The Minister's Daughter
Hail, prudence, well fed child of
Cold, cautions Beauty, in a Quakers bonnet
Thou friend indeed, when friends and patrons fail
Accept a strangers would-be-followers sonnet!
At thy hard heart, the purseless fool may rail:
What, though thy cheeks with pity neer were pale
Neer went ye shoelessdinnerlessand neer
From friendship begged a cup of meagre beer
Neer bartered from thy back thy clothes for sale,
To help thy hungerneer met the sneer
Of wealth nor wisdomneer a copper gave,
But saved thy pence a-day and pounds a-year
No mans mean debtor;and no passions slave:
Thy law, thy godthy self: thy aimTO SAVE.
None will believe Henrys
feelings to have been of the most enviable description, as he crossed the
little wooden bridge leading from the Manse; yet there are no moments of
despair of such dark and continued depression, but that hope, like the
flash of an angels wing, will dart across the bosom; and as we would
hurry on in desperation, will chain us in incertitude. Acted upon by the
contention of such feelings, and as the shadow of hope is more potent in
the soul than the dense and solid gloominess of despair, he hurried across
the heath to the cottage of the widow; where having once met with Mary, he
believed that there he should be more immediately associated with the
presence of her spiritthat there, at least, she could still be present in
remembrance; and perhaps he conceived, that, having found him there once,
there also would she fly again to find him. The supposition was
sufficiently improbable; but he is indeed a wise man who can resist
believing that to be possible which is the first of his desires. The widow
was too blind to observe his agitation, too deaf to interrupt him by
conversation; and he had seated himself on the round stool by the turf
fire, brooding in silence how to act, when hearing
"the cries of one in jeopardy,
He rose and ran."
With the parties the reader
is already acquainted. Having rushed upon the assailants without
identifying the object of their attack, he drew their fury upon himself;
and holding with them a retreating conflict, separated them from each
One of the ruffians,
discharging a pistol without effect, and overpowered by Henrys superior
strength, screamed to his comrade for assistance; and, upon regaining his
feet, both fled for safety, leaving their unknown antagonist to follow up
the rescue of their victim. But the darkness of the night, and Mr.
Robertsons attempt at flight, thwarted his efforts. Therefore, after an
ineffectual search for an hour, he re-entered the cottage.
Wearied by the loneliness
of the objects around him, and urged to change of scene by the irksome
despondency of his feelings, as the shadows of morning began to throw
their first uncertain glimmering over the fading stars, he arose from the
dying embers, which had withdrawn both their heat and light; and
approaching the bedside of the aged invalid, gave a last and indistinct
look of sympathy on her withered features, where time, disease, and
poverty had left their ravages. The gloomy picture of wretchedness cut him
to the heart.
"Farewell, Peggy," said he,
and he cast a parting glance around the hovel; where the dun rays of
morning gave a deeper squalidness to the apartments and rather than
affording light, made misery visible.
"Are ye here yet, my bairn?"
inquired she anxiously--"where are ye gaun?"And she stretched
forth her feeble hand to detain him.
He made no reply; but,
drawing his purse from his pocket, laid it upon her pillow. From Marys
sufferings and circumstances, he feared the widow was depreived of her
best or only friend. He farther considered himself as the principal cause
of that deprivation; and deemed it his duty to make, as he best could,
equivalent restitution. It was partly this feeling of niggard justice, but
more a momentary gush of sympathy, that influenced the action, without
reflecting upon what might be his own necessities. All he knew of want was
from the pages of some novelist, as ignorant of its meaning as himself, or
the picture of a begger who solicited his alms; but, as he dropped him his
loose pence, or a piece of silver, he stopped not to see the hunger
written on the eyeballs of the supplicant. Generosity, too, is often the
weakness of noble and ardent minds. It is a weakness that pleases in the
act; and, even where misplaced, or thoughtlessly bestowed, it is a
"failing leaning to the side of virtue;" and the reflection, if not
pleasing, has but little of bitterness.
For three hours he wandered
across the moors, which were clothed in all the loneliness of winter
sterility. The sheep were crowded together, and penned on the hill tops.
The whistle of some lonely shepherd, and the barking of his faithful colly
in reply, were the only sounds that broke upon the silent torments of our
traveller. Though without caring where, or in what direction, his journey
for the day might terminate, he purposely deviated from the main path.
