Part 4 out of 10
Where many a beech and brown oak grows
Beneath whose dark and branching bowers
Its tides a far-fam'd river pours,
By natures beauties taught to please,
Sweet Tusculan of rural easel
Woodbourne, the habitation which Mannering, by Mr. Mac-Morlan's
mediation, had hired for a season, was a large comfortable mansion,
snugly situated beneath a hill covered with wood, which shrouded the
house upon the north and east; the front looked upon a little lawn
bordered by a grove of old trees; beyond were some arable fields,
extending down to the river, which was seen from the windows of the
house. A tolerable, though old-fashioned garden, a well-stocked dove-cot,
and the possession of any quantity of ground which the convenience of the
family might require, rendered the place in every respect suitable, as
the advertisements have it, 'for the accommodation of a genteel family.'
Here, then, Mannering resolved, for some time at least, to set up the
staff of his rest. Though an East-Indian, he was not partial to an
ostentatious display of wealth. In fact, he was too proud a man to be a
vain one. He resolved, therefore, to place himself upon the footing of a
country gentleman of easy fortune, without assuming, or permitting his
household to assume, any of the faste which then was considered as
characteristic of a nabob.
He had still his eye upon the purchase of Ellangowan, which Mac-Morlan
conceived Mr. Glossin would be compelled to part with, as some of the
creditors disputed his title to retain so large a part of the
purchase-money in his own hands, and his power to pay it was much
questioned. In that case Mac-Morlan was assured he would readily give up
his bargain, if tempted with something above the price which he had
stipulated to pay. It may seem strange that Mannering was so much
attached to a spot which he had only seen once, and that for a short
time, in early life. But the circumstances which passed there had laid a
strong hold on his imagination. There seemed to be a fate which conjoined
the remarkable passages of his own family history with those of the
inhabitants of Ellangowan, and he felt a mysterious desire to call the
terrace his own from which he had read in the book of heaven a fortune
strangely accomplished in the person of the infant heir of that family,
and corresponding so closely with one which had been strikingly fulfilled
in his own. Besides, when once this thought had got possession of his
imagination, he could not, without great reluctance, brook the idea of
his plan being defeated, and by a fellow like Glossin. So pride came to
the aid of fancy, and both combined to fortify his resolution to buy the
estate if possible.
Let us do Mannering justice. A desire to serve the distressed had also
its share in determining him. He had considered the advantage which Julia
might receive from the company of Lucy Bertram, whose genuine prudence
and good sense could so surely be relied upon. This idea had become much
stronger since Mac-Morlan had confided to him, under the solemn seal of
secrecy, the whole of her conduct towards young Hazlewood. To propose to
her to become an inmate in his family, if distant from the scenes of her
youth and the few whom she called friends, would have been less delicate;
but at Woodbourne she might without difficulty be induced to become the
visitor of a season, without being depressed into the situation of an
humble companion. Lucy Bertram, with some hesitation, accepted the
invitation to reside a few weeks with Miss Mannering. She felt too well
that, however the Colonel's delicacy might disguise the truth, his
principal motive was a generous desire to afford her his countenance and
protection, which his high connexions, and higher character, were likely
to render influential in the neighbourhood.
About the same time the orphan girl received a letter from Mrs. Bertram,
the relation to whom she had written, as cold and comfortless as could
well be imagined. It inclosed, indeed, a small sum of money, but strongly
recommended economy, and that Miss Bertram should board herself in some
quiet family, either at Kippletringan or in the neighbourhood, assuring
her that, though her own income was very scanty, she would not see her
kinswoman want. Miss Bertram shed some natural tears over this
cold-hearted epistle; for in her mother's time this good lady had been a
guest at Ellangowan for nearly three years, and it was only upon
succeeding to a property of about L400 a year that she had taken farewell
of that hospitable mansion, which otherwise might have had the honour of
sheltering her until the death of its owner. Lucy was strongly inclined
to return the paltry donation, which, after some struggles with avarice,
pride had extorted from the old lady. But on consideration she contented
herself with writing that she accepted it as a loan, which, she hoped in
a short time to repay, and consulted her relative upon the invitation she
had received from Colonel and Miss Mannering. This time the answer came
in course of post, so fearful was Mrs. Bertram that some frivolous
delicacy, or nonsense, as she termed it, might induce her cousin to
reject such a promising offer, and thereby at the same time to leave
herself still a burden upon her relations. Lucy, therefore, had no
alternative, unless she preferred continuing a burden upon the worthy
Mac-Morlans, who were too liberal to be rich. Those kinsfolk who formerly
requested the favour of her company had of late either silently, or with
expressions of resentment that she should have preferred Mac-Morlan's
invitation to theirs, gradually withdrawn their notice.
The fate of Dominie Sampson would have been deplorable had it depended
upon any one except Mannering, who was an admirer of originality, for a
separation from Lucy Bertram would have certainly broken his heart.
Mac-Morlan had given a full account of his proceedings towards the
daughter of his patron. The answer was a request from Mannering to know
whether the Dominie still possessed that admirable virtue of taciturnity
by which he was so notably distinguished at Ellangowan. Mac-Morlan
replied in the affirmative. 'Let Mr. Sampson know,' said the Colonel's
next letter, 'that I shall want his assistance to catalogue and put in
order the library of my uncle, the bishop, which I have ordered to be
sent down by sea. I shall also want him to copy and arrange some papers.
Fix his salary at what you think befitting. Let the poor man be properly
dressed, and accompany his young lady to Woodbourne.'
Honest Mac-Morlan received this mandate with great joy, but pondered much
upon executing that part of it which related to newly attiring the worthy
Dominie. He looked at him with a scrutinising eye, and it was but too
plain that his present garments were daily waxing more deplorable. To
give him money, and bid him go and furnish himself, would be only giving
him the means of making himself ridiculous; for when such a rare event
arrived to Mr. Sampson as the purchase of new garments, the additions
which he made to his wardrobe by the guidance of his own taste usually
brought all the boys of the village after him for many days. On the other
hand, to bring a tailor to measure him, and send home his clothes, as for
a school-boy, would probably give offence. At length Mac-Morlan resolved
to consult Miss Bertram, and request her interference. She assured him
that, though she could not pretend to superintend a gentleman's wardrobe,
nothing was more easy than to arrange the Dominie's.
'At Ellangowan,' she said, 'whenever my poor father thought any part of
the Dominie's dress wanted renewal, a servant was directed to enter his
room by night, for he sleeps as fast as a dormouse, carry off the old
vestment, and leave the new one; nor could any one observe that the
Dominie exhibited the least consciousness of the change put upon him on
Mac-Morlan, in conformity with Miss Bertram's advice, procured a skilful
artist, who, on looking at the Dominie attentively, undertook to make for
him two suits of clothes, one black and one raven-grey, and even engaged
that they should fit him--as well at least (so the tailor qualified his
enterprise) as a man of such an out-of-the-way build could be fitted by
merely human needles and shears. When this fashioner had accomplished his
task, and the dresses were brought home, Mac-Morlan, judiciously
resolving to accomplish his purpose by degrees, withdrew that evening an
important part of his dress, and substituted the new article of raiment
in its stead. Perceiving that this passed totally without notice, he next
ventured on the waistcoat, and lastly on the coat. When fully
metamorphosed, and arrayed for the first time in his life in a decent
dress, they did observe that the Dominie seemed to have some indistinct
and embarrassing consciousness that a change had taken place on his
outward man. Whenever they observed this dubious expression gather upon
his countenance, accompanied with a glance that fixed now upon the sleeve
of his coat, now upon the knees of his breeches, where he probably missed
some antique patching and darning, which, being executed with blue thread
upon a black ground, had somewhat the effect of embroidery, they always
took care to turn his attention into some other channel, until his
garments, 'by the aid of use, cleaved to their mould.' The only remark he
was ever known to make on the subject was, that 'the air of a town like
Kippletringan seemed favourable unto wearing apparel, for he thought his
coat looked almost as new as the first day he put it on, which was when
he went to stand trial for his license as a preacher.'
When the Dominie first heard the liberal proposal of Colonel Mannering,
he turned a jealous and doubtful glance towards Miss Bertram, as if he
suspected that the project involved their separation; but when Mr.
Mac-Morlan hastened to explain that she would be a guest at Woodbourne
for some time, he rubbed his huge hands together, and burst into a
portentous sort of chuckle, like that of the Afrite in the tale of 'The
Caliph Vathek.' After this unusual explosion of satisfaction, he remained
quite passive in all the rest of the transaction.
It had been settled that Mr. and Mrs. Mac-Morlan should take possession
of the house a few days before Mannering's arrival, both to put
everything in perfect order and to make the transference of Miss
Bertram's residence from their family to his as easy and delicate as
possible. Accordingly, in the beginning of the month of December the
party were settled at Woodbourne.
A gigantic genius fit to grapple with whole libraries
--BOSWELL'S LIFE OF JOHNSON
The appointed day arrived when the Colonel and Miss Mannering were
expected at Woodbourne. The hour was fast approaching, and the little
circle within doors had each their separate subjects of anxiety.
Mac-Morlan naturally desired to attach to himself the patronage and
countenance of a person of Mannering's wealth and consequence. He was
aware, from his knowledge of mankind, that Mannering, though generous and
benevolent, had the foible of expecting and exacting a minute compliance
with his directions. He was therefore racking his recollection to
discover if everything had been arranged to meet the Colonel's wishes and
instructions, and, under this uncertainty of mind, he traversed the house
more than once from the garret to the stables. Mrs. Mac-Morlan revolved
in a lesser orbit, comprehending the dining-parlour, housekeeper's room,
and kitchen. She was only afraid that the dinner might be spoiled, to the
discredit of her housewifely accomplishments. Even the usual passiveness
of the Dominie was so far disturbed that he twice went to the window
which looked out upon the avenue, and twice exclaimed, 'Why tarry the
wheels of their chariot?' Lucy, the most quiet of the expectants, had her
own melancholy thoughts. She was now about to be consigned to the charge,
almost to the benevolence, of strangers, with whose character, though
hitherto very amiably, displayed, she was but imperfectly acquainted. The
moments, therefore, of suspense passed anxiously and heavily.
At length the trampling of horses and the sound of wheels were heard. The
servants, who had already arrived, drew up in the hall to receive their
master and mistress, with an importance and EMPRESSEMENT which to Lucy,
who had never been accustomed to society, or witnessed what is called the
manners of the great, had something alarming. Mac-Morlan went to the door
to receive the master and mistress of the family, and in a few moments
they were in the drawing-room.
Mannering, who had travelled as usual on horseback, entered with his
daughter hanging upon his arm. She was of the middle size, or rather
less, but formed with much elegance; piercing dark eyes, and jet-black
hair of great length, corresponded with the vivacity and intelligence of
features in which were blended a little haughtiness, and a little
bashfulness, a great deal of shrewdness, and some power of humorous
sarcasm. 'I shall not like her,' was the result of Lucy Bertram's first
glance; 'and yet; I rather think I shall,' was the thought excited by the
Miss Mannering was furred and mantled up to the throat against the
severity of the weather; the Colonel in his military great-coat. He bowed
to Mrs. Mac-Morlan, whom his daughter also acknowledged with a
fashionable courtesy, not dropped so low as at all to incommode her
person. The Colonel then led his daughter up to Miss Bertram, and, taking
the hand of the latter, with an air of great kindness and almost paternal
affection, he said, 'Julia, this is the young lady whom I hope our good
friends have prevailed on to honour our house with a long visit. I shall
be much gratified indeed if you can render Woodbourne as pleasant to Miss
Bertram as Ellangowan was to me when I first came as a wanderer into this
The young lady courtesied acquiescence, and took her new friend's hand.
Mannering now turned his eye upon the Dominie, who had made bows since
his entrance into the room, sprawling out his leg, and bending his back
like an automaton, which continues to repeat the same movement until the
motion is stopt by the artist. 'My good friend, Mr. Sampson,' said
Mannering, introducing him to his daughter, and darting at the same time
a reproving glance at the damsel, notwithstanding he had himself some
disposition to join her too obvious inclination to risibility; 'this
gentleman, Julia, is to put my books in order when they arrive, and I
expect to derive great advantage from his extensive learning.'
'I am sure we are obliged to the gentleman, papa, and, to borrow a
ministerial mode of giving thanks, I shall never forget the extraordinary
countenance he has been pleased to show us. But, Miss Bertram,' continued
she hastily, for her father's brows began to darken, 'we have travelled a
good way; will you permit me to retire before dinner?'
This intimation dispersed all the company save the Dominie, who, having
no idea of dressing but when he was to rise, or of undressing but when he
meant to go to bed, remained by himself, chewing the cud of a
mathematical demonstration, until the company again assembled in the
drawing-room, and from thence adjourned to the dining-parlour.
When the day was concluded, Mannering took an opportunity to hold a
minute's conversation with his daughter in private.
'How do you like your guests, Julia?'
'O, Miss Bertram of all things; but this is a most original parson; why,
dear sir, no human being will be able to look at him without laughing.'
'While he is under my roof, Julia, every one must learn to do so.'
'Lord, papa, the very footmen could not keep their gravity!'
'Then let them strip off my livery,' said the Colonel, 'and laugh at
their leisure. Mr. Sampson is a man whom I esteem for his simplicity and
benevolence of character.'
'O, I am convinced of his generosity too,' said this lively lady; 'he
cannot lift a spoonful of soup to his mouth without bestowing a share on
'Julia, you are incorrigible; but remember I expect your mirth on this
subject to be under such restraint that it shall neither offend this
worthy man's feelings nor those of Miss Bertram, who may be more apt to
feel upon his account than he on his own. And so, goodnight, my dear; and
recollect that, though Mr. Sampson has certainly not sacrificed to the
graces, there are many things in this world more truly deserving of
ridicule than either awkwardness of manners or simplicity of character.'
In a day or two Mr. and Mrs. Mac-Morlan left Woodbourne, after taking an
affectionate farewell of their late guest. The household were now settled
in their new quarters. The young ladies followed their studies and
amusements together. Colonel Mannering was agreeably surprised to find
that Miss Bertram was well skilled in French and Italian, thanks to the
assiduity of Dominie Sampson, whose labour had silently made him
acquainted with most modern as well as ancient languages. Of music she
knew little or nothing, but her new friend undertook to give her lessons,
in exchange for which she was to learn from Lucy the habit of walking,
and the art of riding, and the courage necessary to defy the season.
Mannering was careful to substitute for their amusement in the evening
such books as might convey some solid instruction with entertainment,
and, as he read aloud with great skill and taste, the winter nights
passed pleasantly away.
Society was quickly formed where there were so many inducements. Most of
the families of the neighbourhood visited Colonel Mannering, and he was
soon able to select from among them such as best suited his taste and
habits. Charles Hazlewood held a distinguished place in his favour, and
was a frequent visitor, not without the consent and approbation of his
parents; for there was no knowing, they thought, what assiduous attention
might produce, and the beautiful Miss Mannering, of high family, with an
Indian fortune, was a prize worth looking after. Dazzled with such a
prospect, they never considered the risk which had once been some object
of their apprehension, that his boyish and inconsiderate fancy might form
an attachment to the penniless Lucy Bertram, who had nothing on earth to
recommend her but a pretty face, good birth, and a most amiable
disposition. Mannering was more prudent. He considered himself acting as
Miss Bertram's guardian, and, while he did not think it incumbent upon
him altogether to check her intercourse with a young gentleman for whom,
excepting in wealth, she was a match in every respect, he laid it under
such insensible restraints as might prevent any engagement or
ECLAIRCISSEMENT taking place until the young man should have seen a
little more of life and of the world, and have attained that age when he
might be considered as entitled to judge for himself in the matter in
which his happiness was chiefly interested.
While these matters engaged the attention of the other members of the
Woodbourne family, Dominie Sampson was occupied, body and soul, in the
arrangement of the late bishop's library, which had been sent from
Liverpool by sea, and conveyed by thirty or forty carts from the sea-port
at which it was landed. Sampson's joy at beholding the ponderous contents
of these chests arranged upon the floor of the large apartment, from
whence he was to transfer them to the shelves, baffles all description.
He grinned like an ogre, swung his arms like the sails of a wind-mill,
shouted 'Prodigious' till the roof rung to his raptures. 'He had never,'
he said, 'seen so many books together, except in the College Library';
and now his dignity and delight in being superintendent of the collection
raised him, in his own opinion, almost to the rank of the academical
librarian, whom he had always regarded as the greatest and happiest man
on earth. Neither were his transports diminished upon a hasty examination
of the contents of these volumes. Some, indeed, of BELLES LETTRES, poems,
plays, or memoirs he tossed indignantly aside, with the implied censure
of'psha,'or 'frivolous'; but the greater and bulkier part of the
collection bore a very different character. The deceased prelate, a
divine of the old and deeply-learned cast, had loaded his shelves with
volumes which displayed the antique and venerable attributes so happily
described by a modern poet:--
That weight of wood, with leathern coat o'erlaid,
Those ample clasps of solid metal made,
The close-press'd leaves unoped for many an age,
The dull red edging of the well-fill'd page,
On the broad back the stubborn ridges roll'd,
Where yet the title stands in tarnish'd gold.
Books of theology and controversial divinity, commentaries, and
polyglots, sets of the Fathers, and sermons which might each furnish
forth ten brief discourses of modern date, books of science, ancient and
modern, classical authors in their best and rarest forms--such formed the
late bishop's venerable library, and over such the eye of Dominie Sampson
gloated with rapture. He entered them in the catalogue in his best
running hand, forming each letter with the accuracy of a lover writing a
valentine, and placed each individually on the destined shelf with all
the reverence which I have seen a lady pay to a jar of old china. With
all this zeal his labours advanced slowly. He often opened a volume when
halfway up the library steps, fell upon some interesting passage, and,
without shifting his inconvenient posture, continued immersed in the
fascinating perusal until the servant pulled him by the skirts to assure
him that dinner waited. He then repaired to the parlour, bolted his food
down his capacious throat in squares of three inches, answered ay and no
at random to whatever question was asked at him, and again hurried back
to the library, as soon as his napkin was removed, and sometimes with it
hanging round his neck like a pinafore;--
How happily the days Of Thalaba went by!
And, having thus left the principal characters of our tale in a situation
which, being sufficiently comfortable to themselves, is, of course,
utterly uninteresting to the reader, we take up the history of a person
who has as yet only been named, and who has all the interest that
uncertainty and misfortune can give.
What say'st thou, Wise One? that all powerful Love
Can fortune's strong impediments remove,
Nor is it strange that worth should wed to worth,
The pride of genius with the pride of birth.
V. Brown--I will not give at full length his thrice unhappy name--had
been from infancy a ball for fortune to spurn at; but nature had given
him that elasticity of mind which rises higher from the rebound. His form
was tall, manly, and active, and his features corresponded with his
person; for, although far from regular, they had an expression of
intelligence and good-humour, and when he spoke, or was particularly
animated, might be decidedly pronounced interesting. His manner indicated
the military profession, which had been his choice, and in which he had
now attained the rank of captain, the person who succeeded Colonel
Mannering in his command having laboured to repair the injustice which
Brown had sustained by that gentleman's prejudice against him. But this,
as well as his liberation from captivity, had taken place after Mannering
left India. Brown followed at no distant period, his regiment being
recalled home. His first inquiry was after the family of Mannering, and,
easily learning their route northward, he followed it with the purpose of
resuming his addresses to Julia. With her father he deemed he had no
measures to keep; for, ignorant of the more venomous belief which had
been instilled into the Colonel's mind, he regarded him as an oppressive
aristocrat, who had used his power as a commanding officer to deprive him
of the preferment due to his behaviour, and who had forced upon him a
personal quarrel without any better reason than his attentions to a
pretty young woman, agreeable to herself, and permitted and countenanced
by her mother. He was determined, therefore, to take no rejection unless
from the young lady herself, believing that the heavy misfortunes of his
painful wound and imprisonment were direct injuries received from the
father, which might dispense with his using much ceremony towards him.
How far his scheme had succeeded when his nocturnal visit was discovered
by Mr. Mervyn, our readers are already informed.
Upon this unpleasant occurrence Captain Brown absented himself from the
inn in which he had resided under the name of Dawson, so that Colonel
Mannering's attempts to discover and trace him were unavailing. He
resolved, however, that no difficulties should prevent his continuing his
enterprise while Julia left him a ray of hope. The interest he had
secured in her bosom was such as she had been unable to conceal from him,
and with all the courage of romantic gallantry he determined upon
perseverance. But we believe the reader will be as well pleased to learn
his mode of thinking and intention from his own communication to his
special friend and confidant, Captain Delaserre, a Swiss gentleman who
had a company in his regiment.
'Let me hear from you soon, dear Delaserre. Remember, I can learn nothing
about regimental affairs but through your friendly medium, and I long to
know what has become of Ayre's court-martial, and whether Elliot gets the
majority; also how recruiting comes on, and how the young officers like
the mess. Of our kind friend the Lieutenant-Colonel I need ask nothing; I
saw him as I passed through Nottingham, happy in the bosom of his family.
What a happiness it is, Philip, for us poor devils, that we have a little
resting-place between the camp and the grave, if we can manage to escape
disease, and steel, and lead, and the effects of hard living. A retired
old soldier is always a graceful and respected character. He grumbles a
little now and then, but then his is licensed murmuring; were a lawyer,
or a physician, or a clergyman to breathe a complaint of hard luck or
want of preferment, a hundred tongues would blame his own incapacity as
the cause. But the most stupid veteran that ever faltered out the
thrice-told tale of a siege and a battle, and a cock and a bottle, is
listened to with sympathy and reverence when he shakes his thin locks and
talks with indignation of the boys that are put over his head. And you
and I, Delaserre, foreigners both--for what am I the better that I was
originally a Scotchman, since, could I prove my descent, the English
would hardly acknowledge me a countryman?--we may boast that we have
fought out our preferment, and gained that by the sword which we had not
money to compass otherwise. The English are a wise people. While they
praise themselves, and affect to undervalue all other nations, they leave
us, luckily, trap-doors and back-doors open, by which we strangers, less
favoured by nature, may arrive at a share of their advantages. And thus
they are in some respects like a boastful landlord, who exalts the value
and flavour of his six-years-old mutton, while he is delighted to
dispense a share of it to all the company. In short, you, whose proud
family, and I, whose hard fate, made us soldiers of fortune, have the
pleasant recollection that in the British service, stop where we may upon
our career, it is only for want of money to pay the turnpike, and not
from our being prohibited to travel the road. If, therefore, you can
persuade little Weischel to come into OURS, for God's sake let him buy
the ensigncy, live prudently, mind his duty, and trust to the fates for
'And now, I hope you are expiring with curiosity to learn the end of my
romance. I told you I had deemed it convenient to make a few days' tour
on foot among the mountains of Westmoreland with Dudley, a young English
artist with whom I have formed some acquaintance. A fine fellow this, you
must know, Delaserre: he paints tolerably, draws beautifully, converses
well, and plays charmingly on the flute; and, though thus well entitled
to be a coxcomb of talent, is, in fact, a modest unpretending young man.
On our return from our little tour I learned that the enemy had been
reconnoitring. Mr. Mervyn's barge had crossed the lake, I was informed by
my landlord, with the squire himself and a visitor.
'"What sort of person, landlord?"
'"Why, he was a dark officer-looking mon, at they called Colonel. Squoire
Mervyn questioned me as close as I had been at 'sizes. I had guess, Mr.
Dawson" (I told you that was my feigned name), "but I tould him nought of
your vagaries, and going out a-laking in the mere a-noights, not I; an I
can make no sport, I'se spoil none; and Squoire Mervyn's as cross as
poy-crust too, mon; he's aye maundering an my guests but land beneath his
house, though it be marked for the fourth station in the survey. Noa,
noa, e'en let un smell things out o' themselves for Joe Hodges."
