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Guy Mannering, or The Astrologer, Complete, Illustrated by Sir Walter Scott

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Produced by David Widger. Liberal use made of an earlier PG edition
by Robert Rowe, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.







THE DEPARTURE OF THE GYPSIES----Drawn by Clark Stanton, Etched by C. de

ELLANGOWAN CASTLE----Drawn by John MacWhirter, Etched by Alex. Ansted

CARLAVEROCK CASTLE----Photo-Etching by John Andrew and Son

"PRODIGIOUS!"---Original Etching by George Cruikshank

THE CURE OF MEG MERRILIES----Drawn and Etched by C. O. Murray

DOMINIE SAMPSON IN THE LIBRARY----Drawn and Etched by C. O. Murray

DANDIE DINMONT AT HOME----Drawn by Steel Gourlay, Etched by H. Macbeth

THE PARTY AT COLONEL MANNERING'S---Drawn by Herdman, Etched by H. Manesse

THE ATTACK OF THE SMUGGLERS---Drawn and Etched by H. Moyer Smith

PLEYDELL AS KING----Original Etching by R. W. Macbeth

ON THE SOLWAY FRITH----Original Etching by F. S. Walker

"GAPE, SINNER, AND SWALLOW!"---Original Etching by George Cruikshank


THE CAPTURE OF DIRK HATTERAICK---Drawn by MacDonald, Etched by Courtry


'Tis said that words and signs have power
O'er sprites in planetary hour;
But scarce I praise their venturous part
Who tamper with such dangerous art.

Lay of the Last Minstrel.


The Novel or Romance of Waverley made its way to the public slowly, of
course, at first, but afterwards with such accumulating popularity as to
encourage the Author to a second attempt. He looked about for a name and
a subject; and the manner in which the novels were composed cannot be
better illustrated than by reciting the simple narrative on which Guy
Mannering was originally founded; but to which, in the progress of the
work, the production ceased to bear any, even the most distant
resemblance. The tale was originally told me by an old servant of my
father's, an excellent old Highlander, without a fault, unless a
preference to mountain dew over less potent liquors be accounted one.
He believed as firmly in the story as in any part of his creed.

A grave and elderly person, according to old John MacKinlay's account,
while travelling in the wilder parts of Galloway, was benighted. With
difficulty he found his way to a country seat, where, with the
hospitality of the time and country, he was readily admitted. The owner
of the house, a gentleman of good fortune, was much struck by the
reverend appearance of his guest, and apologised to him for a certain
degree of confusion which must unavoidably attend his reception, and
could not escape his eye. The lady of the house was, he said, confined to
her apartment, and on the point of making her husband a father for the
first time, though they had been ten years married. At such an emergency,
the laird said, he feared his guest might meet with some apparent

'Not so, sir,' said the stranger; 'my wants are few, and easily supplied,
and I trust the present circumstances may even afford an opportunity of
showing my gratitude for your hospitality. Let me only request that I may
be informed of the exact minute of the birth; and I hope to be able to
put you in possession of some particulars which may influence in an
important manner the future prospects of the child now about to come into
this busy and changeful world. I will not conceal from you that I am
skilful in understanding and interpreting the movements of those
planetary bodies which exert their influences on the destiny of mortals.
It is a science which I do not practise, like others who call themselves
astrologers, for hire or reward; for I have a competent estate, and only
use the knowledge I possess for the benefit of those in whom I feel an
interest.' The laird bowed in respect and gratitude, and the stranger was
accommodated with an apartment which commanded an ample view of the
astral regions.

The guest spent a part of the night in ascertaining the position of the
heavenly bodies, and calculating their probable influence; until at
length the result of his observations induced him to send for the father
and conjure him in the most solemn manner to cause the assistants to
retard the birth if practicable, were it but for five minutes. The answer
declared this to be impossible; and almost in the instant that the
message was returned the father and his guest were made acquainted with
the birth of a boy.

The Astrologer on the morrow met the party who gathered around the
breakfast table with looks so grave and ominous as to alarm the fears of
the father, who had hitherto exulted in the prospects held out by the
birth of an heir to his ancient property, failing which event it must
have passed to a distant branch of the family. He hastened to draw the
stranger into a private room.

'I fear from your looks,' said the father, 'that you have bad tidings to
tell me of my young stranger; perhaps God will resume the blessing He has
bestowed ere he attains the age of manhood, or perhaps he is destined to
be unworthy of the affection which we are naturally disposed to devote to
our offspring?'

'Neither the one nor the other,' answered the stranger; 'unless my
judgment greatly err, the infant will survive the years of minority, and
in temper and disposition will prove all that his parents can wish. But
with much in his horoscope which promises many blessings, there is one
evil influence strongly predominant, which threatens to subject him to an
unhallowed and unhappy temptation about the time when he shall attain the
age of twenty-one, which period, the constellations intimate, will be the
crisis of his fate. In what shape, or with what peculiar urgency, this
temptation may beset him, my art cannot discover.'

'Your knowledge, then, can afford us no defence,' said the anxious
father, 'against the threatened evil?'

'Pardon me,' answered the stranger, 'it can. The influence of the
constellations is powerful; but He who made the heavens is more powerful
than all, if His aid be invoked in sincerity and truth. You ought to
dedicate this boy to the immediate service of his Maker, with as much
sincerity as Samuel was devoted to the worship in the Temple by his
parents. You must regard him as a being separated from the rest of the
world. In childhood, in boyhood, you must surround him with the pious and
virtuous, and protect him to the utmost of your power from the sight or
hearing of any crime, in word or action. He must be educated in religious
and moral principles of the strictest description. Let him not enter the
world, lest he learn to partake of its follies, or perhaps of its vices.
In short, preserve him as far as possible from all sin, save that of
which too great a portion belongs to all the fallen race of Adam. With
the approach of his twenty-first birthday comes the crisis of his fate.
If he survive it, he will be happy and prosperous on earth, and a chosen
vessel among those elected for heaven. But if it be otherwise--' The
Astrologer stopped, and sighed deeply.

'Sir,' replied the parent, still more alarmed than before, 'your words
are so kind, your advice so serious, that I will pay the deepest
attention to your behests; but can you not aid me farther in this most
important concern? Believe me, I will not be ungrateful.'

'I require and deserve no gratitude for doing a good action,' said the
stranger, 'in especial for contributing all that lies in my power to save
from an abhorred fate the harmless infant to whom, under a singular
conjunction of planets, last night gave life. There is my address; you
may write to me from time to time concerning the progress of the boy in
religious knowledge. If he be bred up as I advise, I think it will be
best that he come to my house at the time when the fatal and decisive
period approaches, that is, before he has attained his twenty-first year
complete. If you send him such as I desire, I humbly trust that God will
protect His own through whatever strong temptation his fate may subject
him to.' He then gave his host his address, which was a country seat near
a post town in the south of England, and bid him an affectionate

The mysterious stranger departed, but his words remained impressed upon
the mind of the anxious parent. He lost his lady while his boy was still
in infancy. This calamity, I think, had been predicted by the Astrologer;
and thus his confidence, which, like most people of the period, he had
freely given to the science, was riveted and confirmed. The utmost care,
therefore, was taken to carry into effect the severe and almost ascetic
plan of education which the sage had enjoined. A tutor of the strictest
principles was employed to superintend the youth's education; he was
surrounded by domestics of the most established character, and closely
watched and looked after by the anxious father himself.

The years of infancy, childhood, and boyhood passed as the father could
have wished. A young Nazarene could not have been bred up with more
rigour. All that was evil was withheld from his observation: he only
heard what was pure in precept, he only witnessed what was worthy in

But when the boy began to be lost in the youth, the attentive father saw
cause for alarm. Shades of sadness, which gradually assumed a darker
character, began to over-cloud the young man's temper. Tears, which
seemed involuntary, broken sleep, moonlight wanderings, and a melancholy
for which he could assign no reason, seemed to threaten at once his
bodily health and the stability of his mind. The Astrologer was consulted
by letter, and returned for answer that this fitful state of mind was but
the commencement of his trial, and that the poor youth must undergo more
and more desperate struggles with the evil that assailed him. There was
no hope of remedy, save that he showed steadiness of mind in the study of
the Scriptures. 'He suffers, continued the letter of the sage,' from the
awakening of those harpies the passions, which have slept with him, as
with others, till the period of life which he has now attained. Better,
far better, that they torment him by ungrateful cravings than that he
should have to repent having satiated them by criminal indulgence.'

The dispositions of the young man were so excellent that he combated, by
reason and religion, the fits of gloom which at times overcast his mind,
and it was not till he attained the commencement of his twenty-first year
that they assumed a character which made his father tremble for the
consequences. It seemed as if the gloomiest and most hideous of mental
maladies was taking the form of religious despair. Still the youth was
gentle, courteous, affectionate, and submissive to his father's will, and
resisted with all his power the dark suggestions which were breathed into
his mind, as it seemed by some emanation of the Evil Principle, exhorting
him, like the wicked wife of Job, to curse God and die.

The time at length arrived when he was to perform what was then thought a
long and somewhat perilous journey, to the mansion of the early friend
who had calculated his nativity. His road lay through several places of
interest, and he enjoyed the amusement of travelling more than he himself
thought would have been possible. Thus he did not reach the place of his
destination till noon on the day preceding his birthday. It seemed as if
he had been carried away with an unwonted tide of pleasurable sensation,
so as to forget in some degree what his father had communicated
concerning the purpose of his journey. He halted at length before a
respectable but solitary old mansion, to which he was directed as the
abode of his father's friend.

The servants who came to take his horse told him he had been expected for
two days. He was led into a study, where the stranger, now a venerable
old man, who had been his father's guest, met him with a shade of
displeasure, as well as gravity, on his brow. 'Young man,' he said,
'wherefore so slow on a journey of such importance?' 'I thought,' replied
the guest, blushing and looking downward,' that there was no harm in
travelling slowly and satisfying my curiosity, providing I could reach
your residence by this day; for such was my father's charge.' 'You were
to blame,' replied the sage, 'in lingering, considering that the avenger
of blood was pressing on your footsteps. But you are come at last, and we
will hope for the best, though the conflict in which you are to be
engaged will be found more dreadful the longer it is postponed. But first
accept of such refreshments as nature requires to satisfy, but not to
pamper, the appetite.'

The old man led the way into a summer parlour, where a frugal meal was
placed on the table. As they sat down to the board they were joined by a
young lady about eighteen years of age, and so lovely that the sight of
her carried off the feelings of the young stranger from the peculiarity
and mystery of his own lot, and riveted his attention to everything she
did or said. She spoke little and it was on the most serious subjects.
She played on the harpsichord at her father's command, but it was hymns
with which she accompanied the instrument. At length, on a sign from the
sage, she left the room, turning on the young stranger as she departed a
look of inexpressible anxiety and interest.

The old man then conducted the youth to his study, and conversed with him
upon the most important points of religion, to satisfy himself that he
could render a reason for the faith that was in him. During the
examination the youth, in spite of himself, felt his mind occasionally
wander, and his recollections go in quest of the beautiful vision who had
shared their meal at noon. On such occasions the Astrologer looked grave,
and shook his head at this relaxation of attention; yet, on the whole, he
was pleased with the youth's replies.

At sunset the young man was made to take the bath; and, having done so,
he was directed to attire himself in a robe somewhat like that worn by
Armenians, having his long hair combed down on his shoulders, and his
neck, hands, and feet bare. In this guise he was conducted into a remote
chamber totally devoid of furniture, excepting a lamp, a chair, and a
table, on which lay a Bible. 'Here,' said the Astrologer, 'I must leave
you alone to pass the most critical period of your life. If you can, by
recollection of the great truths of which we have spoken, repel the
attacks which will be made on your courage and your principles, you have
nothing to apprehend. But the trial will be severe and arduous.' His
features then assumed a pathetic solemnity, the tears stood in his eyes,
and his voice faltered with emotion as he said, 'Dear child, at whose
coming into the world I foresaw this fatal trial, may God give thee grace
to support it with firmness!'

The young man was left alone; and hardly did he find himself so, when,
like a swarm of demons, the recollection of all his sins of omission and
commission, rendered even more terrible by the scrupulousness with which
he had been educated, rushed on his mind, and, like furies armed with
fiery scourges, seemed determined to drive him to despair. As he combated
these horrible recollections with distracted feelings, but with a
resolved mind, he became aware that his arguments were answered by the
sophistry of another, and that the dispute was no longer confined to his
own thoughts. The Author of Evil was present in the room with him in
bodily shape, and, potent with spirits of a melancholy cast, was
impressing upon him the desperation of his state, and urging suicide as
the readiest mode to put an end to his sinful career. Amid his errors,
the pleasure he had taken in prolonging his journey unnecessarily, and
the attention which he had bestowed on the beauty of the fair female when
his thoughts ought to have been dedicated to the religious discourse of
her father, were set before him in the darkest colours; and he was
treated as one who, having sinned against light, was therefore deservedly
left a prey to the Prince of Darkness.

As the fated and influential hour rolled on, the terrors of the hateful
Presence grew more confounding to the mortal senses of the victim, and
the knot of the accursed sophistry became more inextricable in
appearance, at least to the prey whom its meshes surrounded. He had not
power to explain the assurance of pardon which he continued to assert, or
to name the victorious name in which he trusted. But his faith did not
abandon him, though he lacked for a time the power of expressing it. 'Say
what you will,' was his answer to the Tempter; 'I know there is as much
betwixt the two boards of this Book as can ensure me forgiveness for my
transgressions and safety for my soul.' As he spoke, the clock, which
announced the lapse of the fatal hour, was heard to strike. The speech
and intellectual powers of the youth were instantly and fully restored;
he burst forth into prayer, and expressed in the most glowing terms his
reliance on the truth and on the Author of the Gospel. The Demon retired,
yelling and discomfited, and the old man, entering the apartment, with
tears congratulated his guest on his victory in the fated struggle.

The young man was afterwards married to the beautiful maiden, the first
sight of whom had made such an impression on him, and they were consigned
over at the close of the story to domestic happiness. So ended John
MacKinlay's legend.

The Author of Waverley had imagined a possibility of framing an
interesting, and perhaps not an unedifying, tale out of the incidents of
the life of a doomed individual, whose efforts at good and virtuous
conduct were to be for ever disappointed by the intervention, as it were,
of some malevolent being, and who was at last to come off victorious from
the fearful struggle. In short, something was meditated upon a plan
resembling the imaginative tale of Sintram and his Companions, by Mons.
le Baron de la Motte Fouque, although, if it then existed, the author had
not seen it.

The scheme projected may be traced in the three or four first chapters of
the work; but farther consideration induced the author to lay his purpose
aside. It appeared, on mature consideration, that astrology, though its
influence was once received and admitted by Bacon himself, does not now
retain influence over the general mind sufficient even to constitute the
mainspring of a romance. Besides, it occurred that to do justice to such
a subject would have required not only more talent than the Author could
be conscious of possessing, but also involved doctrines and discussions
of a nature too serious for his purpose and for the character of the
narrative. In changing his plan, however, which was done in the course of
printing, the early sheets retained the vestiges of the original tenor of
the story, although they now hang upon it as an unnecessary and unnatural
incumbrance. The cause of such vestiges occurring is now explained and
apologised for.

It is here worthy of observation that, while the astrological doctrines
have fallen into general contempt, and been supplanted by superstitions
of a more gross and far less beautiful character, they have, even in
modern days, retained some votaries.

One of the most remarkable believers in that forgotten and despised
science was a late eminent professor of the art of legerdemain. One would
have thought that a person of this description ought, from his knowledge
of the thousand ways in which human eyes could be deceived, to have been
less than others subject to the fantasies of superstition. Perhaps the
habitual use of those abstruse calculations by which, in a manner
surprising to the artist himself, many tricks upon cards, etc., are
performed, induced this gentleman to study the combination of the stars
and planets, with the expectation of obtaining prophetic communications.

He constructed a scheme of his own nativity, calculated according to such
rules of art as he could collect from the best astrological authors. The
result of the past he found agreeable to what had hitherto befallen him,
but in the important prospect of the future a singular difficulty
occurred. There were two years during the course of which he could by no
means obtain any exact knowledge whether the subject of the scheme would
be dead or alive. Anxious concerning so remarkable a circumstance, he
gave the scheme to a brother astrologer, who was also baffled in the same
manner. At one period he found the native, or subject, was certainly
alive; at another that he was unquestionably dead; but a space of two
years extended between these two terms, during which he could find no
certainty as to his death or existence.

The astrologer marked the remarkable circumstance in his diary, and
continued his exhibitions in various parts of the empire until the period
was about to expire during which his existence had been warranted as
actually ascertained. At last, while he was exhibiting to a numerous
audience his usual tricks of legerdemain, the hands whose activity had so
often baffled the closest observer suddenly lost their power, the cards
dropped from them, and he sunk down a disabled paralytic. In this state
the artist languished for two years, when he was at length removed by
death. It is said that the diary of this modern astrologer will soon be
given to the public.

The fact, if truly reported, is one of those singular coincidences which
occasionally appear, differing so widely from ordinary calculation, yet
without which irregularities human life would not present to mortals,
looking into futurity, the abyss of impenetrable darkness which it is the
pleasure of the Creator it should offer to them. Were everything to
happen in the ordinary train of events, the future would be subject to
the rules of arithmetic, like the chances of gaming. But extraordinary
events and wonderful runs of luck defy the calculations of mankind and
throw impenetrable darkness on future contingencies.

To the above anecdote, another, still more recent, may be here added. The
author was lately honoured with a letter from a gentleman deeply skilled
in these mysteries, who kindly undertook to calculate the nativity of the
writer of Guy Mannering, who might be supposed to be friendly to the
divine art which he professed. But it was impossible to supply data for
the construction of a horoscope, had the native been otherwise desirous
of it, since all those who could supply the minutiae of day, hour, and
minute have been long removed from the mortal sphere.

Having thus given some account of the first idea, or rude sketch, of the
story, which was soon departed from, the Author, in following out the
plan of the present edition, has to mention the prototypes of the
principal characters in Guy Mannering.

Some circumstances of local situation gave the Author in his youth an
opportunity of seeing a little, and hearing a great deal, about that
degraded class who are called gipsies; who are in most cases a mixed race
between the ancient Egyptians who arrived in Europe about the beginning
of the fifteenth century and vagrants of European descent.

The individual gipsy upon whom the character of Meg Merrilies was founded
was well known about the middle of the last century by the name of Jean
Gordon, an inhabitant of the village of Kirk Yetholm, in the Cheviot
Hills, adjoining to the English Border. The Author gave the public some
account of this remarkable person in one of the early numbers of
Blackwood's Magazine, to the following purpose:--

'My father remembered old Jean Gordon of Yetholm, who had great sway
among her tribe. She was quite a Meg Merrilies, and possessed the savage
virtue of fidelity in the same perfection. Having been often hospitably
received at the farmhouse of Lochside, near Yetholm, she had carefully
abstained from committing any depredations on the farmer's property. But
her sons (nine in number) had not, it seems, the same delicacy, and stole
a brood-sow from their kind entertainer. Jean was mortified at this
ungrateful conduct, and so much ashamed of it that she absented herself
from Lochside for several years.

'It happened in course of time that, in consequence of some temporary
pecuniary necessity, the goodman of Lochside was obliged to go to
Newcastle to raise some money to pay his rent. He succeeded in his
purpose, but, returning through the mountains of Cheviot, he was
benighted and lost his way.

'A light glimmering through the window of a large waste barn, which had
survived the farm-house to which it had once belonged, guided him to a
place of shelter; and when he knocked at the door it was opened by Jean
Gordon. Her very remarkable figure, for she was nearly six feet high, and
her equally remarkable features and dress, rendered it impossible to
mistake her for a moment, though he had not seen her for years; and to
meet with such a character in so solitary a place, and probably at no
great distance from her clan, was a grievous surprise to the poor man,
whose rent (to lose which would have been ruin) was about his person.

'Jean set up a loud shout of joyful recognition--

"Eh, sirs! the winsome gudeman of Lochside! Light down, light down; for
ye maunna gang farther the night, and a friend's house sae near." The
farmer was obliged to dismount and accept of the gipsy's offer of supper
and a bed. There was plenty of meat in the barn, however it might be come
by, and preparations were going on for a plentiful repast, which the
farmer, to the great increase of his anxiety, observed was calculated for
ten or twelve guests, of the same description, probably, with his

'Jean left him in no doubt on the subject. She brought to his
recollection the story of the stolen sow, and mentioned how much pain and
vexation it had given her. Like other philosophers, she remarked that the
world grew worse daily; and, like other parents, that the bairns got out
of her guiding, and neglected the old gipsy regulations, which commanded
them to respect in their depredations the property of their benefactors.
The end of all this was an inquiry what money the farmer had about him;
and an urgent request, or command, that he would make her his
purse-keeper, since the bairns, as she called her sons, would be soon
home. The poor farmer made a virtue of necessity, told his story, and
surrendered his gold to Jean's custody. She made him put a few shillings
in his pocket, observing, it would excite suspicion should he be found
travelling altogether penniless.

'This arrangement being made, the farmer lay down on a sort of
shake-down, as the Scotch call it, or bed-clothes disposed upon some
straw, but, as will easily be believed, slept not.

'About midnight the gang returned, with various articles of plunder, and
talked over their exploits in language which made the farmer tremble.
They were not long in discovering they had a guest, and demanded of Jean
whom she had got there.

'"E'en the winsome gudeman of Lochside, poor body," replied Jean; "he's
been at Newcastle seeking for siller to pay his rent, honest man, but
deil-be-lickit he's been able to gather in, and sae he's gaun e'en hame
wi' a toom purse and a sair heart."

"'That may be, Jean," replied one of the banditti, "but we maun ripe his
pouches a bit, and see if the tale be true or no." Jean set up her throat
in exclamations against this breach of hospitality, but without producing
any change in their determination. The farmer soon heard their stifled
whispers and light steps by his bedside, and understood they were
rummaging his clothes. When they found the money which the providence of
Jean Gordon had made him retain, they held a consultation if they should
take it or no; but the smallness of the booty, and the vehemence of
Jean's remonstrances, determined them in the negative. They caroused and
went to rest. As soon as day dawned Jean roused her guest, produced his
horse, which she had accommodated behind the hallan, and guided him for
some miles, till he was on the highroad to Lochside. She then restored
his whole property; nor could his earnest entreaties prevail on her to
accept so much as a single guinea.

'I have heard the old people at Jedburgh say, that all Jean's sons were
condemned to die there on the same day. It is said the jury were equally
divided, but that a friend to justice, who had slept during the whole
discussion, waked suddenly and gave his vote for condemnation in the
emphatic words, "Hang them a'!" Unanimity is not required in a Scottish
jury, so the verdict of guilty was returned. Jean was present, and only
said, "The Lord help the innocent in a day like this!" Her own death was
accompanied with circumstances of brutal outrage, of which poor Jean was
in many respects wholly undeserving. She had, among other demerits, or
merits, as the reader may choose to rank it, that of being a stanch
Jacobite. She chanced to be at Carlisle upon a fair or market-day, soon
after the year 1746, where she gave vent to her political partiality, to
the great offence of the rabble of that city. Being zealous in their
loyalty when there was no danger, in proportion to the tameness with
which they had surrendered to the Highlanders in 1745, the mob inflicted
upon poor Jean Gordon no slighter penalty than that of ducking her to
death in the Eden. It was an operation of some time, for Jean was a stout
woman, and, struggling with her murderers, often got her head above
water; and, while she had voice left, continued to exclaim at such
intervals, "Charlie yet! Charlie yet!" When a child, and among the scenes
which she frequented, I have often heard these stories, and cried
piteously for poor Jean Gordon.

