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Memoirs of a Highland Lady
Chapter II. 1803-1804


IT was in July or August then in 1803 we crossed the Spey in the big boat at Inverdruie in a perfect fever of happiness. Every mountain, every hill, every bank, fence, path, tree, cottage was known to me, every face we met revealed a friend, and our acquaintance was by no means limited, for the "wide plain of the fir trees," which lies in the bosom of the Grampians, cut off by the rapid Spey from every neighbour, has its beautiful variety of mountain scenery, its heights, its dells, and glens, its lakes and plains and haughs, and it had then its miles and miles of dark pine forest through which were little clearings by the side of rapid burnies, and here and there a sawmill. We were expected, so from the boathouse to the Doune it was one long gathering, all our people flocking to meet us and to shout the "welcome home"; the only time that I remember so great an assemblage to meet us on our arrival, the custom becoming obsolete, warm and hearty as it was. William and I knew every one, remembered everything. Our dear Betty waited for us at the house anxiously; she had married the grieve, John Campbell, and was now a great lady in her high cap and shawl, and she had a baby to show us, a little daughter, the only child she ever had, called after me, to whom I was bringing a real silver coral with more than the usual complement of bells. Betty had been left in charge of the house, and beautifully clean she delivered it. We thought the floors so white, the polish so bright, the beds so snowy, all so light, so airy, our nursery so enchanting with Its row of little plain deal stool s—creepies— and our own dear low table, round which we could ourselves place them. We were certainly easily pleased with anything Highland, for a less luxurious abode than the charmingly situated Doune at that date could hardly have been the residence of a lady and gentleman.

It took its name from a long low hill in the form of a boat with its keel upwards, at the end of which it had been rather ill-advisedly built, and which had been fortified in the ruder days when the dwelling of our ancestors had been upon the top of it. I never saw the vestige of a ruin there, but the moat is perfect, and two or three steep terraces along the side. When improving times permitted our ancestors to descend from their Doune, a formal Scotch house was built at the foot of it, with a wide door in the centre, over which were emblazoned the arms in a shield, and as many narrow windows were stuck in rows over the wall as were required to light the rooms within. A kitchen built of black turf was patched on to one end; it had an open chimney and bare rafters overhead. A green duck- pond and such offices as were at the period necessary were popped down anywhere in front and all round, wherever and whenever they were wanted. There were a barn, a smithy, and a carpenter's shop and poultry-houses, all in full view from the principal rooms, as was the duck-pond. A perfect network of sluggish streams, backwater from the Spey, crept round a little knot of wooded islands close at hand, and a garden lay at the foot of the hill. My uncle Rothie had not latterly lived here; he had married a very delicate woman, a daughter of Mr Grant of Elchies, commonly known as a Lord of Session by his legal title of Lord Elchies. She had persuaded him that the situation of this old family mansion was unhealthy, which, considering all the wood and water on this side of the Spey, and the swamp of the boyack on the other, was probably a correct opinion. He had therefore built at Inverdruie, to please her, a modern mansion very like a crab with four extended claws, for there was a dumpy centre to live in, with four low wings, one at each corner, for offices; and this was set down on a bare heath, with a small walled garden behind and a pump standing all alone a little way off in front. Here with them my father had spent his boyhood, always, however, preferring the Doune, which had been, when deserted, let to various half-uncles and second cousins, retired half-pay captains and lieutenants, who all, after their wandering youth, returned to farm out their old age in the Highlands. A few years before his death my grandfather, the Doctor, had taken possession of it, and anticipating a much longer tenure, undertook many improvements. To the end of the old house opposite the black kitchen he stuck an outrigger of an overwhelming size, containing a cellar to which the descent was by stone steps outside, a large dining-room on the ground-floor, and a couple of good bedrooms above reached by a turning-stair; as an additional object from the windows he erected a high stable, where as long as it stood my brother William spent his leisure, and he increased the old garden, laid it out anew, and stocked it from Hertfordshire. The entrance to this paradise of our childhood was by a white gate between two cherry trees—such cherry trees —large white heart, still standing there to prove my taste, and by no means dwarfish, even beside the fine row of lime trees that extended on either side. The old house had a few low rooms on the ground-floor with many dark closets; the principal apartment was on the first floor, and reached by a wide and easy stair; the family bedroom was on the one hand, a large hail on the other for the reception of guests, and the state bedroom through it. Up in the attics, beneath the steep grey roof, were little rooms again. This was the Highland home to which my mother had been brought a bride.

