The Ayrshire Legatees (Chapter 4, page 1 of 12)

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Chapter 4

There was a great tea-drinking held in the Kirkgate of Irvine, at the
house of Miss Mally Glencairn; and at that assemblage of rank, beauty,
and fashion, among other delicacies of the season, several new-come-home
Clyde skippers, roaring from Greenock and Port-Glasgow, were served
up--but nothing contributed more to the entertainment of the evening than
a proposal, on the part of Miss Mally, that those present who had
received letters from the Pringles should read them for the benefit of
the company.

This was, no doubt, a preconcerted scheme between her and
Miss Isabella Tod, to hear what Mr. Andrew Pringle had said to his friend
Mr. Snodgrass, and likewise what the Doctor himself had indited to Mr.
Micklewham; some rumour having spread of the wonderful escapes and
adventures of the family in their journey and voyage to London. Had
there not been some prethought of this kind, it was not indeed probable,
that both the helper and session-clerk of Garnock could have been there
together, in a party, where it was an understood thing, that not only
Whist and Catch Honours were to be played, but even obstreperous Birky
itself, for the diversion of such of the company as were not used to
gambling games. It was in consequence of what took place at this Irvine
route, that we were originally led to think of collecting the letters.


Miss Rachel Pringle to Miss Isabella Tod

MY DEAR BELL--It was my heartfelt intention to keep a regular journal of
all our proceedings, from the sad day on which I bade a long adieu to my
native shades--and I persevered with a constancy becoming our dear and
youthful friendship, in writing down everything that I saw, either rare
or beautiful, till the hour of our departure from Leith. In that
faithful register of my feelings and reflections as a traveller, I
described our embarkation at Greenock, on board the steam-boat,--our
sailing past Port-Glasgow, an insignificant town, with a steeple;--the
stupendous rock of Dumbarton Castle, that Gibraltar of antiquity;--our
landing at Glasgow;--my astonishment at the magnificence of that opulent
metropolis of the muslin manufacturers; my brother's remark, that the
punch-bowls on the roofs of the Infirmary, the Museum, and the Trades
Hall, were emblematic of the universal estimation in which that
celebrated mixture is held by all ranks and degrees--learned, commercial,
and even medical, of the inhabitants;--our arrival at Edinburgh--my
emotion on beholding the Castle, and the visionary lake which may be
nightly seen from the windows of Princes Street, between the Old and New
Town, reflecting the lights of the lofty city beyond--with a thousand
other delightful and romantic circumstances, which render it no longer
surprising that the Edinburgh folk should be, as they think themselves,
the most accomplished people in the world. But, alas! from the moment I
placed my foot on board that cruel vessel, of which the very idea is
anguish, all thoughts were swallowed up in suffering-swallowed, did I
say? Ah, my dear Bell, it was the odious reverse--but imagination alone
can do justice to the subject. Not, however, to dwell on what is past,
during the whole time of our passage from Leith, I was unable to think,
far less to write; and, although there was a handsome young Hussar
officer also a passenger, I could not even listen to the elegant
compliments which he seemed disposed to offer by way of consolation, when
he had got the better of his own sickness. Neither love nor valour can
withstand the influence of that sea-demon. The interruption thus
occasioned to my observations made me destroy my journal, and I have now
to write to you only about London--only about London! What an expression
for this human universe, as my brother calls it, as if my weak feminine
pen were equal to the stupendous theme!

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