Page images
PDF
EPUB

not quite equal to the wages of a footman even at that time, to undertake to commu. nicate to the future Laird of Ellangowan all the erudition which he had, and all the graces and accomplishments which he had not indeed, but which he had never discovered that he wanted. In this are rangement, also, the Laird found his private advantage; securing the constant benefit of a patient auditor to whom he told his stories when they were alone, and at whose expence he could break a sly jest when he had company.

About four years after this time, a great commotion took place in the country where Ellangowan is situated.

Those who watched the signs of the times, had long been of opinion that a change of ministry was about to take place; and, at length, after a due proportion of hopes, fears, and delays, rumours from good authority, and bad authority, and no authority at all, after some clubs had drank Up with this statesman, and

others Down with him ; after riding and running, and posting, and addressing, and counter addressing, and proffers of lives and fortunes, the blow was at length: struck, the administration of the day was, dissolved, and parliament, as a natural consequence, was dissolved also.

Sir Thomas Kittlecourt, like other members in the same situation, posted down to his county, and met but an indifferent reception. He was a partizan of the old ads ministration; and the friends of the neiv had already set about an active canvass in behalf of John Featherhead, Esq. who kept the best hounds and hunters in the shire. Among others who joined the standard of revolt was Gilbert Glossin, writer in , agent for the Laird of Ellangowan. This honest gentleman had either been refused some favour by the old member, or, what is equally likely, he had got all that he had the most distant pretension to ask, and could only look to the other side for fresh advancement. Mr Glossin had a

vote upon Ellangowan's property, as has been before observed ; and he was now determined that his patron should have one also, as there was no doubt which side Mr Bertram would embrace in the contest. He easily persuaded Ellangowan, that it would be creditable to him to take the field at the head of as strong a party as possible; and immediately went to work, making votes, as every Scottish lawyer knows how, by splitting and subdividing the superiorities upon this ancient and once powerful barony. These were so extensive, that, by dint of clipping and paring here, adding and eiking there, and creating over-lords upon all the estate which Bertram held of the crown, they advanced, upon the day of contest, at the head of ten as good men of parchment as ever took the oath of trust and posses. sion. This strong reinforcement turned the dubious day of battle. The principal and his agent divided the honour; the revard fell to the latter exclusively. Mr Gilbert Glossin was made clerk of the peace, and Godfrey Bertram had his' name inserted in a new commission of justices, issued immediately upon the sitting of the parliament.

This had been the summit of Mr Bertram's ambition; not that he'liked either the trouble or the responsibility of the office, but he thought it was a dignity to which he was well entitled, and that it had been withheld from him by malice prepense. But there is an old and true Scotch proverb, “ Fools should not have chapping sticks ;" that is, weapons of offence. Mr Bertram was no sooner possessed of the judicial authority which he had so much longed for, than he began to exercise it with more severity than mercy, and totally belied all the opinions which had hitherto been formed of his inert good-nature. We have read somewhere of a justice of peace, who, upon being nominated in the comnission, wrote a letter to a bookseller for the statutes respecting

his official duty, in the following orthography,-“ Please send the ax relatiog to a gustus pease.” No doubt, when this learned gentleman had possessed himself of the axe, he hewed the laws with it to some purpose. Mr Bertram was not quite so ignorant of English grammar as his worshipful predecessor ; but Augustus Pease himself could not have used more indiscriminately the weapon unwarily put into his hand. ,

In good earnest, he considered the commission with which he had been entrusted as a personal mark of favour from his sovereign ; forgetting that he had formerly thought his being deprived of a privilege, or honour, common to those of his rank, was the result of mere party cabal. He commanded his trusty aid-de-camp, Domi. nie Sampson, to read aloud the commis. sion; and at the first words, “ The king has been pleased to appoint"_"Pleased !” exclaimed he, in a transport of gratitude ;

« PreviousContinue »