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Memoirs of a Highland Lady
Chapter VI. 1809-1810


HAVING got so far in these memorials of past life, the pleasure of the many half-forgotten incidents now revived induces me to proceed in stringing together such recollections of our generation as can hardly fail, dear children, to be interesting to you. The feebleness of my health at present confines me so much to my room that I am neglecting nothing else while thus employing myself, so, though I have lost one listener to the chapters as they are concluded, dear Janie Gardiner being no longer among us, on I go as at Avranches, feeling that if any of you are like me, this history will be a curious family legend to refer to.

We left the Highlands, then, late in the autumn of 1809, and reached London in about three weeks from the time we set out. During the winter, and the spring of 1810, we were occupied as usual with our several masters, under whom we could not fail to make a certain degree of progress, because we were quick children and they were clever instructors, but we by no means duly improved our time, or conscientiously worked out the value of my father's money and kindness. For want of a steady director we got into habits of dawdling, idling, omitting, and so on, and we were very irregular in our hours, setting the authority of our maid, Margaret Davidson, at defiance.

We were extremely fond of a visit to Brunswick Square; the baby cousins there of whom there were now three, John, Lizzy, and George, were charming playthings, and all our aunt's tall brothers-in-law were so fond of us, so very kind to us. Another particular friend was Mrs Sophy Williams, my father's old governess, who very often came to see us and never empty- handed, and we used to go to visit her where she then lived at Kensington as companion to old Mrs Anguish, the mother or the aunt of the Duchess of Leeds, and a relation of Mrs Raper's. It was one of those old- fashioned households now hardly remembered, where the fires were all put out, the carpets all taken up, and curtains down upon the 1st of May, not to be replaced in those shivery rooms until the 1st of October; where the hard high-backed chairs were ranged against the wall, and a round, club-legged, darkly-polished table stood quite bare in the middle of the room. In one window was a parrot on a perch, screaming for ever, "How d'ye do?" In the other the two old ladies with their worsted work, their large baskets, and their fat spaniel. Mrs Anguish talked a great deal of scandal to my mother about the court of the good Queen Charlotte, the Prince and the Duchess of Devonshire, the Duke of Devonshire and Lady Elizabeth Foster, sundry irregularities among the nobles of past and present days; while dear Mrs Williams described Twyford and Thorley, told of my grandmother's warm heart and warmer temper, of my father's quaint sayings, and aunt Lissy's goodness. We used also to visit Mrs Thrale (Dr Johnson's), who was then Mrs Piozzi揺er house a sort of museum預nd Lady Keith, her daughter, and in a beautiful villa looking on Rotten Row, Mrs Murray Aust, whose tour in the Highlands had made her rather celebrated; and dear old Mrs Raper in her melancholy back drawing-room in Wimpole Street, where I never yet found her doing anything whatever, though her mind must have been well filled at some former time, for she drew upon its stores in conversation most agreeably; and Mrs Charles Ironside, and old Mrs Maling I remember. What other acquaintances my mother called on I do not know, for we were always left in the carriage except at the foregoing houses. She generally drove out every day, and some of us were always with her. On the week-days she made her visits and went shopping葉o Green the glover's in little Newport Street, next door to such beautiful dolls, a whole shop of no other toy, some the size of life, opening and shutting their eyes, as was then a rare virtue; to Roberts and Plowman; to Gray the jeweller; to Rundall and Bridge, so dirty and shabby without, such a fairy palace within, where on asking a man who was filling a scoop with small brown-looking stones what he was doing, he told me he was shovelling in rubies; to Miss Stewart, our delight, cakes and flattery and bundles of finery awaiting us there; and then the three or four rooms full of hoops before the court days, machines of whalebone, very large, covered with silk, and then with lace or net, and hung about with festoons of lace and beads, garlands of flowers, puffings of ribbon, furbelows of all sorts. As the waists were short, how the imprisoned victims managed their arms we of this age can hardly imagine. The heads for these bodies were used as supports for whole faggots of feathers, as many as twelve sometimes standing bold upright forming really a forest of plumage; the long train stretched out behind, very narrow, more like a prolonged sash end than a garment. Yet there were beauties who wore this dress, and in it looked beautiful. We went to Churton's for our stockings, to Ross for my mother's wigs葉his was another queer fashion容very woman, not alone the grey and the bald, wore an expensive wig instead of her own hair; to Lowe for shoes, to St Paul's Church corner for books. I don't remember half the places.

On Sundays we went to Lincoln's Inn Chapel in the morning, Sir William Grant looking kindly down upon us from his window. We dined, said our Catechism, and then all set out for Rotten Row, where the amusement consisted in one long file of carriages at a foot's pace going one way, passing another long file of carriages at a foot's pace going the other, bows gravely exchanged between the occupants, when any of the busy starers were acquainted. All London was engaged in this serious business. We sometimes prevailed on my mother to make a diversion round the ring, that we might see the swans on the water, but she only now and then obliged us, much preferring that long procession up and down a mile of dusty road葉he greater the crowd, the slower the move, the greater the pleasure. "Delightful drive in the park to-day" meant that there was hardly a possibility of cutting into the line, or moving much above a yard in a minute. "Most dreadfully stupid in the park to-day" meant that there was plenty of room for driving comfortably.

On Sunday evenings my father took his tea upstairs. Other evenings we carried him down a large breakfast cup full of very strong tea to his study, where he was always seated immersed in papers with his secretary, little horrid Sandy Grant, whose strange voice sounded as if he spoke through a paper-covered comb. It was not law business that occupied them; the poor clerk in the outer room had an idle time. Law-suits of his own, dreams of political influence, money loans, and all the perplexities and future miseries consequent on these busy evenings were being prepared in that study where we carried the cup of tea. How kindly my father smiled on his young messengers, how bright his room looked, how warm his fire! We liked to go there, and we loved to linger.

We were very seldom allowed to go to children's parties, nor did my mother ever give any for us at home. We went very often to the play, we three elder ones, and to Sadler's Wells and Astley's, and to some of the Concerts. Also this spring for the first time in my life I went to the Opera. We were all in the Square one afternoon, at a grand game of Tom Tiddler's ground, when one of my playmates told us that the little white flag, our homeward signal, was flying from our high windows. We ran off at once and were met at the gate by the footman, who said that I only was wanted. I was to dress as quick as possible in my best white frock to go to the Opera. How old was I that happy night?葉hirteen within a week or two. My dress was a plain white frock with plenty of tucks, a little embroidery on the waist, white calico long gloves, and a cropped head, the hair brushed bright with rose oil, which to me made the toilet complete. The Opera was "II Fanatico." Naldi the father, with his full low notes, Mrs Billington his pupil daughter. She sang her solfeggi, all the exercises, and "Uno trillo sopra l "nothing ever was so beautiful, even the memory of those sounds, so clear, so sweet, so harmonious, that voice that ran about like silver water over pearls! There is no enjoyment like good music, simple or complicated, so as it be truthfully and earnestly given; it has ever afforded to me the most intense pleasure I am capable of receiving, and how little I have heard, and how vilely I made it!

We had a great fright this year by the very severe series of illnesses that attacked poor William. He brought the whooping-cough with him from Eton at Christmas, which we all caught from him, and a pleasant time we had, condemned to one side walk in the Square, from any approach to which all other children were strictly forbidden. It was not very bad with us, and towards the end we became rather attached to our visitor, for we had no lessons, no milk, delicious tea breakfasts, and dinners of puddings and such good things, with long daily drives far out into the country. William had not long been returned to school when he took the measles; this turned to scarlet fever, and my mother went down to nurse him, with very faint hopes at one time of bringing him through. When he could be moved he was taken to Kensington to be under the care of Mrs Mary Williams, the elder sister of Sophy, who, with a blind sister, Anne, lived in a very neat house not far from the gardens. My mother went every day to see him, taking care to take off the dress she wore before allowing any of the rest of us to come near her, while any risk of infection was supposed to remain; and yet both Jane and I got, not the measles, but the scarlet fever; the younger ones escaped.

It was about this time that I began to take more notice of any remarkable persons occasionally dining at my father's. The three eccentric brothers, Lord Buchan, Lord Erskine, and Harry Erskine (by far the most brilliant of the three) stand out foremost. It was a real treat to the whole family when this last with his agreeable wife came for a few weeks from Scotland, as we always saw a good deal of them. The Duchess of Gordon I remember with her loud voice, and Lady Madelina Sinclair, talking of Rothiemurchus and Kinrara. Lord Gillies and Mrs Gillies, in his advocate days, when appeal cases brought him to London. The Redfearns, whom I never saw, the sight of me recalling her lost boy (with the drum) so vividly that she could not bear the shock. There were the Master of the Rolls and some few English lawyers, Mr Ward (Tremaine), Sir Griffin Wilson, and William Frere; and upon one occasion his intended wife Miss Gurdon, who sang with a voice and in a style only equalled by Catalani.

This year, after all the sickness, we went early to Tunbridge, my mother having suffered herself severely in consequence of her fatigue and anxiety. A large dull house, but a very comfortable one, was taken for us at the top of Sion Hill. It belonged to Mr Canning's mother, and had a really good garden, with a fine clump of shady trees in it, under which we children used to pass our days. My mother had some dislike to this place which suited all the rest of us so admirably, so, in the fiery month of June, we removed from this quiet, roomy, old-fashioned house to a smartened-up Grosvenor Lodge, a new bow-windowed villa on the London road, a full mile from the Wells, where the sun shone on us unmolested till we in the attics were nearly grilled; but we were in the world, as well as in the sunshine and the dust besides.

Aunt Leitch spent a short time with us at Grosvenor Lodge, and Annie Grant and Miss Maling. Aunt Leitch had been for some time a widow. She had given up Kilmerdinney to her husband's heir for a consideration, and had joined in housekeeping with uncle Ralph, who had determined on letting Tennochside and coming south for a few years, in order better to educate his two children. We had our Highland neighbours, Belleville and Mrs Macpherson, also here; of them we saw a great deal, having from first to last been always on the most friendly terms with them. My brother John, then Johnnie, a little creature in a nankin frock, and Belleville were so inseparable, that people soon began to look for them as one of the shows of the place, for they walked together in rather a singular manner. Belleville went first with his hands crossed behind his back, holding out his long stick, the end of which was taken by the child, who trotted on thus for hours, few words passing between the pair. Mrs Macpherson, who preferred the carriage, generally went an airing with us, my mother calling for her at her lodgings near the pantiles. We were really very happy this season at Tunbridge Wells, and so set up by the fine air that we could not have looked more healthy had we been in our own Duchus.

Upon looking over the doings of this year so far, I find I have forgotten to mention quite a remarkable circumstance. Mrs Charles Grant, the old director's wife, invited us three little girls to accompany my father and mother to a great party she was giving in Russell Square預 rout預nd we all went. It was to meet the Persian ambassador, the same who was Mr Morier's friend, and who got on in every way so well in this country that many years afterwards he was sent here again. I cannot at this moment recollect his name; he was a tall handsome man, not very dark. He spoke English quite well enough to be understood, and turned all the women's heads with his beautiful Eastern dress and flatteries. He was remarkably fond of children, always liked to have some in the room with him, which was the reason we had been distinguished by this invitation. There was wonderful commotion in the green room which Jane and I shared in common, little Mary venturing to show herself there, as she had been included among the company. Our dancing shoes, drab jean, were to do quite well, and cotton stockings, but we got new frocks of soft clear muslin, very full, with several deep tucks. All the three heads were fresh cropped and oiled, and as our toilets were being completed my mother entered, so beautifully dressed in white spotted muslin over straw-coloured silk, holding in her hands three pairs of white kid gloves, and three cairngorm crosses dangling to gold chains. Duncan Macintosh had given us the stones found on our own hills預nd she had had them set for us purposely to wear this evening. The Persian ambassador took a great deal of notice of us and of our sparkling crosses. Jane, of course, he most distinguished, her bright eyes and her rosy cheeks, and her lively natural manner equally free from forwardness or shyness, always ensured her the attention of strangers. Both she and I behaved extremely well, we were told next day, papa and mamma quite satisfied with us, and with our propriety in the cake line, just helping ourselves once, as we had been told, and no more. Mary was suspected of more frequent helpings, also she tired and fell asleep on Belleville's knee, for he and Mrs Macpherson were there. Mrs Macpherson said laughingly to my mother when the great Mirza (I am sure now that was one of his names) was occupied so much with Jane, not very far from where sat an elderly Miss Perry, another director's daughter, with an enormous turban on her head, and a fine cashmere on her shoulders: "What would she give to be the object of such attention?" the shawl and turban having been adopted, it was said, to attract the stranger, who had a wife and one little girl at home.

Aunt Mary had invited me to be present at a great solemnity at Oxford, the Installation of Lord Grenville as Chancellor of the University, which ceremony was to take place in the month of July of this summer, 1810. It was quite an era in my life, the first indeed of any moment, and it filled my young heart with a tumultuous pleasure I was for some days unable to control. It was lucky for me that my father was from home, as he would have been very likely to have kept me there for showing myself so unfit to be trusted with my own conduct. We were never to annoy others with any excess of emotion, probably a good rule for such very excitable children, and yet it might have made us artificial, and it did afterwards make me appear affected, the struggle between feeling and fearing. I certainly did run a little wild on receiving aunt Griffith's letter (she liked us to call her by her husband's name). To visit alone! To go to the Theatre! Concerts! Inaugurations! See degrees conferred! Among such a crowd of great and noble, in classic Oxford, where stood Great Tom I It really half turned a head not then very steady. We had been reading Miss Porter's Scottish Chiefs, to initiate us into the realities of life and the truth of history; and such visions of display had been brought before us, of plumed helmets, coats of gilded mail, kings, queens, trains, escorts, etc., that, my aunt indulging a little in poetical anticipations of the splendid scenes she was asking me to witness, I took my seat beside my father in his post-chariot, with some idea that I had grown suddenly six feet high, twenty years older, and was the envy of every one. My father had come to us for a week's holiday after my first transport had cooled a little. The parting with them all made me grave enough, and it was soon quite unnecessary to caution me about expressing any exuberance of spirits. The first disappointment in this dream of pleasure was the conveyance we travelled in. I was accustomed to the barouche and four, the livened servants, and all the stir of such an equipage; my father's plain post-chaise, pair of horses, and only one man, made no sensation along the road, neither at the inns nor in the villages. No one stared at so plain a carriage, nor was there any bustle in the inn-yards on our changing horses.

Arrived in London, the large empty house in Lincoln's Inn Fields was intolerable, not a creature there but the housemaid in charge of all the displaced furniture, so that I wandered from one bare melancholy room to another in very tearful mood. In the Square it was no better, few of our young companions having remained in town溶one that I cared for. Aunt Lissy was in Norfolk, my father occupied the whole day, so that except at meals I never saw him. There were plenty of books, however, and the pianoforte, and I had always work with me, but it was very lonely. One new delight reconciled me in some measure to this dull week. My mother had trusted me to buy myself shoes, gloves, ribbons, etc., required as additions to my moderate equipment, and I had the satisfaction of purchasing these supplies myself, entering the shops in Fleet Street, in great state, in front of my attendant the housemaid, asking for what I wanted, choosing and paying like a grown-up young lady. I was thirteen, Annie's age, but how far behind what she is in some respects, so ignorant of all useful things, so childish, so affected, so bewildered at having to act for myself; all our wants having been hitherto supplied without any trouble to us. Aunt Leitch had made me a present of a pound note to spend as I liked without question. I parted with it for a parasol with a plated stick and a carved ivory handle and a pagoda summit, of a pea- green silk with a dazzling fringe, altogether big enough to have acted as an umbrella, and under this canopy I strutted away with the dignity of a peacock, to the amusement, I should suppose, of every one that passed me.

