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Memoirs of a Highland Lady
Chapter IV. 1701-1808


THE Rapers are an old Buckinghamshire family of Norman descent, as their name anciently spelt Rapier attests. Where they came from, or when they came, or what they were, I really do not know, but so strong a leaven of Puritanism pervaded the Christian names of the family, that I cannot but think they were known in the days of the Commonwealth for more stirring deeds than suited them in after-times; they descended to us as scientific men, calm, quiet, retired, accomplished oddities. How any of them came to settle in Hertfordshire was not explained, but it so happened that two brothers established themselves in that county within a mile of one another; Matthew at Thorley Hall, John at Twyford. Matthew never married, John took to wife Elizabeth [Hale, daughter of Elizabeth] Beaumont, descended in the direct line from Sir John Beaumont, the author of Bosworth Field and the elder brother of the dramatist. I remember mentioning this with no little pride to Lord Jeffrey, when he answered quietly he would rather himself be able to claim kindred with Fletcher; and soon after he announced in one of his reviews that Beaumont was but the French polish upon the fine sound material of Fletcher—or something to that effect; which may be true, though at this distance of time, I don't see how such accurate division of labour could be tested; and what would the rough material have been unpolished? I myself believe that Beaumont was more than the varnish, he was the edge-tool too, and I am proud of such parentage, and value the red bound copy of Bosworth Field with my great [great] grandmother's name in it, and the little silver sugar- basket with the Lion of England in the centre of it, which she brought with her into the Raper family.

She must have been a person of acquirements too, for her death so affected her husband that he was never seen out of his own house afterwards. I do not know how he managed the education of his only child, my grandmother; for she was well educated in a higher style than was common then, and yet he lived on at Twyford alone almost, except for visits from a few relations.

His horses died in their stables, his carriages decayed in their coach-houses, his servants continued with him till their marriage or death, when the supernumeraries were not replaced, and he lived on year after year in one uniform round of dulness till roused by the arrival of his grandchildren.

Aunt Lissy did not remain long with him, but my father was his charge till his death. He did not appear to have devoted himself to him, and yet the boy was very constantly his companion within doors, for all the old man's queer methodical ways had impressed themselves vividly on his grandson's mind. When altering the house my father would permit no change to be made in the small room on the ground-floor of the hail, which had been his grandfather's dressing-room, and which was now his own.

We often attended on my father towards the end of his toilet, on the third ringing of that bell—a sound that acted through our house like the "sharp" in the royal palaces, sending every one to his duty in all haste—and there we found the same oddly contrived wardrobe which had been made so many years ago. Two or three broad shelves were below, and underneath the lowest one a row of small pegs for hanging boots and shoes on; at the top were a number of pigeon-holes, employed by my father for holding papers, but which in Raper days had held each the proper supply of linen for one day; shirt, stock, stockings, handkerchief, all along in a row, tier after tier. My great-grandfather began at No. i and went regularly through the pigeon-holes, the washerwoman refilling those he had emptied. This methodical habit pervaded all his actions; he walked by rule at stated times, and only in his garden, and for a definite period; so many times round the formal parterre, bounded by the yew-tree hedge. He did not, however, interrupt his thoughts to count his paces, he filled a pocket of his flapped waistcoat with so many beans, and each time that he passed the door he dropped a bean into a box placed upon the sill of the window for the purpose of receiving them; when the beans had all been dropped the walk was done.

He was a calm and placid man, and acted like oil on waves to the impatient spirit he had to deal with, Some baby fury had excited my father once to that degree, he took a fine handkerchief that had been given to him and threw it angrily upon the fire, then seeing the flames rise over it, he started forward as suddenly to rescue it, "No, Jack," said his grandfather, "let it burn, the loss of a handkerchief is little, the loss of temper is much; watch it burning and try to remember what irremediable mischief an uncontrolled temper works." My father said this scene often recurred to him and checked many a fit of passion, fortunately, as his Highland maid Christy and others did their best to spoil him.

