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his wood, shooting his game, and so forth, "for the laird, honest man, he'll never find it,—he never minds what a puir body does."—Pedlars, gypsies, tinkers,vagrants of all descriptions, roosted about his outhouses, or harboured in his kitchen, and the laird, who was "nae nice body," but a thorough gossip, like most weak men, found recompence for his hospitality in the pleasure of questioning them on the news of the country side.
A circumstance arrested Ellangowan's progress upon the high road to ruin. This was his marriage with a lady who had a portion of about four thousand pounds. Nobody in the neighbourhood could conceive why she married him, and endowed him with her wealth, unless because he had a tall handsome figure, a good set of features, a genteel address, and the most perfect good humour. It might be some additional consideration, that she was herself at the reflecting age of twenty-eight,
VOL. I. B
and had no near relations to controul her actions or choice.
It, was in this lady's behalf (confined for the first time after her marriage) that the speedy and active express, mentioned by the old dame of the cottage, had been dispatched to Kippletringan on the night of Mannering's arrival.
Though we have said so much of the Laird himself, it still remains that we make the reader in some degree acquainted with his companion. This was Abel Sampson, commonly called, from his occupation, as a pedagogue, Dominie Sampson. He was of Jowbirth, buthavingevinced, even from his cradle, an uncommon seriousness of disposition, the poor parents were encouraged to hope, that their bairn, as they expressed it, "might wag his pow in a pulpit yet." With an ambitious view to such a consummation, they pinched and pared, rose early and lay down late, eat dry bread and drank cold water, to secure to Abel the means of learning. Meantime, his tall
7 , - in\ i» ungainly figure, his taciturn and grave manners, and some grotesque habits of swinging his limbs, and screwing his visage while reciting his task, made poor Sampson the ridicule of all his schoolcompanions. The same qualities secured him at college a plentiful share of the same sort of notice. Half the youthful mob " of the yards" used to assemble regularly to see Dominie Sampson, (for he had already attained that honourable title,)descend the stairs from the Greek class, with his Lexicon under his arm, his long mis-shapen legs sprawling abroad, and keeping awkward time to the play of his immense shoulder-blades, as they raised and depressed the loose and threadbare black coat which was his constant and only wear. When he spoke, the efforts of the professor were totally inadequate to restrain the inextinguishable laughter of the students, and sometimes even to reppeisis his own. The long sallow visage, the goggle eyes, the huge under-jaw, which appeared not to open and shut by an act of volition, but to be dropped and hoisted up again by some complicated machinery within the inner man, the harsh and dissonant voice, and the screech owl notes to which it was exalted when he was exhorted to pronounce more distinctly, all added fresh subject for mirth to the torn cloak and shattered shoe, which have afforded legitimate subjects of raillery against the poor scholar from Juvenal's time downward. It was never known that Sampson either exhibited irritability at this ill usage, or made the least attempt to retort upon his tormentors. He slunk from college by the most secret paths he could discover, and plunged himself into his miserable lodging, where, for eigh teenpence a-week, he was allowed the benefit of a straw mattress, and, if his landlady was in good humour, permission to study his task by her fire. Under all these disadvantages, he obtained a competentknowledge of Greek and Latin, and some acquaintance with the sciences.
'In progress of time, Abel Sampson, probationer of divinity, was admitted to the privileges of a preacher. But, alas! partly from his own bashfulness, partly owing to a strong disposition to risibility which pervaded the congregation upon his first attempt, he became totally incapable of proceeding in his intended discourse, gasped, grinned, hideously rolled his eyes till the congregation thought them flying out of his head, shut the Bible, stumbled down the pulpit-stairs, trampling upon the old women who generally take their station there, and was ever after designated as a "stickit minister." And thus he wandered back to his own country, with blighted hopes and prospects, to share the poverty of his parents. As he had neither friend nor confidant, hardly even an acquaintance, no one had the means of observing closely, how Dominie Sampson bore a disappointment which supplied the whole town where it happened with a week's sport.