The Heart of Mid-Lothian
Reuben and Rachel, though as fond as doves,
Were yet discreet and cautious in their loves,
Nor would attend to Cupid's wild commands,
Till cool reflection bade them join their hands;
When both were poor, they thought it argued ill
Of hasty love to make them poorer still.
Crabbe's Parish Register.
While widow Butler and widower Deans struggled with poverty, and the hard and
sterile soil of "those parts and portions" of the lands of Dumbiedikes which it was
their lot to occupy, it became gradually apparent that Deans was to gain the
strife, and his ally in the conflict was to lose it. The former was a Man, and not
much past the prime of life--Mrs. Butler a woman, and declined into the vale of
years, This, indeed, ought in time to have been balanced by the circumstance,
that Reuben was growing up to assist his grandmothers labours, and that Jeanie
Deans, as a girl, could be only supposed to add to her father's burdens. But
Douce Davie Deans know better things, and so schooled and trained the young
minion, as he called her, that from the time she could walk, upwards, she was
daily employed in some task or other, suitable to her age and capacity; a
circumstance which, added to her father's daily instructions and lectures, tended
to give her mind, even when a child, a grave, serious, firm, and reflecting cast.
An uncommonly strong and healthy temperament, free from all nervous affection
and every other irregularity, which, attacking the body in its more noble functions,
so often influences the mind, tended greatly to establish this fortitude, simplicity,
and decision of character.
On the other hand, Reuben was weak in constitution, and, though not timid in
temper might be safely pronounced anxious, doubtful, and apprehensive. He
partook of the temperament of his mother, who had died of a consumption in
early age. He was a pale, thin, feeble, sickly boy, and somewhat lame, from an
accident in early youth. He was, besides, the child of a doting grandmother,
whose too solicitous attention to him soon taught him a sort of diffidence in
himself, with a disposition to overrate his own importance, which is one of the
very worst consequences that children deduce from over-indulgence.
Still, however, the two children clung to each other's society, not more from habit
than from taste. They herded together the handful of sheep, with the two or three
cows, which their parents turned out rather to seek food than actually to feed
upon the unenclosed common of Dumbiedikes. It was there that the two urchins
might be seen seated beneath a blooming bush of whin, their little faces laid
close together under the shadow of the same plaid drawn over both their heads,
while the landscape around was embrowned by an overshadowing cloud, big