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Memoirs of a Highland Lady
Chapter VII. 1810-1811


UNIVERSITY COLLEGE is said to be the most ancient of all the Colleges in Oxford, as may be supposed from King Alfred getting the credit of being its founder. The two quadrangles which form the principal part of the edifice occupy a considerable space in the High Street; each quadrangle is entered through large arched gateways approached by flights of broad steps. The line of building separating the two quadrangles extends sufficiently behind to separate the Master's gardens from the Fellows'. It is appropriated to the kitchen offices principally. My uncle's lodgings forming a larger house than he required, he let some of the upper rooms of the side looking to the street, retaining on the ground-floor a dining-room, drawing- room and pantry, two bedrooms, with two dressing- closets above. The upper storey he let. The other side, the wedge, contained on the ground-floor the hall and staircase, back passage and back staircase, the study, and through the study the library, a very long room filled with old dusty books in cases all round, reaching from the floor to the ceiling; most of these books were unreadable, being a collection of divinity from very ancient times, belonging to the College, and not of late much added to. In this room there was no furniture, neither curtains, nor carpet, nor fireplace; but three chairs, one table, and a pianoforte were put into it for us, and this was our schoolroom. Through this library was a small room with a fireplace, used by my uncle to heat his irons for his poker-painting; this little room opened into a pretty garden, where our happiest hours were spent. Over this suite were the private apartments of my uncle and aunt, and our patchwork room. Above again were the servants' rooms, storeroom, and lumber rooms. The kitchens were underground. It was all very nice, except that long melancholy library, which was always like a prison to us; there was no view from the windows, no sun till quite late in the day, not an object to distract our attention from our business. A judicious arrangement perhaps; we lost no time there certainly. Mr Vickery, the organist of Magdalen, taught us music, he was clever, but perfectly mad ; half his lesson he spent in chattering, the other half in dancing. So except my aunt came in, or he thought she was coming, we got very little instruction from him. Our writing master was an elderly man of the name of Vincent, much in the same style as our old friend Mr Thompson; he, however, taught nothing beyond writing and arithmetic and the mending of pens, which last accomplishment we found about as useful an art as any of the many we learned. Our aunt was so kind as to keep us up in history, geography, French, etc., and our uncle, with his refined tastes and his many accomplishments, was of the utmost use to us in fixing our attention on wiser things than had hitherto chiefly employed us. For one thing, he opened to us what had been till then a sealed book—the New Testament. He taught us to make its precepts a rule of life, showed us that part of our Saviour's mission here on earth was to be to us an example, and he explained the Catechism so clearly that we, who had always just learned it by rote every Sunday most grudgingly, now took pleasure in repeating what we understood and found was to be of use. My little artifices and equivocations were never passed by him, but they were so kindly checked, so reproved as a duty, that I soon disliked to pain him by employing them. Neither did I find such subterfuges necessary. No one punished me for accidental faults, nor was a harsh word ever addressed to me, I therefore insensibly lost the bad habits given by our nursery miseries. Truly this visit to Oxford was one of the fortunate chances of my life.