'Before quitting the Border gipsies, I may mention that my grandfather,
while riding over Charterhouse Moor, then a very extensive common, fell
suddenly among a large band of them, who were carousing in a hollow of
the moor, surrounded by bushes. They instantly seized on his horse's
bridle with many shouts of welcome, exclaiming (for he was well known to
most of them) that they had often dined at his expense, and he must now
stay and share their good cheer. My ancestor was, a little alarmed, for,
like the goodman of Lochside, he had more money about his person than he
cared to risk in such society. However, being naturally a bold,
lively-spirited man, he entered into the humour of the thing and sate
down to the feast, which consisted of all the varieties of game, poultry,
pigs, and so forth that could be collected by a wide and indiscriminate
system of plunder. The dinner was a very merry one; but my relative got a
hint from some of the older gipsies to retire just when--

The mirth and fun grew fast and furious,

and, mounting his horse accordingly, he took a French leave of his
entertainers, but without experiencing the least breach of hospitality. I
believe Jean Gordon was at this festival.'[Footnote: Blackwood's
Magazine, vol. I, p. 54]

Notwithstanding the failure of Jean's issue, for which

Weary fa' the waefu' wuddie,

a granddaughter survived her, whom I remember to have seen. That is, as
Dr. Johnson had a shadowy recollection of Queen Anne as a stately lady in
black, adorned with diamonds, so my memory is haunted by a solemn
remembrance of a woman of more than female height, dressed in a long red
cloak, who commenced acquaintance by giving me an apple, but whom,
nevertheless, I looked on with as much awe as the future Doctor, High
Church and Tory as he was doomed to be, could look upon the Queen. I
conceive this woman to have been Madge Gordon, of whom an impressive
account is given in the same article in which her mother Jean is
mentioned, but not by the present writer:--

'The late Madge Gordon was at this time accounted the Queen of the
Yetholm clans. She was, we believe, a granddaughter of the celebrated
Jean Gordon, and was said to have much resembled her in appearance. The
following account of her is extracted from the letter of a friend, who
for many years enjoyed frequent and favourable opportunities of observing
the characteristic peculiarities of the Yetholm tribes:--"Madge Gordon
was descended from the Faas by the mother's side, and was married to a
Young. She was a remarkable personage--of a very commanding presence and
high stature, being nearly six feet high. She had a large aquiline nose,
penetrating eyes, even in her old age, bushy hair, that hung around her
shoulders from beneath a gipsy bonnet of straw, a short cloak of a
peculiar fashion, and a long staff nearly as tall as herself. I remember
her well; every week she paid my father a visit for her awmous when I was
a little boy, and I looked upon Madge with no common degree of awe and
terror. When she spoke vehemently (for she made loud complaints) she used
to strike her staff upon the floor and throw herself into an attitude
which it was impossible to regard with indifference. She used to say that
she could bring from the remotest parts of the island friends to revenge
her quarrel while she sat motionless in her cottage; and she frequently
boasted that there was a time when she was of still more considerable
importance, for there were at her wedding fifty saddled asses, and
unsaddled asses without number. If Jean Gordon was the prototype of the
CHARACTER of Meg Merrilies, I imagine Madge must have sat to the unknown
author as the representative of her PERSON."'[Footnote: Blackwood's
Magazine, vol. I, p. 56.]

How far Blackwood's ingenious correspondent was right, how far mistaken,
in his conjecture the reader has been informed.

To pass to a character of a very different description, Dominie
Sampson,--the reader may easily suppose that a poor modest humble scholar
who has won his way through the classics, yet has fallen to leeward in
the voyage of life, is no uncommon personage in a country where a certain
portion of learning is easily attained by those who are willing to suffer
hunger and thirst in exchange for acquiring Greek and Latin. But there is
a far more exact prototype of the worthy Dominie, upon which is founded
the part which he performs in the romance, and which, for certain
particular reasons, must be expressed very generally.

Such a preceptor as Mr. Sampson is supposed to have been was actually
tutor in the family of a gentleman of considerable property. The young
lads, his pupils, grew up and went out in the world, but the tutor
continued to reside in the family, no uncommon circumstance in Scotland
in former days, where food and shelter were readily afforded to humble
friends and dependents. The laird's predecessors had been imprudent, he
himself was passive and unfortunate. Death swept away his sons, whose
success in life might have balanced his own bad luck and incapacity.
Debts increased and funds diminished, until ruin came. The estate was
sold; and the old man was about to remove from the house of his fathers
to go he knew not whither, when, like an old piece of furniture, which,
left alone in its wonted corner, may hold together for a long while, but
breaks to pieces on an attempt to move it, he fell down on his own
threshold under a paralytic affection.

The tutor awakened as from a dream. He saw his patron dead, and that his
patron's only remaining child, an elderly woman, now neither graceful nor
beautiful, if she ever had been either the one or the other, had by this
calamity become a homeless and penniless orphan. He addressed her nearly
in the words which Dominie Sampson uses to Miss Bertram, and professed
his determination not to leave her. Accordingly, roused to the exercise
of talents which had long slumbered, he opened a little school and
supported his patron's child for the rest of her life, treating her with
the same humble observance and devoted attention which he had used
towards her in the days of her prosperity.

Such is the outline of Dominie Sampson's real story, in which there is
neither romantic incident nor sentimental passion; but which, perhaps,
from the rectitude and simplicity of character which it displays, may
interest the heart and fill the eye of the reader as irresistibly as if
it respected distresses of a more dignified or refined character.

These preliminary notices concerning the tale of Guy Mannering and some
of the characters introduced may save the author and reader in the
present instance the trouble of writing and perusing a long string of
detached notes.

ABBOTSFORD, January, 1829.

ADDENDUM: I may add that the motto of this novel was taken from the Lay
of the Last Minstrel, to evade the conclusions of those who began to
think that, as the author of Waverley never quoted the works of Sir
Walter Scott, he must have reason for doing so, and that the
circumstances might argue an identity between them.

ABBOTSFORD, August 1, 1829.



An old English proverb says, that more know Tom Fool than Tom Fool knows;
and the influence of the adage seems to extend to works composed under
the influence of an idle or foolish planet. Many corresponding
circumstances are detected by readers of which the Author did not suspect
the existence. He must, however, regard it as a great compliment that, in
detailing incidents purely imaginary, he has been so fortunate in
approximating reality as to remind his readers of actual occurrences. It
is therefore with pleasure he notices some pieces of local history and
tradition which have been supposed to coincide with the fictitious
persons, incidents, and scenery of Guy Mannering.

The prototype of Dirk Hatteraick is considered as having been a Dutch
skipper called Yawkins. This man was well known on the coast of Galloway
and Dumfriesshire, as sole proprietor and master of a buckkar, or
smuggling lugger, called the 'Black Prince.' Being distinguished by his
nautical skill and intrepidity, his vessel was frequently freighted, and
his own services employed, by French, Dutch, Manx, and Scottish smuggling

A person well known by the name of Buckkar-tea, from having been a noted
smuggler of that article, and also by that of Bogle Bush, the place of
his residence, assured my kind informant Mr. Train, that he had
frequently seen upwards of two hundred Lingtow men assemble at one time,
and go off into the interior of the country, fully laden with contraband

In those halcyon days of the free trade, the fixed price for carrying a
box of tea or bale of tobacco from the coast of Galloway to Edinburgh was
fifteen shillings, and a man with two horses carried four such packages.
The trade was entirely destroyed by Mr. Pitt's celebrated commutation
law, which, by reducing the duties upon excisable articles, enabled the
lawful dealer to compete with the smuggler. The statute was called in
Galloway and Dumfries-shire, by those who had thriven upon the contraband
trade, 'the burning and starving act.'

Sure of such active assistance on shore, Yawkins demeaned himself so
boldly that his mere name was a terror to the officers of the revenue. He
availed himself of the fears which his presence inspired on one
particular night, when, happening to be ashore with a considerable
quantity of goods in his sole custody, a strong party of excisemen came
down on him. Far from shunning the attack, Yawkins sprung forward,
shouting, 'Come on, my lads; Yawkins is before you.' The revenue officers
were intimidated and relinquished their prize, though defended only by
the courage and address of a single man. On his proper element Yawkins
was equally successful. On one occasion he was landing his cargo at the
Manxman's Lake near Kirkcudbright, when two revenue cutters (the 'Pigmy'
and the 'Dwarf') hove in sight at once on different tacks, the one coming
round by the Isles of Fleet, the other between the point of Rueberry and
the Muckle Ron. The dauntless freetrader instantly weighed anchor and
bore down right between the luggers, so close that he tossed his hat on
the deck of the one and his wig on that of the other, hoisted a cask to
his maintop, to show his occupation, and bore away under an extraordinary
pressure of canvass, without receiving injury. To account for these and
other hairbreadth escapes, popular superstition alleged that Yawkins
insured his celebrated buckkar by compounding with the devil for
one-tenth of his crew every voyage. How they arranged the separation of
the stock and tithes is left to our conjecture. The buckkar was perhaps
called the 'Black Prince' in honour of the formidable insurer.

The 'Black Prince' used to discharge her cargo at Luce, Balcarry, and
elsewhere on the coast; but her owner's favourite landing-places were at
the entrance of the Dee and the Cree, near the old Castle of Rueberry,
about six miles below Kirkcudbright. There is a cave of large dimensions
in the vicinity of Rueberry, which, from its being frequently used by
Yawkins and his supposed connexion with the smugglers on the shore, is
now called Dirk Hatteraick's Cave. Strangers who visit this place, the
scenery of which is highly romantic, are also shown, under the name of
the Gauger's Loup, a tremendous precipice, being the same, it is
asserted, from which Kennedy was precipitated.

Meg Merrilies is in Galloway considered as having had her origin in the
traditions concerning the celebrated Flora Marshal, one of the royal
consorts of Willie Marshal, more commonly called the Caird of Barullion,
King of the Gipsies of the Western Lowlands. That potentate was himself
deserving of notice from the following peculiarities:--He was born in the
parish of Kirkmichael about the year 1671; and, as he died at
Kirkcudbright 23d November 1792, he must then have been in the one
hundred and twentieth year of his age. It cannot be said that this
unusually long lease of existence was noted by any peculiar excellence of
conduct or habits of life. Willie had been pressed or enlisted in the
army seven times, and had deserted as often; besides three times running
away from the naval service. He had been seventeen times lawfully
married; and, besides, such a reasonably large share of matrimonial
comforts, was, after his hundredth year, the avowed father of four
children by less legitimate affections. He subsisted in his extreme old
age by a pension from the present Earl of Selkirk's grandfather. Will
Marshal is buried in Kirkcudbright church, where his monument is still
shown, decorated with a scutcheon suitably blazoned with two tups' horns
and two cutty spoons.

In his youth he occasionally took an evening walk on the highway, with
the purpose of assisting travellers by relieving them of the weight of
their purses. On one occasion the Caird of Barullion robbed the Laird of
Bargally at a place between Carsphairn and Dalmellington. His purpose was
not achieved without a severe struggle, in which the gipsy lost his
bonnet, and was obliged to escape, leaving it on the road. A respectable
farmer happened to be the next passenger, and, seeing the bonnet,
alighted, took it up, and rather imprudently put it on his own head. At
this instant Bargally came up with some assistants, and, recognising the
bonnet, charged the farmer of Bantoberick with having robbed him, and
took him into custody. There being some likeness between the parties,
Bargally persisted in his charge, and, though the respectability of the
farmer's character was proved or admitted, his trial before the Circuit
Court came on accordingly. The fatal bonnet lay on the table of the
court. Bargally swore that it was the identical article worn by the man
who robbed him; and he and others likewise deponed that they had found
the accused on the spot where the crime was committed, with the bonnet on
his head. The case looked gloomily for the prisoner, and the opinion of
the judge seemed unfavourable. But there was a person in court who knew
well both who did and who did not commit the crime. This was the Caird of
Barullion, who, thrusting himself up to the bar near the place where
Bargally was standing, suddenly seized on the bonnet, put it on his head,
and, looking the Laird full in the face, asked him, with a voice which
attracted the attention of the court and crowded audience--'Look at me,
sir, and tell me, by the oath you have sworn--Am not _I_ the man who
robbed you between Carsphairn and Dalmellington?' Bargally replied, in
great astonishment, 'By Heaven! you are the very man.' 'You see what sort
of memory this gentleman has,' said the volunteer pleader; 'he swears to
the bonnet whatever features are under it. If you yourself, my Lord, will
put it on your head, he will be willing to swear that your Lordship was
the party who robbed him between Carsphairn and Dalmellington.' The
tenant of Bantoberick was unanimously acquitted; and thus Willie Marshal
ingeniously contrived to save an innocent man from danger, without
incurring any himself, since Bargally's evidence must have seemed to
every one too fluctuating to be relied upon.

While the King of the Gipsies was thus laudably occupied, his royal
consort, Flora, contrived, it is said, to steal the hood from the judge's
gown; for which offence, combined with her presumptive guilt as a gipsy,
she was banished to New England, whence she never returned.

Now, I cannot grant that the idea of Meg Merrilies was, in the first
concoction of the character, derived from Flora Marshal, seeing I have
already said she was identified with Jean Gordon, and as I have not the
Laird of Bargally's apology for charging the same fact on two several
individuals. Yet I am quite content that Meg should be considered as a
representative of her sect and class in general, Flora as well as others.

The other instances in which my Gallovidian readers have obliged me by
assigning to
Airy nothing
A local habitation and a name,
shall also be sanctioned so far as the Author may be entitled to do so. I
think the facetious Joe Miller records a case pretty much in point; where
the keeper of a museum, while showing, as he said, the very sword with
which Balaam was about to kill his ass, was interrupted by one of the
visitors, who reminded him that Balaam was not possessed of a sword, but
only wished for one. 'True, sir,' replied the ready-witted cicerone; 'but
this is the very sword he wished for.' The Author, in application of this
story, has only to add that, though ignorant of the coincidence between
the fictions of the tale and some real circumstances, he is contented to
believe he must unconsciously have thought or dreamed of the last while
engaged in the composition of Guy Mannering.




The second essay in fiction of an author who has triumphed in his first
romance is a doubtful and perilous adventure. The writer is apt to become
self-conscious, to remember the advice of his critics,--a fatal
error,--and to tremble before the shadow of his own success. He knows
that he will have many enemies, that hundreds of people will be ready to
find fault and to vow that he is "written out." Scott was not
unacquainted with these apprehensions. After publishing "Marmion" he
wrote thus to Lady Abercorn:--

"No one acquires a certain degree of popularity without exciting an equal
degree of malevolence among those who, either from rivalship or from the
mere wish to pull down what others have set up, are always ready to catch
the first occasion to lower the favoured individual to what they call his
'real standard.' Of this I have enough of experience, and my political
interferences, however useless to my friends, have not failed to make me
more than the usual number of enemies. I am therefore bound, in justice
to myself and to those whose good opinion has hitherto protected me, not
to peril myself too frequently. The naturalists tell us that if you
destroy the web which the spider has just made, the insect must spend
many days in inactivity till he has assembled within his person the
materials necessary to weave another. Now, after writing a work of
imagination one feels in nearly the same exhausted state as the spider. I
believe no man now alive writes more rapidly than I do (no great
recommendation); but I never think of making verses till I have a
sufficient stock of poetical ideas to supply them,--I would as soon join
the Israelites in Egypt in their heavy task of making bricks without
clay. Besides, I know, as a small farmer, that good husbandry consists in
not taking the same crop too frequently from the same soil; and as
turnips come after wheat, according to the best rules of agriculture, I
take it that an edition of Swift will do well after such a scourging crop
as 'Marmiou.'"

[March 13, 1808. Copied from the Collection of Lady Napier and Ettrick.]

These fears of the brave, then, were not unfamiliar to Scott; but he
audaciously disregarded all of them in the composition of "Guy
Mannering." He had just spun his web, like the spider of his simile, he
had just taken off his intellectual fields the "scourging crop" of "The
Lord of the Isles," he had just received the discouraging news of its
comparative failure, when he "buckled to," achieved "Guy Mannering" in
six weeks, and published it. Moliere tells us that he wrote "Les Facheux"
in a fortnight; and a French critic adds that it reads indeed as if it
had been written in, a fortnight. Perhaps a self-confident censor might
venture a similar opinion about "Guy Mannering." It assuredly shows
traces of haste; the plot wanders at its own will; and we may believe
that the Author often--did not see his own way out of the wood. But there
is little harm in that. "If I do not know what is coming next," a modern
novelist has remarked, "how can the public know?" Curiosity, at least, is
likely to be excited by this happy-go-lucky manner of Scott's. "The worst
of it is;" as he wrote to Lady Abercorn about his poems (June 9,1808),
"that I am not very good or patient in slow and careful composition; and
sometimes I remind myself of the drunken man, who could run long after he
could not walk." Scott could certainly run very well, though averse to a
plodding motion.

[He was probably thinking of a famous Edinburgh character, "Singing Jamie
Balfour." Jamie was found very drunk and adhering to the pavement one
night. He could not raise himself; but when helped to his feet, ran his
preserver a race to the tavern, and won!]

The account of the year's work which preceded "Guy Mannering" is given by
Lockhart, and is astounding. In 1814 Scott had written, Lockhart
believes, the greater part of the "Life of Swift," most of "Waverley" and
the "Lord of the Isles;" he had furnished essays to the "Encyclopaedia,"
and had edited "The Memorie of the Somervilles." The spider might well
seem spun out, the tilth exhausted. But Scott had a fertility, a
spontaneity, of fancy equalled only, if equalled at all, by Alexandre

On November 7 of this laborious year, 1814, Scott was writing to Mr.
Joseph Train, thanking him for a parcel of legendary lore, including the
Galloway tale of the wandering astrologer and a budget of gypsy
traditions. Falling in the rich soil of Scott's imagination, the tale of
the astrologer yielded a name and an opening to "Guy Mannering," while
the gypsy lore blossomed into the legend of Meg Merrilies. The seed of
the novel was now sown. But between November 11 and December 25 Scott was
writing the three last cantos of the "Lord of the Isles." Yet before the
"Lord of the Isles" was published (Jan. 18, 1815), two volumes of "Guy
Mannering" were in print (Letter to Morritt, Jan. 17, 1815.) The novel
was issued on Feb. 14, 1815. Scott, as he says somewhere, was like the
turnspit dog, into whose wheel a hot cinder is dropped to encourage his
activity. Scott needed hot cinders in the shape of proof-sheets fresh
from the press, and he worked most busily when the printer's devil was
waiting. In this case, not only the printer's devil, but the wolf was at
the door. The affairs of the Ballantynes clamoured for moneys In their
necessity and his own, Scott wrote at the rate of a volume in ten days,
and for some financial reason published "Guy Mannering" with Messrs.
Longmans, not with Constable. Scott was at this moment facing creditors
and difficulties as Napoleon faced the armies of the Allies,--present
everywhere, everywhere daring and successful. True, his "Lord of the
Isles" was a disappointment, as James Ballantyne informed him. "'Well,
James, so be it; but you know we must not droop, for we cannot afford to
give over. Since one line has failed, we must just stick to something
else.' And so he dismissed me, and resumed his novel."

In these circumstances, far from inspiring, was "Guy Mannering" written
and hurried through the press. The story has its own history: one can
watch the various reminiscences and experiences of life that crystallized
together in Scott's mind, and grouped themselves fantastically into his
unpremeditated plot. Sir Walter gives, in the preface of 1829, the legend
which he heard from John MacKinlay, his father's Highland servant, and on
which he meant to found a tale more in Hawthorn's manner than in his own.
That plan he changed in the course of printing, "leaving only just enough
of astrology to annoy pedantic reviewers and foolish Puritans." Whence
came the rest of the plot,--the tale of the long-lost heir, and so on?
The true heir, "kept out of his own," and returning in disguise, has been
a favourite character ever since Homer sang of Odysseus, and probably
long before that. But it is just possible that Scott had a certain modern
instance in his mind. In turning over the old manuscript diary at
Branxholme Park (mentioned in a note to "Waverley"), the Editor lighted
on a singular tale, which, in the diarist's opinion, might have suggested
"Guy Mannering" to Sir Walter. The resemblance between the story of
Vanbeest Brown and the hero of the diarist was scanty; but in a long
letter of Scott's to Lady Abercorn (May 21, 1813), a the Editor finds Sir
Walter telling his correspondent the very narrative recorded in the
Branxholme Park diary. Singular things happen, Sir Walter says; and he
goes on to describe a case just heard in the court where he is sitting as
Clerk of Sessions. Briefly, the anecdote is this: A certain Mr.
Carruthers of Dormont had reason to suspect his wife's fidelity. While
proceedings for a divorce were pending, Mrs. Carruthers bore a daughter,
of whom her husband, of course, was legally the father. But he did not
believe in the relationship, and sent the infant girl to be brought up,
in ignorance of her origin and in seclusion, among the Cheviot Hills.
Here she somehow learned the facts of her own story. She married a Mr.
Routledge, the son of a yeoman, and "compounded" her rights (but not
those of her issue) for a small sung of ready money, paid by old Dormont.
She bears a boy; then she and her husband died in poverty. Their son was
sent by a friend to the East Indies, and was presented with a packet of
papers, which he left unopened at a lawyer's. The young man made a
fortune in India, returned to Scotland, and took a shooting in
Dumfriesshire, near bormont, his ancestral home. He lodged at a small inn
hard by, and the landlady, struck by his name, began to gossip with him
about his family history. He knew nothing of the facts which the landlady
disclosed, but, impressed by her story, sent for and examined his
neglected packet of papers. Then he sought legal opinion, and was
advised, by President Blair, that he had a claim worth presenting on the
estate of Dormont. "The first decision of the cause," writes Scott, "was
favourable." The true heir celebrated his legal victory by a
dinner-party, and his friends saluted him as "Dormont." Next morning he
was found dead. Such is the true tale. As it occupied Scott's mind in
1813, and as he wrote "Guy Mannering" in 1814-15, it is not impossible
that he may have borrowed his wandering heir, who returns by pure
accident to his paternal domains, and there learns his origin at a
woman's lips, from the Dormont case. The resemblance of the stories, at
least, was close enough to strike a shrewd observer some seventy years

Another possible source of the plot--a more romantic origin,
certainly--is suggested by Mr. Robert Chambers in "Illustrations of the
Author of 'Waverley.'" A Maxwell of Glenormiston, "a religious and
bigoted recluse," sent his only son and heir to a Jesuit College in
Flanders, left his estate in his brother's management, and died. The
wicked uncle alleged that the heir was also dead. The child, ignorant of
his birth, grew up, ran away from the Jesuits at the age of sixteen,
enlisted in the French army, fought at Fontenoy, got his colours, and,
later, landed in the Moray Firth as a French officer in 1745. He went
through the campaign, was in hiding in Lochaber after Drumossie, and in
making for a Galloway port, was seized, and imprisoned in Dumfries. Here
an old woman of his father's household recognized him by "a mark which
she remembered on his body." His cause was taken up by friends; but the
usurping uncle died, and Sir Robert Maxwell recovered his estates without
a lawsuit. This anecdote is quoted from the "New Monthly Magazine," June,
1819. There is nothing to prove that Scott was acquainted with this
adventure. Scott's own experience, as usual, supplied him with hints for
his characters. The phrase of Dominie Sampson's father, "Please God, my
bairn may live to wag his pow in a pulpit," was uttered in his own
hearing. There was a Bluegown, or Bedesman, like Edie Ochiltree, who had
a son at Edinburgh College. Scott was kind to the son, the Bluegown asked
him to dinner, and at this meal the old man made the remark about the
pulpit and the pow.' A similar tale is told by Scott in the Introduction
to "The Antiquary" (1830). As for the good Dominie, Scott remarks that,
for "certain particular reasons," he must say what he has to say about
his prototype "very generally." Mr. Chambers' finds the prototype in a
Mr. James Sanson, tutor in the house of Mr. Thomas Scott, Sir Walter's
uncle. It seems very unlike Sir Walter to mention this excellent man
almost by his name, and the tale about his devotion to his patron's
daughter cannot, apparently, be true of Mr. James Sanson. The prototype
of Pleydell, according to Sir Walter himself (Journal, June 19, 1830),
was "my old friend Adam Rolland, Esq., in external circumstances, but not
in frolic or fancy." Mr. Chambers, however, finds the original in Mr.
Andrew Crosbie, an advocate of great talents, who frolicked to ruin, and
died in 1785. Scott may have heard tales of this patron of "High Jinks,"
but cannot have known him much personally. Dandie Dinmont is simply the
typical Border farmer. Mr. Shortreed, Scott's companion in his Liddesdale
raids, thought that Willie Elliot, in Millburnholm, was the great
original. Scott did not meet Mr. James Davidson in Hindlee, owner of all
the Mustards and Peppers, till some years after the novel was written.
"Guy Mannering," when read to him, sent Mr. Davidson to sleep. "The kind
and manly character of Dandie, the gentle and delicious one of his wife,"
and the circumstances of their home, were suggested, Lockhart thinks, by
Scott's friend, steward, and amanuensis, Mr. William Laidlaw, by Mrs.
Laidlaw, and by their farm among the braes of Yarrow. In truth, the
Border was peopled then by Dandies and Ailies: nor is the race even now
extinct in Liddesdale and Teviotdale, in Ettrick and Yarrow. As for
Mustard and Pepper, their offspring too is powerful in the land, and is
the deadly foe of vermin. The curious may consult Mr. Cook's work on "The
Dandie Dinmont Terrier." The Duke of Buccleugh's breed still resembles
the fine example painted by Gainsborough in his portrait of the duke (of
Scott's time). "Tod Gabbie," again, as Lockhart says, was studied from
Tod Willie, the huntsman of the hills above Loch Skene. As for the
Galloway scenery, Scott did not know it well, having only visited "the
Kingdom" in 1793, when he was defending the too frolicsome Mr. McNaught,
Minister of Girthon. The beautiful and lonely wilds of the Glenkens, in
central Galloway, where traditions yet linger, were, unluckily, terra
incognita to Scott. A Galloway story of a murder and its detection by the
prints of the assassin's boots inspired the scene where Dirk Hatteraick
is traced by similar means. In Colonel Mannering, by the way, the Ettrick
Shepherd recognized "Walter Scott, painted by himself."

