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daughter taking up with their son.'
'Ay, has been,' answered the first, with somewhat of emphasis.
'I am sure, neighbour Ovens,' said the hostess,'the Hazlewoods of
Hazlewood, though they are a very gude auld family in the county, never
thought, till within these twa score o' years, of evening themselves till
the Ellangowans. Wow, woman, the Bertrams of Ellangowan are the auld
Dingawaies lang syne. There is a sang about ane o' them marrying a
daughter of the King of Man; it begins--
Blythe Bertram's ta'en him ower the faem,
To wed a wife, and bring her hame--
I daur say Mr. Skreigh can sing us the ballant.'
'Gudewife,' said Skreigh, gathering up his mouth, and sipping his tiff of
brandy punch with great solemnity, 'our talents were gien us to other use
than to sing daft auld sangs sae near the Sabbath day.'
'Hout fie, Mr. Skreigh; I'se warrant I hae heard you sing a blythe sang
on Saturday at e'en before now. But as for the chaise, Deacon, it hasna
been out of the coach-house since Mrs. Bertram died, that's sixteen or
seventeen years sin syne. Jock Jabos is away wi' a chaise of mine for
them; I wonder he's no come back. It's pit mirk; but there's no an ill
turn on the road but twa, and the brigg ower Warroch burn is safe eneugh,
if he haud to the right side. But then there's Heavieside Brae, that's
just a murder for post-cattle; but Jock kens the road brawly.'
A loud rapping was heard at the door.
'That's no them. I dinna hear the wheels. Grizzel, ye limmer, gang to the
'It's a single gentleman,' whined out Grizzel; 'maun I take him into the
'Foul be in your feet, then; it'll be some English rider. Coming without
a servant at this time o' night! Has the hostler ta'en the horse? Ye may
light a spunk o' fire in the red room.'
'I wish, ma'am,' said the traveller, entering the kitchen, 'you would
give me leave to warm myself here, for the night is very cold.'
His appearance, voice, and manner produced an instantaneous effect in his
favour. He was a handsome, tall, thin figure, dressed in black, as
appeared when he laid aside his riding-coat; his age might be between
forty and fifty; his cast of features grave and interesting, and his air
somewhat military. Every point of his appearance and address bespoke the
gentleman. Long habit had given Mrs. Mac-Candlish an acute tact in
ascertaining the quality of her visitors, and proportioning her reception
To every guest the appropriate speech was made,
And every duty with distinction paid;
Respectful, easy, pleasant, or polite--
'Your honour's servant!' 'Mister Smith, good-night.'
On the present occasion she was low in her courtesy and profuse in her
apologies. The stranger begged his horse might be attended to: she went
out herself to school the hostler.
'There was never a prettier bit o' horse-flesh in the stable o' the
Gordon Arms,' said the man, which information increased the landlady's
respect for the rider. Finding, on her return, that the stranger declined
to go into another apartment (which, indeed, she allowed, would be but
cold and smoky till the fire bleezed up), she installed her guest
hospitably by the fireside, and offered what refreshment her house
'A cup of your tea, ma'am, if you will favour me.'
Mrs. Mac-Candlish bustled about, reinforced her teapot with hyson, and
proceeded in her duties with her best grace. 'We have a very nice
parlour, sir, and everything very agreeable for gentlefolks; but it's
bespoke the night for a gentleman and his daughter that are going to
leave this part of the country; ane of my chaises is gane for them, and
will be back forthwith. They're no sae weel in the warld as they have
been; but we're a' subject to ups and downs in this life, as your honour
must needs ken,--but is not the tobacco-reek disagreeable to your
'By no means, ma'am; I am an old campaigner, and perfectly used to it.
Will you permit me to make some inquiries about a family in this
The sound of wheels was now heard, and the landlady hurried to the door
to receive her expected guests; but returned in an instant, followed by
the postilion. 'No, they canna come at no rate, the Laird's sae ill.'
'But God help them,' said the landlady, 'the morn's the term, the very
last day they can bide in the house; a' thing's to be roupit.'
'Weel, but they can come at no rate, I tell ye; Mr. Bertram canna be
'What Mr. Bertram?' said the stranger; 'not Mr. Bertram of Ellangowan, I
'Just e'en that same, sir; and if ye be a friend o' his, ye have come at
a time when he's sair bested.'
'I have been abroad for many years,--is his health so much deranged?'
'Ay, and his affairs an' a',' said the Deacon; 'the creditors have
entered into possession o' the estate, and it's for sale; and some that
made the maist by him--I name nae names, but Mrs. Mac-Candlish kens wha I
mean (the landlady shook her head significantly)--they're sairest on him
e'en now. I have a sma' matter due myself, but I would rather have lost
it than gane to turn the auld man out of his house, and him just dying.'
'Ay, but,' said the parish clerk, 'Factor Glossin wants to get rid of the
auld Laird, and drive on the sale, for fear the heir-male should cast up
upon them; for I have heard say, if there was an heir-male they couldna
sell the estate for auld Ellangowan's debt.'
'He had a son born a good many years ago,' said the stranger; 'he is
dead, I suppose?'
'Nae man can say for that,' answered the clerk mysteriously.
'Dead!' said the Deacon, 'I'se warrant him dead lang syne; he hasna been
heard o' these twenty years or thereby.'
'I wot weel it's no twenty years,' said the landlady; 'it's no abune
seventeen at the outside in this very month. It made an unco noise ower
a' this country; the bairn disappeared the very day that Supervisor
Kennedy cam by his end. If ye kenn'd this country lang syne, your honour
wad maybe ken Frank Kennedy the Supervisor. He was a heartsome pleasant
man, and company for the best gentlemen in the county, and muckle mirth
he's made in this house. I was young then, sir, and newly married to
Bailie Mac-Candlish, that's dead and gone (a sigh); and muckle fun I've
had wi' the Supervisor. He was a daft dog. O, an he could hae hauden aff
the smugglers a bit! but he was aye venturesome. And so ye see, sir,
there was a king's sloop down in Wigton Bay, and Frank Kennedy, he
behoved to have her up to chase Dirk Hatteraick's lugger--ye'll mind Dirk
Hatteraick, Deacon? I daresay ye may have dealt wi' him--(the Deacon gave
a sort of acquiescent nod and humph). He was a daring chield, and he
fought his ship till she blew up like peelings of ingans; and Frank
Kennedy, he had been the first man to board, and he was flung like a
quarter of a mile off, and fell into the water below the rock at Warroch
Point, that they ca' the Gauger's Loup to this day.'
'And Mr. Bertram's child,' said the stranger, 'what is all this to him?'
'Ou, sir, the bairn aye held an unco wark wi' the Supervisor; and it was
generally thought he went on board the vessel alang wi' him, as bairns
are aye forward to be in mischief.'
'No, no,' said the Deacon, 'ye're clean out there, Luckie; for the young
Laird was stown away by a randy gipsy woman they ca'd Meg Merrilies--I
mind her looks weel--in revenge for Ellangowan having gar'd her be
drumm'd through Kippletringan for stealing a silver spoon.'
'If ye'll forgieme, Deacon,' said the precentor, 'ye're e'en as far wrang
as the gudewife.'
'And what is your edition of the story, sir?' said the stranger, turning
to him with interest.
'That's maybe no sae canny to tell,' said the precentor, with solemnity.
Upon being urged, however, to speak out, he preluded with two or three
large puffs of tobacco-smoke, and out of the cloudy sanctuary which these
whiffs formed around him delivered the following legend, having cleared
his voice with one or two hems, and imitating, as near as he could, the
eloquence which weekly thundered over his head from the pulpit.
'What we are now to deliver, my brethren,--hem--hem,--I mean, my good
friends,--was not done in a corner, and may serve as an answer to
witch-advocates, atheists, and misbelievers of all kinds. Ye must know
that the worshipful Laird of Ellangowan was not so preceese as he might
have been in clearing his land of witches (concerning whom it is said,
"Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live"), nor of those who had familiar
spirits, and consulted with divination, and sorcery, and lots, which is
the fashion with the Egyptians, as they ca' themsells, and other unhappy
bodies, in this our country. And the Laird was three years married
without having a family; and he was sae left to himsell, that it was
thought he held ower muckle troking and communing wi' that Meg Merrilies,
wha was the maist notorious witch in a' Galloway and Dumfries-shire
'Aweel, I wot there's something in that,' said Mrs. Mac-Candlish; 'I've
kenn'd him order her twa glasses o' brandy in this very house.'
'Aweel, gudewife, then the less I lee. Sae the lady was wi' bairn at
last, and in the night when she should have been delivered there comes to
the door of the ha' house--the Place of Ellangowan as they ca'd--an
ancient man, strangely habited, and asked for quarters. His head, and his
legs, and his arms were bare, although it was winter time o' the year,
and he had a grey beard three-quarters lang. Weel, he was admitted; and
when the lady was delivered, he craved to know the very moment of the
hour of the birth, and he went out and consulted the stars. And when he
came back he tell'd the Laird that the Evil One wad have power over the
knave-bairn that was that night born, and he charged him that the babe
should be bred up in the ways of piety, and that he should aye hae a
godly minister at his elbow to pray WI' the bairn and FOR him. And the
aged man vanished away, and no man of this country ever saw mair o' him.'
'Now, that will not pass,' said the postilion, who, at a respectful
distance, was listening to the conversation, 'begging Mr. Skreigh's and
the company's pardon; there was no sae mony hairs on the warlock's face
as there's on Letter-Gae's [Footnote: The precentor is called by Allan
Ramsay, The letter-gae of haly rhyme.] ain at this moment, and he had as
gude a pair o' boots as a man need streik on his legs, and gloves too;
and I should understand boots by this time, I think.'
'Whisht, Jock,' said the landlady.
'Ay? and what do YE ken o' the matter, friend Jabos?' said the precentor,
'No muckle, to be sure, Mr. Skreigh, only that I lived within a
penny-stane cast o' the head o' the avenue at Ellangowan, when a man cam
jingling to our door that night the young Laird was born, and my mother
sent me, that was a hafflin callant, to show the stranger the gate to the
Place, which, if he had been sic a warlock, he might hae kenn'd himsell,
ane wad think; and he was a young, weel-faured, weel-dressed lad, like an
Englishman. And I tell ye he had as gude a hat, and boots, and gloves, as
ony gentleman need to have. To be sure he DID gie an awesome glance up at
the auld castle, and there WAS some spae-wark gaed on, I aye heard that;
but as for his vanishing, I held the stirrup mysell when he gaed away,
and he gied me a round half-crown. He was riding on a haick they ca'd
Souple Sam, it belanged to the George at Dumfries; it was a blood-bay
beast, very ill o' the spavin; I hae seen the beast baith before and
'Aweel, aweel, Jock,' answered Mr. Skreigh, with a tone of mild
solemnity, 'our accounts differ in no material particulars; but I had no
knowledge that ye had seen the man. So ye see, my friends, that this
soothsayer having prognosticated evil to the boy, his father engaged a
godly minister to be with him morn and night.'
'Ay, that was him they ca'd Dominie Sampson,' said the postilion.
'He's but a dumb dog that,' observed the Deacon; 'I have heard that he
never could preach five words of a sermon endlang, for as lang as he has
'Weel, but,' said the precentor, waving his hand, as if eager to retrieve
the command of the discourse, 'he waited on the young Laird by night and
day. Now it chanced, when the bairn was near five years auld, that the
Laird had a sight of his errors, and determined to put these Egyptians
aff his ground, and he caused them to remove; and that Frank Kennedy,
that was a rough, swearing fellow, he was sent to turn them off. And he
cursed and damned at them, and they swure at him; and that Meg Merrilies,
that was the maist powerfu' with the Enemy of Mankind, she as gude as
said she would have him, body and soul, before three days were ower his
head. And I have it from a sure hand, and that's ane wha saw it, and
that's John Wilson, that was the Laird's groom, that Meg appeared to the
Laird as he was riding hame from Singleside, over Gibbie's know, and
threatened him wi' what she wad do to his family; but whether it was Meg,
or something waur in her likeness, for it seemed bigger than ony mortal
creature, John could not say.'
'Aweel,' said the postilion, 'it might be sae, I canna say against it,
for I was not in the country at the time; but John Wilson was a
blustering kind of chield, without the heart of a sprug.'
'And what was the end of all this?' said the stranger, with some
'Ou, the event and upshot of it was, sir,' said the precentor, 'that
while they were all looking on, beholding a king's ship chase a smuggler,
this Kennedy suddenly brake away frae them without ony reason that could
be descried--ropes nor tows wad not hae held him--and made for the wood
of Warroch as fast as his beast could carry him; and by the way he met
the young Laird and his governor, and he snatched up the bairn, and
swure, if HE was bewitched, the bairn should have the same luck as him;
and the minister followed as fast as he could, and almaist as fast as
them, for he was wonderfully swift of foot, and he saw Meg the witch, or
her master in her similitude, rise suddenly out of the ground, and
claught the bairn suddenly out of the ganger's arms; and then he
rampauged and drew his sword, for ye ken a fie man and a cusser fearsna
'I believe that's very true,' said the postilion.
'So, sir, she grippit him, and clodded him like a stane from the sling
ower the craigs of Warroch Head, where he was found that evening; but
what became of the babe, frankly I cannot say. But he that was minister
here then, that's now in a better place, had an opinion that the bairn
was only conveyed to fairy-land for a season.'
The stranger had smiled slightly at some parts of this recital, but ere
he could answer the clatter of a horse's hoofs was heard, and a smart
servant, handsomely dressed, with a cockade in his hat, bustled into the
kitchen, with 'Make a little room, good people'; when, observing the
stranger, he descended at once into the modest and civil domestic, his
hat sunk down by his side, and he put a letter into his master's hands.
'The family at Ellangowan, sir, are in great distress, and unable to
receive any visits.'
'I know it,' replied his master. 'And now, madam, if you will have the
goodness to allow me to occupy the parlour you mentioned, as you are
disappointed of your guests--'
'Certainly, sir,' said Mrs. Mac-Candlish, and hastened to light the way
with all the imperative bustle which an active landlady loves to display
on such occasions.
'Young man,' said the Deacon to the servant, filling a glass, 'ye'll no
be the waur o' this, after your ride.'
'Not a feather, sir; thank ye, your very good health, sir.'
'And wha may your master be, friend?'
'What, the gentleman that was here? that's the famous Colonel Mannering,
sir, from the East Indies.'
'What, him we read of in the newspapers?'
'Ay, ay, just the same. It was he relieved Cuddieburn, and defended
Chingalore, and defeated the great Mahratta chief, Ram Jolli Bundleman. I
was with him in most of his campaigns.'
'Lord safe us,' said the landlady; 'I must go see what he would have for
supper; that I should set him down here!'
'O, he likes that all the better, mother. You never saw a plainer
creature in your life than our old Colonel; and yet he has a spice of the
devil in him too.'
The rest of the evening's conversation below stairs tending little to
edification, we shall, with the reader's leave, step up to the parlour.
Reputation! that's man's idol
Set up against God, the Maker of all laws,
Who hath commanded us we should not kill,
And yet we say we must, for Reputation!
What honest man can either fear his own,
Or else will hurt another's reputation?
Fear to do base unworthy things is valour;
If they be done to us, to suffer them
Is valour too.
The Colonel was walking pensively up and down the parlour when the
officious landlady reentered to take his commands. Having given them in
the manner he thought would be most acceptable 'for the good of the
house,' he begged to detain her a moment.
'I think,' he said, 'madam, if I understood the good people right, Mr.
Bertram lost his son in his fifth year?'
'O ay, sir, there's nae doubt o' that, though there are mony idle clashes
about the way and manner, for it's an auld story now, and everybody tells
it, as we were doing, their ain way by the ingleside. But lost the bairn
was in his fifth year, as your honour says, Colonel; and the news being
rashly tell'd to the leddy, then great with child, cost her her life that
samyn night; and the Laird never throve after that day, but was just
careless of everything, though, when his daughter Miss Lucy grew up, she
tried to keep order within doors; but what could she do, poor thing? So
now they're out of house and hauld.'
'Can you recollect, madam, about what time of the year the child was
lost?' The landlady, after a pause and some recollection, answered, 'she
was positive it was about this season'; and added some local
recollections that fixed the date in her memory as occurring about the
beginning of November 17--.
The stranger took two or three turns round the room in silence, but
signed to Mrs. Mac-Candlish not to leave it.
'Did I rightly apprehend,' he said, 'that the estate of Ellangowan is in
'In the market? It will be sell'd the morn to the highest bidder--that's
no the morn, Lord help me! which is the Sabbath, but on Monday, the first
free day; and the furniture and stocking is to be roupit at the same time
on the ground. It's the opinion of the haill country that the sale has
been shamefully forced on at this time, when there's sae little money
stirring in Scotland wi' this weary American war, that somebody may get
the land a bargain. Deil be in them, that I should say sae!'--the good
lady's wrath rising at the supposed injustice.
'And where will the sale take place?'
'On the premises, as the advertisement says; that's at the house of
Ellangowan, your honour, as I understand it.'
'And who exhibits the title-deeds, rent-roll, and plan?'
'A very decent man, sir; the sheriff-substitute of the county, who has
authority from the Court of Session. He's in the town just now, if your
honour would like to see him; and he can tell you mair about the loss of
the bairn than ony body, for the sheriff-depute (that's his principal,
like) took much pains to come at the truth o' that matter, as I have
'And this gentleman's name is--'
'Mac-Morlan, sir; he's a man o' character, and weel spoken o'.'
'Send my compliments--Colonel Mannering's compliments to him, and I would
be glad he would do me the pleasure of supping with me, and bring these
papers with him; and I beg, good madam, you will say nothing of this to
any one else.'
'Me, sir? ne'er a word shall I say. I wish your honour (a courtesy), or
ony honourable gentleman that's fought for his country (another
courtesy), had the land, since the auld family maun quit (a sigh), rather
than that wily scoundrel Glossin, that's risen on the ruin of the best
friend he ever had. And now I think on't, I'll slip on my hood and
pattens, and gang to Mr. Mac-Morlan mysell, he's at hame e'en now; it's
hardly a step.'
'Do so, my good landlady, and many thanks; and bid my servant step here
with my portfolio in the meantime.'
In a minute or two Colonel Mannering was quietly seated with his writing
materials before him. We have the privilege of looking over his shoulder
as he writes, and we willingly communicate its substance to our readers.
The letter was addressed to Arthur Mervyn, Esq., of Mervyn Hall,
Llanbraithwaite, Westmoreland. It contained some account of the writer's
previous journey since parting with him, and then proceeded as follows:--
'And now, why will you still upbraid me with my melancholy, Mervyn? Do
you think, after the lapse of twenty-five years, battles, wounds,
imprisonment, misfortunes of every description, I can be still the same
lively, unbroken Guy Mannering who climbed Skiddaw with you, or shot
grouse upon Crossfell? That you, who have remained in the bosom of
domestic happiness, experience little change, that your step is as light
and your fancy as full of sunshine, is a blessed effect of health and
temperament, cooperating with content and a smooth current down the
course of life. But MY career has been one of difficulties and doubts and
errors. From my infancy I have been the sport of accident, and, though
the wind has often borne me into harbour, it has seldom been into that
which the pilot destined. Let me recall to you--but the task must be
brief--the odd and wayward fates of my youth, and the misfortunes of my
'The former, you will say, had nothing very appalling. All was not for
the best; but all was tolerable. My father, the eldest son of an ancient
but reduced family, left me with little, save the name of the head of the
house, to the protection of his more fortunate brothers. They were so
fond of me that they almost quarrelled about me. My uncle, the bishop,
would have had me in orders, and offered me a living; my uncle, the
merchant, would have put me into a counting-house, and proposed to give
me a share in the thriving concern of Mannering and Marshall, in Lombard
Street. So, between these two stools, or rather these two soft, easy,
well-stuffed chairs of divinity and commerce, my unfortunate person
slipped down, and pitched upon a dragoon saddle. Again, the bishop wished
me to marry the niece and heiress of the Dean of Lincoln; and my uncle,
the alderman, proposed to me the only daughter of old Sloethorn, the
great wine-merchant, rich enough to play at span-counter with moidores
and make thread-papers of bank-notes; and somehow I slipped my neck out
of both nooses, and married--poor, poor Sophia Wellwood.
'You will say, my military career in India, when I followed my regiment
there, should have given me some satisfaction; and so it assuredly has.
You will remind me also, that if I disappointed the hopes of my
guardians, I did not incur their displeasure; that the bishop, at his
death, bequeathed me his blessing, his manuscript sermons, and a curious
portfolio containing the heads of eminent divines of the church of
England; and that my uncle, Sir Paul Mannering, left me sole heir and
executor to his large fortune. Yet this availeth me nothing; I told you I
had that upon my mind which I should carry to my grave with me, a
perpetual aloes in the draught of existence. I will tell you the cause
more in detail than I had the heart to do while under your hospitable
roof. You will often hear it mentioned, and perhaps with different and
unfounded circumstances. I will therefore speak it out; and then let the
event itself, and the sentiments of melancholy with which it has
impressed me, never again be subject of discussion between us.
'Sophia, as you well know, followed me to India. She was as innocent as
gay; but, unfortunately for us both, as gay as innocent. My own manners
were partly formed by studies I had forsaken, and habits of seclusion not
quite consistent with my situation as commandant of a regiment in a
country where universal hospitality is offered and expected by every
settler claiming the rank of a gentleman. In a moment of peculiar
pressure (you know how hard we were sometimes run to obtain white faces
to countenance our line-of-battle), a young man named Brown joined our
regiment as a volunteer, and, finding the military duty more to his fancy
than commerce, in which he had been engaged, remained with us as a cadet.
Let me do my unhappy victim justice: he behaved with such gallantry on
every occasion that offered that the first vacant commission was
considered as his due. I was absent for some weeks upon a distant
expedition; when I returned I found this young fellow established quite
as the friend of the house, and habitual attendant of my wife and
daughter. It was an arrangement which displeased me in many particulars,
though no objection could be made to his manners or character. Yet I
might have been reconciled to his familiarity in my family, but for the
suggestions of another. If you read over--what I never dare open--the
play of "Othello," you will have some idea of what followed--I mean of my
motives; my actions, thank God! were less reprehensible. There was
another cadet ambitious of the vacant situation. He called my attention
to what he led me to term coquetry between my wife and this young man.
Sophia was virtuous, but proud of her virtue; and, irritated by my
jealousy, she was so imprudent as to press and encourage an intimacy
which she saw I disapproved and regarded with suspicion. Between Brown
and me there existed a sort of internal dislike. He made an effort or two
to overcome my prejudice; but, prepossessed as I was, I placed them to a
wrong motive. Feeling himself repulsed, and with scorn, he desisted; and
as he was without family and friends, he was naturally more watchful of
the deportment of one who had both.