My uncle was invariably good to me, but Jane was his favourite, honest, natural, truthful Jane. Her love of reading, drawing, gardening, and poetry, kept them constantly together, while I was more my aunt's companion. Still, we were often dull, for they were a good deal out at dinner with the other Heads of Houses, and then we had long evenings alone in the study, Anne popping up every now and then to look after us. We were allowed to make tea for ourselves, and we had tea to breakfast, and butter upon our bread, and a small glass of ale—College home-brewed ale—at dinner. How fat we got! Our regular walk was our only grievance. Neither my aunt nor Anne would let us run, it was not considered correct to run in Oxford, not even in the parks nor in the Christ Church meadows; we were to move sedately on, arm in arm, for our arms were not allowed to fall naturally; they were placed by my aunt in what she called a graceful position, and so they were to remain, and when we remonstrated and said mamma had never stiffened us up so, we were told that my mother was by no means a model of elegance, a sort of heresy in our ears, we being persuaded she was as near perfection as mortal woman could be. We were quite shocked to find her not appreciated. How we skipped upstairs for our bonnets when my uncle proposed to walk out with us! No graceful arm in arm for him! The moment we were out of the town, away we raced just as we liked, off to Joe Pullen's tree, or along the London roadway, round the Christ Church meadows. If old Anne could but have seen us! We told her of our doings though, which was some satisfaction. Sometimes our walks with him were quieter. He took us into the different colleges, to show us the Hall of one, the stained-glass windows of another, the chapel of a third. He told us of the histories of the founders, with the dates of their times, and he gave us short sketches of the manners of those days, adverting to the events then passing, the advance of some arts since, the point at which a certain style of architecture, for instance, had stopped. We went over the Bodleian and the Radcliffe Libraries, and to the museum and the theatre and the schools, and very often we returned to the chapel window at New College, and the picture over the communion table at Magdalen—Christ bearing the Cross - supposed to be Spanish, and perhaps by Velasquez; it had been taken in a ship that had sailed from a port in Spain. Sometimes he made us write little essays on different subjects in prose, and try to rhyme, beginning with bouts.rhymés, at which my aunt beat us all. I cannot say that my versifying ever did him or me much credit, but I poetised capitally in prose, while Jane strung off couplets by the hundred with very little trouble beyond writing them down. My uncle could versify by the hour.

He had an immensity of fun in him besides this readiness, and was the author of many satirical pleasantries and political squibs called forth by the events of the day, some of which found their way into the newspapers, as—

Sir Arthur, Sir Arthur, Sir Hew and Sir Harry
Sailed boldly from England to Spain,
But not liking long there to tarry,
They wisely sailed all back again.

"Sir Arthur" was the Duke of Wellington. His second sailing did better. Then there was—

The city of Lisbon.
The gold that lay in the city of Lisbon.

which in our volume had little coloured vignettes all down the page, representing the subject of each new announcement. "The Court of Enquiry," with little officers in regimentals seated all round a table; the "Fraternal Hug" of the French ally to the poor overwhelmed Portuguese, etc. His caricatures were admirable, particularly of living characters, the likenesses were so perfect. Some of these he composed on the common playing-cards, the hearts and diamonds being most humorously turned into faces, hands, furniture, etc. He began a series from Shakespeare, which are really fine as compositions. His graver style, whether in water-colours, chalks, reeds, or burnt in, are considered to have shown great genius, his many sketches from nature being particularly valuable, from their spirit and truthfulness. There were portfolios full of these in their ruder states, hundreds finished, framed, and dispersed among his friends. We had a great many at the Doune taken in Rothiemurchus, Dunkeld, and the West Highlands. My aunt's little boudoir was hung round with others. In his dining-room were more; there were some at the Bodleian, and the altar-piece in his own College chapel—Christ blessing the Bread—was of his own poker-painting. In the museum was a head, I think of Leicester; and while we were with him he was busy with a tiger the size of life, the colouring of the old oak panel and the various tints burned on it so perfectly suiting the tiger's skin. Jane was his great assistant in this work, heating the irons for him in the little end room, and often burning portions of the picture herself. A print was taken from his water-colour drawing of part of the High Street, in which his own College figures conspicuously. They are rare now, as he sold none. One was afterwards given to me, which we have framed and hung in our entrance hail.

