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Sampson safe to an inn in Edinburgh,—for hotels in those days there were none,—without any other accident than arose from his straying twice upon the road. On one occasion he was recovered by Barnes, who understood his humour, when, after engaging in close colloquy with the schoolmaster of Moffat, respecting a disputed quantity in Horace's 7th Ode, Book II., the dispute led on to another controversy, concerning the exact meaning of the word Malobathro, in that lyric effusion. His second escapade was made for the purpose of visiting the field of Rullion-green, which was dear to his Presbyterian predilections. Having got out of the carriage for an instant, he saw the sepulchral monument of the slain at the distance of about a mile, and was arrested by Barnes in his progress up the Pentland-hills, having on both occasions forgot his friend, patron, and fellow-traveller, as completely, as if he had been in the East Indies. On being reminded that Colonel Mannering was waiting for him, he uttered his usual ejaculation of “Prodigious !—I was oblivious," and then strode back to his post. Barnes was surprised at his master's patience on both occasions, knowing by experience how little he brooked neglect or delay ; but the Dominie was in every respect a privileged person. His patron and he were never for a moment in each other's way, and it seemed obvious that they were formed to be companions through life. If Mannering wanted a particular book, the Dominie could bring it ; if he wishe to accounts summed up, or checked, his assistance was equally ready ; if he desired to recall
a particular passage in the classics, he could have recourse to the Dominie as to a dictionary ; and all the while, this walking statue was neither presuming when noticed, nor sulky when left to himself. To a proud, shy, reserved man, and such in many respects was Mannering, this sort of living catalogue, and animated automaton, had all the advantages of a literary dumbwaiter.
As soon as they arrived in Edinburgh, and were established at the George Inn near Bristo-port, then kept by old Cockburn (I love to be particular), the Colonel desired the waiter to procure him a guide to Mr. Pleydell's, the advocate, for whom he had a letter of introduction from Mr. Mac-Morlan. He then commanded Barnes to have an eye to the Dominie, and walked forth with a chairman, who was to usher him to the man of law.
The period was near the end of the American war. The desire of room, of air, and of decent accommodation, had not as yet made very much progress in the capital of Scotland. Some efforts had been made on the south side of the town towards building houses within themselves, as they are emphatically termed ; and the New Town on the north, since so much extended, was then just commenced. But the great bulk of the better classes, and particularly those connected with the law, still lived in flats or dungeons of the Old Town. The manners also of some of the veterans of the law had not admitted innovation. One or two eminent lawyers still saw their clients in taverns, as was the general custom
fifty years before ; and although their habits were already considered as old-fashioned by the younger barristers, yet the custom of mixing wine and revelry with serious business was still maintained by those senior counsellors, who loved the old road, either because it was such, or because they had got too well used to it to travel any other. Among those praisers of the past time, who with ostentatious obstinacy affected the manners of a former generation, was this same Paulus Pleydell, Esq., otherwise a good scholar, an excellent lawyer, and a worthy man.
Under the guidance of his trusty attendant, Colonel Mannering, after threading a dark lane or two, reached the High-street, then clanging with the voices of oysterwomen and the bells of pyemen ; for it had, as his guide assured him, just "chappit eight upon the Tron." It was long since Mannering had been in the street of a crowded metropolis, which, with its noise and clamour, its sounds of trade, of revelry and of license, its variety of lights, and the eternally changing bustle of its hundred groups, offers, by night especially, a spectacle, which, though composed of the most vulgar materials when they are separately considered, has, when they are combined, a striking and powerful effect on the imagination. The extraordinary height of the houses was marked by lights, which, glimmering irregularly along their front, ascended so high among the attics, that they seemed at length to twinkle in the middle sky. This coup d'oeil, which still subsists in a certain degree, was then more imposing, owing to the uninterrupted
range of buildings on each side, which, broken only at the
space where the North Bridge joins the main street, formed a superb and uniform Place, extending from the front of the Luckenbooths to the head of the Canongate, and corresponding in breadth and length to the uncommon height of the buildings on either side.
Mannering had not much time to look and to admire. His conductor hurried him across this striking scene, and suddenly dived with him into a very steep paved lane. Turning to the right, they entered a scale stair-case, as it is called, the state of which, so far as it could be judged of by one of his senses, annoyed Mannering's delicacy not a little. When they had ascended cautiously to a considerable height, they heard a heavy rap at a door, still two storeys above them. The door opened, and immediately ensued the sharp and worrying bark of a dog, the squalling of a woman, the screams of an assaulted cat, and the hoarse voice of a man, who cried in a most imperative tone, “Will ye, Mustard ? Will ye? down, sir! down !”
“Lord preserve us !” said the female voice, “an he had worried our cat, Mr. Pleydell would ne'er hae forgi’en me!”
Aweel, my doo, the cat’s no a prin the waur -So he's no in, ye say
?” “Na, Mr. Pleydell's ne'er in the house on Saturday at e'en,” answered the female voice.
“And the morn's Sabbath too,” said the querist; I dinna ken what will be done." By this time Mannering appeared, and found a tall
strong countryman, clad in a coat of pepper-and-saltcoloured mixture, with huge metal buttons, a glazed hat and boots, and a large horse-whip beneath his arm, in colloquy with a slip-shod damsel, who had in one hand the lock of the door, and in the other a pail of whiting, or cumstane, as it is called, mixed with watera circumstance which indicates Saturday night in Edinburgh.
“So Mr. Pleydell is not at home, my good girl ?” said Mannering
Ay, sir, he's at hame, but he's no in the house ; he's aye out on Saturday at e'en."
“But my good girl, I am a stranger, and my business express. Will you tell me where I can find him ?”
“His honour," said the chairman, “will be at Clerihugh's about this time-Hersell could hae tellid ye that, but she thought ye wanted to see his house."
Well, then, show me to this tavern—I suppose he will see me, as I come on business of some consequence ?”
“I dinna ken, sir,” said the girl, "he disna like to be disturbed on Saturdays wi' business — but he's aye civil to strangers." “I'll
gang to the tavern too,” said our friend Dinmont, “for I am a stranger also, and on business e'en sic like."
“Na," said the hand-maiden, an he see the gentleman, he'll see the simple body too-but, Lord's sake, dinna
say it was me sent ye there?”.
Atweel, I am a simple body, that's true, hinny, but I am no come to steal ony o' his skeel for naething,"