'It is odd with what torture I write this letter. I feel inclined,
nevertheless, to protract the operation, just as if my doing so could put
off the catastrophe which has so long embittered my life. But--it must be
told, and it shall be told briefly.
'My wife, though no longer young, was still eminently handsome, and--let
me say thus far in my own justification-she was fond of being thought
so--I am repeating what I said before. In a word, of her virtue I never
entertained a doubt; but, pushed by the artful suggestions of Archer, I
thought she cared little for my peace of mind, and that the young fellow
Brown paid his attentions in my despite, and in defiance of me. He
perhaps considered me, on his part, as an oppressive aristocratic man,
who made my rank in society and in the army the means of galling those
whom circumstances placed beneath me. And if he discovered my silly
jealousy, he probably considered the fretting me in that sore point of my
character as one means of avenging the petty indignities to which I had
it in my power to subject him. Yet an acute friend of mine gave a more
harmless, or at least a less offensive, construction to his attentions,
which he conceived to be meant for my daughter Julia, though immediately
addressed to propitiate the influence of her mother. This could have been
no very flattering or pleasing enterprise on the part of an obscure and
nameless young man; but I should not have been offended at this folly as
I was at the higher degree of presumption I suspected. Offended, however,
I was, and in a mortal degree.
'A very slight spark will kindle a flame where everything lies open to
catch it. I have absolutely forgot the proximate cause of quarrel, but it
was some trifle which occurred at the card-table which occasioned high
words and a challenge. We met in the morning beyond the walls and
esplanade of the fortress which I then commanded, on the frontiers of the
settlement. This was arranged for Brown's safety, had he escaped. I
almost wish he had, though at my own expense; but he fell by the first
fire. We strove to assist him; but some of these looties, a species of
native banditti who were always on the watch for prey, poured in upon us.
Archer and I gained our horses with difficulty, and cut our way through
them after a hard conflict, in the course of which he received some
desperate wounds. To complete the misfortunes of this miserable day, my
wife, who suspected the design with which I left the fortress, had
ordered her palanquin to follow me, and was alarmed and almost made
prisoner by another troop of these plunderers. She was quickly released
by a party of our cavalry; but I cannot disguise from myself that the
incidents of this fatal morning gave a severe shock to health already
delicate. The confession of Archer, who thought himself dying, that he
had invented some circumstances, and for his purposes put the worst
construction upon others, and the full explanation and exchange of
forgiveness with me which this produced, could not check the progress of
her disorder. She died within about eight months after this incident,
bequeathing me only the girl of whom Mrs. Mervyn is so good as to
undertake the temporary charge. Julia was also extremely ill; so much so
that I was induced to throw up my command and return to Europe, where her
native air, time, and the novelty of the scenes around her have
contributed to dissipate her dejection and restore her health.
'Now that you know my story, you will no longer ask me the reason of my
melancholy, but permit me to brood upon it as I may. There is, surely, in
the above narrative enough to embitter, though not to poison, the
chalice which the fortune and fame you so often mention had prepared to
regale my years of retirement.
'I could add circumstances which our old tutor would have quoted as
instances of DAY FATALITY,--you would laugh were I to mention such
particulars, especially as you know I put no faith in them. Yet, since I
have come to the very house from which I now write, I have learned a
singular coincidence, which, if I find it truly established by tolerable
evidence, will serve as hereafter for subject of curious discussion. But
I will spare you at present, as I expect a person to speak about a
purchase of property now open in this part of the country. It is a place
to which I have a foolish partiality, and I hope my purchasing may be
convenient to those who are parting with it, as there is a plan for
buying it under the value. My respectful compliments to Mrs. Mervyn, and
I will trust you, though you boast to be so lively a young gentleman, to
kiss Julia for me. Adieu, dear Mervyn.--Thine ever, GUY MANNERING.'
Mr. Mac-Morlan now entered the room. The well-known character of Colonel
Mannering at once disposed this gentleman, who was a man of intelligence
and probity, to be open and confidential. He explained the advantages and
disadvantages of the property. 'It was settled,' he said, 'the greater
part of it at least, upon heirs-male, and the purchaser would have the
privilege of retaining in his hands a large proportion of the price, in
case of the reappearance, within a certain limited term, of the child who
'To what purpose, then, force forward a sale?' said Mannering. Mac-Morlan
smiled. 'Ostensibly,' he answered, 'to substitute the interest of money
instead of the ill-paid and precarious rents of an unimproved estate; but
chiefly it was believed, to suit the wishes and views of a certain
intended purchaser, who had become a principal creditor, and forced
himself into the management of the affairs by means best known to
himself, and who, it was thought, would find it very convenient to
purchase the estate without paying down the price.'
Mannering consulted with Mr. Mac-Morlan upon the steps for thwarting this
unprincipled attempt. They then conversed long on the singular
disappearance of Harry Bertram upon his fifth birthday, verifying thus
the random prediction of Mannering, of which, however, it will readily be
supposed he made no boast. Mr. Mac-Morlan was not himself in office when
that incident took place; but he was well acquainted with all the
circumstances, and promised that our hero should have them detailed by
the sheriff-depute himself, if, as he proposed, he should become a
settler in that part of Scotland. With this assurance they parted, well
satisfied with each other and with the evening's conference.
On the Sunday following, Colonel Mannering attended the parish church
with great decorum. None of the Ellangowan family were present; and it
was understood that the old Laird was rather worse than better. Jock
Jabos, once more despatched for him, returned once more without his
errand; but on the following day Miss Bertram hoped he might be removed.
They told me, by the sentence of the law,
They had commission to seize all thy fortune.
Here stood a ruffian with a horrid face,
Lording it o'er a pile of massy plate,
Tumbled into a heap for public sale;
There was another, making villainous jests
At thy undoing; he had ta'en possession
Of all thy ancient most domestic ornaments.
Early next morning Mannering mounted his horse and, accompanied by his
servant, took the road to Ellangowan. He had no need to inquire the way.
A sale in the country is a place of public resort and amusement, and
people of various descriptions streamed to it from all quarters.
After a pleasant ride of about an hour, the old towers of the ruin
presented themselves in the landscape. The thoughts, with what different
feelings he had lost sight of them so many years before, thronged upon
the mind of the traveller. The landscape was the same; but how changed
the feelings, hopes, and views of the spectator! Then life and love were
new, and all the prospect was gilded by their rays. And now, disappointed
in affection, sated with fame and what the world calls success, his mind,
goaded by bitter and repentant recollection, his best hope was to find a
retirement in which he might nurse the melancholy that was to accompany
him to his grave. 'Yet why should an individual mourn over the
instability of his hopes and the vanity of his prospects? The ancient
chiefs who erected these enormous and massive towers to be the fortress
of their race and the seat of their power,--could they have dreamed the
day was to come when the last of their descendants should be expelled, a
ruined wanderer, from his possessions! But Nature's bounties are
unaltered. The sun will shine as fair on these ruins, whether the
property of a stranger or of a sordid and obscure trickster of the abused
law, as when the banners of the founder first waved upon their
These reflections brought Mannering to the door of the house, which was
that day open to all. He entered among others, who traversed the
apartments, some to select articles for purchase, others to gratify their
curiosity. There is something melancholy in such a scene, even under the
most favourable circumstances. The confused state of the furniture,
displaced for the convenience of being easily viewed and carried off by
the purchasers, is disagreeable to the eye. Those articles which,
properly and decently arranged, look creditable and handsome, have then a
paltry and wretched appearance; and the apartments, stripped of all that
render them commodious and comfortable, have an aspect of ruin and
dilapidation. It is disgusting also to see the scenes of domestic society
and seclusion thrown open to the gaze of the curious and the vulgar, to
hear their coarse speculations and brutal jests upon the fashions and
furniture to which they are unaccustomed,--a frolicsome humour much
cherished by the whisky which in Scotland is always put in circulation on
such occasions. All these are ordinary effects of such a scene as
Ellangowan now presented; but the moral feeling, that in this case they
indicated the total ruin of an ancient and honourable family, gave them
treble weight and poignancy.
It was some time before Colonel Mannering could find any one disposed to
answer his reiterated questions concerning Ellangowan himself. At length
an old maidservant, who held her apron to her eyes as she spoke, told him
'the Laird was something better, and they hoped he would be able to leave
the house that day. Miss Lucy expected the chaise every moment, and, as
the day was fine for the time o'year, they had carried him in his
easychair up to the green before the auld castle, to be out of the way of
this unco spectacle.' Thither Colonel Mannering went in quest of him, and
soon came in sight of the little group, which consisted of four persons.
The ascent was steep, so that he had time to reconnoitre them as he
advanced, and to consider in what mode he should make his address.
Mr. Bertram, paralytic and almost incapable of moving, occupied his
easy-chair, attired in his nightcap and a loose camlet coat, his feet
wrapped in blankets. Behind him, with his hands crossed on the cane upon
which he rested, stood Dominie Sampson, whom Mannering recognised at
once. Time had made no change upon him, unless that his black coat seemed
more brown, and his gaunt cheeks more lank, than when Mannering last saw
him. On one side of the old man was a sylph-like form--a young woman of
about seventeen, whom the Colonel accounted to be his daughter. She was
looking from time to time anxiously towards the avenue, as if expecting
the post-chaise; and between whiles busied herself in adjusting the
blankets so as to protect her father from the cold, and in answering
inquiries, which he seemed to make with a captious and querulous manner.
She did not trust herself to look towards the Place, although the hum of
the assembled crowd must have drawn her attention in that direction. The
fourth person of the group was a handsome and genteel young man, who
seemed to share Miss Bertram's anxiety, and her solicitude to soothe and
accommodate her parent.
This young man was the first who observed Colonel Mannering, and
immediately stepped forward to meet him, as if politely to prevent his
drawing nearer to the distressed group. Mannering instantly paused and
explained. 'He was,' he said, 'a stranger to whom Mr. Bertram had
formerly shown kindness and hospitality; he would not have intruded
himself upon him at a period of distress, did it not seem to be in some
degree a moment also of desertion; he wished merely to offer such
services as might be in his power to Mr. Bertram and the young lady.'
He then paused at a little distance from the chair. His old acquaintance
gazed at him with lack-lustre eye, that intimated no tokens of
recognition; the Dominie seemed too deeply sunk in distress even to
observe his presence. The young man spoke aside with Miss Bertram, who
advanced timidly, and thanked Colonel Mannering for his goodness; 'but,'
she said, the tears gushing fast into her eyes, 'her father, she feared,
was not so much himself as to be able to remember him.'
She then retreated towards the chair, accompanied by the Colonel.
'Father,' she said, 'this is Mr. Mannering, an old friend, come to
inquire after you.'
'He's very heartily welcome,' said the old man, raising himself in his
chair, and attempting a gesture of courtesy, while a gleam of hospitable
satisfaction seemed to pass over his faded features; 'but, Lucy, my dear,
let us go down to the house; you should not keep the gentleman here in
the cold. Dominie, take the key of the wine-cooler. Mr. a--a--the
gentleman will surely take something after his ride.'
Mannering was unspeakably affected by the contrast which his recollection
made between this reception and that with which he had been greeted by
the same individual when they last met. He could not restrain his tears,
and his evident emotion at once attained him the confidence of the
friendless young lady.
'Alas!' she said, 'this is distressing even to a stranger; but it may be
better for my poor father to be in this way than if he knew and could
A servant in livery now came up the path, and spoke in an undertone to
the young gentleman--'Mr. Charles, my lady's wanting you yonder sadly, to
bid for her for the black ebony cabinet; and Lady Jean Devorgoil is wi'
her an' a'; ye maun come away directly.'
'Tell them you could not find me, Tom, or, stay,--say I am looking at the
'No, no, no,' said Lucy Bertram, earnestly; 'if you would not add to the
misery of this miserable moment, go to the company directly. This
gentleman, I am sure, will see us to the carriage.'
'Unquestionably, madam,' said Mannering, 'your young friend may rely on
'Farewell, then,' said young Hazlewood, and whispered a word in her ear;
then ran down the steep hastily, as if not trusting his resolution at a
'Where's Charles Hazlewood running?' said the invalid, who apparently was
accustomed to his presence and attentions; 'where's Charles Hazlewood
running? what takes him away now?'
'He'll return in a little while,' said Lucy, gently.
The sound of voices was now heard from the ruins. The reader may remember
there was a communication between the castle and the beach, up which the
speakers had ascended.
'Yes, there's a plenty of shells and seaware for manure, as you observe;
and if one inclined to build a new house, which might indeed be
necessary, there's a great deal of good hewn stone about this old
dungeon, for the devil here--'
'Good God!' said Miss Bertram hastily to Sampson, ''t is that wretch
Glossin's voice! If my father sees him, it will kill him outright!'
Sampson wheeled perpendicularly round, and moved with long strides to
confront the attorney as he issued from beneath the portal arch of the
ruin. 'Avoid ye!' he said, 'avoid ye! wouldst thou kill and take
'Come, come, Master Dominie Sampson,' answered Glossin insolently, 'if ye
cannot preach in the pulpit, we'll have no preaching here. We go by the
law, my good friend; we leave the gospel to you.'
The very mention of this man's name had been of late a subject of the
most violent irritation to the unfortunate patient. The sound of his
voice now produced an instantaneous effect. Mr. Bertram started up
without assistance and turned round towards him; the ghastliness of his
features forming a strange contrast with the violence of his
exclamations.--'Out of my sight, ye viper! ye frozen viper, that I
warmed, till ye stung me! Art thou not afraid that the walls of my
father's dwelling should fall and crush thee limb and bone? Are ye not
afraid the very lintels of the door of Ellangowan Castle should break
open and swallow you up? Were ye not friendless, houseless, penniless,
when I took ye by the hand; and are ye not expelling me--me and that
innocent girl--friendless, houseless, and penniless, from the house that
has sheltered us and ours for a thousand years?'
Had Glossin been alone, he would probably have slunk off; but the
consciousness that a stranger was present, besides the person who came
with him (a sort of land-surveyor), determined him to resort to
impudence. The task, however, was almost too hard even for his
effrontery--'Sir--sir--Mr. Bertram, sir, you should not blame me, but
your own imprudence, sir--'
The indignation of Mannering was mounting very high. 'Sir,' he said to
Glossin, 'without entering into the merits of this controversy, I must
inform you that you have chosen a very improper place, time, and presence
for it. And you will oblige me by withdrawing without more words.'
Glossin, being a tall, strong, muscular man, was not unwilling rather to
turn upon the stranger, whom he hoped to bully, than maintain his
wretched cause against his injured patron.--'I do not know who you are,
sir,' he said, 'and I shall permit no man to use such d--d freedom with
Mannering was naturally hot-tempered: his eyes flashed a dark light; he
compressed his nether lip so closely that the blood sprung, and
approaching Glossin--'Look you, sir,' he said,' that you do not know me
is of little consequence. _I_ KNOW YOU; and if you do not instantly
descend that bank, without uttering a single syllable, by the Heaven that
is above us you shall make but one step from the top to the bottom!'
The commanding tone of rightful anger silenced at once the ferocity of
the bully. He hesitated, turned on his heel, and, muttering something
between his teeth about unwillingness to alarm the lady, relieved them of
his hateful company.
Mrs. Mac-Candlish's postilion, who had come up in time to hear what
passed, said aloud, 'If he had stuck by the way, I would have lent him a
heezie, the dirty scoundrel, as willingly as ever I pitched a boddle.'
He then stepped forward to announce that his horses were in readiness for
the invalid and his daughter. But they were no longer necessary. The
debilitated frame of Mr. Bertram was exhausted by this last effort of
indignant anger, and when he sunk again upon his chair, he expired almost
without a struggle or groan. So little alteration did the extinction of
the vital spark make upon his external appearance that the screams of his
daughter, when she saw his eye fix and felt his pulse stop, first
announced his death to the spectators.
The bell strikes one. We take no note of time
But from its loss. To give it then a tongue
Is wise in man. As if an angel spoke,
I feel the solemn sound.
The moral which the poet has rather quaintly deduced from the necessary
mode of measuring time may be well applied to our feelings respecting
that portion of it which constitutes human life. We observe the aged, the
infirm, and those engaged in occupations of immediate hazard, trembling
as it were upon the very brink of non-existence, but we derive no lesson
from the precariousness of their tenure until it has altogether failed.
Then, for a moment at least--
Our hopes and fears Start up alarm'd, and o'er life's narrow verge Look
down--on what? a fathomless abyss, A dark eternity, how surely ours!
The crowd of assembled gazers and idlers at Ellangowan had followed the
views of amusement, or what they called business, which brought them
there, with little regard to the feelings of those who were suffering
upon that occasion. Few, indeed, knew anything of the family. The father,
betwixt seclusion, misfortune, and imbecility, had drifted, as it were,
for many years out of the notice of his contemporaries; the daughter had
never been known to them. But when the general murmur announced that the
unfortunate Mr. Bertram had broken his heart in the effort to leave the
mansion of his forefathers, there poured forth a torrent of sympathy like
the waters from the rock when stricken by the wand of the prophet. The
ancient descent and unblemished integrity of the family were respectfully
remembered; above all, the sacred veneration due to misfortune, which in
Scotland seldom demands its tribute in vain, then claimed and received
Mr. Mac-Morlan hastily announced that he would suspend all farther
proceedings in the sale of the estate and other property, and relinquish
the possession of the premises to the young lady, until she could consult
with her friends and provide for the burial of her father.
Glossin had cowered for a few minutes under the general expression of
sympathy, till, hardened by observing that no appearance of popular
indignation was directed his way, he had the audacity to require that the
sale should proceed.
'I will take it upon my own authority to adjourn it,' said the
Sheriff-substitute, 'and will be responsible for the consequences. I will
also give due notice when it is again to go forward. It is for the
benefit of all concerned that the lands should bring the highest price
the state of the market will admit, and this is surely no time to expect
it. I will take the responsibility upon myself.'
Glossin left the room and the house too with secrecy and despatch; and it
was probably well for him that he did so, since our friend Jock Jabos was
already haranguing a numerous tribe of bare-legged boys on the propriety
of pelting him off the estate.
Some of the rooms were hastily put in order for the reception of the
young lady, and of her father's dead body. Mannering now found his
farther interference would be unnecessary, and might be misconstrued. He
observed, too, that several families connected with that of Ellangowan,
and who indeed derived their principal claim of gentility from the
alliance, were now disposed to pay to their trees of genealogy a tribute
which the adversity of their supposed relatives had been inadequate to
call forth; and that the honour of superintending the funeral rites of
the dead Godfrey Bertram (as in the memorable case of Homer's birthplace)
was likely to be debated by seven gentlemen of rank and fortune, none of
whom had offered him an asylum while living. He therefore resolved, as
his presence was altogether useless, to make a short tour of a fortnight,
at the end of which period the adjourned sale of the estate of Ellangowan
was to proceed.
But before he departed he solicited an interview with the Dominie. The
poor man appeared, on being informed a gentleman wanted to speak to him,
with some expression of surprise in his gaunt features, to which recent
sorrow had given an expression yet more grisly. He made two or three
profound reverences to Mannering, and then, standing erect, patiently
waited an explanation of his commands.
'You are probably at a loss to guess, Mr. Sampson,' said Mannering, 'what
a stranger may have to say to you?'
'Unless it were to request that I would undertake to train up some youth
in polite letters and humane learning; but I cannot--I cannot; I have yet
a task to perform.'
'No, Mr. Sampson, my wishes are not so ambitious. I have no son, and my
only daughter, I presume, you would not consider as a fit pupil.'
'Of a surety no,' replied the simple-minded Sampson. 'Nathless, it was I
who did educate Miss Lucy in all useful learning, albeit it was the
housekeeper who did teach her those unprofitable exercises of hemming and
'Well, sir,' replied Mannering, 'it is of Miss Lucy I meant to speak. You
have, I presume, no recollection of me?'
Sampson, always sufficiently absent in mind, neither remembered the
astrologer of past years, nor even the stranger who had taken his
patron's part against Glossin, so much had his friend's sudden death
embroiled his ideas.
'Well, that does not signify,' pursued the Colonel; 'I am an old
acquaintance of the late Mr. Bertram, able and willing to assist his
daughter in her present circumstances. Besides, I have thoughts of making
this purchase, and I should wish things kept in order about the place;
will you have the goodness to apply this small sum in the usual family
expenses?' He put into the Dominie's hand a purse containing some gold.
'Pro-di-gi-ous!' exclaimed Dominie Sampson. 'But if your honour would
'Impossible, sir, impossible,' said Mannering, making his escape from
'Pro-di-gi-ous!' again exclaimed Sampson, following to the head of the
stairs, still holding out the purse. 'But as touching this coined
Mannering escaped downstairs as fast as possible.
'Pro-di-gi-ous!' exclaimed Dominie Sampson, yet the third time, now
standing at the front door. 'But as touching this specie--'
But Mannering was now on horseback, and out of hearing. The Dominie, who
had never, either in his own right or as trustee for another, been
possessed of a quarter part of this sum, though it was not above twenty
guineas, 'took counsel,' as he expressed himself, 'how he should demean
himself with respect unto the fine gold' thus left in his charge.
Fortunately he found a disinterested adviser in Mac-Morlan, who pointed
out the most proper means of disposing of it for contributing to Miss
Bertram's convenience, being no doubt the purpose to which it was
destined by the bestower.
Many of the neighbouring gentry were now sincerely eager in pressing
offers of hospitality and kindness upon Miss Bertram. But she felt a
natural reluctance to enter any family for the first time as an object
rather of benevolence than hospitality, and determined to wait the
opinion and advice of her father's nearest female relation, Mrs. Margaret
Bertram of Singleside, an old unmarried lady, to whom she wrote an
account of her present distressful situation.
The funeral of the late Mr. Bertram was performed with decent privacy,
and the unfortunate young lady was now to consider herself as but the
temporary tenant of the house in which she had been born, and where her
patience and soothing attentions had so long 'rocked the cradle of
declining age.' Her communication with Mr. Mac-Morlan encouraged her to
hope that she would not be suddenly or unkindly deprived of this asylum;
but fortune had ordered otherwise.
For two days before the appointed day for the sale of the lands and
estate of Ellangowan, Mac-Morlan daily expected the appearance of Colonel
Mannering, or at least a letter containing powers to act for him. But
none such arrived. Mr. Mac-Morlan waked early in the morning, walked over
to the Post-office,--there were no letters for him. He endeavoured to
persuade himself that he should see Colonel Mannering to breakfast, and
ordered his wife to place her best china and prepare herself accordingly.
But the preparations were in vain. 'Could I have foreseen this,' he said,
'I would have travelled Scotland over, but I would have found some one to
bid against Glossin.' Alas! such reflections were all too late. The
appointed hour arrived; and the parties met in the Masons' Lodge at
Kippletringan, being the place fixed for the adjourned sale. Mac-Morlan
spent as much time in preliminaries as decency would permit, and read
over the articles of sale as slowly as if he had been reading his own
death-warrant. He turned his eye every time the door of the room opened,
with hopes which grew fainter and fainter. He listened to every noise in
the street of the village, and endeavoured to distinguish in it the sound
of hoofs or wheels. It was all in vain. A bright idea then occurred, that
Colonel Mannering might have employed some other person in the
transaction; he would not have wasted a moment's thought upon the want of
confidence in himself which such a manoeuvre would have evinced. But this
hope also was groundless. After a solemn pause, Mr. Glossin offered the
upset price for the lands and barony of Ellangowan. No reply was made,
and no competitor appeared; so, after a lapse of the usual interval by
the running of a sand-glass, upon the intended purchaser entering the
proper sureties, Mr. Mac-Morlan was obliged, in technical terms, to 'find
and declare the sale lawfully completed, and to prefer the said Gilbert
Glossin as the purchaser of the said lands and estate.' The honest writer
refused to partake of a splendid entertainment with which Gilbert
Glossin, Esquire, now of Ellangowan, treated the rest of the company, and
returned home in huge bitterness of spirit, which he vented in complaints
against the fickleness and caprice of these Indian nabobs, who never knew
what they would be at for ten days together. Fortune generously
determined to take the blame upon herself, and cut off even this vent of
An express arrived about six o'clock at night, 'very particularly drunk,'
the maid-servant said, with a packet from Colonel Mannering, dated four
days back, at a town about a hundred miles' distance from Kippletringan,
containing full powers to Mr. Mac-Morlan, or any one whom he might
employ, to make the intended purchase, and stating that some family
business of consequence called the Colonel himself to Westmoreland, where
a letter would find him, addressed to the care of Arthur Mervyn, Esq., of
Mac-Morlan, in the transports of his wrath, flung the power of attorney
at the head of the innocent maidservant, and was only forcibly withheld
from horse-whipping the rascally messenger by whose sloth and drunkenness
the disappointment had taken place.
My gold is gone, my money is spent,
My land now take it unto thee.
Give me thy gold, good John o' the Scales,
And thine for aye my land shall be.
Then John he did him to record draw.
And John he caste him a gods-pennie;
But for every pounde that John agreed,
The land, I wis, was well worth three.
HEIR OF LINNE.
The Galwegian John o' the Scales was a more clever fellow than his
prototype. He contrived to make himself heir of Linne without the
disagreeable ceremony of 'telling down the good red gold.' Miss Bertram
no sooner heard this painful, and of late unexpected, intelligence than
she proceeded in the preparations she had already made for leaving the
mansion-house immediately. Mr. Mac-Morlan assisted her in these
arrangements, and pressed upon her so kindly the hospitality and
protection of his roof, until she should receive an answer from her
cousin, or be enabled to adopt some settled plan of life, that she felt
there would be unkindness in refusing an invitation urged with such
earnestness. Mrs. Mac-Morlan was a ladylike person, and well qualified by
birth and manners to receive the visit, and to make her house agreeable
to Miss Bertram. A home, therefore, and an hospitable reception were
secured to her, and she went on with better heart to pay the wages and
receive the adieus of the few domestics of her father's family.
Where there are estimable qualities on either side, this task is always
affecting; the present circumstances rendered it doubly so. All received
their due, and even a trifle more, and with thanks and good wishes, to
which some added tears, took farewell of their young mistress. There
remained in the parlour only Mr. Mac-Morlan, who came to attend his guest
to his house, Dominie Sampson, and Miss Bertram. 'And now,' said the poor
girl, 'I must bid farewell to one of my oldest and kindest friends. God
bless you, Mr. Sampson, and requite to you all the kindness of your
instructions to your poor pupil, and your friendship to him that is gone.
I hope I shall often hear from you.' She slid into his hand a paper
containing some pieces of gold, and rose, as if to leave the room.
Dominie Sampson also rose; but it was to stand aghast with utter
astonishment. The idea of parting from Miss Lucy, go where she might, had
never once occurred to the simplicity of his understanding. He laid the
money on the table. 'It is certainly inadequate,' said Mac-Morlan,
mistaking his meaning, 'but the circumstances--'
Mr. Sampson waved his hand impatiently.--'It is not the lucre, it is not
the lucre; but that I, that have ate of her father's loaf, and drank of
his cup, for twenty years and more--to think that I am going to leave
her, and to leave her in distress and dolour! No, Miss Lucy, you need
never think it! You would not consent to put forth your father's poor
dog, and would you use me waur than a messan? No, Miss Lucy Bertram,
while I live I will not separate from you. I'll be no burden; I have
thought how to prevent that. But, as Ruth said unto Naomi, "Entreat me
not to leave thee, nor to depart from thee; for whither thou goest I will
go, and where thou dwellest I will dwell; thy people shall be my people,
and thy God shall be my God. Where thou diest will I die, and there will
I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, if aught but death do
part thee and me."'
During this speech, the longest ever Dominie Sampson was known to utter,
the affectionate creature's eyes streamed with tears, and neither Lucy
nor Mac-Morlan could refrain from sympathising with this unexpected burst
of feeling and attachment. 'Mr. Sampson,' said Mac-Morlan, after having
had recourse to his snuff-box and handkerchief alternately, 'my house is
large enough, and if you will accept of a bed there while Miss Bertram
honours us with her residence, I shall think myself very happy, and my
roof much favoured, by receiving a man of your worth and fidelity.' And
then, with a delicacy which was meant to remove any objection on Miss
Bertram's part to bringing with her this unexpected satellite, he added,
'My business requires my frequently having occasion for a better
accountant than any of my present clerks, and I should be glad to have
recourse to your assistance in that way now and then.'
'Of a surety, of a surety,' said Sampson eagerly; 'I understand
book-keeping by double entry and the Italian method.'
Our postilion had thrust himself into the room to announce his chaise and
horses; he tarried, unobserved, during this extraordinary scene, and
assured Mrs. Mac-Candlish it was the most moving thing he ever saw; 'the
death of the grey mare, puir hizzie, was naething till't.' This trifling
circumstance afterwards had consequences of greater moment to the
The visitors were hospitably welcomed by Mrs. Mac-Morlan, to whom, as
well as to others, her husband intimated that he had engaged Dominie
Sampson's assistance to disentangle some perplexed accounts, during which
occupation he would, for convenience sake, reside with the family. Mr.
Mac-Morlan's knowledge of the world induced him to put this colour upon
the matter, aware that, however honourable the fidelity of the Dominie's
attachment might be both to his own heart and to the family of
Ellangowan, his exterior ill qualified him to be a'squire of dames,' and
rendered him, upon the whole, rather a ridiculous appendage to a
beautiful young woman of seventeen.
Dominie Sampson achieved with great zeal such tasks as Mr. Mac-Morlan
chose to entrust him with; but it was speedily observed that at a certain
hour after breakfast he regularly disappeared, and returned again about
dinner-time. The evening he occupied in the labour of the office. On
Saturday he appeared before Mac-Morlan with a look of great triumph, and
laid on the table two pieces of gold. 'What is this for, Dominie?' said
'First to indemnify you of your charges in my behalf, worthy sir; and the
balance for the use of Miss Lucy Bertram.'
'But, Mr. Sampson, your labour in the office much more than recompenses
me; I am your debtor, my good friend.'
'Then be it all,' said the Dominie, waving his hand, 'for Miss Lucy
'Well, but, Dominie, this money-'
'It is honestly come by, Mr. Mac-Morlan; it is the bountiful reward of a
young gentleman to whom I am teaching the tongues; reading with him three
A few more questions extracted from the Dominie that this liberal pupil
was young Hazlewood, and that he met his preceptor daily at the house of
Mrs. Mac-Candlish, whose proclamation of Sampson's disinterested
attachment to the young lady had procured him this indefatigable and
Mac-Morlan was much struck with what he heard. Dominie Sampson was
doubtless a very good scholar, and an excellent man, and the classics
were unquestionably very well worth reading; yet that a young man of
twenty should ride seven miles and back again each day in the week, to
hold this sort of TETE-A-TETE of three hours, was a zeal for literature
to which he was not prepared to give entire credit. Little art was
necessary to sift the Dominie, for the honest man's head never admitted
any but the most direct and simple ideas. 'Does Miss Bertram know how
your time is engaged, my good friend?'
'Surely not as yet. Mr. Charles recommended it should be concealed from
her, lest she should scruple to accept of the small assistance arising
from it; but,' he added, 'it would not be possible to conceal it long,
since Mr. Charles proposed taking his lessons occasionally in this
'O, he does!' said Mac-Morlan.' Yes, yes, I can understand that better.
And pray, Mr. Sampson, are these three hours entirely spent inconstruing
'Doubtless, no; we have also colloquial intercourse to sweeten study:
neque semper arcum tendit apollo.'
The querist proceeded to elicit from this Galloway Phoebus what their
discourse chiefly turned upon.
'Upon our past meetings at Ellangowan; and, truly, I think very often we
discourse concerning Miss Lucy, for Mr. Charles Hazlewood in that
particular resembleth me, Mr. Mac-Morlan. When I begin to speak of her I
never know when to stop; and, as I say (jocularly), she cheats us out of
half our lessons.'
'O ho!' thought Mac-Morlan, 'sits the wind in that quarter? I've heard
something like this before.'
He then began to consider what conduct was safest for his protegee, and
even for himself; for the senior Mr. Hazlewood was powerful, wealthy,
ambitious, and vindictive, and looked for both fortune and title in any
connexion which his son might form. At length, having the highest opinion
of his guest's good sense and penetration, he determined to take an
opportunity, when they should happen to be alone, to communicate the
matter to her as a simple piece of intelligence. He did so in as natural
a manner as he could. 'I wish you joy of your friend Mr. Sampson's good
fortune, Miss Bertram; he has got a pupil who pays him two guineas for
twelve lessons of Greek and Latin.'
'Indeed! I am equally happy and surprised. Who can be so liberal? is
Colonel Mannering returned?'
'No, no, not Colonel Mannering; but what do you think of your
acquaintance, Mr. Charles Hazlewood? He talks of taking his lessons here;
I wish we may have accommodation for him.'
Lucy blushed deeply. 'For Heaven's sake, no, Mr. Mac-Morlan, do not let
that be; Charles Hazlewood has had enough of mischief about that
'About the classics, my dear young lady?' wilfully seeming to
misunderstand her; 'most young gentlemen have so at one period or
another, sure enough; but his present studies are voluntary.'
Miss Bertram let the conversation drop, and her host made no effort to
renew it, as she seemed to pause upon the intelligence in order to form
some internal resolution.
The next day Miss Bertram took an opportunity of conversing with Mr.
Sampson. Expressing in the kindest manner her grateful thanks for his
disinterested attachment, and her joy that he had got such a provision,
she hinted to him that his present mode of superintending Charles
Hazlewood's studies must be so inconvenient to his pupil that, while that
engagement lasted, he had better consent to a temporary separation, and
reside either with his scholar or as near him as might be. Sampson
refused, as indeed she had expected, to listen a moment to this
proposition; he would not quit her to be made preceptor to the Prince of
Wales. 'But I see,' he added, 'you are too proud to share my pittance;
and peradventure I grow wearisome unto you.'
'No indeed; you were my father's ancient, almost his only, friend. I am
not proud; God knows, I have no reason to be so. You shall do what you
judge best in other matters; but oblige me by telling Mr. Charles
Hazlewood that you had some conversation with me concerning his studies,
and that I was of opinion that his carrying them on in this house was
altogether impracticable, and not to be thought of.'
Dominie Sampson left her presence altogether crest-fallen, and, as he
shut the door, could not help muttering the 'varium et mutabile' of
Virgil. Next day he appeared with a very rueful visage, and tendered Miss
Bertram a letter. 'Mr. Hazlewood,' he said, 'was to discontinue his
lessons, though he had generously made up the pecuniary loss. But how
will he make up the loss to himself of the knowledge he might have
acquired under my instruction? Even in that one article of writing,--he
was an hour before he could write that brief note, and destroyed many
scrolls, four quills, and some good white paper. I would have taught him
in three weeks a firm, current, clear, and legible hand; he should have
been a calligrapher,--but God's will be done.'
The letter contained but a few lines, deeply regretting and murmuring
against Miss Bertram's cruelty, who not only refused to see him, but to
permit him in the most indirect manner to hear of her health and
contribute to her service. But it concluded with assurances that her
severity was vain, and that nothing could shake the attachment of Charles
Under the active patronage of Mrs. Mac-Candlish, Sampson picked up some
other scholars--very different indeed from Charles Hazlewood in rank, and
whose lessons were proportionally unproductive. Still, however, he gained
something, and it was the glory of his heart to carry it to Mr.
Mac-Morlan weekly, a slight peculium only subtracted to supply his
snuff-box and tobacco-pouch.
And here we must leave Kippletringan to look after our hero, lest our
readers should fear they are to lose sight of him for another quarter of
Our Polly is a sad slut, nor heeds what we have taught her,
I wonder any man alive will ever rear a daughter,
For when she's drest with care and cost, all tempting, fine,
As men should serve a cucumber, she flings herself away.
After the death of Mr. Bertram, Mannering had set out upon a short tour,
proposing to return to the neighbourhood of Ellangowan before the sale of
that property should take place. He went, accordingly, to Edinburgh and
elsewhere, and it was in his return towards the south-western district of
Scotland, in which our scene lies, that, at a post-town about a hundred
miles from Kippletringan, to which he had requested his friend, Mr.
Mervyn, to address his letters, he received one from that gentleman which
contained rather unpleasing intelligence. We have assumed already the
privilege of acting a secretis to this gentleman, and therefore shall
present the reader with an extract from this epistle.
'I beg your pardon, my dearest friend, for the pain I have given you in
forcing you to open wounds so festering as those your letter referred to.
I have always heard, though erroneously perhaps, that the attentions of
Mr. Brown were intended for Miss Mannering. But, however that were, it
could not be supposed that in your situation his boldness should escape
notice and chastisement. Wise men say that we resign to civil society our
natural rights of self-defence only on condition that the ordinances of
law should protect us. Where the price cannot be paid, the resignation
becomes void. For instance, no one supposes that I am not entitled to
defend my purse and person against a highwayman, as much as if I were a
wild Indian, who owns neither law nor magistracy. The question of
resistance or submission must be determined by my means and situation.
But if, armed and equal in force, I submit to injustice and violence from
any man, high or low, I presume it will hardly be attributed to religious
or moral feeling in me, or in any one but a Quaker. An aggression on my
honour seems to me much the same. The insult, however trifling in itself,
is one of much deeper consequence to all views in life than any wrong
which can be inflicted by a depredator on the highway, and to redress the
injured party is much less in the power of public jurisprudence, or
rather it is entirely beyond its reach. If any man chooses to rob Arthur
Mervyn of the contents of his purse, supposing the said Arthur has not
means of defence, or the skill and courage to use them, the assizes at
Lancaster or Carlisle will do him justice by tucking up the robber; yet
who will say I am bound to wait for this justice, and submit to being
plundered in the first instance, if I have myself the means and spirit to
protect my own property? But if an affront is offered to me, submission
under which is to tarnish my character for ever with men of honour, and
for which the twelve judges of England, with the chancellor to boot, can
afford me no redress, by what rule of law or reason am I to be deterred
from protecting what ought to be, and is, so infinitely dearer to every
man of honour than his whole fortune? Of the religious views of the
matter I shall say nothing, until I find a reverend divine who shall
condemn self-defence in the article of life and property. If its
propriety in that case be generally admitted, I suppose little
distinction can be drawn between defence of person and goods and
protection of reputation. That the latter is liable to be assailed by
persons of a different rank in life, untainted perhaps in morals, and
fair in character, cannot affect my legal right of self-defence. I may be
sorry that circumstances have engaged me in personal strife with such an
individual; but I should feel the same sorrow for a generous enemy who
fell under my sword in a national quarrel. I shall leave the question
with the casuists, however; only observing, that what I have written will
not avail either the professed duellist or him who is the aggressor in a
dispute of honour. I only presume to exculpate him who is dragged into
the field by such an offence as, submitted to in patience, would forfeit
for ever his rank and estimation in society.
'I am sorry you have thoughts of settling in Scotland, and yet glad that
you will still be at no immeasurable distance, and that the latitude is
all in our favour. To move to Westmoreland from Devonshire might make an
East-Indian shudder; but to come to us from Galloway or Dumfries-shire is
a step, though a short one, nearer the sun. Besides, if, as I suspect,
the estate in view be connected with the old haunted castle in which you
played the astrologer in your northern tour some twenty years since, I
have heard you too often describe the scene with comic unction to hope
you will be deterred from making the purchase. I trust, however, the
hospitable gossiping Laird has not run himself upon the shallows, and
that his chaplain, whom you so often made us laugh at, is still in rerum
'And here, dear Mannering, I wish I could stop, for I have incredible
pain in telling the rest of my story; although I am sure I can warn you
against any intentional impropriety on the part of my temporary ward,
Julia Mannering. But I must still earn my college nickname of Downright
Dunstable. In one word, then, here is the matter.
'Your daughter has much of the romantic turn of your disposition, with a
little of that love of admiration which all pretty women share less or
more. She will besides, apparently, be your heiress; a trifling
circumstance to those who view Julia with my eyes, but a prevailing bait
to the specious, artful, and worthless. You know how I have jested with
her about her soft melancholy, and lonely walks at morning before any one
is up, and in the moonlight when all should be gone to bed, or set down
to cards, which is the same thing. The incident which follows may not be
beyond the bounds of a joke, but I had rather the jest upon it came from
you than me.
'Two or three times during the last fortnight I heard, at a late hour in
the night or very early in the morning, a flageolet play the little Hindu
tune to which your daughter is so partial. I thought for some time that
some tuneful domestic, whose taste for music was laid under constraint
during the day, chose that silent hour to imitate the strains which he
had caught up by the ear during his attendance in the drawing-room. But
last night I sat late in my study, which is immediately under Miss
Mannering's apartment, and to my surprise I not only heard the flageolet
distinctly, but satisfied myself that it came from the lake under the
window. Curious to know who serenaded us at that unusual hour, I stole
softly to the window of my apartment. But there were other watchers than
me. You may remember, Miss Mannering preferred that apartment on account
of a balcony which opened from her window upon the lake. Well, sir, I
heard the sash of her window thrown up, the shutters opened, and her own
voice in conversation with some person who answered from below. This is
not "Much ado about nothing"; I could not be mistaken in her voice, and
such tones, so soft, so insinuating; and, to say the truth, the accents
from below were in passion's tenderest cadence too,--but of the sense I
can say nothing. I raised the sash of my own window that I might hear
something more than the mere murmur of this Spanish rendezvous; but,
though I used every precaution, the noise alarmed the speakers; down slid
the young lady's casement, and the shutters were barred in an instant.
The dash of a pair of oars in the water announced the retreat of the male
person of the dialogue. Indeed, I saw his boat, which he rowed with great
swiftness and dexterity, fly across the lake like a twelve-oared barge.
Next morning I examined some of my domestics, as if by accident, and I
found the gamekeeper, when making his rounds, had twice seen that boat
beneath the house, with a single person, and had heard the flageolet. I
did not care to press any farther questions, for fear of implicating
Julia in the opinions of those of whom they might be asked. Next morning,
at breakfast, I dropped a casual hint about the serenade of the evening
before, and I promise you Miss Mannering looked red and pale alternately.
I immediately gave the circumstance such a turn as might lead her to
suppose that my observation was merely casual. I have since caused a
watch-light to be burnt in my library, and have left the shutters open,
to deter the approach of our nocturnal guest; and I have stated the
severity of approaching winter, and the rawness of the fogs, as an
objection to solitary walks. Miss Mannering acquiesced with a passiveness
which is no part of her character, and which, to tell you the plain
truth, is a feature about the business which I like least of all. Julia
has too much of her own dear papa's disposition to be curbed in any of
her humours, were there not some little lurking consciousness that it may
be as prudent to avoid debate.
'Now my story is told, and you will judge what you ought to do. I have
not mentioned the matter to my good woman, who, a faithful secretary to
her sex's foibles, would certainly remonstrate against your being made
acquainted with these particulars, and might, instead, take it into her
head to exercise her own eloquence on Miss Mannering; a faculty which,
however powerful when directed against me, its legitimate object, might,
I fear, do more harm than good in the case supposed. Perhaps even you
yourself will find it most prudent to act without remonstrating, or
appearing to be aware of this little anecdote. Julia is very like a
certain friend of mine; she has a quick and lively imagination, and keen
feelings, which are apt to exaggerate both the good and evil they find in
life. She is a charming girl, however, as generous and spirited as she is
lovely. I paid her the kiss you sent her with all my heart, and she
rapped my ringers for my reward with all hers. Pray return as soon as you
can. Meantime rely upon the care of, yours faithfully, 'ARTHUR MERVYN.
'P.S.--You will naturally wish to know if I have the least guess
concerning the person of the serenader. In truth, I have none. There is
no young gentleman of these parts, who might be in rank or fortune a
match for Miss Julia, that I think at all likely to play such a
character. But on the other side of the lake, nearly opposite to Mervyn
Hall, is a d--d cake-house, the resort of walking gentlemen of all
descriptions--poets, players, painters, musicians--who come to rave, and
recite, and madden about this picturesque land of ours. It is paying some
penalty for its beauties, that they are the means of drawing this swarm
of coxcombs together. But were Julia my daughter, it is one of those sort
of fellows that I should fear on her account. She is generous and
romantic, and writes six sheets a week to a female correspondent; and
it's a sad thing to lack a subject in such a case, either for exercise of
the feelings or of the pen. Adieu, once more. Were I to treat this matter
more seriously than I have done, I should do injustice to your feelings;
were I altogether to overlook it, I should discredit my own.'
The consequence of this letter was, that, having first despatched the
faithless messenger with the necessary powers to Mr. Mac-Morlan for
purchasing the estate of Ellangowan, Colonel Mannering turned his horse's
head in a more southerly direction, and neither 'stinted nor staid' until
he arrived at the mansion of his friend Mr. Mervyn, upon the banks of one
of the lakes of Westmoreland.
Heaven first, in its mercy, taught mortals their letters,
For ladies in limbo, and lovers in fetters,
Or some author, who, placing his persons before ye,
Ungallantly leaves them to write their own story.
