Page images

"Harlot, thief, witch, and gypsey," an. swered Şampson again..,

O troth, Laird,” continyed Meg, during this bye-talk, "it's but to the like o' you ane can open their heart: ye see, they say Dunbog is nae mair a gentleman than the blunker that's biggit the bonnie house down in the howm. But the like o' you, Laird, that's a real gentleman for sae mony hundred years, and never hounds puir folk off your ground as if they were mad tykes, nane o' our fowk wad stir your gear if ye had as mony capons as there's leaves on the trysting-tree.-And now some of ye maun lay down your watch, and tell me the very minute o' the hour the wean's born, and I'll spae its fortune." ;

“ Aye, but, Meg, we shall not, want your assistance, for here's a student from Oxford that knows much better than you how to spae his fortune-he does it by the stars.".

“ Certainly, sir,” said Mannering, entering into the simple humour of his land

lord, “ I will calculate his nativity'according to the rule of the Triplicities, as recommended by Pythagoras, Hippocrates, Diocles, and Avicenna. Or I will begin ab hora questionis, as Haly, Messahala, Ganwehis, and Guido Bonatus, have re. commended." . . .: - One of Sampson's great recommenda. tions to the favour of Mr Bertram was, that he never detected the most gross attempt at imposition, so that the Laird, whose hum. ble efforts at jocularity were chiefly confined to whatwere then called bites and bams, since denominated hoaxes and quizzes, had the fairest possible subject of wit in the unsuspecting Dominie. It is true, he never laughed, or joined in the laugh which his own simplicity afforded—nay, it is said, he never laughed but once in his life, and upon that, memorable occasion his land. lady miscarried, partly through surprise at the event itself, and partly from terror at the hideous grimaces which attended this unusual cachinnation. The only effect

which the discovery of such impositions produced upon this saturnine personage was, to extort an ejaculation of “ Prodigious !” or “ Very facetious!" pronounced syllabically, but without moving a muscle of his own countenance.

Upon this occasion, he turned a gaunt and ghastly stare upon the youthful astrologer, and seemed to doubt if he had rightly understood his answer to his patron.

“ I am afraid, sir,” said Mannering, turning towards him, " you may be one of those unhappy persons, whose dim eyes being unable to penetrate the starry spheres, and to discern therein the decrees of heaven at a distance, have their hearts barred against conviction by prejudice and misprision.”

“ Truly," said Sampson, “ I opine with Sir Isaac Newton, Knight, and umwhile master of his majesty's mint, that the (pretended) science of astrology is altogether vain, frivolous, and unsatisfactory.": And here he reposed his oracular jaws.

" Really,” resumed the traveller, “ I am sorry to see a gentleman of your learning and gravity labouring under such strange blindness and delusion. Will you place the brief, the modern, and, as I may say, the vernacular name of Isaac Newton in opposition to the grave and sonorous aư. thorities of Dariot, Bonatus, Ptolemy, Haly, Eztler, Dieterick, Naibob, Harfurt, Zael, Taustettor, Agrippa, Duretus, Maginus, Origen, and Argol? Do not Christians and Heathens, and Jews and Gentiles, and poets and philosophers, unite in allowing the starry influences ?” .." Communis error-it is a general mistake,” answered the inflexible Dominie Sampson. '

“ Not so," replied the young English. man, “it is a general and well-grounded belief..

" It is the resource of cheaters, knaves, and cozeners,” said Sampson. - " Abusus non tollit usum. The abuse of

any thing doth not abrogate the lawful use thereof."

During this discussion, Ellangowan was somewhat like a woodcock caught in his own springe. He turned his face alternately from the one spokesman to the other, and began, from the gravity with which Mannering plied his adversary, and the learning which he displayed in the controversy, to give him credit for being half serious. As for Meg, she fixed her bewildered eyes upon the astrologer, overpowered by a jargon more mysterious than her own.

Mannering pressed his advantage, and ran over all the hard terms of art which a tenacious memory supplied, and which, from circumstances hereafter to be noticed, had been familiar to him in early youth.

Signs and planets, in aspects sextile, quartile, trine, conjoined or opposite; houses of heaven, with their cusps, hours, and minutes ; Almuten, Almochoden, An.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »