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Memoirs of a Highland Lady
Chapter VIII. 1811-1812


ANNIE GRANT was the "accidental" daughter—to use a very delicate expression a very refined lady once used to me, when compelled to employ some term of this sort—of old Colonel William Grant with the long queue, my father's half great-uncle, my great-granduncle, who had long lived at the Croft. The first time my mother saw her she was herding some cows in the Lochan Mar (a boggy-swamp, afterwards drained by Mr Cameron), standing beneath the shelter of a high bank of hanging birch, no shoes upon her feet nor hat upon her head, her knitting in her hands, her short dark petticoat, white jacket, and braided snooded hair combining to present a perfect model of Highland beauty. I wonder if Mrs General N-- when the great lady at Cawnpore, the most favoured guest at Newstead Abbey, the honoured of Kensington Palace, where more than once she dined with the Duke of Sussex—did she ever wander back in thought to the days of her simple youth? In those early days she was not taught to expect much notice, neither did she receive much; her mother was her father's housekeeper, and brought up her children, Annie and her brother Peter, in her own station, sending them to the parish school, and never obtruding them or herself on any of "the family." After the old Colonel's death she, still a very beautiful woman, married his grieve, and went to settle in another part of the country. The Colonel had been married in middle life to an Irishwoman, a Mrs Dashwood; they had never had any children, so he left his savings—these Highlanders have always savings— to Annie and her brother, some £2000 or better. My father as head of the house was their guardian. Peter was sent to a better school. Annie was taken by Captain Lewis Grant and his odd wife to keep the keys of their small establishment, an office regularly filled in every household then by such stray maidens of the race as were in want of a home. When Mrs Grant died the Lady Logie took charge of Annie, who seemed never to be lost sight of among her kith and kin, however irregularly she had arrived among them. The Lady Logie "had her to school" lat Forres, where she received a good plain education, and as much instruction in music as, assisted by the ear of her race, enabled her to play the airs of her own country, grave and lively, with an expression very delightful. On the death of the Lady Logie (my father's aunt) it was determined the poor girl should earn a home for herself. She was accordingly brought to London to our house, and after being a few weeks with us she was bound apprentice to the Miss Stewarts, the celebrated dressmakers. Maybe, in their workroom, she well remembered her free hours in the Lochan Mor. For her own happiness, herself and her little fortune would probably have been better bestowed on some young farmer in her native north, but this was an age of unnatural notions; accomplished girls, portionless and homeless, were made into governesses, and for the less instructed there was nothing dreamed of but the dressmaking, a trade never over-stocked, its victims dying off quite as quickly as the vacant places were demanded. For some years all went smoothly. Annie was a favourite, and never overworked except at special busy times. Every Sunday while we were in town she spent with us, often coming to us on the Saturday. Every summer she had her holiday, which all of us enjoyed as much as she did, for not only we, but all who came to our house, were fond of her. At length came the time when the two old Miss Stewarts were to resign the business, as had been agreed on, to Annie Grant and Jessie Stewart, on terms which had been previously settled. A word of dissatisfaction had never been uttered on their part, till out came the astounding news that they had sold their house and business more advantageously. Jessie Stewart had no refuge but the arms of a lover, to whom through many years of poverty she made the most exemplary wife, bearing severe trials with patience and afterwards an exalted position meekly. Her husband has long been a leading man, living in the best society.

