I am going to the parliament;
You understand this bag. If you have any business
Depending there be short, and let me hear it,
And pay your fees.
Little French Lawyer
'Shall you be able to carry this honest fellow's cause for him?'
'Why, I don't know; the battle is not to the strong, but he shall
come off triumphant over Jock of Dawston if we can make it out. I
owe him something. It is the pest of our profession that we seldom
see the best side of human nature. People come to us with every
selfish feeling newly pointed and grinded; they turn down the very
caulkers of their animosities and prejudices, as smiths do with
horses' shoes in a white frost. Many a man has come to my garret
yonder that I have at first longed to pitch out at the window, and
yet at length have discovered that he was only doing as I might
have done in his case, being very angry, and of course very
unreasonable. I have now satisfied myself that, if our profession
sees more of human folly and human roguery than others, it is
because we witness them acting in that channel in which they can
most freely vent themselves. In civilised society law is the
chimney through which all that smoke discharges itself that used
to circulate through the whole house, and put every one's eyes
out; no wonder, therefore, that the vent itself should sometimes
get a little sooty. But we will take care our Liddesdale man's
cause is well conducted and well argued, so all unnecessary
expense will be saved: he shall have his pine-apple at wholesale
'Will you do me the pleasure,' said Mannering, as they parted, 'to
dine with me at my lodgings? My landlord says he has a bit of red-
deer venison and some excellent wine.'
'Venison, eh?' answered the Counsellor alertly, but presently
added--'But no! it's impossible; and I can't ask you home neither.
Monday's a sacred day; so's Tuesday; and Wednesday we are to be
heard in the great teind case in presence, but stay--it's frosty
weather, and if you don't leave town, and that venison would keep
'You will dine with me that day?'
'Well, then, I will indulge a thought I had of spending a week
here; and if the venison will not keep, why we will see what else
our landlord can do for us.'
'O, the venison will keep,' said Pleydell; 'and now good-bye. Look
at these two or three notes, and deliver them if you like the
addresses. I wrote them for you this morning. Farewell, my clerk
has been waiting this hour to begin a d-d information.' And away
walked Mr. Pleydell with great activity, diving through closes and
ascending covered stairs in order to attain the High Street by an
access which, compared to the common route, was what the Straits
of Magellan are to the more open but circuitous passage round Cape
On looking at the notes of introduction which Pleydell had thrust
into his hand, Mannering was gratified with seeing that they were
addressed to some of the first literary characters of Scotland.
'To David Hume, Esq.'
To John Home, Esq.' 'To Dr. Ferguson.' 'To Dr. Black.' 'To Lord
Kaimes.' 'To Mr. Button.' 'To John Clerk, Esq., of Eldin.' 'To
Adam Smith, Esq.' 'To Dr. Robertson.'
'Upon my word, my legal friend has a good selection of
acquaintances; these are names pretty widely blown indeed. An
East-Indian must rub up his facultiesa little, and put his mind in
order, before he enters this sort of society.'
Mannering gladly availed himself of these introductions; and we
regret deeply it is not in our power to give the reader an account
of the pleasure and information which he received in admission to
a circle never closed against strangers of sense and information,
and which has perhaps at no period been equalled, considering the
depth and variety of talent which it embraced and concentrated.
Upon the Thursday appointed Mr. Pleydell made his appearance at
the inn where Colonel Mannering lodged. The venison proved in high
order, the claret excellent, and the learned counsel, a professed
amateur in the affairs of the table, did distinguished honour to
both. I am uncertain, however, if even the good cheer gave him
more satisfaction than the presence of Dominie Sampson, from whom,
in his own juridical style of wit, he contrived to extract great
amusement both for himself and one or two friends whom the Colonel
regaled on the same occasion. The grave and laconic simplicity of
Sampson's answers to the insidious questions of the barrister
placed the bonhomie of his character in a more luminous point of
view than Mannering had yet seen it. Upon the same occasion he
drew forth a strange quantity of miscellaneous and abstruse,
though, generally speaking, useless learning. The lawyer
afterwards compared his mind to the magazine of a pawnbroker,
stowed with goods of every description, but so cumbrously piled
together, and in such total disorganisation, that the owner can
never lay his hands upon any one article at the moment he has
occasion for it.
