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Memoirs of a Highland Lady
Chapter III. 1805-1807

WE were now to travel back to London in the sociable, rather cold work in cold autumn weather. We had to drive unicorn, for one of the grey horses was gone; the other therefore had the honour of leading, a triangular style not then common, which ensured us an abundant amount of staring during our journey, a long one, for we made a round by the west country in order to pay two visits. My uncle Leitch had bought a pretty place near Glasgow, and made a handsome house out of the shabby one he found there by adding to the front a great building in very good taste. We two were quite astonished at the first aspect of Kilmerdinny. Large, wide steps led to a portico, a good hall, and then a circular saloon the height of the house, out of which all the rooms opened, those on the upper floor being reached by a gallery which ran round the saloon. Fine gardens, greenhouse, hothouses, hot walls, plenty of fruit, a lake with two swans on it—and butler at our breakfast—made us believe ourselves in Paradise! There was a beautiful drawing-room and a sunny little parlour, and a window somewhere above at which our handsome aunt appeared and threw out pears to us. We were sorry to go away, although there were no children to play with. The house was full of company, but they did not interfere with us, and when we did see any of these strangers they were very kind to us. But the day of departure came, the sociable was packed, and we set off for Tennochside in Lanarkshire, near the Clyde, near Hamilton, and about eight miles from Glasgow.

Uncle Ralph, my mother's second brother, had been bred to the law; he had entered the office of a friend, Mr Kinderley, an attorney of repute in London, but he never liked the business, and on one of his visits to aunt Leitch, an acquaintance of old standing with the heiress of Tennochside suddenly blazed up into a love- fit on her side, which he, vain and idle, could not resist, and they were married. My poor aunt Judy, a good excellent woman, not the very least suited to him, plain in person, poor in intellect, without imagination or accomplishment, had not money enough to make up for the life of privation such a man had to lead with her. He was certainly punished for his mercenary marriage. Still, in an odd way of their own they got on, each valuing the other, though not exactly agreeing, save in two essential points—love for Tennochside and for their two children. Eliza, the elder, was at this time exactly five years old, Edmund, still in arms, a mere baby. Here we had no fine house, but a very comfortable one, no finery, but every luxury, and the run through the woods or by the river-side was something like our own home to us. We did not like our cousin Eliza, though she was a pretty child, and seemingly fond of us; she was so petted, and spoiled and fretful, that she teased us. The night that I danced my Shean Trews—in a new pair of yellow (!) slippers bought at Perth on our way—.-she cried so much because she could not do the same, that she had to be sent to bed. Next day therefore I was sent for to help my aunt Judy in the storeroom, where she made the sweet things for the second course at dinner, and she had a great cry again; a lesson that did neither of us any good, for I was conceited enough without any additional flatteries, and she only ran away to the old parlour where her great-aunt old Miss Jopplin always sat, who petted her up into a sort of sulky good humour again. We did not leave Tennochside with as much regret as we had quitted Kilmerdinny.

Aunt Mary and our two little sisters were in Lincoln's Inn Fields to receive us; how we flew to them! Jane and William were in ecstasies; they had always been inseparable play-fellows, and were overjoyed to be together again. Mary did not know us, at which I cried. She was amazingly grown, quite a large child, almost as tall as Jane and stouter, quiet, silent, and yet loved by all of us. Jane and William had a deal to say; she really was a boy in all her tastes; she played top, bat, leap-frog, fought, climbed trees, rode astride on the rocking-horse, and always put on her spencers and pinafores the wrong way to make believe they were jackets. I was forced to turn to Mary, who understood my quiet plays with my doll, her dress, and meals, and visitors. I daresay we were as happy as were our more boisterous companions, who, indeed, sometimes tamed down to associate with us. We were loving and happy children.

For the next three years we lived entirely in England; my father went north during this time once, if not twice, to look after various matters; none of us went with him. Our winters were passed in Lincoln's Inn Fields, our summers at Twyford, which place my father rented of my aunt Lissy, having let his own, Thorley. We were also one spring at Tunbridge Wells for my mother, whom I never remember well for long together. It must have been often dull for her. When she was well enough she diversified her sober life by taking us to the play, and me to the Hanover Square and other concerts. She very rarely went out to private parties. Once I remember sitting up to help her toilette on a grand occasion—a rout at the Duchess of Gordon's; the hours were then more rational than they are now, she was dressed and off by nine o'clock, very little later than my bedtime. Her appearance has often recurred to me, for she was very lovely; her gown was white satin trimmed with white velvet, cut in a formal pattern, then quite the rage, a copy from some of the Grecian borders in Mr Hope's book; she had feathers in her hair and a row of pearls round her neck, from which depended a large diamond locket; the gown was short-waisted and narrow-skirted, but we thought it beautiful; a touch of rouge finished matters; and then Mrs Lynch, taking a candle, preceded her lady downstairs. My mother stooped to kiss me as she passed, and to thank me for holding the pins so nicely. The candle carried away, there remained another lit, which had been moved to a small table close to the wardrobe where Mrs Lynch had been searching for something wanted; a book lay near it, I took it up. It was the first volume of the Letters of Lady Hertford and Lady Pomfret, the old edition, good-sized print and not over many lines on the octavo page. I read a line, some more lines, went on, sat down; and there, Heaven knows how long afterwards, I was found tucked up in the arm-chair absorbed in my occupation, well scolded of course—that followed as a matter of necessity for wasting the candle when every one supposed me to he in bed; why my nurse did not see that I was safe there she did not explain. I was half afraid to allude to my book in the morning, but finding no complaints had been made, took courage and asked permission to read it, which being readily granted, many a happy hour was spent over those delightful volumes. They were read and read again, and my father, finding I understood them, and could give a good reason for preferring Lady Hertford's charming way of telling her home news to the more exciting letters of her travelling correspondent, gave me Lady Mary Wortley Montague. We were also introduced this spring of 1805 or 6, I am not sure which, to Miss Edgeworth's Parent's Assistant, and the Arabian Tales. I somehow mix up the transactions of these three years, recollecting only the general progress we made and confusing the details; the three winters in London are all jumbled up together, the summers stand out more prominently.

Our principal London pleasure was the play, to which we went frequently, generally to Covent Garden, which we soon learned to consider as more decidedly our house. We had the Duke of Bedford's private box, sometimes meeting the Duchess of Gordon there, which we liked above all things, for then we had ices, fruits, and cakes in the little ante-room adjoining. In spite of all these amusements, the first note of preparation for the country caused a sort of delirium in our nursery; it was as if we had been prisoners expecting freedom, so much more natural to the young are green fields and shady lanes than the confinement of a city.

In the spring of 1805 we went for a few weeks to Tunbridge Wells, while some of the servants were getting Twyford ready. We lodged in a gloomy house near the Pantiles, with no garden, only a courtyard before it, which got very slippery in showery weather; but M. Beckvelt, our good old French master, was with us, and took us long wandering walks over the heath, and to the rocks, and up to Sion Hill, as happy as we were ourselves, as much a child too. He laughed and chattered French, and ran and climbed and gathered flowers as we did, always in the tight nankins, with the snuff-box and the powdered hair. I know not what he had been before the Revolution in his own country—only a bourgeois he told us—but he was a dear, kind old man, like the good fathers or tutors we read about in L'Arni des Enfants. He brought some Contes de Fées down with him to Tunbridge, with which we got on very quickly; we made, however, greater progress in Le Boulanger, which we danced on the heath like witches, screaming out the chorus like possessed things; the people must have thought us crazy when any passed our magic circle.

The remainder of this summer, and the two summers following, 1806 and 1807, we spent entirely at Twyford, the winters in London, as I said before, never all this time going near the Highlands. My father took a run to the north when he thought it necessary, but my mother was glad to remain quiet with her children In the south, which part of the world, I think, she had begun to prefer to her more romantic home, now that the novelty of her Highland life had worn off a little.