'You will allow there was nothing for it after this but paying honest Joe
Hodges's bill and departing, unless I had preferred making him my
confidant, for which I felt in no way inclined. Besides, I learned that
our ci-devant Colonel was on full retreat for Scotland, carrying off poor
Julia along with him. I understand from those who conduct the heavy
baggage that he takes his winter quarters at a place called Woodbourne,
in ---shire in Scotland. He will be all on the alert just now, so I must
let him enter his entrenchments without any new alarm. And then, my good
Colonel, to whom I owe so many grateful thanks, pray look to your
'I protest to you, Delaserre, I often think there is a little
contradiction enters into the ardour of my pursuit. I think I would
rather bring this haughty insulting man to the necessity of calling his
daughter Mrs. Brown than I would wed her with his full consent, and with
the King's permission to change my name for the style and arms of
Mannering, though his whole fortune went with them. There is only one
circumstance that chills me a little: Julia is young and romantic. I
would not willingly hurry her into a step which her riper years might
disapprove; no--nor would I like to have her upbraid me, were it but with
a glance of her eye, with having ruined her fortunes, far less give her
reason to say, as some have not been slow to tell their lords, that, had
I left her time for consideration, she would have been wiser and done
better. No, Delaserre, this must not be. The picture presses close upon
me, because I am aware a girl in Julia's situation has no distinct and
precise idea of the value of the sacrifice she makes. She knows
difficulties only by name; and, if she thinks of love and a farm, it is a
ferme ornee, such as is only to be found in poetic description or in the
park of a gentleman of twelve thousand a year. She would be ill prepared
for the privations of that real Swiss cottage we have so often talked of,
and for the difficulties which must necessarily surround us even before
we attained that haven. This must be a point clearly ascertained.
Although Julia's beauty and playful tenderness have made an impression on
my heart never to be erased, I must be satisfied that she perfectly
understands the advantages she foregoes before she sacrifices them for my
'Am I too proud, Delaserre, when I trust that even this trial may
terminate favourably to my wishes? Am I too vain when I suppose that the
few personal qualities which I possess, with means of competence, however
moderate, and the determination of consecrating my life to her happiness,
may make amends for all I must call upon her to forego? Or will a
difference of dress, of attendance, of style, as it is called, of the
power of shifting at pleasure the scenes in which she seeks
amusement--will these outweigh in her estimation the prospect of domestic
happiness and the interchange of unabating affection? I say nothing of
her father: his good and evil qualities are so strangely mingled that the
former are neutralised by the latter; and that which she must regret as a
daughter is so much blended with what she would gladly escape from, that
I place the separation of the father and child as a circumstance which
weighs little in her remarkable case. Meantime I keep up my spirits as I
may. I have incurred too many hardships and difficulties to be
presumptuous or confident in success, and I have been too often and too
wonderfully extricated from them to be despondent.
'I wish you saw this country. I think the scenery would delight you. At
least it often brings to my recollection your glowing descriptions of
your native country. To me it has in a great measure the charm of
novelty. Of the Scottish hills, though born among them, as I have always
been assured, I have but an indistinct recollection. Indeed, my memory
rather dwells upon the blank which my youthful mind experienced in gazing
on the levels of the isle of Zealand, than on anything which preceded
that feeling; but I am confident, from that sensation as well as from the
recollections which preceded it, that hills and rocks have been familiar
to me at an early period, and that, though now only remembered by
contrast, and by the blank which I felt while gazing around for them in
vain, they must have made an indelible impression on my infant
imagination. I remember, when we first mounted that celebrated pass in
the Mysore country, while most of the others felt only awe and
astonishment at the height and grandeur of the scenery, I rather shared
your feelings and those of Cameron, whose admiration of such wild rocks
was blended with familiar love, derived from early association. Despite
my Dutch education, a blue hill to me is as a friend, and a roaring
torrent like the sound of a domestic song that hath soothed my infancy. I
never felt the impulse so strongly as in this land of lakes and
mountains, and nothing grieves me so much as that duty prevents your
being with me in my numerous excursions among recesses. Some drawings I
have attempted, but I succeed vilely. Dudley, on the contrary, draws
delightfully, with that rapid touch which seems like magic; while I
labour and botch, and make this too heavy and that too light, and produce
at last a base caricature. I must stick to the flageolet, for music is
the only one of the fine arts which deigns to acknowledge me.
'Did you know that Colonel Mannering was a draughtsman? I believe not,
for he scorned to display his accomplishments to the view of a subaltern.
He draws beautifully, however. Since he and Julia left Mervyn Hall,
Dudley was sent for there. The squire, it seems, wanted a set of drawings
made up, of which Mannering had done the first four, but was interrupted
by his hasty departure in his purpose of completing them. Dudley says he
has seldom seen anything so masterly, though slight; and each had
attached to it a short poetical description. Is Saul, you will say, among
the prophets? Colonel Mannering write poetry! Why, surely this man must
have taken all the pains to conceal his accomplishments that others do to
display theirs. How reserved and unsociable he appeared among us! how
little disposed to enter into any conversation which could become
generally interesting! And then his attachment to that unworthy Archer,
so much below him in every respect; and all this because he was the
brother of Viscount Archerfield, a poor Scottish peer! I think, if Archer
had longer survived the wounds in the affair of Cuddyboram, he would have
told something that might have thrown light upon the inconsistencies of
this singular man's character. He repeated to me more than once, "I have
that to say which will alter your hard opinion of our late Colonel." But
death pressed him too hard; and if he owed me any atonement, which some
of his expressions seemed to imply, he died before it could be made.
'I propose to make a further excursion through this country while this
fine frosty weather serves, and Dudley, almost as good a walker as
myself, goes with me for some part of the way. We part on the borders of
Cumberland, when he must return to his lodgings in Marybone, up three
pair of stairs, and labour at what he calls the commercial part of his
profession. There cannot, he says, be such a difference betwixt any two
portions of existence as between that in which the artist, if an
enthusiast, collects the subjects of his drawings and that which must
necessarily be dedicated to turning over his portfolio and exhibiting
them to the provoking indifference, or more provoking criticism, of
fashionable amateurs. "During the summer of my year," says Dudley, "I am
as free as a wild Indian, enjoying myself at liberty amid the grandest
scenes of nature; while during my winters and springs I am not only
cabined, cribbed, and confined in a miserable garret, but condemned to as
intolerable subservience to the humour of others, and to as indifferent
company, as if I were a literal galley slave." I have promised him your
acquaintance, Delaserre; you will be delighted with his specimens of art,
and he with your Swiss fanaticism for mountains and torrents.
'When I lose Dudley's company, I am informed that I can easily enter
Scotland by stretching across a wild country in the upper part of
Cumberland; and that route I shall follow, to give the Colonel time to
pitch his camp ere I reconnoitre his position. Adieu! Delaserre. I shall
hardly find another opportunity of writing till I reach Scotland.'
Jog on, jog on, the footpath way,
And merrily bend the stile-a,
A merry heart goes all the day,
A sad one tires in a mile-a.
Let the reader conceive to himself a clear frosty November morning, the
scene an open heath, having for the background that huge chain of
mountains in which Skiddaw and Saddleback are preeminent; let him look
along that BLIND ROAD, by which I mean the track so slightly marked by
the passengers' footsteps that it can but be traced by a slight shade of
verdure from the darker heath around it, and, being only visible to the
eye when at some distance, ceases to be distinguished while the foot is
actually treading it; along this faintly-traced path advances the object
of our present narrative. His firm step, his erect and free carriage,
have a military air which corresponds well with his well-proportioned
limbs and stature of six feet high. His dress is so plain and simple that
it indicates nothing as to rank; it may be that of a gentleman who
travels in this manner for his pleasure, or of an inferior person of whom
it is the proper and usual garb. Nothing can be on a more reduced scale
than his travelling equipment. A volume of Shakspeare in each pocket, a
small bundle with a change of linen slung across his shoulders, an oaken
cudgel in his hand, complete our pedestrian's accommodations, and in this
equipage we present him to our readers.
Brown had parted that morning from his friend Dudley, and begun his
solitary walk towards Scotland.
The first two or three miles were rather melancholy, from want of the
society to which he had of late been accustomed. But this unusual mood of
mind soon gave way to the influence of his natural good spirits, excited
by the exercise and the bracing effects of the frosty air. He whistled as
he went along, not 'from want of thought,' but to give vent to those
buoyant feelings which he had no other mode of expressing. For each
peasant whom he chanced to meet he had a kind greeting or a good-humoured
jest; the hardy Cumbrians grinned as they passed, and said, 'That's a
kind heart, God bless un!' and the market-girl looked more than once over
her shoulder at the athletic form, which corresponded so well with the
frank and blythe address of the stranger. A rough terrier dog, his
constant companion, who rivalled his master in glee, scampered at large
in a thousand wheels round the heath, and came back to jump up on him and
assure him that he participated in the pleasure of the journey. Dr.
Johnson thought life had few things better than the excitation produced
by being whirled rapidly along in a post-chaise; but he who has in youth
experienced the confident and independent feeling of a stout pedestrian
in an interesting country, and during fine weather, will hold the taste
of the great moralist cheap in comparison.
Part of Brown's view in choosing that unusual track which leads through
the eastern wilds of Cumberland into Scotland, had been a desire to view
the remains of the celebrated Roman Wall, which are more visible in that
direction than in any other part of its extent. His education had been
imperfect and desultory; but neither the busy scenes in which he had been
engaged, nor the pleasures of youth, nor the precarious state of his own
circumstances, had diverted him from the task of mental improvement. 'And
this then is the Roman Wall,' he said, scrambling up to a height which
commanded the course of that celebrated work of antiquity. 'What a
people! whose labours, even at this extremity of their empire,
comprehended such space, and were executed upon a scale of such grandeur!
In future ages, when the science of war shall have changed, how few
traces will exist of the labours of Vauban and Coehorn, while this
wonderful people's remains will even then continue to interest and
astonish posterity! Their fortifications, their aqueducts, their
theatres, their fountains, all their public works, bear the grave, solid,
and majestic character of their language; while our modern labours, like
our modern tongues, seem but constructed out of their fragments.' Having
thus moralised, he remembered that he was hungry, and pursued his walk to
a small public-house, at which he proposed to get some refreshment.
The alehouse, for it was no better, was situated in the bottom of a
little dell, through which trilled a small rivulet. It was shaded by a
large ash tree, against which the clay-built shed that served the purpose
of a stable was erected, and upon which it seemed partly to recline. In
this shed stood a saddled horse, employed in eating his corn. The
cottages in this part of Cumberland partake of the rudeness which
characterises those of Scotland. The outside of the house promised little
for the interior, notwithstanding the vaunt of a sign, where a tankard of
ale voluntarily decanted itself into a tumbler, and a hieroglyphical
scrawl below attempted to express a promise of 'good entertainment for
man and horse.' Brown was no fastidious traveller: he stopped and entered
the cabaret. [Footnote: See Note 2.]
The first object which caught his eye in the kitchen was a tall, stout,
country-looking man in a large jockey great-coat, the owner of the horse
which stood in the shed, who was busy discussing huge slices of cold
boiled beef, and casting from time to time an eye through the window to
see how his steed sped with his provender. A large tankard of ale flanked
his plate of victuals, to which he applied himself by intervals. The good
woman of the house was employed in baking. The fire, as is usual in that
country, was on a stone hearth, in the midst of an immensely large
chimney, which had two seats extended beneath the vent. On one of these
sat a remarkably tall woman, in a red cloak and slouched bonnet, having
the appearance of a tinker or beggar. She was busily engaged with a short
At the request of Brown for some food, the landlady wiped with her mealy
apron one corner of the deal table, placed a wooden trencher and knife
and fork before the traveller, pointed to the round of beef, recommended
Mr. Dinmont's good example, and finally filled a brown pitcher with her
home-brewed. Brown lost no time in doing ample credit to both. For a
while his opposite neighbour and he were too busy to take much notice of
each other, except by a good-humoured nod as each in turn raised the
tankard to his head. At length, when our pedestrian began to supply the
wants of little Wasp, the Scotch store-farmer, for such was Mr. Dinmont,
found himself at leisure to enter into conversation.
