment the light fell upon her far in its depths, and revealed her
hastening towards the cottage in as straight a line as the trees
would permit, now blotted out by a crossing shadow, and anon radiant
in the sunlight, appearing and vanishing as she threaded the upright
warp of the fir-wood. It was morning all around her; and one might
see that it was morning within her too, as, emerging at last in the
small open space around the cottage, Margaret--I cannot call her
Meg, although her mother does--her father always called her "Maggy,
my doo," Anglicé, dove--Margaret approached her mother with a bright
healthful face, and the least possible expression of uneasiness on
her fair forehead. She carried a book in her hand.
"What gars ye gang stravaguin' that get, Meg, whan ye ken weel
eneuch ye sud a' been in to worship lang syne? An sae we maun hae
worship our lanes for want o' you, ye hizzy!"
"I didna ken it was sae late, mither," replied Margaret, in a
submissive tone, musical in spite of the rugged dialect into which
the sounds were fashioned.
"Nae dout! Ye had yer brakfast, an' ye warna that hungry for the
word. But here comes yer father, and ye'll no mend for his flytin',
"Hoots! lat the bairn alane, Janet, my woman. The word'll be mair
to her afore lang."
"I wat she has a word o' her nain there. What beuk hae ye gotten
there, Meg? Whaur got ye't?"
Had it not been for the handsome binding of the book in her
daughter's hand, it would neither have caught the eye, nor roused
the suspicions of Janet. David glanced at the book in his turn, and
a faint expression of surprise, embodied chiefly in the opening of
his eyelids a little wider than usual, crossed his face. But he
only said with a smile:
"I didna ken that the tree o' knowledge, wi' sic fair fruit, grew in
our wud, Maggy, my doo."
"Whaur gat ye the beuk?" reiterated Janet.
Margaret's face was by this time the colour of the crimson boards of
the volume in her hand, but she replied at once:
"I got it frae Maister Sutherlan', I reckon."
Janet's first response was an inverted whistle; her next, another
"Maister Sutherlan'! wha's that o't?"
"Hoot, lass!" interposed David, "ye ken weel aneuch. It's the new
tutor lad, up at the hoose; a fine, douce, honest chield, an'
weel-faured, forby. Lat's see the bit beuky, lassie."
Margaret handed it to her father.
"Col-e-ridge's Poems," read David, with some difficulty.
"Tak' it hame direckly," said Janet.
"Na, na," said David; "a' the apples o' the tree o' knowledge are no
stappit wi sut an stew; an' gin this ane be, she'll sune ken by the
taste o't what's comin'. It's no muckle o' an ill beuk 'at ye'll
read, Maggy, my doo."
"Guid preserve's, man! I'm no sayin' it's an ill beuk. But it's no
richt to mak appintments wi' stranger lads i' the wud sae ear' i'
the mornin'. Is't noo, yersel, Meg?"
"Mither! mither!" said Margaret, and her eyes flashed through the
watery veil that tried to hide them, "hoo can ye? Ye ken yersel I
had nae appintment wi' him or ony man."
"Weel, weel!" said Janet; and, apparently either satisfied with or
overcome by the emotion she had excited, she turned and went in to
pursue her usual house-avocations; while David, handing the book to
his daughter, went away down the path that led from the cottage
door, in the direction of a road to be seen at a little distance
through the trees, which surrounded the cottage on all sides.
Margaret followed her mother into the cottage, and was soon as busy
as she with her share of the duties of the household; but it was a
good many minutes before the cloud caused by her mother's hasty
words entirely disappeared from a forehead which might with especial
justice be called the sky of her face.
Meantime David emerged upon the more open road, and bent his course,
still through fir-trees, towards a house for whose sake alone the
road seemed to have been constructed.
DAVID ELGINBROD AND THE NEW TUTOR.
Concord between our wit and will
Where highest notes to godliness are raised,
And lowest sink not down to jot of ill.
What Languetus taught Sir Philip Sidney.
THE ARCADIA--Third Eclogue.
The House of Turriepuffit stood about a furlong from David's
cottage. It was the abode of the Laird, or landed proprietor, in
whose employment David filled several offices ordinarily distinct.
The estate was a small one, and almost entirely farmed by the owner
himself; who, with David's help, managed to turn it to good account.
Upon week-days, he appeared on horseback in a costume more fitted
for following the plough; but he did not work with his own hands;
and on Sundays was at once recognizable as a country gentleman.
David was his bailiff or grieve, to overlook the labourers on the
estate; his steward to pay them, and keep the farm accounts; his
head gardener--for little labour was expended in that direction,
there being only one lady, the mistress of the house, and she no
patroness of useless flowers: David was in fact the laird's general
adviser and executor.
The laird's family, besides the lady already mentioned, consisted
only of two boys, of the ages of eleven and fourteen, whom he wished
to enjoy the same privileges he had himself possessed, and to whom,
therefore, he was giving a classical and mathematical education, in
view of the University, by means of private tutors; the last of
whom--for the changes were not few, seeing the salary was of the
smallest--was Hugh Sutherland, the young man concerning whom David
Elginbrod has already given his opinion. But notwithstanding the
freedom he always granted his daughter, and his good opinion of Hugh
as well, David could not help feeling a little anxious, in his walk
along the road towards the house, as to what the apparent
acquaintance between her and the new tutor might evolve; but he got
rid of all the difficulty, as far as he was concerned, by saying at
"What richt hae I to interfere? even supposin' I wanted to
interfere. But I can lippen weel to my bonny doo; an' for the rest,
she maun tak' her chance like the lave o's. An' wha' kens but it
micht jist be stan'in' afore Him, i' the very get that He meant to
gang. The Lord forgie me for speakin' o' chance, as gin I believed
in ony sic havers. There's no fear o' the lassie. Gude mornin'
t'ye, Maister Sutherlan'. That's a braw beuk o' ballants ye gae the
len' o' to my Maggy, this mornin', sir."
Sutherland was just entering a side-door of the house when David
accosted him. He was not old enough to keep from blushing at
David's words; but, having a good conscience, he was ready with a
"It's a good book, Mr. Elginbrod. It will do her no harm, though it
"I'm in no dreed o' that, sir. Bairns maun hae ballants. An', to
tell the truth, sir, I'm no muckle mair nor a bairn in that respeck
mysel'. In fac, this verra mornin', at the beuk, I jist thocht I
was readin' a gran' godly ballant, an' it soundet nane the waur for
the notion o't."
"You should have been a poet yourself, Mr. Elginbrod."
"Na, na; I ken naething aboot yer poetry. I hae read auld John
Milton ower an' ower, though I dinna believe the half o't; but, oh!
weel I like some o' the bonny bitties at the en' o't."
"Il Penseroso, for instance?"
"Is that hoo ye ca't? I ken't weel by the sicht, but hardly by the
soun'. I aye missed the name o't, an' took to the thing itsel'.
Eh, man!--I beg yer pardon, sir--but its wonnerfu' bonny!"
"I'll come in some evening, and we'll have a chat about it," replied
Sutherland. "I must go to my work now."
"We'll a' be verra happy to see you, sir. Good mornin', sir."
David went to the garden, where there was not much to be done in the
way of education at this season of the year; and Sutherland to the
school-room, where he was busy, all the rest of the morning and part
of the afternoon, with Caesar and Virgil, Algebra and Euclid; food
upon which intellectual babes are reared to the stature of college
Sutherland was himself only a youth; for he had gone early to
college, and had not yet quite completed the curriculum. He was now
filling up with teaching, the recess between his third and his
fourth winter at one of the Aberdeen Universities. He was the son
of an officer, belonging to the younger branch of a family of some
historic distinction and considerable wealth. This officer, though
not far removed from the estate and title as well, had nothing to
live upon but his half-pay; for, to the disgust of his family, he
had married a Welsh girl of ancient descent, in whose line the
poverty must have been at least coeval with the history, to judge
from the perfection of its development in the case of her father;
and his relations made this the excuse for quarrelling with him; so
relieving themselves from any obligations they might have been
supposed to lie under, of rendering him assistance of some sort or
other. This, however, rather suited the temperament of Major Robert
Sutherland, who was prouder in his poverty than they in their
riches. So he disowned them for ever, and accommodated himself,
with the best grace in the world, to his yet more straitened
circumstances. He resolved, however, cost what it might in pinching
and squeezing, to send his son to college before turning him out to
shift for himself. In this Mrs. Sutherland was ready to support him
to the utmost; and so they had managed to keep their boy at college
for three sessions; after the last of which, instead of returning
home, as he had done on previous occasions, he had looked about him
for a temporary engagement as tutor, and soon found the situation he
now occupied in the family of William Glasford, Esq., of
Turriepuffit, where he intended to remain no longer than the
commencement of the session, which would be his fourth and last. To
what he should afterwards devote himself he had by no means made up
his mind, except that it must of necessity be hard work of some kind
or other. So he had at least the virtue of desiring to be
independent. His other goods and bads must come out in the course
of the story. His pupils were rather stupid and rather
good-natured; so that their temperament operated to confirm their
intellectual condition, and to render the labour of teaching them
considerably irksome. But he did his work tolerably well, and was
not so much interested in the result as to be pained at the moderate
degree of his success. At the time of which I write, however, the
probability as to his success was scarcely ascertained, for he had
been only a fortnight at the task.
It was the middle of the month of April, in a rather backward
season. The weather had been stormy, with frequent showers of sleet
and snow. Old winter was doing his best to hold young Spring back
by the skirts of her garment, and very few of the wild flowers had
yet ventured to look out of their warm beds in the mould.
