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was one significator, which pressed remarkably upon our astrologer's 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 indelibly 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 hedgerows 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 seacoast, 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 promon-, tories 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, Sophia !
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 castle.
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. 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 sate 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 grey, by assistance of those ancient implements of housewifery, 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 I even so
In the thread of human life. 1 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 Locbar-moss.
While the mystic twist is spinning,
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 score and ten, but thrice broken, and thrice to oop (i.e. 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 deyvils !”
“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