About noon, he gained the summit of Dunse Law. Had the earth been touched
by the finger of a potent wizard, the burst of transformation could not
have been more instantaneous or enchanting. For hours, and but a moment
before, he had waded through the snows of a desert, where winter moaned to
the freezing air, or slept on clefts of the barren hills, undisturbed by
life or vegatation. Such was the scene behind him. At his feet, the Merse
lay like a vast garden shielded from the storm, and looking glad in
conscious security. The Whitadder, breaking amidst hanging woods from the
obscurity of the wilderness, poured its sound upon his ears. The sun, till
then obscured by mountain mists, smiled over the snowy top of Cheviot,
upon the fairy strath. The Blackadder, leaping from the icy fetters of its
upland birth, ran to embrace the Whitadder; smaller streams hastened to
join them; and the Tweed, rolling undistrubed, in deep majesty, hastened
down the middle distance, with the pride and the heart of a parent,
received and had room for all. The sea, kissed by motionless clouds lay
far to the east; and, cheerful towns, glad villages, rich villas, and
farm-steads groaning beneath a load of plenty,
"Think as autumnal leaves."
studded the spacious
valley, which was still lovely, though in its winter nakedness. The trees
were leafless; but the numerous forest-looking plantations of pines, added
a green variety to the scene.
Hitherto the bleak hills
were in unison with his feelings; but misery and melancholy are so foreign
to the natural temperament of humanity, that it is almost impossible for
the heart to be so soured as to continue long wholly insensible to the
influence of surrounding objects. An impression of comfort and
cheerfulness was diffused around him, and, unused to sorrow, where
gladness met his eye, his breast answered the landscape with a sigh, and
felt lighter, he stood for a moment to contemplate it. It was one of those
long deep draughts of admiring observation, when the eyes wander above,
below, and around, till they swim in a whirl of poetry. But a man must be
alone before he can feel the soul of a breathing landscape. Were we
travelling with a clever, impertinent, stage-coach hunter after the
picturesque, who vents his stupid admiration by the mouthful at every turn
of the road, we would go through Italy with such a fellow, and swear"It
is all barren." We know not how long he stood, for nature steals like
sleep upon the senses; but he was aroused from his contemplation by the
following unceremonious salutation
"Thats a sicht no to be
seen ilka day! Ye should come up here an tak a peep at the Merse aboot
the end o May, an then ye wad see a sicht for guid weak een?"
The speaker was a brawny,
ruddy-faced man; his age would not exceed forty. He wore a short grey
coat, a double-breasted waistcoat of the same material, white corduroy
knee breeches, dark blue stockings, a pair of half leggings of the same
consistency as his breeches, and above these were wrapt firmly-twisted
straw ropes round the ancles, which converted his substantial double-soled
shoes into all the purposes of snow-boots. He wore also a plaid, which was
merely thrown round his neck as a protection to the throat. His stature
might be five feet ten; and with him were two companions, who shared no
small portion of his attention. The one was a pepper-coloured dog, betwixt
the greyhound and the colly breed, which appeared, in all but speech, to
answer every thought that arose in its masters mind. The other was a
formidable hazel cudgel, or walking-stick, which was the better secured to
his grasp by a piece of whip-cord, forming a loop to its head, and twisted
round his hand. This he, from time to time, surveyed with a look of
admiring satisfaction; and Rover, as he called his dog, evidently shared
in his complacency.
"Yell be for Dunse, now, I
reckon?" continued he.
"What is the name of the
town in the valley before us?" returned Henry.
"Odd! ye maun be a stranger
here-a-way, I take," replied the other"thats Dunse; yeve heard the
saying, Dunse dings a for honest men an bonny lasses; an thats as
true a saying as if it had been prented at the end o the gospels. Ye wad
say it yoursel if ye were acquaint wi them. Theres mony a clever fallow
come out a Dunse, lad; frae Duns Scotus, doon to the present time. I
belong there myeel, in a kind o way. Yell be stoppin there a night,
"Perhaps I may," answered
Henry, who, as he walked by the side of his new companion, scarce knew how
to receive his instantaneous familiarity.
"Weel, I think ye had
better," said the other, "if ye hae far to gang; for ye look gay sair
fagged. I dinna think yeve been used wi walking, Sir. Hae ye come far?"
This was a question Henry
felt inclined to answer drily; but there was something in the countenance
of the other which made it impossible to be angry or offended with his
inquisitive curiosity; and he replied"At daybreak, I left the house of a
friend; but I cannot say the milestones have been sufficiently numerous to
make me note the distance."
