stands still; and amidst a circle of calmly wipes the blood off the murpersons who crowd round with good- derous axe, and returns to his work. natured surprise, the unhappy woman The dreadful tale speedily came to recovers from her stupefaction, to the knowledge of the magistrates, throw herself, with a loud scream of who caused the uncalled avenger to anguish and horror, into the arms of be arrested and brought to trial. He the nearest human being, who appears was of course sentenced to the punishto her as a guardian angel. All leave ment ordained by the laws; but the their work—the mistress of the house, sentence still wanted the sanction of the kitchen ; the thresher, the barn; the Emperor. Alexander, the splenthe eldest son of the family, with his dour of whose virtues is only rendered axe in his hand, the wood which he more conspicuous by the throne, has just cleft-to assist the unfortunate caused all the circumstances of this woman; and, with a mixture of curi- crime, so extraordinary in the motives osity and pity, to learn, by a hundred in which it originated, to be reported inquiries, the circumstances of her to him in the most careful and detailed singular appearance.

Refreshed by manner. Here, or nowhere, he whatever can be procured at the mo- thought himself called on to exercise ment, the stranger gradually recovers the godlike privilege of mercy, by the power of speech, and ability to by commuting the sentence passed on give an intelligible account of the the criminal, into a condemnation to dreadful trial which she has under- labour not very severe; and he accordgone. The insensibility with which ingly sent the young man to the forfear and distress had steeled her heart, tress of Dunamunde, at the mouth of begins to disappear; but new terrors the Duna, in the Gulf of Riga, there seize her--the dry eye seeks in vain to be confined to labour during his a tear-she is on the brink of bound- Majesty's pleasure. less misery. But her narrative had also excited conflicting feelings in the bosoms of her audítors ; though pity, commiseration, dismay, and abhor

THE HAUNTED HOUSE. rence, imposed alike on all the same The great road from England in involuntary silence. One only, un- former times skirted the firth of Solable to command the overpowering way, pursued its wild and extraordinary emotions of his heart, advanced be- way through one of the decpest and fore the rest—it was the young man most dangerous morasses in Scotland, with the axe : his checks were pale and emerging on the Caerlaverock side, with affright-his wildly-rolling eyes conferred on the Kirkgate of the good flashed ill-omened fire. • What !'' he town of Dumfries the rank and opulexclaimed ; three children—thy own ençe of a chief street. Commanding children! the sickly innocent, the a view of the winding and beautiful imploring boy, the infant suckling all river Nith on one side, and of the cast out by the mother to be devoured green stately hills of Tinwald and by the wolves ?-Woman, thou art | Torthorwold on the other, with their unworthy to live ! And at the same numerous villages and decaying casinstant, the uplifted steel descends tles, this street became the residence with resistless force on the skull of of the rich and the far-descended the wretched woman, who falls dead numbering among its people some of at his feet. The perpetrator then the most ancient and potent names of


Nithsdale. The houses had in general It was pleasant to behold the chief something of a regal look-presenting street of this ancient border town in a curious mixture of the Saxon and its best days those times of simpliGrecian architecture, blending whim- city and virtue, as one of the town sically together in one place, or kept bailies, a barber by trade, remarked, separate in all their native purity in when every woman went with another ; while others of a different, cushioned brow and curled locks, and but no less picturesque character, all the men flourished in full-bottomed towered up in peaked and ornamented wigs. But the demon who presides Norman majesty, with their narrow over the abasement of streets and turret stairs and projecting casements. cities entered into the empty place, But I mean not to claim for the Kirk- which the brain of a sheriff ought to gate the express name of a regular have occupied, and the road was comstreet. Fruit trees frequently throw- pelled to forsake the side of the Soling their branches, loaded with the way—the green fields of Caerlavefinest fruit, far into the way, and in rock, and the ancient Kirkgate, and other places antique porchways, shaded approach to Dumfries through five miles deep with yewtree, took away the re- of swamp, and along a dull, and proach of eternal mortar and stone,' muddy way, which all travellers have and gave the whole a retired and a since learned to detest under the name sylvan look. The presence of an old of the Lochmabengate. From that church, with its thick-piled grave hour, the glory of the old chief street stones, gave a gravity of deportment diminished. The giddy and the gay to the neighbourhood ; the awe in- forsook a place, where the chariot of spired by a religious place was visible the stranger, with its accompaniment on the people. There was a serious- of running lacqueys and mounted 'ness mingled with their mirth—a re- grooms, was no longer seen : and the verential feeling poured tlırough their ancient inhabitants saw with sorrow legends, and their ballads. Their their numbers gradually lessen, and laughter was not so loud, nor their their favourite street hasting to decay. joy so stormy, as that of men in less A new and a meaner race succeeded hallowed places. The maidens danced the mansions of the Donglasses, with something of a chastened step, the Dalzells, the Maxwells, the Kirkand sang with a devotional grace. patricks, and the Herrieses, became