'A bonny terrier that, sir, and a fell chield at the vermin, I warrant
him; that is, if he's been weel entered, for it a' lies in that.'
'Really, sir,' said Brown, 'his education has been somewhat neglected,
and his chief property is being a pleasant companion.'
'Ay, sir? that's a pity, begging your pardon, it's a great pity that;
beast or body, education should aye be minded. I have six terriers at
hame, forbye twa couple of slow-hunds, five grews, and a wheen other
dogs. There's auld Pepper and auld Mustard, and young Pepper and young
Mustard, and little Pepper and little Mustard. I had them a' regularly
entered, first wi' rottens, then wi' stots or weasels, and then wi' the
tods and brocks, and now they fear naething that ever cam wi' a hairy
'I have no doubt, sir, they are thoroughbred; but, to have so many dogs,
you seem to have a very limited variety of names for them?'
'O, that's a fancy of my ain to mark the breed, sir. The Deuke himsell
has sent as far as Charlie's Hope to get ane o' Dandy Dinmont's Pepper
and Mustard terriers. Lord, man, he sent Tam Hudson [Footnote: The real
name of this veteran sportsman is now restored.] the keeper, and sicken a
day as we had wi' the foumarts and the tods, and sicken a blythe gae-down
as we had again e'en! Faith, that was a night!'
'I suppose game is very plenty with you?'
'Plenty, man! I believe there's mair hares than sheep on my farm; and for
the moor-fowl or the grey-fowl, they lie as thick as doos in a dookit.
Did ye ever shoot a blackcock, man?'
'Really I had never even the pleasure to see one, except in the museum at
'There now! I could guess that by your Southland tongue. It's very odd of
these English folk that come here, how few of them has seen a blackcock!
I'll tell you what--ye seem to be an honest lad, and if you'll call on
me, on Dandy Dinmont, at Charlie's Hope, ye shall see a blackcock, and
shoot a blackcock, and eat a blackcock too, man.'
'Why, the proof of the matter is the eating, to be sure, sir; and I shall
be happy if I can find time to accept your invitation.'
'Time, man? what ails ye to gae hame wi' me the now? How d' ye travel?'
'On foot, sir; and if that handsome pony be yours, I should find it
impossible to keep up with you.'
'No, unless ye can walk up to fourteen mile an hour. But ye can come ower
the night as far as Riccarton, where there is a public; or if ye like to
stop at Jockey Grieve's at the Heuch, they would be blythe to see ye, and
I am just gaun to stop and drink a dram at the door wi' him, and I would
tell him you're coming up. Or stay--gudewife, could ye lend this
gentleman the gudeman's galloway, and I'll send it ower the Waste in the
morning wi' the callant?'
The galloway was turned out upon the fell, and was swear to
catch.--'Aweel, aweel, there's nae help for't, but come up the morn at
ony rate. And now, gudewife, I maun ride, to get to the Liddel or it be
dark, for your Waste has but a kittle character, ye ken yoursell.'
'Hout fie, Mr. Dinmont, that's no like you, to gie the country an ill
name. I wot, there has been nane stirred in the Waste since Sawney
Culloch, the travelling-merchant, that Rowley Overdees and Jock Penny
suffered for at Carlisle twa years since. There's no ane in Bewcastle
would do the like o' that now; we be a' true folk now.'
'Ay, Tib, that will be when the deil's blind; and his een's no sair yet.
But hear ye, gudewife, I have been through maist feck o' Galloway and
Dumfries-shire, and I have been round by Carlisle, and I was at the
Staneshiebank Fair the day, and I would like ill to be rubbit sae near
hame, so I'll take the gate.'
'Hae ye been in Dumfries and Galloway?' said the old dame who sate
smoking by the fireside, and who had not yet spoken a word.
'Troth have I, gudewife, and a weary round I've had o't.'
'Then ye'll maybe ken a place they ca' Ellangowan?'
'Ellangowan, that was Mr. Bertram's? I ken the place weel eneugh. The
Laird died about a fortnight since, as I heard.'
'Died!' said the old woman, dropping her pipe, and rising and coming
forward upon the floor--'died? are you sure of that?'
'Troth, am I,' said Dinmont, 'for it made nae sma' noise in the
country-side. He died just at the roup of the stocking and furniture; it
stoppit the roup, and mony folk were disappointed. They said he was the
last of an auld family too, and mony were sorry; for gude blude's scarcer
in Scotland than it has been.'
'Dead!' replied the old woman, whom our readers have already recognised
as their acquaintance Meg Merrilies--'dead! that quits a' scores. And did
ye say he died without an heir?'
'Ay did he, gudewife, and the estate's sell'd by the same token; for they
said they couldna have sell'd it if there had been an heir-male.'
'Sell'd!' echoed the gipsy, with something like a scream; 'and wha durst
buy Ellangowan that was not of Bertram's blude? and wha could tell
whether the bonny knave-bairn may not come back to claim his ain? wha
durst buy the estate and the castle of Ellangowan?'
'Troth, gudewife, just ane o' thae writer chields that buys a' thing;
they ca' him Glossin, I think.'
'Glossin! Gibbie Glossin! that I have carried in my creels a hundred
times, for his mother wasna muckle better than mysell--he to presume to
buy the barony of Ellangowan! Gude be wi' us; it is an awfu' warld! I
wished him ill; but no sic a downfa' as a' that neither. Wae's me! wae's
me to think o't!' She remained a moment silent but still opposing with
her hand the farmer's retreat, who betwixt every question was about to
turn his back, but good-humouredly stopped on observing the deep interest
his answers appeared to excite.
'It will be seen and heard of--earth and sea will not hold their peace
langer! Can ye say if the same man be now the sheriff of the county that
has been sae for some years past?'
'Na, he's got some other birth in Edinburgh, they say; but gude day,
gudewife, I maun ride.' She followed him to his horse, and, while he drew
the girths of his saddle, adjusted the walise, and put on the bridle,
still plied him with questions concerning Mr. Bertram's death and the
fate of his daughter; on which, however, she could obtain little
information from the honest farmer.
'Did ye ever see a place they ca' Derncleugh, about a mile frae the Place
'I wot weel have I, gudewife. A wild-looking den it is, wi' a whin auld
wa's o' shealings yonder; I saw it when I gaed ower the ground wi' ane
that wanted to take the farm.'
'It was a blythe bit ance!' said Meg, speaking to herself. 'Did ye notice
if there was an auld saugh tree that's maist blawn down, but yet its
roots are in the earth, and it hangs ower the bit burn? Mony a day hae I
wrought my stocking and sat on my sunkie under that saugh.'
'Hout, deil's i' the wife, wi' her saughs, and her sunkies, and
Ellangowans. Godsake, woman, let me away; there's saxpence t' ye to buy
half a mutchkin, instead o' clavering about thae auld-warld stories.'
'Thanks to ye, gudeman; and now ye hae answered a' my questions, and
never speired wherefore I asked them, I'll gie you a bit canny advice,
and ye maunna speir what for neither. Tib Mumps will be out wi' the
stirrup-dram in a gliffing. She'll ask ye whether ye gang ower Willie's
Brae or through Conscowthart Moss; tell her ony ane ye like, but be sure
(speaking low and emphatically) to tak the ane ye dinna tell her.' The
farmer laughed and promised, and the gipsy retreated.
'Will you take her advice?' said Brown, who had been an attentive
listener to this conversation.
'That will I no, the randy quean! Na, I had far rather Tib Mumps kenn'd
which way I was gaun than her, though Tib's no muckle to lippen to
neither, and I would advise ye on no account to stay in the house a'
In a moment after Tib, the landlady, appeared with her stirrup-cup, which
was taken off. She then, as Meg had predicted, inquired whether he went
the hill or the moss road. He answered, the latter; and, having bid Brown
good-bye, and again told him, 'he depended on seeing him at Charlie's
Hope, the morn at latest,' he rode off at a round pace.
Gallows and knock are too powerful on the highway
The hint of the hospitable farmer was not lost on Brown. But while he
paid his reckoning he could not avoid repeatedly fixing his eyes on Meg
Merrilies. She was in all respects the same witch-like figure as when we
first introduced her at Ellangowan Place. Time had grizzled her raven
locks and added wrinkles to her wild features, but her height remained
erect, and her activity was unimpaired. It was remarked of this woman, as
of others of the same description, that a life of action, though not of
labour, gave her the perfect command of her limbs and figure, so that the
attitudes into which she most naturally threw herself were free,
unconstrained, and picturesque. At present she stood by the window of the
cottage, her person drawn up so as to show to full advantage her
masculine stature, and her head somewhat thrown back, that the large
bonnet with which her face was shrouded might not interrupt her steady
gaze at Brown. At every gesture he made and every tone he uttered she
seemed to give an almost imperceptible start. On his part, he was
surprised to find that he could not look upon this singular figure
without some emotion. 'Have I dreamed of such a figure?' he said to
himself, 'or does this wild and singular-looking woman recall to my
recollection some of the strange figures I have seen in our Indian
While he embarrassed himself with these discussions, and the hostess was
engaged in rummaging out silver in change of half-a-guinea, the gipsy
suddenly made two strides and seized Brown's hand. He expected, of
course, a display of her skill in palmistry, but she seemed agitated by
'Tell me,' she said, 'tell me, in the name of God, young man, what is
your name, and whence you came?'
'My name is Brown, mother, and I come from the East Indies.'
'From the East Indies!' dropping his hand with a sigh; 'it cannot be
then. I am such an auld fool, that everything I look on seems the thing I
want maist to see. But the East Indies! that cannot be. Weel, be what ye
will, ye hae a face and a tongue that puts me in mind of auld times. Good
day; make haste on your road, and if ye see ony of our folk, meddle not
and make not, and they'll do you nae harm.'
Brown, who had by this time received his change, put a shilling into her
hand, bade his hostess farewell, and, taking the route which the farmer
had gone before, walked briskly on, with the advantage of being guided by
the fresh hoof-prints of his horse. Meg Merrilies looked after him for
some time, and then muttered to herself, 'I maun see that lad again; and
I maun gang back to Ellangowan too. The Laird's dead! aweel, death pays
a' scores; he was a kind man ance. The Sheriff's flitted, and I can keep
canny in the bush; so there's no muckle hazard o' scouring the
cramp-ring. I would like to see bonny Ellangowan again or I die.'
Brown meanwhile proceeded northward at a round pace along the moorish
tract called the Waste of Cumberland. He passed a solitary house, towards
which the horseman who preceded him had apparently turned up, for his
horse's tread was evident in that direction. A little farther, he seemed
to have returned again into the road. Mr. Dinmont had probably made a
visit there either of business or pleasure. 'I wish,' thought Brown, 'the
good farmer had staid till I came up; I should not have been sorry to ask
him a few questions about the road, which seems to grow wilder and
In truth, nature, as if she had designed this tract of country to be the
barrier between two hostile nations, has stamped upon it a character of
wildness and desolation. The hills are neither high nor rocky, but the
land is all heath and morass; the huts poor and mean, and at a great
distance from each other. Immediately around them there is generally some
little attempt at cultivation; but a half-bred foal or two, straggling
about with shackles on their hind legs, to save the trouble of
inclosures, intimate the farmer's chief resource to be the breeding of
horses. The people, too, are of a ruder and more inhospitable class than
are elsewhere to be found in Cumberland, arising partly from their own
habits, partly from their intermixture with vagrants and criminals, who
make this wild country a refuge from justice. So much were the men of
these districts in early times the objects of suspicion and dislike to
their more polished neighbours, that there was, and perhaps still exists,
a by-law of the corporation of Newcastle prohibiting any freeman of that
city to take for apprentice a native of certain of these dales. It is
pithily said, 'Give a dog an ill name and hang him'; and it may be added,
if you give a man, or race of men, an ill name they are very likely to do
something that deserves hanging. Of this Brown had heard something, and
suspected more, from the discourse between the landlady, Dinmont, and the
gipsy; but he was naturally of a fearless disposition, had nothing about
him that could tempt the spoiler, and trusted to get through the Waste
with daylight. In this last particular, however, he was likely to be
disappointed. The way proved longer than he had anticipated, and the
horizon began to grow gloomy just as he entered upon an extensive morass.
