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Guy Mannering by Sir Walter Scott

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Guy Mannering

by Sir Walter Scott


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The mirth and fun grew fast and furious,

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

Notwithstanding the failure of Jean's issue, for which,

Weary fa' the waefu' wuddie,

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

"The late Madge Gordon was at this time accounted the Queen of the
Yetholm clans. She was, we believe, a granddaughter of the
celebrated Jean Gordon, and was said to have much resembled her in
appearance. The following account of her is extracted from the
letter of a friend, who for many years enjoyed frequent and
favourable opportunities of observing the characteristic
peculiarities of the Yetholm tribes.--'Madge Gordon was descended
from the Faas by the mother's side, and was married to a Young. She
was a remarkable personage of a very commanding presence, and high
stature, being nearly six feet high. She had a large aquiline
nose-penetrating eyes, even in her old age-bushy hair, that hung
around her shoulders from beneath a gipsy bonnet of straw-a short
cloak of a peculiar fashion, and a long staff nearly as tall as
herself. I remember her well;--every week she paid my father a
visit for her awmous, when I was a little boy, and I looked upon
Madge with no common degree of awe, and terror. When she spoke
vehemently (for she made loud complaints), she used to strike her
staff upon the floor, and throw herself into an attitude which it
was impossible to regard with indifference. She used to say that
she could bring from the remotest parts of the island, friends to
revenge her quarrel, while she sat motionless in her cottage; and
she frequently boasted that there was a time when she was of still
more considerable importance, for there were at her wedding fifty
saddled asses, and unsaddled asses with. out number. If Jean
Gordon was the prototype of the character of Meg Merrilies, I
imagine Madge must have sat to the unknown author as the
representative of her person.' "--(Blackwood's Magazine, vol. i.
p. 56.)

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

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

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

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

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

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


He could not deny, that looking round upon the dreary
region, and seeing nothing but bleak fields, and naked
trees, hills obscured by fogs, and flats covered with
inundations, he did for some time suffer melancholy to
prevail on him, and wished himself again safe at
home--Travels of Will Marvel, Idler, No. 49.

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

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

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

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

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

"Sorrow be in your thrapple [*Throat] then these were the first
articulate words,--"will ye no let me hear what the man wants, wi'
your yaffing?" [* Barking]

"Am I far from Kippletringan, good dame?"

"Frae Kippletringan!!!" in an exalted tone of wonder, which we can
but faintly express by three points of admiration; "Ow, man! ye
should hae hadden eassel to Kippletringan--ye maun gae back as far
as the Whaap, and haud the Whaap [*The Hope, often pronounced
Whaap, is the sheltered part or hollow of the hill Hoff, howff,
haaf, and haven, are all modifications of the same word.] till ye
come to Ballenloan, and then--"

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Oh, if ye get to eassel and wessel [*Eastward and Westward]
again, I am undone!--Is there nobody that could guide me to this
place? I will pay him handsomely."

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

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

"Hout, na, ye needna be blate about that; their house is muckle
eneugh, and clecking [*Hatching time] time's aye canty time."

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Though we have said so much of the Laird himself, it still remains
that we make the reader in some degree acquainted with his
companion. This was Abel Sampson, commonly called, from his
occupation as a pedagogue, Dominie Sampson. He was of low birth,
but having evinced, even from his cradle, an uncommon seriousness
of disposition, the poor parents were encouraged to hope that their
bairn, as they expressed it, "might wag his pow [* Head] in a
pulpit yet."

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

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

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

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

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


Do not the hist'ries of all ages Relate miraculous presages, Of
strange turns in the world's affairs, Foreseen by Astrologers,
Sooth-sayers, Chaldeans learned Genethliacs, And some that have
writ almanacks?

The circumstances of the landlady were pleaded to Mannering, first,
as an apology for her not appearing to welcome her guest, and for
those deficiencies in his entertainment which her attention might
have supplied, and then as an excuse for pressing an extra bottle
of good wine.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Fire-raising," answered the laconic Dominie.