Two facts struck me, young as I was, during our residence at Oxford; the ultra-Tory politics and the stupidity and frivolity of the society. The various Heads, with their respective wives, were extremely inferior to my uncle and aunt. More than half of the Doctors of Divinity were of humble origin, the sons of small gentry or country clergy, or even of a lower grade; many of these, constant to the loves of their youth, brought ladies of inferior manners to grace what appeared to them so dignified a station. It was not a good style; there was little talent and less polish and no sort of knowledge of the world, and yet the ignorance of this class was less offensive than the assumption of another, where a lady of high degree had fallen in love with her brother's tutor and got him handsomely provided for in the church that she might excuse herself for marrying him. Of the lesser clergy there were young witty ones, odious, and young learned ones, bores, and elderly ones, pompous; all, of all grades, kind and hospitable. But the Christian pastor, humble and gentle, and considerate and self-sacrificing, occupied with his duties, and filled with the "charity" of his Master, had no representative, as far as I could see, among these dealers in old wines, rich dinners, fine china, and massive plate. The religion of Oxford appeared in those days to consist in honouring the king and his ministers, and in perpetually popping in and out of chapel. All the Saints' days and all the eves of Saints' days were kept holy, every morning and every evening there were prayers in every College chapel, lengthened on Wednesdays and Fridays by the addition of the Litany. My uncle attended the morning prayers regularly, Jane and I with him, all being roused by the strokes of a big hammer, beaten on every staircase half an hour before by a scout. In the afternoons he frequently omitted this duty, as the hour, six o'clock, interfered with the dinner-parties, the company at that time assembling about five. The education was suited to the divinity. A sort of supervision was said to be kept over the young riotous community, and to a certain extent the Proctors of the University and the Deans of the different Colleges did see that no very open scandals were committed. There were rules that had in a general way to be obeyed, and there were lectures that must be attended, but as for care to give high aims, provide refining amusements, give a worthy tone to the character of responsible beings, there was none ever even thought of it. The very meaning of the word education did not appear to be understood. The College was a fit sequel to the school. The young men herded together, they lived in their rooms, or they lived out of them in the neighbouring villages, where many had comfortable establishments. Some liked study, attended the lectures, and read up with their tutors, laughed at by the others who preferred hunting, gaming, supper parties, etc. The chapel-going was felt to be an uncommon bore," and was shirked as much as possible, little matter, as no good could possibly follow so vain a ceremony. All sorts of contrivances were resorted to, to enable the dissipated to remain out at night, to shield a culprit, to deceive the dignitaries. It was a drive at random of a low and most thoughtless kind; the extravagance consequent on which often ruined parents who had sacrificed much to give a son the much-prized university education. The only care the Heads appeared to take with regard to the young minds they were supposed to be placed where they were and paid well to help to form, was to keep the persons of the students at the greatest possible distance. They conversed with them never, invited them to their homes never, spoke or thought about them never. A perpetual bowing was their only intercourse; a bow of humble respect acknowledged by one of stiff condescension limited the intercourse of the old heads and the young, generally speaking. Of course there were exceptional cases, and the Deans and the tutors were on more familiar terms with the students, but quite in the teacher and pupil style, very little of the anxious improver on one side, and the eager for knowledge on the other. I do not know what encouragement was given to the "excelsior" few, but I well remember the kind of punishment inflicted on the erring many, sufficient perhaps for the faults noticed. Too late out, not at chapel, noise at lecture—these delinquencies doomed the perpetrators to an "imposition." A certain number of pages from a classic author transcribed, that was all, in a legible hand. A task that really was of some use, though no one would think it, for several decent young men belonging to the town made a livelihood by writing them at so much a page. There was a settled price, and when the clean-looking leaves had been turned over by my uncle, for it was into the study of the Head that these mockeries had to be delivered, my aunt claimed them, as she found them invaluable for patch papers. Mr Rowley, the Dean, had drawn for her, with a great array of compasses, a small hexagon, which she had had executed in tin, and after this pattern she cut up all these papers, sitting between dinner and tea, while my uncle finished his port wine.

Our breakfast hour was at nine o'clock; dinner was at four, except on company days, when it was half an hour later, and such dinners! The College cook dressed them. The markets were ransacked for luxuries, the rich contents of the cellar brought out, port, sherry, and madeira of vintages most prized some twenty years before; beautiful plate, the best glass and china and table linen; desserts of equal costliness; big men in wide silk cassocks that would have stood alone, scarves besides, and bands; one or two of the older men in powdered wigs. Sixteen the table held. The ladies were very fine, quite as particular about their fashions, and as expensive too, as the husbands were about the wines, very condescending too in manner to one another. Mr Moises used to say that the two little girls in white frocks were the only live creatures that looked real amongst them all. It was certainly an unnaturally constrained life that these people passed at Oxford. To us the dulness was intolerable; we were often oppressed by it even to tears, as our pillows and a large red mulberry tree in the garden could have testified, for to the garden we generally repaired to recover from these occasional fits of melancholy and to read over and over again our mother's letters from the Doune.