I imagine that the furniture had been very much suited to the style of the house; there was some plate, some fine old china and glass, and a few valuables of little use but as curiosities. The state bed and bedroom were curtained with rich green silk damask heavily fringed, and the japanned toilet-table—in which was my drawer of shells—with a mirror to match, and numberless boxes, trays, and baskets of japanned ware belonged to this chamber; the other rooms were, I fancy, rather bare. There was, however, never any lack of living furniture. My mother found established there my great-uncle Sandy with his English wife, her sister, and all their carpet work, two of the five sons, an old Donald—a faithful servant of my grandfather's, who had been pensioned for his merits—an old Christy, who had gone from Strathspey to wait on my father and my aunt Lissy, and their bonne good Mrs Sophy Williams. She had her pension and her attic, and so had Mr Dallas, one of the line of tutors, when he chose to come to it. Then there were college friends, bachelor cousins, and it was the fashion of the country for any of the nearer neighbours, when they came in their full dress to pay their occasional morning visits, to expect to be pressed to remain the day, often the night, as the distances are considerable in that thinly-peopled district. My father and mother never wanted for company, and the house was as full of servants as an Indian or an Irish one, strange, ignorant creatures, running about in each other's way, wondering at the fine English maids who could make so little of them. Amongst the rest was a piper, who, for fear of spoiling the delicacy of the touch of his fingers, declined any work unconnected with whisky, which with plenty of oat-bread and cheese was given to all-corners all day long.

Most of the farms were occupied by relations, Colonel William Grant was at the Croft, Captain Lewis at Inverdruie. These were my father's great-uncles. Lieutenant Cameron, a cousin, came to Kinapol from Kinrara as soon as a former tenant left it. Up in Badenoch and down in Strathspey there were endless humble connections most attentive in observing the visiting customs of the country. Relations at a greater distance were not wanting,—Cummings in Morayshire, Mackenzies in Ross-shire, Grants in Urquhart, etc. Of great neighbours there were few. Highland properties are so extensive that there can be neither walks nor rides in general to the homes of equals. Each proprietor holds, or held, perhaps I should say, his own little court in his own domains. When he paid a brother laird a visit it was in a stately manner befitting the rareness of the event, and the number of miles he had to travel. Our great house then was Castle Grant, the residence of our Chief. It was about twenty miles off down Speyside. My father and mother were much there when they first married, my aunts Mary and Lissy delighting in the gaiety of a scene so new to them. Generally about fifty people sat down to dinner there in the great hall in the shooting season, of all ranks. There was not exactly a "below the salt" division so marked at the table, but the company at the lower end was of a very different description from those at the top, and treated accordingly with whisky punch instead of wine. Neither was there a distinct" yellow drawing-room" party, though a large portion of the guests seldom obtruded themselves on the more refined section of the company unless on a dancing evening, when all again united in the cleared hail. Sir James Grant was hospitable in the feudal style; his house was open to all; to each and all he bade a hearty welcome, and he was glad to see his table filled, and scrupulous to pay fit attention to every individual present; but in spite of much cordiality of manner it was all somewhat in the king style, the Chief condescending to the Clan, above the best of whom he considered himself extremely. It was a rough royalty too, plenty, but rude plenty, a footman in the gorgeous green and scarlet livery behind every chair, but they were mere gillies, lads quite untutored, Sons of small tenants brought in for the occasion, the autumn gathering, and fitted into the suit that they best filled. Lady Grant was quiet and ladylike, Miss Grant a favourite, the rest of the family of less account. This was my mother's account to roe years afterwards, when all connection between us and the head of our house had unhappily ceased.

A permanent member of our family at this time I must not forget, for I bore her great affection. She was indeed very kind to us, and very careful of us the few years she remained in the household. She was a natural daughter of my grandfather's, born long after his wife's death, and had been brought up by his sister the Lady Logie. When this great-aunt of mine died, "Miss Jenny" removed as matter of course to the family asylum, as I may call my father's house. She was entrusted with the store-room keys, and was employed as a general superintendent of the family business till she married, which event, luckily for her, poor thing, was not very long delayed. A Forres beau, a Mr Arthur Cooper, learned in the law, became her husband, and so relieved my mother of one of her burdens. It was indeed a strange mixture of ranks and positions and interests, of which my mother was the head. I do not imagine that it was always harmony among them. My parents were both too young, too inexperienced, to be very patient with such a heterogeneous assemblage. It might do very well in the bright summer weather when an out-door life in the pure air occupied all the day and produced a glow of spirits for all the night, but there were wintry weeks in this gay sphere of theirs, clouds and storms and chills, when annoyances gloomed into grievances, and worry brought on ill-humour. In those days, unluckily, education had not extended to the temper. My mother's family cares were principally confined to such as she could reach with her needle, in the use of which she was very dexterous. As for the rest, after the dinner was ordered and the windows opened, matters were left very much to the direction of the chances.

My father was a much more active person, very despotic when called on to decide, yet much beloved. An eye everywhere, nursery, kitchen, farm, garden, tenantry, but not a steady eye, no prevention in it, fitful glances seeing sometimes too much, and very summary in the punishment of detected offences. He was occupied principally at this time with his mason and carpenter, as he was making great changes in and about the Doune. These changes, indeed, employed him most of his life, for he so frequently altered in the present year what had been executed the year before, that neither he nor his allies, Donald Maclean and the Colleys, were ever out of work. The changes effected up to this period, the autumn of 1803, when we reached our beloved Highland home from Scarborough and Houghton, were of some importance. My grandfather's outrigger had been heightened and lengthened, and carried back beyond the old house, the windows in it had all been changed and enlarged, and ornamented with cut granite; in fact, a handsome modern wing appeared in place of an ill-contrived ugly appendage. It was intended at no very distant time to have matched it with another, and to have connected the two by a handsome portico, all in front of the old house, which would have been entirely concealed, and being single, was to have had all its windows turned to the back, looking on a neat square of offices, some of which were now in progress. My grandfather's new dining- room was thus made into a pleasant drawing-room, his turning-stair was replaced by an easier one in a hall which divided the drawing-room from a new dining- room, and in which was the door of entrance to this modern part of the house. Above were the spare bedrooms and dressing-rooms, and over them two large attics, barrack-rooms, one for the maids, the other for visiting maidens, young ladies who in this primitive age were quite in the habit of being thus huddled up in company. In the old part of the house my father's study, the ancient reception hall, had been cut short by a window to give him a dressing-room, and the black kitchen outside had vanished, much to the satisfaction of my mother and Mrs Lynch, who declared no decent dinner could by possibility be cooked in it. it was indeed a rude apology for a set of kitchen offices. A mouse one day fell into the soup from the rafters, a sample of a hundred such accidents.

To make room for the new range of servants' rooms, part of the end of the hill had to be cut away, spoiling entirely the boat shape of our Doune. The soil thus removed was thrown into the nearest channel of the backwater, it being my father's intention to fill these up by degrees; an improvement to which William and I were decidedly opposed, for on the broom island, the largest of the group amidst this maze of waters, our very merriest hours were spent. A couple of wide, well-worn planks formed the bridge by which we crossed to our Elysian field; two large alder trees grew close to the opposite end of this charming bridge, making the shallow water underneath look as dark and dangerous as "Annan Water" did to Annie's lover; an additional delight to us. Between the two large alders hung in gipsy fashion the large cauldron used for the washing; a rude open shed, just sufficient to protect the officiating damsels from the weather; tubs, cogues, lippies, a watering-pot and a beetle—a bit of wood, bottle-shaped, with which the clothes were thumped, Indian and French fashion—lay all about among the yellow broom under the alders and hazels on this happy island, the scene of as much mirth and as much fun as ever lightened heavy labour, for be it remembered the high stable was in very close neighbourhood! William and I were never-failing parts of the merry group, for our time was pretty much at our own disposal, Jane joining us only occasionally. We two elder ones were of an age to say our lessons every day to my mother, and we always faithfully learned our twelve words— that is, I did—out of a red-marble-covered book filled with columns of words in large, black print; but my mother was not often able to hear us; sometimes she was ill, and sometimes she was busy, and sometimes she was from home, and sometimes she had company at home, and our lessons had oftentirne to be got pretty perfect before we were called upon to say them. But we had plenty of story books to read on rainy days, and we had pleasure in reading to ourselves, for even Jane at three years old could read her "Cobwebs to catch Flies." I was fond, too, of dressing my doll by the side of Mrs Lynch, and of learning to write from Mackenzie. On fine days we were always out, either by ourselves or with a son of the old gardener, George Ross, to attend us. There was also a Highland nursery maid and Mrs Acres, the baby's nurse, superintending. Amongst them they did not take very good care of us, for William was found one sunny morning very near the Spey, sailing away in a washing tub, paddling along the backwater with a crooked stick in his hand for an oar, and his pocket-handkerchief knotted on to another he had stuck between his knees for a flag. A summer- set into the rapid river, had he reached it, would have made an end of him, but for my voice of rapturous delight from the bank where I stood clapping my hands at his progress, which directed some one to our doings, and thus saved the young laird from his perilous situation.