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

"Harlot, thief, witch, and gipsy." Answered Sampson again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"It is the resource of cheaters, knaves, and cozeners," said

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

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

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

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

At length, the joyful annunciation that the lady had presented her
husband with a fine boy, and was (of course) as well as could be
expected, broke off this intercourse. Mr. Bertram hastened to the
lady's apartment, Meg Merrilies descended to the kitchen to secure
her share of the groaning malt, [*The groaning malt mentioned in
the text was the ale brewed for the purpose of being drunk after
the lady or goodwife's safe delivery. The ken-no has a more
ancient source, and perhaps the custom may he derived from the
secret rites of the Bona Dea. A large and rich cheese was made by
the women of the family, with great affectation of secrecy, for the
refreshment of the gossips who were to attend at the canny minute
This was the ken-no, so called because its existence was secret
(that is, presumed to be so) from all the males of the family, but
especially from the husband and master. He was, accordingly,
expected to conduct himself as if he knew of no such preparation,
to act as if desirous to press the female guests to refreshments,
and to seem surprised at their obstinate refusal. But the instant
his back was turned ken-no was produced, and after all had eaten
their fill, with a proper accompaniment of the groaning malt, the
remainder was divided among the gossips, each carrying a large
portion home with the same affectation of great secrecy.] and the
"ken-no," and Mannering, after looking at his watch, and noting,
with great exactness, the hour and minute of the birth, requested,
with becoming gravity, that the Dominie would conduct him to some
place where he might have a view of the heavenly bodies.

The schoolmaster, without further answer, rose and threw open a
door half sashed with glass, which led to an old-fashioned
terrace-walk, behind the modern house, communicating with the
platform on which the ruins of the ancient castle were situated The
wind had arisen, and swept before it the clouds which had formerly
obscured the sky. The moon was high, and at the full, and all the
lesser satellites of heaven shone forth in cloudless effulgence.
The scene which their light presented to Mannering was in the
highest degree unexpected and striking.

We have observed, that in the latter part of his journey our
traveller approached the seashore, without being aware how nearly.
He now perceived that the ruins of Ellangowan castle were situated
upon a promontory, or projection of rock, which formed one side of
a small and placid bay on the seashore. The modern mansion was
placed lower, though closely adjoining, and the ground behind it
descended to the sea by a small swelling green bank, divided into
levels by natural terraces, on which grew some old trees, and
terminating upon the white sand. The other side of the bay,
opposite to the old castle, was a sloping and varied promontory,
covered chiefly with copsewood, which on that favoured coast grows
almost within water-mark. A fisherman's cottage peeped from among
the trees. Even at this dead hour of night there were lights
moving upon the shore, probably occasioned by the unloading a
smuggling lugger from the Isle of Man, which was lying in the bay.
On the light from the sashed door of the house being observed, a
halloo from the vessel, of "Ware hawk! Douse the glim!" [*Put out
the light] alarmed those who were on shore, and the lights
instantly disappeared.

It was one hour after midnight, and the prospect around was
lovely. The gray old towers of the ruin, partly entire, partly
broken, here bearing the, rusty weather-stains of ages, and there
partially mantled with ivy, stretched along the verge of the dark
rock which rose on Mannering's right hand. In his front was the
quiet bay, whose little waves, crisping and sparkling to the
moonbeams, rolled successively along its surface, and dashed with a
soft and murmuring ripple against the silvery beach. To the left
the woods advanced far into the ocean, waving in the moonlight
along ground of an undulating and varied form, and presenting those
varieties of light and shade, and that interesting combination of
glade and thicket, upon which the eye delights to rest, charmed
with what it sees, yet curious to pierce still deeper into the
intricacies of the woodland scenery. Above rolled the planets,
each, by its own liquid orbit of light, distinguished from the
inferior or more distant stars. So strangely can imagination
deceive even those :by whose volition it has been excited, that
Mannering, while gazing upon these brilliant bodies, was half
inclined to believe in the influence ascribed to them by,
superstition over human events. But Mannering was a youthful
lover, and might perhaps be influenced by the feelings so
exquisitely expressed by a modern poet

For fable is Love's world, his home, his birth-place--Delightedly
dwells he 'mong fays, and talismans, And spirits, and delightedly
believes Divinities, being himself divine. The intelligible forms
of ancient poets, The fair humanities of old religion, The power,
the beauty, and the majesty, That had their haunts in dale, or piny
mountains, Or forest, by slow stream, or pebbly spring Or chasms of
wat'ry depths--all these have vanish'd; They live no longer in the
faith of reason! But still the heart doth need a language, still
Doth the old instinct bring back the old names. And to yon starry
world they now are gone, Spirits or gods, that used to shave this
earth With man as with their friend, and to the lover Yonder they
move, from yonder visible sky Shoot influence down; and even at
this day 'Tis Jupiter who brings whate'er is great, And Venus who
brings everything that's fair.