I and my Chinese parasol were one morning in the Square, figuring before the nursery-maids, when an unusual sound yelled up from a corner of the gardens the Searle Street corner預nd a mob of dirty-looking men tumbled in over one another to the amount of hundreds. They had hardly rushed on as far as Lord Kenyon's high house, when from the Long Acre corner a troop of dragoons rattled in all haste, advancing towards the Surgeons' Hall, with gleaming sabres. The mob retreated steadily enough and slowly and unwillingly, but the horses moving on in their peculiar way, turning their hind legs to the multitude occasionally, made good their determined pressure on the crowd, amid yells and shouts and many hisses. But the dragoons prevailed, as the imposing cavalry advanced so did the great unwashed retire, and soon the whole pageant vanished, the noise even gradually dying away in the distance. As quickly as we could recover our composure, all who had been sauntering in the Square regained their houses. At the corner gate I flew to, I and my precious parasol, I found my father's man, Mr Sims, waiting to escort me home. All the windows of the two lower storeys of all the houses in the Square were immediately closed, and the housemaid and I had to mount up to the very top of ours, to the barred windows of the nursery, to study the horse-tailed helmets of our patrol. Early next morning I was taken to Sandy Grant's chambers in Sergeant's Inn, the iron gates of which retirement were kept fast closed till Sir Francis Burdett had left the Tower, for he had been the cause of all this commotion. He was then the perfect idol of the people, their ideal of an English country gentleman. He supported this character in breeches and top-boots, and having a fair handsome person and good-humoured manners, he remained for many a year the king of the fiddlers. What his crime had been on this occasion, I forget, some disrespect to the House of Commons, I think, for they ordered him into custody, and sent him to the Tower by water to avoid ill consequences, his friends being above all things excitable. On the day of his release they had him to themselves, and had all their own way, filling the streets from end to end. Never was there such a pack of heads wedged close together, like Sir Walter Scott's description of the Porteous mob. Every window of the long, tall row of houses on either side was filled with women waving handkerchiefs and dark blue flags, the Burdett colour. The roar of voices and the tread of so many feet sounded awful even in the enclosed court; it penetrated to the back room where Mrs Sandy Grant and I were sitting.

I was to travel to Oxford with two friends of my uncle Griffith, Dr and Miss Williams. They accordingly called for me in a hack post-chaise, the first I had ever entered, and when I found myself seated in it, bodkin, my feet on straw, my little trunk corded on outside, the lining dirty, the windows rattling, the whole machine so rickety, and began to jolt along the paved streets with these very uninviting strangers, I could not help having rather melancholy regrets for Grosvenor Lodge, sunny as it was, my brothers and sisters and their merry ways, the open landau and four skimming over the roads, my mother's silk dresses, the well-bred servants, the polished luxury of home. I was indeed subdued, I sat quiet and silent, looking vacantly out at all the ugliness we travelled through. Dr Williams was reading a pamphlet, I am sure I wondered how he could keep his eyes steady on the lines; he made notes from time to time with a pencil on the pages of a pocket-book he kept open on his knee, then he would lie back as if in deep thought, and begin to read and write again; that was my left hand. Miss Williams had a squeaky voice, quite an irritant to a sensitive ear; she did not speak much, which was well, but what she did say was very kindly meant; I daresay I was a great bore to her and all her bags and parcels; that was my right. Straight before was a Humphrey Clinker whipping on two much-abused horses, very very unlike the four bays. At last we stopped at a pretty country inn near a wood, where we had luncheon, and then we all went out to gather wild-flowers, for Dr Williams was a botanist and had gone this, not the usual, road for the purpose of collecting specimens. We grew much more companionable; when he took my nosegay from me he seemed much pleased, he told me a great deal that I never forgot, showing me the form and the beauty of the simple flower and telling me what valuable qualities it sometimes lost when cultivation rendered it more lovely to the eye. He pressed among the leaves of a thick packet of blotting-paper such flowers as he had selected from our gatherings, and then we resumed our journey in, I thought, a very much more comfortable chaise; the Doctor read less, the sister, though she still squeaked, talked more, and I chattered away very merrily. The latter part of the journey therefore passed pleasantly to me, while both answering and asking questions. A little packet of change with a memorandum of my share of the expenses was put into my hands as we were about entering Oxford, and in a few minutes, late in the evening, we stopped at my uncle's door溶ot the grand door opening on one of the quadrangles, approached by broad steps up to great gates kept by a porter in his lodge, all grand as a college should be, but a back door in a narrow lane, letting me in to the kitchen passage, up a stair to the hail, and so to the kindest welcome from both aunt and uncle who were standing there to receive me. I was just in time, they said, the house was to be full of company in a day or two, when the little housekeeper would find herself extremely useful. In the meanwhile I was introduced to all the apartments, made acquaintance with the different closets and their various keys, and was established myself in my aunt's dressing-room with a sofa bed to sleep on, and two drawers in her chest and my own trunk for my clothes, she taking charge of my balance of cash, remarking that it was very shabby of Dr Williams to have charged me with my expenses, as he must have had the chaise for himself and his sister at any rate, and he might have treated me to my luncheon, just eighteenpence, without any violent liberality. My Highland pride preferred having paid my share, but I said nothing, and I was silent about the balance too, which I knew my father had intended I should have kept in my own pocket; not that I wanted money, we had never been accustomed to have any.