"I daresay no!I daresay
no!" resumed the stranger, with a well-pleased laugh. "Its a dreary bit
that back owre there, at a times. The puir peeseweeps starve to death
ont, in the very middle o simmer an they are the last craturs that I
ken o to starve. But as for lookin for milestanes there, ye micht as
weel expect to find the grace o God in the court o a Spanish
inquisition. I think, by yer tongue, yere an Englishman. What pairt do ye
come frae, if it be a fair question?"
"From Devonshire," was the
"Frae Devonshire!" said the
stranger, with surprise. "Odd, I see, by the map, thats maistly at the
Lands End! An are ye gaun hame the noo?"
"Yesperhaps," said Henry,
vexed at everything that reminded him of his situation.
"Then ye arena vera sure
about it, like?" returned the other; "but, if ye intend to walk a the
way, yer shoon winna be meikle in yer debt afore ye get to yer faithers.
But is yer faither living?thats the question?"
"I believe so," said Henry,
hastily, wearied of his inquiries.
"Then yere no vera sure
about that either!" resumed the incorrigible querist. "Yeve been a guid
while awa maybe? I think ye look something like a better sort o a sailor.
Yell be in the Kings service, I fancy?"
"I was," replied Henry, in
a tone which indicated his determination to finish the conversation.
"And what ship did ye
belang to?" continued the undisturbed and unwearied inquisitor.
"The Biblia!" said Henry,
with a quickness approaching to bitterness, and half determined to bid his
companion walk on.
"The Biblia!" ejaculated
the other, and stood still, staring upon Henry with astonishment. "Lord
preserve us! Ill wager ye what ye like, yere the young officer that was.
saved by Miss Mary Robertson! Am I no richt?"
"You are," said Henry; but
he could feel anger no more. The mention of his Marys name had molten
down every angry feeling into a semblance of herself.
"Save us a, man! an are
ye him?" said the stranger. "She is really an extraordinary being, Mary
Robertson. My mither ance lived in her faithers parish; and I hae heard
her rame owre her guid qualities, till, although I had neer seen her
thenan I was double her age, ye may sayas sure as death, I could hae
cut my fingers aff, when I thocht that she was a gentle cratur, an a
ministers dochtar, and me nae better than a rough drover! An when I did
see her, she was jist exactly what I think the angels will be likean
better, Im sure, its hardly possible for them to be. Im confident it
would tak the langest Lapland winter that eer darkened snaw, to rin owre
but the half o what I hae heard in her praise, an ken, frae my ain
knowledge, to be fact."
During this harangue,
Henrys feelings became too violent to be suppressed. He accused himself
for having harboured a thought against the stranger; and, approaching his
side, grasped his hand in both of his, and gazed in his face with a look
of earnestness and emotion, that a single word would have robbed of half
its worth. The other returned his pressure, with a fervency that evinced
"Faith, now, thats what I
like!" said he; "that shows sterlin gratitude! Gratitude is like a dumb
man speakin! Yere a noble young chield, I can see by the vera look o
yer een! I could swear by the grip o yer hand, were it nae mair, that,
officer though he be, ye neer made a ropes end come across the back o a
better man than yersel."
The stranger was bound for
Newcastle, and he at once seemed determined that Henry should be his
companion by the way. On leaving Longframlington in the morning, the noble
prospect which the lofty situation of the village commands, compensated
for the damp chaff bed and flat ale of the inn. Behind them rose Cheviot
and the Scottish hills; to their right, the mountains of Cumberland were
visible; and between the long, broad, irregular valley, with its hundred
farmsa nursery for rivers, and receptable of upland streams; to their
left, the seathe Coquet Isle; and proud vessels were seen rejoicing on
their course, as if conscious of their own magnificent beauty, bending
their stately prows to the passing billow, and again rising in majesty,
like a proud steed pawing the earth, bending its neck of thunder, and
tossing it again in the air, in the pride of regal sublimity and conscious
strength. Before them spread a deep plain, through which winded the Coquet
and the Wansbeck.
Damp beds are a bad thing
for the rheumatism," said Willie, as they reached the bridge over the
former river; an they sell an excellent preventive here in the Anglers
inn. Its nae use palavering," continued he, as Henry remonstrated"I tell
ye its nae use palavering; theres a lang road before us afore bedtime."
It would be an endless
task, however, to follow our worthy drover through his houses of call, at
which he felt a habitual thirst that he conceived to be natural. During
most of the day, according to the adage, it did not rain but poured. The
roads became at first clammy, and in the end almost impassable. At length,
drenched, wo-begone, and bespatted with mud, like two spirits escaped from
the Deluge, they reached Newcastle, and silently bent their steps down
Northumberland Street. The rain abated none of its violence, and again
Henry regretted the prodigality of his generosity, in parting with the
entire contents of his purse. He had slept none the preceding night.