Choosing his steps with care and deliberation, the young officer
proceeded along a path that sometimes sunk between two broken black banks
of moss earth, sometimes crossed narrow but deep ravines filled with a
consistence between mud and water, and sometimes along heaps of gravel
and stones, which had been swept together when some torrent or waterspout
from the neighbouring hills overflowed the marshy ground below. He began
to ponder how a horseman could make his way through such broken ground;
the traces of hoofs, however, were still visible; he even thought he
heard their sound at some distance, and, convinced that Mr. Dinmont's
progress through the morass must be still slower than his own, he
resolved to push on, in hopes to overtake him and have the benefit of his
knowledge of the country. At this moment his little terrier sprung
forward, barking most furiously.
Brown quickened his pace, and, attaining the summit of a small rising
ground, saw the subject of the dog's alarm. In a hollow about a gunshot
below him a man whom he easily recognised to be Dinmont was engaged with
two others in a desperate struggle. He was dismounted, and defending
himself as he best could with the butt of his heavy whip. Our traveller
hastened on to his assistance; but ere he could get up a stroke had
levelled the farmer with the earth, and one of the robbers, improving his
victory, struck him some merciless blows on the head. The other villain,
hastening to meet Brown, called to his companion to come along, 'for that
one's CONTENT,' meaning, probably, past resistance or complaint. One
ruffian was armed with a cutlass, the other with a bludgeon; but as the
road was pretty narrow, 'bar fire-arms,' thought Brown, 'and I may manage
them well enough.' They met accordingly, with the most murderous threats
on the part of the ruffians. They soon found, however, that their new
opponent was equally stout and resolute; and, after exchanging two or
three blows, one of them told him to 'follow his nose over the heath, in
the devil's name, for they had nothing to say to him.'
Brown rejected this composition as leaving to their mercy the unfortunate
man whom they were about to pillage, if not to murder outright; and the
skirmish had just recommenced when Dinmont unexpectedly recovered his
senses, his feet, and his weapon, and hastened to the scene of action. As
he had been no easy antagonist, even when surprised and alone, the
villains did not choose to wait his joining forces with a man who had
singly proved a match for them both, but fled across the bog as fast as
their feet could carry them, pursued by Wasp, who had acted gloriously
during the skirmish, annoying the heels of the enemy, and repeatedly
effecting a moment's diversion in his master's favour.
'Deil, but your dog's weel entered wi' the vermin now, sir!' were the
first words uttered by the jolly farmer as he came up, his head streaming
with blood, and recognised his deliverer and his little attendant.
'I hope, sir, you are not hurt dangerously?'
'O, deil a bit, my head can stand a gay clour; nae thanks to them,
though, and mony to you. But now, hinney, ye maun help me to catch the
beast, and ye maun get on behind me, for we maun off like whittrets
before the whole clanjamfray be doun upon us; the rest o' them will no be
far off.' The galloway was, by good fortune, easily caught, and Brown
made some apology for overloading the animal.
'Deil a fear, man,' answered the proprietor; 'Dumple could carry six
folk, if his back was lang eneugh; but God's sake, haste ye, get on, for
I see some folk coming through the slack yonder that it may be just as
weel no to wait for.'
Brown was of opinion that this apparition of five or six men, with whom
the other villains seemed to join company, coming across the moss towards
them, should abridge ceremony; he therefore mounted Dumple en croupe, and
the little spirited nag cantered away with two men of great size and
strength as if they had been children of six years old. The rider, to
whom the paths of these wilds seemed intimately known, pushed on at a
rapid pace, managing with much dexterity to choose the safest route, in
which he was aided by the sagacity of the galloway, who never failed to
take the difficult passes exactly at the particular spot, and in the
special manner, by which they could be most safely crossed. Yet, even
with these advantages, the road was so broken, and they were so often
thrown out of the direct course by various impediments, that they did not
gain much on their pursuers. 'Never mind,' said the undaunted Scotchman
to his companion, 'if we were ance by Withershins' Latch, the road's no
near sae soft, and we'll show them fair play for't.'
They soon came to the place he named, a narrow channel, through which
soaked, rather than flowed, a small stagnant stream, mantled over with
bright green mosses. Dinmont directed his steed towards a pass where the
water appeared to flow with more freedom over a harder bottom; but Dumple
backed from the proposed crossing-place, put his head down as if to
reconnoitre the swamp more nearly, stretching forward his fore-feet, and
stood as fast as if he had been cut out of stone.
'Had we not better,' said Brown, 'dismount, and leave him to his fate; or
can you not urge him through the swamp?'
'Na, na,' said his pilot, 'we maun cross Dumple at no rate, he has mair
sense than mony a Christian.' So saying, he relaxed the reins, and shook
them loosely. 'Come now, lad, take your ain way o't, let's see where
ye'll take us through.'
Dumple, left to the freedom of his own will, trotted briskly to another
part of the latch, less promising, as Brown thought, in appearance, but
which the animal's sagacity or experience recommended as the safer of the
two, and where, plunging in, he attained the other side with little
'I'm glad we're out o' that moss,' said Dinmont, 'where there's mair
stables for horses than change-houses for men; we have the Maiden-way to
help us now, at ony rate.' Accordingly, they speedily gained a sort of
rugged causeway so called, being the remains of an old Roman road which
traverses these wild regions in a due northerly direction. Here they got
on at the rate of nine or ten miles an hour, Dumple seeking no other
respite than what arose from changing his pace from canter to trot. 'I
could gar him show mair action,' said his master, 'but we are twa
lang-legged chields after a', and it would be a pity to stress Dumple;
there wasna the like o' him at Staneshiebank Fair the day.'
Brown readily assented to the propriety of sparing the horse, and added
that, as they were now far out of the reach of the rogues, he thought Mr.
Dintnont had better tie a handkerchief round his head, for fear of the
cold frosty air aggravating the wound.
'What would I do that for?' answered the hardy farmer; 'the best way's to
let the blood barken upon the cut; that saves plasters, hinney.'
Brown, who in his military profession had seen a great many hard blows
pass, could not help remarking, 'he had never known such severe strokes
received with so much apparent indifference.'
'Hout tout, man! I would never be making a humdudgeon about a scart on
the pow; but we'll be in Scotland in five minutes now, and ye maun gang
up to Charlie's Hope wi' me, that's a clear case.'
Brown readily accepted the offered hospitality. Night was now falling
when they came in sight of a pretty river winding its way through a
pastoral country. The hills were greener and more abrupt than those which
Brown had lately passed, sinking their grassy sides at once upon the
river. They had no pretensions to magnificence of height, or to romantic
shapes, nor did their smooth swelling slopes exhibit either rocks or
woods. Yet the view was wild, solitary, and pleasingly rural. No
inclosures, no roads, almost no tillage; it seemed a land which a
patriarch would have chosen to feed his flocks and herds. The remains of
here and there a dismantled and ruined tower showed that it had once
harboured beings of a very different description from its present
inhabitants; those freebooters, namely, to whose exploits the wars
between England and Scotland bear witness.
Descending by a path towards a well-known ford, Dumple crossed the small
river, and then, quickening his pace, trotted about a mile briskly up its
banks, and approached two or three low thatched houses, placed with their
angles to each other, with a great contempt of regularity. This was the
farm-steading of Charlie's Hope, or, in the language of the country, 'the
town.' A most furious barking was set up at their approach by the whole
three generations of Mustard and Pepper, and a number of allies, names
unknown. The farmer [Footnote: See Note 3.] made his well-known voice
lustily heard to restore order; the door opened, and a half-dressed
ewe-milker, who had done that good office, shut it in their faces, in
order that she might run 'ben the house' to cry 'Mistress, mistress, it's
the master, and another man wi' him.' Dumple, turned loose, walked to his
own stable-door, and there pawed and whinnied for admission, in strains
which were answered by his acquaintances from the interior. Amid this
bustle Brown was fain to secure Wasp from the other dogs, who, with
ardour corresponding more to their own names than to the hospitable
temper of their owner, were much disposed to use the intruder roughly.
In about a minute a stout labourer was patting Dumple, and introducing
him into the stable, while Mrs. Dinmont, a well-favoured buxom dame,
welcomed her husband with unfeigned rapture. 'Eh, sirs! gudeman, ye hae
been a weary while away!'
Liddell till now, except in Doric lays,
Tuned to her murmurs by her love-sick swains,
Unknown in song, though not a purer stream
Rolls towards the western main
Art of Preserving Health.
The present store-farmers of the south of Scotland are a much more
refined race than their fathers, and the manners I am now to describe
have either altogether disappeared or are greatly modified. Without
losing the rural simplicity of manners, they now cultivate arts unknown
to the former generation, not only in the progressive improvement of
their possessions but in all the comforts of life. Their houses are more
commodious, their habits of life regulated so as better to keep pace with
those of the civilised world, and the best of luxuries, the luxury of
knowledge, has gained much ground among their hills during the last
thirty years. Deep drinking, formerly their greatest failing, is now fast
losing ground; and, while the frankness of their extensive hospitality
continues the same, it is, generally speaking, refined in its character
and restrained in its excesses.
'Deil's in the wife,' said Dandie Dinmont, shaking off his spouse's
embrace, but gently and with a look of great affection; 'deil's in ye,
Ailie; d'ye no see the stranger gentleman?'
Ailie turned to make her apology--'Troth, I was sae weel pleased to see
the gudeman, that--but, gude gracious! what's the matter wi' ye baith?'
for they were now in her little parlour, and the candle showed the
streaks of blood which Dinmont's wounded head had plentifully imparted to
the clothes of his companion as well as to his own. 'Ye've been fighting
again, Dandie, wi' some o' the Bewcastle horse-coupers! Wow, man, a
married man, wi' a bonny family like yours, should ken better what a
father's life's worth in the warld'; the tears stood in the good woman's
eyes as she spoke.
'Whisht! whisht! gudewife,' said her husband, with a smack that had much
more affection than ceremony in it; 'never mind, never mind; there's a
gentleman that will tell you that, just when I had ga'en up to Lourie
Lowther's, and had bidden the drinking of twa cheerers, and gotten just
in again upon the moss, and was whigging cannily awa hame, twa
landloupers jumpit out of a peat-hag on me or I was thinking, and got me
down, and knevelled me sair aneuch, or I could gar my whip walk about
their lugs; and troth, gudewife, if this honest gentleman hadna come up,
I would have gotten mair licks than I like, and lost mair siller than I
could weel spare; so ye maun be thankful to him for it, under God.' With
that he drew from his side-pocket a large greasy leather pocket-book, and
bade the gudewife lock it up in her kist.
'God bless the gentleman, and e'en God bless him wi' a' my heart; but
what can we do for him, but to gie him the meat and quarters we wadna
refuse to the poorest body on earth--unless (her eye directed to the
pocketbook, but with a feeling of natural propriety which made the
inference the most delicate possible), unless there was ony other way--'
Brown saw, and estimated at its due rate, the mixture of simplicity and
grateful generosity which took the downright way of expressing itself,
yet qualified with so much delicacy; he was aware his own appearance,
plain at best, and now torn and spattered with blood, made him an object
of pity at least, and perhaps of charity. He hastened to say his name was
Brown, a captain in the----regiment of cavalry, travelling for pleasure,
and on foot, both from motives of independence and economy; and he begged
his kind landlady would look at her husband's wounds, the state of which
he had refused to permit him to examine. Mrs. Dinmont was used to her
husband's broken heads more than to the presence of a captain of
dragoons. She therefore glanced at a table-cloth not quite clean, and
conned over her proposed supper a minute or two, before, patting her
husband on the shoulder, she bade him sit down for 'a hard-headed loon,
that was aye bringing himsell and other folk into collie-shangies.'