The Master's lodgings at University College formed two sides of a quadrangle溶o, not quite, one side and the half of another. The other half of the second side and the third were occupied as students' rooms; the fourth was the high wall of the Master's garden. It was a large house containing a great many rooms of a good size, but inconveniently planned, several of them opening one out of another with no separate entrances and not proportioned properly, the whole of the one long side being wedge-shaped, the space twenty feet wide at the street end, and only ten at the garden end, the outer wall humouring the lane, instead of the lane having been made to follow the wall. The private apartments were on this side and very comfortable, though oddly shaped. There were on the other side two spare bedrooms with dressing-rooms for company, and at the head of the front staircase a nice cheerful room which was afterwards mine, but wanted at this time for Sir William Scott. Besides this great man a cousin Horseman arrived, and aunt Leitch and uncle Ralph and aunt Judy. Both ladies had been dressed by Miss Stewart for the occasion. Aunt Leitch always wore black, a Scotch fashion when a widow is no longer young; besides, it suited her figure, which had got large, and her rather high colour. She had good taste and looked extremely well, never wearing what did not become her, and choosing always what was plain and rich and fresh and well-fitting. A white chip bonnet and feathers made a great impression on me just now, so did a straw-coloured silk of my aunt Judy's, as she altered it to please herself. It was to be worn with handsomely embroidered white muslin gowns and a small cloak of like material trimmed with lace, and all the broad hem round lined with straw-coloured satin ribbon; the shape of the bonnet was such as was worn at the time, rather a close cottage, if I remember, with a long feather laid across it very prettily. My uncle had chosen the whole dress and spared no expense to have his oddity of a little wife made to look somewhat like other people. The first day it was all very well, but the second no one would have known her; both cloak and bonnet were so disfigured by the changes she had made in them, that their singularity and her high- heeled shoes庸or she had never yet been persuaded to lay her stilts aside羊eally made us all feel for my uncle, who was certainly very angry, though he was prepared for the exhibition, she never having then nor since received any article of any description from any person, however celebrated, without altering it, if it could be done; her own taste being, according to her, unimpeachable, and all these lower natures requiring the finishing touch of her refinement to make her the most perfect object that ever vexed a sensitive husband.