Twyford was one of the most comfortable, modernised old residences that any one need wish to live in. It was ugly enough on the outside, a heavy, square, red brick building with little windows and dumpy chimneys; a small, squat dome upon the top, within which was a great church clock, and an observatory stuck up at one end like an ear, or a tall factory chimney, ending in a glass lantern. In front was a small bit of shrubbery hardly hiding the road, and beyond a short double avenue of lime trees stretching across a green field; behind was a more extensive shrubbery and flower-garden, divided by a light railing from pretty meadows dotted over with fruit trees. On one side was a walled garden and the farm offices, on the other the kitchen court, stables and stable-yard, and an immense flour mill, all upon the river Stort, a sluggish stream moving along, canal fashion, close to the premises. Barges heavily laden plied all day long backwards and forwards on this dingy water, and as there was a lock just underneath the laundry windows,. scenes as merry as those in the broom island took place on the flat banks of the lazy Stort among the bargemen, the dusty millers, and the men and maids of the kitchen court. To the elder part of the family all this commotion must have been a nuisance, to us children such noisy doings were a delight. We had a post of observation contrived by ourselves in the middle of the wide yew hedge which bounded the back shrubbery on the riverside, and there, from what we called our summer parlour, we made many more observations than were always agreeable to the observed. There was a large establishment of servants, and no very steady head over them, for Lynch had married Mackenzie, and they had gone to keep the inn at Aviemore, a melancholy change for us little people; but we had to bear a worse.

In the summer of 1806 aunt Lissy married. Her particular friend was a Miss Susan Frere, who had been her favourite companion at the school in Queen's Square where she had been educated. Miss Frere's father, a gentleman of consideration in the county of Norfolk, had seven sons, and it was his fourth son, George, who was lucky enough to gain the heart of one of the best of women. The courtship had begun by means of letters through the sister; it had been carried on at the Hanover Square concert rooms at rare intervals, for no one was aware of the progress of this seldom-noticed lover till the engagement was announced. My mother thought the pair had met in Wimpole Street, and Mrs Raper was sure he visited at Lincoln's Inn Fields, and both houses felt amazed at such an affair having been managed unknown to either. The first time that I became aware of what was going on was one day in the spring before our removal to Twyford in 1806. I was sitting near an open window in the front drawing-room beside my aunt Lissy, who had been ill, and was only sufficiently recovered to be nursed up carefully. Some humble friend had called to see her, and while they were conversing on their charity affairs, I was amusing myself watching the progress along the dead wall which supported the terrace walk of the Lincoln's Inn gardens, of the tall Mr Frere who had lately begun to come among us, and whose nankins always attracted me. As I expected, he was lost to sight for a moment only to emerge the brighter, for he soon appeared round the corner of the Griffin Wilsons' garden, and across our courtyard up to the door. His knock brought the colour into my aunt's pale face; she also dismissed the humble friend, and then, forgetting me, she rose briskly to receive Mr Frere, and told him laughing how she had sent away an inconvenient third. Of course my turn soon came, but I was so busy arranging all my conjectures that they had to tell me twice to run away and play before I recollected to obey. When I reached the nursery I announced without more ado the impending marriage, which soon after was officially proclaimed. Both bride and bridegroom set about the preparations for their change of condition in a quiet, straightforward, business-like manner that much amused my mother and my aunt Mary. Mr Frere took a house in Brunswick Square, which aunt Lissy went with him to see. After due consideration they decided on buying all the furniture left in it by the late proprietor, to which my aunt added a great deal belonging to her from the stores at Twyford of beautiful Indian wares, and all that she had gathered together for her own comfort while her home was with us. Her bedroom looked very bare when all in it belonging to her had left it; and the back drawing- room we always lived in, deprived of pictures, flower- stands, bookcases, china and other pretty things, with a really nice collection of books, was nearly empty, and it never quite recovered the loss, for my mother had no turn for adornments; she kept a clean house, a good table, a tidy room, always putting in the stitch in time, but she did not care for knick-knacks, at least she did not care to buy them; parting with them was a different affair; she was angry at the loss of what she had been used to see around her, and while my imperturbable aunt Lissy day by day continued her dismantlings and her careful packings, my mother's surprise grew to indignation, as Jane and I were quick enough to find out by means of certain mysterious conversations between her and aunt Mary. They fancied that the low tone in which they spoke and the curious language they employed effectually veiled the meaning of their gossip; instead, therefore, of sending us away when they had private communications to make, they merely bid us go to some other part of the room, while they tried to conceal the subject of their whisperings by the ingenious addition of "mis" to every word they spoke, as "Didvus youvus evervus hearvus ofvus," etc. At first we supposed this was another continental language different from French, which we were ourselves learning, but the proper names sometimes used instead of hevus shevus gave us a clue to the cypher, which soon enabled us to translate it.