The Thorley brother, Matthew, was quite as eccentric as my great-grandfather; they were much together, and he it was who built the observatory at Twyford, that when he dined there and took a fancy to consult the stars, he need not have to return home to spend an hour with them. He was a true lover of learning; he had built a large room to hold his books at Thorley. The best of those we loved so much at the Doune came from thence, and the maps and prints and volumes of rare engravings, coins, mathematical instruments, and curiosities.

He played on both violin and violoncello. Our poor cousin George Grant took possession of the violoncello, on which he was a proficient. The violin was lent to Duncan Macintosh, who enlarged the sound-holes, as he thought the tone of this Cremona too low for the proper expression of Highland music!

There was an observatory at Thorley too, from whence my great-uncle surveyed the earth as well as the heavens; a favourite occupation of his being the care of some grass walks he was very particular in defending from the feet of passengers.

He had planted a wood at a short distance from his house, laid out a kind of problem in action; an oval pond full of fish for centre, and gravel walks diverging from it at regular intervals towards an exterior square; the walks were bordered by very wide turf edging, and thick plantations of young trees were made between. It was a short cut through this mathematical plantation from one farmhouse to another, and in rainy weather the women in their pattens destroyed the grass borders when they disobeyed the order to keep to the gravel path.

From his tower of observation Matthew Raper detected every delinquent, and being provided with a speaking-trumpet, no sooner did a black gipsy bonnet and red cloak beneath it appear on the forbidden edge, than "Of with your pattens" echoed in rough seaman's voice to the terror of the sinners.

These two old brothers, the one a bachelor, the other a widower, had their hearts set upon the same earthly object, the only child of the one, my grandmother. To judge of her from the fragments of her journals, her scraps of poetry, some copied, some original, her pocket-books full of witty memoranda, her receipt-books, songs, and the small library, in each volume of which her name was beautifully written, she must have been an accomplished woman and passing clever, with rather more than a touch of the coarseness of her times.

She had a temper! for dear, good Mrs Sophy used to tell us, as a warning to me, how every one in her household used to fly from her presence when it was up, hiding till the brief storm was over. She was not handsome, short in figure, with the Raper face, and undecided complexion; but she had lovers. In early youth a cousin Harry figured in her private MS., he must have been the Admiral's father; and after came a more serious business, an engagement to Bishop Horsley; there was an illness, and when the heiress recovered she married her Doctor!—my grandfather—whether with or without the consent of her family I do not know; it certainly was not with their approbation, for they looked on my grandfather as a mere adventurer, and did not thoroughly forgive my grandmother for years; not till my great-uncle Rothie, with his graceful wife, came to London to visit their brother the Doctor, when the Raper connection was relieved to see that the honour of the alliance was at least mutual.

Although my grandfather lived to get into great practice as a physician, his income at the time of his marriage was not considerable; the Raper addition to it was extremely welcome. Her father allowed Mrs Grant a guinea a day, paid punctually to herself in advance on the first of the month in a little rouleau of gold pieces; as I understood, this was never promised, but never failed. The uncle at Thorley, too, kindly assisted the housekeeping. On New Year's Day he regularly gave or sent his niece a piece of plate and a hundred pounds, so regularly that she quite reckoned on it, unwisely; for one day the uncle, talking with her confidentially upon the Doctor's improved ways and means, trusting matters were really comfortable; "Oh dear, yes," replied she ; "fees are becoming plenty, and the lectures bring so much, and my father gives so much, and then, uncle, there is your hundred pounds." "True, niece," answered the odd uncle, and to the day of his death he never gave her another guinea! He saved all the more for my father, little thinking all his hoards were destined for that odious S— G-- and the electors of Great Grimsby.

My grandfather and grandmother were married twelve years before they had a child, then came my father, and four years after, in giving birth to my aunt Lissy, her mother died. The Highlanders saw the hand of a rewarding providence in the arrival of these children to a lonely home, my grandmother having signally approved herself in their eyes by her behaviour on a memorable occasion; I don't know how they accounted, on the same principles, for her early death in the midst of these blessings.

