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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 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
conteinering, inly takaaye wingowale' morniney, balerica
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 Elangowan, passed over without anything remarkable; and on the morning of that which followed, the traveller mounted his palfrey, bade a courteous adieu to his hospitable landlord, and to his clerical attendant, repeated his good wishes for the prosperity of the family, and then, turning his horse's head towards England, disappeared from the sight of the inmates of Ellangowan. He must also disappear from that of our readers, for it is to another and later period of his life that the present warrative relates.
mustaned from the high horse's headrosperi
Next, the Justice,
As You Like it.
WHEN Mrs. Bertram of Ellangowan was able to hear the news of what had passed during her confinement, her apartment rung with all manner of gossiping respecting the handsome young student from Oxford, who had told such a fortune by the stars to the young Laird, “ blessings on his dainty face." The form, accent, and manners, of the stranger, were expatiated upon. His horse, bridle, saddle, and stirrups, did not remain unnoticed. All this made a great impression upon the mind of Mrs. Bertram, for the good lady had no small store of superstition.
Her first employment, when she became capable of a little work, was to make a small velvet bag for the scheme of nativity which she had obtained from her husband. Her fingers itched to break the seal, but credulity proved stronger than curiosity; and she had the firmness to inclose it, in all its integrity, within two slips of parchment, which she sewed round it, to prevent its being chafed. The whole was then put into the velvet bag aforesaid, and hung as a charm round the neck of the infant, where his mother resolved it should remain until the period for the legitimate satisfaction of her curiosity should arrive.
The father also resolved to do his part by the child, in securing him a good education ; and with the view that it should commence with the first dawnings of reason, Dominie Sampson was easily induced to renounce his public profession of parish schoolmaster, make his constant residence at the Place, and, in consideration of a sum not quite equal to the wages of a footman even at that time, to undertake to communicate to the future Laird of Ellangowan all the erudition which he had, and all the graces and accomplishments whichhe had not indeed, but which he had never discovered that he wanted. In this arrangement, the Laird found also his private advantage ; securing the constant benefit of a patient auditor, to whom he told his stories when they were alone, and at whose expense he could break a sly jest when he had company.
About four years after this time, a great commotion took place in the county 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 drunk 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 partisan of the old administration; and the friends of the new 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 as probable, 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; and he was now determined that his patron should have one also, there being 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 Scotch 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 eking there, and creating over-lords upon all the estate which Bertram held of the crown, they advanced, at the day of contest, at the head of ten as good men of parchment as ever took the oath of trust and possession. This strong reinforcement turned the dubious day of battle. The principal and his agent divided the honour; the reward 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, on being nominated in the commission, wrote a letter to a bookseller for the statutes respecting his official duty, in the following orthography,– “ Please send the ax relating 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 intrusted 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 aide-de-camp, Dominie Sampson, to read aloud the commission; and at the first words, “The king has been pleased to appoint ” _“Pleased !” he exclaimed, in a transport of gratitude; “Honest gentleman! I'm sure he cannot be better pleased than I am.”
Accordingly, unwilling to confine his gratitude to mere feelings, or verbal expressions, he gave full current to the new-born zeal of office, and endeavoured to express his sense of the honour conferred upon him, by an unmitigated activity in the discharge of his duty. New brooms, it is said, sweep clean; and I myself can bear witness, that, on the arrival of a new housemaid, the ancient, hereditary, and domestic spiders, who have spun their webs over the lower division of my book-shelves (consisting chiefly of law and divinity) during the peaceful reign of her predecessor, fly at full speed before the probationary inroads of the new mercenary. Even so the Laird of Ellangowan ruthlessly commenced his magisterial reform, at the expense of various established and superannuated pickers and stealers, who had been his neighbours for half a century. He wrought his miracles like a second Duke Humphrey; and by the influence of the beadle's rod, caused the lame to walk, the blind to see, and the palsied to labour. He detected poachers, black-fishers, orchard-breakers, and pigeon-shooters; had the applause of the bench for his reward, and the public credit of an active magistrate.
All this good had its rateable proportion of evil. Even an admitted nuisance, of ancient standing, should not be abated without some caution. The zeal of our worthy friend now involved in great distress sundry personages whose idle and mendicant habits his own lâchesse had contributed to foster, until these habits had become irreclaimable, or whose real incapacity for exertion rendered them fit objects, in their own phrase, for the charity of all well-disposed Christians. The “long-remembered beggar," who for twenty years had made his regular rounds within the neighbourhood, received rather as an humble friend than as an object of charity, was sent to the neighbouring workhouse. The decrepit dame, who travelled round the parish upon a hand-barrow, circulating