As for the advocate himself, he afforded at least as much exercise
to Sampson as he extracted amusement from him. When the man of law
began to get into his altitudes, and his wit, naturally shrewd and
dry, became more lively and poignant, the Dominie looked upon him
with that sort of surprise with which we can conceive a tame bear
might regard his future associate, the monkey, on their being
first introduced to each other. It was Mr. Pleydell's delight to
state in grave and serious argument some position which he knew
the Dominie would be inclined to dispute. He then beheld with
exquisite pleasure the internal labour with which the honest man
arranged his ideas for reply, and tasked his inert and sluggish
powers to bring up all the heavy artillery of his learning for
demolishing the schismatic or heretical opinion which had been
stated, when behold, before the ordnance could be discharged, the
foe had quitted the post and appeared in a new position of
annoyance on the Dominie's flank or rear. Often did he exclaim
'Prodigious!' when, marching up to the enemy in full confidence of
victory, he found the field evacuated, and it may be supposed that
it cost him no little labour to attempt a new formation. 'He was
like a native Indian army,' the Colonel said, 'formidable by
numerical strength and size of ordnance, but liable to be thrown
into irreparable confusion by a movement to take them in flank.'
On the whole, however, the Dominie, though somewhat fatigued with
these mental exertions, made at unusual speed and upon the
pressure of the moment, reckoned this one of the white days of his
life, and always mentioned Mr. Pleydell as a very erudite and fa-
By degrees the rest of the party dropped off and left these three
gentlemen together. Their conversation turned to Mrs. Bertram's
settlements. 'Now what could drive it into the noddle of that old
harridan,' said Pleydell, 'to disinherit poor Lucy Bertram under
pretence of settling her property on a boy who has been so long
dead and gone? I ask your pardon, Mr. Sampson, I forgot what an
affecting case this was for you; I remember taking your
examination upon it, and I never had so much trouble to make any
one speak three words consecutively. You may talk of your
Pythagoreans or your silent Brahmins, Colonel; go to, I tell you
this learned gentleman beats them all in taciturnity; but the
words of the wise are precious, and not to be thrown away
'Of a surety,' said the Dominie, taking his blue-checqued
handkerchief from his eyes, 'that was a bitter day with me indeed;
ay, and a day of grief hard to be borne; but He giveth strength
who layeth on the load.'
Colonel Mannering took this opportunity to request Mr. Pleydell to
inform him of the particulars attending the loss of the boy; and
the Counsellor, who was fond of talking upon subjects of criminal
jurisprudence, especially when connected with his own experience,
went through the circumstances at full length. 'And what is your
opinion upon the result of the whole?'
'O, that Kennedy was murdered: it's an old case which has occurred
on that coast before now, the case of Smuggler versus Exciseman.'
'What, then, is your conjecture concerning the fate of the child?'
'O, murdered too, doubtless,' answered Pleydell. 'He was old
enough to tell what he had seen, and these ruthless scoundrels
would not scruple committing a second Bethlehem massacre if they
thought their interest required it.'
The Dominie groaned deeply, and ejaculated, 'Enormous!'
'Yet there was mention of gipsies in the business too,
Counsellor,' said Mannering, 'and from what that vulgar-looking
fellow said after the funeral--'
'Mrs. Margaret Bertram's idea that the child was alive was founded
upon the report of a gipsy?' said Pleydell, catching at the half-
spoken hint. 'I envy you the concatenation, Colonel; it is a shame
to me not to have drawn the same conclusion. We'll follow this
business up instantly. Here, hark ye, waiter, go down to Luckie
Wood's in the Cowgate; ye'll find my clerk Driver; he'll be set
down to high jinks by this time--for we and our retainers,
Colonel, are exceedingly regular in our irregularities--tell him
to come here instantly and I will pay his forfeits.'
'He won't appear in character, will he?' said Mannering.
'Ah! "no more of that, Hal, an thou lovest me,"' said Pleydell.
'But we must have some news from the land of Egypt, if possible.
O, if I had but hold of the slightest thread of this complicated
skein, you should see how I would unravel it! I would work the
truth out of your Bohemian, as the French call them, better than a
monitoire or a plainte de Tournelle; I know how to manage a
While Mr. Pleydell was thus vaunting his knowledge of his
profession, the waiter reentered with Mr. Driver, his mouth still
greasy with mutton pies, and the froth of the last draught of
twopenny yet unsubsided on his upper lip, with such speed had he
obeyed the commands of his principal. 'Driver, you must go
instantly and find out the woman who was old Mrs. Margaret
Bertram's maid. Inquire for her everywhere, but if you find it
necessary to have recourse to Protocol, Quid the tobacconist, or
any other of these folks, you will take care not to appear
yourself, but send some woman of your acquaintance; I daresay you
know enough that may be so condescending as to oblige you. When
you have found her out, engage her to come to my chambers tomorrow
at eight o'clock precisely.'
