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Memoirs of a Highland Lady
Chapter IX. 1812


EARLY in July of the year 1812 my mother set out with her children for the Doune, bidding a final adieu, though she knew it not, to England. I cannot remember whether my father travelled with us or not. Yes, he must—for he read Childe Harold to us; it had just come out, and made its way by its own intrinsic merit, for popular prejudice set strong against the author. "To sit on rocks," etc., arrested the attention even of me. I was not given to poetry generally; then, as now, it required "thoughts that rouse, and words that burn" to affect me with aught but weariness; but when, after a second reading of this passage, my father closed the pamphlet for a moment, saying, " This is poetry! " I felt that he was right, and resolved to look the whole poem over some day at leisure. We had also with us Walter Scott's three first poems, great favourites with us, The Seven Champions of Christendom, Goldsmith's History of England, and his Animated Nature, and in French, Adele et Theodore. This was our travelling library, all tumbled into a brown holland bag kept under the front seat of the barouche. At the inns where we had long rests, our own horses doing but few stages in the day, we amused ourselves in spouting from these volumes, Jane and I acting Macbeth, singing operas of our own invention, and playing backgammon, a style of thing so repugnant to the school ideas of propriety befitting the reign of the new governess, that she got wonderfully grave with her unfortunate pupils. We had picked her up as we left town, and thinking more of ourselves than of her felt quite disposed to quarrel with any one who wept so bitterly at leaving London and her own friends, when she was going to the Highlands amongst ours. She was a little fat dumpling of a woman, with fine eyes, and a sweet-toned voice in speaking, strangely dressed in a fashion peculiar to the middle classes in England in that day, when the modes were not studied all through society as they are now, nor indeed attainable by moderate persons, as the expense was quite beyond the means of poorer people. Her provision for the long journey was a paper of cakes, and a large thick pocket-handkerchief, which was soon wetted through; not an auspicious beginning where two such monkeys as Jane and I were concerned. Mary and Johnnie ate the cakes. Poor Miss Eiphick! she had troubled times. Her first grand stand was against the backgammon, "shaking dice-boxes in a public inn!" We were very polite, but we would not give in, assuring her we were always accustomed to shake dice-boxes where we liked out of lesson hours. Next she entreated to be spared Macbeth's dagger! Hamlet's soliloquies! Hecate's fury! "So masculine to be strutting about and ranting in such loud tones," etc. etc. We were amazed; our occupation gone! the labour of months to be despised after all the applause we had been earning! What were we to do? sit silent with our hands before us? Not we indeed! We pitied her, and left her, thinking that our mother had made a most unfortunate choice in a governess.

We entered Scotland by the Kelso Road, we passed the field of Flodden; neither of us remembered why it should be famous. "Miss Riphick will tell us, I am sure," I remarked; pert unfeeling child that I was. I had taken her measure at once, and knew full well she knew less of Flodden field than I did. "Decidedly not," said my father, "take the trouble to hunt out all the necessary information for yourself, you will be less likely to forget it; I shall expect the whole history a week after we get home." Whether suspecting the truth, he had come to the rescue of the governess, or that he was merely carrying out his general plan of making us do all our work ourselves, I cannot say, and I did not stop to think. My head had begun to arrange its ideas. The Flowers o' the Forest and Marmion were running through it. "Ah, papa," I said, "I need not hunt, it's all here now, the phantom, the English lady, the spiked girdle and all; I'm right, ain't I?" and I looked archly over at our governess, who, poor woman, seemed in the moon altogether. The family conversation was an unknown language to her. "What could have made mamma choose her?" said Jane to me.

We went to see Melrose, dined at Jedburgh, passed Cowdenknowes, Tweedside, Ettrick Shaws, Gala Water, starting up in the carriage in ecstasies, flinging ourselves half out at the sides each time these familiar names excited us. In vain Miss Elphick pulled our frocks. I am sure she feared she had undertaken the charge of lunatics, particularly when I burst forth in song at either Tweedside or Yarrow braes. It was not so much the scenery, it was the "classic ground" of all the Border country.