So passed our summer days; we grew strong and healthy, and we were very happy, revelling among the blackberries on the Doune till we were tattooed, frocks and all, like American Indians; in the garden, stung into objects by the mosquitoes in the fruit bushes; in our dear broom island, or farther off sometimes in the forest, gathering cranberries and lying half asleep upon the fragrant heather, listening to tales of the fairy guardians of all the beautiful scenery around us. I was a tall, pale, slight, fair child to look at, but I seldom ailed anything. William, fat and rosy and sturdy, was the picture of a robust boy. Jane was the beauty, small and well formed, with a healthy colour and her Ironside eyes. She was the flower of the little flock, for Mary was a mere large, white baby, very inanimate, nor anyway engaging to any one but my mother, who always made the youngest her favourite.

In winter we returned to Lincoln's Inn Fields, and then began our sorrows. Two short walks in the Square every day, sauntering behind a new nurse, Mrs Millar, who had come to wean the baby; an illness of my mother's, whose room being just beneath our nursery, prevented all the noisy plays we loved; and next, a governess, a young timid girl, a Miss Gardiner, quite new to her business, who was always in a fright lest neither we nor herself were doing right, and whom we soon tyrannised over properly; for my father and mother and my aunts went to Bath to meet Mr and Mrs Leitch, and we were left with this poor Miss Gardiner, who from the beginning had always lived up in the schoolroom with us, and never entered the drawing-room unless invited. How well I remember the morning after her arrival. She had charge of William, Jane, and me. We were all brought in by Mrs Millar and seated together upon a low sofa without a back which had been made for us. Our schoolroom was the large front nursery, curtained anew and carpeted. There were besides the sofa, four chairs, two tables, one in the middle of the room, one against the wall; a high fender, of course, two hanging bookcases, six framed maps, one on Mercator's projection, which we never could understand; a crib in which William slept—I slept in my mother's dressing-room, Jane in the nursery—and between the two windows a large office desk, opening on each side, with two high stools belonging to it. To increase the enjoyment of this prospect, into my hands was put the large edition of Lindley Murray's grammar, William was presented with "Geography by a Lady for the use of her own Children," not one word of which he was capable of reading, and Jane—who had fine easy times of it in our eyes, though I question whether at three years of age she thought so—had a spelling-book given to her. Such was the commencement to us of the year 1804. We were soon as thoroughly miserable as from this method of instruction our anxious parents could expect. The lessons were hard enough and numerous enough, considering the mere infants who had to learn them, but for my part, though I would rather not have had them, they were very little in my way, although the notes of the whole music gamut were included, with the names of all the keys and the various times, etc., all at a blow, as it were. It was never any trouble to me to have to get whole pages off by rote; I was not asked to take the further trouble of thinking about them. No explanations were either asked or given, so that the brain was by no means over-excited, and the writing and cyphering and pianoforte lesson which followed the drier studies of the morning pleased me exceedingly. Hook's easy lessons were soon heard in great style, played by ear after the first painful reading, without any one but the performer being the wiser. But what we wanted was our fun, flying from crib to crib on awakening in the morning, dancing in our night-clothes, all about the room, making horses of the overturned chairs, and acting plays dressed up in old trumpery. We had only sedate amusements now. How delighted I was to escape sometimes to my aunts, from one of whom, aunt Mary, I heard stories, now real, now fabulous, always containing some moral, however, which I had wit enough to apply silently, as occasion offered. By my aunt Lissy I was diverted and instructed through the contents of the big box full of every sort of object likely to interest a child.

Poor Miss Gardiner! She was neither reasoning nor reasonable, too young for her situation, without sufficient mind, or heart, or experience for it, a mere school-girl, which at that time meant a zero; her system of restraint became intolerable, when from the absence of the heads of the family we had no relief from it. Still a certain awe of a person placed in authority over us had prevented our annoying her otherwise than by our petulance, till one day that she desired us to remain very quiet while she wrote a letter, rather a serious business with her; it was to my mother to give an account of our health and behaviour. She took a small packet of very small pens from a box near her, and a sheet of very shiny paper, and after some moments of reflection she began. I observed her accurately. "What do you call those pretty little pens?" said I. "Crow quills, my dear," said she, for she was very kind in her manner to us. "William," said I in a low aside, "I don't think we need mind her any more, nor learn any more lessons, for she can't really teach us. She is a fool, I shan't mind her any more." "Very well," said William, "nor I, nor I shan't learn my lessons." He never yet had learned one, for a more thorough dunce in his childish days than this very clever brother of mine never performed the part of booby in a village school, but it was very disagreeable to him to have to try to sit quiet behind a book for half an hour two or three times a day, poor child! He was but five years old, and he was of course satisfied with any suggestion that would release him.

