« PreviousContinue »
"I fear so indeed," groaned Geoffrey.
"You maun creep first before you can climb, as we say; besides, too rich, too rich; I beg pardon, he!"
"Dost thou mean to insult my poverty, sir r"
"Oh lud, not I; ask ye pardon: say 'gain too rich."
"Why, sir, I have not fifteen hundred pounds in the world."
"Fifteen hundred! too much, too much ; why, ye can't begin sweeping with such a sum in your pocket."
"Sweeping! why, thou dar'st not imagine"—
"Oh! not I—beg pardon, don't imagine any such thing; only, if don't begin by sweeping, can't climb after my manner, that's all; and, good lack! All men's not made for all things, as I heard the famous Zekel Platterface, at Redcliffe church say—you ha'nt the manner, the figure, the"
"Dost laugh at me, sirrah?"
"Laugh! not I; the Lord love ye,—it's no laughing matter, I can tell ye. Wouldn't say nothing to disparage ye; 'tisn't thee fault—nater made us as we be,—can't all rise to the top ;— ben't all born to fortin." Hook.
DESCRIPTION OF DOMINIE SAMPSON.
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 bis occupation as a pedagogue, Dominie Sampson. He was of low birth; but having evinced, 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, ate dry bread, and drank cold water, to secure to Abel the means of learning. Meantime his tall 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 school-companions. 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 misshapen 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 repress 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 schreechowl 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 eighteen pence a-week, he was allowed the benefit of a straw mattress, and, when his landlady was in good humour, permission to study his task by her fire. Under all these disadvantages he obtained a competent knowledge 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. It would be endless even to mention the numerous jokes to which it gave birth, from a ballad called "Samson's Riddle," written upon the subject by a smart young student of humanity, to the sly hope of the principal, that the fugitive had not taken the college gates along with him in his retreat.
To all appearance the equanimity of Sampson was unshaken. He sought to assist his parents by teaching a school; and soon had plenty of scholars, but very few fees. In fact, he taught the sons of farmers for what they chose to give him, and the poor for nothing; and, to the shame of the former be it spoken, the pedagogue's gains never equalled those of a skilful ploughman. He wrote, however, a good hand, and added something to his pittance by copying accounts and writing letters for Ellangowan. By degrees, the laird, who was much estranged from general society, became partial to that of Dominie Sampson. Conversation, it is true, was out of the question; but the Dominie was a good listener, and stirred the fire with some address. He attempted also to snuff the candles, but was unsuccessful, and relinquished that ambitious post of courtesy after having twice reduced the parlour to total darkness. So his civilities thereafter were confined to taking off his glass of ale in exactly the same time and measure with the laird, and
VOL. III. O
in uttering certain indistinct murmurs of acquiescence at the conclusion of the long and winding stories of Ellangowan.
One of Sampson's great recommendations to the favour of Mr. Bertram was, that he never detected the most gross attempt at imposition, so that the laird, whose humble efforts at jocularity were chiefly confined to what were then called bites and bams, since denominated hoaxes and quizzes, had the fairest possible subject of wit in the unsuspecting Dominie. It is true he never laughed or joined in the laugh which his own s.mphcat, afforded; nay, it is said, he never laughed but once in his life; and upon that memorable occasion his landlady miscarried, partly through surprise at the event itself, and partly from terror a ?he hideous grimaces which attended this unusual cachinnation. The only effect which the discovery of 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. Sir Walter Scott.
THE RACE OF THE EFFIGIES. The more I saw of the great Tarshish, my spirit was filled with wonder, and borne onward with a longing for new things. Finding it was not convenient to go home for my dinner, when I was in a distant part of the town, I dropped into the nearest coffee-house when I felt an inclination to eat, and by this means I sometimes for