It is not madness
That I have utter'd, bring me to the test,
And I the matter will re-word, which madness
Would gambol from.
As Mr. Sampson crossed the hall with a bewildered look, Mrs.
Allan, the good housekeeper, who, with the reverent attention
which is usually rendered to the clergy in Scotland, was on the
watch for his return, sallied forth to meet him--'What's this o't
now, Mr. Sampson, this is waur than ever! Ye'll really do yoursell
some injury wi' these lang fasts; naething's sae hurtful to the
stamach, Mr. Sampson. If ye would but put some peppermint draps in
your pocket, or let Barnes cut ye a sandwich.'
'Avoid thee!' quoth the Dominie, his mind running still upon his
interview with Meg Merrilies, and making for the dining-parlour.
'Na, ye needna gang in there, the cloth's been removed an hour
syne, and the Colonel's at his wine; but just step into my room, I
have a nice steak that the cook will do in a moment.'
'Exorciso te!' said Sampson; 'that is, I have dined.'
'Dined! it's impossible; wha can ye hae dined wi', you that gangs
out nae gate?'
'With Beelzebub, I believe,' said the minister.
'Na, then he's bewitched for certain,' said the housekeeper,
letting go her hold; 'he's bewitched, or he's daft, and ony way
the Colonel maun just guide him his ain gate. Wae's me! Hech,
sirs! It's a sair thing to see learning bring folk to this!' And
with this compassionate ejaculation she retreated into her own
The object of her commiseration had by this time entered the
dining-parlour, where his appearance gave great surprise. He was
mud up to the shoulders, and the natural paleness of his hue was
twice as cadaverous as usual, through terror, fatigue, and
perturbation of mind.
'What on earth is the meaning of this, Mr. Sampson?' said
Mannering, who observed Miss Bertram looking much alarmed for her
simple but attached friend.
'Exorciso,' said the Dominie.
'How, sir?' replied the astonished Colonel.
'I crave pardon, honourable sir! but my wits---'
'Are gone a wool-gathering, I think; pray, Mr. Sampson, collect
yourself, and let me know the meaning of all this.'
Sampson was about to reply, but finding his Latin formula of
exorcism still came most readily to his tongue, he prudently
desisted from the attempt, and put the scrap of paper which he had
received from the gipsy into Mannering's hand, who broke the seal
and read it with surprise. 'This seems to be some jest,' he said,
'and a very dull one.'
'It came from no jesting person,' said Mr. Sampson.
'From whom then did it come?' demanded Mannering.
The Dominie, who often displayed some delicacy of recollection in
cases where Miss Bertram had an interest, remembered the painful
circumstances connected with Meg Merrilies, looked at the young
ladies, and remained silent. 'We will join you at the tea-table in
an instant, Julia,' said the Colonel; 'I see that Mr. Sampson
wishes to speak to me alone. And now they are gone, what, in
Heaven's name, Mr. Sampson, is the meaning of all this?'
'It may be a message from Heaven,' said the Dominie, 'but it came
by Beelzebub's postmistress. It was that witch, Meg Merrilies, who
should have been burned with a tar-barrel twenty years since for a
harlot, thief, witch, and gipsy.'
'Are you sure it was she?' said the Colonel with great interest.
'Sure, honoured sir? Of a truth she is one not to be forgotten,
the like o' Meg Merrilies is not to be seen in any land.'
The Colonel paced the room rapidly, cogitating with himself. 'To
send out to apprehend her; but it is too distant to send to Mac-
Morlan, and Sir Robert Hazlewood is a pompous coxcomb; besides,
the chance of not finding her upon the spot, or that the humour of
silence that seized her before may again return. No, I will not,
to save being thought a fool, neglect the course she points out.
Many of her class set out by being impostors and end by becoming
enthusiasts, or hold a kind of darkling conduct between both
lines, unconscious almost when they are cheating themselves or
when imposing on others. Well, my course is a plain one at any
rate; and if my efforts are fruitless, it shall not be owing to
over-jealousy of my own character for wisdom.'
With this he rang the bell, and, ordering Barnes into his private
sitting-room, gave him some orders, with the result of which the
reader may be made hereafter acquainted.
We must now take up another adventure, which is also to be woven
into the story of this remarkable day.