Sutherland, therefore, had made but few discoveries in the
neighbourhood. Not that the weather would have kept him to the
house, had he had any particular desire to go out; but, like many
other students, he had no predilection for objectless exertion, and
preferred the choice of his own weather indoors, namely, from books
and his own imaginings, to an encounter with the keen blasts of the
North, charged as they often were with sharp bullets of hail. When
the sun did shine out between the showers, his cold glitter upon the
pools of rain or melted snow, and on the wet evergreens and gravel
walks, always drove him back from the window with a shiver. The
house, which was of very moderate size and comfort, stood in the
midst of plantations, principally of Scotch firs and larches, some
of the former old and of great growth, so that they had arrived at
the true condition of the tree, which seems to require old age for
the perfection of its idea. There was very little to be seen from
the windows except this wood, which, somewhat gloomy at almost any
season, was at the present cheerless enough; and Sutherland found it
very dreary indeed, as exchanged for the wide view from his own home
on the side of an open hill in the Highlands.
In the midst of circumstances so uninteresting, it is not to be
wondered at, that the glimpse of a pretty maiden should, one
morning, occasion him some welcome excitement. Passing downstairs
to breakfast, he observed the drawing-room door ajar, and looked in
to see what sort of a room it was; for so seldom was it used that he
had never yet entered it. There stood a young girl, peeping, with
mingled curiosity and reverence, into a small gilt-leaved volume,
which she had lifted from the table by which she stood. He watched
her for a moment with some interest; when she, seeming to become
mesmerically aware that she was not alone, looked up, blushed
deeply, put down the book in confusion, and proceeded to dust some
of the furniture. It was his first sight of Margaret. Some of the
neighbours were expected to dinner, and her aid was in requisition
to get the grand room of the house prepared for the occasion. He
supposed her to belong to the household, till, one day, feeling
compelled to go out for a stroll, he caught sight of her so occupied
at the door of her father's cottage, that he perceived at once that
must be her home: she was, in fact, seated upon a stool, paring
potatoes. She saw him as well, and, apparently ashamed at the
recollection of having been discovered idling in the drawing-room,
rose and went in. He had met David once or twice about the house,
and, attracted by his appearance, had had some conversation with
him; but he did not know where he lived, nor that he was the father
of the girl whom he had seen.
THE DAISY AND THE PRIMROSE.
Dear secret Greenness, nursed below
Tempests and winds and winter nights!
Vex not that but one sees thee grow;
That One made all these lesser lights.
It was, of course, quite by accident that Sutherland had met
Margaret in the fir-wood. The wind had changed during the night,
and swept all the clouds from the face of the sky; and when he
looked out in the morning, he saw the fir-tops waving in the
sunlight, and heard the sound of a south-west wind sweeping through
them with the tune of running waters in its course. It is a
well-practised ear that can tell whether the sound it hears be that
of gently falling waters, or of wind flowing through the branches of
firs. Sutherland's heart, reviving like a dormouse in its hole,
began to be joyful at the sight of the genial motions of Nature,
telling of warmth and blessedness at hand. Some goal of life, vague
but sure, seemed to glimmer through the appearances around him, and
to stimulate him to action. Be dressed in haste, and went out to
meet the Spring. He wandered into the heart of the wood. The
sunlight shone like a sunset upon the red trunks and boughs of the
old fir-trees, but like the first sunrise of the world upon the new
green fringes that edged the young shoots of the larches. High up,
hung the memorials of past summers in the rich brown tassels of the
clustering cones; while the ground under foot was dappled with
sunshine on the fallen fir-needles, and the great fallen cones which
had opened to scatter their autumnal seed, and now lay waiting for
decay. Overhead, the tops whence they had fallen, waved in the
wind, as in welcome of the Spring, with that peculiar swinging
motion which made the poets of the sixteenth century call them
"sailing pines." The wind blew cool, but not cold; and was filled
with a delicious odour from the earth, which Sutherland took as a
sign that she was coming alive at last. And the Spring he went out
to meet, met him. For, first, at the foot of a tree, he spied a
tiny primrose, peeping out of its rough, careful leaves; and he
wondered how, by any metamorphosis, such leaves could pass into such
a flower. Had he seen the mother of the next spring-messenger he
was about to meet, the same thought would have returned in another
form. For, next, as he passed on with the primrose in his hand,
thinking it was almost cruel to pluck it, the Spring met him, as if
in her own shape, in the person of Margaret, whom he spied a little
way off, leaning against the stem of a Scotch fir, and looking up to
its top swaying overhead in the first billows of the outburst ocean
of life. He went up to her with some shyness; for the presence of
even a child-maiden was enough to make Sutherland shy--partly from
the fear of startling her shyness, as one feels when drawing near a
couching fawn. But she, when she heard his footsteps, dropped her
eyes slowly from the tree-top, and, as if she were in her own
sanctuary, waited his approach. He said nothing at first, but
offered her, instead of speech, the primrose he had just plucked,
which she received with a smile of the eyes only, and the sweetest
"thank you, sir," he had ever heard. But while she held the
primrose in her hand, her eyes wandered to the book which, according
to his custom, Sutherland had caught up as he left the house. It
was the only well-bound book in his possession; and the eyes of
Margaret, not yet tutored by experience, naturally expected an
entrancing page within such beautiful boards; for the gayest
bindings she had seen, were those of a few old annuals up at the
house--and were they not full of the most lovely tales and pictures?
In this case, however, her expectation was not vain; for the volume
was, as I have already disclosed, Coleridge's Poems.
Seeing her eyes fixed upon the book--"Would you like to read it?"
"If you please, sir," answered Margaret, her eyes brightening with
the expectation of deliglit.
"Are you fond of poetry?"
Her face fell. The only poetry she knew was the Scotch Psalms and
Paraphrases, and such last-century verses as formed the chief part
of the selections in her school-books; for this was a very retired
parish, and the newer books had not yet reached its school. She had
hoped chiefly for tales.
"I dinna ken much about poetry," she answered, trying to speak
English. "There's an old book o't on my father's shelf; but the
letters o't are auld-fashioned, an' I dinna care aboot it."
"But this is quite easy to read, and very beautiful," said Hugh.
The girl's eyes glistened for a moment, and this was all her reply.
"Would you like to read it?" resumed Hugh, seeing no further answer
was on the road.
She held out her hand towards the volume. When he, in his turn,
held the volume towards her hand, she almost snatched it from him,
and ran towards the house, without a word of thanks or
leave-taking--whether from eagerness, or doubt of the propriety of
accepting the offer, Hugh could not conjecture. He stood for some
moments looking after her, and then retraced his steps towards the
It would have been something, in the monotony of one of the most
trying of positions, to meet one who snatched at the offered means
of spiritual growth, even if that disciple had not been a lovely
girl, with the woman waking in her eyes. He commenced the duties of
the day with considerably more of energy than he had yet brought to
bear on his uninteresting pupils; and this energy did not flag
before its effects upon the boys began to react in fresh impulse
O little Bethlem! poor in walls,
But rich in furniture.
JOHN MASON'S Spiritual Songs.
There was one great alleviation to the various discomforts of
Sutherland's tutor-life. It was, that, except during school-hours,
he was expected to take no charge whatever of his pupils. They ran
wild all other times; which was far better, in every way, both for
them and for him. Consequently, he was entirely his own master
beyond the fixed margin of scholastic duties; and he soon found that
his absence, even from the table, was a matter of no interest to the
family. To be sure, it involved his own fasting till the next
meal-time came round--for the lady was quite a household martinet;
but that was his own concern.
That very evening, he made his way to David's cottage, about the
country supper-time, when he thought he should most likely find him
at home. It was a clear, still, moonlit night, with just an air of
frost. There was light enough for him to see that the cottage was
very neat and tidy, looking, in the midst of its little forest, more
like an English than a Scotch habitation. He had had the advantage
of a few months' residence in a leafy region on the other side of
the Tweed, and so was able to make the comparison. But what a
different leafage that was from this! That was soft, floating,
billowy; this hard, stiff, and straight-lined, interfering so little
with the skeleton form, that it needed not to be put off in the
wintry season of death, to make the trees in harmony with the
landscape. A light was burning in the cottage, visible through the
inner curtain of muslin, and the outer one of frost. As he
approached the door, he heard the sound of a voice; and from the
even pitch of the tone, he concluded at once that its owner was
reading aloud. The measured cadence soon convinced him that it was
verse that was being read; and the voice was evidently that of
David, and not of Margaret. He knocked at the door. The voice
ceased, chairs were pushed back, and a heavy step approached. David
opened the door himself.
"Eh! Maister Sutherlan'," said he, "I thocht it micht aiblins be
yersel. Ye're welcome, sir. Come butt the hoose. Our place is but
sma', but ye'll no min' sitttin' doon wi' our ain sels. Janet,
ooman, this is Maister Sutherlan'. Maggy, my doo, he's a frien' o'
yours, o' a day auld, already. Ye're kindly welcome, Maister
Sutherlan'. I'm sure it's verra kin' o' you to come an' see the
like o' huz."
As Hugh entered, he saw his own bright volume lying on the table,
evidently that from which David had just been reading.
Margaret had already placed for him a cushioned arm-chair, the only
comfortable one in the house; and presently, the table being drawn
back, they were all seated round the peat-fire on the hearth, the
best sort for keeping feet warm at least. On the crook, or hooked
iron-chain suspended within the chimney, hung a three-footed pot, in
which potatoes were boiling away merrily for supper. By the side of
the wide chimney, or more properly lum, hung an iron lamp, of an old
classical form common to the country, from the beak of which
projected, almost horizontally, the lighted wick--the pith of a
rush. The light perched upon it was small but clear, and by it
David had been reading. Margaret sat right under it, upon a
creepie, or small three-legged wooden stool. Sitting thus, with the
light falling on her from above, Hugh could not help thinking she
looked very pretty. Almost the only object in the distance from
which the feeble light was reflected, was the patch-work counterpane
of a little bed filling a recess in the wall, fitted with doors
which stood open. It was probably Margaret's refuge for the night.
"Well," said the tutor, after they had been seated a few minutes,
and had had some talk about the weather--surely no despicable
subject after such a morning--the first of Spring--"well, how do you
like the English poet, Mr. Elginbrod?"
"Spier that at me this day week, Maister Sutherlan', an' I'll
aiblins answer ye; but no the nicht, no the nicht."
"What for no?" said Hugh, taking up the dialect.
"For ae thing, we're nae clean through wi' the auld sailor's story
yet; an' gin I hae learnt ae thing aboon anither, its no to pass
jeedgment upo' halves. I hae seen ill weather half the simmer, an'
a thrang corn-yard after an' a', an' that o' the best. No that I'm
ill pleased wi' the bonny ballant aither."
"Weel, will ye jist lat me read the lave o't till ye?"
"Wi' muckle pleesur, sir, an' mony thanks."
He showed Hugh how far they had got in the reading of the "Ancient
Mariner"; whereupon he took up the tale, and carried it on to the
end. He had some facility in reading with expression, and his few
affectations--for it must be confessed he was not free of such
faults--were not of a nature to strike uncritical hearers. When he
had finished, he looked up, and his eye chancing to light upon
Margaret first, he saw that her cheek was quite pale, and her eyes
overspread with the film, not of coming tears, but of emotion
"Well," said Hugh, again, willing to break the silence, and turning
towards David, "what do you think of it now you have heard it all?"
Whether Janet interrupted her husband or not, I cannot tell; but she
certainly spoke first:
"Tshâvah!"--equivalent to pshaw--"it's a' lees. What for are ye
knittin' yer broos ower a leein' ballant--a' havers as weel as
"I'm no jist prepared to say sae muckle, Janet," replied David;
"there's mony a thing 'at's lees, as ye ca't, 'at's no lees a'
through. Ye see, Maister Sutherlan', I'm no gleg at the uptak, an'
it jist taks me twise as lang as ither fowk to see to the ootside o'
a thing. Whiles a sentence 'ill leuk to me clean nonsense
a'thegither; an' maybe a haill ook efter, it'll come upo' me a' at
ance; an' fegs! it's the best thing in a' the beuk."
Margaret's eyes were fixed on her father with a look which I can
only call faithfulness, as if every word he spoke was truth, whether
she could understand it or not.
"But perhaps we may look too far for meanings sometimes," suggested
"Maybe, maybe; but when a body has a suspeecion o' a trowth, he sud
never lat sit till he's gotten eyther hit, or an assurance that
there's nothing there. But there's jist ae thing, in the poem 'at I
can pit my finger upo', an' say 'at it's no richt clear to me
whether it's a' straucht-foret or no?"
"What's that, Mr. Elginbrod?"
"It's jist this--what for a' thae sailor-men fell doon deid, an' the
chield 'at shot the bonnie burdie, an' did a' the mischeef, cam' to
little hurt i' the 'en--comparateevely."
"Well," said Hugh, "I confess I'm not prepared to answer the
question. If you get any light on the subject"--
"Ow, I daursay I may. A heap o' things comes to me as I'm takin' a
daunder by mysel' i' the gloamin'. I'll no say a thing's wrang till
I hae tried it ower an' ower; for maybe I haena a richt grip o' the
"What can ye expec, Dawvid, o' a leevin' corp, an' a' that?--ay, twa
hunner corps--fower times fifty's twa hunner--an' angels turnin'
sailors, an' sangs gaein fleein' aboot like laverocks, and tummelin'
doon again, tired like?--Gude preserve's a'!"
"Janet, do ye believe 'at ever a serpent spak?"
"Hoot! Dawvid, the deil was in him, ye ken."
"The deil a word o' that's i' the word itsel, though," rejoined
David with a smile.
"Dawvid," said Janet, solemnly, and with some consternation, "ye're
no gaein' to tell me, sittin' there, at ye dinna believe ilka word
'at's prentit atween the twa brods o' the Bible? What will Maister
Sutherlan' think o' ye?"
"Janet, my bonnie lass--" and here David's eyes beamed upon his
wife--"I believe as mony o' them as ye do, an' maybe a wheen mair,
my dawtie. Keep yer min' easy aboot that. But ye jist see 'at fowk
warna a'thegither saitisfeed aboot a sairpent speikin', an' sae they
leukit aboot and aboot till at last they fand the deil in him. Gude
kens whether he was there or no. Noo, ye see hoo, gin we was to
leuk weel aboot thae corps, an' thae angels, an' a' that queer
stuff--but oh! it's bonny stuff tee!--we micht fa' in wi' something
we didna awthegither expec, though we was leukin' for't a' the time.
Sae I maun jist think aboot it, Mr. Sutherlan'; an' I wad fain read
it ower again, afore I lippen on giein' my opingan on the maitter.
Ye cud lave the bit beukie, sir? We'se tak' guid care o't."
"Ye're verra welcome to that or ony ither beuk I hae," replied Hugh,
who began to feel already as if he were in the hands of a superior.
"Mony thanks; but ye see, sir, we hae eneuch to chow upo' for an
aucht days or so."
By this time the potatoes wore considered to be cooked, and were
accordingly lifted off the fire. The water was then poured away,
the lid put aside, and the pot hung once more upon the crook, hooked
a few rings further up in the chimney, in order that the potatoes
might be thoroughly dry before they were served. Margaret was now
very busy spreading the cloth and laying spoon and plates on the
table. Hugh rose to go.
"Will ye no bide," said Janet, in a most hospitable tone, "an' tak'
a het pitawta wi' us?"
"I'm afraid of being troublesome," answered he.
"Nae fear o' that, gin ye can jist pit up wi' oor hamely meat."
"Mak nae apologies, Janet, my woman," said David. "A het pitawta's
aye guid fare, for gentle or semple. Sit ye doun again, Maister
Sutherlan'. Maggy, my doo, whaur's the milk?"
"I thocht Hawkie wad hae a drappy o' het milk by this time," said
Margaret, "and sae I jist loot it be to the last; but I'll hae't
drawn in twa minutes." And away she went with a jug, commonly
called a decanter in that part of the north, in her hand.
"That's hardly fair play to Hawkie," said David to Janet with a
"Hoot! Dawvid, ye see we haena a stranger ilka nicht."
"But really," said Hugh, "I hope this is the last time you will
consider me a stranger, for I shall be here a great many times--that
is, if you don't get tired of me."
"Gie us the chance at least, Maister Sutherlan'. It's no sma'
preevilege to fowk like us to hae a frien' wi' sae muckle buik
learnin' as ye hae, sir."
"I am afraid it looks more to you than it really is."
"Weel, ye see, we maun a' leuk at the starns frae the hicht o' oor
ain een. An' ye seem nigher to them by a lang growth than the lave
o's. My man, ye ought to be thankfu'."
With the true humility that comes of worshipping the Truth, David
had not the smallest idea that he was immeasurably nearer to the
stars than Hugh Sutherland.
Maggie having returned with her jug full of frothy milk, and the
potatoes being already heaped up in a wooden bowl or bossie in the
middle of the table, sending the smoke of their hospitality to the
rafters, Janet placed a smaller wooden bowl, called a caup, filled
with deliciously yellow milk of Hawkie's latest gathering, for each
individual of the company, with an attendant horn-spoon by its side.
They all drew their chairs to the table, and David, asking no
blessing, as it was called, but nevertheless giving thanks for the
blessing already bestowed, namely, the perfect gift of food, invited
Hugh to make a supper. Each, in primitive but not ungraceful
fashion, took a potatoe from the dish with the fingers, and ate it,
"bite and sup," with the help of the horn-spoon for the milk. Hugh
thought he had never supped more pleasantly, and could not help
observing how far real good-breeding is independent of the forms and
refinements of what has assumed to itself the name of society.
Soon after supper was over, it was time for him to go; so, after
kind hand-shakings and good nights, David accompanied him to the
road, where he left him to find his way home by the star-light. As
he went, he could not help pondering a little over the fact that a
labouring man had discovered a difficulty, perhaps a fault, in one
of his favourite poems, which had never suggested itself to him. He
soon satisfied himself, however, by coming to the conclusion that
the poet had not cared about the matter at all, having had no
further intention in the poem than Hugh himself had found in it,
namely, witchery and loveliness. But it seemed to the young student
a wonderful fact, that the intercourse which was denied him in the
laird's family, simply from their utter incapacity of yielding it,
should be afforded him in the family of a man who had followed the
plough himself once, perhaps did so still, having risen only to be
the overseer and superior assistant of labourers. He certainly
felt, on his way home, much more reconciled to the prospect of his
sojourn at Turriepuffit, than he would have thought it possible he
David lingered a few moments, looking up at the stars, before he
re-entered his cottage. When he rejoined his wife and child, he
found the Bible already open on the table for their evening
devotions. I will close this chapter, as I began the first, with
something like his prayer. David's prayers were characteristic of
the whole man; but they also partook, in far more than ordinary, of
the mood of the moment. His last occupation had been star-gazing:
"O thou, wha keeps the stars alicht, an' our souls burnin' wi' a
licht aboon that o' the stars, grant that they may shine afore thee
as the stars for ever and ever. An' as thou hauds the stars burnin'
a' the nicht, whan there's no man to see, so haud thou the licht
burnin' in our souls, whan we see neither thee nor it, but are
buried in the grave o' sleep an' forgetfu'ness. Be thou by us, even
as a mother sits by the bedside o' her ailin' wean a' the lang
nicht; only be thou nearer to us, even in our verra souls, an' watch
ower the warl' o' dreams that they mak' for themsels. Grant that
more an' more thochts o' thy thinkin' may come into our herts day by
day, till there shall be at last an open road atween thee an' us,
an' thy angels may ascend and descend upon us, so that we may be in
thy heaven, e'en while we are upo' thy earth: Amen."
In wood and stone, not the softest, but hardest, be always aptest
for portraiture, both fairest for pleasure, and most durable for
profit. Hard wits be hard to receive, but sure to keep; painful
without weariness, heedful without wavering, constant without
new-fangleness; bearing heavy things, though not lightly, yet
willingly; entering hard things, though not easily, yet deeply; and
so come to that perfectness of learning in the end, that quick wits
seem in hope but do not in deed, or else very seldom ever attain
unto.--ROGER ASCHAM.--The Schoolmaster.