We were one sunny afternoon sitting under the mulberry tree, tired with searching on the grass round its trunk for the fine ripe fruit which had fallen thickly there, and which, after all, we thought, came next to guignes, when a window at that side of the quadrangle to which the College kitchens were attached opened, and a curly head was thrust out, to which belonged very bright eyes and very blooming cheeks, and a mouth wide opened by laughter. It was an upper window belonging to a suite of rooms let to the students. "Little girl," said the head, "how do you sell your mulberries?" "They are not ours, sir," said Jane— she was always the spokeswoman—" we cannot sell them." "You can only eat them, eh?" said the head again, and many voices from behind joined in the laughter. "Jane," said I, "don't go on talking to that young man, my aunt would not like it." "Nonsense," said Jane, "where's the harm of answering a question?" "Well, little girls, won't you sell me some mulberries? I'll give you a tune on the French horn for them." And thereupon our new acquaintance began to play, we thought beautifully, upon an instrument that we thought charming. "A basket full of mulberries for a tune, eh? My aunt won't be angry." A basket with a string to it dangled from the window. But we were firm; we refused to fill it. And because we were such very good, honest little girls, we had a great many tunes on the French horn played to us for nothing, till I, who was always a coward, coaxed Jane away. It was getting near the dinner hour. My uncle's man William, regularly as old Anne began to dish, crossed the garden to the private door of the buttery, where he went daily for ale. We thought it best, therefore, to retire from this first interview with our musical acquaintance, although we were not sufficiently modest to avoid the chances of succeeding ones. Indeed that corner of the garden was so shady, so out of the way of my aunt's windows and so near the mulberry tree, that we naturally preferred to amuse ourselves there; the head and the horn as naturally continued to appear, till at length we grew so friendly as to take their acquaintances into the alliance, and we found ourselves chatting and laughing merrily with about a dozen commoners.

"Pray, Mr Rowley," said my uncle the Master one day to the Dean, "who plays the French horn here in College? No very studious young gentleman, I should think." "Mr So-and-So," said Mr Rowley. (Is it not strange that I should have completely forgotten our friend's name?) "He is no bad performer, I believe, and a very quiet young man," etc. etc. We were crimson, we bent over our work in very shame, certain that our highly improper flirtation had been discovered, and that this conversation was meant as a hint for us to behave ourselves. I daresay neither my uncle nor Mr Rowley had the least notion of our musical propensities, and were only mentioning a simple fact, but conscience terrified us too much to allow of our ever haunting the buttery steps again.

This recreation being at an end, we began another. My aunt obliged us to darn our stockings every week when they came from the washing, up in our own room. That is obliged me to darn them, for Jane couldn't work and wouldn't work,—the only specimen of her abilities in this feminine accomplishment during our Oxford visit being the rather singular piece of patchwork which always stays on the chimney-piece in my room, and which I use as a kettle-holder. She read to me while I worked, and this made the time pass more pleasantly. My uncle's lodgings, as I have mentioned, occupied two sides of the square of buildings forming the inner quadrangle. Our room was close to the corner, at right angles with the spare apartments he had let for college rooms. The nearest set to us was occupied by a Mr Coxe, a very tall young man from Yorkshire, with a remarkably loud voice, as we knew by the tone in which it was his habit to read aloud, for the weather being warm and the windows open, we could hear him distinctly spouting from book or from memory as he paced up and down his study. We could see him too, for we were very close neighbours, when either he or we looked out of our casements, and as he acted the parts he was speaking with much emphasis, I found it much more amusing to watch Mr Coxe's antics than to fill up the great holes Jane thumped out in the heels of her stockings. Down therefore went my hands, and forward stretched my neck, intent as I was on the scene enacting, when Mr Coxe, finding himself noticed, so increased the force with which he ranted, that I could not contain my laughter. At this he humbly bowed, his hand upon his heart. I laughed the more. He shook his head; he clasped his hands; he threw his arms here and there, starting, stamping, and always roaring. In short, the pantomime proceeded with vigour to a most amusing height before Jane, who was sitting below me faithfully reading through the pages of the Spectator, perceived what was going on. Some one else must have perceived it too, probably Mr Rowley, who was always prowling about, for though neither he, nor my uncle, nor my aunt ever mentioned -the subject to us, muslin blinds were fastened to our windows next day, which we were on no account to displace, and we were ordered in future to take all our rnendings down to that horrid and most melancholy library, where my aunt said that we were more within her reach should she want us. Mr Coxe was really very diverting, I regretted losing his theatricals extremely.