A number of French prisoners, officers, were on parole at Jedburgh. Lord Buchan, whom we met there, took us to see a painting in progress by one of them; some battlefield, all the figures portraits from memory. The picture was already sold, and part paid for, and another ordered, which we were all very glad of, the handsome young painter having interested us much. The ingenuity of the French prisoners of all ranks was amazing, only to be equalled by their industry; those of them unskilled in higher arts earned for themselves most comfortable additions to their allowance by turning bits of wood, bones, straw, almost anything in fact, into neat toys of many sorts, eagerly bought up by all who met with them. We rested a few days in Edinburgh and then journeyed leisurely by the Highland road home, still crossing the Queensferry in a miserable sailing boat, and the Tay at Inver for the last time in the large flat boat. When next we passed our boundary river the handsome bridge was built over it at Durikeld, the little inn was done up, a fine hotel where the civillest of landlords reigned, close to the bridge, received all travellers; and Neil Gow was dead, the last of our bards—no one again will ever play the Scotch music as he did. His Sons in the quick measures were perhaps his equals, they gave force and spirit and fine execution to strathspeys and reels, but they never gave the slow, the tender, airs with the real feeling of their beauty their father had. Nor can any one now hope to revive a style passing away. A few true fingers linger amongst us, but this generation will see the last of them. Our children will not be as national as their parents—reflections made like some puns, a loisir, for at the time we last ferried over the Tay I was only on the look-out for all the well- remembered features of the scenery. We baited the horses at Moulinearn, not the pretty country inn of the rural village which peeps out on the Tummel from its screen of fine wooding now, but a dreary, desolate, solitary stone house, dirt without and smoke within, and little to be had in it but whisky. The road to Blair then passed over the summit of the hills, over-looking the river and the valley in which nestled Fascally, and allowing of a peep at Loch Rannoch in the far distance; then on through Killiecrankie, beautiful then as now, more beautiful, for no Perth traders had built villas on its sheltered banks, nor Glasgow merchant perched a castle on the rock. Hardly a cabin broke the solitude in those days, to interrupt the awe we always felt on passing the stone set up where Dundee fell, Bonny Dundee, whom we Highlanders love still in spite of Walter Scott. Miss Elphick, poor soul, was undoubtedly as innocent of any acquaintance with him as she had been with James IV., but there had been something in my father's manner on the Flodden field day which prevented any further display of my ill-breeding. I therefore contented myself with a verse of the song, and a little conversation with my mother, who was a perfect chronological table of every event in modern history.

