Jog on, jog on, the footpath way,
And merrily bend the stile-a,
A merry heart goes all the day,
A sad one tires in a mile-a.
Let the reader conceive to himself a clear frosty November
morning, the scene an open heath, having for the background that
huge chain of mountains in which Skiddaw and Saddleback are
preeminent; let him look along that BLIND ROAD, by which I mean
the track so slightly marked by the passengers' footsteps that it
can but be traced by a slight shade of verdure from the darker
heath around it, and, being only visible to the eye when at some
distance, ceases to be distinguished while the foot is actually
treading it; along this faintly-traced path advances the object of
our present narrative. His firm step, his erect and free carriage,
have a military air which corresponds well with his well-
proportioned limbs and stature of six feet high. His dress is so
plain and simple that it indicates nothing as to rank; it may be
that of a gentleman who travels in this manner for his pleasure,
or of an inferior person of whom it is the proper and usual garb.
Nothing can be on a more reduced scale than his travelling
equipment. A volume of Shakspeare in each pocket, a small bundle
with a change of linen slung across his shoulders, an oaken cudgel
in his hand, complete our pedestrian's accommodations, and in this
equipage we present him to our readers.
Brown had parted that morning from his friend Dudley, and begun
his solitary walk towards Scotland.
The first two or three miles were rather melancholy, from want of
the society to which he had of late been accustomed. But this
unusual mood of mind soon gave way to the influence of his natural
good spirits, excited by the exercise and the bracing effects of
the frosty air. He whistled as he went along, not 'from want of
thought,' but to give vent to those buoyant feelings which he had
no other mode of expressing. For each peasant whom he chanced to
meet he had a kind greeting or a good-humoured jest; the hardy
Cumbrians grinned as they passed, and said, 'That's a kind heart,
God bless un!' and the market-girl looked more than once over her
shoulder at the athletic form, which corresponded so well with the
frank and blythe address of the stranger. A rough terrier dog, his
constant companion, who rivalled his master in glee, scampered at
large in a thousand wheels round the heath, and came back to jump
up on him and assure him that he participated in the pleasure of
the journey. Dr. Johnson thought life had few things better than
the excitation produced by being whirled rapidly along in a post-
chaise; but he who has in youth experienced the confident and
independent feeling of a stout pedestrian in an interesting
country, and during fine weather, will hold the taste of the great
moralist cheap in comparison.
Part of Brown's view in choosing that unusual track which leads
through the eastern wilds of Cumberland into Scotland, had been a
desire to view the remains of the celebrated Roman Wall, which are
more visible in that direction than in any other part of its
extent. His education had been imperfect and desultory; but
neither the busy scenes in which he had been engaged, nor the
pleasures of youth, nor the precarious state of his own
circumstances, had diverted him from the task of mental
improvement. 'And this then is the Roman Wall,' he said,
scrambling up to a height which commanded the course of that
celebrated work of antiquity. 'What a people! whose labours, even
at this extremity of their empire, comprehended such space, and
were executed upon a scale of such grandeur! In future ages, when
the science of war shall have changed, how few traces will exist
of the labours of Vauban and Coehorn, while this wonderful
people's remains will even then continue to interest and astonish
posterity! Their fortifications, their aqueducts, their theatres,
their fountains, all their public works, bear the grave, solid,
and majestic character of their language; while our modern
labours, like our modern tongues, seem but constructed out of
their fragments.' Having thus moralised, he remembered that he was
hungry, and pursued his walk to a small public-house, at which he
proposed to get some refreshment.
The alehouse, for it was no better, was situated in the bottom of
a little dell, through which trilled a small rivulet. It was
shaded by a large ash tree, against which the clay-built shed that
served the purpose of a stable was erected, and upon which it
seemed partly to recline. In this shed stood a saddled horse,
employed in eating his corn. The cottages in this part of
Cumberland partake of the rudeness which characterises those of
Scotland. The outside of the house promised little for the
interior, notwithstanding the vaunt of a sign, where a tankard of
ale voluntarily decanted itself into a tumbler, and a
hieroglyphical scrawl below attempted to express a promise of
'good entertainment for man and horse.' Brown was no fastidious
traveller: he stopped and entered the cabaret. [Footnote: See Note
The first object which caught his eye in the kitchen was a tall,
stout, country-looking man in a large jockey great-coat, the owner
of the horse which stood in the shed, who was busy discussing huge
slices of cold boiled beef, and casting from time to time an eye
through the window to see how his steed sped with his provender. A
large tankard of ale flanked his plate of victuals, to which he
applied himself by intervals. The good woman of the house was
employed in baking. The fire, as is usual in that country, was on
a stone hearth, in the midst of an immensely large chimney, which
had two seats extended beneath the vent. On one of these sat a
remarkably tall woman, in a red cloak and slouched bonnet, having
the appearance of a tinker or beggar. She was busily engaged with
a short black tobacco-pipe.
At the request of Brown for some food, the landlady wiped with her
mealy apron one corner of the deal table, placed a wooden trencher
and knife and fork before the traveller, pointed to the round of
beef, recommended Mr. Dinmont's good example, and finally filled a
brown pitcher with her home-brewed. Brown lost no time in doing
ample credit to both. For a while his opposite neighbour and he
were too busy to take much notice of each other, except by a good-
humoured nod as each in turn raised the tankard to his head. At
length, when our pedestrian began to supply the wants of little
Wasp, the Scotch store-farmer, for such was Mr. Dinmont, found
himself at leisure to enter into conversation.
'A bonny terrier that, sir, and a fell chield at the vermin, I
warrant him; that is, if he's been weel entered, for it a' lies in
'Really, sir,' said Brown, 'his education has been somewhat
neglected, and his chief property is being a pleasant companion.'
'Ay, sir? that's a pity, begging your pardon, it's a great pity
that; beast or body, education should aye be minded. I have six
terriers at hame, forbye twa couple of slow-hunds, five grews, and
a wheen other dogs. There's auld Pepper and auld Mustard, and
young Pepper and young Mustard, and little Pepper and little
Mustard. I had them a' regularly entered, first wi' rottens, then
wi' stots or weasels, and then wi' the tods and brocks, and now
they fear naething that ever cam wi' a hairy skin on't.'
'I have no doubt, sir, they are thoroughbred; but, to have so many
dogs, you seem to have a very limited variety of names for them?'
'O, that's a fancy of my ain to mark the breed, sir. The Deuke
himsell has sent as far as Charlie's Hope to get ane o' Dandy
Dinmont's Pepper and Mustard terriers. Lord, man, he sent Tam
Hudson [Footnote: The real name of this veteran sportsman is now
restored.] the keeper, and sicken a day as we had wi' the foumarts
and the tods, and sicken a blythe gae-down as we had again e'en!
Faith, that was a night!'
'I suppose game is very plenty with you?'
'Plenty, man! I believe there's mair hares than sheep on my farm;
and for the moor-fowl or the grey-fowl, they lie as thick as doos
in a dookit. Did ye ever shoot a blackcock, man?'
'Really I had never even the pleasure to see one, except in the
museum at Keswick.'
'There now! I could guess that by your Southland tongue. It's very
odd of these English folk that come here, how few of them has seen
a blackcock! I'll tell you what--ye seem to be an honest lad, and
if you'll call on me, on Dandy Dinmont, at Charlie's Hope, ye
shall see a blackcock, and shoot a blackcock, and eat a blackcock
'Why, the proof of the matter is the eating, to be sure, sir; and
I shall be happy if I can find time to accept your invitation.'
'Time, man? what ails ye to gae hame wi' me the now? How d' ye
'On foot, sir; and if that handsome pony be yours, I should find
it impossible to keep up with you.'
'No, unless ye can walk up to fourteen mile an hour. But ye can
come ower the night as far as Riccarton, where there is a public;
or if ye like to stop at Jockey Grieve's at the Heuch, they would
be blythe to see ye, and I am just gaun to stop and drink a dram
at the door wi' him, and I would tell him you're coming up. Or
stay--gudewife, could ye lend this gentleman the gudeman's
galloway, and I'll send it ower the Waste in the morning wi' the
The galloway was turned out upon the fell, and was swear to
catch.--'Aweel, aweel, there's nae help for't, but come up the
morn at ony rate. And now, gudewife, I maun ride, to get to the
Liddel or it be dark, for your Waste has but a kittle character,
ye ken yoursell.'
'Hout fie, Mr. Dinmont, that's no like you, to gie the country an
ill name. I wot, there has been nane stirred in the Waste since
Sawney Culloch, the travelling-merchant, that Rowley Overdees and
Jock Penny suffered for at Carlisle twa years since. There's no
ane in Bewcastle would do the like o' that now; we be a' true folk
'Ay, Tib, that will be when the deil's blind; and his een's no
sair yet. But hear ye, gudewife, I have been through maist feck o'
Galloway and Dumfries-shire, and I have been round by Carlisle,
and I was at the Staneshiebank Fair the day, and I would like ill
to be rubbit sae near hame, so I'll take the gate.'
