Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

ostentatious and pedantical in a su he was enabled to proceed for anoperlative degree ; he had often mor- ther couple of pages, when he betified me and my companion, by came involved in difficulties, which exposing our ignorance of what we he soon found insurmountable, and doubtless ought to have known; I was under the necessity of relinquishhad also reason to believe that he ing the hopeless attempt, while many had reported some of my early con- of the congregation were scarcely able duct to the minister which I could to suppress their smiles; some hold. have wished concealed. It has al ing down their heads in pity, and ready appeared, that there was little others laughing outright, at his awkplacability in the composition of ward appearance. The poor fellow which my mind was formed; I there looked like one bewitched. A little rein fore determined to mortify him inflection shewed him it was a hopeless turn, and, like Glenalvon, said, task to proceed; he therefore read

out a psalm for singing, sat down to The noblest vengeance is the most com

recover his composure, and reading plete.

some chapter of the Bible, dismissed Mr Gray always preached from the congregation, with a promise of memory, and his place was one Sun- acquitting himself better in the afterday supplied by Joseph Dickson, who noon. He employed the interval in took the easier method of reading his restoring the chaotic mass to its prisi discourse, for which the good folks tine order, and read it to the audiof Balwhinny would have despisedence with most unblushing, confithe best sermon that ever the A. dence. But the tale circulated; a lupostle Paul preached or delivered; dicrous and doggrel ballad appeared, of course Joseph was spoken of with in which poor Joseph made a most general contempt by the congrega- ridiculous figure, and his respectabi. tion. Mr Gray was to be absent, lity was almost annihilated in that assisting in a neighbouring parish, quarter of the country. Hector and and his place supplied by Joseph I were both accused of the trick; but Dickson, whose motions I had watch- as we denied, and there was no meed during the week. After break- thod of establishing the charge, it fast on Sunday morning, I obser- was placed to the credit of the inved that he glanced over the writ- visible agent, which had alarmed ten copy of his sermon,-deposited it Matty by ringing the bells. in the parish Bible, for the officer to I now considered myself of that carry to church, and then retired to age which gave me a right to inquire make his toilette. I found an oppore at my father concerning my future tunity of removing the sermon for a destination ; I therefore wrote a refew minutes, during which I trans- spectful letter to this effect, and reposed the pages, not only by putting ceived a reply, ordering ine to chuse them out of their natural order, but between law and physic. I reby placing them heads and tails al- quested an Ensign's commission in ternately; and as he had not number. the army; but was told, if I wished ed the pages, never was “confusion to wear a sword, I must begin my worse confounded;" I then dexter- course of heroism by carrying a musously stitched the whole up, leaving ket. It will perhaps be matter of the first sheet in statu quo, placed surprise that I should have preferred it in the same part of the Bible, the mystification of physic to the and made my exit without observa- quibbling chicanery of law; but of -tion. The consequences to the poor two evils I chose what appeared the probationer may easily be anticipa. Jeast, and was put apprentice to ted. He began his sermon in fine Adam Buzzard, surgeon, apothecary, style, and for two pages made a grand accoucheur, and citizen of Aberdeen; exhibition of his oratory; but on by public courtesy, generally termed turning his eye to the top of the Dr Buzzard, although he had never third page, he found it topsy turvy ; graduated. turning the paper, and attempting to I was for some time kept thumpread, it landed him in the conclusion, ing at the mortar from morning to instead of the exordium ; in a word, night, from which 1 ascended to the after turning for a considerable time, lighter task of compounding, or rather confounding medicines, by co- this circumstance afforded me frelouring, disguising, and metamor- quent opportunities of calling, which phosing, in a thousand ways, not I generally contrived to do, when taught, nor mentioned in the London there was a probability of seeing her, -Dispensary. My master was the re- who was every day gaining on my esverse of Dr Sangrado; for, instead of teem. My time of service expired, and being wedded to a system, his chief I entered at College, where Hector delight was in making experiments, Jarvis was before me, endeavouring for which he quoted the authority of to qualify himself for the healing the Apostle, “ Try all things, and art. Our intimacy was renewed, and hold to that which is best." His we became almost constant associsuccess in this method of practice ates, in every relaxation from our was sometimes such as to suprise studies. His laxity of principle himself, and astonish the public. A soon called into action propensities patient who had been pronounced which had for some time been dor, incurable by the Faculty in general, mant in my heart; for although I was to him a valuable acquisition; had now begun to feel the necessity and he would conduct the case upon of reflecting on the part I -was to the principle of no cure no pay. perform on the stage of life, yet I This he did for the sake of a fair still found, that, field for making experiments. The more desperate the case, it was the

As the twig is bent, the tree's inclin'd; more to his liking. Whether it was and with such a coadjutor as Hecsurgical or physical, he went boldly tor, I was by no means inclined to to work, and was occasionally suc- stop halfway in the pursuit of pleacessful in arresting the march of the sure. The only check on my induluniversal conqueror, although itmust gences was the state of my finanbe acknowledged he has often acce- ces; but Hector bad full pockets, lerated his progress.

But then he and a liberal hand; and I, although had still the consolation, that he had proud, allowed myself to come unshortened the anguish of his patient, der pecuniary obligations to him. by giving the coup de grace to the There was indeed a secret monitor, miserable sufferer.“ When he effect which would sometimes whisper ed a cure, his fame was blazed hints about the virgin purity and abroad through town and country; loveliness of Ellen Gray, whose good when he failed, he had the sanc- opinion I was still anxious to action of the Faculty that the case was quire ; but I consoled myself that hopeless. Under such a teacher, fet- she would never hear of my gross tered by no rules, but such as could indulgences, as I was a proficient in be forsaken on an emergency, I be- the art of concealment, in which Heccame a daring adventurer in the tor was a still greater adept. Having field of physic;

and in vending medi. seen Ellen occasionally at Balwhinny, cines over the counter, gave advice he still kept up acquaintance with gratis, stipulating that I should be her ; but observed to me, that he did informed of the result. In the course so only from respect to her father, of these experiments I made some for she was too much of a prude to not unimportant discoveries, which claim his attention. I prudently reserved for my own I had been a year at College, when

Ellen, in consequence of violent exI had occasionally seen Ellen ercise, was seized with erysipelas to Gray, and still with renewed plea- such a degree, that she was in a high sure; for the playful artless girl, with fever. Dr Buzzard was called, and, whom I had rambled in the wilds according to his usual practice, beabout Balwhinny, was now a woman, gan to make some experiments, in graceful in stature, with more than his treatment of her disorder; in con. an ordinary share of female beauty. sequence of which, instead of the In the third year of my apprentice- inflammation abating, she became ship, I was permitted occasionally to dangerously ill. Her brother invisit Dr Buzzard's patients; and as formed me of her situation; I flew he was the medical attendant in the to visit her, and was shocked with family where Ellen was boarded, her swelled face and distorted feas This po

use.

tures; upon inquiry respecting her departure by some exploit worthy medical treatment, i found that Buz- of the corps; but after much diszard was not only keeping her in a cussion, it was found impracticable state of unnecessary suffering, but that evening; and we arranged a placing her future health, perhaps plan for carrying it into effect next her life, in imminent danger. Pre- night, which was to be the last of vailing upon her to put herself under our stay in town. During the folmy care, she soon became convales- lowing day, we provided what was cent, and her health was rapidly re- deemed necessary for our plan. At stored. Buzzard, on his first visit, that period, the town was but scansaw that his prescriptions were not tily supplied with watchmen, and followed, found who was her attend- most of those employed were personant, and became my irreconcilable ally known to one or other of us, enemy; but I had acquired the having had an occasional douceur gratitude and esteem of Ellen Gray, from us, when we wished them to be which, in my mind, was sufficient deaf, or blind; we had therefore to counterbalance the hatred of all little apprehension of trouble from who had ever written a prescription, them. There were a few on whom from the days of Hippocrates to Dr we could place less reliance ; but for Buzzard inclusive.

those we also provided a quietus, by This circumstance had produced a procuring some fine and uncommongreater intimacy with Ellen, and had, ly strong brandy, which we imprego in a considerable degree, banish- nated with a soporific so powerful, ed the reserve she had hitherto pre- that a wine-glass-full of the mixture served in my company. Were I in- would have laid a man asleep on clined to philosophize, I could ex- his trial for high treason. patiate at great length on my feel- tent liquor was distributed among ings when in the presence of this those who resided in quarters where amiable creature, compared with we could not confide in the guarthose in which I had often indulged ; dians of the night. We soon afboth were ardent ; but the one was ter met at an appointed rendezvous, a celestial fire, which elevated the under cover of a cloudy, midnight mind, and purified the heart, while sky. As we approached a public the other was a gross and impure room in Castle-Street, the joyous earthly flame, which seared and notes of a number of fiddles, and the Harden'd all within,

tread of light-heeled dancers, reAnd petrified the feeling.