Annie Grant was received by my father and mother, I may say, gladly, for they had begun to grudge her to needle and thread. Very early (for her) one morning my mother drove to Albemarle Street, and brought back a great blessing to our home. Without, as far as we knew, any regular arrangement, Annie Grant slid somehow into the charge of us. She took lessons with all our masters, was so attentive while with them, so diligent in working for them, so anxious to improve, that we caught her spirit. There was no more idling in our dining-room; when the prescribed lessons were over other occupations started up; she and I read history together daily, Goldsmith, Robertson, Rollin. We also had Shakespeare given to us, and some good novels, all Miss Edgeworth's Fashionable Tales; and we walked a great deal, sometimes taking the carriage to the Green Park or Kensington Gardens, and taking a turn there. We were really busy, and so happy, for Annie's gentle, steady rule was just what we all wanted; she soothed me, encouraged Jane, and coaxed Mary. Her great art was removing from us all that was irritating; we had no occasion to "set up our backs." We actually forgot to feel angry. Upon the phrenological system of influences, could we have been under better? Had she been carefully trained in physiological principles she could not have acted more wisely than her mere kindly nature prompted. In the matter of our breakfast she gained for us quite a victory, persuading my mother that now she had no cow in the stable weak tea was cheaper than milk, and a small bit of butter good for the chest, so that we began our day so pleasantly all went smoothly on. In the evenings we reeled away for an hour to her spirited strathspeys, the big people often joining the little, and turning with us to magic music and other games before confined to our own more particular sphere. Everybody seemed happier since Annie lived with us. My spirits were at times quite flighty, nothing ever sobered them down to usefulness except the kind reproving glance of Annie Grant. She, however, failed with Mary; the stupidity of that strange heavy child had hitherto rendered every attempt to rouse her vain. She was eight years old, and she could not read, she would not try to count, writing she did on a slate in her own way, but not in the least in Mr Thompson's. She even romped listlessly, would not dance, liked sitting quiet with her doll cutting up cakes and apples into dinners for it. When she washed the old block of wood without arms or legs which she preferred to any wax baby, she seldom dried and never dressed it, but called to me to render these services; and if I were out of the way would roll a pinafore round the beauty and be content. She was tall, large, and fair, as big nearly as Jane, and looked as old. I was excessively fond of her; so was my mother.

My mother was very ill again this spring, confined for many weeks to her room, and then ordered off to the seaside as soon as she had recovered strength enough for the long journey to the coast. Those were not railroad days. To prepare her for her travels she took constant evening drives with us, getting out beyond Southwark, beyond the parks, towards Epping, etc., occasionally making a day of it to Kew, Richmond, and even Windsor. I had once been at Windsor before to see William, as I have, I think, mentioned, when we went to Eton Chapel, and afterwards met the King and Queen and the band of the Blues upon the Terrace. We did some of this again, went to the King's private chapel and saw him say his prayers in his little bob wig, his short wife in a black silk cloak and plain straw bonnet beside him. We also this time saw the castle thoroughly, private apartments and all, for the Queen and the Princesses had gone for the day to Frogmore. My father's tenant at Thorley Hall was a Mr John Vowles, who had a brother William a cornfactor at Windsor; they were of German extraction, in some way connected with some of the personal attendants of the Queen. Mrs William Vowles, indeed, was a German born, and had been brought up by her parents in the Palace; she had been educated and portioned by Her Majesty, and had not been thrown off on her marriage. She it was who took us up the back-stairs and showed us through most of the rooms in common use by the family, when for the first time my mind wakened up to the fact that real kings and queens were not like the royalties of fairy tales, always seated upon thrones receiving homage and dispensing life and death, but quiet, simple, actively-industrious human beings. I could have made myself quite at home in Queen Charlotte's bedroom, and should have made myself very comfortable in the business-like morning-room occupied by herself and her daughters. Books, music, painting, works plain and fine, filled the apartment in which were but two easy-chairs, each with a small table beside it; these were for "Mr and Mrs Guelph," as they called themselves in the happy privacy of their family. Another time that we were at Windsor we dined early with Mr and Mrs Vowles, and went over to Frogmore in the evening—the Queen's hobby, her garden-house. It was a pretty villa in pretty grounds, too low for health, I should say, were people to have lived there, at least till the mere or pond was drained, but it did perfectly for the royal amusement by day. The walls of one room were painted by one Princess; all cabinets and tables of another were japanned by a second; carpets, stools, and rugs were the work of a third; while the knitting, knotting, and netting of the old Queen, if she did it all herself, must have ensured her a busy life.