Some weeks before, my mother had received a note in my father's absence, which appeared greatly to irritate her. The contents I did not know, but on my father's return she imparted them to him with some lively comments to the disparagement of the writer. "I always knew she was a fool," cried she, for she spoke strongly when excited; "but I did not expect such an extreme proof of her folly." "My dear," said my father, in his quietest and calmest manner," what did you expect from a woman who writes on satin paper with a crow quill!" In my corner with my doll and pictures I saw and heard a great deal that passed. Miss Gardiner fell her proud height on the day she wrote her letter, and she never regained a shadow of authority over us, for I led all, even good little Jane. Like Sir Robert Peel, Louis XIV., and other dictators, je fus l'état moi, and respect for our poor governess had vanished. The next time the crow quills and satin paper occupied her, William and I, provided with the necessary strings got ready beforehand, tied her by her dress and her feet to the legs of the chair and table, so that as she rose from her engrossing composition the crash that ensued was astounding, the fright and even pain not small. She was extremely agitated, almost angry, but so gentle in her expostulations that, like Irish servants, we were encouraged to continue a system of annoyance that must have made her very uncomfortable. We behaved very ill, there is no doubt of it, and she had not any way of putting a stop to our impertinence. When Mrs Millar found out these proceedings and remonstrated, I told her it was of little consequence how we acted, as I knew my papa would send her away when he came home; which he did. She was not supposed to be equal to the situation, and her father came to take her home. The state of anarchy the schoolroom exhibited was perhaps as much against her as the finely penned account of it but I have since thought that her beauty and my uncle Edward's undisguised admiration of it had as much to do with her departure as the crow quills. We heard a few years afterwards that she had married happily, and had a fine set of children of her own who would be all the better managed for the apprenticeship she had served with us.

Uncle Edward was now studying at Woolwich, expecting to proceed to India as a cadet. Fortunately old Charles Grant was able to change his appointment and give him a writership, so he came to us to prepare his equipment. Being quite a boy, full of spirits and not the least studious, he romped with his little nephew and nieces to our hearts' content, particularly after the departure of the governess, when William and I resumed our spellings with my mother, and Jane roamed "fancy free." Lindley Murray and Geography by a Lady retired from our world, but a Mr Thompson who was teaching uncle Edward mathematics was engaged to continue our lessons in writing and cyphering. I had a turn for drawing, too, as was found by the alterations I made one rainy day in my young uncle's designs. He had been studying fortifications; his plans were said to be very neatly executed, but they were not finished to please me. I therefore extended the patches of colour laid on here and there, round the whole works, filled up vacant spaces, etc., and I wonder now when I know all the mischief I did how my good-natured uncle could ever have forgiven me, for he had been much flattered on his skill as a draughtsman. He blamed himself for having left his plans within my reach, and for having given me leave to amuse myself with his paint-box. He got into a great scrape himself this spring. He slept in my mother's dressing-room, I being removed to Miss Gardiner's room. The shower-bath stood there, although my mother had given up the use of it, and it was supposed to be empty. We were all in this room at play with our uncle, and I suppose teasing him, for he suddenly caught up Jane, the most riotous of the set, and popped her into the shower-bath, threatening a ducking, and touching, to prove his sincerity, the string; down came the whole bucketful of water on the poor child's head! Both the man and the baby were frightened near to death. He actually waited till the deluge was over before his presence of mind returned, and then the piteous object he rescued, stunned almost and dripping! At last she spoke. "Oh my soos, my red soos!" it was a new pair put on that morning. I suppose no words ever gave more relief to an anxious listener. The hubbub brought my mother, who, in the impartial manner customary in nursery dealings at that time, scolded us all heartily. We three departed in tears to have "that naughty little girl" dried, leaving uncle Edward looking very sheepish.

My three maiden aunts were with us at this time, and uncle Ralph came for a short visit, then Mr and Mrs Leitch, all to take leave of poor uncle Edward, whom we observed begin to look very grave. He went often out in the carriage with my father, sometimes they remained away a long time, once, all day; and trunks came, and parcels to fill them, and Mrs Lynch was marking stockings, changing buttons, and sewing on strings for ever. She made also a long, large chintz housewife full of pockets, with a thread-case, and a curiously nicked leaf of scarlet flannel filled with needles; it was her modest offering to Mr Edward, who truly promised to keep it for her sake, for he showed it to me more than twenty years afterwards at his house at Camballa in Bombay.