Charles Hazlewood had not ventured to make a visit at Woodbourne
during the absence of the Colonel. Indeed, Mannering's whole
behaviour had impressed upon him an opinion that this would be
disagreeable; and such was the ascendency which the successful
soldier and accomplished gentleman had attained over the young
man's conduct, that in no respect would he have ventured to offend
him. He saw, or thought he saw, in Colonel Mannering's general
conduct, an approbation of his attachment to Miss Bertram. But
then he saw still more plainly the impropriety of any attempt at a
private correspondence, of which his parents could not be supposed
to approve, and he respected this barrier interposed betwixt them
both on Mannering's account and as he was the liberal and zealous
protector of Miss Bertram. 'No,' said he to himself, 'I will not
endanger the comfort of my Lucy's present retreat until I can
offer her a home of her own.'
With this valorous resolution, which he maintained although his
horse, from constant habit, turned his head down the avenue of
Woodbourne, and although he himself passed the lodge twice every
day, Charles Hazlewood withstood a strong inclination to ride down
just to ask how the young ladies were, and whether he could be of
any service to them during Colonel Mannering's absence. But on the
second occasion he felt the temptation so severe that he resolved
not to expose himself to it a third time; and, contenting himself
with sending hopes and inquiries and so forth to Woodbourne, he
resolved to make a visit long promised to a family at some
distance, and to return in such time as to be one of the earliest
among Mannering's visitors who should congratulate his safe
arrival from his distant and hazardous expedition to Edinburgh.
Accordingly he made out his visit, and, having arranged matters so
as to be informed within a few hours after Colonel Mannering
reached home, he finally resolved to take leave of the friends
with whom he had spent the intervening time, with the intention of
dining at Woodbourne, where he was in a great measure
domesticated; and this (for he thought much more deeply on the
subject than was necessary) would, he flattered himself, appear a
simple, natural, and easy mode of conducting himself.
Fate, however, of which lovers make so many complaints, was in
this case unfavourable to Charles Hazlewood. His horse's shoes
required an alteration, in consequence of the fresh weather having
decidedly commenced. The lady of the house where he was a visitor
chose to indulge in her own room till a very late breakfast hour.
His friend also insisted on showing him a litter of puppies which
his favourite pointer bitch had produced that morning. The colours
had occasioned some doubts about the paternity--a weighty question
of legitimacy, to the decision of which Hazlewood's opinion was
called in as arbiter between his friend and his groom, and which
inferred in its consequences which of the litter should be
drowned, which saved. Besides, the Laird himself delayed our young
lover's departure for a considerable time, endeavouring, with long
and superfluous rhetoric, to insinuate to Sir Robert Hazlewood,
through the medium of his son, his own particular ideas respecting
the line of a meditated turnpike road. It is greatly to the shame
of our young lover's apprehension that, after the tenth reiterated
account of the matter, he could not see the advantage to be
obtained by the proposed road passing over the Lang Hirst, Windy
Knowe, the Goodhouse Park, Hailziecroft, and then crossing the
river at Simon's Pool, and so by the road to Kippletringan; and
the less eligible line pointed out by the English surveyor, which
would go clear through the main enclosures at Hazlewood, and cut
within a mile or nearly so of the house itself, destroying the
privacy and pleasure, as his informer contended, of the grounds.
In short, the adviser (whose actual interest was to have the
bridge built as near as possible to a farm of his own) failed in
every effort to attract young Hazlewood's attention until he
mentioned by chance that the proposed line was favoured by 'that
fellow Glossin,' who pretended to take a lead in the county. On a
sudden young Hazlewood became attentive and interested; and,
having satisfied himself which was the line that Glossin
patronised, assured his friend it should not be his fault if his
father did not countenance any other instead of that. But these
various interruptions consumed the morning. Hazlewood got on
horseback at least three hours later than he intended, and,
cursing fine ladies, pointers, puppies, and turnpike acts of
parliament, saw himself detained beyond the time when he could
with propriety intrude upon the family at Woodbourne.