minded us that there was an assem

bly of the beaux and belles of faBut, alas! these nobler sentiments shion ; and on coming opposite the were evanescent, and inconsistent hall, we found all the sedan chairs with the esprit du corps to which I in town assembled on the pavement; belonged ; for we sometimes descend- but the night being rather uncomed to puerilities, worthy only of fortable, the chairmen had adjournschool-boys, and at others plunged ed to a tippling house down a lane. into excesses disgraceful to human Our first exploit, therefore, was to nature.

carry away all the poles, which we At the close of the second session, effected in a twinkling, and they we met, to the number of nearly a were deposited in a garden at a conscore, to sup in a tavern, and cele- siderable distance.

We next probrate the orgies of Bacchus. In the ceeded to all the open stable-yards, course of the evening, we began to and took off the fore-wheels of talk of those whom we should leave every carriage to which we could get with regret ; but more particularly access, trundling them away, and of those who had incurred our dis- still leaving a pair not fellows. Our pleasure, among whom almost every next object was the removal and clergyman in town was obnoxious to transposition of sign-boards, by which one or other of the company. This many ludicrous changes were prowill not surprise those who have re- duced. I have already mentioned flected on the laxity of morals which our dislike to the clergy ; to evince influenced our general conduct. A this, we transferred a rosy-faced proposition was made to signalize our Bacchus, bestriding his cask, with a garland of ivy leaves, from the door civic rulers, but we left the town - of a tavern-keeper, to that of a jolly, immediately after breakfast. red-nosed parson, whose devotion to On my way home, I called at the the bottle was generally known; manse of Balwhinny, and was most another, whose pulpit resounded with kindly received ; for, exclusive of Mr the fulminations of the law, rather Gray's benevolent disposition, Ellen, than the glad tidings of the gospel, I found, had mentioned what I had had his mansion decorated with the done for her in such terms, that I sign, “ Artificial fire-works manu- was hailed as the preserver of her life, -factured here ;" a third, who prefer- and most warmly pressed to pass the red copying to composing sermons, summer at the manse, where Charles - was designated “Dealer in old books." and his sister were expected in a week Over the door of the Methodist or two. This was an inducement Chapel, “ White-washing on reason- more potent than the good folks were able terms." Finding the

watchmen, aware of, and I promised to return who had been regaled with a dram, for a short time, after seeing my paall fast asleep, we carried away their rents, to whom I was impelled more lanterns, extinguished the lights, and by a sense of duty than inclination. hung thém round the cross in Castle. The welcome I received to my paStreet, except one, which we hung ternal home was neither so frank over the door of a Professor, general- nor so cordial as that which I had -ly dubbed by the wags in his class met at the manse ; and I found that • the dark-lanthern." A brazier's Buzzard had been making reports to sign-board was placed over the door my disadvantage, in which he had of a lawyer, who was famous for the "80 artfully blended truth and false

liberties he took in speaking and hood, that it would have been no writing professionally. Over the gate easy task to have separated them, of a celebrated physician was placed, had I thought it worth my trouble ; “ Undertaker for funerals of every but observing that they had obtained description;" and on my late' mas- full credence with my parents, I felt ter's door was placed a painting (pre too indignant, and resolved to leave pared for the ion) of Dr Buz- a spot which was no home to me. zard, pursued by a troop of skeletons, With the form of Ellen Gray floatand underneath,

ing in my delighted imagination, it “ These are ghosts that were slain.”

