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Guy Mannering

Guy Mannering or The Astrologer
"At the Kaim of Derncleugh: Guy Mannering Chapter XXVII", by N. M. Price. (c. 1895)
Author Sir Walter Scott
Country United Kingdom
Language English, Lowland Scots
Series Waverley Novels
Genre Historical novel
Publisher Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, London; and Archibald Constable and Co. Edinburgh
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 3 vol.; [4], 341, [1]; [4], 346, [2]; [4], 358, [2]
Preceded by Waverley
Followed by The Antiquary

Guy Mannering or The Astrologer is a novel by Sir Walter Scott, published anonymously in 1815. According to an introduction that Scott wrote in 1829, he had originally intended to write a story of the supernatural, but changed his mind soon after starting. The book was a huge success, the first edition selling out on the first day of publication.[1]


  • Plot background 1
  • Plot summary 2
  • Characters 3
  • Adaptations 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6
    • E-texts 6.1

Plot background

Guy Mannering is set in the 1760s to 1780s, mostly in the Galloway area of southwest Scotland, but with episodes in Cumberland, Holland, and India. It tells the story of Harry Bertram, the son of the Laird of Ellangowan, who is kidnapped at the age of five by smugglers after witnessing the murder of a customs officer. It follows the fortunes and adventures of Harry and his family in subsequent years, and the struggle over the inheritance of Ellangowan. The novel also depicts the lawlessness that existed at the time, when smugglers operated along the coast and thieves frequented the country roads.

Plot summary

Guy Mannering, after leaving Oxford, is travelling alone through some of the wilder parts of Scotland. After losing his way at nightfall, he is directed to Ellangowan, the home of Mr Godfrey Bertram. The friendly but incompetent Bertram welcomes him, although his wife is in labour with their first child. As they await news, Mannering meets Dominie Sampson, a learned but socially inept tutor, and Meg Merrilies, a wild-looking, strident Gypsy woman, who has come to tell the child's fortune. The young student, however, offers to do this from the stars, and predicts that three periods of the boy's life will be very hazardous. Not wishing to concern the parents, he leaves his predictions to be opened when the child is five years old. Mannering also meets smuggler Dirk Hatteraick, who captains vessels active off the wild coast by Ellangowan.

However, before his fifth birthday is over, little Harry Bertram disappears while in the care of an excise-man, Kennedy, who is murdered by smugglers. No trace can be found of the child, though Kennedy's body is found at the foot of a cliff. In her distress, his mother goes into labour once again, and after giving birth to a daughter, she dies.

Seventeen years elapse, and Mannering, now a Colonel, returns from India and visits Scotland once again. He arrives at Ellangowan in time to be present at the death of the now destitute Godfrey Bertram. The possessions and home of Bertram and his daughter Lucy are being sold. Mannering attempts to buy the estate, but is called back to England to attend to his own daughter who is reported to have a lover, so misses the sale. The Ellangowan estate is purchased at a reduced rate by the conniving Glossin, whose unscrupulous dealings have been one of the causes of the Bertrams' downfall. The estate is sold on the condition that if the male heir is found, the estate will return to the Bertrams.

Mannering's daughter Julia has in fact been entertaining the affections of Vanbeest Brown, a young cavalry officer from her father's regiment, though she does not admit this to her father. Brown is unsure of his parentage, having been raised in Holland, and told that though born in Scotland, he was rescued at a young age from smugglers. Colonel Mannering in fact believes that he killed Brown in a duel in India, a fact which weighs heavily on his conscience. (Out of concern that Mannering will disapprove of Brown's low status, Mannering's wife had led him to believe that Brown's affectionate visits were to her, not her daughter. Mannering's wife dies before the truth of the matter is explained.)

Mannering brings his daughter with him to Scotland, and rents a house called Woodbourne, not far from Ellangowan. He invites Lucy Bertram to be a companion for his daughter, and Dominie Sampson to be his librarian.

Brown follows Julia Mannering to Scotland, taking a roundabout route to explore some of the wilder parts of his birth country. He dines at an inn called Mump's Hall, where he meets a jolly farmer, Dandie Dinmont. Here he also meets Meg Merrilies, who seems to recognise him. The proprietress of Mump's Hall sends thugs to burgle Dinmont on the road, and Brown arrives in time to help fend them off. In gratitude Dinmont invites Brown to stay at his farm with his large family (and their many terriers, all called Mustard or Pepper) for some days. While hunting with his new friend, Brown meets a gamekeeper called Gabriel, who also seems to recognise him.

Meanwhile at Woodbourne, a group of excise-men seek protection from a gang of smugglers, who outnumber them. Under the superior tactics of Mannering, the smugglers are driven off, and several of their ringleaders killed or mortally wounded.