At length came a sad day; all the eyes in the house were red; on meeting, every one talked with assumed cheerfulness on indifferent subjects, to which no one seemed really to attend. A sort of nervousness spread from old to young; we children felt afraid of what was coming, and as the hours wore away the gloom spread. We were all in the dining-room when Mackenzie opened the door; uncle Edward rose and kissed each child; Mary was his darling, he doted on her with a love that never left him. "When shall I see you again, little woman?" said he as he sat her down out of his arms;— little any one there thought then where the next meeting would be, and when—his heart was too full for another word; he folded my mother silently to his breast and followed my father out, while she fell back in a passion of tears very rare in a woman of her calm, reserved nature. I watched through the blind and saw them turn the corner of Sir Griffin Wilson's garden wall next door to us, my father leaning on my uncle's arm, and my uncle with his hat slouched over his brows and his head held down. It was my first idea of grief; I had never lost anybody I had loved, and it was long ere even my gay spirits recovered from the first scene of distress I had noticed.

One of my employments at this time was to hold the skeins of cotton thread which my mother wound off neatly on two square pieces of card placed one over the other, so as to form eight corners between which the thread was secured. This cotton thread was a great invention, a wonderful improvement on the flax thread in previous use, which it was difficult to get of sufficient fineness for some works, and hardly possible to find evenly spun. When one thinks of the machine-spinning of these days, the cotton and flax threads like the fibres of spider's webs which we produce in tons weight now, we may indeed wonder at the difficulties in needlework overcome by our mothers.

Evenings at Home, Sandford and Merton, and a short Roman history in which very little mention was made of Tullia, were added to our library. In imitation of aunt Mary I began to take upon myself to tell fairy tales to "the little ones," sometimes relating, sometimes embellishing, sometimes inventing, choosing historical heroes to place in situations of my own imagining, turning all occurrences into romance. We acted too occasionally, or played at ladies and gentlemen, copying the style of my mother's various visitors, supporting these characters for days together at our play-hours. We began to feel great interest in Shakespeare's plays, several of which we were taken to see, my father talking them over with us afterwards. I remember thinking they were all extemporised by the players as they proceeded in their parts, as we did ourselves in our own dramas, and wondering whether we should ever, any of us, attain to the dignified declamation of John Kemble.

This spring of 1804 aunt Mary had a long, serious illness; she was so weakened by it that country air was recommended, so she and aunt Fanny took lodgings at Richmond, and I was sent with them. We lived in the house of a widow who had a parrot which talked to me just as much as I wished, and a maid who was pleased to have my company on all her errands. I recollect perfectly, delighting in the view of the river with so many pretty boats on it and gardens down to its edge.

Mrs Bonner, our landlady, allowed me also to help her to make my aunts' puddings, the family preserves, pickles, etc., an honour I was extremely proud of. She lent me an old tea-caddy to put my work in; the sugar-bowl and canister had been broken, so the empty compartments exactly suited the patches I was engaged on, and made me as perfectly happy as if it had been the handsomest in the land. I was so improved by this visit to Richmond, that as my aunts determined on remaining there during the summer, my father resolved to leave his two youngest children near them under the care of Nurse Millar, in whom they had full confidence. Lodgings were taken for them not far from Mrs Bonner, where they were to sleep and be sent whenever my aunts were tired of them in the day. William and I were to accompany our parents to the Doune.

I can't remember where aunt Lissy was all this time. I often recollect her with us, and then I miss her for long whiles. Though my father's house was nominally her home she was perfectly independent, being now of age, and inheriting all that would have been her mother's property by the will of her grandfather Raper. She had Twyford House, near Thorley Hall, in Hertfordshire, and a considerable sum of money from the savings during her minority. I have always heard her income called about £800 a year. She was not pretty, short, thick-set, plain features, with an agreeable expression and clear skin, and quiet manners. She was possessed of a good understanding, her temper was charming, yet she and my mother never got on well together. She had odd, quaint old-maidish ways adopted from old Raper relations, with whom she lived very much. She had also continued an acquaintance with school friends, the results of which appeared again. She certainly did not go with us this year to the Highlands.