The old inn at Blair was high up on the hill, overlooking the Park, the wall of which was just opposite the windows. We used to watch through the trunks of the trees for the antlered herds of deer, and walk to a point from whence we could see the Castle far down below, beside the river, a large, plain, very ugly building now, that very likely looked grander before its battlements were levelled by order of the Government after the rebellion. Here we were accustomed to a particularly good pudding, a regular soufflé that would have done no discredit to a first-rate French cook, only that he would have been amazed at the quantity of whisky poured over it. The German brandy puddings must be of the same genus, improved, perhaps, by the burning. The "Athole lad" who waited on us was very awkward, red-haired, freckled, in a faded, nearly threadbare tartan jacket. My father and mother had a bedroom, Johnnie and the maid a closet, but we three and our governess slept in the parlour, two in a bed, and the beds were in the wall shut in by panels, and very musty was the smell of them. So poor Miss Elphick cried, which we extremely resented as a reflection on the habits of our country. Next day was worse, a few miles of beauty, and then the dreary moor to Dalnacardoch, another lone house with very miserable steading about it, and a stone-walled sheepfold near the road; and then the high hill-pass to Dalwhinnie very nearly as desolate. Nothing can exceed the dreariness of Drumochter—all heather, bog, granite, and the stony beds of winter torrents, unrelieved by one single beauty of scenery, if we except a treeless lake with a shooting-box beside it, and three or four fields near the little burn close to which stands the good inn of Dalwhinnie. We felt so near home there that we liked the lonely place, and were almost sorry we were to sleep at Pitmain, the last stage on our long journey. We never see such inns now; no carpets on the floors, no cushions in the chairs, no curtains to the windows. Of course polished tables, or even clean ones, were unknown. All the accessories of the dinner were wretched, but the dinner itself, I remember, was excellent; hotch-potch, salmon, fine mutton, grouse, scanty vegetables, bad bread, but good wine. A mile on from Pitmain were the indications of a village—the present town of Kingussie—a few very untidy-looking slated stone houses each side of a road, the bare heather on each side of the Spey, the bare mountains on each side of the heather, a few white-walled houses here and there, a good many black turf huts, frightful without, though warm and comfortable within. A little farther on rose Belleville, a great hospital-looking place protruding from young plantations, and staring down on the rugged meadow-land now so fine a farm. The birch woods began to show a little after this, but deserted the banks about that frightful Kincraig where began the long moor over which we were glad to look across the Spey to Invereshie, from whence all the Rothiemurchus side of the river was a succession of lovely scenery. On we went over the weary moor of Alvie to the loch of the same name with its kirk and manse, so singularly built on a long promontory, running far out into the water; Tor Alvie on the right, Craigellachie before us, and our own most beautiful "plain of the fir trees" opening out as we advanced, the house of the Doune appearing for a moment as we passed on by Lynwilg. We had as usual to go on to the big boat at Inverdruie, feasting our eyes all the way on the fine range of the Cairngorm, the pass of the Larrig between Cairngorm and Brae-Riach, the hill of Kincairn standing forward to the north to enclose the forest which spread all along by the banks of the Spey, the foreground relieved by hillocks clothed with birch, fields, streams, and the smoke from the numerous cottages. Our beloved Ord Bain rose right in front with its bald head and birch-covered sides, and we could point out our favourite spots to one another as we passed along, some coming into sight as others receded, till the clamour of our young voices, at first amusing, had to be hushed. We were so happy! we were at last come home; London was given up, and in our dearly loved Rothiemurchus we now fully believed we were to live and die.

We found the Doune all changed again, more of the backwater, more of the hill, and all the garden gone. This last had been removed to its present situation in the series of pretty hollows in the birch wood between the Drum and the Milltown muir; a fashion of the day, to remove the fruit and vegetables to an inconvenient distance from the cook, the kitchen department of the garden being considered the reverse of ornamental. The new situation of ours, and the way it was laid out, was the admiration of everybody, and there could not well have been anything of the sort more striking to the eye, with the nicely-managed entrance among the trees, and the gardener's cottage so picturesquely placed; but I always regretted the removal. I like to be able to lounge In among the cabbages, to say nothing of the gooseberries; and a walk of a quarter of a mile on a hot summer's day before reaching the refreshment of fruit is almost as tormenting to the drawing-room division of the family as is the sudden want of a bit of thyme, mint, or parsley to those in authority in the offices, with no one beyond the swing- door idle enough to have half an hour to spare for fetching some. A very enjoyable shrubbery replaced the dear old formal kitchen garden, with belts of flowering trees, and gay beds of flowers, grass plots, dry walks, and the Doune Hill in the midst of it, all neatly fenced from the lawn; and so agreeable a retirement was this piece of ornamental ground, that I can't but think it very bad taste in my brother John and the Duchess of Bedford to take away the light green paling and half the dressed ground, and throw so large an open space about that ugly half-finished house: for I am writing now after having been with my husband and my children and three of my nephews in the Highlands, a few really happy weeks at Inverdruie; finding changes enough in our Duchus, as was to be expected after an absence of twenty years; much to regret, some things to praise, and many more to wish for. In my older age it was the condition of the people that particularly engaged me; in 1812 it was the scenery.

It has always seemed to me that this removal to Rothiemurchus was the first great era in my life. All our habits changed—all connections, all surroundings. We had been so long in England, we elder children, that we had to learn our Highland life again. The language, the ways, the style of the house, the visitors, the interests, all were so entirely different from what had been latterly affecting us, we seemed to be starting as it were afresh. I look back on it even now as a point to date up to and on from; the beginning of a second stage in the journey. Our family then consisted of my father and mother, we three girls and our governess, and our young French companion Caroline Favrin, William during the summer holidays, Johnnie, and a maid between him and my mother, poor Peggy Davidson. Besides her there were the following servants: Mrs Bird the coachman's wife, an Englishwoman, as upper housemaid and plain needlewoman; under her Betty Ross, the gardener's youngest daughter; Grace Grant, the beauty of the country, only daughter of Sandy Grant the greusiach or shoemaker, our schoolroom maid; old Belle Macpherson, a soldier's widow who had followed the 92nd all over the world, and had learned to make up the Marquis of Huntly's shirts remarkably well at Gibraltar, box-plaiting all the frills—he never wore them small-plaited, though my father did for many a long day after this! She was the laundrymaid. The cook and housekeeper was an English Mrs Carr from Cumberland, an excellent manager; a plain cook under her from Inverness; and old Christie as kitchenmaid. The men were Simon Ross, the gardener's eldest son, as butler, and an impudent English footman, Richard, with a bottle-nose, who yet turned all the women's heads; William Bird the coachman, and George Ross, another son of the gardener's, as groom. Old John Mackintosh brought in all the wood and peats for the fires, pumped the water, turned the mangle, lighted the oven, brewed the beer, bottled the whisky, kept the yard tidy, and stood enraptured listening to us playing on the harp "like Daavid"! There was generally also a clerk of Mr Cooper's, my father requiring assistance in his study, where he spent the greater part of his time managing all his perplexed affairs.

At the farm were the grieve, and as many lads as he required for the work of the farm under him, who all slept in a loft over the stables, and ate in the farm kitchen. Old George Ross No. I—not the gardener— had a house and shop in the offices; he was turner, joiner, butcher, weaver, lint-dresser, wool-comber, dyer, and what not; his old wife was the henwife, and had her task of so many hanks of woo' to spin in the winter. Old Jenny Cameron, who had never been young, and was known as Jenny Dairy, was supreme in the farm kitchen; she managed cows, calves, milk, stores, and the spinning, assisted by an active girl whom I never recollect seeing do anything but bake the oaten bread over the fire, and scour the wooden vessels used for every purpose, except on the washing and rinsing days (called by the maids ranging), when Jenny gave help in the laundry, in which abode of mirth and fun the under- housemaid spent her afternoons. Besides this regular staff, John Fyffe, the handsome smith, came twice a week to the forge with his apprentices, when all the maids were sure to require repairs in the ironworks; and the greusiach came once a week for the check he carried in his bosom to the bank at Inverness, walking the thirty-six miles as another man, not a Highlander, would go three, and the thirty-six back again, with the money in the same safe hiding-place. My father at this time paid most of the wages in cash. There were also the bowman, who had charge of the cattle, named, I suppose, from the necessity of arming him in ancient times with the weapon most used, when he had to guard his herd from marauders. John Macgregor was our bowman's name, though he was never spoken of but as John Bain or John the Fair, on account of his complexion. He was married to George Ross the orraman's daughter (orraman means the jobber or Jack-of-all- trades), and, like almost all the rest of them, lived with us till he died. The gardener, and those of his family who were not married or in our service, lived in the pretty cottage at one entrance of the new garden, which also served as lodge to the White Gate. The gamekeeper, tall, handsome John Macpherson, had an ugly little hut at the Poichar. The fox-hunter, little, active Lewie Gordon, had part of the Kinapol house; the principal shepherd, John Macgregor, known as the muckle shepherd from his great stature, had the remainder; the under-shepherd, also a Macgregor, lived nearer the mountains. The carpenter, Donald Maclean, had another part of Kinapol; he had married my mother's first cook, Nelly Grant, she who could make so many puddings, ninety-nine, if I remember right. The Colleys, the masons, were at Riannachan; far enough apart all of them, miles between any two, but it little mattered; we were slow coaches in our Highlands; time was of little value, space of no account, an errand was a day's work, whether it took the day or only an hour or two. Three or four extra aids, Tam Mathieson the carrier, Tam M'Tavish the smuggler, and Mary Loosach and the Nairn fisherwives, with their creels on their backs, made up the complement of our Highland servitors.