Such musings soon gave way to others. "Alas!" he muttered, "my
good old tutor, who used to enter so deep into the controversy
between Heydon and Chambers on the subject of astrology, he would
have looked upon the scene with other eyes, and would have
seriously endeavoured to discover from the respective positions of
these luminaries their probable effects on the destiny of the
new-born infant, as if the courses or emanations of the stars
superseded, or, at least, were co-ordinate with, Divine
Providence. Well, rest be with him! he instilled into me enough of
knowledge for erecting a scheme of nativity, and therefore will I
presently go about it." So saying, and having noted the position
of the principal planetary bodies, Guy Mannering returned to the
house. The Laird met him in the parlour, and acquainting him, with
great glee, that the boy was a fine healthy little fellow, seemed
rather disposed to press further conviviality. He admitted,
however, Mannering's plea of weariness, and, conducting him to his
sleeping apartment, left him to repose for the evening.


--Come and see! trust thine own eyes, A fearful sign stands
in the house of life, An enemy; a fiend lurks close behind ...
The radiance of thy planet--O be warned!
Coleridge, from Schiller.

The belief in astrology was almost universal in the middle of the
seventeenth century; it began to waver and become doubtful towards
the close of that period, and in the beginning of the eighteenth
the art fell into general disrepute, and even under general
ridicule. Yet it still retained many partisans even in the seats
of learning. Grave and studious men were loath to relinquish the
calculations which had early become the principal objects of their
studies, and felt reluctant to descend from the predominating
height to which a supposed insight into futurity, by the power of
consulting abstract influences and conjunctions, had exalted them
over the rest of mankind.

Among those who cherished this imaginary privilege with undoubting
faith, was an old clergyman, with whom Mannering was placed during
his youth. He wasted his eves in observing the stars, and his
brains in calculations upon their various combinations. His pupil,
in early youth, naturally caught some portion of his enthusiasm,
and laboured for a time to make himself master of the technical
process of astrological research; so that, before he became
convinced of its absurdity, William Lilly himself would have
allowed him "a curious fancy and piercing judgment in resolving a
question of nativity."

On the present occasion, he arose as early in the morning as the
shortness of the day permitted, and proceeded to calculate the
nativity of the young heir of Ellangowan. He undertook the task
secundum artem, as well to keep up appearances, as from a sort of
curiosity to know whether he yet remembered, and could practise,
the imaginary science. He accordingly erected his scheme, or figure
of heaven, divided into its twelve houses, placed the planets
therein according to the Ephemeris, and rectified their position to
the hour and moment of the nativity. Without troubling our readers
with the general prognostications which judicial astrology would
have inferred from these circumstances, in this diagram there was
one significator, which pressed remarkably upon our astrologers
attention. Mars having dignity in the cusp of the twelfth house,
threatened captivity, or sudden and violent death, to the native;
and Mannering having recourse to those further rules by which
diviners pretend to ascertain the vehemency of this evil direction,
observed from the result, that three periods would be particularly
hazardous--his fifth--his tenth--his twenty-first year.

It was somewhat remarkable, that Mannering had once before tried a
similar piece of foolery, at the instance of Sophia Wellwood, the
young lady to whom he was attached, and that a similar conjunction
of planetary influence threatened her with death, or imprisonment,
in her thirty-ninth year. She was at this time eighteen; so that,
according to the result of the scheme in both cases, the same year
threatened her with the same misfortune that was presaged to the
native or infant, whom that night had introduced into the world.
Struck with this coincidence, Mannering repeated his calculations;
and the result approximated the events predicted, until, at length,
the same month, and day of the month, seemed assigned as the period
of peril to both.

It will be readily believed, that, in mentioning this circumstance,
we lay no weight whatever upon the pretended information thus
conveyed. But it often happens, such is our natural love for the
marvellous, that we willingly contribute our own efforts to beguile
our better judgments. Whether the coincidence which I have
mentioned was really one of those singular chances, which sometimes
happen against all ordinary calculations; or whether Mannering,
bewildered amid the arithmetical labyrinth and technical jargon of
astrology, had insensibly twice followed the same clew to guide him
out of the maze; or whether his imagination, seduced by some point
of apparent resemblance, lent its aid to make the similitude
between the two operations more exactly accurate than it might
otherwise have been, it is impossible to guess; but the impression
upon his mind, that the results exactly corresponded, was vividly
and undelibly strong.