By the middle of July my mother was able to be removed to Ramsgate, where she very soon recovered her looks and health; she was very fond of the sea, and throve near it. Mrs Peter Grant had taken a house for us on the East Cliff; a very fine situation with a splendid sea-view. We were at some distance from the town, a sort of common all round us, and one house only near; it was indeed attached to ours, the two stood together alone, out of the way of all the rest of Ramsgate. Our neighbour was Lady Augusta Murray, called by her friends the Duchess of Sussex, although her marriage to the Duke, which really did take place abroad, was null in this country. She had been created Baroness D'Ameland, and had a pension settled on her of £3000 a year, on which to bring up her two children, a boy and a girl, fine, large, handsome young people, unduly imbued with the grandeur of their birth. She never committed herself by calling herself or them by any title: "My boy, my girl," she always said in speaking of or to them. The servants, however, mentioned them as the Prince and Princess, as did all the acquaintances who visited at the house. Prince Augustus was about seventeen, extremely good- looking, though rather inclined to be stout; very good- natured he was too, amiable and devoted to his mother. He was going into the army under the name of D'Este, a bitter pill to the Duchess, although it was one of the royal surnames, and had been chosen for his son by the Duke himself. Princess Augusta was some years younger than her brother. She was but twelve, and particularly handsome on a large scale, a fine figure, and fine features, with a charming expression of countenance. The Duchess's house was small, though larger than ours, for she had turned the whole ground floor into one room, a library, and built a large dining- room out behind. The drawing-room floor was her own apartment, containing bedroom, sitting-room, and her maid's room; the floor above was equally divided between her son and daughter. She kept no horses, for she never drove out. She passed most of her time in a very large garden, well walled in, which covered a couple of acres or more, and extended all down the slope of the cliff to the town. Our two families soon became intimate, the younger ones especially passing the greater part of the day together, a friendship which never entirely ceased while opportunity served to bring any of us together. The advances, however, were amusing. The Duchess, as a royal personage, must be waited on. My mother, who was very retiring, would not take such a step forward as the leaving her name at the great lady's door. My father, who had bowed, and been spoken to when gallantly opening gates, could do no more without his wife; so all came to a full stop. Meanwhile, Jane and I, who had made acquaintance out on the free common of the downs with the little Princess, untroubled by any notions of etiquette, enjoyed our intercourse with our new acquaintance amazingly; Jane and she soon becoming fast friends. One evening she approached the paling which separated our two gardens just as my mother was stepping over the gravel towards the carriage to take an airing. I shall never forget the picture; she leaned on the top rail, her large-leaved Tuscan hat thrown back off her dark close-cropped hair, and her fine countenance brightened by the blush of girlish modesty, while she held up a small basket full of fine peaches, an offering from her mother. A visit of thanks was of course necessary, and found agreeable. A few days after the Duchess bade Jane tell her mamma that she had returned her call when her mamma was unluckily out, and that she hoped they would be good neighbours. On this hint we all acted. My mother occasionally went in there with some of us, my father constantly, indeed he soon became her confidential adviser in many of her difficulties, trying to get her through some of the trials which harassed her existence. We were all made very happy by this addition to our Ramsgate pleasures; we liked the place itself and our life there, and above all we liked our neighbours.

We all breakfasted together, then studied for three hours, dined early with my father and mother, and drank tea with them late. In the intervals we were either next door, or on the downs, or on the sands. Annie and I used to take books down to the sands and sit on the rocks with them in our hands, but we never read; watching the waves, listening to them, looking at the crab-hunters and the shrimpers, and far out at sea straining our eyes after the shipping, little boats, larger craft, huge merchantmen, all moving over the face of the waters, and the downs in the distance— all this was book enough. Mary and Johnnie were often with us, and sometimes my mother, who, how- ever, rather objected to such idling; and as Jane was almost always with the Princess, quite as great a favourite with the Duchess as with her daughter, a plan was struck out for the better employment of my time, which was immediately acted on. Mrs Peter Grant, the widow of one of my great-uncle Sandy's sons, who had had charge of Anne Grant of Glenmoriston, and lived in a small house at Ramsgate, had been found so competent to the task of superintending the education of young ladies, that she had been prevailed on by first one friend and then another to receive their delicate children. At last her family became too large for her small house. She took a larger one in Albion Place, engaged a clever governess, to whom she was shortly obliged to give an assistant, and had soon a flourishing school. She limited the number of pupils to eighteen, and generally had applications waiting for a vacancy.

To Mrs Peter Grant's school I was to be sent every day for so many hours, ostensibly to learn flower-painting, and be kept up in French and singing; but in reality to take down a good deal of conceit which unavoidably sprang up in the quick mind of a girl who had not the means of fairly testing her abilities by an equal standard. Jane was so much younger, and naturally so slow, her attempts in all our occupations were of course inferior to mine, and as we had no companions except at play-hours, I could not find out that, clever as I thought myself, there were girls of my own age very much more advanced. This I learned very quickly at Albion Place, where three or four of my new friends were very much beyond me.

While at Ramsgate we were introduced to Colonel and Mrs Glossipp from Canterbury, he a fine soldierly- looking man, she a plain woman, but so nice, kind, gentle, merry, clever, quite a soldier's wife. She had four healthy, happy boys, and three gowns, a "heightem, a tightem, and a scrub," with which she perambulated the world, none of the wardrobe department likely to be hurt by her travels if we were to judge of the inferior degrees by a comparison with the "heightem," the one always exhibited at Ramsgate. But no matter what Mrs Glossipp wore she always looked like a lady, and she was so lively and agreeable it was always a white day when the Colonel's dog-cart drove up to the door of our small house on Albion Cliff. Mrs Glossipp was full of fun, and to please her a party was made, including the handsome Miss B., to attend a ball at Margate, at that time the summer retreat of all the city of London, and holding more wealth than any place out of it. Miss Louisa B. was quite wrong in carrying her pink cotton satin, though covered with muslin of her own embroidery, to such an assemblage as she found there. Lace dresses and lace flounces of fabulous value fluttered all round the room. Velvets and satins, feathers and jewels! such jewels as would have graced the Queen's drawing-room were in profusion. Large, fat, dowager Aldermanesses, with a fortune in Mechlin and diamonds on them, sat playing cards with tumblers of brandy and water beside them; the language used possessed a grammar of its own; the dancing was equally original, a Miss St George, the belle of the ball and six feet high, cutting capers up to the moon. The extravagances of this "fashionable" resort formed one of the sights to be seen from aristocratic Ramsgate. How different now! That race of civic dignitaries sleeps with its fathers. It would be hard to know the tradesman from the noble now, at a glance at any rate. My father said the finery of the Margate ladies had excited my mother's envy, for she set about smuggling vigorously at this time, very much to his annoyance; bargain-making and smuggling were his aversion. He always said, "What is wanted get of the best quality at the best place, and take care of it. What is not wanted, don't get, however cheap; it is wasting money, in fact real extravagance; and have nothing to do with rogues." Wise preaching—'tis so easy for the man who lavishes thousands on his whistle, to lift his eyebrows at the cost of his wife's. My dear mother found it hard to resist those melodramatic sailors with their straw hats smartly bound with ribbon, the long curled love-lock then generally worn by the more dashing among the seamen, the rough, ready, obligingly awkward manner, and all their silks, laces, gloves, and other beautiful French goods so immeasurably superior to any in those days fabricated at home. She was not to be deterred by the seizures now and then made of all these treasures, miles and miles away; carriages stopped and emptied, ladies insulted, fined, and so on, as really frequently happened when their transactions were too daring. She could not resist a few purchases, though half believing my father's assertion that the smugglers were all in league with the Custom-house authorities, themselves giving information of any considerable purchaser. However, her doings were never thus brought to light.