The young men had a hundred ways of amusing themselves, quite independent of the Master's childish nieces. Mr Rowley having made himself disagreeable to some of his pupils who found it suit their health to take long rides in the country, they all turned out one night to hunt the fox under his window. A Mr Fox, in a red waistcoat and some kind of a skin for a cap, was let loose on the grass in the middle of the quadrangle, with the whole pack of his fellow-students barking around him. There were cracking whips, shrill whistles, loud halloos, and louder hark-aways, quite enough to frighten the dignitaries. When those great persons assembled to encounter this confusion, all concerned skipped off up the different staircases, like so many rats to their holes, and I don't believe any of them were ever regularly discovered, though suspected individuals were warned as to the future. Mr Fox, I remember, was found quietly reading in his room, undisturbed by all the tumult, although a little flurried by the authoritative knocks which forced him, at that hour of the night, to unlock his door! My uncle was very mild in his rule; yet there were circumstances which roused the indignation of the quietest colleges.

The ringleader in every species of mischief within our grave walls was Mr Shelley, afterwards so celebrated, though I should think to the end half-crazy. He began his career by every kind of wild prank at Eton, and when kindly remonstrated with by his tutor, repaid the well-meant private admonition by spilling an acid over the carpet of that gentleman's study, a new purchase, which he thus completely destroyed. He did no deed so mischievous at University, but he was very insubordinate, always infringing some rule, the breaking of which he knew could not be overlooked. He was slovenly in his dress, and when spoken to about these and other irregularities, he was in the habit of making such extraordinary gestures, expressive of his humility under reproof, as to overset first the gravity, and then the temper, of the lecturing tutor. Of course these scenes reached unpleasant lengths, and when he proceeded so far as to paste up atheistical squibs on the chapel doors, it was considered necessary to expel him, privately, out of regard for Sir Timothy Shelley, the father, who, being written to concerning his wayward son, arrived in much anxiety, had a long conference with my uncle in the study, to which presently both the young man and Mr Rowley were admitted, and then Sir Timothy and his son left Oxford together. Quiet was restored to our sober walls after this disturber of its peace had been got rid of, although some suspicious circumstances connected with the welfare of a principal favourite of my aunt's still required to be elucidated, as Mr Rowley said, and at once checked.

Our inner quadrangle had buildings on only three of its sides, the fourth side was a wall, a high wall, the wall of the Master's garden. The centre part of this wall was raised a few feet higher than the lengths on either hand, carved in a sort of scroll. Against this more elevated portion on the garden side was trained a fruit-tree, a baking pear, very old and very sturdy, with great branching arms spread regularly at equal distances from bottom to top, a perfect step-ladder! The defences of the garden on the stable side next the lane were of no moment, very easily surmounted, and the vigilant eyes of Mr Rowley had discovered, on the College side of the high pear-tree wall, certain indications of the pear-tree's use to those tenants, steady or unsteady, who returned from their rambles later than suited the books of the porter's lodge. The pear-tree must come down, beautifully as it was trained, splendid as the fruit was—large brown pears on which my aunt reckoned for her second course dishes. The wall, too, looked so bare without it. My aunt never thoroughly forgave Mr Rowley for this extreme of discipline, and, like Mr Balquhidder's cow, the pears grew so in size and flavour, and the tree became so wonderfully fruitful after its decease, that my uncle, after enduring a fair allowance of lamentations for it, had to forbid the subject. I have often thought since when on my hobby —as my brother John calls my educating mania—that if we were to make wise matters more lovable, young ardent spirits would not waste the activity natural to their age on follies. Too much work we hardly any of us have, but work too dry, work too absorbing, work unsuitable, is the work cut out for and screwed on to every young mind of every nature that falls under the iron rule of school or college. Learning is such a delight, there must be some error in the teaching when the scholars shirk it and debase themselves to merely sensual pleasures, of a low order too, drinking, gambling, and the like pursuits, which caused the destruction of the pear-tree.

