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"Alas!" he thought, "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 this scene with other eyes, and would have seriously endeavoured to discover from the respective position of these luminaries their probable effects upon the destiny of the new-born infant, as if the courses or emanations of the stars superseded, or, at least, were co-ordinate with Divine Providence.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 he was the father of a healthy boy, seemed rather disposed to press further conviviality. He admitted, however, Mannering'splea 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 had its partizans 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 con
suiting 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 upon resolving a question of nativity."
Upon 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 Ellaugowan. 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 was one significator, which pressed remarkably upon our astrologer's attention. Mars having dignity in the cusp of the twelfth house, threatened captivity, or sudden and violent death, to the native; and Mannering, having recourse to those further rules by which diviners pretended to ascertain the vehemency of this evil direction, observed, from the result, that three periods would be particularly hazardous— hisj£#A—his tenth—his twenty-first year.