Page images
[ocr errors]

over a ploughed field, then broke down a slap, as he called it, in a dry stone fence, and lugged the unresisting animal through the breach, about a rood of the simple mason. ry giving way in the splutter with which he passed. Finally, he led the way, through a wicket, into something which had still the air of an avenue, though many of the trees were felled. The roar of the ocean was now near and full, and the moon, which began to make her appearance, gleamed on a turreted and apparently a ruined mansion, of considerable extent. Mannering fixed his eyes upon it with a disconsolate sensation.

'Why, my little fellow, this is a ruin, not a house ?"

Ah, but the lairds lived there langsyne- that's Ellengowan Auld Place ; there's a hantle bogles about it-but ye needna be feared, I never saw ony mysell, and we're just at the door o' the New Place.”

Accordingly, leaving the ruins on the



right, a few steps brought the traveller in front of a small modern house, at which his guide rapped with great importance. Mannering told his circumstances to the servant; and the gentleman of the house, who heard his tale from the parlour, stepped forward, and welcomed the stranger hospitably to Ellangowan. The boy, made happy with half-a-crown, was dismissed to his cottage, the weary horse was conducted to a stall, and Mannering found himself in a few minutes seated by a comforta able supper, to which his cold ride gave him a hearty appetite.

[graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

Comes me cranking in,
And cuts me from the best of all my land,
A huge half-moon, a monstrous cantle out.

Henry Fourth, Part I.

The company in the parlour at Ellangowan consisted of the Laird himself, and a sort of person who might be the village schoolmaster, or perhaps the minister's assistant; his appearance was too shabby to indicate the minister, considering he was on a visit to the Laird.

The Laird himself was one of those second-rate sort of persons, that are to be found frequently in rural situations. Fielding has described one class as feras consumere nati; but the love of field-sports indicates a certain activity of mind, which had forsaken Mr Bertram, if he ever pos


sessed it. A good-humoured listlessness of countenance formed the only remarkable expression of his features, although they were rather handsome than otherwise. In fact, his physiognomy indicated the inanity of character which pervaded his life. I will give the reader some insight into. his state and conversation, before he has finished a long lecture to Mannering, upon. the propriety and comfort of wrapping his stirrup-irons round with a wisp of strai,

when he had occasion to ride in a chill revening.

Godfrey Bertram, of Ellangowan, succeeded to a long pedigree and a short rent-roll, like many lairds of that period. His list of forefathers ascended so high, that they were lost in the barbarous agesof Galwegian independence ; so that his genealogical tree, besides the Christian and crusading names of Godfreys, and Gilberts, and Dennises, and Rolands, without end, bore heathen fruit of yet darker ages, -Arths, and Knarths, and Dona



gilds, and Hanlons. In 'truth, they had been formerly the stormy chiefs of a desart, but extensive domain, and the heads of a numerous tribe, called MacDingawaie, though they afterwards adopted the Norman surname of Bertram. They had made war, raised rebellions, been defeated, beheaded, and hanged, as became a family of importance, for many centuries. But they had gradually lost ground in the world, and, from being themselves the heads of treason and traitorous conspiracies, the Bertrams, or Mac-Dingawaies of Ellangowan, had sunk into subordinate accomplices. Their most fatal exhibitions in this capacity took place in the seventeenth century, when the foul fiend pos. sessed them with a spirit of contradiction, which uniformly involved them in contro» versy with the ruling powers. They reversed the conduct of the celebrated vicar of Bray, and adhered as tenaciously to the weaker side, as that worthy divine to

« PreviousContinue »