Page images

turbed by these complicated steams of abomination, a middle-aged woman, with a face which had defied a thousand storms, sat mending a net at the door of one of the cottages. A handkerchief close bound about her head, and a coat which had formerly been that of a man, gave her a masculine air, which was increased by her strength, uncommon stature, and harsh voice. "What are ye for the day, your honour?" she said, or rather screamed, to Oldbuck; "caller haddocks and whitings-a bannock-fluke and a cock-paddle."

"How much for the bannock-fluke and cock-paddle?" demanded the Antiquary.

"Four white shillings and saxpence," answered the Naiad.

"Four devils and six of their imps!" retorted the Antiquary; "do ye think I am mad, Maggie?"

"And div ye think," rejoined the virago, setting her arms a-kimbo, "that my man and my sons are to gae to the sea in weather like yestreen and the day-sic a sea as it's yet outby-and get naething for their fish, and be misca'd into the bargain, Monkbarns? It's no fish ye're buying -it's men's lives."

"Well, Maggie, I'll bid you fair—I'll bid you a shilling for the fluke and the cock-paddle, or sixpence separately—and if all your fish are as well paid, I think your man, as you call him, and your sons, will make a good voyage."

"Deil gin their boat were knocket against the Bell-rock rather! it wad be better, and the bonnier voyage o' the twa. A shilling for thae twa bonny fish! Od, that's ane indeed!"

"Well, well, you old beldame, carry your fish up to Monkbarns, and see what my sister will give you for them."

"Na, na, Monkbarns, deil a fit-I'll rather deal wi' yoursell; for, though you're near enough, yet Miss Grizel has an unco close grip-I'll gie ye them (in a softened tone) for three-and-saxpence."

"Eighteen-pence, or nothing!"

"Eighteen-pence!!!" (in a loud tone of astonishment, which declined into a sort of rueful whine, when the dealer turned as if to walk away) — "Ye'll no be for the fish then?"-(then louder, as she saw him moving off)" I'll gie them-and-and-and a half-a-dozen o' partans to make the sauce, for three shillings and a dram.”

"Half-a-crown then, Maggie, and a dram.”


Aweel, your honour maun hae 't your ain gate, nae doubt; but a dram's worth siller now-the distilleries is no working."

"And I hope they 'll never work again in my time,” said Oldbuck. "Ay, ay-it's easy for your honour, and the like o' you gentle-folks, to say sae, that hae stouth and routh, and fire and fending, and meat and claith, and sit dry and canny by the fireside-but an ye wanted fire, and meat, and dry claise, and were deeing o' cauld, and had a sair heart, whilk is warst ava', wi' just tippence in your pouch, wadna ye be glad to buy a dram wi't, to be eilding and claise, and a supper and heart's ease into the bargain, till the morn's morning?"

"It's even too true an apology, Maggie. Is your goodman off to sea this morning, after his exertions last night?"

"In troth is he, Monkbarns; he was awa this morning by four o'clock, when the sea was working like barm wi' yestreen's wind, and our bit coble dancing in 't like a cork."

"Well, he's an industrious fellow. Carry the fish up to Monkbarns." "That I will-or I'll send little Jenny, she 'll rin faster; but I'll ca' on Miss Grizzy for the dram mysell, and say ye sent me."

A nondescript animal, which might have passed for a mermaid, as it was paddling in a pool among the rocks, was summoned ashore by the shrill screams of its dam: and having been made decent, as her mother called it, which was performed by adding a short red cloak to a petticoat, which was at first her sole covering, and which reached scantily below her knee, the child was dismissed with the fish in a basket, and a request on the part of Monkbarns, that they might be prepared for dinner. "It would have been long," said Oldbuck, with much self-complacency, "ere my womankind could have made such a reasonable bargain with that old skinflint, though they sometimes wrangle with her for an hour together under my study window, like three sea-gulls screaming and spluttering in a gale of wind." Scott.



N the school of political projectors I was but ill entertained; the professors appearing, in my judgment, wholly out of their senses, which is a scene that never fails to make me melancholy. These unhappy people were proposing schemes for persuading monarchs to choose favourites upon the score of their wisdom, capacity, and virtue; of teaching ministers to consult the public good; of rewarding merit, great. abilities, and eminent services; of instructing princes to know their true interest, by placing it on the same foundation with that of their people; of choosing for employments persons qualified to exercise them; with many other wild, impossible chimeras, that never entered before into the heart of man to conceive; and confirmed in me the old observation, "That there is nothing so extravagant and irrational, which some philosophers have not maintained for truth."

I heard a very warm debate between two professors about the most commodious and effectual ways and means of raising money without grieving the subject. The first affirmed, "The justest method would be to lay a certain tax upon vices and folly; and the sum fixed upon every man to be rated, after the fairest manner, by a jury of his neighbours." The second was of opinion directly contrary: "To tax those qualities of body and mind for which men chiefly value themselves; the rate to be more or less according to the degrees of excelling, the decision whereof should be left entirely to their own breast." The highest tax was upon men who are the greatest favourites of the other sex. Wit, valour, and politeness, were likewise proposed to be largely taxed, and collected in the same manner, by every person's giving his own word for the quantum of what he possessed. But as to honour, justice, wisdom, and learning, they should not be taxed at all, because they are qualifications of so singular a kind, that no man will either allow them in his neighbour, or value them in himself.

The women were proposed to be taxed according to their beauty and skill in dressing, wherein they had the same privilege with the men, to be determined by their own judgment. But constancy, good sense, and good nature, were not rated, because they would not bear the charge of collecting. Swift.


ALL the world's a stage,

And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms :
And then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school: and then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow: then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation


Even in the cannon's mouth: and then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances,
And so he plays his part. The sixth age
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose, and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness, and mere oblivion,-
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.


[graphic][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »