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difference. She used to say that she could bring from the remotest parts of the island friends to revenge her quarrel while she sat motionless in her cottage; and she frequently boasted that there was a time when she was of still more considerable importance, for there were at her wedding fifty saddled asses, and unsaddled asses without number. If Jean Gordon was the prototype of the character of Meg Merrilies, I imagine Madge must have sat to the unknown author as the representative of her person.”'—Blackwood's Magazine, vol. i.
How far Blackwood's ingenious correspondent was right, how far mistaken, in his conjecture the reader has been informed.
To pass to a character of a very different description, Dominie Sampson, *—the reader may easily suppose that a poor modest humble scholar who has won his way through the classics, yet has fallen to leeward in the voyage of life, is no uncommon personage in a country where a certain portion of learning is easily attained by those who are willing to suffer hunger and thirst in exchange for acquiring Greek and Latin. But there is a far more exact prototype of the worthy Dominie, upon which is founded the part which he performs in the romance, and which, for certain particular reasons, must he expressed very generally.
Such a preceptor as Mr. Sampson is supposed to have been was actually tutor in the family of a gentleman of considerable property. The young lads, his pupils, grew up and went out in the world, but the tutor continued to reside in the family, no uncommon circumstance in Scotland in former days, where food and shelter were readily afforded to humble friends and dependents. The laird's predecessors had been imprudent, he himself was passive and unfortunate. Death swept away his sons, whose success in life might have balanced his own bad luck and incapacity. Debts increased and funds diminished, until ruin came. The estate was sold ; and the old man was about to remove from the house of his fathers to go he knew not whither, when, like an old piece of furniture, which, left alone in its wonted corner, may hold together for a long while, but breaks to pieces on an attempt to move it, he fell down on his own threshold under a paralytic affection.
The tutor awakened as from a dream. He saw his patron
* The Rev. George Thomson, son of the minister of Melrose, who acted as tutor at Abbotsford, was supposed by his friends to have yielded the author many personal features for his fictitious character of the Dominie (Laing).
dead, and that his patron's only remaining child, an elderly woman, now neither graceful nor beautiful, if she had ever been either the one or the other, had by this calamity become a homeless and penniless orphan. He addressed her nearly in the words which Dominie Sampson uses to Miss Bertram, and professed his determination not to leave her. Accordingly, roused to the exercise of talents which had long slumbered, he opened a little school and supported his patron's child for the rest of her life, treating her with the same humble observance and devoted attention which he had used towards her in the days of her prosperity.
Such is the outline of Dominie Sampson's real story, in which there is neither romantic incident nor sentimental passion; but which, perhaps, from the rectitude and simplicity of character which it displays, may interest the heart and fill the eye of the reader as irresistibly as if it respected distresses of a more dignified or refined character.
These preliminary notices concerning the tale of Guy Mannering and some of the characters introduced may save the author and reader in the present instance the trouble of writing and perusing a long string of detached notes.
ABBOTSFORD, January 1829.
GALWEGIAN LOCALITIES AND PERSONAGES WHICH HAVE BEEN
SUPPOSED TO BE ALLUDED TO IN THE NOVEL
An old English proverb says, that more know Tom Fool than Tom Fool knows; and the influence of the adage seems to extend to works composed under the influence of an idle or foolish planet. Many corresponding circumstances are detected by readers of which the Author did not suspect the existence. He must, however, regard it as a great compliment that, in detailing incidents purely imaginary, he has been so fortunate in approximating reality as to remind his readers of actual occur. rences. It is therefore with pleasure he notices some pieces of local history and tradition which have been supposed to coincide with the fictitious persons, incidents, and scenery of Guy Mannering.
The prototype of Dirk Hatteraick is considered as having been a Dutch skipper called Yawkins. This man was well known on the coast of Galloway and Dumfries-shire, as sole proprietor and master of a buckkar, or smuggling lugger, called the Black Prince.' Being distinguished by his nautical skill and intrepidity, his vessel was frequently freighted, and his own services employed, by French, Dutch, Manx, and Scottish smuggling companies.
A person well known by the name of Buckkar-tea, from having been a noted smuggler of that article, and also by that of Bogle Bush, the place of his residence, assured my kind informant Mr. Train, that he had frequently seen upwards of two hundred Lingtow men assemble at one time, and go off into the interior of the country, fully laden with contraband goods.
In those halcyon days of the free trade, the fixed price for carrying a box of tea or bale of tobacco from the coast of Galloway to Edinburgh was fifteen shillings, and a man with two horses carried four such packages. The trade was entirely destroyed by Mr. Pitt's celebrated commutation law, which, by reducing the duties upon excisable articles, enabled the lawful dealer to compete with the smuggler. The statute was called in Galloway and Dumfries-shire, by those who had thriven upon the contraband trade, “the burning and starving act.'