He had passed, therefore, the turn of the road which led to that
mansion, only edified by the distant appearance of the blue smoke
curling against the pale sky of the winter evening, when he
thought he beheld the Dominie taking a footpath for the house
through the woods. He called after him, but in vain; for that
honest gentleman, never the most susceptible of extraneous
impressions, had just that moment parted from Meg Merrilies, and
was too deeply wrapt up in pondering upon her vaticinations to
make any answer to Hazlewood's call. He was therefore obliged to
let him proceed without inquiry after the health of the young
ladies, or any other fishing question, to which he might by good
chance have had an answer returned wherein Miss Bertram's name
might have been mentioned. All cause for haste was now over, and,
slackening the reins upon his horse's neck, he permitted the
animal to ascend at his own leisure the steep sandy track between
two high banks, which, rising to a considerable height, commanded
at length an extensive view of the neighbouring country.
Hazlewood was, however, so far from eagerly looking forward to
this prospect, though it had the recommendation that great part of
the land was his father's, and must necessarily be his own, that
his head still turned backward towards the chimneys of Woodbourne,
although at every step his horse made the difficulty of employing
his eyes in that direction become greater. From the reverie in
which he was sunk he was suddenly roused by a voice, too harsh to
be called female, yet too shrill for a man: 'What's kept you on
the road sae lang? Maun ither folk do your wark?'
He looked up. The spokeswoman was very tall, had a voluminous
handkerchief rolled round her head, grizzled hair flowing in elf-
locks from beneath it, a long red cloak, and a staff in her hand,
headed with a sort of spear-point; it was, in short, Meg
Merrilies. Hazlewood had never seen this remarkable figure before;
he drew up his reins in astonishment at her appearance, and made a
full stop. 'I think,' continued she, 'they that hae taen interest
in the house of Ellangowan suld sleep nane this night; three men
hae been seeking ye, and you are gaun hame to sleep in your bed.
D' ye think if the lad-bairn fa's, the sister will do weel? Na,
'I don't understand you, good woman,' said Hazlewood. 'If you
speak of Miss---, I mean of any of the late Ellangowan family,
tell me what I can do for them.'
'Of the late Ellangowan family?' she answered with great
vehemence--'of the LATE Ellangowan family! and when was there
ever, or when will there ever be, a family of Ellangowan but
bearing the gallant name of the bauld Bertrams?'
'But what do you mean, good woman?'
'I am nae good woman; a' the country kens I am bad eneugh, and
baith they and I may be sorry eneugh that I am nae better. But I
can do what good women canna, and daurna do. I can do what would
freeze the blood o' them that is bred in biggit wa's for naething
but to bind bairns' heads and to hap them in the cradle. Hear me:
the guard's drawn off at the custom-house at Portanferry, and it's
brought up to Hazlewood House by your father's orders, because he
thinks his house is to be attacked this night by the smugglers.
There's naebody means to touch his house; he has gude blood and
gentle blood--I say little o' him for himsell--but there's naebody
thinks him worth meddling wi'. Send the horsemen back to their
post, cannily and quietly; see an they winna hae wark the night,
ay will they: the guns will flash and the swords will glitter in
the braw moon.'
'Good God! what do you mean?' said young Hazlewood; 'your words
and manner would persuade me you are mad, and yet there is a
strange combination in what you say.'
'I am not mad!' exclaimed the gipsy; 'I have been imprisoned for
mad--scourged for mad--banished for mad--but mad I am not. Hear
ye, Charles Hazlewood of Hazlewood: d'ye bear malice against him
that wounded you?'
'No, dame, God forbid; my arm is quite well, and I have always
said the shot was discharged by accident. I should be glad to tell
the young man so himself.'
'Then do what I bid ye,' answered Meg Merrilies, 'and ye 'll do
him mair gude than ever he did you ill; for if he was left to his
ill-wishers he would be a bloody corpse ere morn, or a banished
man; but there's Ane abune a'. Do as I bid you; send back the
soldiers to Portanferry. There's nae mair fear o' Hazlewood House
than there's o' Cruffel Fell.' And she vanished with her usual
celerity of pace.
It would seem that the appearance of this female, and the mixture
of frenzy and enthusiasm in her manner, seldom failed to produce
the strongest impression upon those whom she addressed. Her words,
though wild, were too plain and intelligible for actual madness,
and yet too vehement and extravagant for sober-minded
communication. She seemed acting under the influence of an
imagination rather strongly excited than deranged; and it is
wonderful how palpably the difference in such cases is impressed
upon the mind of the auditor. This may account for the attention
with which her strange and mysterious hints were heard and acted
upon. It is certain, at least, that young Hazlewood was strongly
impressed by her sudden appearance and imperative tone. He rode to
Hazlewood at a brisk pace. It had been dark for some time before
he reached the house, and on his arrival there he saw a
confirmation of what the sibyl had hinted.
