« PreviousContinue »
Comes me cranking in,
Henry Fourth, Part 1.
The company in the parlour at Ellangowan, consisted of the Laird himself, and a sort of person who might be the village schoolmaster, or perhaps the minister's assistant; his appearance was too shabby to indicate the minister, considering he was on a visit to the Laird.
The Laird himself was one of those second-rate sort of persons, that are to be found frequently in rural situations. Fielding has described one class as feras consumere nati ; but the love of field-sports indicates a certain activity of mind, which had forsaken Mr Bertram, if he ever possessed it. A goodnumoured listlessness of countenance formed the only remarkable expression of his features, although they were rather handsome than otherwise. In fact, his physiognomy indicated the inanity of character which pervaded his life. I will give the reader some insight into his state and conversation, before he has finished a long lecture to Mannering, upon the propriety and comfort of wrapping his stirrup-irons round with a wisp of straw, when he liad occasion to ride in a chill evening. .
Godfrey Bertram, of Ellangowan, succeeded to a long pedigree and a short rent-roll, like many lairds of that period. His list of forefathers ascended so high, that they were lost in the barbarous ages of Galwegian independence; so that his genealogical-tree, besides, the christian and crusading names of Godfreys, and Gilberts, and Dennises, and Rolands, without end, bore heathen fruit of yet darker ages ---Arths, and Knarths, and Dona
gilds, and Hanløps. In truth, they had been formerly the stormy chiefs of a desart, but extensive domain, and the heads of a numerous, tribe, called Mac-Dingawaie; though they afterwards adopted the Norman surname of Bertram. They had máde war, raised rebellions, been defeated, beheaded, and hanged, as became a fa. mily.of importance, for many centuries, But they had gradually lost ground in the world, and, from being themselves the heads of treason and traitorous conspiracies, the Bertrams, or Mac-Dingawaies of Ellangowan, had sunk into subordinate accomplices. Their most fatal exhibitions in this capacity took place in the seven teenth century,, when the foul fiend pos. sessed them with a spirit of contradiction which uniformly involved them in contro. versy with the ruling powers. They reversed the conduct of the celebrated vicar of Bray, and adhered as tenaciously to the weaker side, as that worthy divine to
the stronger. And truly, like him, they had their reward.
Allan Bertram of Ellangowan, who flourished tempore Caroli primi, was, says my authority, Sir Robert Douglas, in his Scottish Baronage, (see the title Ellangowan,) " a steady loyalist, and full of zeal for the cause of his sacred majesty, in which he united with the great Marquis of Mona trose, and other truly zealous and honour, able patriots, and sustained great losses in that behalf. He had the honour of knights hood conferred upon him by his most sacred majesty, and was sequestrated as a malignant by the parliament, 1642, and afterwards as a résolutioner, in the year 1648.”—These two cross-grained epithets of malignant and resolutioner cost poor Sir Allan one half of the family estate. His son Dennis Bertram married a daughter of an eminent fanatic, who had a seat in the council of state, and saved by that union the remainder of the family property. But, as ill chance would have it, he became
enamoured of the lady's principles as well as of her charms, and my author gives him this character: “ He was a man of eminent parts and resolution, for which rea. son he was chosen by the western coun. ties one of the committee of noblemen and gentlemen, to report their griefs to the privy council of Charles II, anent the coming in of the Highland host in 1678." For undertaking this patriotic task he un. derwent a fine, to pay which he was obliged to mortgage half of the remaining moiety of his paternal property. This loss he might have recovered by dint of severe economy, but upon the breaking out of Ar. gyle's rebellion, Dennis Bertram was again suspected by government, apprehended, sent to Dunnotar Castle on the coast of the Mearns, and there broke his neck in an attempt to escape from a subterranean habitation, called the Whig's Vault, in which he was confined with some eighty of the same persuasion. The appriser, therefore, (as the holder of a mortgage was then call