We set off some time in July, my father and mother, William and I, Mrs Lynch and Mackenzie, in a new carriage—a sociable—with a cane body, a roof on four supports hung round with leather curtains, which we were continually letting down or tying up according to the weather, which we never managed to arrange in time for either wet or dry, and which, in spite of hooks and buttons let in the rain when the showers were heavy. A superior description of horses replaced the Smiler and Blackbird of former years, and the four bloods which formed the present team—two bays and two greys, cross-cornered—were driven by the smart coachman, William Millar, from the box. These horses for beauty were each a picture; they had cost proportionate sums, and they did their work, as the coachman said, "like jewels," never giving in nor shirking when once started—but to make the start was the difficulty. Mr Coxe, named after his last master, and the most sedate of the set, merely indulged in a few plunges; but Highfiier, the other bay, regularly lay down, and it took all the hostlers and half the post-boys at every inn, with plentiful applications of William Millar's long whip, to bring him to his feet again. He was cured of this trick afterwards by having lighted straw put under him. The two greys were merely awkward. Such a crowd as used to gather round us! To add to the tumult, my mother, the most nervous woman in the world, kept screaming at the top of her voice all the time, standing up in the carriage and entreating all the collected mob to have pity on her and open the door. This scene continued during the journey, till we got quite accustomed to what had at first frightened William and me. We were pleased with the queer new carriage, glad to see our landlady acquaintance, the boats at Boroughbridge, and other recollected objects; but we were not happy. We missed our little sisters, we talked over and over again when we were put to bed at night of all the tears shed on both sides at parting, particularly by poor Jane, who was a most affectionate little creature. William was long before he became reconciled to the want of his favourite companion, and I regretted equally dear Mary, my live doll. It was not till we reached the Doune that we at all got over this painful separation. We were a less time than usual upon the road, as we did not go to Houghton, and were but a short time in Edinburgh.

On this journey I first remember old Neil Gow being sent for to play to us at the inn at Inver—not Dunkeld—that little village we passed through, and went on to the ferry at Inver, which we crossed the following morning in a large boat. It was a beautiful ferry, the stream full and deep and dark, the banks overhung by fine timber trees, a glimpse of a newly- planted conical hill up the stream, only thick wooding the other way. I don't know whether this did not make more impression upon me than Neil Gow's delightful violin, though it had so over-excited me the night before that my father had had to take me a little walk by the river-side in the moonlight before I was rational enough to be left to sleep. We were odd children, "full of nonsense," my mother said. Left to her, a good scold and a slap would have apparently quieted her little daughter, though a sleepless night would have left her but a poor object for the morrow. My father understood my temperament better. As for William, he took all in an easy Ironside way, remarking nothing but the peat reek, which neither he nor I had noticed before.

We passed a very happy season at the Doune. We did no lessons; we had a Jock Mackenzie to play with us in the stead of George Ross, who had been made a groom of We rode on the old grey pony; we paid quantities of visits to our friends all through Rothiemurchus, and we often had a brace of muir-fowl for our dinner, each carving our bird. A dancing-master taught us every variety of wonderful Highland step— that is, he taught me, for William never could learn anything, though he liked hopping about to the fiddle— and we did "Merrily dance the quaker's wife" together, quite to the satisfaction of the servants who all took lessons too, in common with the rest of the population, the Highlanders considering this art an essential in the education of all classes, and never losing an opportunity of acquiring a few more flings and shuffles. The dancing-master had, however, other most distinguished pupils, the present Duke of Manchester and his elder sister, Lady Jane Montague, who were then living in our close neighbourhood with their grandmother, the Duchess of Gordon.

This beautiful and very cultivated woman had never, I fancy, lived happily with her duke. His habits and her temper not suiting, they had found it a wise plan to separate, and she had for the last few years spent her summers at a little farm on the Badenoch property, a couple of miles higher up the Spey than our Doune, and on the opposite side of the water. She inhabited the real old farmhouse of Kinrara, the same our good cousin Cameron had lived in, and where I have heard my mother say that the Duchess was happier and more agreeable, and the society she gathered round her far pleasanter, than it ever was afterwards in the new cottage villa she built about a mile nearer to us. It was a sort of backwoods life, charming to young people amid such scenery, a dramatic emancipation from the forms of society that for a little while every season was delightful, particularly as there was no real roughing in it. In the "but" and the "ben," constituting the small farm cabin it was, she and her daughter Lady Georgina dwelt. By the help of white calico, a little whitewash, a little paint, and plenty of flowers they made their apartment quite pretty. What had been kitchen at one end of the house was elevated by various contrivances into a sitting-room; a barn was fitted up into a barrack for ladies, a stable for gentlemen; a kitchen was easily formed out of some of the out-offices, and in it, without his battery, without his stove, without his thousand-and-one assistants, and resources, her French cook sent up dinners still talked of by the few remaining partakers. The entrées were all prepared in one black pot—a large potato chaudron, which he had ingeniously divided within into four compartments by means of two pieces of tin-sheet crossed, the only inconvenience of this clever plan being that the company had to put up with all white sauces one day and all brown the next. Her favourite footman, Long James, a very handsome, impudent person, but an excellent servant for that sort of wild life, able to put his hand to any work, played the violin remarkably well, and as every tenth Highlander at least plays on the same instrument tolerably, there was no difficulty in getting up a highly satisfactory band on any evening that the guests were disposed for dancing. Half the London world of fashion, all the clever people that could be hunted out from all parts, all the north country, all the neighbourhood from far and near without regard to wealth or station, and all the kith and kin of both Gordons and Maxwells, flocked to this encampment in the wilderness during the fine autumns to enjoy the free life, the pure air, and the wit and fun the Duchess brought with her to the mountains.