'What shall I say to make her forthcoming?' asked the aid-de-camp.
'Anything you choose,' replied the lawyer. 'Is it my business to
make lies for you, do you think? But let her be in praesentia by
eight o'clock, as I have said before.' The clerk grinned, made his
reverence, and exit.
'That's a useful fellow,' said the Counsellor; 'I don't believe
his match ever carried a process. He'll write to my dictating
three nights in the week without sleep, or, what's the same thing,
he writes as well and correctly when he's asleep as when he's
awake. Then he's such a steady fellow; some of them are always
changing their ale-houses, so that they have twenty cadies
sweating after them, like the bare-headed captains traversing the
taverns of Eastcheap in search of Sir John Falstaff. But this is a
complete fixture; he has his winter seat by the fire and his
summer seat by the window in Luckie Wood's, betwixt which seats
are his only migrations; there he's to be found at all times when
he is off duty. It is my opinion he never puts off his clothes or
goes to sleep; sheer ale supports him under everything. It is
meat, drink, and cloth, bed, board, and washing.'
'And is he always fit for duty upon a sudden turnout? I should
distrust it, considering his quarters.'
'O, drink, never disturbs him, Colonel; he can write for hours
after he cannot speak. I remember being called suddenly to draw an
appeal case. I had been dining, and it was Saturday night, and I
had ill will to begin to it; however, they got me down to
Clerihugh's, and there we sat birling till I had a fair tappit hen
[Footnote: See Note 2.] under my belt, and then they persuaded me
to draw the paper. Then we had to seek Driver, and it was all that
two men could do to bear him in, for, when found, he was, as it
happened, both motionless and speechless. But no sooner was his
pen put between his fingers, his paper stretched before him, and
he heard my voice, than he began to write like a scrivener; and,
excepting that we were obliged to have somebody to dip his pen in
the ink, for he could not see the standish, I never saw a thing
scrolled more handsomely.'
'But how did your joint production look the next morning?' said
'Wheugh! capital! not three words required to be altered:
[Footnote: See Note 3. ] it was sent off by that day's post. But
you'll come and breakfast with me to-morrow, and hear this woman's
'Why, your hour is rather early.'
'Can't make it later. If I were not on the boards of the Outer
House precisely as the nine-hours' bell rings, there would be a
report that I had got an apoplexy, and I should feel the effects
of it all the rest of the session.'
'Well, I will make an exertion to wait upon you.'
Here the company broke up for the evening.
In the morning Colonel Mannering appeared at the Counsellor's
chambers, although cursing the raw air of a Scottish morning in
December. Mr. Pleydell had got Mrs. Rebecca installed on one side
of his fire, accommodated her with a cup of chocolate, and was
already deeply engaged in conversation with her. 'O no, I assure
you, Mrs. Rebecca, there is no intention to challenge your
mistress's will; and I give you my word of honour that your legacy
is quite safe. You have deserved it by your conduct to your
mistress, and I wish it had been twice as much.'
'Why, to be sure, sir, it's no right to mention what is said
before ane; ye heard how that dirty body Quid cast up to me the
bits o' compliments he gied me, and tell'd ower again ony loose
cracks I might hae had wi' him; now if ane was talking loosely to
your honour, there's nae saying what might come o't.'
'I assure you, my good Rebecca, my character and your own age and
appearance are your security, if you should talk as loosely as an
'Aweel, if your honour thinks I am safe--the story is just this.
Ye see, about a year ago, or no just sae lang, my leddy was
advised to go to Gilsland for a while, for her spirits were
distressing her sair. Ellangowan's troubles began to be spoken o'
publicly, and sair vexed she was; for she was proud o' her family.