The visit that the Laird and the Lady of Rothiemurchus had paid to Doctor and Mrs Grant at their large house in Lime Street was to be returned, but, after repeated delays, his professional business preventing the Doctor from taking such a holiday, his wife was to go north without him, but with his younger brother, Alexander the clergyman, who was then curate at Henley, where he had been for some time with his wife and her sister Miss Neale. Besides his clerical duties, he at this time took pupils, who must have been at home for the holidays, when he could propose to take his wife and his sister-in-law to the Highlands.

My great-uncle Rothic was unluckily living at Elgin, his delicate wife having found the mountain air too keen for her, but the object of the journey being principally to see Rothiemurchus, the English party proceeded there under the charge of their cousin, Mr James Cameron, of Kinrara, Kinapol, and latterly, in my remembrance, of the Croft.

My grandmother rode up from Elgin on a pillion behind Mr Cameron. She wore high-heeled, pointed- toed shoes, with large rosettes, a yellow silk quilted petticoat, a chintz sacque or fardingale bundled up behind, and a little black hat and feather stuck on one side of her powdered head. She sang the Beggar's Opera through during the journey with a voice of such power that Mr Cameron never lost the recollection of it. One of the scenes they went to view was that from the churchyard; the old church is beautifully situated on a rising ground in a field not far from the house of the Doune, well backed by a bank of birch wooding, and commanding a fine prospect both up and down the valley of the Spey. My grandmother looked round in admiration, and then, turning to Mr Cameron, she lamented in simple good faith that the Laird had no son to inherit such a property. "Both a loss and a gain," said Mrs Alexander in a blithe voice, "the parson and I have five fine sons to heir it for him." Poor woman I she outlived them all, and the following year my grandmother produced the delicate boy, whose birth ended their expectations.

The Doctor and his rather eccentric true Raper wife lived happily together, save for a slight occasional coolness on his part, and some extra warmth now and then on hers. From the time of her death, Mrs Sophy told us, he never entered her drawing-room, where all remained precisely as she had left it; her harpsichord on one side of the fireplace, and her Japan cabinet on the other, both remained locked: her bookcases were undisturbed; a small round table that held a set of egg-shell china out of which her favoured guests had received their tea, had been covered with a cambric handkerchief by his own hand, and no one ventured to remove the veil. All her wardrobe, which was rich, and her trinkets, were left as she had left them, never touched till they were packed in chests when he left London, which chests were not opened till aunt Lissy came of age, and then the contents were divided between her and my father.

More than all, he laid aside his violin: they had been long married before she knew he played. She had seen the violin in its case, and wondered what it did there. At last she asked, and was surprised and pleased to find him no mean performer. How very odd, how individualised were the people of those old days! On the death of her whom he had never seemed to care to please, he laid aside the instrument he had really loved, nor ever resumed it till he retired to the Doune, when my father remembered his often bringing sweet music from it in an evening. I can't tell why, but I was always much interested in those old-world days.

My father never liked speaking of his childhood, it had probably not been happy; he was reserved, too, on matters of personal feeling. Not till I had nearly grown up did I hear much from him of his boyhood, and even then it was drawn from him by my evident pleasure in the answers this cross-questioning elicited. He had only one recollection of his mother, seeing her in long diamond earrings on some company occasion, and sleeping with her by an accident when, tired out with his chattering (my silent father!), she invented a new play—a trial of who should go to sleep first. Her voice, he said, was like aunt Lissy's, low and sweet. Aunt Lissy was a Raper, and she loved Twyford, and after her marriage tried to live there, but before the railway crossed the orchard, the distance was great from chambers for so complete a man of business as uncle Frere.