Our first summer at Twyford had been very happy, both our aunts, Mary and Lissy, were with us, and cousin James Griffith, who was a great favourite. The queer old house particularly pleased us; there was the long garret under the roof, a capital place for romping, and such hiding-places!—the great clock chamber, turrets and turret stairs, observatory and crooked corners, and odd closets, all charming! then such a yew hedge! a famous gravel-walk beside It, a garden so well stocked, such an orchard, fruits hardly known by more than sight showering down their treasures when we shook the trees. Another amusement of that first year was bat-hunting; the house had been so long shut up, so little looked after, that the cellars and even the kitchen offices were actually swarming with bats; they hung down from the rafters in hundreds, and were infinitely more hard to dislodge than the mice in the Highlands. We were so used to them flapping about our ears within and without after dark, that even the servants gave up complaining of them, and only that they were unpleasant to the sense of smell, vigorous war would hardly have been waged against them. We had merry walks, too, through the fields, a firm pathway, and stile after stile all the way to Bishop's Stortford; and in the autumn such nutting parties, the hedges full of blackberries, sloes, nuts, and bullaces; and then the walnuts! we were stained to the colour of gipsies. The second summer was even happier, for good M. Beckvelt came for a month or more. He took us long walks all over the country, to Thorley Wood and Thorleyhurst, and among the pretty shady lanes abounding in every direction. We prefered him to the nursery-maids, for he really had no pleasure but ours.

The peasantry were uninteresting so after a few cottage visits we gave up any attempt at acquaintance in that sphere, but the fields were charming. We went to church at Thorley always, sitting in the old Raper pew, and so pretty was that old church, so very pretty the old Raper Hall in which my father's tenant Mr Voules lived, that we used to wonder we did not live there ourselves. Mr Frere came frequently to see us, and sometimes a tall brother with him. These were our gala days, for they played bat and ball, battledoor and shuttlecock, cricket, hunt the slipper, puss in the corner, and a hundred other games, which they had the knack of making every one, young and old, join in out on the lawn in the back shrubbery, under the shade of a fine chestnut tree. They seldom came either without a cargo of presents for the children; the clan Frere therefore was so much in favour that we hardly regretted the parting from our kind aunt, little understanding then how much our childish happiness had depended on the little quiet woman who seemed to be of no account.

