Page images

claimed his tribute, and the scanty remains of a large property descended upon God. frey Bertram, the present possessor, his only son.

The danger of the father's speculations was soon seen. Deprived of his personal and active superintendance, all his undertakings miscarried, and became either abortive or perilous. Without a single spark of

energy to meet or repel these misfor. tunes, Godfrey put his faith in the activity of another. He kept neither hunters, nor hounds, nor any other southern preliminaries to ruin; but, as has been ob. served of his countrymen, he kept a man of business, who answered the purpose equally well.

Under this gentleman's supervision small debts grew into large, interests were accumulated upon capitals, moveable bonds became heritable, and law charges were heaped upon all ; though Ellangowan possessed so little the spirit of a litigant, that he was upon two occasions ( met

make payment of the expences of a long litigation, although he had never before heard that he liad such cases in court. Meanwhile his neighbours predicted his final ruin. Those of the higher rank, with some malignity, account: ed him already a degraded brother. The lower classes, seeing nothing enviable in bis situation, marked his em barrassments with more compassion. - "He was even a kind of favourite with them, and upon the division of a common, or the holding of a black-fishing, or poaching court, or any similar occasion, when they conceived themselves oppressed by the géntry, they were: in the habit of saying to each other, " Ah, if Ellạngowan, honest man, had his ain that his forebears had afore him, he wad pa see the púir folks trodden «down this gait." - Meanwhile, this general goodi opinion never preveqted their taking the advantage of him on all possible occasions, turning their cattle into his parks, stealing

his wood, shooting his game, and so forth, “ for the laird, honest man, he'll never find it,--he never minds what a puir body does." --Pedlars, gypsies, tinkers, vagrants of all descriptions, roosted about his outhouses, or harboured in his kitchen, and the laird, who was " nae nice body,” but a thorough gossip, like most weak men, found recompence for his hospitality in the pleasure of questioning them on the news of the country side.

A circumstance arrested Ellangowan's progress upon the high road to ruin. This was his marriage with a lady who had a portion of about four thousand pounds. Nobody in the neighbourhood could con. ceive why she married him, and endowed him with her wealth, unless because he had a tall handsome figure, a good set of features, a genteel address, and the most perfect good humour. It might be some additional consideration, that she was herself at the reflecting age of twenty-eight,


and had no near relations to controul her actions or choice.

It was in this lady's behalf (confined for the first time after her marriage) that the speedy and active express, mentioned by the old dame of the cottage, had been dispatched to Kippletringan on the night of Mannering's arrival.

Though we have said so much of the Laird himself, it still remains that we make the reader in some degree acquainted with his companion. This was Abel Sampson, commonly called, from his occupation as a pedagogue, Dominie Sampson. He was of low birth, but having evinced, even from his cradle, an uncommon seriousness of disposition, the poor parents were encouraged to hope that their bairn, as they expressed it, "might wag his pow in a pulpit yet.” : With an ambitious view to such a consummation, they pinched and pared, rose early and lay down late, eat dry bread and drank cold water, to secure to Abel the means of learning. Meantime, bis tall

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

ungainly figure, bis taciturn and grave manners, and some grotesque habits of swinging his limbs, and screwing his visage while reciting his task, made poor Sampson the ridicule of all his school. companions. The same qualities secured him at college a plentiful share of the same sort of notice. Half the youthful mob "of the yards” used to assemble regularly to see Dominie Sampson, (for he had already attained that honourable title,) descend the stairs from the Greek class, with his Lexicon under his arm, his long mis-shapen legs sprawling abroad, and keeping awkward time to the play of his immense shoulder-blades, as they raised and depressed the loose and threadbare black coat which was his constant and only

When he spoke, the efforts of the professor were totally inadequate to restrain the inextinguishable laughter of the students, and sometimes even to repress his own. The long sallow visage, the goggle eyes, the huge. under-jaw, which appeared not to open and shut by


« PreviousContinue »