Poor Miss Elphick! nothing could reconcile her at first to the wild country she had got into. Between the inns and bleak moors and the Gaelic she had been overpowered, and had hardly articulated since we crossed Drumochter. She had yet to awake to the interest of the situation, to accommodate herself besides to manners so entirely different from any she had been accustomed to. How our mother could have taken a fancy to this strange little woman was ever an enigma to Jane and me; she was uneducated, had lived amongst a low set of people, and had not any notion of the grave business she had undertaken. Her temper was passionate and irritable; we had to humour, to manage her, instead of learning from her to discipline ourselves. Yet she was clever, very warmhearted, and she improved herself wonderfully after being with us a little time. Her father, of German extraction, had been bailiff to the Duke of Clarence at Bushley Park; he lived jollily with a set of persons of his own station, spending freely what was earned easily, and so leaving nothing behind him. His son succeeded him in his place; his elder daughters were married poorly; this one, the youngest, had nothing for it but the usual resource of her class, go out as a governess, for which responsible situation she had never been in the least prepared. Her childhood had been chiefly passed under Mrs Jordan's eye, among all her Fitz-Clarences; she then went to a third-rate school, and at eighteen went to keep her rather dissipated brother's house during the interval between his first and second marriage. We got on better with her after a while, but at first her constant companionship made us very miserable. Oh, how we regretted Annie Grant!

It was the intention of my father and mother to remain quietly at the Doune for the next two years, that is, my father intended the Doune to be the home of his wife and children. He could himself be with us only occasionally, as he had to carry his election, and then in the proper season take his place in Parliament. I cannot bring to mind whether he wrote M.P. after his name this year or the next, but in either the one or the other Great Grimsby was gained—at what cost the ruin of a family could certify. Whether he were with us or no, visitors poured in as usual; no one then ever passed a friend's house in the Highlands, nor was it ever thought necessary to send invitations on the one part, or to give information on the other; the doors were open literally, for ours had neither lock nor bolt, and people came in sure of a hearty welcome and good cheer. The Lady Logic I remember well; I was always fond of her, she was so fond of me; and her old father, and her sister Grace Baillie, whom I overheard one morning excusing my plain appearance to my mother—"pale and thin certainly, but very ladylike, which is always sufficient." No Mr Macklin with his flute.—he was in India, gone as a barrister to Bombay, and recommended to the good graces of my uncle Edward. Burgie and Mrs Dunbar Brodie paid their regular visit. She measured all the rooms, and he played the flageolet in the boat upon the lake not badly, though we young people preferred hearing Mrs Bird, the coachman's wife, sing the "Battle of the Nile" in that situation. Then we had poor Sir Alexander Boswell, not a baronet then, Bozzy's son, his wife, wife's sister and quiet husband, Mr Conyngham -new acquaintances made through the Dick Lauders, who lived near them; they were also with us, and all the old set. Amongst others, Sir William Gordon- Cumming, newly come to his title and just of age; some of his sisters with him. He was the queerest creature, ugly, yet one liked his looks, tall and well made, and awkward more from oddity than ungracefulness; extraordinary in his conversation between cleverness and a kind of want of it. Everybody liked Sir Willie, and many years afterwards he told me that at this time he very much liked me, and wanted my father to promise me to him in a year or two; but my father would make no promises, only just a warm welcome on the old footing when this oddity should return from his continental travels. He was just setting out on them, and I never heard of this early conquest of mine, for he fell in love with Elizabeth Campbell at Florence; "And ye see, Lizzy, my dear," said he to me, as he was driving me in his buggy round the beautiful grounds at Altyre, "Eliza Campbell put Eliza Grant quite out of my head!" We had no Kinrara; that little paradise had been shut up ever since the death of the Duchess of Gordon, except just during a month in the shooting season, when the Marquis of Huntly came there with a bachelor party.