He could not help feeling surprise at a coincidence so singular and
unexpected. "Does the devil mingle in the dance, to avenge himself
for our trifling with an art said to be of magical origin? Or is it
possible, as Bacon and Sir Thomas Browne admit, that there is some
truth in a sober and regulated astrology, and that the influence of
the stars is not to be denied, though the due application of it, by
the knaves--who pretend to practise the art, is greatly to be
suspected?"--A moment's consideration of the subject induced him
to dismiss this opinion as fantastical, and only sanctioned by
those learned men. Either because they durst not at once shock
the universal prejudices of their age, or because they themselves
were not altogether freed from the contagious influence of a
prevailing superstition. Yet the result of his calculations in
these two instances left so unpleasing an impression on his mind,
that, like Prospero, he mentally relinquished his art, and
resolved, neither in jest nor earnest, ever again to practise
judicial astrology.

He hesitated a good deal what he should say to the Laird of
Ellangowan, concerning the horoscope of his first-born; and, at
length, resolved plainly to tell him the judgment which he had
formed, at the same time acquainting him--with the futility of the
rules of art on which he had proceeded. With this resolution he
walked out upon the terrace.

If the view of the scene around Ellangowan had been pleasing by
moonlight, it lost none of its beauty by the light of the morning
sun. The land, even in the month of November, smiled under its
influence. A steep, but regular ascent, led from the terrace to
the neighbouring eminence, and conducted Mannering to the front of
the old castle. It consisted of two massive round towers,
projecting, deeply and darkly, at the extreme angles of a curtain,
or flat wall, which united them, and thus protecting the main
entrance, that opened through a lofty arch in the centre of the
curtain into the inner court of the castle. The arms of the
family, carved in freestone, frowned over the gateway, and the
portal showed the spaces arranged by the architect for lowering the
portcullis, and raising the drawbridge. A rude farm-gate, made of
young fir-trees nailed together, now formed the only safeguard of
this once formidable entrance. The esplanade in front of the castle
commanded a noble prospect.

The dreary scene of desolation, through which Mannering's road had
lain on the preceding evening, was excluded from the view by some
rising ground, and the landscape showed a pleasing alternation of
hill and dale, intersected by a river, which was in some places
visible, and hidden in others, where it rolled betwixt deep and
wooded banks. The spire of a church, and the appearance of some
houses, indicated the situation of a village at the place where the
stream had its junction with the ocean. The vales seemed well
cultivated, the little enclosures into which they were divided
skirting the bottom of the hills, and sometimes carrying their
lines of straggling hedge-rows a little way up the ascent. Above
these were green pastures, tenanted chiefly by herds of black
cattle, then the staple commodity of the country--, whose distant
low gave no unpleasing animation to the landscape. The remoter
hills were of a sterner character, and, at still greater distance,
swelled into mountains of dark heath, bordering the horizon with a
screen which gave a defined and limited boundary to the cultivated
country, and added, at the same time, the pleasing idea, that it
was sequestered and solitary. The sea-coast, which Mannering now
saw in its extent, corresponded in variety and beauty with the
inland view. In some places it rose into tall rocks, frequently
crowned with the ruins of old buildings, towers, or beacons, which,
according to tradition, were placed within sight of each other,
that, in times of invasion or civil war, they might. communicate by
signal for mutual defence and protection. Ellangowan castle was by
far the most extensive and important of these ruins, and asserted,
from size and situation, the superiority which its founders were
said once to have possessed among the chiefs and nobles of the
district. In other places, the shore was of a more gentle
description, indented with small bays, where the land sloped
smoothly down, or sent into the sea promontories covered with wood.

