Page images

substitute of the county, who has authority from the Court of Session. He's in the town just now, if your honour would like to see him; and he can tell you máir about the loss of the bairn than ony body, for the sheriff depute (that's his principal like,) took much pains to come at the truth o' that matter, as I have heard."

6 And this gentleman's name is ?" .." Mac-Morlan, sir,—he's a man o' character, and weel spoken o’.”

“Send my compliments-Colonel Mannering's compliments-to him, and I would be glad he would do me the pleasure of supping with me, and bring these papers with him-and I beg, good madam, you will say nothing of this to any one else.” : “ Me, sir ? ne'er a word shall I say-I wish your honour, (a curtsey) or ony honourable gentlemán that's fought for his country, (another curtsey) had the land, since the auld family maun quit, (a sigh) rather than that wily scoundrel, Glossin, that's risen on the ruin of the best friend he ever had-and now I think on't, I'll slip on my hood and pattens, and gang to Mr Mac-Morlan mysell--he's at hame e'en now-it's hardly a step.” .

“Do so, my good landlady, and many thanks--and bid my servant step here with my portfolio in the mean time.”

In a minute or two, Colonel Mannering was- quietly seated with his writing materials before him. We have the privilege of looking over his shoulder as he writes, and we willingly communicate its substance to our readers. The letter was ad. dressed to Arthur Mervyn, Esq. of Mervyn-Hall, Llanbraithwaite, Westmoreland. It contained some account of the writer's previous journey since . parting with him, and then proceeded as follows: - " And now, why will yod still upbraid me with my melancholy, Mervyn ?-Do you think, after the lapse of twenty-five years, battles, wounds, imprisonment, misfortunes of every description, I can be still the same lively unbroken Guy Man

nering, who climbed Skiddaw with you, or shot grouse upon Crossfell? That you, who have remained in the bosom of domestic' happiness, experience little change; that your step is as light, and your fancy as full of sunshine, is a blessed effect of health and temperament, co-operating with content and a smooth current down the course of life. But my career has been one of difficulties, and doubts, and errors. From my infancy I have been the sport of accident, and though the wind has often borne me into harbour, it has seldom been into that which the pilot destined. Let me recall to you—but the task must be brief-the odd and wayward 'fates of my youth, and the misfortunes of my manhood. : “The former, you will say, had nothing very appalling. All was not for the best; but all was tolerable. My father, the eldest son of an ancient but reduced fami. ly, left me with little, save the name of the head of the house, to the protection

of his more fortunate brothers. They were so fond of me that they almost quarrelled about me. My uncle, the bishop, would have had me in orders, and offered me a living my uncle, the merchant, would have put me into a counting house, and proposed to give me a share in the thri. ving concern of Mannering and Marshal, in Lombard Street-So, between these two stools, or rather these two soft, easy, wellstuffed chairs of divinity and commerce, my unfortunate person slipped down, and pitched upon a dragoon saddle. Again, the bishop wished me to marry the niece and heiress of the Dean of Lincoln ; and my uncle, the alderman, proposed to me the only daughter of old Sloethorn, the great wine-merchant, rich enough to play at spancounter with moidores, and make thread. papers of bank notes—and somehow I slipped my neck out of both nooses, and married--poor-poor Sophia Wellwood.

“ You will say, my military career in India, when I followed my regiment there, should have given me some satisfaction, and so it assuredly has. You will remind me also, that if I disappointed the hopes of my guardians, I did not incur their dis. pleasure-that the bishop, at his death, bequeathed me his blessing, his manuscript sermons, and a curious portfolio, containing the heads of eminent divines of the church of England; and that my uncle, Sir Paul Mannering, left me sole heir and executor to his large fortune. Yet all this availeth me nothing. I told you I had that upon my mind which I should carry to my grave with me, a perpetual aloes in the draught of existence. I will tell you the cause more in detail than I had the heart to do while under your hospitable roof. You will often hear it mentioned, and perhaps with different and unfounded circumstances. I will, therefore, speak it out, and let the event itself, and the sentiments of melancholy with which it has impressed me, never again be subject of discussion between us.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »