The Ayrshire Legatees (Chapter 2, page 1 of 5)


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Chapter 2

On the fourteenth day after the departure of the family from the manse,
the Rev. Mr. Charles Snodgrass, who was appointed to officiate during the
absence of the Doctor, received the following letter from his old chum,
Mr. Andrew Pringle. It would appear that the young advocate is not so
solid in the head as some of his elder brethren at the Bar; and therefore
many of his flights and observations must be taken with an allowance on
the score of his youth.

LETTER IV

Andrew Pringle, Esq., Advocate, to the Rev. Charles Snodgrass
LONDON.

MY DEAR FRIEND--We have at last reached London, after a stormy passage of
seven days. The accommodation in the smacks looks extremely inviting in
port, and in fine weather, I doubt not, is comfortable, even at sea; but
in February, and in such visitations of the powers of the air as we have
endured, a balloon must be a far better vehicle than all the vessels that
have been constructed for passengers since the time of Noah. In the
first place, the waves of the atmosphere cannot be so dangerous as those
of the ocean, being but "thin air"; and I am sure they are not so
disagreeable; then the speed of the balloon is so much greater,--and it
would puzzle Professor Leslie to demonstrate that its motions are more
unsteady; besides, who ever heard of sea-sickness in a balloon? the
consideration of which alone would, to any reasonable person actually
suffering under the pains of that calamity, be deemed more than an
equivalent for all the little fractional difference of danger between the
two modes of travelling. I shall henceforth regard it as a fine
characteristic trait of our national prudence, that, in their journies to
France and Flanders, the Scottish witches always went by air on
broom-sticks and benweeds, instead of venturing by water in sieves, like
those of England. But the English are under the influence of a maritime
genius.

When we had got as far up the Thames as Gravesend, the wind and tide came
against us, so that the vessel was obliged to anchor, and I availed
myself of the circumstance, to induce the family to disembark and go to
London by LAND; and I esteem it a fortunate circumstance that we did so,
the day, for the season, being uncommonly fine. After we had taken some
refreshment, I procured places in a stage-coach for my mother and sister,
and, with the Doctor, mounted myself on the outside. My father's
old-fashioned notions boggled a little at first to this arrangement,
which he thought somewhat derogatory to his ministerial dignity; but his
scruples were in the end overruled.

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