Two or three very simple causes united to prevent Hugh from
repeating his visit to David so soon as he would otherwise have
done. One was, that, the fine weather continuing, he was seized
with the desire of exploring the neighbourhood. The spring, which
sets some wild animals to the construction of new dwellings, incites
man to the enlarging of his, making, as it were, by discovery, that
which lies around him his own. So he spent the greater parts of
several evenings in wandering about the neighbourhood; till at
length the moonlight failed him. Another cause was, that, in the
act of searching for some books for his boys, in an old garret of
the house, which was at once lumber room and library, he came upon
some stray volumes of the Waverley novels, with which he was as yet
only partially acquainted. These absorbed many of his spare hours.
But one evening, while reading the Heart of Midlothian, the thought
struck him--what a character David would have been for Sir Walter.
Whether he was right or not is a question; but the notion brought
David so vividly before him, that it roused the desire to see him.
He closed the book at once, and went to the cottage.
"We're no lik'ly to ca' ye onything but a stranger yet, Maister
Sutherlan'," said David, as he entered.
"I've been busy since I saw you," was all the excuse Hugh offered.
"Weel, ye'r welcome noo; and ye've jist come in time after a', for
it's no that mony hours sin' I fand it oot awthegither to my ain
"Found out what?" said Hugh; for he had forgotten all about the
perplexity in which he had left David, and which had been occupying
his thoughts ever since their last interview.
"Aboot the cross-bow an' the birdie, ye ken," answered David, in a
tone of surprise.
"Yes, to be sure. How stupid of me!" said Hugh.
"Weel, ye see, the meanin' o' the haill ballant is no that ill to
win at, seein' the poet himsel' tells us that. It's jist no to be
proud or ill-natured to oor neebours, the beasts and birds, for God
made ane an' a' o's. But there's harder things in't nor that, and
yon's the hardest. But ye see it was jist an unlucky thochtless
deed o' the puir auld sailor's, an' I'm thinkin' he was sair
reprocht in's hert the minit he did it. His mates was fell angry at
him, no for killin' the puir innocent craytur, but for fear o' ill
luck in consequence. Syne when nane followed, they turned richt
roun', an' took awa' the character o' the puir beastie efter 'twas
deid. They appruved o' the verra thing 'at he was nae doot sorry
for.--But onything to haud aff o' themsels! Nae suner cam the calm,
than roun' they gaed again like the weathercock, an' naething wad
content them bit hingin' the deid craytur about the auld man's
craig, an' abusin' him forby. Sae ye see hoo they war a wheen
selfish crayturs, an' a hantle waur nor the man 'at was led astray
into an ill deed. But still he maun rue't. Sae Death got them, an'
a kin' o' leevin' Death, a she Death as 'twar, an' in some respecks
may be waur than the ither, got grips o' him, puir auld body! It's
a' fair and richt to the backbane o' the ballant, Maister
Sutherlan', an' that I'se uphaud."
Hugh could not help feeling considerably astonished to hear this
criticism from the lips of one whom he considered an uneducated man.
For he did not know that there are many other educations besides a
college one, some of them tending far more than that to develope the
common-sense, or faculty of judging of things by their nature. Life
intelligently met and honestly passed, is the best education of all;
except that higher one to which it is intended to lead, and to which
it had led David. Both these educations, however, were nearly
unknown to the student of books. But he was still more astonished
to hear from the lips of Margaret, who was sitting by:
"That's it, father; that's it! I was jist ettlin' efter that same
thing mysel, or something like it, but ye put it in the richt words
The sound of her voice drew Hugh's eyes upon her: he was astonished
at the alteration in her countenance. While she spoke it was
absolutely beautiful. As soon as she ceased speaking, it settled
back into its former shadowless calm. Her father gave her one
approving glance and nod, expressive of no surprise at her having
approached the same discovery as himself, but testifying pleasure at
the coincidence of their opinions. Nothing was left for Hugh but to
express his satisfaction with the interpretation of the difficulty,
and to add, that the poem would henceforth possess fresh interest
After this, his visits became more frequent; and at length David
made a request which led to their greater frequency still. It was
to this effect:
"Do ye think, Mr. Sutherlan', I could do onything at my age at the
mathematics? I unnerstan' weel eneuch hoo to measur' lan', an' that
kin' o' thing. I jist follow the rule. But the rule itsel's a
puzzler to me. I dinna understan' it by half. Noo it seems to me
that the best o' a rule is, no to mak ye able to do a thing, but to
lead ye to what maks the rule richt--to the prenciple o' the thing.
It's no 'at I'm misbelievin' the rule, but I want to see the richts
"I've no doubt you could learn fast enough," replied Hugh. "I shall
be very happy to help you with it."
"Na, na; I'm no gaein to trouble you. Ye hae eneuch to do in that
way. But if ye could jist spare me ane or twa o' yer beuks
whiles--ony o' them 'at ye think proper, I sud be muckle obleeged te
Hugh promised and fulfilled; but the result was, that, before long,
both the father and the daughter were seated at the kitchen-table,
every evening, busy with Euclid and Algebra; and that, on most
evenings, Hugh was present as their instructor. It was quite a new
pleasure to him. Few delights surpass those of imparting knowledge
to the eager recipient. What made Hugh's tutor-life irksome, was
partly the excess of his desire to communicate, over the desire of
his pupils to partake. But here there was no labour. All the
questions were asked by the scholars. A single lesson had not
passed, however, before David put questions which Hugh was unable to
answer, and concerning which he was obliged to confess his
ignorance. Instead of being discouraged, as eager questioners are
very ready to be when they receive no answer, David merely said,
"Weel, weel, we maun bide a wee," and went on with what he was able
to master. Meantime Margaret, though forced to lag a good way
behind her father, and to apply much more frequently to their tutor
for help, yet secured all she got; and that is great praise for any
student. She was not by any means remarkably quick, but she knew
when she did not understand; and that is a sure and indispensable
step towards understanding. It is indeed a rarer gift than the
power of understanding itself.
The gratitude of David was too deep to be expressed in any formal
thanks. It broke out at times in two or three simple words when the
conversation presented an opportunity, or in the midst of their
work, as by its own self-birth, ungenerated by association.
During the lesson, which often lasted more than two hours, Janet
would be busy about the room, and in and out of it, with a manifest
care to suppress all unnecessary bustle. As soon as Hugh made his
appearance, she would put off the stout shoes--man's shoes, as we
should consider them--which she always wore at other times, and put
on a pair of bauchles; that is, an old pair of her Sunday shoes, put
down at heel, and so converted into slippers, with which she could
move about less noisily. At times her remarks would seem to imply
that she considered it rather absurd in her husband to trouble
himself with book-learning; but evidently on the ground that he knew
everything already that was worthy of the honour of his
acquaintance; whereas, with regard to Margaret, her heart was as
evidently full of pride at the idea of the education her daughter
was getting from the laird's own tutor.
Now and then she would stand still for a moment, and gaze at them,
with her bright black eyes, from under the white frills of her
mutch, her bare brown arms akimbo, and a look of pride upon her
equally brown honest face.
Her dress consisted of a wrapper, or short loose jacket, of printed
calico, and a blue winsey petticoat, which she had a habit of
tucking between her knees, to keep it out of harm's way, as often as
she stooped to any wet work, or, more especially, when doing
anything by the fire. Margaret's dress was, in ordinary, like her
mother's, with the exception of the cap; but, every evening, when
their master was expected, she put off her wrapper, and substituted
a gown of the same material, a cotton print; and so, with her
plentiful dark hair gathered neatly under a net of brown silk, the
usual head-dress of girls in her position, both in and out of doors,
sat down dressed for the sacrament of wisdom. David made no other
preparation than the usual evening washing of his large well-wrought
hands, and bathing of his head, covered with thick dark hair,
plentifully lined with grey, in a tub of cold water; from which his
face, which was "cremsin dyed ingrayne" by the weather, emerged
glowing. He sat down at the table in his usual rough blue coat and
plain brass buttons; with his breeches of broad-striped corduroy,
his blue-ribbed stockings, and leather gaiters, or cuiticans,
disposed under the table, and his shoes, with five rows of
broad-headed nails in the soles, projecting from beneath it on the
other side; for he was a tall man--six feet still, although
five-and-fifty, and considerably bent in the shoulders with hard
work. Sutherland's style was that of a gentleman who must wear out
Such was the group which, three or four evenings in the week, might
be seen in David Elginbrod's cottage, seated around the white deal
table, with their books and slates upon it, and searching, by the
light of a tallow candle, substituted as more convenient, for the
ordinary lamp, after the mysteries of the universe.
The influences of reviving nature and of genial companionship
operated very favourably upon Hugh's spirits, and consequently upon
his whole powers. For some time he had, as I have already hinted,
succeeded in interesting his boy-pupils in their studies; and now
the progress they made began to be appreciable to themselves as well
as to their tutor. This of course made them more happy and more
diligent. There were no attempts now to work upon their parents for
a holiday; no real or pretended head or tooth-aches, whose
disability was urged against the greater torture of ill-conceded
mental labour. They began in fact to understand; and, in proportion
to the beauty and value of the thing understood, to understand is to
enjoy. Therefore the laird and his lady could not help seeing that
the boys were doing well, far better in fact than they had ever done
before; and consequently began not only to prize Hugh's services,
but to think more highly of his office than had been their wont.
The laird would now and then invite him to join him in a tumbler of
toddy after dinner, or in a ride round the farm after school hours.
But it must be confessed that these approaches to friendliness were
rather irksome to Hugh; for whatever the laird might have been as a
collegian, he was certainly now nothing more than a farmer. Where
David Elginbrod would have described many a "bonny sicht," the laird
only saw the probable results of harvest, in the shape of figures in
his banking book. On one occasion, Hugh roused his indignation by
venturing to express his admiration of the delightful mingling of
colours in a field where a good many scarlet poppies grew among the
green blades of the corn, indicating, to the agricultural eye, the
poverty of the soil where they were found. This fault in the soil,
the laird, like a child, resented upon the poppies themselves.