Early in November 1807 we removed to town, and before the end of the month my brother John was born, the youngest, and most talented of us all. He was a small, thin, ugly baby, and he remained a plain child, little of his age for many years, no way remarkable. In the spring of 18o8 William was sent to Eton, not ten, poor child! very unfit for the buffetings of that large public school, where the little boys were utterly neglected by the masters, and made mere slaves and drudges by the elder boys, many of whom used their fags unmercifully. William was fortunate in this respect, his first master was the present Duke of Leinster, a very good-natured lad; his dame, too, Mrs Denton, was kind to all her boys in a sort of way; but poor William was far from happy, he told us in confidence at midsummer, though it would have been incorrect to allow this publicly. We were proud of having a brother at Eton then, now I look back with horror on that school of corruption, where weak characters made shipwreck of all worth.

We passed a very happy winter. My mother was more out in society than usual, having Harriet to introduce. We had hardly any lessons except such as we chose to do for our masters, M. Beckvelt, Mr Thompson, and Mr Jones, which very often was little enough; we were a great deal in Brunswick Square with uncle and aunt Frere, we had the two babies to play with, John Frere and our own Johnnie, and we had now a large acquaintance in the Square. We had great games of "Tom Tiddler," "Thread the Needle," "Follow the Leader," "Hen and Chickens," and many more, our merry laughter ringing round the gardens, where we were so safe, so uncontrolled, and so happy, though we were not among the elite of our little world. An elder set kept itself quite distinct from the younger ones, and a grander set walked in stately pride apart from either. Sir John Nicholls' daughters and Mr Spencer Perceval's never turned their exclusive looks upon meaner neighbours, while Justice Park's, with Daniels, Scarletts, Bennets, and others growing up, would only smile upon the children they passed occasionally. We, all unknowing and equally uncaring, romped merrily on in our gleesome play-hours, Tyndales, Huttons, Grants, Williams, Vivians. Besides, we had a grade or two below ourselves with which on no account were we to commingle; some coarse-shoed, cotton-gloved children, and a set who entered with borrowed keys, and certainly appeared out of their proper place. Home was quite as pleasant as the Square, the baby made us so merry. I worked for him too; this employment was quite a passion with me; from very early days down to this very hour generations of little people might have thanked my busy fingers for their outfit. My box of baby clothing has never been empty since I first began to dress my doll. Many a weary hour has been beguiled by this useful plain work, for there are times when reading, writing, or more active employments only irritate, and when needlework is really soothing, particularly when there is an object in the labour. It used as a child to give me a glow of delight to see the work of my fingers on my sisters and brothers, and on the Rothiemurchus babies; for it was only for our own poor that I busied myself, everybody giving me scraps for this purpose, and sometimes help and patterns. My sisters never worked from choice; they much preferred to the quiet occupations, the famous romps in Brunswick Square, where, aunt Lissy having no nerves, her tall brothers-in- law, who were all uncles Frere to us, made perfect bedlam in her drawing-room, and after dinner made for us rabbits of the doyleys, cut apples into swans and wells, and their pips into mice.

Uncle John, the ambassador, was rather stately; but uncle Bartle, his secretary, was our grand ally; William, the sergeant, came next in our esteem; Edward was quieter; the two younger, Hatley and Temple, were all we could wish. The two sisters we hardly knew, Lady Orde was in the country, and Miss Frere, my aunt's friend Susan, was generally ill. There was a friend, however, Sir Robert Ainslie, whom we thought charming, and a Lady Laurie and her brother, Captain Hatley, who were very likeable. We were pretty well off for friends at home; Captain Stevenson and his brother Colonel Barnes were famous playfellows, and our cousin Harry Raper, and the old set besides. Also we helped to dress my mother and Harriet Grant of Glenmoriston, my father's ward, for their parties, and had once great fun preparing them for a masquerade, when, with the assistance of some friends, they all went as the country party in the Journey to London, my mother being such a pretty Miss Jenny. Another time Harriet went as a Highland girl, in some fantastic guise of Miss Stewart's invention, and meeting with a kilted, belted, well-plumed Highlander, had fun enough to address him in Gaelic, and he, not understanding one word of what should have been his native tongue, retreated confounded, she following, till he turned and fled, to the delight of the lookers-on who somehow always seem to enjoy the discomfiture of a fellow-creature. It was Harriet's last exploit in London. She went north to some of her Highland aunts, in company with her brother Patrick the laird this spring.