When Dandie Dinmont, after executing two or three caprioles, and cutting
the Highland fling, by way of ridicule of his wife's anxiety, at last
deigned to sit down and commit his round, black, shaggy bullet of a head
to her inspection, Brown thought he had seen the regimental surgeon look
grave upon a more trifling case. The gudewife, however, showed some
knowledge of chirurgery; she cut away with her scissors the gory locks
whose stiffened and coagulated clusters interfered with her operations,
and clapped on the wound some lint besmeared with a vulnerary salve,
esteemed sovereign by the whole dale (which afforded upon fair nights
considerable experience of such cases); she then fixed her plaster with a
bandage, and, spite of her patient's resistance, pulled over all a
night-cap, to keep everything in its right place. Some contusions on the
brow and shoulders she fomented with brandy, which the patient did not
permit till the medicine had paid a heavy toll to his mouth. Mrs. Dinmont
then simply, but kindly, offered her assistance to Brown.
He assured her he had no occasion for anything but the accommodation of a
basin and towel.
'And that's what I should have thought of sooner,' she said; 'and I did
think o't, but I durst na open the door, for there's a' the bairns, poor
things, sae keen to see their father.'
This explained a great drumming and whining at the door of the little
parlour, which had somewhat surprised Brown, though his kind landlady had
only noticed it by fastening the bolt as soon as she heard it begin. But
on her opening the door to seek the basin and towel (for she never
thought of showing the guest to a separate room), a whole tide of
white-headed urchins streamed in, some from the stable, where they had
been seeing Dumple, and giving him a welcome home with part of their
four-hours scones; others from the kitchen, where they had been listening
to old Elspeth's tales and ballads; and the youngest, half-naked, out of
bed, all roaring to see daddy, and to inquire what he had brought home
for them from the various fairs he had visited in his peregrinations. Our
knight of the broken head first kissed and hugged them all round, then
distributed whistles, penny-trumpets, and gingerbread, and, lastly, when
the tumult of their joy and welcome got beyond bearing, exclaimed to his
guest--'This is a' the gude-wife's fault, Captain; she will gie the
bairns a' their ain way.'
'Me! Lord help me,' said Ailie, who at that instant entered with the
basin and ewer, 'how can I help it? I have naething else to gie them,
Dinmont then exerted himself, and, between coaxing, threats, and shoving,
cleared the room of all the intruders excepting a boy and girl, the two
eldest of the family, who could, as he observed, behave themselves
'distinctly.' For the same reason, but with less ceremony, all the dogs
were kicked out excepting the venerable patriarchs, old Pepper and
Mustard, whom frequent castigation and the advance of years had inspired
with such a share of passive hospitality that, after mutual explanation
and remonstrance in the shape of some growling, they admitted Wasp, who
had hitherto judged it safe to keep beneath his master's chair, to a
share of a dried-wedder's skin, which, with the wool uppermost and
unshorn, served all the purposes of a Bristol hearth-rug.
The active bustle of the mistress (so she was called in the kitchen, and
the gudewife in the parlour) had already signed the fate of a couple of
fowls, which, for want of time to dress them otherwise, soon appeared
reeking from the gridiron, or brander, as Mrs. Dinmont denominated it. A
huge piece of cold beef-ham, eggs, butter, cakes, and barley-meal
bannocks in plenty made up the entertainment, which was to be diluted
with home-brewed ale of excellent quality and a case-bottle of brandy.
Few soldiers would find fault with such cheer after a day's hard exercise
and a skirmish to boot; accordingly Brown did great honour to the
eatables. While the gudewife partly aided, partly instructed, a great
stout servant girl, with cheeks as red as her top-knot, to remove the
supper matters and supply sugar and hot water (which, in the damsel's
anxiety to gaze upon an actual live captain, she was in some danger of
forgetting), Brown took an opportunity to ask his host whether he did not
repent of having neglected the gipsy's hint.
'Wha kens?' answered he; 'they're queer deevils; maybe I might just have
'scaped ae gang to meet the other. And yet I 'll no say that neither; for
if that randy wife was coming to Charlie's Hope, she should have a pint
bottle o' brandy and a pound o' tobacco to wear her through the winter.
They're queer deevils; as my auld father used to say, they're warst where
they're warst guided. After a', there's baith gude and ill about the
This, and some other desultory conversation, served as a 'shoeing-horn'
to draw on another cup of ale and another 'cheerer,' as Dinmont termed it
in his country phrase, of brandy and water. Brown then resolutely
declined all further conviviality for that evening, pleading his own
weariness and the effects of the skirmish, being well aware that it would
have availed nothing to have remonstrated with his host on the danger
that excess might have occasioned to his own raw wound and bloody
coxcomb. A very small bed-room, but a very clean bed, received the
traveller, and the sheets made good the courteous vaunt of the hostess,
'that they would be as pleasant as he could find ony gate, for they were
washed wi' the fairy-well water, and bleached on the bonny white gowans,
and bittled by Nelly and herself, and what could woman, if she was a
queen, do mair for them?'
They indeed rivalled snow in whiteness, and had, besides, a pleasant
fragrance from the manner in which they had been bleached. Little Wasp,
after licking his master's hand to ask leave, couched himself on the
coverlet at his feet; and the traveller's senses were soon lost in
Give ye, Britons, then,
Your sportive fury, pitiless to pour
Loose on the nightly robber of the fold.
Him from his craggy winding haunts unearth'd,
Let all the thunder of the chase pursue.
Brown rose early in the morning and walked out to look at the
establishment of his new friend. All was rough and neglected in the
neighbourhood of the house;--a paltry garden, no pains taken to make the
vicinity dry or comfortable, and a total absence of all those little
neatnesses which give the eye so much pleasure in looking at an English
farm-house. There were, notwithstanding, evident signs that this arose
only from want of taste or ignorance, not from poverty or the negligence
which attends it. On the contrary, a noble cow-house, well filled with
good milk-cows, a feeding-house, with ten bullocks of the most approved
breed, a stable, with two good teams of horses, the appearance of
domestics active, industrious, and apparently contented with their lot;
in a word, an air of liberal though sluttish plenty indicated the wealthy
fanner. The situation of the house above the river formed a gentle
declivity, which relieved the inhabitants of the nuisances that might
otherwise have stagnated around it. At a little distance was the whole
band of children playing and building houses with peats around a huge
doddered oak-tree, which was called Charlie's Bush, from some tradition
respecting an old freebooter who had once inhabited the spot. Between the
farm-house and the hill-pasture was a deep morass, termed in that country
a slack; it had once been the defence of a fortalice, of which no
vestiges now remained, but which was said to have been inhabited by the
same doughty hero we have now alluded to. Brown endeavoured to make some
acquaintance with the children, but 'the rogues fled from him like
quicksilver,' though the two eldest stood peeping when they had got to
some distance. The traveller then turned his course towards the hill,
crossing the foresaid swamp by a range of stepping-stones, neither the
broadest nor steadiest that could be imagined. He had not climbed far up
the hill when he met a man descending.
He soon recognised his worthy host, though a 'maud,' as it is called, or
a grey shepherd's plaid, supplied his travelling jockey-coat, and a cap,
faced with wild-cat's fur, more comrhodiously covered his bandaged head
than a hat would have done. As he appeared through the morning mist,
Brown, accustomed to judge of men by their thewes and sinews, could not
help admiring his height, the breadth of his shoulders, and the steady
firmness of his step. Dinmont internally paid the same compliment to
Brown, whose athletic form he now perused somewhat more at leisure than
he had done formerly. After the usual greetings of the morning, the guest
inquired whether his host found any inconvenient consequences from the
last night's affray.
'I had maist forgotten't,' said the hardy Borderer; 'but I think this
morning, now that I am fresh and sober, if you and I were at the
Withershins' Latch, wi' ilka ane a gude oak souple in his hand, we wadna
turn back, no for half a dizzen o' yon scaff-raff.'
'But are you prudent, my good sir,' said Brown, 'not to take an hour or
two's repose after receiving such severe contusions?'
'Confusions!' replied the farmer, laughing in derision. 'Lord, Captain,
naething confuses my head. I ance jumped up and laid the dogs on the fox
after I had tumbled from the tap o' Christenbury Craig, and that might
have confused me to purpose. Na, naething confuses me, unless it be a
screed o' drink at an orra time. Besides, I behooved to be round the
hirsel this morning and see how the herds were coming on; they're apt to
be negligent wi' their footballs, and fairs, and trysts, when ane's away.
And there I met wi' Tarn o' Todshaw, and a wheen o' the rest o' the
billies on the water side; they're a' for a fox-hunt this morning,--ye'll
gang? I 'll gie ye Dumple, and take the brood mare mysell.'
'But I fear I must leave you this morning, Mr. Dinmont,' replied Brown.
'The fient a bit o' that,' exclaimed the Borderer. 'I'll no part wi' ye
at ony rate for a fortnight mair. Na, na; we dinna meet sic friends as
you on a Bewcastle moss every night.'
Brown had not designed his journey should be a speedy one; he therefore
readily compounded with this hearty invitation by agreeing to pass a week
at Charlie's Hope.
On their return to the house, where the goodwife presided over an ample
breakfast, she heard news of the proposed fox-hunt, not indeed with
approbation, but without alarm or surprise. 'Dand! ye're the auld man
yet; naething will make ye take warning till ye're brought hame some day
wi' your feet foremost.'
'Tut, lass!' answered Dandle, 'ye ken yoursell I am never a prin the waur
o' my rambles.'
So saying, he exhorted Brown to be hasty in despatching his breakfast,
as, 'the frost having given way, the scent would lie this morning
Out they sallied accordingly for Otterscope Scaurs, the farmer leading
the way. They soon quitted the little valley, and involved themselves
among hills as steep as they could be without being precipitous. The
sides often presented gullies, down which, in the winter season, or after
heavy rain, the torrents descended with great fury. Some dappled mists
still floated along the peaks of the hills, the remains of the morning
clouds, for the frost had broken up with a smart shower. Through these
fleecy screens were seen a hundred little temporary streamlets, or rills,
descending the sides of the mountains like silver threads. By small
sheep-tracks along these steeps, over which Dinmont trotted with the most
fearless confidence, they at length drew near the scene of sport, and
began to see other men, both on horse and foot, making toward the place
of rendezvous. Brown was puzzling himself to conceive how a fox-chase
could take place among hills, where it was barely possible for a pony,
accustomed to the ground, to trot along, but where, quitting the track
for half a yard's breadth, the rider might be either bogged or
precipitated down the bank. This wonder was not diminished when he came
to the place of action.
They had gradually ascended very high, and now found themselves on a
mountain-ridge, overhanging a glen of great depth, but extremely narrow.
Here the sportsmen had collected, with an apparatus which would have
shocked a member of the Pychely Hunt; for, the object being the removal
of a noxious and destructive animal, as well as the pleasures of the
chase, poor Reynard was allowed much less fair play than when pursued in
form through an open country. The strength of his habitation, however,
and the nature of the ground by which it was surrounded on all sides,
supplied what was wanting in the courtesy of his pursuers. The sides of
the glen were broken banks of earth and rocks of rotten stone, which sunk
sheer down to the little winding stream below, affording here and there a
tuft of scathed brushwood or a patch of furze. Along the edges of this
ravine, which, as we have said, was very narrow, but of profound depth,
the hunters on horse and foot ranged themselves; almost every farmer had
with him at least a brace of large and fierce greyhounds, of the race of
those deer-dogs which were formerly used in that country, but greatly
lessened in size from being crossed with the common breed. The huntsman,
a sort of provincial officer of the district, who receives a certain
supply of meal, and a reward for every fox he destroys, was already at
the bottom of the dell, whose echoes thundered to the chiding of two or
three brace of foxhounds. Terriers, including the whole generation of
Pepper and Mustard, were also in attendance, having been sent forward
under the care of a shepherd. Mongrel, whelp, and cur of low degree
filled up the burden of the chorus. The spectators on the brink of the
ravine, or glen, held their greyhounds in leash in readiness to slip them
at the fox as soon as the activity of the party below should force him to
abandon his cover.