For Ellangowan himsell and her, they sometimes 'greed and some
times no; but at last they didna 'gree at a' for twa or three
year, for he was aye wanting to borrow siller, and that was what
she couldna bide at no hand, and she was aye wanting it paid back
again, and that the Laird he liked as little. So at last they were
clean aff thegither. And then some of the company at Gilsland
tells her that the estate was to be sell'd; and ye wad hae thought
she had taen an ill will at Miss Lucy Bertram frae that moment,
for mony a time she cried to me, "O Becky, O Becky, if that
useless peenging thing o' a lassie there at Ellangowan, that canna
keep her ne'er-do-weel father within bounds--if she had been but a
lad-bairn they couldna hae sell'd the auld inheritance for that
fool-body's debts"; and she would rin on that way till I was just
wearied and sick to hear her ban the puir lassie, as if she wadna
hae been a lad-bairn and keepit the land if it had been in her
will to change her sect. And ae day at the spaw-well below the
craig at Gilsland she was seeing a very bonny family o' bairns--
they belanged to ane Mac-Crosky--and she broke out--"Is not it an
odd like thing that ilka waf carle in the country has a son and
heir, and that the house of Ellangowan is without male
succession?" There was a gipsy wife stood ahint and heard her, a
muckle sture fearsome-looking wife she was as ever I set een on.
"Wha is it," says she, "that dare say the house of Ellangowan will
perish without male succession?" My mistress just turned on her;
she was a high-spirited woman, and aye ready wi' an answer to a'
body. "It's me that says it," says she, "that may say it with a
sad heart." Wi' that the gipsy wife gripped till her hand--"I ken
you weel eneugh," says she, "though ye kenna me. But as sure as
that sun's in heaven, and as sure as that water's rinning to the
sea, and as sure as there's an ee that sees and an ear that hears
us baith, Harry Bertram, that was thought to perish at Warroch
Point, never did die there. He was to have a weary weird o't till
his ane-and-twentieth year, that was aye said o' him; but if ye
live and I live, ye'll hear mair o' him this winter before the
snaw lies twa days on the Dun of Singleside. I want nane o' your
siller," she said, "to make ye think I am blearing your ee; fare
ye weel till after Martinmas." And there she left us standing.'
'Was she a very tall woman?' interrupted Mannering.
'Had she black hair, black eyes, and a cut above the brow?' added
'She was the tallest woman I ever saw, and her hair was as black
as midnight, unless where it was grey, and she had a scar abune
the brow that ye might hae laid the lith of your finger in.
Naebody that's seen her will ever forget her; and I am morally
sure that it was on the ground o' what that gipsy-woman said that
my mistress made her will, having taen a dislike at the young
leddy o' Ellangowan. And she liked her far waur after she was
obliged to send her L20; for she said Miss Bertram, no content wi'
letting the Ellangowan property pass into strange hands, owing to
her being a lass and no a lad, was coming, by her poverty, to be a
burden and a disgrace to Singleside too. But I hope my mistress's
is a good will for a' that, for it would be hard on me to lose the
wee bit legacy; I served for little fee and bountith, weel I wot.'
The Counsellor relieved her fears on this head, then inquired
after Jenny Gibson, and understood she had accepted Mr. Dinmont's
offer. 'And I have done sae mysell too, since he was sae discreet
as to ask me,' said Mrs. Rebecca; 'they are very decent folk the
Dinmonts, though my lady didna dow to hear muckle about the
friends on that side the house. But she liked the Charlie's Hope
hams and the cheeses and the muir-fowl that they were aye sending,
and the lamb's-wool hose and mittens--she liked them weel eneugh.'
Mr. Pleydell now dismissed Mrs. Rebecca. When she was gone, 'I
think I know the gipsy-woman,' said the lawyer.
'I was just going to say the same,' replied Mannering.
'And her name,' said Pleydell--
'Is Meg Merrilies,' answered the Colonel.
'Are you avised of that?' said the Counsellor, looking at his
military friend with a comic expression of surprise.
Mannering answered that he had known such a woman when he was at
Ellangowan upwards of twenty years before; and then made his
learned friend acquainted with all the remarkable particulars of
his first visit there.
Mr. Pleydell listened with great attention, and then replied, 'I
congratulated myself upon having made the acquaintance of a
profound theologian in your chaplain; but I really did not expect
to find a pupil of Albumazar or Messahala in his patron. I have a
notion, however, this gipsy could tell us some more of the matter
than she derives from astrology or second-sight. I had her through
hands once, and could then make little of her, but I must write to
Mac-Morlan to stir heaven and earth to find her out. I will gladly
come to--shire myself to assist at her examination; I am still in
the commission of the peace there, though I have ceased to be
sheriff. I never had anything more at heart in my life than
tracing that murder and the fate of the child. I must write to the
sheriff of Roxburghshire too, and to an active justice of peace in
'I hope when you come to the country you will make Woodbourne your
'Certainly; I was afraid you were going to forbid me. But we must
go to breakfast now or I shall be too late.'
On the following day the new friends parted, and the Colonel
rejoined his family without any adventure worthy of being detailed
in these chapters.