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the wars of George II., and because it was held that English produce should receive every advantage over foreign commodities. The duties were especially large on what were held as needless or harmful luxuries, such as spirits, tea, tobacco, and lace. Now Holland and Flanders were always noted for their manufacture of both the first and last of these articles, and, moreover, the Dutch, through their connection with the East Indies, and their possessions in the West Indian islands and Demerara, were able to import tea and tobacco at a cheap rate. There was thus considerable scope for contraband traffic, and the buccaneering spirit being scarcely yet extinct, the wilder charac. ters both of Holland, England, and Scotland acted as daring smugglers. And though Galloway might seem too far removed from Holland to serve as a convenient mart, this was compensated for by the vicinity of the Isle of Man, which until 1765, was a separate little kingdom not under English laws, so that lawless characters could not be pursued thither.
The English crown endeavoured to repress this traffic by means of vessels watching the coast, and officers of excise, commonly called Gaugers, from their duty of gauging or measuring the quantity of spirit in casks. All these persons of the Preventive Service were extremely unpopular, as the sympathies of the people were apt to be with those who supplied them with luxuries at a cheap rate. The snugglers were naturally in close connection with the gipsies, that strange and wandering race, whom police and enclosures have nearly abolished in Great Britain.
Some, with the genuine bronzed features, jet black hair, fine eyes, and tall, lithe figures, still haunt fairs, selling baskets and occasionally telling fortunes, or acting as musicians; but they go about in ugly yellow vans, with a stovepipe projecting from the top, instead of in the picturesque tilted cart; and they are only allowed by special permission to remain more than two nights encamped on one spot on such occasions as a birth or a death, unless they hire a field. They are very seldom dishonest, and are grateful for kindness. When a woman (her name was Gerania Lee) lay dying, her brothers showed themselves most
thankful for assistance and scrupulous in not accepting more supplies than were needful. Lee, Stanley, Carew, and other such surnames appear on their carts, but a large number of them are giving up their roving habits and settling down to a regular life. They have little left in common with the gipsies of the seventeenth century, who were fierce and wild characters.
As Scott tells us in his introduction to the later editions, the original of his Meg Merrilies was one Jean Gordon, whom his father well remembered as haunting the Border farms. She showed the same fidelity as Meg, and never permitted any depredations where she had been hospitably treated. A farmer, whom she esteemed a friend, who had lost his way in coming home over the Cheviot Hills, with a large sum of money in his pocket, was met by her, conducted to a barn, plentifully regaled with food, and when the approach of others of her clan was heard, she persuaded him to give his purse to her keeping, and retained it while her sons were rifling his pockets, restoring it to him the next morning, when she set him on his way home, the robbers being still asleep.
Her sons, nine in number, were said to have been all hanged at Jedburgh on the same day; and she herself was cruelly drowned by the mob at Carlisle in 1746, on account of her Jacobite sympathies, crying with her last breath, “Charlie yet! Charlie yet!”
Her granddaughter, Madge Gordon, was accounted queen of the gipsies of the Border. She was nearly six feet high, and of a handsome, commanding countenance, always carried a long staff, and used gestures and uttered words that inspired all, declaring that without moving from the spot, she could bring those who could avenge her quarrel.
Spells and charms were always a part of the female gipsy's stock in trade, and Sir Walter Scott has brought her traditional superstitions into contact with those of astrology, on which it
may be well to say a few words. From almost the remotest times the Greeks and Romans, if not the Chaldeans, believed that the planets were closely connected with the deities whose names they bore, and that
the characters and destinies of mankind were affected by the heavenly bodies predominant in the skies at the time of a birth. The adjectives, mercurial, martial, jovial, and saturnine are word-monuments of this belief. As it became thus an object of desire to ascertain the exact position of these stars and judge of their influences, their courses were more and more studied, and the discoveries made which, by and by, led to scientific astronomy. But for a long time the boundaries of science and guess-work were uncertain, and in perfect good faith the planets were studied, not for their own wonders, but for the sake of predicting the course of human lives.