Early in the summer of i8o8, we all started together for the Highlands. The greater part of the furniture had been sent from Twyford to the Doune, where, truth to say, it was very much wanted. The servants all went north with it by sea, excepting those in immediate attendance on ourselves. A new barouche landau was started this season, which served for many a year, and was a great improvement upon either the old heavy close coach or the leather-curtained sociable. Four bays in hand conducted us to Houghton, where after a visit of a few days my father proceeded on his circuit, and my mother removed with the children to Seaham, a little bathing hamlet on the coast of Durham, hardly six miles from Houghton. She had often passed an autumn there when a child, with some of her numerous brothers and sisters, and she said it made her feel young again to find herself there once more, wandering over all the ground she knew so well. She was Indeed in charming spirits during the whole of our sojourn at this pretty place. We lived entirely with her, she bathed with us, walked with us, we gladly drove in turn with her. We took our meals with her, and she taught us how to make necklaces of the seaweed and the small shells we found, and how to clean and polish the large shells for fancy works she had done in her own childhood, when she, our grave, distant mother, had run about and laughed like us. How very happy parents have it in their power to make their children! We grew fat and rosy, required no punishments, hardly indeed a reprimand; but then Mrs Millar had left us, she had gone on a visit to her friends at Stockton, taking the baby with her, for as far as care of him was concerned she was quite to be trusted.

We lived in a little public-house, the only inn in the place. We entered at once into the kitchen, bright and clean, and full of cottage valuables; a bright "sea- coal" fire burned always cheerily in the grate, and on the settle at one side generally sat the old grandfather of the family, with his pipe, or an old worn newspaper, or a friend. The daughter, who was mistress of the house, kept bustling about in the back kitchen where all the business went on, which was quite as clean, though not so handsomely furnished, as the one where the old man sat. There was a scullery besides for dirty work, such as baking, brewing, washing, and preparing the cookery. A yard behind held a large water-butt and several outhouses; a neatly-kept flower-garden, a mere strip, lay beneath the windows in the front, opening into a large kitchen garden on one side. The sea, though not distant, could only be seen from the upper windows; for this and other reasons we generally sat upstairs. Roses and woodbine clustered round the lattices, the sun shone in, the scent of the flowers, and the hum of the bees and the chirp of the birds, all entered the open casements freely; and the polished floors and furniture, and the clean white dimity hangings, added to the cheerfulness of our suite of small attics. The parlour below was dull by comparison. It could only be reached through the front kitchen; tall shrubs overshaded the window, it had green walls, hair- bottomed chairs set all round by them; one round table in the middle of the room oiled till it was nearly black, and rubbed till it shone like a mirror; a patch of carpet was spread beneath this table, and a paper net for catching flies hung from the ceiling over it; a corner cupboard full of tall glasses and real old china tea-cups, and a large china punch-bowl on the top, and a corner-set arm-chair with a patch-work cover on the cushion, are all the extras I remember. We were very little in this "guest-chamber," only at our meals or on rainy days. We were for ever on the beach, strolling along the sands, which were beautiful; sitting on the rocks or in the caves, penetrating as far into them as we dared. When we bathed we undressed in a cave and then walked into the sea, generally hand in hand, my mother heading us. How we used to laugh and dance, and splash, and push, anything but dip, we avoided that as much as possible; then in consideration of our cold bath we had a warm tea breakfast and felt so light. It was a very happy time at Seaham. Some of the Houghton cousins were often with us, Kate and Eliza constantly. We had all straw bonnets alike, coarse dunstables lined and trimmed with green, with deep curtains on the neck, pink gingham frocks and holland pinafores, baskets in our hands, and gloves in our pockets. We did enjoy the seashore scrambles. On Sundays we were what we thought very fine, white frocks all of us; the cousins had white cambric bonnets and tippets, and long kid gloves to meet the short sleeves. We had fine straw bonnets trimmed with white, and black silk spencers. My mother wore gipsy hats, in which she looked beautiful ; they were tied on with half-handkerchiefs of various colours, and had a single sprig of artificial flowers inside over one eye. We went to church either at Seaham or Houghton, the four bays carrying us quickly to my uncle Ironside's, when we spent the remainder of the day there always, our own feet bearing us to the little church on the cliffs when it suited my mother to stay at home.