I am setting down all my Oxford experiences together, without regard to vacation or term time, an unclassical proceeding, which, if I had thought about it, I would not have done. The long vacation began soon after the Commemoration was over in July, and lasted till October, and though some reading men remained to study, and some of the Fellows came and went, Oxford was empty for the time of all the hubbub I had gone to form a part of till close upon Gaudy day. My uncle and aunt, however, remained there till the month of September, when they went to Cheltenham for a few weeks on account of my uncle's health, and took us with them. William, the man-servant, attended us, but neither of the maids; we were to wait on our aunt and on each other. Our lodgings were small but very neat, as every lodging was at Cheltenham. We had a good drawing-room and small dining-room over a cabinetmaker's shop, and bedrooms above. We were just opposite to a chemist's, beside whose house was the paved alley which led past the old church to the walk up to the old Wells at the end of the avenue. We all drank the waters and we all ate famous breakfasts afterwards, and Jane and I, out most of the day with my uncle, were so happy wandering about the outskirts of what was then only a pretty village, that we much regretted remaining here so short a time. My aunt, who walked less, and who could patch away anywhere, preferred, of course, her comfortable home, for she had found few acquaintances in Cheltenham; only old Mrs Colonel Ironside, the widow of the Indian cousin in whose gay London house she had spent such happy times in her young days, and Admiral Ricketts, Mrs Ironside's nephew, with his kind Irish wife. We saw very little of any of them; I fancy morning calls had been the extent of the civilities. What I recollect of Cheltenham is the beautiful scenery. The long turning High Street, the rich well-wooded plain the town was settled in, the boundary of low hills, Malvern in the distance, and that charming Well walk, always shady, where we were told the King and Queen had appeared by seven o'clock in the morning, when His Majesty King George the Third had been ordered by his physicians to try the waters. Half a lifetime afterwards, when I returned married from India and revisited this pretty place, I remembered it all as it had been, even found my way about it, though so altered, and I must say I regretted that the lovely rural village had grown into a large town, beautiful still with its hundreds of handsome villas and long streets of excellent houses, but not half so pleasing to me as it was in the" olden time." I hear now that they have cut down the fine avenue that shaded the old Well walk, built rows of shops from the Crescent up to the old pump-room, and that the town extends through the fields beyond. The children of these times will be tired before getting to their country walks. Jane and I had green fields to run in.

On returning to Oxford we all resumed our graver habits. Jane and I had that odious library and our masters; my uncle and aunt the duties of society. All the great people having reassembled, they had all to interchange their calls and then to invite one another to dinner. In the evenings sometimes there were routs —thirty or forty people to tea and cards, refreshments handed round before separating. Jane and I were spared appearing at the desserts; we were found in the drawing-room by the ladies, dressed in the fine muslin frocks bought for the Persian ambassador, with the gold chains and the cairngorm crosses, of course; we sat up as late as the company stayed, and were much noticed; luckily the home parties were not many. The ladies were really all so commonplace, they made little impression. The Principal of Jesus College, Dr Hughes, a most huge mountain of a Welshman, was our particular favourite among the gentlemen, I believe because he let each of us sit in the large silver punchbowl belonging to his Headship. It held Jane easily. Dr Williams never got into my good graces, nor Mr Rowley, he was such a little ugly and very pompous man. Mr Moises we were very fond of. A particular friend of my uncle's, the son of that Newcastle school-master who educated Lord Eldon and Lord Stowell, Mr Collins, then rather a beau, was another great ally of ours. They were all clergymen, as were most of the travellers who paid passing visits. Lord Eldon never happened to come to my uncle's when I was there, though they were so intimate as to correspond. Lord Chancellors have not much time for travelling; besides, the King was in very uncertain health just then, giving everybody about him a good deal of uneasiness. Lord Stowell, then Sir William Scott, was often with us, and a very agreeable old man he was.