I have a much more distinct recollection of this affair, of nipping the sugar, setting out the desserts, giving out the linen, running all the messages, than I have of all the classic gaieties of the week, though I was kindly taken to all of them. In fact I fancy they had disappointed me, read me another lesson, for, as far as I remember, hope never intoxicated me again; I never felt again as I had felt at Grosvenor Lodge, on the day of receiving my aunt's invitation. The theatre, for one thing, had been a shock, where I had expected to be charmed with a play, instead of being nearly set to sleep by discourses in Latin from a pulpit. There were some purple and some gold, some robes and some wigs, a great crowd and some stir at times, when a deal of humdrum speaking and dumb show was followed by the noisy demonstrations of the students as they applauded or condemned the honours bestowed; but in the main I tired of the heat and the mob, and the worry of these mornings, and so, depend upon it, did poor Lord Grenville, who sat up in his chair of state among the dignitaries, like the Grand Lama in his temple guarded by his priests. The concerts, though, were delightful. There, for the first and only time in my life, I heard Catalani. I don't think her singing, her Rule Britannia, above all her "God save the King," will ever go out of my head. She was the first Italian woman I had noticed, and much her large, peculiarly set eyes, her open forehead, pale dark complexion and vivacity of countenance struck me. She was very handsome. We had Braham, too, with his unequalled voice and fine bravura style, and my old acquaintance from the Hanover Square Rooms; Mrs Bianchi indeed always went about with Catalani to teach her her songs, the great singer not knowing a note of music; indeed her ear was defective, it was a chance her gaining the pitch of the accompaniment; if she did, all was right, for she kept on as she set out, so it was generally sounded for her by her friend, and then off she went like nobody else that ever succeeded her.

Well, all this over, the company gone, the actors and the spectators departed, the term over, Oxford deserted, my regular life there began. In the morning I read both in French and in English to my aunt, took one walk a day with old Anne, who dressed herself in a black mode cloak that had arm-holes to let the arms through, and a small black bonnet, to attend upon me. I gave out the good things from the storeroom, sometimes naughtily helping myself, played in the garden at walking like a lady with a phantom companion, to whom I addressed some very brilliant observations, went visiting sometimes with my aunt, and helped her to patch, for that favourite work still continued although the whole house was decorated with her labours. Borders of patchwork went round all the sofa and chair covers, and my room went by the name of the patchwork room because the bed and the window curtains were all trimmed with this bordering. My aunt kept her house very neat and clean, as it deserved to be kept, for my uncle and the college together had fitted it up handsomely. The woodwork was all dark oak highly polished and carved. The chimney-pieces were of stone, of antique form, suited to a college of Alfred's (?) days, and then with my uncle's ingenious turn for nick-nackities of his own production it was filled with ornamental trifles, all in keeping with the grave air of his college residence. The walls of some rooms were hung with his poker-paintings, pictures burned on wood by hot irons; others had his drawings framed; the plants were in pots painted Etruscan; some windows screened by transparencies. He was never idle, sketching or finishing his sketches filling up any unoccupied time. They had three old servants, a man and two maids, who did all the work of that large house. William and old Anne had lived with my uncle at his living of Whitchurch in his bachelor days. Nanny was added on his marriage, and the three remained with him till his death, when William was made porter to the college, and Anne and Nanny accompanied my aunt to her small house in Holywell.

I was beginning to tire of being "burd alane," kind and indulgent as were my aunt and uncle, when a letter arrived from my mother that caused a number of mysterious consultations. Though I was never admitted to the secret tribunal in the study, I heard afterwards up in my aunt's boudoir most of all that had been discussed. The question was concerning a proposition made by my mother to this effect, that instead of reclaiming me, my sister Jane should be sent to bear me company. My father found it necessary to proceed immediately to the Highlands, and not intending to remain there long, it being now late in the season, he did not wish to encumber his party with all his children and a governess, for we elder ones could not well be let to run wild any longer; and if our uncle Griffith would let us stay with him and my aunt would take the trouble to look a little after us, and choose us good masters, we were anxious enough to learn to ensure our making good profit of such instruction. A delay of two or three days resulted in an answer such as was expected. I had a peep of father, mother, brothers, and little sister, for William's holidays enabled him to travel with them, and then Jane and I were left by ourselves to make the best of it. It was a great trial, this arrangement, to have to give up the Highlands, to be separated, we who were all so happy together, and whose hearts were in Rothiernurchus. Many a passion of tears our little patchwork room witnessed for the first week. Afterwards our young spirits revived, and we set ourselves to work in earnest to be busy and happy in our new circumstances.


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