'Hae ye been in Dumfries and Galloway?' said the old dame who sate
smoking by the fireside, and who had not yet spoken a word.
'Troth have I, gudewife, and a weary round I've had o't.'
'Then ye'll maybe ken a place they ca' Ellangowan?'
'Ellangowan, that was Mr. Bertram's? I ken the place weel eneugh.
The Laird died about a fortnight since, as I heard.'
'Died!' said the old woman, dropping her pipe, and rising and
coming forward upon the floor--'died? are you sure of that?'
'Troth, am I,' said Dinmont, 'for it made nae sma' noise in the
country-side. He died just at the roup of the stocking and
furniture; it stoppit the roup, and mony folk were disappointed.
They said he was the last of an auld family too, and mony were
sorry; for gude blude's scarcer in Scotland than it has been.'
'Dead!' replied the old woman, whom our readers have already
recognised as their acquaintance Meg Merrilies--'dead! that quits
a' scores. And did ye say he died without an heir?'
'Ay did he, gudewife, and the estate's sell'd by the same token;
for they said they couldna have sell'd it if there had been an
'Sell'd!' echoed the gipsy, with something like a scream; 'and wha
durst buy Ellangowan that was not of Bertram's blude? and wha
could tell whether the bonny knave-bairn may not come back to
claim his ain? wha durst buy the estate and the castle of
'Troth, gudewife, just ane o' thae writer chields that buys a'
thing; they ca' him Glossin, I think.'
'Glossin! Gibbie Glossin! that I have carried in my creels a
hundred times, for his mother wasna muckle better than mysell--he
to presume to buy the barony of Ellangowan! Gude be wi' us; it is
an awfu' warld! I wished him ill; but no sic a downfa' as a' that
neither. Wae's me! wae's me to think o't!' She remained a moment
silent but still opposing with her hand the farmer's retreat, who
betwixt every question was about to turn his back, but good-
humouredly stopped on observing the deep interest his answers
appeared to excite.
'It will be seen and heard of--earth and sea will not hold their
peace langer! Can ye say if the same man be now the sheriff of the
county that has been sae for some years past?'
'Na, he's got some other birth in Edinburgh, they say; but gude
day, gudewife, I maun ride.' She followed him to his horse, and,
while he drew the girths of his saddle, adjusted the walise, and
put on the bridle, still plied him with questions concerning Mr.
Bertram's death and the fate of his daughter; on which, however,
she could obtain little information from the honest farmer.
'Did ye ever see a place they ca' Derncleugh, about a mile frae
the Place of Ellangowan?'
'I wot weel have I, gudewife. A wild-looking den it is, wi' a whin
auld wa's o' shealings yonder; I saw it when I gaed ower the
ground wi' ane that wanted to take the farm.'
'It was a blythe bit ance!' said Meg, speaking to herself. 'Did ye
notice if there was an auld saugh tree that's maist blawn down,
but yet its roots are in the earth, and it hangs ower the bit
burn? Mony a day hae I wrought my stocking and sat on my sunkie
under that saugh.'
'Hout, deil's i' the wife, wi' her saughs, and her sunkies, and
Ellangowans. Godsake, woman, let me away; there's saxpence t' ye
to buy half a mutchkin, instead o' clavering about thae auld-warld
'Thanks to ye, gudeman; and now ye hae answered a' my questions,
and never speired wherefore I asked them, I'll gie you a bit canny
advice, and ye maunna speir what for neither. Tib Mumps will be
out wi' the stirrup-dram in a gliffing. She'll ask ye whether ye
gang ower Willie's Brae or through Conscowthart Moss; tell her ony
ane ye like, but be sure (speaking low and emphatically) to tak
the ane ye dinna tell her.' The farmer laughed and promised, and
the gipsy retreated.
'Will you take her advice?' said Brown, who had been an attentive
listener to this conversation.
'That will I no, the randy quean! Na, I had far rather Tib Mumps
kenn'd which way I was gaun than her, though Tib's no muckle to
lippen to neither, and I would advise ye on no account to stay in
the house a' night.'
In a moment after Tib, the landlady, appeared with her stirrup-
cup, which was taken off. She then, as Meg had predicted, inquired
whether he went the hill or the moss road. He answered, the
latter; and, having bid Brown good-bye, and again told him, 'he
depended on seeing him at Charlie's Hope, the morn at latest,' he
rode off at a round pace.