The scene, though uncouth to the eye of a professed sportsman, had
something in it wildly captivating. The shifting figures on the
mountain-ridge, having the sky for their background, appeared to move in
the air. The dogs, impatient of their restraint, and maddened with the
baying beneath, sprung here and there, and strained at the slips, which
prevented them from joining their companions. Looking down, the view was
equally striking. The thin mists were not totally dispersed in the glen,
so that it was often through their gauzy medium that the eye strove to
discover the motions of the hunters below. Sometimes a breath of wind
made the scene visible, the blue rill glittering as it twined itself
through its rude and solitary dell. They then could see the shepherds
springing with fearless activity from one dangerous point to another, and
cheering the dogs on the scent, the whole so diminished by depth and
distance that they looked like pigmies. Again the mists close over them,
and the only signs of their continued exertions are the halloos of the
men and the clamours of the hounds, ascending as it were out of the
bowels of the earth. When the fox, thus persecuted from one stronghold to
another, was at length obl'ged to abandon his valley, and to break away
for a more distant retreat, those who watched his motions from the top
slipped their greyhounds, which, excelling the fox in swiftness, and
equalling him in ferocity and spirit, soon brought the plunderer to his
In this way, without any attention to the ordinary rules and decorums of
sport, but apparently as much to the gratification both of bipeds and
quadrupeds as if all due ritual had been followed, four foxes were killed
on this active morning; and even Brown himself, though he had seen the
princely sports of India, and ridden a-tiger-hunting upon an elephant
with the Nabob of Arcot, professed to have received an excellent
morning's amusement. When the sport was given up for the day, most of the
sportsmen, according to the established hospitality of the country, went
to dine at Charlie's Hope.
During their return homeward Brown rode for a short time beside the
huntsman, and asked him some questions concerning the mode in which he
exercised his profession. The man showed an unwillingness to meet his
eye, and a disposition to be rid of his company and conversation, for
which Brown could not easily account. He was a thin, dark, active fellow,
well framed for the hardy profession which he exercised. But his face had
not the frankness of the jolly hunter; he was down-looked, embarrassed,
and avoided the eyes of those who looked hard at him. After some
unimportant observations on the success of the day, Brown gave him a
trifling gratuity, and rode on with his landlord. They found the goodwife
prepared for their reception; the fold and the poultry-yard furnished the
entertainment, and the kind and hearty welcome made amends for all
deficiencies in elegance and fashion.
The Elliots and Armstrongs did convene,
They were a gallant company!
Ballad of Johnnie Armstrong
Without noticing the occupations of an intervening day or two, which, as
they consisted of the ordinary silvan amusements of shooting and
coursing, have nothing sufficiently interesting to detain the reader, we
pass to one in some degree peculiar to Scotland, which may be called a
sort of salmon-hunting. This chase, in which the fish is pursued and
struck with barbed spears, or a sort of long-shafted trident, called a
waster, is much practised at the mouth of the Esk and in the other salmon
rivers of Scotland. The sport is followed by day and night, but most
commonly in the latter, when the fish are discovered by means of torches,
or fire-grates, filled with blazing fragments of tar-barrels, which shed
a strong though partial light upon the water. On the present occasion the
principal party were embarked in a crazy boat upon a part of the river
which was enlarged and deepened by the restraint of a mill-wear, while
others, like the ancient Bacchanals in their gambols, ran along the
banks, brandishing their torches and spears, and pursuing the salmon,
some of which endeavoured to escape up the stream, while others,
shrouding themselves under roots of trees, fragments of stones, and large
rocks, attempted to conceal themselves from the researches of the
fishermen. These the party in the boat detected by the slightest
indications; the twinkling of a fin, the rising of an airbell, was
sufficient to point out to these adroit sportsmen in what direction to
use their weapon.
The scene was inexpressibly animating to those accustomed to it; but, as
Brown was not practised to use the spear, he soon tired of making efforts
which were attended with no other consequences than jarring his arms
against the rocks at the bottom of the river, upon which, instead of the
devoted salmon, he often bestowed his blow. Nor did he relish, though he
concealed feelings which would not have been understood, being quite so
near the agonies of the expiring salmon, as they lay flapping about in
the boat, which they moistened with their blood. He therefore requested
to be put ashore, and, from the top of a heugh or broken bank, enjoyed
the scene much more to his satisfaction. Often he thought of his friend
Dudley the artist, when he observed the effect produced by the strong red
glare on the romantic banks under which the boat glided. Now the light
diminished to a distant star that seemed to twinkle on the waters, like
those which, according to the legends of the country, the water-kelpy
sends for the purpose of indicating the watery grave of his victims. Then
it advanced nearer, brightening and enlarging as it again approached,
till the broad flickering flame rendered bank and rock and tree visible
as it passed, tingeing them with its own red glare of dusky light, and
resigning them gradually to darkness, or to pale moonlight, as it
receded. By this light also were seen the figures in the boat, now
holding high their weapons, now stooping to strike, now standing upright,
bronzed by the same red glare into a colour which might have befitted the
regions of Pandemonium.
Having amused himself for some time with these effects of light and
shadow, Brown strolled homewards towards the farm-house, gazing in his
way at the persons engaged in the sport, two or three of whom are
generally kept together, one holding the torch, the others with their
spears, ready to avail themselves of the light it affords to strike their
prey. As he observed one man struggling with a very weighty salmon which
he had speared, but was unable completely to raise from the water, Brown
advanced close to the bank to see the issue of his exertions. The man who
held the torch in this instance was the huntsman, whose sulky demeanour
Brown had already noticed with surprise. 'Come here, sir! come here, sir!
look at this ane! He turns up a side like a sow.' Such was the cry from
the assistants when some of them observed Brown advancing.
'Ground the waster weel, man! ground the waster weel! Haud him down! Ye
haena the pith o' a cat!' were the cries of advice, encouragement, and
expostulation from those who were on the bank to the sportsman engaged
with the salmon, who stood up to his middle in water, jingling among
broken ice, struggling against the force of the fish and the strength of
the current, and dubious in what manner he should attempt to secure his
booty. As Brown came to the edge of the bank, he called out--'Hold up
your torch, friend huntsman!' for he had already distinguished his dusky
features by the strong light cast upon them by the blaze. But the fellow
no sooner heard his voice, and saw, or rather concluded, it was Brown who
approached him, than, instead of advancing his light, he let it drop, as
if accidentally, into the water.
'The deil's in Gabriel!' said the spearman, as the fragments of glowing
wood floated half-blazing, half-sparkling, but soon extinguished, down
the stream. 'The deil's in the man! I'll never master him without the
light; and a braver kipper, could I but land him, never reisted abune a
pair o' cleeks.'[Footnote: See Note 4] Some dashed into the water to lend
their assistance, and the fish, which was afterwards found to weigh
nearly thirty pounds, was landed in safety.
The behaviour of the huntsman struck Brown, although he had no
recollection of his face, nor could conceive why he should, as it
appeared he evidently did, shun his observation. Could he be one of the
footpads he had encountered a few days before? The supposition was not
altogether improbable, although unwarranted by any observation he was
able to make upon the man's figure and face. To be sure the villains wore
their hats much slouched, and had loose coats, and their size was not in
any way so peculiarly discriminated as to enable him to resort to that
criterion. He resolved to speak to his host Dinmont on the subject, but
for obvious reasons concluded it were best to defer the explanation until
a cool hour in the morning.
The sportsmen returned loaded with fish, upwards of one hundred salmon
having been killed within the range of their sport. The best were
selected for the use of the principal farmers, the others divided among
their shepherds, cottars, dependents, and others of inferior rank who
attended. These fish, dried in the turf smoke of their cabins or
shealings, formed a savoury addition to the mess of potatoes, mixed with
onions, which was the principal part of their winter food. In the
meanwhile a liberal distribution of ale and whisky was made among them,
besides what was called a kettle of fish,--two or three salmon, namely,
plunged into a cauldron and boiled for their supper. Brown accompanied
his jolly landlord and the rest of his friends into the large and smoky
kitchen, where this savoury mess reeked on an oaken table, massive enough
to have dined Johnnie Armstrong and his merry-men. All was hearty cheer
and huzza, and jest and clamorous laughter, and bragging alternately, and
raillery between whiles. Our traveller looked earnestly around for the
dark countenance of the fox-hunter; but it was nowhere to be seen.
At length he hazarded a question concerning him. 'That was an awkward
accident, my lads, of one of you, who dropped his torch in the water when
his companion was struggling with the large fish.'
'Awkward!' returned a shepherd, looking up (the same stout young fellow
who had speared the salmon); 'he deserved his paiks for't, to put out the
light when the fish was on ane's witters! I'm weel convinced Gabriel
drapped the roughies in the water on purpose; he doesna like to see ony
body do a thing better than himsell.'
'Ay,' said another, 'he's sair shamed o' himsell, else he would have been
up here the night; Gabriel likes a little o' the gude thing as weel as
ony o' us.'
'Is he of this country?' said Brown.
'Na, na, he's been but shortly in office, but he's a fell hunter; he's
frae down the country, some gate on the Dumfries side.'
'And what's his name, pray?'
'But Gabriel what?'
'Oh, Lord kens that; we dinna mind folk's afternames muckle here, they
run sae muckle into clans.'
'Ye see, sir,' said an old shepherd, rising, and speaking very slow, 'the
folks hereabout are a' Armstrongs and Elliots,[Footnote: See Note 5] and
sic like--two or three given names--and so, for distinction's sake, the
lairds and farmers have the names of their places that they live at; as,
for example, Tam o' Todshaw, Will o' the Flat, Hobbie o' Sorbietrees, and
our good master here o' the Charlie's Hope. Aweel, sir, and then the
inferior sort o' people, ye'll observe, are kend by sorts o' by-names
some o' them, as Glaiket Christie, and the Deuke's Davie, or maybe, like
this lad Gabriel, by his employment; as, for example, Tod Gabbie, or
Hunter Gabbie. He's no been lang here, sir, and I dinna think ony body
kens him by ony other name. But it's no right to rin him doun ahint his
back, for he's a fell fox-hunter, though he's maybe no just sae clever as
some o' the folk hereawa wi' the waster.'
After some further desultory conversation, the superior sportsmen retired
to conclude the evening after their own manner, leaving the others to
enjoy themselves, unawed by their presence. That evening, like all those
which Brown had passed at Charlie's Hope, was spent in much innocent
mirth and conviviality. The latter might have approached to the verge of
riot but for the good women; for several of the neighbouring mistresses
(a phrase of a signification how different from what it bears in more
fashionable life!) had assembled at Charlie's Hope to witness the event
of this memorable evening. Finding the punch-bowl was so often
replenished that there was some danger of their gracious presence being
forgotten, they rushed in valorously upon the recreant revellers, headed
by our good mistress Ailie, so that Venus speedily routed Bacchus. The
fiddler and piper next made their appearance, and the best part of the
night was gallantly consumed in dancing to their music.
An otter-hunt the next day, and a badger-baiting the day after, consumed
the time merrily. I hope our traveller will not sink in the reader's
estimation, sportsman though he may be, when I inform him that on this
last occasion, after young Pepper had lost a fore-foot and Mustard the
second had been nearly throttled, he begged, as a particular and personal
favour of Mr. Dinmont, that the poor badger, who had made so gallant a
defence, should be permitted to retire to his earth without farther
The farmer, who would probably have treated this request with supreme
contempt had it come from any other person, was contented in Brown's case
to express the utter extremity of his wonder. 'Weel,' he said, 'that's
queer aneugh! But since ye take his part, deil a tyke shall meddle wi'
him mair in my day. We 'll e'en mark him, and ca' him the Captain's
brock; and I'm sure I'm glad I can do ony thing to oblige you,--but, Lord
save us, to care about a brock!'
After a week spent in rural sport, and distinguished by the most frank
attentions on the part of his honest landlord, Brown bade adieu to the
banks of the Liddel and the hospitality of Charlie's Hope. The children,
with all of whom he had now become an intimate and a favourite, roared
manfully in full chorus at his departure, and he was obliged to promise
twenty times that he would soon return and play over all their favourite
tunes upon the flageolet till they had got them by heart. 'Come back
again, Captain,' said one little sturdy fellow, 'and Jenny will be your
wife.' Jenny was about eleven years old; she ran and hid herself behind
'Captain, come back,' said a little fat roll-about girl of six, holding
her mouth up to be kissed, 'and I'll be your wife my ainsell.'