A scene so different from what last night's journey had presaged,
produced a proportional effect upon Mannering. Beneath his eye lay
the modern house; an awkward mansion, indeed, in point of
architecture, but well situated, and with a warm, pleasant
exposure.--How happily, thought our hero, would life glide on in
such a retirement! On the one hand, the striking remnants of
ancient grandeur, with the secret consciousness of family pride
which they inspire; on the other, enough of modern elegance and
comfort to satisfy every moderate wish. Here then, and with thee

We shall not pursue a lover's day-dream any farther. Mannering
stood a minute with his arms folded, and then turned to the ruined

On entering the gateway, he found that the rude magnificence of the
inner court amply corresponded with the grandeur of the exterior.
On the one side ran a range of windows lofty and large, divided by
carved mullions of stone, which had once lighted the great hall of
the castle; on the other, were various buildings of different
heights and dates, yet so united as to present to the eye a certain
general effect of uniformity of front. The doors and windows were
ornamented with projections exhibiting rude specimens of sculpture
and tracery, partly entire and partly broken down, partly covered
by ivy and trailing plants, which grew luxuriantly among the
ruins. That end of the court which faced the entrance had also
been formerly closed by a range of buildings; but owing, it was
said, to its having been battered by the ships of the Parliament
under Deane, during the long civil war, this part of the castle was
much more ruinous than the rest, and exhibited a great chasm,
through which Mannering could observe the sea, and the little
vessel (an armed lugger) which retained her station in the centre
of the bay. [*The outline of the above description, as far as the
supposed ruins are concerned, will be found somewhat to resemble
the noble remains of Carlaverock castle, six or seven miles from
Dumfries, and near to Lochar-moss.]

While Mannering was gazing round the ruins, he heard from the
interior of an apartment on the left hand the voice of the gipsy he
had seen on the preceding evening. He soon found an aperture,
through which he could observe her without being himself visible;
and could not help feeling, that her figure, her employment, and
her situation, conveyed the exact impression of an ancient sibyl.

She sat upon a broken corner-stone in the angle of a paved
apartment, part of which she had swept clean to afford a smooth
space for the evolutions of her spindle. A strong sunbeam, through
a lofty and narrow window, fell upon her wild dress and features,
and afforded her light for her occupation; the rest of the
apartment was very gloomy. Equipt in a habit which mingled the
national dress of the Scottish common people with something of an
Eastern costume, she spun a thread, drawn from wool of three
different colours, black, white, and gray, by assistance of those
ancient implements of house-wifely, now almost banished from the
land, the distaff and spindle. As she spun, she sung what seemed
to be a charm. Mannering, after in vain attempting to make himself
master of the exact words of her song, afterwards attempted the
following paraphrase of what, from a few intelligible phrases, he
concluded to be its purport.

Twist ye, twine ye! even so Mingle shades of joy and woe, Hope, and
fear, and peace, and strife, In the thread of human life.

While the mystic twist is spinning, And the infant's life
beginning, Dimly seen through twilight bending, Lo, what varied
shapes attending!

Passions wild, and Follies vain, Pleasures soon exchanged for pain
Doubt, and Jealousy and Fear, In the magic dance appear.

Now they wax, and now they dwindle, Whirling with the whirling
spindle. Twist ye, twine ye! even so Mingle human bliss and woe.

Ere our translator, or rather our free imitator, had arranged these
stanzas in his head, and while he was yet hammering out a rhyme for
dwindle, the task of the sibyl was accomplished, or her wool was
expended. She took the spindle, now charged with her labours, and,
undoing the thread gradually, measured it, by casting it over her
elbow, and bringing each loop round between her forefinger and
thumb. When she had measured it out, she muttered to herself--"A
hank, but not a haill ane--the full years o' three scare and ten,
but thrice broken, and thrice to oop (ie. to unite); he'll be a
lucky lad an he win through wi't."

Our hero was about to speak to the prophetess, when a voice, hoarse
as the waves with which it mingled, halloo'd twice, and with
increasing impatience--"Meg, Meg Merrilies!--Gipsy--hag--tousand

"I am coming, I am coming, Captain," answered Meg; and in a moment
or two the impatient commander whom she addressed made his
appearance from the broken part of the ruins.

He was apparently a seafaring man, rather under the middle size,
and with a countenance bronzed by a thousand conflicts with the
north-east wind. His frame was prodigiously muscular, strong, and
thick-set; so that it seemed as if a man of much greater height
would have been an inadequate match in any close personal
conflict. He was hard-favoured, and, which was worse, his face
bore nothing of the insouciance, the careless frolicsome jollity
and vacant curiosity of a sailor on shore. These qualities,
perhaps, as much as any others, contribute to the high popularity
of our seamen, and the general good inclination which our society
expresses towards them. Their gallantry, courage, and hardihood,
are qualities which excite reverence, and perhaps rather humble
pacific landsmen in their presence; and neither respect, nor a
sense of humiliation, are feelings easily combined with a familiar
fondness towards those who inspire. them. But the boyish frolics,
the exulting high spirits, the unreflecting mirth of a sailor, when
enjoying himself on shore, temper the more formidable points of his
character. There was nothing like these in this man's face; on the
contrary, a surly and even savage scowl appeared to darken features
which would have been harsh and unpleasant under any expression or
modification. "Where are you, Mother Deyvilson?" he said, with
somewhat of a foreign accent, though speaking perfectly good
English. "Donner and blitzen! we have been staying this half-hour.
--Come, bless the good ship and the voyage, and be cursed to ye
for a hag of Satan!"