"Nasty, ugly weyds! We'll hae ye admirin' the smut neist," said he,
contemptuously; "'cause the bairns can bleck ane anither's faces
"But surely," said Hugh, "putting other considerations aside, you
must allow that the colour, especially when mingled with that of the
corn, is beautiful."
"Deil hae't! It's jist there 'at I canna bide the sicht o't.
Beauty ye may ca' 't! I see nane o't. I'd as sune hae a
reid-heedit bairn, as see thae reid-coatit rascals i' my corn. I
houp ye're no gaen to cram stuff like that into the heeds o' the twa
laddies. Faith! we'll hae them sawin' thae ill-faured weyds amang
the wheyt neist. Poapies ca' ye them? Weel I wat they're the
Popp's ain bairns, an' the scarlet wumman to the mither o' them.
Ha! ha! ha!"
Having manifested both wit and Protestantism in the closing sentence
of his objurgation, the laird relapsed into good humour and
stupidity. Hugh would gladly have spent such hours in David's
cottage instead; but he was hardly prepared to refuse his company to
THE LAIRD'S LADY.
Ye archewyves, standith at defence,
Sin ye been strong, as is a great camayle;
Ne suffer not that men you don offence.
And slender wives, fell as in battaile,
Beth eager, as is a tiger, yond in Inde;
Aye clappith as a mill, I you counsaile.
CHAUCER.--The Clerk's Tale.
The length and frequency of Hugh's absences, careless as she was of
his presence, had already attracted the attention of Mrs. Glasford;
and very little trouble had to be expended on the discovery of his
haunt. For the servants knew well enough where he went, and of
course had come to their own conclusions as to the object of his
visits. So the lady chose to think it her duty to expostulate with
Hugh on the subject. Accordingly, one morning after breakfast, the
laird having gone to mount his horse, and the boys to have a few
minutes' play before lessons, Mrs. Glasford, who had kept her seat
at the head of the table, waiting for the opportunity, turned
towards Hugh who sat reading the week's news, folded her hands on
the tablecloth, drew herself up yet a little more stiffly in her
chair, and thus addressed him:
"It's my duty, Mr. Sutherland, seein' ye have no mother to look
Hugh expected something matronly about his linen or his socks, and
put down his newspaper with a smile; but, to his astonishment, she
--"To remonstrate wi' ye, on the impropriety of going so often to
David Elginbrod's. They're not company for a young gentleman like
you, Mr. Sutherland."
"They're good enough company for a poor tutor, Mrs. Glasford,"
replied Hugh, foolishly enough.
"Not at all, not at all," insisted the lady. "With your
"Good gracious! who ever said anything about my connexions? I never
pretended to have any." Hugh was getting angry already.
Mrs. Glasford nodded her head significantly, as much as to say, "I
know more about you than you imagine," and then went on:
"Your mother will never forgive me if you get into a scrape with
that smooth-faced hussy; and if her father, honest man hasn't eyes
enough in his head, other people have--ay, an' tongues too, Mr.
Hugh was on the point of forgetting his manners, and consigning all
the above mentioned organs to perdition; but he managed to restrain
his wrath, and merely said that Margaret was one of the best girls
he had ever known, and that there was no possible danger of any kind
of scrape with her. This mode of argument, however, was not
calculated to satisfy Mrs. Glasford. She returned to the charge.
"She's a sly puss, with her shy airs and graces. Her father's jist
daft wi' conceit o' her, an' it's no to be surprised if she cast a
glamour ower you. Mr. Sutherland, ye're but young yet."
Hugh's pride presented any alliance with a lassie who had herded the
laird's cows barefoot, and even now tended their own cow, as an all
but inconceivable absurdity; and he resented, more than he could
have thought possible, the entertainment of such a degrading idea in
the mind of Mrs. Glasford. Indignation prevented him from replying;
while she went on, getting more vernacular as she proceeded.
"It's no for lack o' company 'at yer driven to seek theirs, I'm
sure. There's twa as fine lads an' gude scholars as ye'll fin' in
the haill kintra-side, no to mention the laird and mysel'."
But Hugh could bear it no longer; nor would he condescend to excuse
or explain his conduct.
"Madam, I beg you will not mention this subject again."
"But I will mention 't, Mr. Sutherlan'; an' if ye'll no listen to
rizzon, I'll go to them 'at maun do't."
"I am accountable to you, madam, for my conduct in your house, and
for the way in which I discharge my duty to your children--no
"Do ye ca' that dischairgin' yer duty to my bairns, to set them the
example o' hingin' at a quean's âpron-strings, and fillin' her lug
wi' idle havers? Ca' ye that dischairgin' yer duty? My certie! a
"I never see the girl but in her father and mother's presence."
"Weel, weel, Mr. Sutherlan'," said Mrs. Glasford, in a final tone,
and trying to smother the anger which she felt she had allowed to
carry her further than was decorous, "we'll say nae mair aboot it at
present; but I maun jist speak to the laird himsel', an' see what he
says till 't."
And, with this threat, she walked out of the room in what she
considered a dignified manner.
Hugh was exceedingly annoyed at this treatment, and thought, at
first, of throwing up his situation at once; but he got calmer by
degrees, and saw that it would be to his own loss, and perhaps to
the injury of his friends at the cottage. So he took his revenge by
recalling the excited face of Mrs. Glasford, whose nose had got as
red with passion as the protuberance of a turkey-cock when gobbling
out its unutterable feelings of disdain. He dwelt upon this
soothing contemplation till a fit of laughter relieved him, and he
was able to go and join his pupils as if nothing had happened.
Meanwhile the lady sent for David, who was at work in the garden,
into no less an audience-chamber than the drawing-room, the revered
abode of all the tutelar deities of the house; chief amongst which
were the portraits of the laird and herself: he, plethoric and
wrapped in voluminous folds of neckerchief--she long-necked, and
lean, and bare-shouldered. The original of the latter work of art
seated herself in the most important chair in the room; and when
David, after carefully wiping the shoes he had already wiped three
times on his way up, entered with a respectful but no wise
obsequious bow, she ordered him, with the air of an empress, to shut
the door. When he had obeyed, she ordered him, in a similar tone,
to be seated; for she sought to mingle condescension and
conciliation with severity.
"David," she then began, "I am informed that ye keep open door to
our Mr. Sutherland, and that he spends most forenichts in your
"Weel, mem, it's verra true," was all David's answer. He sat in an
"Dawvid, I wonner at ye!" returned Mrs. Glasford, forgetting her
dignity, and becoming confidentially remonstrative. "Here's a young
gentleman o' talans, wi' ilka prospeck o' waggin' his heid in a
poopit some day; an' ye aid an' abet him in idlin' awa' his time at
your chimla-lug, duin' waur nor naething ava! I'm surprised at ye,
Dawvid. I thocht ye had mair sense."
David looked out of his clear, blue, untroubled eyes, upon the
ruffled countenance of his mistress, with an almost paternal smile.
"Weel, mem, I maun say I dinna jist think the young man's in the
warst o' company, when he's at our ingle-neuk. An' for idlin' o'
his time awa', it's weel waurd for himsel', forby for us, gin holy
words binna lees."
"What do ye mean, Dawvid?" said the lady rather sharply, for she
loved no riddles.
"I mean this, mem: that the young man is jist actin' the pairt o'
Peter an' John at the bonny gate o' the temple, whan they said:
'Such as I have, gie I thee;' an' gin' it be more blessed to gie
than to receive, as Sant Paul says 'at the Maister himsel' said, the
young man 'ill no be the waur aff in's ain learnin', that he
impairts o't to them that hunger for't."
"Ye mean by this, Dawvid, gin ye could express yersel' to the pint,
'at the young man, wha's ower weel paid to instruck my bairns,
neglecks them, an' lays himsel' oot upo' ither fowk's weans, wha hae
no richt to ettle aboon the station in which their Maker pat them."
This was uttered with quite a religious fervour of expostulation;
for the lady's natural indignation at the thought of Meg Elginbrod
having lessons from her boys' tutor, was cowed beneath the quiet
steady gaze of the noble-minded peasant father.
"He lays himsel' oot mair upo' the ither fowk themsels' than upo'
their weans, mem; though, nae doubt, my Maggy comes in for a gude
share. But for negleckin' o' his duty to you, mem, I'm sure I kenna
hoo that can be; for it was only yestreen 'at the laird himsel' said
to me, 'at hoo the bairns had never gotten on naething like it wi'
ony ither body."
"The laird's ower ready wi's clavers," quoth the laird's wife,
nettled to find herself in the wrong, and forgetful of her own and
her lord's dignity at once. "But," she pursued, "all I can say is,
that I consider it verra improper o' you, wi' a young lass-bairn, to
encourage the nichtly veesits o' a young gentleman, wha's sae far
aboon her in station, an' dootless will some day be farther yet."
"Mem!" said David, with dignity, "I'm willin' no to understan' what
ye mean. My Maggy's no ane 'at needs luikin' efter; an' a body had
need to be carefu' an' no interfere wi' the Lord's herdin', for he
ca's himsel' the Shepherd o' the sheep, an' weel as I loe her I maun
lea' him to lead them wha follow him wherever he goeth. She'll be
no ill guidit, and I'm no gaeing to kep her at ilka turn."
"Weel, weel! that's yer ain affair, Dawvid, my man," rejoined Mrs.
Glasford, with rising voice and complexion. "A' 'at I hae to add is
jist this: 'at as lang as my tutor veesits her"--
"He veesits her no more than me, mem," interposed David; but his
mistress went on with dignified disregard of the interruption--
"Veesits her, I canna, for the sake o' my own bairns, an' the morals
o' my hoosehold, employ her aboot the hoose, as I was in the way o'
doin' afore. Good mornin', Dawvid. I'll speak to the laird
himsel', sin' ye'll no heed me."
"It's more to my lassie, mem, excuse me, to learn to unnerstan' the
works o' her Maker, than it is to be employed in your household.