The reception of "Guy Mannering" was all that could be wished. William
Erskine and Ballantyne were "of opinion that it is much more interesting
than 'Waverley.'" Mr. Morritt (March, 1815) pronounced himself to be
"quite charmed with Dandie, Meg Merrilies, and Dirk
Hatteraick,--characters as original as true to nature, and as forcibly
conceived as, I had almost said, could have been drawn by Shakspeare
himself." The public were not less appreciative. Two thousand copies, at
a guinea, were sold the day after publication, and three thousand more
were disposed of in three months. The professional critics acted just as
Scott, speaking in general terms, had prophesied that they would. Let us
quote the "British Critic" (1815).

"There are few spectacles in the literary world more lamentable than to
view a successful author, in his second appearance before the public,
limping lamely after himself, and treading tediously and awkwardly in the
very same round, which, in his first effort, he had traced with vivacity
and applause. We would not be harsh enough to say that the Author of
'Waverley' is in this predicament, but we are most unwillingly compelled
to assert that the second effort falls far below the standard of the
first. In 'Waverley' there was brilliancy of genius.... In 'Guy
Mannering' there is little else beyond the wild sallies of an original
genius, the bold and irregular efforts of a powerful but an exhausted
mind. Time enough has not been allowed him to recruit his resources, both
of anecdote and wit; but, encouraged by the credit so justly, bestowed
upon one of then most finished portraits ever presented to the world, he
has followed up the exhibition with a careless and hurried sketch, which
betrays at once the weakness and the strength of its author.

"The character of Dirk Hatteraick is a faithful copy from nature,--it is
one of those moral monsters which make us almost ashamed of our kind.
Still, amidst the ruffian and murderous brutality of the smuggler, some
few feelings of our common nature are thrown in with no less ingenuity
than truth. . . . The remainder of the personages are very little above
the cast of a common lively novel. . . . The Edinburgh lawyer is perhaps
the most original portrait; nor are the saturnalia of the Saturday
evenings described without humour. The Dominie is overdrawn and
inconsistent; while the young ladies present nothing above par. . . .

"There are parts of this novel which none but one endowed with the
sublimity of genius could have dictated; there are others which any
ordinary character cobbler might as easily have stitched together. There
are sparks both of pathos and of humour, even in the dullest parts, which
could be elicited from none but the Author of 'Waverley.' . . . If,
indeed, we have spoken in a manner derogatory to this, his later effort,
our censure arises only from its comparison with the former. . .

"We cannot, however, conclude this article without remarking the absurd
influence which our Author unquestionably attributes to the calculations
of judicial astrology. No power of chance alone could have fulfilled the
joint predictions both of Guy Mannering and Meg Merrilies; we cannot
suppose that the Author can be endowed with sufficient folly to believe
in the influence of planetary conjunctions himself, nor to have so
miserable an idea of the understanding of his readers as to suppose them
capable of a similar belief. We must also remember that the time of this
novel is not in the dark ages, but scarcely forty years since; no aid,
therefore, can be derived from the general tendency of popular
superstition. What the clew may be to this apparent absurdity, we cannot
imagine; whether the Author be in jest or earnest we do not know, and we
are willing to suppose in this dilemma that he does not know himself."

The "Monthly Review" sorrowed, like the "British," over the encouragement
given to the follies of astrology. The "Critical Review" "must lament
that 'Guy Mannering' is too often written in language unintelligible to
all except the Scotch." The "Critical Monthly" also had scruples about
morality. The novel "advocates duelling, encourages a taste for peeping
into the future,--a taste by far too prevalent,--and it is not over nice
on religious subjects!"

The "Quarterly Review" distinguished itself by stupidity, if not by
spite. "The language of 'Guy Mannering,' though characteristic, is mean;
the state of society, though peculiar, is vulgar. Meg Merrilies is
swelled into a very unnatural importance." The speech of Meg Merrilies to
Ellangowan is "one of the few which affords an intelligible extract." The
Author "does not even scruple to overturn the laws of Nature"--because
Colonel Mannering resides in the neighbourhood of Ellangowan! "The Author
either gravely believes what no other man alive believes, or he has, of
malice prepense, committed so great an offence against good taste as to
build his story on what he must know to be a contemptible absurdity. . .
. The greater part of the characters, their manners and dialect, are at
once barbarous and vulgar, extravagant and mean. . . . The work would be,
on the whole, improved by being translated into English. Though we
cannot, on the whole, speak of the novel with approbation, we will not
affect to deny that we read it with interest, and that it repaid us with

It is in reviewing "The Antiquary" that the immortal idiot of the
"Quarterly" complains about "the dark dialect of Anglified Erse."
Published criticism never greatly affected Scott's spirits,--probably, he
very seldom read it. He knew that the public, like Constable's friend
Mrs. Stewart, were "reading 'Guy Mannering' all day, and dreaming of it
all night."

Indeed, it is much better to read "Guy Mannering" than to criticise it. A
book written in six weeks, a book whose whole plot and conception was
changed "in the printing," must have its faults of construction. Thus, we
meet Mannering first as "a youthful lover," a wanderer at adventure, an
amateur astrologer, and suddenly we lose sight of him, and only recover
him as a disappointed, "disilluded," and weary, though still vigorous,
veteran. This is the inevitable result of a novel based on a prediction.
Either you have to leap some twenty years just when you are becoming
familiar with the persons, or you have to begin in the midst of the
events foreseen, and then make a tedious return to explain the prophecy.
Again, it was necessary for Scott to sacrifice Frank Kennedy, who is
rather a taking adventurer, like Bothwell in "Old Mortality." Readers
regret the necessity which kills Kennedy. The whole fortunes of Vanbeest
Brown, his duel with the colonel, and his fortunate appearance in the
nick of time, seem too rich in coincidences: still, as the Dormont case
and the Ormiston case have shown, coincidences as unlooked for do occur.
A fastidious critic has found fault with Brown's flageolet. It is a
modest instrument; but what was he to play upon,--a lute, a concertina, a

The characters of the young ladies have not always been applauded. Taste,
in the matter of heroines, varies greatly; Sir Walter had no high opinion
of his own skill in delineating them. But Julia Mannering is probably a
masterly picture of a girl of that age,--a girl with some silliness and
more gaiety, with wit, love of banter, and, in the last resort, sense and
good feeling. She is particularly good when, in fear and trembling, she
teases her imposing father.

"I expect," says Colonel Mannering, "that you will pay to this young lady
that attention which is due to misfortune and virtue." "Certainly, sir.
Is my future friend red-haired?" Miss Mannering is very capable of
listening to Brown's flageolet from the balcony, but not of accompanying
Brown, should he desire it, in the boat. As for Brown himself, he is one
of Sir Walter's usual young men,--"brave, handsome, not too clever,"--the
despair of their humorous creator. "Once you come to forty year," as
Thackeray sings, "then you'll know that a lad is an ass;" and Scott had
come to that age, and perhaps entertained that theory of a jeune premier
when he wrote "Guy Mannering." In that novel, as always, he was most
himself when dealing either with homely Scottish characters of everyday
life, with exaggerated types of humorous absurdity, and with wildly
adventurous banditti, who appealed to the old strain of the Border reiver
in his blood. The wandering plot of "Guy Mannering" enabled him to
introduce examples of all these sorts. The good-humoured, dull, dawdling
Ellangowan, a laird half dwindled to a yeoman, is a sketch absolutely
accurate, and wonderfully touched with pathos. The landladies, Mrs.
MacCandlish and Tib Mumps, are little masterpieces; so is Mac-Morlan, the
foil to Glossin; and so is Pleydell, allowing for the manner of the age.
Glossin himself is best when least villanous. Sir Robert Hazlewood is
hardly a success. But as to Jock Jabos, a Southern Scot may say that he
knows Jock Jabos in the flesh, so persistent is the type of that
charioteer. It is partly Scott's good fortune, partly it is his evil
luck, to be so inimitably and intimately true in his pictures of Scottish
character. This wins the heart of his countrymen, indeed; but the
stranger can never know how good Scott really is, any more than a
Frenchman can appreciate Falstaff. Thus the alien may be vexed by what he
thinks the mere clannish enthusiasm of praise, in Scott's countrymen.
Every little sketch of a passing face is exquisite in Scott's work, when
he is at his best. For example, Dandie Dinmont's children are only
indicated "with a dusty roll of the brush;" but we recognize at once the
large, shy, kindly families of the Border. Dandie himself, as the
"Edinburgh Review" said (1817), "is beyond all question the best rustic
portrait that has ever yet been exhibited to the public,--the most
honourable to rustics, and the most creditable to the heart as well as to
the genius of the Author, the truest to nature, the most complete in all
its lineaments." Dandie is always delightful,--whether at Mumps's Hall,
or on the lonely moor, or at home in Charlieshope, or hunting, or
leistering fish, or entering terriers at vermin, or fighting, or going to
law, or listening to the reading of a disappointing will, or entertaining
the orphan whom others neglect; always delightful he is, always generous,
always true, always the Border farmer. There is no better stock of men,
none less devastated by "the modern spirit." His wife is worthy of him,
and has that singular gentleness, kindliness, and dignity which prevail
on the Border, even in households far less prosperous than that of Dandie
Dinmont.--[Dr. John Brown's Ailie, in "Rab and his Friends," will
naturally occur to the mind of every reader.]

Among Scott's "character parts," or types broadly humorous, few have been
more popular than Dominie Sampson. His ungainly goodness, unwieldy
strength, and inaccessible learning have made great sport, especially
when "Guy Mannering" was "Terryfied" for the stage.

As Miss Bertram remarks in that singular piece,--where even Jock Jabos
"wins till his English," like Elspeth in the Antiquary,--the Dominie
"rather forces a tear from the eye of sentiment than a laugh from the
lungs of ribaldry." In the play, however, he sits down to read a folio on
some bandboxes, which, very naturally, "give way under him." As he has
just asked Mrs. Mac-Candlish after the health of both her husbands, who
are both dead, the lungs of ribaldry are more exercised than the fine eye
of sentiment. We scarcely care to see our Dominie treated thus. His
creator had the very lowest opinion of the modern playwright's craft, and
probably held that stage humour could not be too palpable and practical.
Lockhart writes (v. 130): "What share the novelist himself had in this
first specimen of what he used to call 'the art of Terryfying' I cannot
exactly say; but his correspondence shows that the pretty song of the
'Lullaby' was not his only contribution to it; and I infer that he had
taken the trouble to modify the plot and rearrange for stage purposes a
considerable part of the original dialogue." Friends of the Dominie may
be glad to know, perhaps on Scott's own testimony, that he was an alumnus
of St. Andrews. "I was boarded for twenty pence a week at Luckie
Sour-kail's, in the High Street of St. Andrews." He was also fortunate
enough to hold a bursary in St. Leonard's College, which, however, is a
blunder. St. Leonard's and St. Salvator's had already been merged in the
United College (1747). All this is in direct contradiction to the
evidence in the novel, which makes the Dominie a Glasgow man. Yet the
change seems to be due to Scott rather than to Terry. It is certain that
Colonel Mannering would not have approved of the treatment which the
Dominie undergoes, in a play whereof the plot and conduct fall little
short of the unintelligible.

Against the character of Pleydell "a few murmurs of pedantic criticism,"
as Lockhart says, were uttered, and it was natural that Pleydell should
seem an incredible character to English readers. But there is plenty of
evidence that his "High Jinks" were not exaggerated.

There remains the heroine of the novel, as Mr. Ruskin not incorrectly
calls her, Meg Merrilies, the sybil who so captivated the imagination of
Keats. Among Scott's many weird women, she is the most romantic, with her
loyal heart and that fiery natural eloquence which, as Scott truly
observed, does exist ready for moments of passion, even among the
reticent Lowlanders. The child of a mysterious wandering race, Meg has a
double claim to utter such speeches as she addresses to Ellangowan after
the eviction of her tribe. Her death, as Mr. Ruskin says, is
"self-devoted, heroic in the highest, and happy." The devotion of Meg
Merrilies, the grandeur of her figure, the music of her songs, more than
redeem the character of Dirk Hatteraick, even if we hold, with the
"Edinburgh" reviewer, that he is "a vulgar bandit of the German school,"
just as the insipidity and flageolet of the hero are redeemed by the
ballad sung in the moment of recognition.
"Are these the Links of Forth, she said,
Or are they the crooks of Dee,
Or the bonnie woods of Warroch Head,
That I so fain would see?"
"Guy Mannering," according to Lockhart, was "pronounced by acclamation
fully worthy to share the honours of 'Waverley.'" One star differeth from
another in glory, and "Guy Mannering" has neither that vivid picture of
clannish manners nor that noble melancholy of a gallant and forlorn
endeavour of the Lost Cause,
"When all was done that man may do,
And all was done in vain,"
which give dignity to "Waverley." Yet, with Lockhart, we may admire, in
"Guy Mannering," "the rapid, ever-heightening interest of the narrative,
the unaffected kindliness of feeling, the manly purity of thought,
everywhere mingled with a gentle humour and homely sagacity, but, above
all, the rich variety and skilful contrast of character and manners, at
once fresh in fiction and stamped with the unforgeable seal of truth and





He could not deny that, looking round upon the dreary region,
and seeing nothing but bleak fields and naked trees, hills
obscured by fogs, and flats covered with inundations, he did
for some time suffer melancholy to prevail upon him, and
wished himself again safe at home.

--'Travels of Will. Marvel,' IDLER, No. 49.
It was in the beginning of the month of November 17--when a young English
gentleman, who had just left the university of Oxford, made use of the
liberty afforded him to visit some parts of the north of England; and
curiosity extended his tour into the adjacent frontier of the sister
country. He had visited, on the day that opens our history, some monastic
ruins in the county of Dumfries, and spent much of the day in making
drawings of them from different points, so that, on mounting his horse to
resume his journey, the brief and gloomy twilight of the season had
already commenced. His way lay through a wide tract of black moss,
extending for miles on each side and before him. Little eminences arose
like islands on its surface, bearing here and there patches of corn,
which even at this season was green, and sometimes a hut or farm-house,
shaded by a willow or two and surrounded by large elder-bushes. These
insulated dwellings communicated with each other by winding passages
through the moss, impassable by any but the natives themselves. The
public road, however, was tolerably well made and safe, so that the
prospect of being benighted brought with it no real danger. Still it is
uncomfortable to travel alone and in the dark through an unknown country;
and there are few ordinary occasions upon which Fancy frets herself so
much as in a situation like that of Mannering.

As the light grew faint and more faint, and the morass appeared blacker
and blacker, our traveller questioned more closely each chance passenger
on his distance from the village of Kippletringan, where he proposed to
quarter for the night. His queries were usually answered by a
counter-challenge respecting the place from whence he came. While
sufficient daylight remained to show the dress and appearance of a
gentleman, these cross interrogatories were usually put in the form of a
case supposed, as, 'Ye'll hae been at the auld abbey o' Halycross, sir?
there's mony English gentlemen gang to see that.'--Or, 'Your honour will
become frae the house o' Pouderloupat?' But when the voice of the querist
alone was distinguishable, the response usually was, 'Where are ye coming
frae at sic a time o' night as the like o' this?'--or, 'Ye'll no be o'
this country, freend?' The answers, when obtained, were neither very
reconcilable to each other nor accurate in the information which they
afforded. Kippletringan was distant at first 'a gey bit'; then the 'gey
bit' was more accurately described as 'ablins three mile'; then the
'three mile' diminished into 'like a mile and a bittock'; then extended
themselves into 'four mile or thereawa'; and, lastly, a female voice,
having hushed a wailing infant which the spokeswoman carried in her arms,
assured Guy Mannering, 'It was a weary lang gate yet to Kippletringan,
and unco heavy road for foot passengers.' The poor hack upon which
Mannering was mounted was probably of opinion that it suited him as ill
as the female respondent; for he began to flag very much, answered each
application of the spur with a groan, and stumbled at every stone (and
they were not few) which lay in his road.

Mannering now grew impatient. He was occasionally betrayed into a
deceitful hope that the end of his journey was near by the apparition of
a twinkling light or two; but, as he came up, he was disappointed to find
that the gleams proceeded from some of those farm-houses which
occasionally ornamented the surface of the extensive bog. At length, to
complete his perplexity, he arrived at a place where the road divided
into two. If there had been light to consult the relics of a finger-post
which stood there, it would have been of little avail, as, according to
the good custom of North Britain, the inscription had been defaced
shortly after its erection. Our adventurer was therefore compelled, like
a knight-errant of old, to trust to the sagacity of his horse, which,
without any demur, chose the left-hand path, and seemed to proceed at a
somewhat livelier pace than before, affording thereby a hope that he knew
he was drawing near to his quarters for the evening. This hope, however,
was not speedily accomplished, and Mannering, whose impatience made every
furlong seem three, began to think that Kippletringan was actually
retreating before him in proportion to his advance.

It was now very cloudy, although the stars from time to time shed a
twinkling and uncertain light. Hitherto nothing had broken the silence
around him but the deep cry of the bog-blitter, or bull-of-the-bog, a
large species of bittern, and the sighs of the wind as it passed along
the dreary morass. To these was now joined the distant roar of the ocean,
towards which the traveller seemed to be fast approaching. This was no
circumstance to make his mind easy. Many of the roads in that country lay
along the sea-beach, and were liable to be flooded by the tides, which
rise with great height, and advance with extreme rapidity. Others were
intersected with creeks and small inlets, which it was only safe to pass
at particular times of the tide. Neither circumstance would have suited a
dark night, a fatigued horse, and a traveller ignorant of his road.
Mannering resolved, therefore, definitively to halt for the night at the
first inhabited place, however poor, he might chance to reach, unless he
could procure a guide to this unlucky village of Kippletringan.

A miserable hut gave him an opportunity to execute his purpose. He found
out the door with no small difficulty, and for some time knocked without
producing any other answer than a duet between a female and a cur-dog,
the latter yelping as if he would have barked his heart out, the other
screaming in chorus. By degrees the human tones predominated; but the
angry bark of the cur being at the instant changed into a howl, it is
probable something more than fair strength of lungs had contributed to
the ascendency.

'Sorrow be in your thrapple then!' these were the first articulate words,
'will ye no let me hear what the man wants, wi' your yaffing?'

'Am I far from Kippletringan, good dame?'

'Frae Kippletringan!!!' in an exalted tone of wonder, which we can but
faintly express by three points of admiration. 'Ow, man! ye should hae
hadden eassel to Kippletringan; ye maun gae back as far as the whaap, and
baud the whaap till ye come to Ballenloan, and then--'

'This will never do, good dame! my horse is almost quite knocked up; can
you not give me a night's lodgings?'

'Troth can I no; I am a lone woman, for James he's awa to Drumshourloch
Fair with the year-aulds, and I daurna for my life open the door to ony
o' your gang-there-out sort o' bodies.'

'But what must I do then, good dame? for I can't sleep here upon the road
all night.'

'Troth, I kenna, unless ye like to gae down and speer for quarters at the
Place. I'se warrant they'll tak ye in, whether ye be gentle or semple.'

'Simple enough, to be wandering here at such a time of night,' thought
Mannering, who was ignorant of the meaning of the phrase; 'but how shall
I get to the PLACE, as you call it?'

'Ye maun baud wessel by the end o' the loan, and take tent o' the

'O, if ye get to eassel and wessel again, I am undone! Is there nobody
that could guide me to this Place? I will pay him handsomely.'

The word pay operated like magic. 'Jock, ye villain,' exclaimed the voice
from the interior, 'are ye lying routing there, and a young gentleman
seeking the way to the Place? Get up, ye fause loon, and show him the way
down the muckle loaning. He'll show you the way, sir, and I'se warrant
ye'll be weel put up; for they never turn awa naebody frae the door; and
ye 'll be come in the canny moment, I'm thinking, for the laird's
servant--that's no to say his body-servant, but the helper like--rade
express by this e'en to fetch the houdie, and he just staid the drinking
o' twa pints o' tippenny to tell us how my leddy was ta'en wi' her

'Perhaps,' said Mannering, 'at such a time a stranger's arrival might be

'Hout, na, ye needna be blate about that; their house is muckle eneugh,
and decking time's aye canty time.'

By this time Jock had found his way into all the intricacies of a
tattered doublet and more tattered pair of breeches, and sallied forth, a
great white-headed, bare-legged, lubberly boy of twelve years old, so
exhibited by the glimpse of a rush-light which his half-naked mother held
in such a manner as to get a peep at the stranger without greatly
exposing herself to view in return. Jock moved on westward by the end of
the house, leading Mannering's horse by the bridle, and piloting with
some dexterity along the little path which bordered the formidable
jaw-hole, whose vicinity the stranger was made sensible of by means of
more organs than one. His guide then dragged the weary hack along a
broken and stony cart-track, next over a ploughed field, then broke down
a slap, as he called it, in a drystone fence, and lugged the unresisting
animal through the breach, about a rood of the simple masonry giving way
in the splutter with which he passed. Finally, he led the way through a
wicket into something which had still the air of an avenue, though many
of the trees were felled. The roar of the ocean was now near and full,
and the moon, which began to make her appearance, gleamed on a turreted
and apparently a ruined mansion of considerable extent. Mannering fixed
his eyes upon it with a disconsolate sensation.

'Why, my little fellow,' he said, 'this is a ruin, not a house?'

'Ah, but the lairds lived there langsyne; that's Ellangowan Auld Place.
There's a hantle bogles about it; but ye needna be feared, I never saw
ony mysell, and we're just at the door o' the New Place.'

Accordingly, leaving the ruins on the right, a few steps brought the
traveller in front of a modern house of moderate size, at which his guide
rapped with great importance. Mannering told his circumstances to the
servant; and the gentleman of the house, who heard his tale from the
parlour, stepped forward and welcomed the stranger hospitably to
Ellangowan. The boy, made happy with half-a-crown, was dismissed to his
cottage, the weary horse was conducted to a stall, and Mannering found
himself in a few minutes seated by a comfortable supper, for which his
cold ride gave him a hearty appetite.


Comes me cranking in,
And cuts me from the best of all my land
A huge half-moon, a monstrous cantle, out

Henry IV, Part 1.
The company in the parlour at Ellangowan consisted of the Laird and a
sort of person who might be the village schoolmaster, or perhaps the
minister's assistant; his appearance was too shabby to indicate the
minister, considering he was on a visit to the Laird.

The Laird himself was one of those second-rate sort of persons that are
to be found frequently in rural situations. Fielding has described one
class as feras consumere nati; but the love of field-sports indicates a
certain activity of mind, which had forsaken Mr. Bertram, if ever he
possessed it. A good-humoured listlessness of countenance formed the only
remarkable expression of his features, although they were rather handsome
than otherwise. In fact, his physiognomy indicated the inanity of
character which pervaded his life. I will give the reader some insight
into his state and conversation before he has finished a long lecture to
Mannering upon the propriety and comfort of wrapping his stirrup-irons
round with a wisp of straw when he had occasion to ride in a chill

Godfrey Bertram of Ellangowan succeeded to a long pedigree and a short
rent-roll, like many lairds of that period. His list of forefathers
ascended so high that they were lost in the barbarous ages of Galwegian
independence, so that his genealogical tree, besides the Christian and
crusading names of Godfreys, and Gilberts, and Dennises, and Rolands
without end, bore heathen fruit of yet darker ages--Arths, and Knarths,
and Donagilds, and Hanlons. In truth, they had been formerly the stormy
chiefs of a desert but extensive domain, and the heads of a numerous
tribe called Mac-Dingawaie, though they afterwards adopted the Norman
surname of Bertram. They had made war, raised rebellions, been defeated,
beheaded, and hanged, as became a family of importance, for many
centuries. But they had gradually lost ground in the world, and, from
being themselves the heads of treason and traitorous conspiracies, the
Bertrams, or Mac-Dingawaies, of Ellangowan had sunk into subordinate
accomplices. Their most fatal exhibitions in this capacity took place in
the seventeenth century, when the foul fiend possessed them with a spirit
of contradiction, which uniformly involved them in controversy with the
ruling powers. They reversed the conduct of the celebrated Vicar of Bray,
and adhered as tenaciously to the weaker side as that worthy divine to
the stronger. And truly, like him, they had their reward.

Allan Bertram of Ellangowan, who flourished tempore Caroli primi, was,
says my authority, Sir Robert Douglas, in his Scottish Baronage (see the
title 'Ellangowan'), 'a steady loyalist, and full of zeal for the cause
of His Sacred Majesty, in which he united with the great Marquis of
Montrose and other truly zealous and honourable patriots, and sustained
great losses in that behalf. He had the honour of knighthood conferred
upon him by His Most Sacred Majesty, and was sequestrated as a malignant
by the parliament, 1642, and afterwards as a resolutioner in the year
1648.' These two cross-grained epithets of malignant and resolutioner
cost poor Sir Allan one half of the family estate. His son Dennis Bertram
married a daughter of an eminent fanatic who had a seat in the council of
state, and saved by that union the remainder of the family property. But,
as ill chance would have it, he became enamoured of the lady's principles
as well as of her charms, and my author gives him this character: 'He was
a man of eminent parts and resolution, for which reason he was chosen by
the western counties one of the committee of noblemen and gentlemen to
report their griefs to the privy council of Charles II. anent the coming
in of the Highland host in 1678.' For undertaking this patriotic task he
underwent a fine, to pay which he was obliged to mortgage half of the
remaining moiety of his paternal property. This loss he might have
recovered by dint of severe economy, but on the breaking out of Argyle's
rebellion Dennis Bertram was again suspected by government, apprehended,
sent to Dunnotar Castle on the coast of the Mearns, and there broke his
neck in an attempt to escape from a subterranean habitation called the
Whigs' Vault, in which he was confined with some eighty of the same
persuasion. The apprizer therefore (as the holder of a mortgage was then
called) entered upon possession, and, in the language of Hotspur, 'came
me cranking in,' and cut the family out of another monstrous cantle of
their remaining property.

Donohoe Bertram, with somewhat of an Irish name and somewhat of an Irish
temper, succeeded to the diminished property of Ellangowan. He turned out
of doors the Reverend Aaron Macbriar, his mother's chaplain (it is said
they quarrelled about the good graces of a milkmaid); drank himself daily
drunk with brimming healths to the king, council, and bishops; held
orgies with the Laird of Lagg, Theophilus Oglethorpe, and Sir James
Turner; and lastly, took his grey gelding and joined Clavers at
Killiecrankie. At the skirmish of Dunkeld, 1689, he was shot dead by a
Cameronian with a silver button (being supposed to have proof from the
Evil One against lead and steel), and his grave is still called the
Wicked Laird's Lair.

His son Lewis had more prudence than seems usually to have belonged to
the family. He nursed what property was yet left to him; for Donohoe's
excesses, as well as fines and forfeitures, had made another inroad upon
the estate. And although even he did not escape the fatality which
induced the Lairds of Ellangowan to interfere with politics, he had yet
the prudence, ere he went out with Lord Kenmore in 1715, to convey his
estate to trustees, in order to parry pains and penalties in case the
Earl of Mar could not put down the Protestant succession. But Scylla and
Charybdis--a word to the wise--he only saved his estate at expense of a
lawsuit, which again subdivided the family property. He was, however, a
man of resolution. He sold part of the lands, evacuated the old cattle,
where the family lived in their decadence as a mouse (said an old farmer)
lives under a firlot. Pulling down part of these venerable ruins, he
built with the stones a narrow house of three stories high, with a front
like a grenadier's cap, having in the very centre a round window like the
single eye of a Cyclops, two windows on each side, and a door in the
middle, leading to a parlour and withdrawing-room full of all manner of
cross lights.

This was the New Place of Ellangowan, in which we left our hero, better
amused perhaps than our readers, and to this Lewis Bertram retreated,
full of projects for re-establishing the prosperity of his family. He
took some land into his own hand, rented some from neighbouring
proprietors, bought and sold Highland cattle and Cheviot sheep, rode to
fairs and trysts, fought hard bargains, and held necessity at the staff's
end as well as he might. But what he gained in purse he lost in honour,
for such agricultural and commercial negotiations were very ill looked
upon by his brother lairds, who minded nothing but cock-fighting,
hunting, coursing, and horse-racing, with now and then the alternative of
a desperate duel. The occupations which he followed encroached, in their
opinion, upon the article of Ellangowan's gentry, and he found it
necessary gradually to estrange himself from their society, and sink into
what was then a very ambiguous character, a gentleman farmer. In the
midst of his schemes death claimed his tribute, and the scanty remains of
a large property descended upon Godfrey Bertram, the present possessor,
his only son.

The danger of the father's speculations was soon seen. Deprived of Laird
Lewis's personal and active superintendence, all his undertakings
miscarried, and became either abortive or perilous. Without a single
spark of energy to meet or repel these misfortunes, Godfrey put his faith
in the activity of another. He kept neither hunters nor hounds, nor any
other southern preliminaries to ruin; but, as has been observed of his
countrymen, he kept a man of business, who answered the purpose equally
well. Under this gentleman's supervision small debts grew into large,
interests were accumulated upon capitals, movable bonds became heritable,
and law charges were heaped upon all; though Ellangowan possessed so
little the spirit of a litigant that he was on two occasions charged to
make payment of the expenses of a long lawsuit, although he had never
before heard that he had such cases in court. Meanwhile his neighbours
predicted his final ruin. Those of the higher rank, with some malignity,
accounted him already a degraded brother. The lower classes, seeing
nothing enviable in his situation, marked his embarrassments with more
compassion. He was even a kind of favourite with them, and upon the
division of a common, or the holding of a black-fishing or poaching
court, or any similar occasion when they conceived themselves oppressed
by the gentry, they were in the habit of saying to each other, 'Ah, if
Ellangowan, honest man, had his ain that his forbears had afore him, he
wadna see the puir folk trodden down this gait.' Meanwhile, this general
good opinion never prevented their taking advantage of him on all
possible occasions, turning their cattle into his parks, stealing his
wood, shooting his game, and so forth, 'for the Laird, honest man, he'll
never find it; he never minds what a puir body does.' Pedlars, gipsies,
tinkers, vagrants of all descriptions, roosted about his outhouses, or
harboured in his kitchen; and the Laird, who was 'nae nice body,' but a
thorough gossip, like most weak men, found recompense for his hospitality
in the pleasure of questioning them on the news of the country side.

A circumstance arrested Ellangowan's progress on the highroad to ruin.
This was his marriage with a lady who had a portion of about four
thousand pounds. Nobody in the neighbourhood could conceive why she
married him and endowed him with her wealth, unless because he had a
tall, handsome figure, a good set of features, a genteel address, and the
most perfect good-humour. It might be some additional consideration, that
she was herself at the reflecting age of twenty-eight, and had no near
relations to control her actions or choice.

It was in this lady's behalf (confined for the first time after her
marriage) that the speedy and active express, mentioned by the old dame
of the cottage, had been despatched to Kippletringan on the night of
Mannering's arrival.

Though we have said so much of the Laird himself, it still remains that
we make the reader in some degree acquainted with his companion. This was
Abel Sampson, commonly called, from his occupation as a pedagogue,
Dominie Sampson. He was of low birth, but having evinced, even from his
cradle, an uncommon seriousness of disposition, the poor parents were
encouraged to hope that their bairn, as they expressed it, 'might wag his
pow in a pulpit yet.' With an ambitious view to such a consummation, they
pinched and pared, rose early and lay down late, ate dry bread and drank
cold water, to secure to Abel the means of learning. Meantime, his tall,
ungainly figure, his taciturn and grave manners, and some grotesque
habits of swinging his limbs and screwing his visage while reciting his
task, made poor Sampson the ridicule of all his school-companions. The
same qualities secured him at Glasgow College a plentiful share of the
same sort of notice. Half the youthful mob of 'the yards' used to
assemble regularly to see Dominie Sampson (for he had already attained
that honourable title) descend the stairs from the Greek class, with his
lexicon under his arm, his long misshapen legs sprawling abroad, and
keeping awkward time to the play of his immense shoulder-blades, as they
raised and depressed the loose and threadbare black coat which was his
constant and only wear. When he spoke, the efforts of the professor
(professor of divinity though he was) were totally inadequate to restrain
the inextinguishable laughter of the students, and sometimes even to
repress his own. The long, sallow visage, the goggle eyes, the huge
under-jaw, which appeared not to open and shut by an act of volition, but
to be dropped and hoisted up again by some complicated machinery within
the inner man, the harsh and dissonant voice, and the screech-owl notes
to which it was exalted when he was exhorted to pronounce more
distinctly,--all added fresh subject for mirth to the torn cloak and
shattered shoe, which have afforded legitimate subjects of raillery
against the poor scholar from Juvenal's time downward. It was never known
that Sampson either exhibited irritability at this ill usage, or made the
least attempt to retort upon his tormentors. He slunk from college by the
most secret paths he could discover, and plunged himself into his
miserable lodging, where, for eighteenpence a week, he was allowed the
benefit of a straw mattress, and, if his landlady was in good humour,
permission to study his task by her fire. Under all these disadvantages,
he obtained a competent knowledge of Greek and Latin, and some
acquaintance with the sciences.

In progress of time, Abel Sampson, probationer of divinity, was admitted
to the privileges of a preacher. But, alas! partly from his own
bashfulness, partly owing to a strong and obvious disposition to
risibility which pervaded the congregation upon his first attempt, he
became totally incapable of proceeding in his intended discourse, gasped,
grinned, hideously rolled his eyes till the congregation thought them
flying out of his head, shut the Bible, stumbled down the pulpit-stairs,
trampling upon the old women who generally take their station there, and
was ever after designated as a 'stickit minister.' And thus he wandered
back to his own country, with blighted hopes and prospects, to share the
poverty of his parents. As he had neither friend nor confidant, hardly
even an acquaintance, no one had the means of observing closely how
Dominie Sampson bore a disappointment which supplied the whole town with
a week's sport. It would be endless even to mention the numerous jokes to
which it gave birth, from a ballad called 'Sampson's Riddle,' written
upon the subject by a smart young student of humanity, to the sly hope of
the Principal that the fugitive had not, in imitation of his mighty
namesake, taken the college gates along with him in his retreat.