was impossible that I could find

pleasure in the company of my old A magistrate, famous for political associates down stairs; and I am tergiversation, was desiguated “Deale afraid the dairy.maid did not find er in old clothes ;” and the door of a me the “ dear delightful devil" she haberdasher's shop, “ Shaving soft had predicted : I did feel some inand easy." A Turk, smoking a to- clination to renew my wonted famibacco pipe, stood centinel over the liarity, for which she endeavoured door of a fashionable milliner; and to give me every encouragement; an enormous pair of horns were but Ellen Gray's image still appearplaced over the door of a gentleman ed to my fancy, and I loathed myof whom common report said they self for the levity of my own heart. were an appropriate emblem. On the On my return to Balwhinny, I city prison was fixed a board, with found the brother and sister both “ No admittance here;" and on the there; and it would have been imdoor of three spinsters of quality, possible to say whether my reception “ Lodgings to let-entry immediate was kindest from the parents or their ly;" and below, in capitals cut from children. Time glided away with a recruiting-sergeant's bill, “ Grand imperceptible flight,-hours seemed opportunities and good encourage- minutes, -weeks were only days,ment, for genteel young men.” Such and I was astonished when I saw the are specimens of the childish tricks, fields glowing in the golden hue of or profane wit, in which we amused harvest, while I imagined that sumourselves ; and we next morning mer had just begun to put forth her enjoyed the mingled wonder and sweets. At no period of my life had laughter of the good citizens. Com- three months passed so pleasantly, plaints were doubtless made to the and so innocendly; and, were it nóv in my power, I would willingly bara Nancy Shepherd was a young and ter all the time that I have trod this beautiful girl, the daughter of a earth in exchange for them, and merchant in town. Hector and I reckon myself a gainer to an infinite often visited at her father's, and I amount. If I ever felt unsophistica. had reason for believing that Nancy ted happiness, or ever indulged pu. had made an impression on the heart rity of mind, it was in that short of my friend. A ball was given by period; gazing by day, and dream- the young sparks in town, at which ing by night, of the lovely features Hector and I attended ; Nancy Shepand spotless mind of Ellen: and yet herd was Hector's companion for the I lived to but let me not anti- evening; he displayed much fondcipate. Suffice it at present to say, ness for her, and she was, seemingly, that my winged moments. of bliss, pleased with his attentions. Both and lingering hours of bitter anguish, danced with peculiar grace, which, both proceed from the recollection of combined with their mutual feelings, that delightful period.

induced the young lady to continue I returned to College, and joined that exercise till she overheated hermy bosom friend, Hector Jarvis, who, self, caught cold in going home, next to Ellen Gray, held a place in died in a few weeks after, and Hecmy heart. It may seem a paradox tor and I saw her once lovely form how two beings so very dissimilar covered with its kindred dust. Soon could both share in my esteem, or after, I called on my friend, his door rather, how I should be such a dif- was fastened, but on announcing my ferent character at Balwhinny and in name, I was admitted. Although Aberdeen ; but I relate facts, with, not unaccustomed to sights nearly out attempting to explain, or account similar, I started, on seeing a human for the anomalies in the mind of man. head on the table before him. “Come At the manse, I considered Ellen as away, "cried he; “what alarms you? witnessing my every action, hearing look at that face, and try to recogevery word that I uttered; yea, I nise it,” at the same time lifting a imagined her endowed with the lock of the long auburn hair, which power of reading the purposes of my hung on the lifeless skull, and twinheart, and shuddered when a thought ing it carelessly round his fingers. A passed over my mind which might sudden thought struck me, but my not have been freely expressed before heart rejected it as impossible, and I her; and had I continued there, stood in silence. “Come, sit down," such, I flatter myself, might have said he," and take your last look of been my conduct and feelings through what was once Nancy Shepherd. life. At College, the change was too See how livid those lips which I have remarkable to escape the observation fondly pressed ;” and he touched of Hector; and, by the force of wit them with the dissecting-knife in his and good-humoured raillery, he ef- hand ; “ how sweetly did they smile fected that which no arguments

on me, as I squeezed her hand in would have accomplished, and my the dance !-she was a lovely girlnascent principles became every day but that is past !" My heart was alweaker. It is true, I could not all most sick, and at last I said, “ But at once forget Ellen, and the recol how is that here? where is her lection at first shot pangs through body?” “Divided among the stumy heart; but I became so habituated dents ; Jack Sangster had a leg, and to these remonstrances of conscience, Bill Rob an arm; the carcase was die till by and by they fell like blunted vided by lot, and my good luck gave arrows, making at most a very faint me the head.” There was someimpression. The old man awoke thing so shocking and appalling in within me, and I became the nightly this such an absence of feeling in companion of Hector, and the ready the nonchalance with which he spoke, participator of his licentious plea- that I not only despised, but I be, sures. About this time an incident lieved my heart loathed and abhorred occurred, which I cannot forbear re- him ; yet such were his powers of lating, as an instance of how the heart persuasion, or, at least, such was the may become indlurated by what first influence he had acquired over my awake the finest and keenest feelings: mind, that, before we parted, he made

« НазадПродовжити »