Mony thanks, mem, for what ye hev' done in that way afore; an' good
mornin' to ye, mem. I'm sorry we should hae ony misunderstandin',
but I canna help it for my pairt."
With these words David withdrew, rather anxious about the
consequences to Hugh of this unpleasant interference on the part of
Mrs. Glasford. That lady's wrath kept warm without much nursing,
till the laird came home; when she turned the whole of her battery
upon him, and kept up a steady fire until he yielded, and promised
to turn his upon David. But he had more common-sense than his wife
in some things, and saw at once how ridiculous it would be to treat
the affair as of importance. So, the next time he saw David, he
addressed him half jocularly:
"Weel, Dawvid, you an' the mistress hae been haein' a bit o' a
dispute thegither, eh?"
"Weel, sir, we warna a'thegither o' ae min'," said David, with a
"Weel, weel, we maun humour her, ye ken, or it may be the waur for
us a', ye ken." And the laird nodded with humorous significance.
"I'm sure I sud be glaid, sir; but this is no sma' maitter to me an'
my Maggie, for we're jist gettin' food for the verra sowl, sir, frae
him an' his beuks."
"Cudna ye be content wi the beuks wi'out the man, Dawvid?"
"We sud mak' but sma' progress, sir, that get."
The laird began to be a little nettled himself at David's stiffness
about such a small matter, and held his peace. David resumed:
"Besides, sir, that's a maitter for the young man to sattle, an' no
for me. It wad ill become me, efter a' he's dune for us, to steek
the door in's face. Na, na; as lang's I hae a door to haud open,
it's no to be steekit to him."
"Efter a', the door's mine, Dawvid," said the laird.
"As lang's I'm in your hoose an' in your service, sir, the door's
mine," retorted David, quietly.
The laird turned and rode away without another word. What passed
between him and his wife never transpired. Nothing more was said to
Hugh as long as he remained at Turriepuffit. But Margaret was never
sent for to the House after this, upon any occasion whatever. The
laird gave her a nod as often as he saw her; but the lady, if they
chanced to meet, took no notice of her. Margaret, on her part,
stood or passed with her eyes on the ground, and no further change
of countenance than a slight flush of discomfort.
The lessons went on as usual, and happy hours they were for all
those concerned. Often, in after years, and in far different
circumstances, the thoughts of Hugh reverted, with a painful
yearning, to the dim-lighted cottage, with its clay floor and its
deal table; to the earnest pair seated with him at the labours that
unfold the motions of the stars; and even to the homely, thickset,
but active form of Janet, and that peculiar smile of hers with
which, after an apparently snappish speech, spoken with her back to
the person addressed, she would turn round her honest face
half-apologetically, and shine full upon some one or other of the
three, whom she honoured with her whole heart and soul, and who, she
feared, might be offended at what she called her "hame-ower fashion
of speaking." Indeed it was wonderful what a share the motherhood
of this woman, incapable as she was of entering into the
intellectual occupations of the others, had in producing that sense
of home-blessedness, which inwrapt Hugh also in the folds of its
hospitality, and drew him towards its heart. Certain it is that not
one of the three would have worked so well without the sense of the
presence of Janet, here and there about the room, or in the
immediate neighbourhood of it--love watching over labour. Once a
week, always on Saturday nights, Hugh stayed to supper with them:
and on these occasions, Janet contrived to have something better
than ordinary in honour of their guest. Still it was of the
homeliest country fare, such as Hugh could partake of without the
least fear that his presence occasioned any inconvenience to his
entertainers. Nor was Hugh the only giver of spiritual food.
Putting aside the rich gifts of human affection and sympathy, which
grew more and more pleasant--I can hardly use a stronger word
yet--to Hugh every day, many things were spoken by the simple wisdom
of David, which would have enlightened Hugh far more than they did,
had he been sufficiently advanced to receive them. But their very
simplicity was often far beyond the grasp of his thoughts; for the
higher we rise, the simpler we become; and David was one of those of
whom is the kingdom of Heaven. There is a childhood into which we
have to grow, just as there is a childhood which we must leave
behind; a childlikeness which is the highest gain of humanity, and a
childishness from which but few of those who are counted the wisest
among men, have freed themselves in their imagined progress towards
the reality of things.
THE SECRET OF THE WOOD.
The unthrift sunne shot vitall gold,
A thousand pieces;
And heaven its azure did unfold,
Chequered with snowy fleeces.
The air was all in spice,
And every bush
A garland wore: Thus fed my Eyes,
But all the Eare lay hush.
It was not in mathematics alone that Hugh Sutherland was serviceable
to Margaret Elginbrod. That branch of study had been chosen for her
father, not for her; but her desire to learn had led her to lay hold
upon any mental provision with which the table happened to be
spread; and the more eagerly that her father was a guest at the same
feast. Before long, Hugh bethought him that it might possibly be of
service to her, in the course of her reading, if he taught her
English a little more thoroughly than she had probably picked it up
at the parish school, to which she had been in the habit of going
till within a very short period of her acquaintance with the
tutor.--The English reader must not suppose the term parish school
to mean what the same term would mean if used in England. Boys and
girls of very different ranks go to the Scotch parish schools, and
the fees are so small as to place their education within the reach
of almost the humblest means.--To his proposal to this effect
Margaret responded thankfully; and it gave Hugh an opportunity of
directing her attention to many of the more delicate distinctions in
literature, for the appreciation of which she manifested at once a
Coleridge's poems had been read long ago; some of them, indeed,
almost committed to memory in the process of repeated perusal. No
doubt a good many of them must have been as yet too abstruse for
her; not in the least, however, from inaptitude in her for such
subjects as they treated of, but simply because neither the terms
nor the modes of thought could possibly have been as yet presented
to her in so many different positions as to enable her to comprehend
their scope. Hugh lent her Sir Walter's poems next, but those she
read at an eye-glance. She returned the volume in a week, saying
merely, they were "verra bonnie stories." He saw at once that, to
have done them justice with the girl, he ought to have lent them
first. But that could not be helped now; and what should come next?
Upon this he took thought. His library was too small to cause much
perplexity of choice, but for a few days he continued undecided.
Meantime the interest he felt in his girl-pupil deepened greatly.
She became a kind of study to him. The expression of her
countenance was far inferior to her intelligence and power of
thought. It was still to excess--almost dull in ordinary; not from
any fault in the mould of the features, except, perhaps, in the
upper lip, which seemed deficient in drawing, if I may be allowed
the expression; but from the absence of that light which indicates
the presence of active thought and feeling within. In this respect
her face was like the earthen pitcher of Gideon: it concealed the
light. She seemed to have, to a peculiar degree, the faculty of
retiring inside. But now and then, while he was talking to her, and
doubtful, from the lack of expression, whether she was even
listening with attention to what he was saying, her face would
lighten up with a radiant smile of intelligence; not, however,
throwing the light upon him, and in a moment reverting to its former
condition of still twilight. Her person seemed not to be as yet
thoroughly possessed or informed by her spirit. It sat apart within
her; and there was no ready transit from her heart to her face.
This lack of presence in the face is quite common in pretty
school-girls and rustic beauties; but it was manifest to an unusual
degree in the case of Margaret. Yet most of the forms and lines in
her face were lovely; and when the light did shine through them for
a passing moment, her countenance seemed absolutely beautiful.
Hence it grew into an almost haunting temptation with Hugh, to try
to produce this expression, to unveil the coy light of the beautiful
soul. Often he tried; often he failed, and sometimes he succeeded.
Had they been alone it might have become dangerous--I mean for
Hugh; I cannot tell for Margaret.
When they first met, she had just completed her seventeenth year;
but, at an age when a town-bred girl is all but a woman, her manners
were those of a child. This childishness, however, soon began to
disappear, and the peculiar stillness of her face, of which I have
already said so much, made her seem older than she was.
It was now early summer, and all the other trees in the wood--of
which there were not many besides the firs of various kinds--had put
on their fresh leaves, heaped up in green clouds between the
wanderer and the heavens. In the morning the sun shone so clear
upon these, that, to the eyes of one standing beneath, the light
seemed to dissolve them away to the most ethereal forms of glorified
foliage. They were to be claimed for earth only by the shadows that
the one cast upon the other, visible from below through the
transparent leaf. This effect is very lovely in the young season of
the year, when the leaves are more delicate and less crowded; and
especially in the early morning, when the light is most clear and
penetrating. By the way, I do not think any man is compelled to bid
good-bye to his childhood: every man may feel young in the morning,
middle-aged in the afternoon, and old at night. A day corresponds
to a life, and the portions of the one are "pictures in little" of
the seasons of the other. Thus far man may rule even time, and
gather up, in a perfect being, youth and age at once.
One morning, about six o'clock, Hugh, who had never been so early in
the wood since the day he had met Margaret there, was standing under
a beech-tree, looking up through its multitudinous leaves,
illuminated, as I have attempted to describe, with the sidelong rays
of the brilliant sun. He was feeling young, and observing the forms
of nature with a keen discriminating gaze: that was all. Fond of
writing verses, he was studying nature, not as a true lover, but as
one who would hereafter turn his discoveries to use. For it must be
confessed that nature affected him chiefly through the medium of
poetry; and that he was far more ambitious of writing beautiful
things about nature than of discovering and understanding, for their
own sakes, any of her hidden yet patent meanings. Changing his
attitude after a few moments, he descried, under another beech-tree,
not far from him, Margaret, standing and looking up fixedly as he
had been doing a moment before. He approached her, and she, hearing
his advance, looked, and saw him, but did not move. He thought he
saw the glimmer of tears in her eyes. She was the first to speak,
"What were you seeing up there, Mr. Sutherland?"
"I was only looking at the bright leaves, and the shadows upon
"Ah! I thocht maybe ye had seen something."
"What do you mean, Margaret?"
"I dinna richtly ken mysel'. But I aye expeck to see something in
this fir-wood. I'm here maist mornin's as the day dawns, but I'm
later the day."
"We were later than usual at our work last night. But what kind of
thing do you expect to see?"
"That's jist what I dinna ken. An' I canna min' whan I began to
come here first, luikin' for something. I've tried mony a time, but
I canna min', do what I like."
Margaret had never said so much about herself before. I can account
for it only on the supposition that Hugh had gradually assumed in
her mind a kind of pastoral superiority, which, at a favourable
moment, inclined her to impart her thoughts to him. But he did not
know what to say to this strange fact in her history. She went on,
however, as if, having broken the ice, she must sweep it away as
"The only thing 'at helps me to account for't, is a picter in our
auld Bible, o' an angel sittin' aneth a tree, and haudin' up his
han' as gin he were speakin' to a woman 'at's stan'in' afore him.
Ilka time 'at I come across that picter, I feel direckly as gin I
war my lane in this fir-wood here; sae I suppose that when I was a
wee bairn, I maun hae come oot some mornin' my lane, wi' the
expectation o' seein' an angel here waitin' for me, to speak to me
like the ane i' the Bible. But never an angel hae I seen. Yet I
aye hae an expectation like o' seein' something, I kenna what; for
the whole place aye seems fu' o' a presence, an' it's a hantle mair
to me nor the kirk an' the sermon forby; an' for the singin', the
soun' i' the fir-taps is far mair solemn and sweet at the same time,
an' muckle mair like praisin' o' God than a' the psalms thegither.
But I aye think 'at gin I could hear Milton playin' on's organ, it
would be mair like that soun' o' mony waters, than onything else 'at
I can think o'."
Hugh stood and gazed at her in astonishment. To his more refined
ear, there was a strange incongruity between the somewhat coarse
dialect in which she spoke, and the things she uttered in it. Not
that he was capable of entering into her feelings, much less of
explaining them to her. He felt that there was something remarkable
in them, but attributed both the thoughts themselves and their
influence on him, to an uncommon and weird imagination. As of such
origin, however, he was just the one to value them highly.
"Those are very strange ideas," he said.
"But what can there be about the wood? The very primroses--ye
brocht me the first this spring yersel', Mr. Sutherland--come out at
the fit o' the trees, and look at me as if they said, 'We ken--we
ken a' aboot it;' but never a word mair they say. There's something
by ordinar' in't."
"Do you like no other place besides?" said Hugh, for the sake of
"Ou ay, mony ane; but nane like this."
"What kind of place do you like best?"
"I like places wi' green grass an' flowers amo't."
"You like flowers then?"
"Like them! whiles they gar me greet an' whiles they gar me lauch;
but there's mair i' them than that, an' i' the wood too. I canna
richtly say my prayers in ony ither place."
The Scotch dialect, especially to one brought up in the Highlands,
was a considerable antidote to the effect of the beauty of what
Suddenly it struck Hugh, that if Margaret were such an admirer of
nature, possibly she might enjoy Wordsworth. He himself was as yet
incapable of doing him anything like justice; and, with the
arrogance of youth, did not hesitate to smile at the Excursion,
picking out an awkward line here and there as especial food for
laughter even. But many of his smaller pieces he enjoyed very
heartily, although not thoroughly--the element of Christian
Pantheism, which is their soul, being beyond his comprehension,
almost perception, as yet. So he made up his mind, after a moment's
reflection, that this should be the next author he recommended to
his pupil. He hoped likewise so to end an interview, in which he
might otherwise be compelled to confess that he could render
Margaret no assistance in her search after the something in the
wood; and he was unwilling to say he could not understand her; for a
power of universal sympathy was one of those mental gifts which Hugh
was most anxious to believe he possessed.
"I will bring you another book to-night," said he "which I think you
will like, and which may perhaps help you to find out what is in the
He said this smiling, half in playful jest, and without any idea of
the degree of likelihood that there was notwithstanding in what he
said. For, certainly, Wordsworth, the high-priest of nature, though
perhaps hardly the apostle of nature, was more likely than any other
writer to contain something of the secret after which Margaret was
searching. Whether she can find it there, may seem questionable.
"Thank you, sir," said Margaret, gratefully; but her whole
countenance looked troubled, as she turned towards her home.
Doubtless, however, the trouble vanished before she reached it, for
hers was not a nature to cherish disquietude. Hugh too went home,
In the evening, he took a volume of Wordsworth, and repaired,
according to his wont, to David's cottage. It was Saturday, and he
would stay to supper. After they had given the usual time to their
studies, Hugh, setting Margaret some exercises in English to write
on her slate, while he helped David with some of the elements of
Trigonometry, and again going over those elements with her, while
David worked out a calculation--after these were over, and while
Janet was putting the supper on the table, Hugh pulled out his
volume, and, without any preface, read them the Leech-Gatherer. All
listened very intently, Janet included, who delayed several of the
operations, that she might lose no word of the verses; David nodding
assent every now and then, and ejaculating ay! ay! or eh, man! or
producing that strange muffled sound at once common and peculiar to
Scotchmen, which cannot be expressed in letters by a nearer approach
than hm--hm, uttered, if that can be called uttering, with closed
lips and open nasal passage; and Margaret sitting motionless on her
creepie, with upturned pale face, and eyes fixed upon the lips of
the reader. When he had ceased, all were silent for a moment, when
Janet made some little sign of anxiety about her supper, which
certainly had suffered by the delay. Then, without a word, David
turned towards the table and gave thanks. Turning again to Hugh,
who had risen to place his chair, he said,
"That maun be the wark o' a great poet, Mr. Sutherlan'."
"It's Wordsworth's," said Hugh.
"Ay! ay! That's Wordsworth's! Ay! Weel, I hae jist heard him made
mention o', but I never read word o' his afore. An' he never
repentit o' that same resolution, I'se warrant, 'at he eynds aff
wi'. Hoo does it gang, Mr. Sutherlan'?"
"'God,' said I, 'be my help and stay secure!
I'll think of the leech-gatherer on the lonely moor;'"
and added, "It is said Wordsworth never knew what it was to be in
want of money all his life."
"Nae doubt, nae doubt: he trusted in Him."
It was for the sake of the minute notices of nature, and not for the
religious lesson, which he now seemed to see for the first time,
that Hugh had read the poem. He could not help being greatly
impressed by the confidence with which David received the statement
he had just made on the authority of De Quincey in his unpleasant
article about Wordsworth. David resumed:
"He maun hae had a gleg 'ee o' his ain, that Maister Wordsworth, to
notice a'thing that get. Weel he maun hae likit leevin' things,
puir maukin an' a'--jist like our Robbie Burns for that. An' see
hoo they a' ken ane anither, thae poets. What says he aboot
Burns?--ye needna tell me, Mr. Sutherlan'; I min't weel aneuch. He
'Him wha walked in glory an' in joy,
Followin' his ploo upo' the muntain-side.'
Puir Robbie! puir Robbie! But, man, he was a gran' chield efter a';
an' I trust in God he's won hame by this!"
Both Janet and Hugh, who had had a very orthodox education, started,
mentally, at this strange utterance; but they saw the eye of David
solemnly fixed, as if in deep contemplation, and lighted in its blue
depths with an ethereal brightness; and neither of them ventured to
speak. Margaret seemed absorbed for the moment in gazing on her
father's face; but not in the least as if it perplexed her like the
fir-wood. To the seeing eye, the same kind of expression would have
been evident in both countenances, as if Margaret's reflected the
meaning of her father's; whether through the medium of intellectual
sympathy, or that of the heart only, it would have been hard to say.
Meantime supper had been rather neglected; but its operations were
now resumed more earnestly, and the conversation became lighter;
till at last it ended in hearty laughter, and Hugh rose and took his
A SUNDAY MORNING.
It is the property of good and sound knowledge, to putrifie and
dissolve into a number of subtle, idle, unwholesome, and (as I may
tearme them) vermiculate questions; which have indeed a kinde of
quicknesse, and life of spirite, but no soundnesse of matter, or
goodnesse of quality.--LORD BACON.--Advancement of Learning.
The following morning, the laird's family went to church as usual,
and Hugh went with them. Their walk was first across fields, by
pleasant footpaths; and then up the valley of a little noisy stream,
that obstinately refused to keep Scotch Sabbath, praising the Lord
after its own fashion. They emerged into rather a bleak country
before reaching the church, which was quite new, and perched on a
barren eminence, that it might be as conspicuous by its position, as
it was remarkable for its ugliness. One grand aim of the reformers
of the Scottish ecclesiastical modes, appears to have been to keep
the worship pure and the worshippers sincere, by embodying the whole
in the ugliest forms that could be associated with the name of
Christianity. It might be wished, however, that some of their
followers, and amongst them the clergyman of the church in question,
had been content to stop there; and had left the object of worship,
as represented by them, in the possession of some lovable attribute;
so as not to require a man to love that which is unlovable, or
worship that which is not honourable--in a word, to bow down before
that which is not divine. The cause of this degeneracy they share
in common with the followers of all other great men as well as of
Calvin. They take up what their leader, urged by the necessity of
the time, spoke loudest, never heeding what he loved most; and then
work the former out to a logical perdition of everything belonging
to the latter.
Hugh, however, thought it was all right: for he had the same good
reasons, and no other, for receiving it all, that a Mohammedan or a
Buddhist has for holding his opinions; namely, that he had heard
those doctrines, and those alone, from his earliest childhood. He
was therefore a good deal startled when, having, on his way home,
strayed from the laird's party towards David's, he heard the latter
say to Margaret as he came up:
"Dinna ye believe, my bonny doo, 'at there's ony mak' ups or mak'
shifts wi' Him. He's aye bringin' things to the licht, no covenin'
them up and lattin them rot, an' the moth tak' them. He sees us
jist as we are, and ca's us jist what we are. It wad be an ill day
for a' o's, Maggy, my doo, gin he war to close his een to oor sins,
an' ca' us just in his sicht, whan we cudna possibly be just in oor
ain or in ony ither body's, no to say his."