We girls saw little of all this company, old friends as some of them were, as, except at breakfast where Miss Elphick and I always appeared, we never now left our own premises. We found this schoolroom life very irksome at first, it was so different from what we had been accustomed to. Governess and pupils slept in one large room up at the top of the new part of the house, the barrack-room where I so well remembered Edwina Cumming combing her long yellow hair. We had each of us a little white-curtained bed, made to fit into the slope of the roof in its own corner, leaving space enough between the bedstead and the end wall for the washing-table. The middle of the room with its window, fireplace, toilettes, and book table, made our common dressing-room; there were chests of drawers each side of the fireplace, and a large closet in the passage, so that we were comfortably lodged. Miss Elphick began her course of instruction by jumping out of bed at six o'clock in the morning, and throwing on her clothes with the haste of one escaping from a house on fire; she then wiped her face and hands, and smoothed her cropped hair, and her toilet was over. Some woman, I forget who, telling Sir William Cumming, who was seated next her at breakfast, that she never took more than ten minutes to dress in the morning, he instantly got up, plate and cup in hand, and moved off to the other side of the table. He would not then have sat beside me, for Miss Elphick considered ten minutes quite sufficient for any young lady to give to her toilet upon week-days. We could "clean ourselves" properly, as she did, upon Sundays. She could not allow us time for such unnecessary dawdling. We must have an hour of the harp or the pianoforte before breakfast, and our papa chose that we should be out another; therefore, we must give ourselves a "good wash" on Sundays, and make that do for the week. We were thoroughly disgusted. Her acquirements were on a par with this style of breeding; she and I had a furious battle the first week we began business, because during a history lesson she informed dear Mary that Scotland had been conquered by Queen Elizabeth, and left by her with her other possessions to her nephew, King James! I was pert enough, I daresay, for the education we had received had given us an extreme contempt for such ignorance, but what girl of fifteen, brought up as I had been, could be expected to show respect for an illiterate woman of very ungovernable temper, whose ideas had been gathered from a class lower than we could possibly have been acquainted with, and whose habits were those of a servant? She insisted also that there never had been a Caliph Haroun al Raschid—our most particular friend—that he was only a fictitious character in those Eastern fairy tales; and when, to prove his existence, we brought forward the list of his presents to Charlemagne, we found she did not believe in him either! Yet she could run off a string of dates like Isabella in The Good French Governess. I thought of her historical knowledge a good many years afterwards, when visiting General Need's nephew, Tom Walker, at Aston Hall, in Derbyshire; we had known him very well in Edinburgh when he was in the Scots Greys. He was public-school and college bred, had been a dozen years in the army, was married to a marquis's grand-daughter, and had a fortune of £3000 a year. He was showing us a collection of coins, some of them of the reign of Elizabeth, and after calling our attention to them, he produced some base money which she had coined on some emergency—in plain terms, to cheat the public. "And here, you see," added he, picking up several other base pieces, "Philip and Mary, following her bad example, cheated the public too."

It was not to be supposed that we could get on very comfortably with poor Miss Elphick; we were ungovernable, I daresay, but she was totally unfit to direct us; and then, when we saw from the windows of our schoolroom, a perfect prison to us, the fine summer pass away, sun shining, birds singing, river flowing, all in vain for us; when we heard the drawing-room party setting out for all our favourite haunts, and felt ourselves denied our ancient privilege of accompanying it, we, who had hitherto roamed really "fancy free," no wonder we rebelled at being thus cooped up, and detested the unfortunate governess who thus deprived us of liberty. Miss Elphick determined to leave; she felt herself quite unequal to the Highlands and the Highland children, so she went to make her complaint to my mother. She returned after a long conference, seemingly little improved in temper by the interview. However she had fared, we fared worse; she was, to all appearance, civilly treated, which we were not. I was first sent for, and well reproved, but not allowed to speak one word to excuse myself; called impudent, ignorant, indolent, impertinent, deprived of all indulgences, threatened with still heavier displeasure, and sent back to my duties in such a state of wrath that I was more decided than ever on resisting the governess, and only regretted my powers of annoyance could not be brought to bear also on my mother. Jane then had her maternal lecture, which gave her a fit of tears, so bitter that she had to be sent to bed ; she was silent as to what had passed, but she was more grieved than I was. My father had been from home during this commotion, but I suppose he was informed on his return of what had taken place, for an entire reform in every way was the result of this "agitation." Until he came back we were miserable enough; Miss Elphick never spoke to Jane or me, threw our books, pens, and pencils at us, contradicted our every wish, to make us know, she said, that she was over us. She doubled our lessons, curtailed our walks, and behaved altogether with vulgarity. My mother soon forgave Jane; I, who was never a favourite, was rather unjustly kept out of favour—not an improving treatment of a naturally passionate temper.