Meanwhile, we young people had our occupations. The Duchess of Sussex, to amuse herself, got up the tragedy of Macbeth. She was a Scotchwoman, one of the Dunmore Murrays, and very national; she was, besides, intellectual and intelligent, as all her pursuits evidenced, and she was very proud of the beauty of her daughter. It was all to be amongst ourselves, we four, the little Princess, and two quiet little girls sometimes our companions, whose father lived in Ramsgate and was the Duchess's man of business. We all therefore "played many parts," which necessity we considered a pleasure, as it kept us in one character or another continually on the stage. During the preparations we were incessantly rehearsing either at one house or the other, each, for the benefit of the rest, learning the whole play; thus impressing on our young memories, never to be effaced, some of the finest poetry in the language; the sentiments actually became endeared to us, wise trains of reflection following the pains of learning those favourite passages by heart. Jane was Macbeth and a second Roscius, my father, who had a good idea of acting, having been taught to read by Stephen Kemble, taking great pains with her. Lady Macbeth was ranted a little by the Princess, yet she looked the part well; I was a shocking stick in Banquo, but a first-rate witch, a capital Hecate. The Duchess painted one scene for us, which did for all—a bit of an old tower and some trees—and Deddy, as we called the elderly maid, Mrs Deadman, superintended the dresses. My father was the prompter, the library was the theatre, and a very respectable audience of dowager peeresses and other visitors and residents applauded every speech we made. The music-master played martial airs on an old wretched pianoforte between the acts, and there was a grand supper, followed by a good merry dance at the end, all having gone off well. Yet that crowning night was nothing near the enjoyment of all the busy hours we had preparing for it. "Dreamer, dream not the fruition," etc., as the wise of all ages have repeated, none of them in prettier lines than these, written by my father to the music of Rousseau's Dream, composed as he was walking round the Ord Bain many a day after this.

This was the year of the great comet; night after night we watched it rising over the town of Ramsgate, spreading its glorious train as it rose, and thus passing slowly on, the wonder of all, and terror of some, a grand sight only equalled by the Northern lights as we used to see them in the Highland winters. And this was the season of the return of the China fleet, single merchantmen not daring in those war times to venture out to sea as in these happier, peaceful times. The East India shipping therefore made sail together under the convoy of a couple of frigates, an imposing evidence of the strength and wealth of the country, which had the most beautiful effect on the wide sea-view they entirely filled that ever could have been gazed at from any shore. The Downs, always beautiful because never deserted, and often very crowded, were on this occasion closely packed with huge Indiamen, their tall masts seeming to rake the skies; and when the anchors were weighed, and the dark mass moved out to sea, each vessel carrying all her canvas to catch the breeze, all distinctly seen from the balcony of our house, I do not think a grander sight ever met wondering eyes. The frigates, much smarter-looking ships, kept outside as convoy, and on they moved like some fine pageant in a scene, till, hours after we had seen them leave the roads at Deal, the last of the long line was lost to us behind the North Foreland, or the South I fancy it must have been as nearer to us, although it was the lesser projection of the two.

About the middle of November we returned to Lincoln's Inn Fields, and then Annie Grant and Jane and I set to work in earnest with all our old masters, and this winter really made good progress. As for Mary, there seemed to be no use in trying to teach her anything, for she would not learn, even to read; she was therefore, by the advice of old Dr Saunders, .a friend of my grandfather Grant's, left to amuse herself as she liked with our baby brother Johnnie, and they were generally kept out in the Square all the fine hours of the day. This year our very handsome cousin, Ursula Launder, married William Norton, the natural son of Lord Grantley, a mere boy compared to her, for he was not more than two-and-twenty and she was at least twice his age. Her large fortune was her charm, but her young husband treated her with marked attention during her whole life, long after every vestige of her remarkable beauty had left her. Aunt Mary was one of the bridesmaids, Lord Dursley the groomsman, and soon after came on the great Berkeley case, which was decided by stripping him of name and fame and giving that old title to a third brother. Uncle Frere was the solicitor employed to get up the case for the defendant, and so overworked was he by it, between fatigue and anxiety, that he took a fever before it was over, and frightened us all seriously. It was a brain fever, and in his delirium he kept calling for little Eli to sing him "Crochallan," so I was sent for, to sit by his bedside and "gently breathe" all the plaintive Scotch and Gaelic airs I could remember, thus soothing him when most excited. He would insist on sending messengers here, and there, and everywhere, on writing letters, and consulting on law points with me and the bedclothes, and he was never to be thwarted, but I was to sing the airs he liked best. At last one day he fell asleep to "Crochallan," the oft-repeated "Hanouer ma vourgne" having quite composed him. My aunt, who was always watching, sat down and wept. "Even children can be of use," she said as she kissed me, though I was no child, but very near fifteen; too old, my mother thought, to be again exhibited in Macbeth, which, having succeeded so well at Ramsgate, the Duchess was determined to get up again in Arklow Place.

Jane and I were very much with the Princess. Her mother's handsome house looking into the Park near Cumberland Gate was a very agreeable change to us, and we were so at home there we were quite at ease among the family circle. Jane was still the favourite. Prince Augustus was with his regiment in Jersey, from whence he had sent a box of little French curiosities to his mother; two of the toys were marked for Jane and me, so good-naturedly. Jane's was an ivory knife-grinder, mine a Frenchwoman in a high cap, spinning. It is at the Doune now. Instead of the Prince we had our friend Lord Archibald Hamilton, who spent most of his time with his cousin "Augusta," and his son Henry Hamilton, a fine boy then, though "accidental". Well, the play went on without me. I was only dresser and prompter. Lucy Drew replaced me as Banquo, and Georgie Drew was Hecate; the other characters remained the same. Our scenery was borrowed from the theatre, our dresses were very superior, as was our orchestra, and our audience was half the peerage. Jane outdid herself, but William's Macduff outdid her Macbeth. We had waited for the Easter holidays in order to secure him. I remember that old Lady Dunmore, who had, like a Frenchwoman, taken to religion in her old age by way of expiating the sins of her youth, would not attend our play in public— her principles condemned the theatre—but she saw it in private. We all went to her small house in Baker Street dressed, and acted before her, and a capital good dinner she gave us afterwards, all her plate out, and lots of fruit. She must have been very beautiful in her day; quite a picture she was now, in a high cap like that in the prints of the Duchess of Argyle, the Irish beauty. Lord Dunmore was very nice, and his wife too—a Hamilton, a cousin; Fincastle and Charley Murray were charming boys. Many others there were, too, whom I forget. I just remember Lady Georgina Montague being there one day—a handsome, very dark, and very thin girl in a black frock, put on for the first time for her grandmother the Duchess of Gordon, whose funeral procession had that morning left London for the Highlands. My mother would hardly believe that the child could have been allowed to go out to spend a merry day with young companions at such a time, and attributed it to the ignorance of the governess who had charge of this poor deserted family. The Duke of Manchester was repairing his fortunes abroad as Governor of Jamaica; the Duchess had left home years before with one of her footmen. Both my father and mother grieved sincerely for the death of their old friend and neighbour with whom they had spent so many happy hours. Indeed, the whole of the Highlands mourned for her, as with all her oddities she was the soul of our Northern society.

The remaining events of this, our last season in London, come but hazily back to me. We acted our Macbeth in Brunswick Square, I taking Lady Macbeth badly enough, I should think, on this mere family occasion. Duncan Macintosh, the Rothiemurchus forester, came to town on some of my father's law-suits, and was a perfect delight to everybody, with his shrewdness, his simplicity, his real astonishment, and the Highland idea of good breeding which precluded the expression of wonder at any novelty. Aunt Leitch, who was on a visit to us, seized on him as her beau, and treated him and herself to the play two or three times a week, for it was the last appearance of Mrs Siddons; she went through all her great parts, and took her leave of the stage as Lady Macbeth.