The name of the old Rector of Seaham I cannot recollect; he was a nice kind old man, who most good- naturedly, when we drank tea at the parsonage, played chess with me, and once or twice let me beat him. He had a kind homely wife too, our great ally. She had many housekeeping ways of pleasing children. The family, a son and two or three daughters, were more aspiring; they had annual opportunities of seeing the ways of more fashionable people, and so tried a little finery at home, in particular drilling an awkward lout of a servant boy into a caricature of a lady's page. One evening, in the drawing-room, the old quiet mamma observing that she had left her knitting in the parlour, the sprucest of the daughters immediately rose and rang the bell and desired this attendant to fetch it, which he did upon a silver salver; the thick grey woollen stocking for the parson's winter wear, presented with a bow—such a bow! to his mistress. No comments that I heard were made upon this scene, but it haunted me as in some way incongruous. Next day, when we were at our work in the parlour, I came out with, "Mamma, wouldn't you rather have run down yourself and brought up that knitting?" "You would, I hope, my dear," answered she with her smile—she had such a sweet smile when she was pleased—"you would any of you."

Except the clergyman's family there was none of gentle degree in the village, it was the most primitive hamlet ever met with, a dozen or so of cottages, no trade, no manufacture, no business doing that we could see: the owners were mostly servants of Sir Ralph Milbanke's. He had a pretty villa on the cliff surrounded by well-kept grounds, where Lady Milbanke liked very much to retire in the autumn with her little daughter, the unfortunate child granted to her after eighteen years of childless married life. She generally lived quite privately here, seeing only the Rector's family, when his daughters took their lessons in high breeding; and for a companion for the future Lady Byron at these times she selected the daughter of our landlady, a pretty, quiet, elegant-looking girl, who bore very ill with the public-house ways after living for weeks in Miss Milbanke's apartments. I have often wondered since what became of little Bessy. She liked being with us. She was in her element only with refined people, and unless Lady Milbanke took her entirely and provided for her, she had doneher irremediable injury by raising her ideas beyond her home. Her mother seemed to feel this, but they were dependants, and did not like to refuse "my lady." Surely it could not have been that modest graceful girl, who was "born in the garret, in the kitchen bred"? I remember her mother and herself washing their hands in a tub in the back-yard after some work they had been engaged in, and noticing sadly, I know not why, the bustling hurry with which one pair of red, rough hands was yellow-soaped, well plunged, and then dried off on a dish-cloth; and the other pale, thin delicate pair was gently soaped and slowly rinsed, and softly wiped on a towel brought down for the purpose. What strangely curious incidents make an impression upon some minds! Bessy could make seaweed necklaces and shell bags and work very neatly. She could understand our books too, and was very grateful for having them lent to her. My mother never objected to her being with us, but our Houghton cousins did not like playing with her, their father and mother, they thought, would not approve of it; so when they were with us our more humble companion retired out of sight, giving us a melancholy smile if we chanced to meet her. My mother had no finery. She often let us, when at Houghton, drink tea with an old Nanny Appleby, who had been their nursery-maid. She lived in a very clean house with a niece, an eight-day clock, a chest of drawers, a corner-set chair, and a quantity of bright pewter. The niece had twelve caps, all beautifully done up, though of various degrees of rank; one was on her head, the other eleven in one of the drawers of this chest, as we counted, for we were taken to inspect them. The aunt gave us girdle cakes, some plain, some spiced, and plenty of tea, Jane getting hers in a real china cup, which was afterwards given to her on account of her possessing the virtue of being named after my mother. There were grander parties, too, at Houghton, among the aunts and the uncles and the cousins. At these gayer meetings my great-aunts Peggy and Elsie appeared in the very handsome headgear my mother had brought them from London, which particularly impressed me as I watched the old ladies bowing and jingling at the tea-table night after night. They were called dress turbans, and were made alike of rolls of muslin folded round a catgut headpiece and festooned with large loops of large beads ending in bead tassels, after the most approved prints of Tippoo Sahib. They were considered extremely beautiful as well as fashionable, and were much admired. We also drove in the mornings to visit different connections, on one occasion going as far as Sunderland, where the iron bridges so delighted Jane and me, and the shipping and the busy quays, that we were reproved afterwards for a state of over-excitement that prevented our responding properly to the attentions of our great-aunt Blackburn, a remark- ably handsome woman, though then upwards of eighty.