'They must be of harder mould than I,' thought Brown, 'who could part
from so many kind hearts with indifference.' The good dame too, with
matron modesty, and an affectionate simplicity that marked the olden
time, offered her cheek to the departing guest. 'It's little the like of
us can do,' she said, 'little indeed; but yet, if there were but ony
'Now, my dear Mrs. Dinmont, you embolden me to make a request: would you
but have the kindness to weave me, or work me, just such a grey plaid as
the goodman wears?' He had learned the language and feelings of the
country even during the short time of his residence, and was aware of the
pleasure the request would confer.
'A tait o' woo' would be scarce amang us,' said the goodwife,
brightening, 'if ye shouldna hae that, and as gude a tweel as ever cam
aff a pirn. I'll speak to Johnnie Goodsire, the weaver at the Castletown,
the morn. Fare ye weel, sir! and may ye be just as happy yoursell as ye
like to see a' body else; and that would be a sair wish to some folk.'
I must not omit to mention that our traveller left his trusty attendant
Wasp to be a guest at Charlie's Hope for a season. He foresaw that he
might prove a troublesome attendant in the event of his being in any
situation where secrecy and concealment might be necessary. He was
therefore consigned to the care of the eldest boy, who promised, in the
words of the old song, that he should have
A bit of his supper, a bit of his bed,
and that he should be engaged in none of those perilous pastimes in which
the race of Mustard and Pepper had suffered frequent mutilation. Brown
now prepared for his journey, having taken a temporary farewell of his
trusty little companion.
There is an odd prejudice in these hills in favour of riding. Every
farmer rides well, and rides the whole day. Probably the extent of their
large pasture farms, and the necessity of surveying them rapidly, first
introduced this custom; or a very zealous antiquary might derive it from
the times of the 'Lay of the Last Minstrel,' when twenty thousand
horsemen assembled at the light of the beacon-fires. [Footnote: It would
be affectation to alter this reference. But the reader will understand
that it was inserted to keep up the author's incognito, as he was not
likely to be suspected of quoting his own works. This explanation is also
applicable to one or two similar passages, in this and the other novels,
introduced for the same reason.] But the truth is undeniable; they like
to be on horseback, and can be with difficulty convinced that any one
chooses walking from other motives than those of convenience or
necessity. Accordingly, Dinmont insisted upon mounting his guest and
accompanying him on horseback as far as the nearest town in
Dumfries-shire, where he had directed his baggage to be sent, and from
which he proposed to pursue his intended journey towards Woodbourne, the
residence of Julia Mannering.
Upon the way he questioned his companion concerning the character of the
fox-hunter; but gained little information, as he had been called to that
office while Dinmont was making the round of the Highland fairs. 'He was
a shake-rag like fellow,' he said, 'and, he dared to say, had gipsy blood
in his veins; but at ony rate he was nane o' the smaiks that had been on
their quarters in the moss; he would ken them weel if he saw them again.
There are some no bad folk amang the gipsies too, to be sic a gang,'
added Dandie; 'if ever I see that auld randle-tree of a wife again, I 'll
gie her something to buy tobacco. I have a great notion she meant me very
fair after a'.'
When they were about finally to part, the good farmer held Brown long by
the hand, and at length said, 'Captain, the woo's sae weel up the year
that it's paid a' the rent, and we have naething to do wi' the rest o'
the siller when Ailie has had her new gown, and the bairns their bits o'
duds. Now I was thinking of some safe hand to put it into, for it's ower
muckle to ware on brandy and sugar; now I have heard that you army
gentlemen can sometimes buy yoursells up a step, and if a hundred or twa
would help ye on such an occasion, the bit scrape o' your pen would be as
good to me as the siller, and ye might just take yer ain time o' settling
it; it wad be a great convenience to me.' Brown, who felt the full
delicacy that wished to disguise the conferring an obligation under the
show of asking a favour, thanked his grateful friend most heartily, and
assured him he would have recourse to his purse without scruple should
circumstances ever render it convenient for him. And thus they parted
with many expressions of mutual regard.
If thou hast any love of mercy in thee,
Turn me upon my face that I may die.
Our traveller hired a post-chaise at the place where he separated from
Dinmont, with the purpose of proceeding to Kippletringan, there to
inquire into the state of the family at Woodbourne, before he should
venture to make his presence in the country known to Miss Mannering. The
stage was a long one of eighteen or twenty miles, and the road lay across
the country. To add to the inconveniences of the journey, the snow began
to fall pretty quickly. The postilion, however, proceeded on his journey
for a good many miles without expressing doubt or hesitation. It was not
until the night was completely set in that he intimated his apprehensions
whether he was in the right road. The increasing snow rendered this
intimation rather alarming, for, as it drove full in the lad's face and
lay whitening all around him, it served in two different ways to confuse
his knowledge of the country, and to diminish the chance of his
recovering the right track. Brown then himself got out and looked round,
not, it may be well imagined, from any better hope than that of seeing
some house at which he might make inquiry. But none appeared; he could
therefore only tell the lad to drive steadily on. The road on which they
were ran through plantations of considerable extent and depth, and the
traveller therefore conjectured that there must be a gentleman's house at
no great distance. At length, after struggling wearily on for about a
mile, the post-boy stopped, and protested his horses would not budge a
foot farther; 'but he saw,' he said, 'a light among the trees, which must
proceed from a house; the only way was to inquire the road there.'
Accordingly, he dismounted, heavily encumbered with a long great-coat and
a pair of boots which might have rivalled in thickness the seven-fold
shield of Ajax. As in this guise he was plodding forth upon his voyage of
discovery, Brown's impatience prevailed, and, jumping out of the
carriage, he desired the lad to stop where he was by the horses, and he
would himself go to the house; a command which the driver most joyfully
Our traveller groped along the side of the inclosure from which the light
glimmered, in order to find some mode of approaching in that direction,
and, after proceeding for some space, at length found a stile in the
hedge, and a pathway leading into the plantation, which in that place was
of great extent. This promised to lead to the light which was the object
of his search, and accordingly Brown proceeded in that direction, but
soon totally lost sight of it among the trees. The path, which at first
seemed broad and well marked by the opening of the wood through which it
winded, was now less easily distinguishable, although the whiteness of
the snow afforded some reflected light to assist his search. Directing
himself as much as possible through the more open parts of the wood, he
proceeded almost a mile without either recovering a view of the light or
seeing anything resembling a habitation. Still, however, he thought it
best to persevere in that direction. It must surely have been a light in
the hut of a forester, for it shone too steadily to be the glimmer of an
ignis fatuus. The ground at length became broken and declined rapidly,
and, although Brown conceived he still moved along what had once at least
been a pathway, it was now very unequal, and the snow concealing those
breaches and inequalities, the traveller had one or two falls in
consequence. He began now to think of turning back, especially as the
falling snow, which his impatience had hitherto prevented his attending
to, was coming on thicker and faster.
Willing, however, to make a last effort, he still advanced a little way,
when to his great delight he beheld the light opposite at no great
distance, and apparently upon a level with him. He quickly found that
this last appearance was deception, for the ground continued so rapidly
to sink as made it obvious there was a deep dell, or ravine of some kind,
between him and the object of his search. Taking every precaution to
preserve his footing, he continued to descend until he reached the bottom
of a very steep and narrow glen, through which winded a small rivulet,
whose course was then almost choked with snow. He now found himself
embarrassed among the ruins of cottages, whose black gables, rendered
more distinguishable by the contrast with the whitened surface from which
they rose, were still standing; the side-walls had long since given way
to time, and, piled in shapeless heaps and covered with snow, offered
frequent and embarrassing obstacles to our traveller's progress. Still,
however, he persevered, crossed the rivulet, not without some trouble,
and at length, by exertions which became both painful and perilous,
ascended its opposite and very rugged bank, until he came on a level with
the building from which the gleam proceeded.
It was difficult, especially by so imperfect a light, to discover the
nature of this edifice; but it seemed a square building of small size,
the upper part of which was totally ruinous. It had, perhaps, been the
abode in former times of some lesser proprietor, or a place of strength
and concealment, in case of need, for one of greater importance. But only
the lower vault remained, the arch of which formed the roof in the
present state of the building. Brown first approached the place from
whence the light proceeded, which was a long narrow slit or loop-hole,
such as usually are to be found in old castles. Impelled by curiosity to
reconnoitre the interior of this strange place before he entered, Brown
gazed in at this aperture. A scene of greater desolation could not well
be imagined. There was a fire upon the floor, the smoke of which, after
circling through the apartment, escaped by a hole broken in the arch
above. The walls, seen by this smoky light, had the rude and waste
appearance of a ruin of three centuries old at least. A cask or two, with
some broken boxes and packages, lay about the place in confusion. But the
inmates chiefly occupied Brown's attention. Upon a lair composed of
straw, with a blanket stretched over it, lay a figure, so still that,
except that it was not dressed in the ordinary habiliments of the grave,
Brown would have concluded it to be a corpse. On a steadier view he
perceived it was only on the point of becoming so, for he heard one or
two of those low, deep, and hard-drawn sighs that precede dissolution
when the frame is tenacious of life. A female figure, dressed in a long
cloak, sate on a stone by this miserable couch; her elbows rested upon
her knees, and her face, averted from the light of an iron lamp beside
her, was bent upon that of the dying person. She moistened his mouth from
time to time with some liquid, and between whiles sung, in a low
monotonous cadence, one of those prayers, or rather spells, which, in
some parts of Scotland and the north of England, are used by the vulgar
and ignorant to speed the passage of a parting spirit, like the tolling
of the bell in Catholic days. She accompanied this dismal sound with a
slow rocking motion of her body to and fro, as if to keep time with her
song. The words ran nearly thus:--
Wasted, weary, wherefore stay,
Wrestling thus with earth and clay?
From the body pass away.
Hark! the mass is singing.
From thee doff thy mortal weed,
Mary Mother be thy speed,
Saints to help thee at thy need.
Hark! the knell is ringing.
Fear not snow-drift driving fast,
Sleet, or hail, or levin blast.
Soon the shroud shall lap thee fast,
And the sleep be on thee cast
That shall ne'er know waking.
Haste thee, haste thee, to be gone,
Earth flits fast, and time draws on.
Gasp thy gasp, and groan thy groan,
Day is near the breaking.
The songstress paused, and was answered by one or two deep and hollow
groans, that seemed to proceed from the very agony of the mortal strife.
'It will not be,' she muttered to herself; 'he cannot pass away with that
on his mind, it tethers him here--
Heaven cannot abide it,
Earth refuses to hide it.
[Footnote: See Note 6.]
I must open the door'; and, rising, she faced towards the door of the
apartment, observing heedfully not to turn back her head, and,
withdrawing a bolt or two (for, notwithstanding the miserable appearance
of the place, the door was cautiously secured), she lifted the latch,
Open lock, end strife, Come death, and pass life.
Brown, who had by this time moved from his post, stood before her as she
opened the door. She stepped back a pace, and he entered, instantly
recognising, but with no comfortable sensation, the same gipsy woman whom
he had met in Bewcastle. She also knew him at once, and her attitude,
figure, and the anxiety of her countenance, assumed the appearance of the
well-disposed ogress of a fairy tale, warning a stranger not to enter the
dangerous castle of her husband. The first words she spoke (holding up
her hands in a reproving manner) were, 'Said I not to ye, Make not,
meddle not? Beware of the redding straik! [Footnote: The redding straik,
namely, a blow received by a peacemaker who interferes betwixt two
combatants, to red or separate them, is proverbially said to be the most
dangerous blow a man can receive.] You are come to no house o' fair-strae
death.' So saying, she raised the lamp and turned its light on the dying
man, whose rude and harsh features were now convulsed with the last
agony. A roll of linen about his head was stained with blood, which had
soaked also through the blankets and the straw. It was, indeed, under no
natural disease that the wretch was suffering. Brown started back from
this horrible object, and, turning to the gipsy, exclaimed, 'Wretched
woman, who has done this?'
'They that were permitted,' answered Meg Merrilies, while she scanned