Our dear aunt Lissy had never interfered with the baby, little Mary. She was now at three years of age Mrs Millar's principal charge and my mother's pet. We three elder ones had been her care, and how she had managed us we only found out by comparing it with the mismanagement that followed. Having few lessons and no employment but such as we contrived for ourselves, our play-hours were so many as to tire us, our tempers suffered, and Mrs Millar, not possessing the best herself, sadly annoyed ours. I was active, pert, violent, Jane indolent and sulky, William impracticable, never out of humour, but quietly and thoroughly self- willed. One mode was applied to all; perpetual faultfinding, screams, tears, sobs, thumps, formed the staple of the nursery history from this time forward. We were as little upstairs as we could help, though we were not always much better off below, for If my mother or aunt Mary were not in the vein for hearing our lessons, they had little patience with our mistakes or our questions; my mother would box our ears with her pretty white hand, and aunt Mary had a spiteful fillip with the thimble-finger which gave a painful sting; bursts of crying, of course, followed, when the delinquents were despatched to dark closets, where they were sometimes forgotten for hours. There was no kind Mrs Lynch to watch us, steal to our prison door and carry us off to her room to be employed and kept from mischief. She was as great a loss as aunt Lissy, in one particular—a serious matter to me, my breakfast —a greater. Our nursery breakfast was ordered, without reference to any but Houghton customs, to be dry bread and cold milk the year round, with the exception of three winter months, when in honour of our Scotch blood we were favoured with porridge; the meal came from Scotland with the kegs of butter and barrels of eggs and bags of cheese, etc., but it was boiled by the English maids in any but north country fashion. Had we been strong children this style of food might have suited us, many large healthy families have thriven on the like; but though seldom ailing, we inherited from my father a delicacy of constitution demanding great care during our infancy. In those days it was the fashion to take none; all children alike were plunged into the coldest water, sent abroad in the worst weather, fed on the same food, clothed in the same light manner. From the wintry icy bath aunt Lissy had saved us; our good nurse Herbert first, and then Mrs Lynch, had always made us independent of the hated milk breakfast; but when they were gone and the conscientious Mrs Millar, my mother's "treasure," reigned alone, our life was one long misery, at least to William and me who were not favourites. In town, a large, long tub stood in the kitchen court, the ice on the top of which had often to be broken before our horrid plunge into it; we were brought down from the very top of the house, four pair of stairs, with only a cotton cloak over our night-gowns, just to chill us completely before the dreadful shock. How I screamed, begged, prayed, entreated to be saved, half the tender-hearted maids in tears beside me; all no use, Millar had her orders (so had our dear Betty, but did she always obey them?). Nearly senseless I have been taken to the housekeeper's room, which was always warm, to be dried; there we dressed, without any flannel, and in cotton frocks with short sleeves and low necks. Revived by the fire, we were enabled to endure the next bit of martyrdom, an hour upon the low sofa, so many yards from the nursery hearth, our books in our hands, while our cold breakfast was preparing. My stomach entirely rejecting milk, bread and tears generally did for me, a diet the consequences of which soon manifested themselves. From being a bright, merry, though slight, child, I became thin, pale and peaky, and woefully changed in disposition, slyness being added to my natural violence, as I can recollect now with shame. William told fibs by the dozen, because he used to be asked whether he had done, or not done, so and so, and did not dare answer truthfully on account of the severity of the punishments to which he was subjected. We began all our ill-behaviour soon after aunt Lissy's marriage. On my father's return from his canvass in Morayshire he received bad accounts of our misconduct. The recapitulation of all our offences to my father drove us to despair, for we loved him with an intensity of affection that made his good opinion essential to our happiness; we also dreaded his sternness, all his judgments being a la Brutus, nor did he ever remit a sentence once pronounced. The milk rebellion was crushed immediately; in his dressing-gown, with his whip in his hand, he attended our breakfast—the tub at this season we liked, so he had no occasion to superintend the bathing—but that disgusting milk! He began with me; my beseeching look was answered by a sharp cut, followed by as many more as were necessary to empty the basin; Jane obeyed at once, and William after one good hint. They suffered less than I did; William cared less, he did not enjoy this breakfast, but he could take it; Jane always got rid of it, she had therefore only hunger to endure; I, whose stomach was either weaker or stronger, had to bear an aching head, a heavy, sick painful feeling which spoilt my whole morning, and prevented any appetite for dinner, where again we constantly met with sorrow. Whatever was on the table we were each to eat, no choice was allowed us. The dinners were very good, one dish of meat with vegetables, one tart or pudding. On broth or fish days no pudding, these days were therefore not in favour; but our maigre days, two in the week during summer, we delighted in, fruit and eggs being our favourite dishes. How happy our dinner hour was when aunt Lissy was with us! a scene of distress often afterwards. My mother never had such an idea as that of entering her nursery, when she wanted her children or her maids she rang for them; aunt Mary, of course, had no business there; the cook was pretty sure of this, the broth got greasy, the vegetables heavy with water, the puddings were seldom brown. Mrs Millar allowed no orts, our shoulders of mutton—we ate all the shoulders —were to be cut fair, fat and lean, and to be eaten fair, a hard task for Jane and me. The stomachs which rejected milk could not easily manage fat except when we were under the lash, then indeed the fat and the tears were swallowed together; but my father could not always be found to act overseer, and we had sometimes a good fight for it with our upright nurse, a fight ending in victory as regarded the fat, though we suffered In another way the pains of defeat, as on these occasions we were deprived of pudding; then, if I were saucy, or Jane in a sulky fit, the scene often ended in the dark closet, where we cried for an hour or more, while William and little Mary finished the pudding.

This barbarity lasted only a short time, owing to my ingenious manufacture of small paper bags which we concealed in our laps under the table, and took opportunities of filling with our bits of fat; these we afterwards warily disposed of at Twyford through the yew hedge into the river, in town elsewhere.