Uncle Ralph ventured to Covent Garden that night; he did get in, but came out again, returning to us nearly exhausted, his hat crushed, his coat torn, his face so pale that he frightened us. Never had there been such a crush at the doors of the pit; it had so overcome even his strength, that he was unable to endure the heat of the closely-packed house. We heard next day that the audience would listen to no other performer. When she was on the stage a pin could have been heard to fall; when she was off, all was uproar, Kemble himself even unattended to, and when she walked away at the last from her doctor and the waiting gentlewoman, they would bear no more; all rose, waving hats and handkerchiefs, shouting, applauding, making such a din as might have brought the house down. All passionless as was that great actress's nature in private life, she was overcome. Uncle Ralph ever regretted being unable to remain to see the last of fine acting. She has had no successor. I am quite sure that we, we young people I mean, owed more to Covent Garden than to any other of our teachers. We not only learned Shakespeare by heart, thus filling our heads with wisdom, our fancy with the most lovely imagery, and warming our hearts from that rich store of good, but we fixed, as it were, all these impressions; John Kemble and Mrs Siddons embodying all great qualities, becoming to us the images of the qualities we admired. An excuse this for the statues and pictures in the churches of infant times.

In May or June poor Mr Perceval was shot, our neighbour in the Square, whose three daughters, disdaining other associates, walked only with the three Miss Nicholls, Sir John Nicholls' equally exclusive young ladies. Lady Wilson ran in to tell my mother, she, having just had an express from Sir Griffin, who was in Westminster Hall. It was a great shock to every one, though he had been an unpopular man; the suddenness of the blow and the insufficiency of the cause making the deed the more afflicting. It set all the politicians to work again, but nothing came of all the commotion. The Prince Regent went on with the same Tory party amongst whom he had thrown himself as soon as he became head of the Government. One place was easily supplied ; his former friends were just as far from power as before. They might and did abuse him, and the man deserved abuse, whatever the Regent did. Moore enchanted the town with his witty newspaper squibs, looked for as regularly every morning as breakfast was. Whigs blamed and Tories could not praise, but they all ate their leek thankfully, and on went the world with its generalities and individualities, its Buonaparte and its Wellington, "the most profligate Ministry that ever existed," holding the whip-hand over at least an equally profligate Opposition. Whatever sins were going on we three little girls had worn mourning for all. While we were at Ramsgate the old king's delirium had become so alarmingly violent it was supposed his bodily strength must give way under the continual paroxysms; his death was therefore daily expected, so my careful mother, fearing that black would rise in price, bought up at a sale a quantity of bombazine. The king calmed, recovered his strength, but his mind was hopelessly gone, in which state properly attended to he might live for years. What was to be done with all the bombazine? We just had to wear it, and trimmed plentifully with crimson it did very well.

But now a great change was to come over the family. The English bar had never answered well, and was now to be given up. It remained to be seen how Parliamentary business would answer, for my father was elected member for the thoroughly rotten borough of Great Grimsby, at an expense he and the electors, and his agent little Sandy Grant, were not one of them fully able to acknowledge; to meet some of the difficulties thus produced, economical measures were to be resorted to, which in a couple of years would set everything to rights. Thorley Hall had been sold some time before to Lord Ellenborough, and Kinloss bought with part of the purchase money. The house in Lincoln's Inn Fields was to go now and all the furniture not wanted to make the Doune more comfortable, for, to our delight, it was there we were to spend these two years of retirement. My father was to run up to town for the session at a very trifling expense. We were a little disturbed at the news that Annie was not to go North with us. My mother hoped that before the winter she would settle herself in some house of business, but in the meantime she was to pay a visit to a Mrs Drury, a rich widow, the sister of Mr William Hunter, who had been married to one of the Malings, and who had taken a great fancy to our dear Annie. Next came worse tidings. We were to have a governess; and very great pains our poor mother took to choose one. I could not count the numbers she saw, the notes she wrote, the references she visited; at last she fixed upon a little bundle of a woman recommended by Lady Glenbervie. It all seemed satisfactory; a high salary bribed Miss Elphick to engage for one year to go to so remote a country, and she came every other day to sit with us from the time she gave her consent to the bargain, that she might learn our ways and we get accustomed to her. My father also engaged a little French girl, a protégé of M. Beckvelt and about Jane's age, to go North as our schoolroom companion. We were in great grief when we said farewell in Brunswick Square. All the pretty presents waiting for us there could not pacify either Jane or me. To me my aunt Lissy was inexpressibly dear, and the little cousins, of whom there were then four, John, Lissy, George, and Susan, were great pets with us. It required to have Rothiemurchus in prospect.


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