It was almost with sorrow that we heard circuit was over; whether sufficient business had been done on it to pay the travelling expenses, no one ever heard, or I believe inquired, for my father was not communicative upon his business matters; he returned in his usual good spirits. Mrs Millar and Johnnie also reappeared; aunt Mary packed up; she took rather a doleful leave of all and started.

At Edinburgh, of course, my father's affairs detained him as usual; this time my mother had something to do there. Aunt Mary had been so long rusticating at Houghton—four months, I think—that her wardrobe had become very old-fashioned, and as there was always a great deal of company in the Highlands during the shooting season, it was necessary for her to add considerably to it. Dressmakers consequently came to fit on dresses, and we went to silk mercers, linen-drapers, haberdashers, etc. Very amusing indeed, and no way extraordinary; and so we proceeded to Perth, where, for the last time, we met our great-uncle Sandy. This meeting made the more impression on me, not because of his death soon after, for we did not much care for him, but for his openly expressed disappointment at my changed looks. I had given promise of resembling his handsome mother, the Lady Jean Gordon, with her fair oval face, her golden hair, and brilliant skin; I had grown into a Raper, to his dismay, and he was so ungallant as to enter into particulars—yellow, peaky, skinny, drawn up, lengthened out, everything disparaging; true enough, I believe, for I was not strong, and many a long year had to pass before a gleam of the Gordon beauty settled on me again. It passed whole and entire to Mary, who grew up an embodiment of all the perfection of the old family portraits. Jane was a true Ironside then and ever, William ditto, John like me, a cross between Grant and Raper.

They did not understand me, and they did not use me well. The physical constitution of children nobody thought it necessary to attend to then, the disposition was equally neglected, no peculiarities were ever studied; how many early graves were the consequence! I know now that my constitution was eminently nervous; this extreme susceptibility went by many names in my childhood, and all were linked with evil. I was affected, sly, sullen, insolent, everything but what I really was, nervously shy when noticed. Jealous too, they called me, jealous of dear good Jane, because her fearless nature, fine healthy temperament, as shown in her general activity, her bright eyes and rosy cheeks, made her a much more satisfactory plaything than her timid sister. Her mind, too, was precocious; she loved poetry, understood it, learned it by heart, and expressed it with the feeling of a much older mind, acting bits from her favourite Shakespeare like another Roscius. These exhibitions and her dancing made her quite a little show, while I, called up on second thoughts to avoid distinctions, cut but a sorry figure beside her; this inferiority I felt, and felt it still further paralyse me. Then came the unkind, cutting rebuke, which my loving heart could ill bear with. I have been taunted with affectation when my fault was ignorance, called sulky when I have been spirit-crushed. I have been sent supperless to bed for not, as Cassius, giving the cue to Brutus, whipped by my father at my mother's representation of the insolence of my silence, or the impudence of the pert reply I was goaded on to make; jeered at as the would-be modest, flouted as envious. How little they guessed the depth of the affection thus tortured. They did it ignorantly, but how much after- grief this want of wisdom caused; a very unfavourable effect on my temper was the immediate result, and health and temper go together.


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