Proceeding on his wintry journey, Brown becomes lost; following a light, he comes to a ruined hut in a ruined hamlet of Dernclough, in which Meg Merillies is tending a dying man (one of the smugglers), singing incantations to free the soul from the body. She hides Brown, saying the dead man's accomplices will kill him. Brown watches from a cramped hiding place under some straw as the thugs empty his portmanteau and dispose of all his papers, weapons and money. In the morning, Meg shows him the road and gives him her well-ladened purse, exacting at the same time a promise that he will come to her immediately whenever she calls him to do so. He continues on his way.

Writing to a friend, Julia makes great fun of the Dominie's peculiarities, and mentions Lucy's discouragement of her suitor, young Hazlewood, because she has no fortune and he is wealthy. Julia then describes with horror the sudden appearance of Brown, who intercepts them on a path through the woods. Hazelwood, nervous from the smugglers' attack, threatens Brown, who tries to disarm him; in the struggle Hazelwood is shot in the shoulder. Brown is now a wanted man and on the run, although Hazelwood acknowledges that the shooting was accidental.

The attorney Glossin, now a justice of the peace, is indefatigable in endeavouring to trace Hazelwood's attacker, in the hope of ingratiating himself to the Hazelwood family. He hears with pleasure that the gaoler McGuffog has a man in custody. However, the man is not Brown but Dirk Hatteraick, a Dutch smuggler, known well to Glossin, who has in the past been his accomplice. Hatteraick warns Glossin that Harry Bertram has been seen in Scotland. Glossin engineers Hatteraick's escape from custody, and meets him in a hidden smuggler's cave, close to where Hatteraick caused the death of Kennedy. It is revealed that Glossin was involved with the smugglers who committed the murder, and gave them the child to dispose of. Hatteraick explains that the child was adopted and educated in Holland, and that he has recently been seen by an ex-smuggler, Gabriel, in the local hills. He also reveals that it was Harry Bertram/Brown who injured Hazelwood. Glossin is determined to kill the young heir.

An elderly aunt of Lucy Bertram's dies in Edinburgh, generating hope that her fortune may have been left to Lucy. Mannering, accompanied by the Dominie, travels to Edinburgh to place the matter in the advocate Mr Pleydell's hands. He strikes up a lively friendship with Pleydell, but they find that the old lady has left her estate to the heir of Ellangowan, when he is found. They learn from a serving-maid that Meg Merrilies planted the idea that Harry Bertram is alive in the old lady's head. Dandie Dinmont is also there, and his robust honesty earns Mannering's respect, despite the class divide.

Harry retreats to Cumberland, and writes to his regiment for replacement papers. He also manages to correspond with Julia, whose letter draws him back to Scotland. He is landed at Ellangowan, and he explores the ruined castle beside the modern estate, finding it strangely familiar. There he encounters Glossin, who promptly has him arrested for shooting Hazlewood, and lodges him in the dismal bridewell (small prison) adjoining the custom-house at Portanferry. Here he is visited, unexpectedly, by Dinmont, who has heard from Gabriel of his being in danger. Dinmont manages to convince McGuffog to allow him to stay the night in Harry's cell. (Harry at this stage still believes himself to be Vanbeest Brown.)

Meanwhile the Colonel has returned from Edinburgh. Meg Merrilies intercepts the Dominie on a ramble, and sends an urgent note by him to Mannering. She also stops young Hazlewood, and tells him to cause the soldiers who have been withdrawn from Portanferry to be sent back there instantly. Glossin has "warned" Hazelwood's father of an attack on his estate, in order that Portanferry is left unguarded, so that Glossin's men can attack and kill Harry Bertram. During the night the custom-house is fired by a gang of ruffians; strangely, however, Bertram and Dinmont are assisted to escape, and led to a carriage. It later emerges that Gypsy relatives of Meg and Gabriel have infiltrated the party.

On the same evening Counsellor Pleydell arrives to visit his new friend Mannering, and Mannering admits that he has sent a carriage to Portanferry on the strength of a note from the old Gypsy woman. They wait impatiently for the arrival of the carriage, unsure whom it will carry. Just as they have given up, the carriage arrives. Mannering is shocked to see Brown, alive; Julia, too, is shocked by her lover's arrival; Lucy is terrified to see the ruffian who injured her lover, Hazelwood, on the road; Sampson thinks he has seen the ghost of Old Bertram. Once things have been explained, Harry Bertram, now acknowledged as the heir of Ellangowan, is tearfully welcomed. Sampson hugs his "little Harry" with delight, and Mannering, his conscience cleared, welcomes the young man. Lucy embraces her long-lost brother, and Julia confesses her love to her father.