Lady Georgina Gordon, the youngest of the fair sisters of that, the last generation of the noble name, and the only one then unmarried, was much liked; kind hearted she has all through her life shown herself to be; then, in her early youth, she was quiet and pleasing as well as lively. Unchangeable in amiability of manner, she was variable In her looks; one day almost beautiful, the next, almost plain; so my mother described her when she spoke of those merry doings in the old cottage at Kinrara in days quite beyond my memory. Lady Georgina had been some years married to the Duke of Bedford, and the Duchess of Gordon was living in her new house in this summer of 1804 when I first recollect them as neighbours. Our two dwellings were little more than a mile apart, but as I have said, the river was between us, a river not always in the mood for assisting intercourse. There were fords which allowed of carriage and pony communication at several points, but only when the water was low. At flood times passengers had to go down the stream to Inverdruie, or up the stream to near Loch Inch to the big boats, when they carried their vehicles with them; those who walked could always find a little boat near every residence, and our ferries were in constant requisition, for no day passed without a meeting between the Doune and Kinrara, When the Duchess had miscalculated her supplies, or more guests arrived than she could possibly accommodate, the overplus as matter of course came over to us. Morning, noon, and night there was a coming and going. All our spare rooms were often filled even to the many beds in the barrack, and at Kinrara shakes-down in the dining-room and the sofas in the drawing-room were constantly resorted to for gentlemen who were too late for a corner in the "wooden room," a building erected a short way from the house in the midst of the birch thicket upon the banks.

Many changes had happened in our house since my baby recollections. Old Donald was dead, old Christy was pensioned and settled with some relations in Duthil; Miss Jenny was married, my uncle Sandy's five sons were all sent about the world, and my father's first cousins, Logic and Glenmoriston, who used to be a good deal with us as bachelors, were both married Pnd fixed in their beautiful homes. There were still the Captain and Mrs Grant at Inverdruie, and the Colonel at the Croft, and Mr Cameron at Kinapol, and there were at a little distance, up in Badenoch, old Invereshie and his wife, and young Belleville and his bride. Cluny beyond in Laggan; down the Spey, Castle Grant, Ballindalloch, Arndilly and Altyre; Moy, Burgie, etc., in Morayshire; parties from which houses were frequently with us—all except our Chief. I do not remember my father and mother going much from home this season, or indeed at all, except to Kinrara; they had not time, for so many English travellers were in the habit of making hotels of the houses of the Highland proprietors, there was a sort of running stream of them during the latter part of summer. Mrs Thrale and her daughters, and Mr and Mrs Murray Aust, my mother afterwards continued an acquaintance with. In general, these chance guests were hardly agreeable enough to be remembered.

William and I joined in all the fun of this gay summer. We were often over at Kinrara, the Duchess having perpetual dances, either in the drawing-room or the servants' hall, and my father returning these entertainments in the same style. A few candles lighted up bare walls at short warning, fiddles and whisky punch were always at hand, and the gentles and simples reeled away in company until the ladies thought the scene becoming more boisterous than they liked remaining in—nothing more, however—a Highlander never forgets his place, never loses his native inborn politeness, never presumes upon favour. We children sometimes displayed our accomplishments on these occasions in a prominent manner, to the delight, at any rate of our dancing-master. Lady Jane was really clever in the Gillie Callum and the Shean Trews, I little behind her in the single and double fling, the shuffle and heel-and-toe step. The boys were more blundering, and had to bear the good-natured laugh of many a hard-working lass and lad who, after the toil of the day, footed it neatly and lightly in the ball-room till near midnight. Lord Huntly was the life of all these meetings; he was young, gay, handsome, fond of his mother, and often with her, and so general a favourite, that all the people seemed to wake up when he came amongst them.

There had been some coolness between my father and Castle Grant about election matters; the Chief and Chieftain differed in politics, and had in some way been opposed to each other, a difference that very foolishly had been allowed to influence their social relations. Many and many a family jar was caused in those times by the absurd violence of party feeling.


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