At this moment he noticed Mannering, who, from the position which
he had taken to watch Meg Merrilies's incantations, had the
appearance of some one who was concealing himself, being half
hidden by the buttress behind which he stood. The Captain, for such
he styled himself, made a sudden and startled pause, and thrust his
right hand into his bosom, between his jacket and waistcoat, as if
to draw some weapon. "What cheer, brother?--you seem on the

Ere Mannering, somewhat struck by the man's gesture and insolent
tone of voice, had made any answer, the gipsy emerged from her
vault and joined the stranger. He questioned her in an undertone,
looking at Mannering--"A shark alongside; eh?"

She answered in the same tone of under-dialogue, using the cant
language of her tribe--"Cut ben Whids, and stow them--a gentry
cove of the ken." [* Meaning a Stop your uncivil tongue--that is a
gentleman from the house below.]

The fellow's cloudy visage cleared up. "The top of the morning to
you, sir; I find you are a visitor of my friend Mr. Bertram--I beg
pardon, but I took you for another sort of a person."

Mannering replied, "And you, sir, I presume, are the master of that
vessel in the bay?"

"Ay, ay, sir; I am Captain Dirk Hatteraick, of the Yungfrauw
Hagenslaapen, well known on this coast; I am not ashamed of my
name, nor of my vessel,--no, nor of my cargo neither, for that

"I dare say you have no reason, sir."

"Tousand donner--no; I'm all in the way of fair trade--just
loaded yonder at Douglas, in the Isle of Man--neat cogniac--real
hyson and souchong--Mechlin lace, if you want any--Right
cogniac--We bumped ashore a hundred kegs last night."

"Really, sir, I am only a traveller, and have no sort of occasion
for anything of the kind at present."

"Why, then, good-morning to you, for business must be minded--
unless ye'll go aboard and take schnaps? [*A dram of liquor.]--you
shall have a pouch-full of tea ashore.--Dirk Hatteraick knows how
to be civil."

There was a mixture of impudence, hardihood, and suspicious fear
about this man, which was inexpressibly disgusting. His manners
were those of a ruffian, conscious of the suspicion attending his
character, yet aiming to bear it down by the affectation of a
careless and hardy familiarity. Mannering briefly rejected his
proffered civilities; and after a surly good-morning, Hatteraick
retired with the gipsy to that part of the ruins from which he had
first made his appearance. A very narrow staircase here went down
to the beach, intended probably for the convenience of the garrison
during a siege. By this stair, the couple, equally amiable in
appearance, and respectable by profession, descended to the
seaside. The soi-disant captain embarked in a small boat with two
men who appeared to wait for him, and the gipsy remained on the
shore, reciting or singing, and gesticulating with great vehemence.


--You have fed upon my seignories, Dispark'd my parks, and
fell'd my forest woods, From mine own windows torn my
household coat, Razed out my impress, leaving me no sign,
Save men's opinions and my living blood, To show the world
I am a gentleman.

Richard II.

WHEN the boat which carried the worthy captain on board his vessel
had accomplished that task, the sails began to ascend, and the ship
was got under way. She fired three guns as a salute to the house
of Ellangowan, and then shot away rapidly before the wind, which
blew off shore, under all the sail she could crowd.

"Ay, ay," said the Laird, who had sought Mannering for some time,
and now joined him, "there they go--there go the
free-traders--there go Captain Dirk Hatteraick, and the Yungfrauw
Hagenslaapen, half Manks, half Dutchman, half devil! run out the
bowsprit, up mainsail, top and top-gallant sails, royals, and
sky-scrapers, and away,--follow who can! That fellow, Mr.
Mannering, is the terror of all the excise and custom-house
cruisers; they can make nothing of him; he drubs them, or he
distances them;--and, speaking of excise, I come to bring you to
breakfast; and you shall have some tea, that--"

Mannering, by this time, was aware that one thought linked
strangely on to another in the concatenation of worthy Mr.
Bertram's ideas,

Like orient pearls at random strung;

and, therefore, before the current of his associations had drifted
farther from the point he had left, he brought him back by some
inquiry about Dirk Hatteraick.

"Oh, he's a--a--gude sort of blackguard fellow eneugh--naebody
cares to trouble him--smuggler, when his guns are in
ballast--privateer, or pirate faith, when he gets them mounted. He
has done more mischief to the revenue folk than ony rogue that ever
came out of Ramsay."

"But, my good sir, such being his character, I wonder he has any
protection and encouragement on this coast." "Why, Mr. Mannering,
people must have brandy and tea, and there's none in the country
but what comes this way--and then there's short accounts, and maybe
a keg or two, or a dozen pounds left at your stable door, instead
of a d-d lang account at Christmas from Duncan Robb, the grocer at
Kippletringan, who has aye a sum to--make up, and either wants
ready money, or a short-dated bill. Now, Hatteraick will take
wood, or he'll take bark, or he'll take barley, or he'll take just
what's convenient at the time. I'll tell you a gude story about
that. There was ance a laird--that's Macfie of Gudgeonford,--he
had a great number of kain hens--that's hens that the tenant pays
to the landlord--like a sort of rent in kind--they aye feed mine
very ill; Luckie Finniston sent up three that were a shame to be
seen only last week, and yet she has twelve bows [* Bolls (a large
measure of grain)] sowing of victual; indeed her goodman, Duncan
Finniston--that's him that's gone--(we must all die, Mr. Mannering;
that's ower true)--and speaking of that, let us live in the
meanwhile, for here's breakfast on the table, and the Dominie ready
to say the grace."

The Dominie did accordingly pronounce a benediction, that exceeded
in length any speech which Mannering had yet heard him utter. The
tea, which of course belonged to the noble Captain Hatteraick's
trade, was pronounced excellent. Still Mannering hinted, though
with due delicacy, at the risk of encouraging such desperate
characters: "Were it but in justice to the revenue, I should have

"Ah, the revenue-lads"--for Mr. Bertram never embraced a general or
abstract idea, and his notion of the revenue was personified in the
commissioners, surveyors, comptrollers, and riding officers, whom
he happened to know--"the revenue-lads can look sharp eneugh out
for themselves--no one needs to help them--and they have a' the
soldiers to assist them besides--and as to justice--you'll be
surprised to hear it, Mr. Mannering--but I am not a justice of

Mannering assumed the expected look of surprise, but thought within
himself that the worshipful bench suffered no great deprivation
from wanting the assistance of his good-humoured landlord. Mr.
Bertram had now hit upon one of the few subjects on which he felt
sore, and went on with some energy. "No, sir,--the name of Godfrey
Bertram of Ellangowan is not in the last commission, though there's
scarce a carle in the country that has a plough-gate of land, but
what he must ride to quarter-sessions, and write J.P. after his
name. I ken fu' weel whom I am obliged to--Sir Thomas
Kittlecourt as good as tell'd me he would sit in my skirts, if he
had not my interest at the last election; and because I chose to go
with my own blood and third cousin, the Laird of Balruddery, they
keepit me off the roll of freeholders; and now there comes a new
nomination of justices, and I am left out! And whereas they
pretend it was because I let David Mac-Guffog, the constable, draw
the warrants, and manage the business his ain gate, [*Own way] as
if I had been a nose a' wax, it's a main untruth; for I granted but
seven warrants in my life, and the Dominie wrote every one of
them--and if it had not been that unlucky business of Sandy
Mac-Gruthar's, that the constables should have keepit twa or three
days up yonder at the auld castle, just till they could get
conveniency to send him to the county jail--and that cost me eneugh
o' siller--But I ken what Sir Thomas wants very weel--it was just
sic and siclike about the seat in the kirk o' Kilmagirdle--was I
not entitled to have the front gallery facing the minister, rather
than Mac-Crosskie of Creochstone, the son of Deacon Mac-Crosskie,
the Dumfries weaver?"

Mannering expressed his acquiescence in the justice of these
various complaints.

