« PreviousContinue »
ed by the Justice, in his hasty zeal for the administration of rural police. · These things did not pass without notice and censure. We are not made of wood or stone, and the things which connect themselves with our hearts and habits cannot, like bark or lichen, be rent away without our missing them. The farmer's dame lacked her usual share of intelligence, perhaps also the self-applause which she had felt while distributing the awmous (alms,) in shape of a gowpen (handful of oatmeal, to the mendicant who brought the news. The cottage felt inconvenience from interruption of the paltry trade carried on by the itinerant dealers. The children had not their sugar-plums and toys; the young women wanted pins, ribbons, combs, and ballads; and the old could no longer barter their eggs for salt, snuff, and tobacCO. All these circumstances brought the busy Laird of Ellangowan into discredit, which was more general on account of his former popularity. Even his lineage was brought up in judgment against him. They thought “ naething of what the like of Greenside, or Burnville, or Viewforth, might do, that were strangers in the country; but Ellangowan! that had been a name amang 'them since the mirk Monanday, and lang before-He to be grinding the poor at that rate !--They ca'd his grandfather the Wicked Laird ; but, though he was whiles fractious aneuch, when he got into roving company, and had ta'en the drap drink, he would have scorned to go on at this gate. Na, na, the muckle chim. ney in the auld Place reeked like a killogie in his time, and there were as mony puir folk riving at the banes in the court, and about the door, as there were gentles in the ha’. And the leddy, on ilka Christmas night as it came round, gae twelve siller pennies to ilka puir body about, in honour of the twelve apostles like. They were fond to ca' it papistrie ; but I think our great folk might take a lesson frae the papists whiles. They gie another sort o' help to
puir folk than just dinging down á sax. pence in the broad on the sabbath, and kilting, and scourging, and drumming them a' the six days o' the week besides."
Such was the gossip over the good twopenny in every ale-house within three or four miles of Ellangowan, that being about the diameter of the orbit in which our friend Godfrey Bertram, Esq. J. P, must be considered as the principal luminary. Still greater scope was given to evil tongues by the removal of a colony of gypsies, with one of whom our reader is somewhat acquainted, and who had for a great many years enjoyed their chief settlement upon the estate of Ellangowan.
Come, princes of the ragged regiment,
ALTHOUGH the character of those gypsey tribes, which formerly inundated most of the nations of Europe, and which in some degree still subsist among them as a distinct people, is generally understood, the reader will pardon my saying a few words respecting their situation in Scotland.
It is well known that the gypsies were, at an early period, acknowledged as a separate and independent race by one of the Scottish monarchs, and that they were less favourably distinguished by a subse
quent law, which rendered the character of gypsey equal, in the judicial balance, to that of common and habitual thief, and prescribed his punishment accordingly. Notwithstanding the severity of this and other statutes, the fraternity prospered amid the distresses of the country, and received large accessions from among those whom famine, oppression, or the sword of war, had deprived of the ordinary means of subsistence. They lost in a great measure, by this intermixture, the national character of Egyptians, and became a mingled race, having all the idleness and predatory habits of their eastern ancestors, with a ferocity which they probably borrowed from the men of the north who joined their society. They travelled in different bands, and had rules among themselves, by which each tribe was confined to its own district. The slightest invasion of the precincts which had been assigned to another tribe produced desperate skirmishes, in which there was often much blood shed.