When Mannering returned to England, his first object had been to place
his daughter in a seminary for female education, of established
character. Not, however, finding her progress in the accomplishments
which he wished her to acquire so rapid as his impatience expected, he
had withdrawn Miss Mannering from the school at the end of the first
quarter. So she had only time to form an eternal friendship with Miss
Matilda Marchmont, a young lady about her own age, which was nearly
eighteen. To her faithful eye were addressed those formidable quires
which issued forth from Mervyn Hall on the wings of the post while Miss
Mannering was a guest there. The perusal of a few short extracts from
these may be necessary to render our story intelligible.
'Alas! my dearest Matilda, what a tale is mine to tell! Misfortune from
the cradle has set her seal upon your unhappy friend. That we should be
severed for so slight a cause--an ungrammatical phrase in my Italian
exercise, and three false notes in one of Paisiello's sonatas! But it is
a part of my father's character, of whom it is impossible to say whether
I love, admire, or fear him the most. His success in life and in war, his
habit of making every obstacle yield before the energy of his exertions,
even where they seemed insurmountable--all these have given a hasty and
peremptory cast to his character, which can neither endure contradiction
nor make allowance for deficiencies. Then he is himself so very
accomplished. Do you know, there was a murmur, half confirmed too by some
mysterious words which dropped from my poor mother, that he possesses
other sciences, now lost to the world, which enable the possessor to
summon up before him the dark and shadowy forms of future events! Does
not the very idea of such a power, or even of the high talent and
commanding intellect which the world may mistake for it,--does it not,
dear Matilda, throw a mysterious grandeur about its possessor? You will
call this romantic; but consider I was born in the land of talisman and
spell, and my childhood lulled by tales which you can only enjoy through
the gauzy frippery of a French translation. O, Matilda, I wish you could
have seen the dusky visages of my Indian attendants, bending in earnest
devotion round the magic narrative, that flowed, half poetry, half prose,
from the lips of the tale-teller! No wonder that European fiction sounds
cold and meagre, after the wonderful effects which I have seen the
romances of the East produce upon their hearers.'
'You are possessed, my dear Matilda, of my bosom-secret, in those
sentiments with which I regard Brown. I will not say his memory; I am
convinced he lives, and is faithful. His addresses to me were
countenanced by my deceased parent, imprudently countenanced perhaps,
considering the prejudices of my father in favour of birth and rank. But
I, then almost a girl, could not be expected surely to be wiser than her
under whose charge nature had placed me. My father, constantly engaged in
military duty, I saw but at rare intervals, and was taught to look up to
him with more awe than confidence. Would to Heaven it had been otherwise!
It might have been better for us all at this day!'
'You ask me why I do not make known to my father that Brown yet lives, at
least that he survived the wound he received in that unhappy duel, and
had written to my mother expressing his entire convalescence, and his
hope of speedily escaping from captivity. A soldier, that "in the trade
of war has oft slain men," feels probably no uneasiness at reflecting
upon the supposed catastrophe which almost turned me into stone. And
should I show him that letter, does it not follow that Brown, alive and
maintaining with pertinacity the pretensions to the affections of your
poor friend for which my father formerly sought his life, would be a more
formidable disturber of Colonel Mannering's peace of mind than in his
supposed grave? If he escapes from the hands of these marauders, I am
convinced he will soon be in England, and it will be then time to
consider how his existence is to be disclosed to my father. But if, alas!
my earnest and confident hope should betray me, what would it avail to
tear open a mystery fraught with so many painful recollections? My dear
mother had such dread of its being known, that I think she even suffered
my father to suspect that Brown's attentions were directed towards
herself, rather than permit him to discover their real object; and O,
Matilda, whatever respect I owe to the memory of a deceased parent, let
me do justice to a living one. I cannot but condemn the dubious policy
which she adopted, as unjust to my father, and highly perilous to herself
and me. But peace be with her ashes! her actions were guided by the heart
rather than the head; and shall her daughter, who inherits all her
weakness, be the first to withdraw the veil from her defects?'
FOURTH EXTRACT 'MERVYN HALL.
'If India be the land of magic, this, my dearest Matilda, is the country
of romance. The scenery is such as nature brings together in her
sublimest moods-sounding cataracts--hills which rear their scathed heads
to the sky--lakes that, winding up the shadowy valleys, lead at every
turn to yet more romantic recesses--rocks which catch the clouds of
heaven. All the wildness of Salvator here, and there the fairy scenes of
Claude. I am happy too in finding at least one object upon which my
father can share my enthusiasm. An admirer of nature, both as an artist
and a poet, I have experienced the utmost pleasure from the observations
by which he explains the character and the effect of these brilliant
specimens of her power. I wish he would settle in this enchanting land.
But his views lie still farther north, and he is at present absent on a
tour in Scotland, looking, I believe, for some purchase of land which may
suit him as a residence. He is partial, from early recollections, to that
country. So, my dearest Matilda, I must be yet farther removed from you
before I am established in a home. And O how delighted shall I be when I
can say, Come, Matilda, and be the guest of your faithful Julia!
'I am at present the inmate of Mr. and Mrs. Mervyn, old friends of my
father. The latter is precisely a good sort of woman, ladylike and
housewifely; but for accomplishments or fancy--good lack, my dearest
Matilda, your friend might as well seek sympathy from Mrs. Teach'em;--you
see I have not forgot school nicknames. Mervyn is a different--quite a
different being from my father, yet he amuses and endures me. He is fat
and good-natured, gifted with strong shrewd sense and some powers of
humour; but having been handsome, I suppose, in his youth, has still some
pretension to be a beau garcon, as well as an enthusiastic agriculturist.
I delight to make him scramble to the tops of eminences and to the foot
of waterfalls, and am obliged in turn to admire his turnips, his lucerne,
and his timothy grass. He thinks me, I fancy, a simple romantic Miss,
with some--the word will be out--beauty and some good-nature; and I hold
that the gentleman has good taste for the female outside, and do not
expect he should comprehend my sentiments farther. So he rallies, hands,
and hobbles (for the dear creature has got the gout too), and tells old
stories of high life, of which he has seen a great deal; and I listen,
and smile, and look as pretty, as pleasant, and as simple as I can, and
we do very well.
'But, alas! my dearest Matilda, how would time pass away, even in this
paradise of romance, tenanted as it is by a pair assorting so ill with
the scenes around them, were it not for your fidelity in replying to my
uninteresting details? Pray do not fail to write three times a week at
least; you can be at no loss what to say.'
'How shall I communicate what I have now to tell! My hand and heart still
flutter so much, that the task of writing is almost impossible! Did I not
say that he lived? did I not say I would not despair? How could you
suggest, my dear Matilda, that my feelings, considering I had parted from
him so young, rather arose from the warmth of my imagination than of my
heart? O I was sure that they were genuine, deceitful as the dictates of
our bosom so frequently are. But to my tale--let it be, my friend, the
most sacred, as it is the most sincere, pledge of our friendship.
'Our hours here are early--earlier than my heart, with its load of care,
can compose itself to rest. I therefore usually take a book for an hour
or two after retiring to my own room, which I think I have told you opens
to a small balcony, looking down upon that beautiful lake of which I
attempted to give you a slight sketch. Mervyn Hall, being partly an
ancient building, and constructed with a view to defence, is situated on
the verge of the lake. A stone dropped from the projecting balcony
plunges into water deep enough to float a skiff. I had left my window
partly unbarred, that, before I went to bed, I might, according to my
custom, look out and see the moonlight shining upon the lake. I was
deeply engaged with that beautiful scene in the "Merchant of Venice"
where two lovers, describing the stillness of a summer night, enhance on
each other its charms, and was lost in the associations of story and of
feeling which it awakens, when I heard upon the lake the sound of a
flageolet. I have told you it was Brown's favourite instrument. Who could
touch it in a night which, though still and serene, was too cold, and too
late in the year, to invite forth any wanderer for mere pleasure? I drew
yet nearer the window, and hearkened with breathless attention; the
sounds paused a space, were then resumed, paused again, and again reached
my ear, ever coming nearer and nearer. At length I distinguished plainly
that little Hindu air which you called my favourite. I have told you by
whom it was taught me; the instrument, the tones, were his own! Was it
earthly music, or notes passing on the wind, to warn me of his death?
'It was some time ere I could summon courage to step on the balcony;
nothing could have emboldened me to do so but the strong conviction of my
mind that he was still alive, and that we should again meet; but that
conviction did embolden me, and I ventured, though with a throbbing
heart. There was a small skiff with a single person. O, Matilda, it was
himself! I knew his appearance after so long an absence, and through the
shadow of the night, as perfectly as if we had parted yesterday, and met
again in the broad sunshine! He guided his boat under the balcony, and
spoke to me; I hardly knew what he said, or what I replied. Indeed, I
could scarcely speak for weeping, but they were joyful tears. We were
disturbed by the barking of a dog at some distance, and parted, but not
before he had conjured me to prepare to meet him at the same place and
hour this evening.
'But where and to what is all this tending? Can I answer this question? I
cannot. Heaven, that saved him from death and delivered him from
captivity, that saved my father, too, from shedding the blood of one who
would not have blemished a hair of his head, that Heaven must guide me
out of this labyrinth. Enough for me the firm resolution that Matilda
shall not blush for her friend, my father for his daughter, nor my lover
for her on whom he has fixed his affection.'
Talk with a man out of a window!--a proper saying.
Much Ado about Nothing.
We must proceed with our extracts from Miss Mannering's letters, which
throw light upon natural good sense, principle, and feelings, blemished
by an imperfect education and the folly of a misjudging mother, who
called her husband in her heart a tyrant until she feared him as such,
and read romances until she became so enamoured of the complicated
intrigues which they contain as to assume the management of a little
family novel of her own, and constitute her daughter, a girl of sixteen,
the principal heroine. She delighted in petty mystery and intrigue and
secrets, and yet trembled at the indignation which these paltry
manoeuvres excited in her husband's mind. Thus she frequently entered
upon a scheme merely for pleasure, or perhaps for the love of
contradiction, plunged deeper into it than she was aware, endeavoured to
extricate herself by new arts, or to cover her error by dissimulation,
became involved in meshes of her own weaving, and was forced to carry on,
for fear of discovery, machinations which she had at first resorted to in
Fortunately the young man whom she so imprudently introduced into her
intimate society, and encouraged to look up to her daughter, had a fund
of principle and honest pride which rendered him a safer intimate than
Mrs. Mannering ought to have dared to hope or expect. The obscurity of
his birth could alone be objected to him; in every other respect,
With prospects bright upon the world he came, Pure love of virtue, strong
desire of fame, Men watched the way his lofty mind would take, And all
foretold the progress he would make.
But it could not be expected that he should resist the snare which Mrs.
Mannering's imprudence threw in his way, or avoid becoming attached to a
young lady whose beauty and manners might have justified his passion,
even in scenes where these are more generally met with than in a remote
fortress in our Indian settlements. The scenes which followed have been
partly detailed in Mannering's letter to Mr. Mervyn; and to expand what
is there stated into farther explanation would be to abuse the patience
of our readers.
We shall therefore proceed with our promised extracts from Miss
Mannering's letters to her friend.
'I have seen him again, Matilda--seen him twice. I have used every
argument to convince him that this secret intercourse is dangerous to us
both; I even pressed him to pursue his views of fortune without farther
regard to me, and to consider my peace of mind as sufficiently secured by
the knowledge that he had not fallen under my father's sword. He
answers--but how can I detail all he has to answer? He claims those hopes
as his due which my mother permitted him to entertain, and would persuade
me to the madness of a union without my father's sanction. But to this,
Matilda, I will not be persuaded. I have resisted, I have subdued, the
rebellious feelings which arose to aid his plea; yet how to extricate
myself from this unhappy labyrinth in which fate and folly have entangled
'I have thought upon it, Matilda, till my head is almost giddy; nor can I
conceive a better plan than to make a full confession to my father. He
deserves it, for his kindness is unceasing; and I think I have observed
in his character, since I have studied it more nearly, that his harsher
feelings are chiefly excited where he suspects deceit or imposition; and
in that respect, perhaps, his character was formerly misunderstood by one
who was dear to him. He has, too, a tinge of romance in his disposition;
and I have seen the narrative of a generous action, a trait of heroism,
or virtuous self-denial, extract tears from him which refused to flow at
a tale of mere distress. But then Brown urges that he is personally
hostile to him. And the obscurity of his birth, that would be indeed a
stumbling-block. O, Matilda, I hope none of your ancestors ever fought at
Poictiers or Agincourt! If it were not for the veneration which my father
attaches to the memory of old Sir Miles Mannering, I should make out my
explanation with half the tremor which must now attend it.'
'I have this instant received your letter--your most welcome letter!
Thanks, my dearest friend, for your sympathy and your counsels; I can
only repay them with unbounded confidence.
'You ask me what Brown is by origin, that his descent should be so
unpleasing to my father. His story is shortly told. He is of Scottish
extraction, but, being left an orphan, his education was undertaken by a
family of relations settled in Holland. He was bred to commerce, and sent
very early to one of our settlements in the East, where his guardian had
a correspondent. But this correspondent was dead when he arrived in
India, and he had no other resource than to offer himself as a clerk to a
counting-house. The breaking out of the war, and the straits to which we
were at first reduced, threw the army open to all young men who were
disposed to embrace that mode of life; and Brown, whose genius had a
strong military tendency, was the first to leave what might have been the
road to wealth, and to choose that of fame. The rest of his history is
well known to you; but conceive the irritation of my father, who despises
commerce (though, by the way, the best part of his property was made in
that honourable profession by my great-uncle), and has a particular
antipathy to the Dutch--think with what ear he would be likely to receive
proposals for his only child from Vanbeest Brown, educated for charity by
the house of Vanbeest and Vanbruggen! O, Matilda, it will never do; nay,
so childish am I, I hardly can help sympathising with his aristocratic
feelings. Mrs. Vanbeest Brown! The name has little to recommend it, to be
sure. What children we are!'
'It is all over now, Matilda! I shall never have courage to tell my
father; nay, most deeply do I fear he has already learned my secret from
another quarter, which will entirely remove the grace of my
communication, and ruin whatever gleam of hope I had ventured to connect
with it. Yesternight Brown came as usual, and his flageolet on the lake
announced his approach. We had agreed that he should continue to use this
signal. These romantic lakes attract numerous visitors, who indulge their
enthusiasm in visiting the scenery at all hours, and we hoped that, if
Brown were noticed from the house, he might pass for one of those
admirers of nature, who was giving vent to his feelings through the
medium of music. The sounds might also be my apology, should I be
observed on the balcony. But last night, while I was eagerly enforcing my
plan of a full confession to my father, which he as earnestly deprecated,
we heard the window of Mr. Mervyn's library, which is under my room, open
softly. I signed to Brown to make his retreat, and immediately reentered,
with some faint hopes that our interview had not been observed.
'But, alas! Matilda, these hopes vanished the instant I beheld Mr.
Mervyn's countenance at breakfast the next morning. He looked so
provokingly intelligent and confidential, that, had I dared, I could have
been more angry than ever I was in my life; but I must be on good
behaviour, and my walks are now limited within his farm precincts, where
the good gentleman can amble along by my side without inconvenience. I
have detected him once or twice attempting to sound my thoughts, and
watch the expression of my countenance. He has talked of the flageolet
more than once, and has, at different times, made eulogiums upon the
watchfulness and ferocity of his dogs, and the regularity with which the
keeper makes his rounds with a loaded fowling-piece. He mentioned even
man-traps and springguns. I should be loth to affront my father's old
friend in his own house; but I do long to show him that I am my father's
daughter, a fact of which Mr. Mervyn will certainly be convinced if ever
I trust my voice and temper with a reply to these indirect hints. Of one
thing I am certain--I am grateful to him on that account--he has not told
Mrs. Mervyn. Lord help me, I should have had such lectures about the
dangers of love and the night air on the lake, the risk arising from
colds and fortune-hunters, the comfort and convenience of sack-whey and
closed windows! I cannot help trifling, Matilda, though my heart is sad
enough. What Brown will do I cannot guess. I presume, however, the fear
of detection prevents his resuming his nocturnal visits. He lodges at an
inn on the opposite shore of the lake, under the name, he tells me, of
Dawson; he has a bad choice in names, that must be allowed. He has not
left the army, I believe, but he says nothing of his present views,
'To complete my anxiety, my father is returned suddenly, and in high
displeasure. Our good hostess, as I learned from a bustling conversation
between her housekeeper and her, had no expectation of seeing him for a
week; but I rather suspect his arrival was no surprise to his friend Mr.
Mervyn. His manner to me was singularly cold and constrained,
sufficiently so to have damped all the courage with which I once resolved
to throw myself on his generosity. He lays the blame of his being
discomposed and out of humour to the loss of a purchase in the south-west
of Scotland on which he had set his heart; but I do not suspect his
equanimity of being so easily thrown off its balance. His first excursion
was with Mr. Mervyn's barge across the lake to the inn I have mentioned.
You may imagine the agony with which I waited his return! Had he
recognized Brown, who can guess the consequence! He returned, however,
apparently without having made any discovery. I understand that, in
consequence of his late disappointment, he means now to hire a house in
the neighbourhood of this same Ellangowan, of which I am doomed to hear
so much; he seems to think it probable that the estate for which he
wishes may soon be again in the market. I will not send away this letter
until I hear more distinctly what are his intentions.'
'I have now had an interview with my father, as confidential as, I
presume, he means to allow me. He requested me to-day, after breakfast,
to walk with him into the library; my knees, Matilda, shook under me, and
it is no exaggeration to say I could scarce follow him into the room. I
feared I knew not what. From my childhood I had seen all around him
tremble at his frown. He motioned me to seat myself, and I never obeyed a
command so readily, for, in truth, I could hardly stand. He himself
continued to walk up and down the room. You have seen my father, and
noticed, I recollect, the remarkably expressive cast of his features. His
eyes are naturally rather light in colour, but agitation or anger gives
them a darker and more fiery glance; he has a custom also of drawing in
his lips when much moved, which implies a combat between native ardour of
temper and the habitual power of self-command. This was the first time we
had been alone since his return from Scotland, and, as he betrayed these
tokens of agitation, I had little doubt that he was about to enter upon
the subject I most dreaded.
'To my unutterable relief, I found I was mistaken, and that, whatever he
knew of Mr. Mervyn's suspicions or discoveries, he did not intend to
converse with me on the topic. Coward as I was, I was inexpressibly
relieved, though, if he had really investigated the reports which may
have come to his ear, the reality could have been nothing to what his
suspicions might have conceived. But, though my spirits rose high at my
unexpected escape, I had not courage myself to provoke the discussion,
and remained silent to receive his commands.
'"Julia," he said, "my agent writes me from Scotland that he has been
able to hire a house for me, decently furnished, and with the necessary
accommodation for my family; it is within three miles of that I had
designed to purchase." Then he made a pause, and seemed to expect an
'"Whatever place of residence suits you, sir, must be perfectly agreeable
'"Umph! I do not propose, however, Julia, that you shall reside quite
alone in this house during the winter."
'"Mr. and Mrs. Mervyn," thought I to myself.--"Whatever company is
agreeable to you, sir," I answered aloud.
'"O, there is a little too much of this universal spirit of submission,
an excellent disposition in action, but your constantly repeating the
jargon of it puts me in mind of the eternal salaams of our black
dependents in the East. In short, Julia, I know you have a relish for
society, and I intend to invite a young person, the daughter of a
deceased friend, to spend a few months with us."
'"Not a governess, for the love of Heaven, papa!" exclaimed poor I, my
fears at that moment totally getting the better of my prudence.
'"No, not a governess, Miss Mannering," replied the Colonel, somewhat
sternly, "but a young lady from whose excellent example, bred as she has
been in the school of adversity, I trust you may learn the art to govern
'To answer this was trenching upon too dangerous ground, so there was a
'"Is the young lady a Scotchwoman, papa?"
'"Has she much of the accent, sir?"
'"Much of the devil!" answered my father hastily; "do you think I care
about a's and aa's, and i's and ee's,? I tell you, Julia, I am serious in
the matter. You have a genius for friendship, that is, for running up
intimacies which you call such." (Was not this very harshly said,
Matilda?) "Now I wish to give you an opportunity at least to make one
deserving friend, and therefore I have resolved that this young lady
shall be a member of my family for some months, and I expect you will pay
to her that attention which is due to misfortune and virtue."
'"Certainly, sir. Is my future friend red-haired?"
'He gave me one of his stern glances; you will say, perhaps, I deserved
it; but I think the deuce prompts me with teasing questions on some
'"She is as superior to you, my love, in personal appearance as in
prudence and affection for her friends."
'"Lord, papa, do you think that superiority a recommendation? Well, sir,
but I see you are going to take all this too seriously; whatever the
young lady may be, I am sure, being recommended by you, she shall have no
reason to complain of my want of attention." After a pause--"Has she any
attendant? because you know I must provide for her proper accommodation
if she is without one."
'"N--no--no, not properly an attendant; the chaplain who lived with her
father is a very good sort of man, and I believe I shall make room for
him in the house."
"'Chaplain, papa? Lord bless us!"
'"Yes, Miss Mannering, chaplain; is there anything very new in that word?
Had we not a chaplain at the Residence, when we were in India?"
'"Yes, papa, but you was a commandant then."
'"So I will be now, Miss Mannering, in my own family at least."
'"Certainly, sir. But will he read us the Church of England service?"
'The apparent simplicity with which I asked this question got the better
of his gravity. "Come, Julia," he said, "you are a sad girl, but I gain
nothing by scolding you. Of these two strangers, the young lady is one
whom you cannot fail, I think, to love; the person whom, for want of a
better term, I called chaplain, is a very worthy, and somewhat ridiculous
personage, who will never find out you laugh at him if you don't laugh
very loud indeed."
'"Dear papa, I am delighted with that part of his character. But pray, is
the house we are going to as pleasantly situated as this?"
'"Not perhaps as much to your taste; there is no lake under the windows,
and you will be under the necessity of having all your music within
'This last coup de main ended the keen encounter of our wits, for you may
believe, Matilda, it quelled all my courage to reply.
'Yet my spirits, as perhaps will appear too manifest from this dialogue,
have risen insensibly, and, as it were, in spite of myself. Brown alive,
and free, and in England! Embarrassment and anxiety I can and must
endure. We leave this in two days for our new residence. I shall not fail
to let you know what I think of these Scotch inmates, whom I have but too
much reason to believe my father means to quarter in his house as a brace
of honourable spies; a sort of female Rozencrantz and reverend
Guildenstern, one in tartan petticoats, the other in a cassock. What a
contrast to the society I would willingly have secured to myself! I shall
write instantly on my arriving at our new place of abode, and acquaint my
dearest Matilda with the farther fates of--her
Which sloping hills around inclose,