Another serious grief we had connected with our food. We could refuse nothing that was prepared for us; if we did we not only got nothing else, but the dish declined was put by to appear again at the next meal, and be disposed of before we were permitted to have what else there was. Jane greatly disliked green vegetables, spinach or cabbage in particular; it was nature speaking (poor nature I so unheeded in those times), for these plants disagreed with her, yet she must eat them. I have known a plate of spinach kept for her from dinner one day to supper the next, offered at each meal and refused, and not even a bit of bread substituted all those long hours, till sheer hunger got the better of her dislike, and she gave herself a night of sickness by swallowing the mess. Fancy a young child kept thirty hours without food and then given poison ! the dungeons of feudal times were In their degree not more iniquitous than these proceedings.

Of course under this régime the rhubarb bottle became a necessity in the nursery. I had my French beans antipathy, and it was to be overcome in the same way, followed by the same cure for its effects. In addition to the dose of rhubarb, nauseous enough in itself, our breakfast on medicine mornings was water gruel—I can see it now, unstrained, thick, black, and seasoned with salt; this frightful bowl gave me an obstinate fit in Jane's style, from which I suffered in the same way; breakfast, dinner, and supper passed, and the cold gruel remained untouched; faint from hunger I lay down in the evening on the floor of the closet where I had passed the summer's day, and sobbed out that I wished to die I One of the housemaids on her tour of window-shutting, a Hertfordshire girl named Sally Withan, whom I remember with gratitude to this hour, unturned the key which kept me prisoner, and threw beside me some red-streaked apples. I have loved apples ever since. Good-humoured, rosy-cheeked Sally Withan I She said if she could find that nasty gruel, it should not plague her sweet young lady no more, she'd answer for it! I was not slow to give the hint, and certainly on being called to bed, whither I went without a kiss or a good-night or even appearing downstairs, fresh gruel, better it seemed to me, warm at any rate, and a slice of bread, were thankfully received after the miserable day of fasting.

Even poor little Mary did not escape the Spartan rules of my father's discipline; for her baby errors she had to bear her punishment. She used to be set on the lowest step of the stair at "naughty times," and not be allowed to move from there till permission was given. One night my father forgot her, so, I suppose, had every one else, for on ringing for wine and water at midnight, the footman who brought it up found the poor little thing lying there asleep. She had sat there since dinner. We used to comfort one another in our troubles when we could manage it, and many a "goody" the good children secreted and carried to be given with kisses and hugs to the poor desolate culprit, who all the time believed him or herself to be disgracefully guilty.

This is the dark side of the picture; we had very happy hours as well; despotically as we were ruled in some respects, we were left in other ways to our own devices. We disposed of our time very much according to our own fancies, subject to certain rules. We were always to appear at the breakfast-table of our father and mother some time between ten and eleven o'clock; the last of the three regular ringings of my father's dressing-room bell was our signal for leaving our plays; we ran off to brush our hair, wash our hands, and seize our books, with which provided we repaired to the breakfast-room, where our duties were to run messages; in summer to amuse ourselves quietly till called upon to stir; in winter to make the toast. Breakfast over, we said our few lessons to my mother, and read in turns. I was supposed to have practised the pianoforte early. If we were wanted again during the day we were sent for, though frequently we spent the whole morning in the drawing-room, where we employed ourselves as we liked, provided we made no noise. The prettily-wound cotton balls had already superseded the skeins, so that we were saved that piece of business. In the hot summer days aunt Mary often read to us fairy tales, or bits from the Elegant Extracts, latterly Pope's Homer, which with her explanations we enjoyed extremely, all but the Shield of Achilles, the long description of which I feared was never to end. When my father was away my mother dined with us early, and in the evenings we took long drives in the open landau and four. When he was at home, and the late dinner proceeded in full form —and what a tedious ceremony it was!—we all appeared at the dessert, or rather at the second course, in full dress like the footmen. We sat in a row—we four, little Mary and all, on four chairs placed against the wall—trained to perfect quiet; we were to see and to smell, but to taste nothing, to hear and not to speak; but on the dessert appearing we were released, called forward to receive a little wine, a little fruit, and a biscuit, and then to have our game at romps; the riot generally forced our nervous mother to retire, and then quite at ease, in good earnest began the fun.