However, a legal right to Ellangowan has not been established, and Mannering and Pleydell must organise bail. Meanwhile Bertram and the two young ladies are walking when Meg Merrilies meets them and demands that Harry come with her. He agrees, and Meg is pleased that Dinmont can accompany him as protector. The women then meet Hazelwood, and send him to follow on horseback. Meg leads the way to the Dernclough hut and arms them, then takes them to the smugglers' cave. Here the three men overcome Hatteraick, but Meg is mortally wounded in the struggle. Hatteraick is imprisoned, and crowds gather at Dernclough, where Meg is dying. They welcome the heir of Ellangowan with delight. Meg's dying revelations, along with testimony from Gabriel, furnish sufficient evidence to arrest Glossin also.

In prison, Glossin bribes McGuffog to obtain access to the smuggler's cell in order to concoct a defence. In fury, Hatteraick kills Glossin, then hangs himself.

Having recovered the property of his ancestors, Harry Bertram is able to discharge all his father's debts. With the help of Julia's dowry, he builds a new mansion, which includes a snug chamber called "Mr Sampson's apartment," and a separate bungalow for Colonel Mannering. Harry's late aunt's estate has also reverted to him, but he resigns it to his sister on her marriage to Hazelwood.


First edition title page.
  • Mr Guy Mannering, afterwards a colonel in the Indian army
  • Mrs Mannering, his wife
  • Julia Mannering, their daughter
  • Lieutenant Archer, a favourite of Mrs Mannering
  • Mr Godfrey Bertram, of Ellangowan
  • Margaret Bertram, his sister
  • Harry Bertram, his son, alias Vanbeest Brown
  • Lucy Bertram, his daughter
  • Mr Charles Hazlewood, her lover
  • Dominie Sampson, a village schoolmaster, and afterwards Harry's tutor
  • Meg Merrilies, a gipsy
  • Gilbert Glossin, an attorney
  • Scrow, his clerk
  • Dirk Hatteraick, a Dutch smuggler
  • Mr Frank Kennedy, a supervisor of Excise
  • Mr MacMorlan, Sheriff-Substitute of Dumfries
  • Mrs MacMorlan, his wife
  • Mr and Mrs Mervyn, friends of Colonel Mannering
  • Dandie Dinmont, a farmer
  • Mrs MacCandlish, hostess of "The Golden Arms" at Kippletringan
  • Deacon Bearscliff, a villager
  • Brown, a smuggler
  • Tib Mumps, mistress of a public-house
  • MacGuffog, a constable
  • Tod Gabriel, a fox-hunter
  • Mr Paulus Pleydell, an advocate from Edinburgh

The title character, Guy Mannering, is a relatively minor character in the story, a friend of the family who uses his knowledge of astrology to predict Henry's future on the day of his birth.

The old gypsy woman Meg Merrilies, is evicted from the Bertram lands early in the novel. In spite of this she remains loyal to the Bertram family, and much of the plot is dependent on her actions. She was based on an 18th-century gypsy named Jean Gordon.[2]

A Dandie Dinmont Terrier; the breed's name derives from one of the characters in Guy Mannering who keeps such dogs

Dandie Dinmont is a rough but friendly farmer from the Liddesdale hills, who owns a number of terriers—the Dandie Dinmont Terrier is named after him.[3]

Dominie Sampson, according to Nuttall, was "a poor, modest, humble scholar, who had won his way through the classics, but fallen to the leeward in the voyage of life". "Dominie" is the Lowland Scots term for a school master.

Tib Mumps was the disreputable landlady of the inn where an important meeting takes place between Meg Merrilies and Bertram. The inn was later revealed by Scott to be based upon Mumps Hall in Gilsland.


Daniel Terry, an English playwright and friend of Scott, wrote an adaptation of the work for the stage for which Henry Bishop provided the music. The musical play was premiered at the Covent Garden Theatre in London on March 12, 1816,[4] with Sarah Egerton in the role of Meg Merrilies.[5]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ "Jean Gordon". Scottish Gypsies. Retrieved 18 June 2010. 
  3. ^ "Dandie Dinmont Terrier Page". American Kennel Club. Retrieved 19 May 2014. 
  4. ^ The Waverley Dramas: a series of the original plays; founded on the novels of Sir Walter Scott; edited, with introduction, original casts of characters, &c. xvi,62,48,49,55,56,50,49,47p Glasgow: Alison & Ross, 1872; p. v.
  5. ^  

External links

  • Dandie Dinmont terrier history, and connection with the book
  • Guy Manneringpage on


  • Project Gutenberg
  • Electric Scotland
  • Arthur's Classic Novels

This article incorporates text from the revised 1898 edition of Henry Grey's A Key to the Waverley Novels (1880), now in the public domain.

This article incorporates text from a publication now in the  

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