To all appearance, the equanimity of Sampson was unshaken. He sought to
assist his parents by teaching a school, and soon had plenty of scholars,
but very few fees. In fact, he taught the sons of farmers for what they
chose to give him, and the poor for nothing; and, to the shame of the
former be it spoken, the pedagogue's gains never equalled those of a
skilful ploughman. He wrote, however, a good hand, and added something to
his pittance by copying accounts and writing letters for Ellangowan. By
degrees, the Laird, who was much estranged from general society, became
partial to that of Dominie Sampson. Conversation, it is true, was out of
the question, but the Dominie was a good listener, and stirred the fire
with some address. He attempted even to snuff the candles, but was
unsuccessful, and relinquished that ambitious post of courtesy after
having twice reduced the parlour to total darkness. So his civilities,
thereafter, were confined to taking off his glass of ale in exactly the
same time and measure with the Laird, and in uttering certain indistinct
murmurs of acquiescence at the conclusion of the long and winding stories
of Ellangowan.

On one of these occasions, he presented for the first time to Mannering
his tall, gaunt, awkward, bony figure, attired in a threadbare suit of
black, with a coloured handkerchief, not over clean, about his sinewy,
scraggy neck, and his nether person arrayed in grey breeches, dark-blue
stockings, clouted shoes, and small copper buckles.

Such is a brief outline of the lives and fortunes of those two persons in
whose society Mannering now found himself comfortably seated.

Do not the hist'ries of all ages
Relate miraculous presages
Of strange turns in the world's affairs,
Foreseen by astrologers, soothsayers,
Chaldeans, learned genethliacs,
And some that have writ almanacks?


The circumstances of the landlady were pleaded to Mannering, first, as an
apology for her not appearing to welcome her guest, and for those
deficiencies in his entertainment which her attention might have
supplied, and then as an excuse for pressing an extra bottle of good
wine. 'I cannot weel sleep,' said the Laird, with the anxious feelings of
a father in such a predicament, 'till I hear she's gotten ower with it;
and if you, sir, are not very sleepery, and would do me and the Dominie
the honour to sit up wi' us, I am sure we shall not detain you very late.
Luckie Howatson is very expeditious. There was ance a lass that was in
that way; she did not live far from hereabouts--ye needna shake your head
and groan, Dominie; I am sure the kirk dues were a' weel paid, and what
can man do mair?--it was laid till her ere she had a sark ower her head;
and the man that she since wadded does not think her a pin the waur for
the misfortune. They live, Mr. Mannering, by the shoreside at Annan, and
a mair decent, orderly couple, with six as fine bairns as ye would wish
to see plash in a saltwater dub; and little curlie Godfrey--that's the
eldest, the come o' will, as I may say--he's on board an excise yacht. I
hae a cousin at the board of excise; that's Commissioner Bertram; he got
his commissionership in the great contest for the county, that ye must
have heard of, for it was appealed to the House of Commons. Now I should
have voted there for the Laird of Balruddery; but ye see my father was a
Jacobite, and out with Kenmore, so he never took the oaths; and I ken not
weel how it was, but all that I could do and say, they keepit me off the
roll, though my agent, that had a vote upon my estate, ranked as a good
vote for auld Sir Thomas Kittlecourt. But, to return to what I was
saying, Luckie Howatson is very expeditious, for this lass--'

Here the desultory and long-winded narrative of the Laird was interrupted
by the voice of some one ascending the stairs from the kitchen story, and
singing at full pitch of voice. The high notes were too shrill for a man,
the low seemed too deep for a woman. The words, as far as Mannering could
distinguish them, seemed to run thus:--

Canny moment, lucky fit!
Is the lady lighter yet?
Be it lad, or be it lass,
Sign wi' cross and sain wi' mass.

'It's Meg Merrilies, the gipsy, as sure as I am a sinner,' said Mr.
Bertram. The Dominie groaned deeply, uncrossed his legs, drew in the huge
splay foot which his former posture had extended, placed it
perpendicularly, and stretched the other limb over it instead, puffing
out between whiles huge volumes of tobacco smoke. 'What needs ye groan,
Dominie? I am sure Meg's sangs do nae ill.'

'Nor good neither,' answered Dominie Sampson, in a voice whose untuneable
harshness corresponded with the awkwardness of his figure. They were the
first words which Mannering had heard him speak; and as he had been
watching with some curiosity when this eating, drinking, moving, and
smoking automaton would perform the part of speaking, he was a good deal
diverted with the harsh timber tones which issued from him. But at this
moment the door opened, and Meg Merrilies entered.

Her appearance made Mannering start. She was full six feet high, wore a
man's great-coat over the rest of her dress, had in her hand a goodly
sloethorn cudgel, and in all points of equipment, except her petticoats,
seemed rather masculine than feminine. Her dark elf-locks shot out like
the snakes of the gorgon between an old-fashioned bonnet called a
bongrace, heightening the singular effect of her strong and
weather-beaten features, which they partly shadowed, while her eye had a
wild roll that indicated something like real or affected insanity.

'Aweel, Ellangowan,' she said, 'wad it no hae been a bonnie thing, an the
leddy had been brought to bed, and me at the fair o' Drumshourloch, no
kenning, nor dreaming a word about it? Wha was to hae keepit awa the
worriecows, I trow? Ay, and the elves and gyre-carlings frae the bonnie
bairn, grace be wi' it? Ay, or said Saint Colme's charm for its sake, the
dear?' And without waiting an answer she began to sing--

Trefoil, vervain, John's-wort, dill,
Hinders witches of their
will, Weel is them, that weel may
Fast upon Saint Andrew's day.

Saint Bride and her brat,
Saint Colme and his cat,
Saint Michael and his spear,
Keep the house frae reif and wear.

This charm she sung to a wild tune, in a high and shrill voice, and,
cutting three capers with such strength and agility as almost to touch
the roof of the room, concluded, 'And now, Laird, will ye no order me a
tass o' brandy?'

'That you shall have, Meg. Sit down yont there at the door and tell us
what news ye have heard at the fair o' Drumshourloch.'

'Troth, Laird, and there was muckle want o' you, and the like o' you; for
there was a whin bonnie lasses there, forbye mysell, and deil ane to gie
them hansels.'

'Weel, Meg, and how mony gipsies were sent to the tolbooth?'

'Troth, but three, Laird, for there were nae mair in the fair, bye
mysell, as I said before, and I e'en gae them leg-bail, for there's nae
ease in dealing wi' quarrelsome fowk. And there's Dunbog has warned the
Red Rotten and John Young aff his grunds--black be his cast! he's nae
gentleman, nor drap's bluid o' gentleman, wad grudge twa gangrel puir
bodies the shelter o' a waste house, and the thristles by the roadside
for a bit cuddy, and the bits o' rotten birk to boil their drap parritch
wi'. Weel, there's Ane abune a'; but we'll see if the red cock craw not
in his bonnie barn-yard ae morning before day-dawing.'

'Hush! Meg, hush! hush! that's not safe talk.'

'What does she mean?' said Mannering to Sampson, in an undertone.

'Fire-raising,' answered the laconic Dominie.

'Who, or what is she, in the name of wonder?'

'Harlot, thief, witch, and gipsy,' answered Sampson again.

'O troth, Laird,' continued Meg, during this by-talk, 'it's but to the
like o' you ane can open their heart; ye see, they say Dunbog is nae mair
a gentleman than the blunker that's biggit the bonnie house down in the
howm. But the like o' you, Laird, that's a real gentleman for sae mony
hundred years, and never hunds puir fowk aff your grund as if they were
mad tykes, nane o' our fowk wad stir your gear if ye had as mony capons
as there's leaves on the trysting-tree. And now some o' ye maun lay down
your watch, and tell me the very minute o' the hour the wean's born, an
I'll spae its fortune.'

'Ay, but, Meg, we shall not want your assistance, for here's a student
from Oxford that kens much better than you how to spae its fortune; he
does it by the stars.'

'Certainly, sir,' said Mannering, entering into the simple humour of his
landlord, 'I will calculate his nativity according to the rule of the
"triplicities," as recommended by Pythagoras, Hippocrates, Diocles, and
Avicenna. Or I will begin ab hora questionis, as Haly, Messahala,
Ganwehis, and Guido Bonatus have recommended.'

One of Sampson's great recommendations to the favour of Mr. Bertram was,
that he never detected the most gross attempt at imposition, so that the
Laird, whose humble efforts at jocularity were chiefly confined to what
were then called bites and bams, since denominated hoaxes and quizzes,
had the fairest possible subject of wit in the unsuspecting Dominie. It
is true, he never laughed, or joined in the laugh which his own
simplicity afforded--nay, it is said, he never laughed but once in his
life, and on that memorable occasion his landlady miscarried, partly
through surprise at the event itself, and partly from terror at the
hideous grimaces which attended this unusual cachinnation. The only
effect which the discovery of such impositions produced upon this
saturnine personage was, to extort an ejaculation of 'Prodigious!' or
'Very facetious!' pronounced syllabically, but without moving a muscle of
his own countenance.

On the present occasion, he turned a gaunt and ghastly stare upon the
youthful astrologer, and seemed to doubt if he had rightly understood his
answer to his patron.

'I am afraid, sir,' said Mannering, turning towards him, 'you may be one
of those unhappy persons who, their dim eyes being unable to penetrate
the starry spheres, and to discern therein the decrees of heaven at a
distance, have their hearts barred against conviction by prejudice and

'Truly,' said Sampson, 'I opine with Sir Isaac Newton, Knight, and
umwhile master of his Majesty's mint, that the (pretended) science of
astrology is altogether vain, frivolous, and unsatisfactory.' And here he
reposed his oracular jaws.

'Really,' resumed the traveller, 'I am sorry to see a gentleman of your
learning and gravity labouring under such strange blindness and delusion.
Will you place the brief, the modern, and, as I may say, the vernacular
name of Isaac Newton in opposition to the grave and sonorous authorities
of Dariot, Bonatus, Ptolemy, Haly, Eztler, Dieterick, Naibob, Harfurt,
Zael, Taustettor, Agrippa, Duretus, Maginus, Origen, and Argol? Do not
Christians and Heathens, and Jews and Gentiles, and poets and
philosophers, unite in allowing the starry influences?'

'Communis error--it is a general mistake,' answered the inflexible
Dominie Sampson.

'Not so,' replied the young Englishman; 'it is a general and
well-grounded belief.'

'It is the resource of cheaters, knaves, and cozeners,' said Sampson.

'Abusus non tollit usum.--The abuse of anything doth not abrogate the
lawful use thereof.'

During this discussion Ellangowan was somewhat like a woodcock caught in
his own springe. He turned his face alternately from the one spokesman to
the other, and began, from the gravity with which Mannering plied his
adversary, and the learning which he displayed in the controversy, to
give him credit for being half serious. As for Meg, she fixed her
bewildered eyes upon the astrologer, overpowered by a jargon more
mysterious than her own.

Mannering pressed his advantage, and ran over all the hard terms of art
which a tenacious memory supplied, and which, from circumstances
hereafter to be noticed, had been familiar to him in early youth.

Signs and planets, in aspects sextile, quartile, trine, conjoined, or
opposite; houses of heaven, with their cusps, hours, and minutes;
almuten, almochoden, anabibazon, catabibazon; a thousand terms of equal
sound and significance, poured thick and threefold upon the unshrinking
Dominie, whose stubborn incredulity bore him out against the pelting of
this pitiless storm.

At length the joyful annunciation that the lady had presented her husband
with a fine boy, and was (of course) as well as could be expected, broke
off this intercourse. Mr. Bertram hastened to the lady's apartment, Meg
Merrilies descended to the kitchen to secure her share of the groaning
malt and the 'ken-no,' [Footnote: See Note i.] and Mannering, after
looking at his watch, and noting with great exactness the hour and minute
of the birth, requested, with becoming gravity, that the Dominie would
conduct him to some place where he might have a view of the heavenly

The schoolmaster, without further answer, rose and threw open a door half
sashed with glass, which led to an old-fashioned terrace-walk behind the

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