"The Lord preserve's, Dawvid Elginbrod! Dinna ye believe i' the
doctrine o' Justification by Faith, an' you a'maist made an elder
Janet was the respondent, of course, Margaret listening in silence.
"Ou ay, I believe in't, nae doot; but, troth! the minister, honest
man, near-han' gart me disbelieve in't a'thegither wi' his gran'
sermon this mornin', about imputit richteousness, an' a clean robe
hidin' a foul skin or a crookit back. Na, na. May Him 'at woosh
the feet o' his friens, wash us a'thegither, and straucht oor
crookit banes, till we're clean and weel-faured like his ain bonny
"Weel, Dawvid--but that's sanctificaition, ye ken."
"Ca't ony name 'at you or the minister likes, Janet, my woman. I
daursay there's neither o' ye far wrang after a'; only this is jist
my opingan aboot it in sma'--that that man, and that man only, is
justifeed, wha pits himsel' into the Lord's han's to sanctifee him.
Noo! An' that'll no be dune by pittin' a robe o' richteousness
upo' him, afore he's gotten a clean skin aneath't. As gin a father
cudna bide to see the puir scabbit skin o' his ain wee bit bairnie,
ay, or o' his prodigal son either, but bude to hap it a' up afore he
cud lat it come near him! Ahva!"
Here Hugh ventured to interpose a remark.
"But you don't think, Mr. Elginbrod, that the minister intended to
say that justification left a man at liberty to sin, or that the
robe of Christ's righteousness would hide him from the work of the
"Na; but there is a notion in't o' hidin' frae God himsel'. I'll
tell ye what it is Mr. Sutherlan': the minister's a' richt in
himsel', an' sae's my Janet here, an' mony mair; an' aiblins there's
a kin' o' trowth in a' 'at they say; but this is my quarrel wi' a'
thae words an' words an' airguments, an' seemilies as they ca' them,
an' doctrines, an' a' that--they jist haud a puir body at airm's
lenth oot ower frae God himsel'. An' they raise a mist an' a stour
a' aboot him, 'at the puir bairn canna see the Father himsel',
stan'in' wi' his airms streekit oot as wide's the heavens, to tak'
the worn crater,--and the mair sinner, the mair welcome,--hame to
his verra hert. Gin a body wad lea' a' that, and jist get fowk
persuâdit to speyk a word or twa to God him lane, the loss, in my
opingan, wad be unco sma', and the gain verra great."
Even Janet dared not reply to the solemnity of this speech; for the
seer-like look was upon David's face, and the tears had gathered in
his eyes and dimmed their blue. A kind of tremulous pathetic smile
flickered about his beautifully curved mouth, like the glimmer of
water in a valley, betwixt the lofty aquiline nose and the powerful
but finely modelled chin. It seemed as if he dared not let the
smile break out, lest it should be followed instantly by a burst of
Margaret went close up to her father and took his hand as if she had
been still a child, while Janet walked reverentially by him on the
other side. It must not be supposed that Janet felt any uneasiness
about her husband's opinions, although she never hesitated to utter
what she considered her common-sense notions, in attempted
modification of some of the more extreme of them. The fact was
that, if he was wrong, Janet did not care to be right; and if he was
right, Janet was sure to be; "for," said she--and in spirit, if not
in the letter, it was quite true--"I never mint at contradickin'
him. My man sall hae his ain get, that sall he." But she had one
especial grudge at his opinions; which was, that it must have been
in consequence of them that he had declined, with a queer smile, the
honourable position of Elder of the Kirk; for which Janet considered
him, notwithstanding his opinions, immeasurably more fitted than any
other man "in the haill country-side--ye may add Scotlan' forby."
The fact of his having been requested to fill the vacant place of
Elder, is proof enough that David was not in the habit of giving
open expression to his opinions. He was looked upon as a douce man,
long-headed enough, and somewhat precise in the exaction of the
laird's rights, but open-hearted and open-handed with what was his
own. Every one respected him, and felt kindly towards him; some
were a little afraid of him; but few suspected him of being
religious beyond the degree which is commonly supposed to be the
general inheritance of Scotchmen, possibly in virtue of their being
brought up upon oatmeal porridge and the Shorter Catechism.
Hugh walked behind the party for a short way, contemplating them in
their Sunday clothes: David wore a suit of fine black cloth. He
then turned to rejoin the laird's company. Mrs. Glasford was
questioning her boys, in an intermittent and desultory fashion,
about the sermon.
"An' what was the fourth heid, can ye tell me, Willie?"
Willie, the eldest, who had carefully impressed the fourth head upon
his memory, and had been anxiously waiting for an opportunity of
bringing it out, replied at once:
"Fourthly: The various appellations by which those who have indued
the robe of righteousness are designated in Holy Writ."
"Weel done, Willie!" cried the laird.
"That's richt, Willie," said his mother. Then turning to the
younger, whose attention was attracted by a strange bird in the
hedge in front. "An' what called he them, Johnnie, that put on the
robe?" she asked.
"Whited sepulchres," answered Johnnie, indebted for his wit to his
This put an end to the catechising. Mrs. Glasford glanced round at
Hugh, whose defection she had seen with indignation, and who,
waiting for them by the roadside, had heard the last question and
reply, with an expression that seemed to attribute any defect in the
answer, entirely to the carelessness of the tutor, and the
withdrawal of his energies from her boys to that "saucy quean, Meg
When the Soul is kindled or enlightened by the Holy Ghost, then it
beholds what God its Father does, as a Son beholds what his Father
does at Home in his own House.--JACOB BEHMEN'S Aurora--Law's
Margaret began to read Wordsworth, slowly at first, but soon with
greater facility. Ere long she perceived that she had found a
friend; for not only did he sympathize with her in her love for
nature, putting many vague feelings into thoughts, and many thoughts
into words for her, but he introduced her to nature in many
altogether new aspects, and taught her to regard it in ways which
had hitherto been unknown to her. Not only was the pine wood now
dearer to her than before, but its mystery seemed more sacred, and,
at the same time, more likely to be one day solved. She felt far
more assuredly the presence of a spirit in nature,
"Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean, and the living air;"
for he taught her to take wider views of nature, and to perceive and
feel the expressions of more extended aspects of the world around
her. The purple hill-side was almost as dear to her as the fir-wood
now; and the star that crowned its summit at eve, sparkled an
especial message to her, before it went on its way up the blue. She
extended her rambles in all directions, and began to get with the
neighbours the character of an idle girl. Little they knew how
early she rose, and how diligently she did her share of the work,
urged by desire to read the word of God in his own handwriting; or
rather, to pore upon that expression of the face of God, which,
however little a man may think of it, yet sinks so deeply into his
nature, and moulds it towards its own likeness.
Nature was doing for Margaret what she had done before for
Wordsworth's Lucy: she was making of her "a lady of her own." She
grew taller and more graceful. The lasting quiet of her face began
to look as if it were ever upon the point of blossoming into an
expression of lovely feeling. The principal change was in her
mouth, which became delicate and tender in its curves, the lips
seeming to kiss each other for very sweetness. But I am
anticipating these changes, for it took a far longer time to perfect
them than has yet been occupied by my story.
But even her mother was not altogether proof against the appearance
of listlessness and idleness which Margaret's behaviour sometimes
wore to her eyes; nor could she quite understand or excuse her long
lonely walks; so that now and then she could not help addressing her
after this fashion:
"Meg! Meg! ye do try my patience, lass, idlin' awa' yer time that
get. It's an awfu' wastery o' time, what wi' beuks, an' what wi'
stravaguin', an' what wi' naething ava. Jist pit yer han' to this
kirn noo, like a gude bairn."
Margaret would obey her mother instantly, but with a look of silent
expostulation which her mother could not resist; sometimes, perhaps,
if the words were sharper than usual, with symptoms of gathering
tears; upon which Janet would say, with her honest smile of sweet
"Hootoots, bairn! never heed me. My bark's aye waur nor my bite; ye
Then Margaret's face would brighten at once, and she would work hard
at whatever her mother set her to do, till it was finished; upon
which her mother would be more glad than she, and in no haste to
impose any further labour out of the usual routine.
In the course of reading Wordsworth, Margaret had frequent occasion
to apply to Hugh for help. These occasions, however, generally
involved no more than small external difficulties, which prevented
her from taking in the scope of a passage. Hugh was always able to
meet these, and Margaret supposed that the whole of the light which
flashed upon her mind when they were removed, was poured upon the
page by the wisdom of her tutor; never dreaming--such was her
humility with regard to herself, and her reverence towards him--that
it came from the depths of her own lucent nature, ready to perceive
what the poet came prepared to show. Now and then, it is true, she
applied to him with difficulties in which he was incapable of aiding
her; but she put down her failure in discovering the meaning, after
all which it must be confessed he sometimes tried to say, to her own
stupidity or peculiarity--never to his incapacity. She had been
helped to so much by his superior acquirements, and his real gift
for communicating what he thoroughly understood; he had been so
entirely her guide to knowledge, that she would at once have felt
self-condemned of impiety--in the old meaning of the word--if she
had doubted for a moment his ability to understand or explain any
difficulty which she could place clearly before him.
By-and-by he began to lend her harder, that is, more purely
intellectual books. He was himself preparing for the class of Moral
Philosophy and Metaphysics; and he chose for her some of the simpler
of his books on these subjects--of course all of the Scotch
school--beginning with Abercrombie's Intellectual Powers. She took
this eagerly, and evidently read it with great attention.
One evening in the end of summer, Hugh climbed a waste heathery hill
that lay behind the house of Turriepuffit, and overlooked a great
part of the neighbouring country, the peaks of some of the greatest
of the Scotch mountains being visible from its top. Here he
intended to wait for the sunset. He threw himself on the heather,
that most delightful and luxurious of all couches, supporting the
body with a kindly upholding of every part; and there he lay in the
great slumberous sunlight of the late afternoon, with the blue
heavens, into which he was gazing full up, closing down upon him, as
the light descended the side of the sky. He fell fast asleep. If