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father considers every moment taken from the law as a step down hill; and I owe much to his anxiety on my account, although its effects are sometimes troublesome. For example:
I found, on my arrival at the shop in Brown Square, that the old gentleman had returned that very evening, impatient, it seems, of remaining a night out of the guardianship of the domestic Lares. Having this information from James, whose brow wore rather an anxious look on the occasion, I dispatched a Highland chairman to the livery stable with my Bucephalus, and slunk, with as little noise as might be, into my own den, where I began to mumble certain half-gnawed and not half-digested doctrines of our municipal code. I was not long seated, when my father's visage was thrust, in a peering sort of way, through the half-opened door; and withdrawn, on seeing my occupation, with a halfarticulated humph! which seemed to convey a doubt of the seriousness of my application. If it were so, I cannot condemn him; for recollection of thee occupied me so entirely during an hour's reading, that although Stair lay before me, and notwithstanding that I turned over three or four pages, the sense of his lordship's clear and perspicuous style so far escaped me, that I had the mortification to find my labour was utterly in vain.
Ere I had brought up my lee-way, James appeared with his summons to our frugal supper-radishes, cheese, and a bottle of the old ale-only two plates thoughand no chair set for Mr. Darsie, by the attentive James Wilkinson. Said James, with his long face, lank hair, and very long pigtail in its leathern strap, was placed, as usual, at the back of my father's chair, upright as a wooden sentinel at the door of a puppet-show. "You may go down, James," said my father; and exit Wilkinson.-What is to come next? thought I; for the weather is not clear on the paternal brow.
My boots encountered his first glance of displeasure, and he asked me, with a sneer, which way I had been riding. He expected me to answer, "Nowhere," and would then have been at me with his usual sarcasm, touching the humour of walking in shoes at twenty shillings a pair. But I answered with composure that I had ridden out to dinner as far as Noble House. He started (you know his way), as if I had said that I had dined at Jericho; and as I did not choose to seem to observe his surprise, but continued munching my radishes in tranquillity, he broke forth in ire.
"To Noble House, sir! and what had you to do at Noble House, sir?-Do you remember you are studying law, sir?-that your Scots law trials are coming on, sir?-that every moment of your time just now is worth hours at another time?-and have you leisure to go to Noble House, sir?-and to throw your books behind you for so many hours?-Had it been a turn in the Meadows, or even a game at golf-But Noble House, sir!"
"I went so far with Darsie Latimer, sir, to see him begin his journey."
Darsie Latimer?" he replied in a softened toneHumph!-Well, I do not blame you for being kind to Darsie Latimer; but it would have done as much good if you had walked with him as far as the toll-bar, and then made your farewells--it would have saved horsehire-and your reckoning, too, at dinner."
"Latimer paid that, sir," I replied, thinking to soften the matter; but I had much better have left it unspoken.
"The reckoning, sir?" replied my father. "And did you sponge upon any man for a reckoning? Sir, no man should enter the door of a public-house without paying his lawing."
"I admit the general rule, sir," I replied; "but this
was a parting-cup between Darsie and me; and I should conceive it fell under the exception of Doch an dorroch."
"You think yourself a wit," said my father, with as near an approach to a smile as ever he permits to gild the solemnity of his features; "but I reckon you did not eat your dinner standing, like the Jews at their Passover? and it was decided in a case before the townbailies of Cupar-Angus, when Luckie Simpson's cow had drunk up Luckie Jameson's browst of ale, while it stood in the door to cool, that there was no damage to pay, because the crummie drank without sitting down; such being the very circumstance constituting Doch an dorroch, which is a standing drink, for which no reckoning is paid. Ha, sir! what says your advocateship (fieri) to that? Exceptio firmat regulam-But come, fill your glass, Alan; I am not sorry ye have shown this attention to Darsie Latimer, who is a good lad, as times go; and having now lived under my roof since he left the school, why, there is really no great matter in coming under this small obligation to him."
As I saw my father's scruples were much softened by the consciousness of his superiority in the legal argument, I took care to accept my pardon as a matter of grace rather than of justice; and only replied, we should feel ourselves duller of an evening, now that you were absent. I will give you my father's exact words in reply, Darsie. You know him so well, that they will not offend you; and you are also aware, that there mingles with the good man's preciseness and formality, a fund of shrewd observation and practical good sense.
"It is very true," he said; "Darsie was a pleasant companion-but over waggish, over waggish, Alan, and somewhat scatter-brained.-By the way, Wilkinson must get our ale bottled in English pints now, for a quart bottle is too much, night after night, for you and me, without his assistance.-But Darsie, as I was saying, is
an arch lad, and somewhat light in the upper story-I wish him well through the world; but he has little solidity, Alan, little solidity,"
I scorn to desert an absent friend, Darsie, so I said for you a little more than my conscience warranted: but your defection from your legal studies had driven you far to leeward in my father's good opinion.
"Unstable as water, he shall not excel," said my father; or, as the Septuagint hath it, Effusa est sicut aqua-non crescat. He goeth to dancing-houses, and readeth novels-sat est."
I endeavoured to parry these texts by observing, that the dancing-houses amounted only to one night at La Pique's ball-the novels (so far as matter of notoriety, Darsie) to an odd volume of Tom Jones.
"But he danced from night to morning," replied my father, "and he read the idle trash, which the author should have been scourged for, at least twenty times over. It was never out of his hand."
I then hinted, that in all probability your fortune was now so easy as to dispense with your prosecuting the law any farther than you had done; and therefore you might think you had some title to amuse yourself. This was the least palatable argument of all.
"If he cannot amuse himself with the law," said my father, snappishly, "it is the worse for him. If he needs not law to teach him to make a fortune, I am sure he needs it to teach him how to keep one; and it would better become him to be learning this, than to be scouring the country like a landlouper, going he knows not where, to see he knows not what, and giving treats at Noble House to fools like himself" (an angry glance at poor me). "Noble House, indeed!" he repeated, with elevated voice and sneering tone, as if there were something offensive to him in the very name, though I will venture to say that any place in which you had been
extravagant enough to spend five shillings would have stood as deep in his reprobation.
Mindful of your idea, that my father knows more of your real situation than he thinks proper to mention, I thought I would hazard a fishing observation. "I did not see," I said, "how the Scottish law would be useful to a young gentleman whose fortune would seem to be vested in England."-I really thought my father would have beat me.
"D'ye mean to come round me, sir, per ambages, as Counsellor Pest says? What is it to you where Darsie Latimer's fortune is vested, or whether he hath any fortune, ay or no?-And what ill would the Scottish law do to him, though he had as much of it as either Stair or Bankton, sir? Is not the foundation of our municipal law the ancient code of the Roman Empire, devised at a time when it was so much renowned for its civil polity, sir, and wisdom? Go to your bed, sir, after your expedition to Noble House, and see that your lamp be burning and your book before you ere the sun peeps. Ars longa, vita brevis,—were it not a sin to call the divine science of the law by the inferior name of art."
So my lamp did burn, dear Darsie, the next morning, though the owner took the risk of a domiciliary visitation, and lay snug in bed, trusting its glimmer might, without further inquiry, be received as sufficient evidence of his vigilance. And now, upon this the third morning after your departure, things are but little better; for though the lamp burns in my den, and Voet on the Pandects hath his wisdom spread open before me, yet as I only use him as a reading-desk on which to scribble this sheet of nonsense to Darsie Latimer, it is probable the vicinity will be of little furtherance to my studies.
And now, methinks, I hear thee call me an affected hypocritical varlet, who, living under such a system of distrust and restraint as my father chooses to govern