Thirty dragoon horses stood under a shed near the offices, with
their bridles linked together. Three or four soldiers attended as
a guard, while others stamped up and down with their long
broadswords and heavy boots in front of the house. Hazlewood asked
a non-commissioned officer from whence they came.
'Had they left any guard there?'
'No; they had been drawn off by order of Sir Robert Hazlewood for
defence of his house against an attack which was threatened by the
Charles Hazlewood instantly went in quest of his father, and,
having paid his respects to him upon his return, requested to know
upon what account he had thought it necessary to send for a
military escort. Sir Robert assured his son in reply that, from
the information, intelligence, and tidings which had been
communicated to, and laid before him, he had the deepest reason to
believe, credit, and be convinced that a riotous assault would
that night be attempted and perpetrated against Hazlewood House by
a set of smugglers, gipsies, and other desperadoes.
'And what, my dear sir,' said his son, 'should direct the fury of
such persons against ours rather than any other house in the
'I should rather think, suppose, and be of opinion, sir,' answered
Sir Robert, 'with deference to your wisdom and experience, that on
these occasions and times the vengeance of such persons is
directed or levelled against the most important and distinguished
in point of rank, talent, birth, and situation who have checked,
interfered with, and discountenanced their unlawful and illegal
and criminal actions or deeds.'
Young Hazlewood, who knew his father's foible, answered, that the
cause of his surprise did not lie where Sir Robert apprehended,
but that he only wondered they should think of attacking a house
where there were so many servants, and where a signal to the
neighbouring tenants could call in such strong assistance; and
added, that he doubted much whether the reputation of the family
would not in some degree suffer from calling soldiers from their
duty at the custom-house to protect them, as if they were not
sufficiently strong to defend themselves upon any ordinary
occasion. He even hinted that, in case their house's enemies
should observe that this precaution had been taken unnecessarily,
there would be no end of their sarcasms.
Sir Robert Hazlewood was rather puzzled at this intimation, for,
like most dull men, he heartily hated and feared ridicule. He
gathered himself up and looked with a sort of pompous
embarrassment, as if he wished to be thought to despise the
opinion of the public, which in reality he dreaded.
'I really should have thought,' he said, 'that the injury which
had already been aimed at my house in your person, being the next
heir and representative of the Hazlewood family, failing me--I
should have thought and believed, I say, that this would have
justified me sufficiently in the eyes of the most respectable and
the greater part of the people for taking such precautions as are
calculated to prevent and impede a repetition of outrage.'
'Really, sir,' said Charles, 'I must remind you of what I have
often said before, that I am positive the discharge of the piece
'Sir, it was not accidental,' said his father, angrily; 'but you
will be wiser than your elders.'
'Really, sir,' replied Hazlewood, 'in what so intimately concerns
'Sir, it does not concern you but in a very secondary degree; that
is, it does not concern you, as a giddy young fellow who takes
pleasure in contradicting his father; but it concerns the country,
sir, and the county, sir, and the public, sir, and the kingdom of
Scotland, in so far as the interest of the Hazlewood family, sir,
is committed and interested and put in peril, in, by, and through
you, sir. And the fellow is in safe custody, and Mr. Glossin
'Mr. Glossin, sir?'
'Yes, sir, the gentleman who has purchased Ellangowan; you know
who I mean, I suppose?'
'Yes, sir,' answered the young man; 'but I should hardly have
expected to hear you quote such authority. Why, this fellow--all
the world knows him to be sordid, mean, tricking, and I suspect
him to be worse. And you yourself, my dear sir, when did you call
such a person a gentleman in your life before?'
'Why, Charles, I did not mean gentleman in the precise sense and
meaning, and restricted and proper use, to which, no doubt, the
phrase ought legitimately to be confined; but I meant to use it
relatively, as marking something of that state to which he has
elevated and raised himself; as designing, in short, a decent and
wealthy and estimable sort of a person.'
'Allow me to ask, sir,' said Charles, 'if it was by this man's
orders that the guard was drawn from Portanferry?'
'Sir,' replied the Baronet, 'I do apprehend that Mr. Glossin would
not presume to give orders, or even an opinion, unless asked, in a
matter in which Hazlewood House and the house of Hazlewood--
meaning by the one this mansion-house of my family, and by the
other, typically, metaphorically, and parabolically, the family
itself,--I say, then, where the house of Hazlewood, or Hazlewood
House, was so immediately concerned.'
'I presume, however, sir,' said the son, 'this Glossin approved of
'Sir,' replied his father, 'I thought it decent and right and
proper to consult him as the nearest magistrate as soon as report
of the intended outrage reached my ears; and although he declined,
out of deference and respect, as became our relative situations,
to concur in the order, yet he did entirely approve of my
At this moment a horse's feet were heard coming very fast up the
avenue. In a few minutes the door opened, and Mr. Mac-Morlan
presented himself. 'I am under great concern to intrude, Sir
'Give me leave, Mr. Mac-Morlan,' said Sir Robert, with a gracious
flourish of welcome; 'this is no intrusion, sir; for, your
situation as sheriff-substitute calling upon you to attend to the
peace of the county, and you, doubtless, feeling yourself
particularly called upon to protect Hazlewood House, you have an
acknowledged and admitted and undeniable right, sir, to enter the
house of the first gentleman in Scotland uninvited--always
presuming you to be called there by the duty of your office.'
'It is indeed the duty of my office,' said Mac-Morlan, who waited
with impatience an opportunity to speak, 'that makes me an
'No intrusion!' reiterated the Baronet, gracefully waving his
'But permit me to say, Sir Robert,' said the sheriff-substitute,
'I do not come with the purpose of remaining here, but to recall
these soldiers to Portanferry, and to assure you that I will
answer for the safety of your house.'
'To withdraw the guard from Hazlewood House!' exclaimed the
proprietor in mingled displeasure and surprise; 'and YOU will be
answerable for it! And, pray, who are you, sir, that I should take
your security and caution and pledge, official or personal, for
the safety of Hazlewood House? I think, sir, and believe, sir, and
am of opinion, sir, that if any one of these family pictures were
deranged or destroyed or injured it would be difficult for me to
make up the loss upon the guarantee which you so obligingly offer
'In that case I shall be sorry for it, Sir Robert,' answered the
downright Mac-Morlan; 'but I presume I may escape the pain of
feeling my conduct the cause of such irreparable loss, as I can
assure you there will be no attempt upon Hazlewood House whatever,
and I have received information which induces me to suspect that
the rumour was put afloat merely in order to occasion the removal
of the soldiers from Portanferry. And under this strong belief and
conviction I must exert my authority as sheriff and chief
magistrate of police to order the whole, or greater part of them,
back again. I regret much that by my accidental absence a good
deal of delay has already taken place, and we shall not now reach
Portanferry until it is late.'
As Mr. Mac-Morlan was the superior magistrate, and expressed
himself peremptory in the purpose of acting as such, the Baronet,
though highly offended, could only say, 'Very well, sir; it is
very well. Nay, sir, take them all with you; I am far from
desiring any to be left here, sir. We, sir, can protect ourselves,
sir. But you will have the goodness to observe, sir, that you are
acting on your own proper risk, sir, and peril, sir, and
responsibility, sir, if anything shall happen or befall to
Hazlewood House, sir, or the inhabitants, sir, or to the furniture
and paintings, sir.'
'I am acting to the best of my judgment and information, Sir
Robert,' said Mac-Morlan, 'and I must pray of you to believe so,
and to pardon me accordingly. I beg you to observe it is no time
for ceremony; it is already very late.'
But Sir Robert, without deigning to listen to his apologies,
immediately employed himself with much parade in arming and
arraying his domestics. Charles Hazlewood longed to accompany the
military, which were about to depart for Portanferry, and which
were now drawn up and mounted by direction and under the guidance
of Mr. Mac-Morlan, as the civil magistrate. But it would have
given just pain and offence to his father to have left him at a
moment when he conceived himself and his mansion-house in danger.
Young Hazlewood therefore gazed from a window with suppressed
regret and displeasure, until he heard the officer give the word
of command--'From the right to the front, by files, m-a-rch.
Leading file, to the right wheel. Trot.' The whole party of
soldiers then getting into a sharp and uniform pace, were soon
lost among the trees, and the noise of the hoofs died speedily
away in the distance.