Sometimes my father was an ogre groping about for little children, whom he caught and tickled nearly into fits; sometimes he was a sleeping giant whom we besieged in his castle of chairs, could hardly waken, and yet dreaded to hear snore. Whatever the play was it was always charming, and redeemed all troubles. We looked forward to this happy hour as to a glimpse of heaven; milk, cabbage, fat, rhubarb, and gruel were all forgotten, and the whippings too; he was no longer the severe master, he was the best of play-fellows. We dreaded hearing of his absence, as all our joy went with him; we hailed his return as our chief blessing. He soon found out that no punishment had such effect upon any of us as exclusion from the romping hour. Once or twice it was my fate to remain upon my chair in that row against the wall, while the romp went on around me; to be told to remain there as unworthy of my share in the fun. I don't think I ever needed a third lesson, although the faults had not been very heinous; the most flagrant was my having provided myself with a private store of apples, gathered only from underneath the trees, but concealed in one of the queer little triangular cupboards scattered up and down the turret stairs, and intended to furnish out our play banquets up in the haunted attic. The summer of 1807 was the last we spent at Twyford.

Just before leaving town we had seen our dear aunt Lissy's little boy, poor John Frere, a fine plain, healthy baby, when as a secret I was told to expect a little brother or sister shortly at home, for whose arrival many preparations were making. Jane hemmed some new soft towels for it—very badly—and I made all the little cambric shirts so neatly, that I was allowed to begin a sampler as a reward, and to go to Bishop's Stortford to buy the canvas and the coloured worsteds necessary.

My father had been in the north. Parliament had been dissolved, and he had set up for Morayshire; his opponent was Colonel Francis Grant, the second son of his Chief, who had all the Tory interest and a deal of clannish help besides; feudal feeling being still strong in the Highlands, although personally there was no doubt as to the popularity of the two candidates My father ran up to within two votes of his cousin; all the consolation he had for setting the county in a flame, losing his time, wasting his money, and dividing irremediably the House of Grant against itself. Years before he had canvassed Inverness, Sir James giving all his Interest to the East India Director, Charles Grant, who to secure his seat promised my father unlimited Indian appointments if he would give in. This was the secret of my father's Indian patronage, through which he provided ultimately for so many poor cadets. How much each of such appointments cost him unluckily he never calculated. He was very little cast down by his ill success.

My father turned the remainder of his time in the Highlands to farming account, for he was exceedingly interested in agriculture, particularly anxious to open the eyes of the Hertfordshire people, who at that time pursued the most miserable of the old-fashioned English systems. The first year we went to Twyford he had established a Scotch grieve there; he built a proper set of offices, introduced rotation crops, deep ploughing, weeding, hay made in three days, corn cut with a scythe, and housed as cut, cattle stall-fed; and I remember above all a field of turnips that all, far and near, came to look and wonder at—turnips in drills, and two feet apart in the rows, each turnip the size of a man's head. It was the first such field ever seen in those parts, and so much admired by two-footed animals that little was left for the four-footed. All the lanes in the neighbourhood were strewn with the green tops cut off by the depredators. The Scotch farming made the Hertfordshire bumpkins stare, but it produced no imitators during the short period it was tried by us. The speculation did not enrich the speculator. We ate our own mutton, poultry, and vegetables in town, as well as in the country, the market-cart coming to Lincoln's Inn Fields weekly with all supplies; we had a cow, too, in the London stables, changed as required. But Mr Reid got to drink too much gin, Mrs Reid lay in bed in the mornings and saw company In the evenings. The laundry-maids also entertained a large acquaintance with the dairy produce, for they united the two conditions; so that though we lived in luxury we paid well for it, made no friends, and were cheated by our servants, for besides the liberal way in which they helped themselves they neglected their master's business.

My father had gone to the Trysts after losing Moray, and bought a large drove of fine young black cattle, for no small penny. These were sent south under the care of two Highland drovers. The fine field of turnips during the winter and the rich grass of the Hertford- shire meadows being expected to feed such beef for the London market as, to say the truth, the English people of that day had little notion of. There were above a hundred head; they were put to rest in the small paddock between the orchard and the river bordered on the shrubbery side by the yew hedge. Poor beasts! I forget how many survived; it was heart-breaking to see them next day lying about the field dying from the effects of the poison.

This unfortunate business disgusted my father with his English improvements; at least after this summer we never saw Twyford again. He sold Thorley Hall to Lord Ellenborough for £20,000, I have heard, £10,000 of which bought Kinloss near Forres, the remainder helping off the accounts of the Morayshire canvass.

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