Sure of such active assistance on shore, Yawkins demeaned himself so boldly that his mere name was a terror to the officers of the revenue. He availed himself of the fears which his presence inspired on one particular night, when, happening to be ashore with a considerable quantity of goods in his sole custody, a strong party of excisemen came down on him. Far from shunning the attack, Yawkins sprung forward, shouting, • Come on, my lads; Yawkins is before you.' The revenue officers were intimidated and relinquished their prize, though defended only by the courage and address of a single man. On his proper element Yawkins was equally successful. On one occasion he was landing his cargo at the Manxman's Lake near Kirkcudbright, when two revenue cutters (the ‘Pigmy' and the 'Dwarf') hove in sight at once on different tacks, the one coming round by the Isles of Fleet, the other between the point of Rueberry and the Muckle Ron. The dauntless freetrader instantly weighed anchor and bore down right between the luggers, so close that he tossed his hat on the deck of the one and his wig on that of the other, hoisted a cask to his maintop, to show his occupation, and bore away under an extraordinary pressure of canvass, without receiving injury. To account for these and other hairbreadth escapes, popular superstition alleged that Yawkins insured his celebrated buckkar by compounding with the devil for one-tenth of his crew every voyage. How they arranged the separation of the stock and tithes is left to our conjecture. The buckkar was perhaps called the ‘Black Prince' in honour of the formidable insurer.
The ‘Black Prince' used to discharge her cargo at Luce, Balcarry, and elsewhere on the coast; but her owner's favourite landing-places were at the entrance of the Dee and the Cree, near the old Castle of Rueberry, about six miles below Kirkcudbright. There is a cave of large dimensions in the vicinity of Rueberry, which, from its being frequently used by Yawkins and his supposed connexion with the smugglers on the shore, is now called Dirk Hatteraick's Cave. Strangers who visit this place, the scenery of which is highly romantic, are also shown, under the name of the Gauger's Loup, a tremendous precipice, being the same, it is asserted, from which Kennedy was precipitated.
Meg Merrilies is in Galloway considered as having had her origin in the traditions concerning the celebrated Flora Marshal, one of the royal consorts of Willie Marshal, more commonly called the Caird of Barullion, King of the Gipsies of the Western Lowlands. That potentate was himself deserving of notice from the following peculiarities :—He was born in the parish of Kirkmichael about the year 1671 ; and, as he died at Kirkcudbright 230 November 1792, he must then have been in the one hundred and twentieth year of his age. It cannot be said that this unusually long lease of existence was noted by any peculiar excellence of conduct or habits of life. Willie had been pressed or enlisted in the army seven times, and had deserted as often ; besides three times running away from the naval service. He had been seventeen times lawfully married ; and, besides such a reasonably large share of matrimonial comforts, was, after his hundredth year, the avowed father of four children by less legitimate affections. He subsisted in his extreme old age by a pension from the present Earl of Selkirk's grandfather. Will Marshal is buried in Kirkcudbright church, where his monument is still shown, decorated with a scutcheon suitably blazoned with two tups' horns and two cutty spoons.
In his youth he occasionally took an evening walk on the
highway, with the purpose of assisting travellers by relieving them of the weight of their purses. On one occasion the Caird of Barullion robbed the Laird of Bargally at a place between Carsphairn and Dalmellington. His purpose was not achieved without a severe struggle, in which the gipsy lost his bonnet, and was obliged to escape, leaving it on the road. A respectable farmer happened to be the next passenger, and, seeing the bonnet, alighted, took it up, and rather imprudently put it on his own head. At this instant Bargally came up with some assistants, and, recognising the bonnet, charged the farmer of Bantoberick with having robbed him, and took him into custody. There being some likeness between the parties, Bargally persisted in his charge, and, though the respectability of the farmer's character was proved or admitted, his trial before the Circuit Court came on accordingly. The fatal bonnet lay on the table of the court. Bargally swore that it was the identical article worn by the man who robbed him; and he and others likewise deponed that they had found the accused on the spot where the crime was committed, with the bonnet on his head. The case looked gloomily for the prisoner, and the opinion of the judge seemed unfavourable. But there was a person in court who knew well both who did and who did not commit the crime. This was the Caird of Barullion, who, thrusting himself up to the bar near the place where Bargally was standing, suddenly seized on the bonnet, put it on his head, and, looking the Laird full in the face, asked him, with a voice which attracted the attention of the court and crowded audience
Look at me, sir, and tell me, by the oath you have swornAm not I the man who robbed you between Carsphairn and Dalmellington ?' Bargally replied, in great astonishment, ‘By Heaven ! you are the very man.' “You see what sort of memory this gentleman has,' said the volunteer pleader; "he swears to the bonnet whatever features are under it. If you yourself, my Lord, will put it on your head, he will be willing to swear that your Lordship was the party who robbed him between Carsphairn and Dalmellington. The tenant of Bantoberick was unanimously acquitted ; and thus Willie Marshal ingeniously contrived to save an innocent man from danger, without incurring any himself, since Bargally's evidence must have seemed to every one too fluctuating to be relied upon.
While the King of the Gipsies was thus laudably occupied, his royal consort, Flora, contrived, it is said, to steal the hood from the judge's gown; for which offence, combined with her