"And then, Mr. Mannering, there was the story about the road, and
the fauld-dike--I ken Sir Thomas was behind there, and I said
plainly to the clerk to the trustees that I saw the cloven foot,
let them take that as they like.--Would any gentleman, or set of
gentlemen, go and drive a road right through the corner of a
fauld-dike, and take away, as my agent observed to them, like twa
roods of gude moorland pasture?--And there was the story about
choosing the collector of the cess--"

"Certainly, sir, it is hard you should meet with any neglect in a
country, where, to judge from the extent of their residence, your
ancestors must have made a very important figure."

"Very true, Mr. Mannering--I am a plain man, and do not dwell on
these things; and I must needs say, I have little memory for them;
but I wish ye could have heard my father's stories about the auld
fights of the Mac-Dingawaies--that's the Bertrams that now
is--wi' the Irish, and wi' the Highlanders, that came here in their
berlings from Islay and Cantire--and how they went to the Holy
Land-that is, to Jerusalem and Jericho, wi' a' their clan at their
heels--they had better have gaen to Jamaica, like Sir Thomas
Kittlecourt's uncle--and how they brought hame relics, like those
that Catholics have, and a flag that's up yonder in the garret--if
they had been casks of Muscavado, and puncheons of rum, it would
have been better for the estate at this day--but there's little
comparison between the auld keep at Kittlecourt and the castle o'
Ellangowan--I doubt if the keep's forty feet of front--But ye make
no breakfast, Mr. Mannering; ye're no eating your meat; allow me to
recommend some of the kipper--It was John Hay that catcht it,
Saturday was three weeks, down at the stream below Hempseed ford,"
etc., etc., etc.

The Laird, whose indignation had for some time kept him pretty
steady to one topic, now launched forth into his usual roving style
of conversation, which gave Mannering ample time to reflect upon
the disadvantages attending the situation, which, an hour before,
he had thought worthy of so much envy. Here was a country
gentleman, whose most estimable quality seemed his perfect good
nature, secretly fretting himself and murmuring against others, for
causes which, compared with any real evil in life, must weigh like
dust in the balance. But such is the equal distribution of
Providence. To those who lie out of the road of great afflictions,
are assigned petty vexations, which answer all the purpose of
disturbing their serenity; and every reader must have observed,
that neither natural apathy nor acquired philosophy can render
country gentlemen insensible to the grievances which occur at
elections, quarter-sessions, and meetings of trustees.

Curious to investigate the manners of the country Mannering took
the advantage of a pause in good Mr. Bertram's string of stories,
to inquire what Captain Hatteraick so earnestly wanted with the
gipsy woman.

"Oh, to bless his ship, I suppose. You must know, Mr. Mannering,
that these free-traders, whom the law calls smugglers, having no
religion, make it all up in superstition; and they have as many
spells, and charms, and nonsense--"

"Vanity and waur!" said the Dominie--"it is a trafficking with the
Evil One. Spells, periapts, and charms, are of his device--choice
arrows out of Apollyon's quiver."

"Hold your peace, Dominie--ye're speaking for ever" (by the way
they were the first words the poor man had uttered that morning,
excepting that he had said grace, and returned thanks)--"Mr.
Mannering cannot get in a word for ye!--and so, Mr. Mannering,
talking of astronomy, and spells, and these matters, have ye been
so kind as to consider what we were speaking about last night?"

"I begin to think, Mr. Bertram, with your worthy friend here, that
I have been rather jesting with edge-tools; and although neither
you nor I, nor any sensible man, can put faith in the predictions
of astrology, yet as it has sometimes happened that inquiries into
futurity, undertaken in jest, have in their results produced
serious and unpleasant effects both upon actions and characters, I
really wish you would dispense with my replying to your question."

It was easy to see that this evasive answer only rendered the
Laird's curiosity more uncontrollable. Mannering however, was
determined in his own mind, not to expose the infant to the
inconveniences which might have arisen from his being supposed the
object of evil prediction. He therefore delivered the paper into
Mr. Bertram's hand, and requested him to keep it for five years
with the seal unbroken, until the month of November was expired.
After that date had intervened, he left him at liberty to examine
the writing, trusting that the first fatal period being then safely
overpassed, no credit would be paid to its further contents. This
Mr. Bertram was content to promise, and Mannering, to ensure his
fidelity, hinted at misfortunes which would certainly take place if
his injunctions were neglected. The rest of the day, which
Mannering, by Mr. Bertram's invitation, spent at Ellangowan,
passed over without anything remarkable; and on the morning of that
which followed, the traveller mounted his palfrey, bade a courteous

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