By the sixteenth century, science had advanced enough to enable the places of each planet at any particular moment to be ascertained with accuracy. was a matter of some moment, since two might act together, or counteract one another. Mars and Jupiter in conjunction might make a great conqueror; opposite to one another, war might overthrow greatness. Venus in conjunction with Jupiter would point to a successful marriage; in opposition, to ruin through love. And these influences and counter-influences, beginning at the moment of nativity were held to rule the entire life, so that astrologers were wont to draw out horoscopes, or schemes of nativity, showing the hours when the favourable or unfavourable stars would be in the ascendant, making them according to regular and extremely abstruse mathematical tables and calculations. Enough coincidences with these predictions actually occurred to create a fatalist belief in them in a certain class of minds, and those not weak ones. be seen in Shakespeare's delineation of Owen Glendower. Louis XI. and Catherine de Medici had each an astrologer to hinder their taking any step at an unfavorable moment. The great Bohemian general, Wallenstein, was devoted to astrology, and it is said that even in recent times, so was the Emperor Napoleon III.
With the advance of real science, however, serious beliet in astrology was dropped except by a very few, and it was only sometimes taken up as a curiosity, as is represented to have been the case with the young Guy Mannering, who
learned the art from an old student uncle, and practised it with the sort of semi-credulity with which people tamper with the boundaries of spiritualism.
The legend on which Mannering's prediction and its fulfilment are founded was related to Scott in his boyhood by an old servant named John MacKinlay.
On the night of the birth of the long-desired first-born of a gentleman in Galloway, a benighted stranger, grave and elderly, arrived by accident at the house, and undertook to calculate the horoscope of the infant. The result was that at the age of twenty-one a strange, extraordinary, and fearful temptation awaited the new-born child, and that the only hope of his being borne through it was in his being bred up with the utmost care, and deeply imbued with a strong religious sense of duty. At the time fixed for the trial, he was to come to the astrologer's house in England. All was done according to his counsel. The boy grew up pure, innocent, and happy till the time drew near, and then strange dreams and much distress of mind at times fell upon him. By and by, he was sent to visit his father's friend, but only arrived on the very eve of his birthday. He was received by the astrologer with grave reproof for loitering, but was allowed to spend the afternoon with him and his beautiful daughter.
The astrologer carefully examined him on his faith, prayed with him, made him take the bath, arrayed him in a long robe, and finally left him in a small, unfurnished room, nothing with him save the Bible. There the young man was assailed by the Enemy of mankind, as it were, in personal conflict; every sin, doubt, or error being cast up against him to make him despair and resign himself into the hands of the evil one; while he could neither argue nor think, but only “name the victorious Name in which he trusted.” 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.” At that moment the clock struck, the hour of trial was over, thought and tongue were unchained, the youth spoke out his hopes, prayed aloud, and the fiend departed yelling and defeated !
On this legend, Scott had thought, as he tells us, of fram. ing a tale of a strife between good purposes and an evil doom; something like Fouque's tale of Sintram and his Companions, although he had never seen that beautiful allegorical romance. He began with that idea, but abandoned it, as too grave and awful, in his estimation, for a work of fiction; and made the peril predicted by astrology merely temporal, not spiritual, though he connects his tale with the old legend through the version supposed to be correct in the village of Kippletringan. Henry Bertram's horoscope is fulfilled by his abduction in his fifth year, his baffled attempt to escape in his tenth, and his duel with Colonel Mannering in his twenty-first.
The period chosen was in the days when there was a contest between England and France for influence in India, and when wonderful exploits were continually being done by resolute men with small means. There were many openings for the display of ability, and men who went out as mere clerks often rose to high command in the army.
The separation from home was, however, very considerable. It was at the shortest, a four months' voyage in a sailing vessel, by the Cape of Good Hope, and boys who went out to India, often returned, if at all, as middle-aged men. A few regiments of the regular army were on service there for long periods of time, to assist the native troops, in the pay of the East India Company, and to one of the former the Colonel is supposed to belong. The climate made many inroads on European troops, and there were many instances of young civilians volunteering into the line, as Brown or Bertram is represented to have done, and by and by gaining commissions.
The frightful state of prison discipline at Portanferry is not in the least overdrawn. John Howard, the philanthropist, was at that time only beginning his searches into the condition of jails. The common habit was to let the building to the jailor, and permit him to make his profit out of the board and lodging of the prisoners, without the slightest attempt at discipline, cleanliness, or decency. This was the custom in all the chief towns of England and even of Europe, with the