My father met us with his usual affection, but next day his manner was so stiffly dignified we were prepared for a summons to attend him in the study. I was first ordered to appear. I had determined with Jane to tell my father boldly all our grievances, to expose to him the unsuitability of our governess, and to represent to him that it could not be expected we would learn from a person whom we felt ourselves fitted to teach. Alas, for my high resolves! There was something so imposing about my father when he sat in judgment that awe generally overcame all who were presented to him. Remonstrances besides would have been useless, as he addressed me very differently from what I expected as I stood before him, all my courage gone, just waiting my doom in silence. I forget the exact words of his long harangue; he was never very brief in his speeches, but the purport is in my head now, for he told me what I knew was the truth. He said Miss Elphick was not exactly the sort of governess he could have wished for us, but that she was in many respects the best out of many my mother had taken the trouble to inquire about. She had great natural talents, habits of neatness, order, and industry, in all of which we were deficient; all these she could teach us, with many other equally useful things. A more correct knowledge of history, a more cultivated mind, would have been a great advantage certainly, but we could not expect everything; what he did expect, however, was that his children should act as became the children of a gentleman, the descendants of a long line of gentlemen, and not by rude unfeeling remarks, impertinence, and insubordination put themselves on a par with their inferiors. Gentlemen and gentlewomen were studious of the feelings of all around them; they were characterised by that perfect good-breeding which would avoid inflicting the slightest annoyance on any human being.

This lecture had considerable effect on me. I dreaded compromising my gentle blood; I also believed in the difficulty of procuring a suitable governess. My conduct therefore improved in politeness, but I cannot say that I ever learned to esteem poor Miss Elphick. Jane's private interview with my father did not last so long as mine; she had never been so pert nor so intractable as I had been, therefore she had less to reform. She said my father had quite failed to convince her that they had got a suitable governess for us, she was therefore sure that he had some doubts on the point himself; but as there seemed a determination not to part with her we had to make the best of it; and from this time Miss Elphick and Jane got on very well together; I think, at last, Jane really liked her. She improved wonderfully. Her conversation in the study lasted an hour or more, and she left it much more humble than she had entered it. What passed never transpired, but her manner became less imperious, her assertions less dogmatic. Dictionaries, biographies, gazetteers, chronologies were added to our bookcase, and these were always referred to afterwards in any uncertainty, though it was done by way of giving us the trouble of searching in order to remember better.

Schoolroom affairs went on more smoothly after this settlement. We were certainly kept very regularly at work, and our work was sufficiently varied, but the heads were properly rested for the most part, and we had battled out a fair amount of exercise.

