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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.
On the present 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, who, their 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 authorities 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 Englishman ; "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 anything 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 noticea, 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, Anahibazon, Catahibazon; a thousand terms of equal sound and significance, poured thick and threefold upon the unshrinking Dominie, whose stubborn incredulity bore him out against the pelting of this pitiless storm.
At length, the joyful annunciation that the lady had presented her husband with a fine boy, and was (of course) as well as could be expected, broke off this intercourse. Mr. Bertram hastened to the lady's apartment, Meg Merrilies descended to the kitchen to secure her share of the groaning malt, and the "ken-no," and Mannering, after looking at his watch, and noting, with great exactness, the hour and minute of the birth, requested, with becoming gravity, that the Dominie would conduct him to some place where he might have a view of the heavenly bodies.
The schoolmaster, without further answer, rose and threw open a door half sashed with glass, which led to an oldfashioned terrace-walk, behind the modern house, communicating with the platform on which the ruins of the ancient castle were situated. The wind had arisen, and swept before it the clouds which had formerly obscured the sky. The moon was high, and at the full, and all the lesser satellites of heaven shone forth in cloudless effulgence. The scene which their light presented to Mannering was in the highest degree unexpected and striking.
1 The groaning malt mentioned in the text was the ale brewed for the purpose of being drunk after the lady or goodwife's safe delivery. The ken-no has a more ancient source, and perhaps the custom may be derived from the secret rites of the Bona Dea. A large and rich cheese was made by the women of the family, with great affectation of secrecy, for the refreshment of the gossips who were to attend at the canny minute. This was the ken-no, so called because its existence was secret (that is, presumed to be so) from all the males of the family, but especially from the husband and master. accordingly, expected to conduct himself as if he knew of no such preparation, to act as if desirous to press the female guests to refresbments, and to seem surprised at their obstinate refusal. But the instant his back was turned the ken-no was produced ; and after all had eaten their fill, with a proper accompaniment of the groaning malt, the remainder was divided among the gossips, each carrying a large portion home with the same affectation of great secrecy.
We have observed, that in the latter part of his journey our traveller approached the sea-shore, without being aware how nearly. He now perceived that the ruins of Ellangowan castle were situated upon a promontory, or projection of rock, which formed one side of a small and placid bay on the sea-shore. The modern mansion was placed lower, though closely adjoining, and the ground behind it descended to the sea by a small swelling green bank, divided into levels by natural terraces, on which grew some old trees, and terminating upon the white sand. The other side of the bay, opposite to the old castle, was a sloping and varied promontory, covered chiefly with copsewood, which on that favoured coast grows almost within watermark. A fisherman's cottage peeped from among the trees.
Even at this dead hour of night there were lights moving upon the shore, probably occasioned by the unloading a smuggling lugger from the Isle of Man, which was lying in the bay. On the light from the sashed door of the house being observed, a halloo from the vessel, of “Ware hawk! Douse the glim !” alarmed those who were on shore, and the lights instantly disappeared.
It was one hour after midnight, and the prospect around was lovely. The grey old towers of the ruin, partly entire, partly broken, here bearing the rusty weather-stains of ages, and there partially mantled with ivy, stretched along the verge of the dark rock which rose on Mannering's right hand. In his front was the quiet bay, whose little waves, crisping and sparkling to the moonbeams, rolled successively along its surface, and dashed with a soft and murmuring ripple against the silvery beach. To the left the woods advanced far into the ocean, waving in the moonlight along ground of an undulating and varied form, and presenting those varieties of light and shade, and that interesting combination of glade and thicket, upon which the eye delights to rest, charmed with what it sees, yet curious to pierce still deeper into the intricacies of the woodland scenery. Above rolled the planets, each, by its own liquid orbit of light, distinguished from the inferior or more distant stars. So strangely can imagination deceive even those by whose volition it has been excited, that Mannering, while gazing upon these brilliant bodies, was half inclined to believe in the influence ascribed to them by superstition over human events. But Mannering was a youthful lover, and might perhaps be influenced by the feelings so exquisitely expressed by a modern poet :
For fable is Love's world, his home, his birth-place :
Such musings soon gave way to others. " Alas!” he muttered, “my good old tutor, who used to enter so deep into the controversy between Heydon and Chambers on the subject of astrology, he would have looked upon the scene with other eyes, and would have seriously endeavoured to discover from the respective positions of these luminaries their probable effects on the destiny of the new-born infant, as if the courses or emanations of the stars superseded, or, at least, were co-ordinate with, Divine Providence. Well, rest be with him ! he instilled into me enough of knowledge for erecting a scheme of nativity, and therefore will I presently go about it.” So saying, and having noted the position of the principal planetary bodies, Guy Mannering returned to the house. The Laird met him in the parlour, and acquainting him, with great glee, that the boy was a fine healthy little fellow, seemed rather disposed to press further conviviality. He admitted, however, Mannering's plea of weariness, and, conducting him to his sleeping apartment, left him to repose for the evening.
Come and see! trust thine own eyes,
COLERIDGE, from SCHILLER.
The belief in astrology was almost universal in the middle of the seventeenth century; it began to waver and become doubtful towards the close of that period, and in the beginning of the eighteenth the art fell into general disrepute, and even under general ridicule. Yet it still retained many partisans even in the seats of learning. Grave and studious men were loth to relinquish the calculations which had early become the principal objects of their studies, and felt reluctant to descend from the predominating height to which a supposed insight into futurity, by the power of consulting abstract influences and conjunctions, had exalted them over the rest of mankind.
Among those who cherished this imaginary privilege with undoubting faith, was an old clergyman, with whom Mannering was placed during his youth. He wasted his eyes in observing the stars, and his brains in calculations upon their various combinations. His pupil, in early youth, naturally caught some portion of his enthusiasm, and laboured for a time to make himself master of the technical process of astrological research ; so that, before he became convinced of its absurdity, William Lilly himself would have allowed him "a curious fancy and piercing judgment in resolving a question of nativity.”
On the present occasion, he arose as early in the morning as the shortness of the day permitted, and proceeded to calculate the nativity of the young heir of Ellangowan. He undertook the task secundum artem, as well to keep up appearances, as from a sort of curiosity to know whether he yet remembered, and could practise, the imaginary science. He accordingly erected his scheme, or figure of heaven, divided into its twelve houses, placed the planets therein according to the Ephemeris, and rectified their position to the hour and moment of the nativity. Without troubling our readers with the general prognostications which judicial astrology would have inferred from these circumstances, in this diagram there