Misery, fatigue, and the long continuance of the cold bleaching rain,
battled in his heart, and pressed upon his pride, with a weight that
caused it to bend, though it could not break it. He drew his breath quick
and short. An anxious, disquiet feeling, approaching to peevishness,
seemed sticking in his throat, and he longed that his companion would
speak of halting for the night. After proceeding down Northumberland and
Pilgrim Streets, nearly a mile in a direct line, Willie, halting before a
gateway, said"Now, I usually stop down here, at the Bird an Bush; its a
kind o carriers quarters; but ye see, the like o the York Hotel is
aboon my fit; an Ill answer for our being comfortable. Come awafaith
well hae a nicht ot! A jug o boiling brandy, mistress for twa drowned
men!" shouted he, as they entered the house.
Next morning, Henry desired
his friend to favour him with his address.
"Now what are ye driving
at, Mr Walton?" said Willie, eagerly, and with a degree of sorrow; "ye are
surely no thinkin o leavin me already. Stay a day or twa, man, to see
the toun. Ye see, Im here about a bit law-suit; an if I dinna get it
settled here, I dinna ken but I may hae to gang up to London. The matter
o five thousands pounds is worth the lookin after! Hoots dinna say ony
mair about partin yetwill ye no, Mr. Walton?"
His honest and
unsophisticated kindness was oppressive to his young companion, whose
first wish was an opportunity to reward him.
"Whether ye talk of parting
or not," said Henry, "let me, at least, have the happiness of knowing
where to find you hereafter."
"Weel," replied the other,
"onybody kens whar to find Wull Watson, o Finchey-hill, by Edrom, in the
county o Berwick. I maun awa oot, an see my attorney body. But noo,
mind, Mr Walton, dinna be oot o the way at dennertime; I tak it exactly
at ane oclock."
Henry being left alone,
walked to the quayside, with the hope of finding a vessel in which he
might obtain a passage for London; where, he conceived, it would not be
difficult, amidst his own or his fathers friends, to procure the advance
of a sum sufficient to defray the expense of conveyance, and overcome his
A neat-looking brig was
clearing out, and on the eve of sailing. He stepped aboard, and inquired
if he could be accommodated with a passage to London.
"Like enough," said the
mate, who was busied in giving directions for hauling off; "but go aft,
and speak to the master."
A black, porky, surly-faced
man, in a shabby blue surtout, like a cloak thrown over a barrel, stood
smoking a pipe by the side of the companion, and overlooking the
preparations for sailing. To him Henry repeated his question.
"A passage!whyyes," said
the skipper; "thou mayst have a passage; but wheres thy luggage?we be
This was a question for
which Henry was unprepared; and his momentary hesitation did not escape
the lynx-eyed tyrant of the brig, who immediately added"Youve got none,
eh? Wellalls one wi us; a guinea and a half, if you please, sir. That
is wur usual farewe make nyae reduction for want o luggage, lad. Be
quick, if ye please, sirhang it! dye see, they are taking away the
On Henrys assuring him he
would be paid on their arriving at London"Ashore!ye swindling scamp!"
vociferated the skipper. "Ashore!or, by the Lord Harry! Ill chuck ye
overboard! Heres a precious scoundrel!" cried he to the people on the
quay"tried to humbug me out of a passage!"
Henry would have felled him
to the deck, but he immediately sought protection among his crew; and the
vessel being then about ten feet from the shore, he sprang upon the
bulwarks, and with reckless violence threw himself into the midst of the
assembled crowd. Those who the instant before were prepared to receive him
with hootings, gathered around him in wonder; some declaring, he had made
"a clean joomp of five yards!"
Rage, and the tumult of his
troubled feelings, flashed from his eyes. He pressed through the throng
like a madman. Many were wistful to offer him kindness, but quailed at the
wild haughtiness of his looks. The face of man sickened him. In every eye
he read suspicion and scrutiny; and hurrying across the bridge, and up
Gateshead, he turned off the road into the fields, and threw himself down
by the side of a deserted coal-mine, in secret to give vent to the
bitterness of his spirit.
The day passed, and the
boisterous agony of his bosom subsided into a gnawing calmness. At
midnight he arose shivering and benumbed, the night damp dripping from his
glossy hair, and turned towards the town. He felt he would rather die than
again be dependent on the generosity of his late fellow-traveller.
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