In the summer we rose at six, practised an hour, walked an hour, and then the younger ones had breakfast, a plan Dr Combe would have changed with advantage. Miss Elphick and I had often to wait two hours longer before our morning's meal was tasted, for we joined the party in the eating-room, and my father and mother were very late in appearing. We each took a bit of bread before the early walk, a walk that tired me greatly. Studies went on till twelve, when we went out again. At two we dined, and had half an hour to ourselves afterwards. We studied again till five, and spent the rest of the evening as we liked, out of doors till dark in summer, or in the drawing-room, for we had " agitated" to get rid of learning lessons overnight and had succeeded. In winter we rose half an hour later, without candle, or fire, or warm water. Our clothes were all laid on a chair overnight in readiness for being taken up in proper order next morning. My mother would not give us candles, and Miss Elphick insisted on our getting up. We were not allowed hot water, and really in the Highland winters, when the breath froze on the sheets, and the water in the jugs became cakes of ice, washing was a very cruel necessity. As we could play our scales in the dark, the two pianofortes and the harp began the day's work. How very near crying was the one whose turn set her at the harp I will not speak of; the strings cut the poor cold fingers. Martyr the first sat in the dining-room at the harp, martyr the second put her poor blue fingers to the keys of the grand pianoforte in the drawing-room, for in these two rooms the fires were never lighted till near nine o'clock. Mary was better off. She being a beginner practised under Miss Elphick's superintendence in the schoolroom, where, if Grace Grant had not a good fire burning brightly by seven o'clock, she was likely to hear of it. Our alfresco playing below was not of much use to us; we had better have been warm in our beds for all the good it did us. As we had no early walk in winter, we went out at half after eleven, and at five we had a good romp all over the old part of the house, playing at hide- and-seek in the long garret and its many dependencies, till it was time for Miss Elphick, who dined in the parlour, to dress. We had a charming hour to ourselves then by the good fire in the schoolroom, no candle allowed, till we had to dress ourselves and take our work down to the drawing-room, where I had tea; the rest had supped upstairs on bread, Johnnie and Caroline Favrin alone being able to take the milk. Poor, dear Jane, how I longed to give her one of the cups of tea I was allowed myself; she was too honest to go into the nursery and get one from Peggy Davidson.

We really soon got to like the regularity of our life. Once accustomed to the discipline we hardly felt it as such, and we got very much interested in most of our employments, anxious to show our father that we were making good use of our time. We generally played to him in the evening whether there were guests or no, and once a week we had each to give him something new, on the execution of which he passed judgment, not unsparingly, for he was particular to a fault in finding fault. Once a week we had a French evening when there was no company, and we read aloud occasionally after tea, in turns, such bits as he had himself selected for us out of good authors, the same passage over and over till we had acquired the proper expression. He often read aloud himself any passage that struck him, either from books, reviews, or newspapers. We had a good command of books, a fair library of our own, and a really good one collected by my father. My father always commented on the passages selected, ever in a spirit of liberality and kindness; I never heard an ill- natured remark from his lips, on either dead or living, nor noticed the very slightest interest in gossip of any sort; he meddled in no man's business, was charitable, in St Paul's sense of the word, in all his judgments. It was no common privilege to grow up under such a mind.

My mother, when in health, was an example of industry. She kept a clean and tidy house, and an excellent table, not doing much herself, but taking care to see all well done. She was very kind to the poor, and encouraged us to visit them and work for them, and attend to them when sick. She was a beautiful needle- woman, and taught us to sew and cut out, and repair all our own, our father's, brothers', and family linen. She had become Highland wife enough to have her spinnings and dyeings, and weavings of wool and yarn, and flax and hanks, and she busied herself at this time in all the stirring economy of a household "remote from cities," and consequently forced to provide its own necessities. Her evening readings were her relaxation; she was very well read, thoroughly read in English classics, and she possessed a memory from which neither fact nor date ever escaped. When idle, we used to apply to her, and never found her wrong. She used to employ us to go her errands among the people, and we got Miss Elphick broken in at last to like the long wanderings through the fir wood. We had two ponies, which we rode in turn; a tent in the shrubbery in summer, the garden in autumn, the poultry-yard in spring, the farm-yard at all times, with innumerable visits to pay to friends of all degrees. Such was our Highland home; objects of interest all round us, ourselves objects of interest to all round, little princes and princesses in our Duchus, where the old feudal feelings still reigned in their deep intensity. And the face of Nature so beautiful— rivers, lakes, burnies, fields, banks, braes, moors, woods, mountains, heather, the dark forest, wild animals, wild flowers, wild fruits; the picturesque inhabitants, the legends of our race, fairy tales, raids of the clans, haunted spots, cairns of the murdered—all and everything that could touch the imagination, there abounded and acted as a charm on the children of the chieftain who was adored; for my father was the father of his people, loved for himself as well as for his name.


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