What strange women those two clever brothers married! Lady Eldon's was a runaway affair and she had not a penny, but she was very beautiful, and to the last hour of her life retained her husband's affections, in spite of her eccentricities. Latterly she was never seen but by him. She lived up in her own rooms dressed in a hat and habit, and was called too much of an invalid to see visitors. But she got up to make his breakfast every morning, however early he required it, as she had done from the day of their marriage; nothing ever prevented this but her two or three confinements; on other occasions, when indisposed with colds or headaches, she still waited on him, and returned to bed when he went off to court or chambers. She never learned that they were rich. When he was making thousands at the bar, and later when his official salary was so large, she continued the careful management of their early struggling days, locking up stores and looking after remains, and herself counting the coal-sacks, making the carters hold up the bags and shake them as they were emptied into the cellars, she standing at the window of her lord's handsome house in her hat and habit, giving a little nod as each empty sack was laid upon the pavement.

Lady Scott was still more thrifty, at least we heard a great many more stories concerning her oddities. She had money and no beauty; and if there ever had been any love it did not last long, for they were little together. He was said to be miserly too, but he was not miserable. She grudged him his clean shirt daily, and used to take a day's wear out of the cast one herself, putting it on instead of a bed-gown, thereby saving that article in her own wardrobe. Then she allowed him but one towel a week, and Mr Collins had a story of her, that on closing a visit to a friend of his, she entered her hostess's presence before taking leave, laden with a pile of towels, which she thought it her duty to bring to view, in order to expose the extravagance of the servants who had supplied them so profusely, priding herself on having used butt two, one for herself and one for Sir William! There were tales of her serving up chickens reheated, and having wings and legs of some fictitious kind skewered on in place of the real ones which 1had been eaten; of a leg of mutton doing duty all the week; of her cutting a turkey in two when she found her son dined out, and on his returning unexpectedly, sewing the turkey up again. Mr Collins and Mr Moises, both north-countrymen, used to keep us laughing by the hour at all the oddities they told of her. She died at last, but long after this, and he made a second unlucky venture. Old Lady Sligo, the dowager of her day, was a worse wife than this first one. Why they married at their advanced age no one could fancy. She was near seventy, and he was past it. He had both a son and a daughter, the daughter very agreeable. She was often at Oxford as Mrs Townsend, and occasionally after becoming Lady Sidmouth; and as she had been at school with aunt Lissy, we imputed this also as a merit to her.

We remained at Oxford until the spring of j8ii. It was in the month of March that my father and mother arrived from Scotland for us. Whether my father travelled with his own horses this time I forget. I daresay he did, and had kept them all four and the coachman all this time at the hotel in Edinburgh. He did not hurry away as was his usual habit everywhere, he stayed a few days to show the beauties of Oxford to Miss Balfour. Amongst other sights they went to see Great Tom, which I had no mind to do; hearing him every night booming so grandly over the quiet around quite satisfied me, for the sound was very fine, coming in too just after the little "merry, merry Christ Church bells." Jane, who was of an inquisitive turn, decided upon mounting up all those long stairs in order to understand the real size of the monster. Once up, she would go in and under it, and remain in it just to hear one toll. Poor child! she dropped as if shot, was carried out into the air, brought home still senseless, laid in bed, Dr Williams sent for, the whole house in despair. Doctor Williams recommended her being left to nature, he apprehended no danger; the nerves had received a shock and they must be left to recover, and they did recover. She wakened next morning as if she had merely had a good night's sleep, recollecting nothing, however, beyond her last-expressed wish to see the great tongue moved by the men who pulled it with a rope, so very differently from the ringing of the other bells.

We were sorry to leave our kind uncle and aunt, but we were not sorry to resume the freedom of our home life, after the restraint in fashion at University. We found the house in Lincoln's Inn Fields in great order, which was strange, considering that the servants had had nothing to do but to clean it up for months back. A great pleasure was preparing for us. Annie Grant came to live with us, and as the changes consequent upon this agreeable addition to our home- party had much influence over the well-being of the younger members of the family, I will make a pause in this particular era—draw one of the long strokes between this and more trifling days, and begin again after this resting-point.


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