The strings of that merry instrument the homes of the labouring man and which bewitched the feet of the wisest the mechanic. Tapestried halls, and 'men, when placed under the left ear lordly rooms, were profaned by vulgar of a Kirkgate musician, emitted sounds fect; and for the sound of the citterli

, so perfectly in unison with devotion, and the robeck, the dull dim of the that a gifted elder of the kirk was once weaver's loom, and the jaring clamour known to sanction and honour it, by of the smith's steel hammer, abounded. measuring a step or two to the joyous With this brief and imperfect notice tune of An' 0 to be married an' we shall bid farewell to the ancient this be the way.' Over the whole splendour of the Kirkgate—it is with strect, and far into the town, was its degenerate days that our story has breathed much of that meek, austere intercourse; and the persons destined composure, which the genius of an- to move, and act, -and suffer, in our cient sculptors has shed on their divine authentic drama, are among the humperformances.

blest of its inhabitants. The time tao

with which our narrative commences of this life—the hare, caught in her and terminates, is a season somewhat twilight march through the cottager's uncongenial for descriptive excursions. kaleyard, or the wild duck shot by A ruinous street, and a labouring moonlight, while tasting the green people, on whom the last night of herbage on some lonely stream bank December is descending in angry --send up, stewed or roasted, a savour winds and cold sleets and snows, pre- the more gladsome, because it comes sent few attractions to dealers in fic- seldom; while the flavour of sinuggled tions, and few flowers, either natural gin and brandy is not the less acceptor figurative, for embellishing a tale. able, because the dangers of the deep With all these drawbacks, we have sea, and the terrors on shore of the one advantage, which a mind delight-armed revenue officers, were in the ing in nature and truth, will not will way of its gracing once a year the ingly forego; the tale, humble and humble man's supper-board. brief as it is, possesses truth beyond all Amid the sound of mirth and repower of impeachment, and follows velry, and shining of lamps and canconscientiously the traditional and ac-dles in porch and window, there credited narrative, without staying to was one house, covered with huịnble array it and adorn it in those vain and thatch, and of altogether a modest, or gaudy embellishments, with which fic- rather mean exterior, which seemed tion seeks to encumber a plain and not to sympathize in the joys of the simple story.

evening. A small and lonely candle The night which brings in the new twinkled in a small and solitary winyear to the good people of Dumfries, dow, and no sound proceeded from has long been a night of friendly meet- its door, save now and then the movings, and social gladness and carousal. ing of the slow and aged feet of the The grave and the devout lay aside mistress of this rude cottage. As the for the time the ordinary vesture of more roving and regardless youths sanctity and religious observance ; the passed the window, they were observed sober and the self-denying revel among to lower their voices, regulate their the good things of this life, with a steps, and smoothe down their deportfervour, perhaps, augmented by pre- ment to something approaching to vious penance ; and even some of the devotional. Within the window, sat shining lights of the Scottish kirk have one who, ungracious in the outward been observed to let their splendour man, and course in his apparel, and subside for the evening, that, like the owner only of a bedstead and couch, sun,-- perhaps they might come forth and a few controversial books, was from darkness with an increase of nevertheless a man of note in those glory. The matron suspends her days when things external were of thrift, and arrays herself in her mar- little note in the eyes of a Presbyterian riage mantle-The maiden, and the minister. Indeed, had one of the bond-maiden, flaunt and smile, side present generation glanced his eye by side, in ribbons and scarfs, and through the coarse green glass of the snooded love-locks, all arranged with low-browed window, and seen an old a careful and a cunning hand, to as- man, whose silver hairs were half conşist merry blue, or languishing black cealed by a night cap, not over pure ; eyes, in making mischief among the whose bent shoulders bore a plaid of

Each house smells homely chequered gray, fastened on from floor to roof with the good things the bosom with a wooden skewer

hearts of men.


while over his knees lay a large old He lifted his


from the page, and Bible clasped with iron, on which his said, “ Marion, even before I proceed eyes were cast with a searching and a to matters of spiritual import, let me serious glance—our youth of Saxon know what thou hast prepared for the broad-cloth and French ruffles would nourishment of the bodies of those have thought of something, much whom we have invited according to more humble than the chief elder of the fashion of our fathers to sit out the old kirk of Dumfries. It was in- the old year, and welcome in the new. deed no other than William Warpen- Name me the supper dishes, I pray tree, one of the burning and shining thee, that I may know if thou hast lights of the ancient of days, when scorned the Babylonian observances serious prayers, and something of a of the sister church of England, in the shrewd and proverbial cast of worldly matter of creature-comforts. What counsel, were not the less esteemed hast thou prepared for supper, I pray that they pertained to an humble thee?no superstitious meats and

Ilis consequence, even in drinks, Marion, I hope, but humble this lowly situation, was felt far and and holy, and halesome things which wide; of the fair webs which came nourish the body without risk to the from the devout man's looms, let the soul. I dread. by thy long silence, long linsey-wooksey garments of the woman, that thou hast been seeking matrons of Dumfries, even at this day, to pamper the episcopahan propensibear witness-garments which surpass ties of our appetites by ceremonious silk in beauty, while many a blythe- and sinful saint-day dishes.' some bridal and sorrowful burial bore • Ah! William Warpentree,' said token, in their finc linen vestinents, liis douce spouse Marion, covering an of the skill of William's right hand. old oaken table as she spoke, with a Indeed, it was one of the good man's fine patterned table cloth, wove by no own practical proverbs, that there was other hand than that of the devout more vanity in the bier than the bridal. owner of the feast. liimself: " Ah!' Though sufficently conscious of those said she, what words have escaped gifts, he wished them to be forgotten from thy lips--superstitious meats and in the sedate and austere elder of the drinks,' said ye: ? • Na! na! I cared kirk; and long before the time of our mair for the welfare of the spirit, and tale he had become distinguished for the hope to sing hallelujahs in Abram's the severity of his discipline, and his bosom, as ye say in prayer yourgifts in kirk controversy.

se”; Ah! Willie, they say, who kenBut the influence of ancient times ned you in your youth, that would of relaxation and joy, of which he had sooner pang

to Sarah's.' been a partaker in his youth, had not woman,' said the douce man ; " what wholly ceased ; and an observer of say ye to the supper ?' * First, then,' human nature might see, that arid all quoth his spouse, forsaking unwillingly the controversial contemplations in this darling road of domestic controwhich he seemed involved, the jolly versy and strife ; what have you to old domestic god of Scottish cheer and say against a dish of collops scored, moderate liilarity had not yet yielded nicely simmered owre the head amang entire place to the Crumb of Comfort, Spanish onions ? Spanish onions, the Cup of Cold Water to the Parched woman,' said the elder; • I like not Spirit, The Afflicted Man's best Com- the sound,' Sound,' said the dame, pauion, and Boston's Fourfold State. So would ye lose your supper for a



sound ? Had they grown in the gar- made the douce man swear.' Saul to den of the Grand Inquisitor, and been gude man, but ye feu ill. But we have sown by some pope or cardinal, then, all our times of weakness-even I myman, ye might have had your scruples self,' he muttered in a low and inaudible --but they grew in the garden of that tone, ' have matters to mourn for as upright man, David Bogie ; I'll war- well as the wicked ; I have buttered rant ye'll call the scored collops epis- my own breakfast with the butter which copalian, since they were cut by a honest men's wives have given me for knife of Sheffield steel.' • Pass to anointing their webs. I have worn, the other viands and vivers, woman,' but that was in my youth, the shawsaid the elder. • Gladly will I,' said white linen, purloined from many his obedient partner; “the mair gladly customers in hanks and cuts. And because it's a gallant Scottish haggis, I have looked with an umrighteous eye full and fat, and fair. Hearken to the after that dark-eyed and straight-limbed ingredients, Willie, and try them by damosel, Mary Macmillau ; even I the scrupulous kirk standard of for- who rebuked her, and counselled her bidden luxuries. What say ye against before the session, and made even the the crushed heart of the kindly corn anointed minister envy the fluency and -a singed sheep's head-plotted, scriptural force of my admonishment. par-boiled, shorn small, with a slice But in gude time here comes auld of broiled liver ground to powder, and Burnewin,' and extending his hand a dozen of onions sliced like wafers, as he spoke, it was grasped by a hand powdered with pepper, and showered protruded from a broad brown mantle, owre with salt ; the whole mingled and tinged by exposure at the forge with the fat of the ox, and stowed in into the hue of a tinker's travelling a bag as pure as burn-bleached linen, wallet. • Whole threads, and a weel and secured with a peg that would gaun loom to thee, my douce auld fere,' make seven spoolpins. I'll warrant it said the Bailie, removing a slouched will spout to the ranncl-tree when ye hat as he spoke, and displaying a stick the knife in it. My certe will't.' rough jolly countenance, on which the

At this description of the national heat of his smithy fire had infflicted a dish, the old mau displaced the book tinge that would have done honour to from his knee, placed his hand on his Vulcan's forehand hammer man. “And waistcoat, where time and daily me- a hissing welding heat, and an unburnt ditation had made some sparc cloth, tew-iron, and ale fizzing and foaming and rising, paced from side to side for thee in thy vocation, my old comof his humble abode, with a look of rade,' returned the weaver, in the subdued and decent impatience. I current language of his friend's trade. wonder ; wonder is an unwise word,' • Aha! Marion lass,' said the blacksaid he, checking himself ; ' for nought smith, I have nae forgot that we is wonderful, save the divine presence, were once younkers running among and the divine works ; but what, in the moonlight on the moat-brae-here's the name of warp and waft -a mecha- a shawl-I wish it silk for thy sakenical exclamation of surprise, and ye maun wear it for me at Paste and therefore not sinful—what can stay Yule, the seven trades dance, and other Deacon Treddle, my ain dear doon daimen times ;' and enveloping the not neighbour, and what can keep Bailie unwilling shoulders of the matron in Burnewin! I hope his prentice boy his present, be seated himelf by the has not burnt his forge again, and

« ElőzőTovább »