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Comes me cranking in, And cuts me from the best of all my land,
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 Jeras 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 listlessnessof countenance formed the only remarkable expression of his features, although they were rather handsome than otherwise. In fact, his physiognomy expressed 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 straw, when he had occasion to ride in a chill evening.
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 ages of 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 agss, — Arths, and Knarths, and Donagilds, and Hanlons. In truth, they had been formerly the stormy chiefs of a desart, but extensive domain, and the heads of a numerous tribe, caUed Mac-Dingawaie, though they afterwards adopted the Norman surname of Bertram. They had made war, raised rebellions, been defeated, beheaded, and hanged, as became afa/mily 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 possessed them with a spirit of contradiction which uniformly involved them in controversy 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 the stronger. And truly, like him, they had their reward.
Allan Bertram of Ellangowan, who flourished tempore Caroli primi, was, says my authority, Sir Robert Douglas, in his Scottish Baronage, (see the title Ellangowan,) "a steady loyalist, and full of zeal for the cause of his sacred majesty, in which he united with the great Marquis of Montrose, and other truly zealous and honourable patriots, and sustained great losses in that behalf. He had the honour of knighthood conferred upon him by his most sacred majesty, and was sequestrated as a malignant by the parliament, 1642, and afterward as a resolutioner, in the year 16*8."—These two cross-grained epithets of-malignant and resolutioner cost poor Sir Allan one half of the family estate. His son Dennis Bertram married a daughter of an eminent fanatic, who had a seat in the council of state, and saved by that union the remainder of the family property. But, as ill chance would have it, he became enamoured of the lady's principles as well as of her charms, and my author gives him this character: "He was a man of eminent parts and resolution, for which reason he was chosen by the western counties one of the committee of noblemen and gentlemen, to report their griefs to the privy council of Charles II. anent the coming in of the Highland host in 1678." For undertaking this patriotic task he underwent a fine, to pay which he was obliged to mortgage half of the remaining moiety of his paternal property. This loss he might have recovered by dint of severe economy, but upon the breaking out of Argyle's rebellion, Dennis Bertram was again suspected by government, apprehended, sent to Dunnotar Castle on the coast of the Mearns, and there broke his neck in an attempt to escape from a subterranean habitation, called the Whig's Vault, in which he was confined with some eighty of the same persuasion. The appriser, therefore, (as the holder of a mortgage was then call