Recollections

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TO

MY HUSBAND.


 

A FOREWORD


I MUST begin with a confidential word to my readers.  I have been a hard-working literary woman for more than forty years, but I do not write these "memories" because I attach any significance to my own personality.

    I have written them for my own pleasure; because friends have seemed interested and amused by scraps which I have told them; because I think some of my contemporaries may like to be reminded of ways of life and thought which are passing into oblivion; because I have witnessed some "beginnings" which are ripening yet; and because I find the present abounds with those to whom some of my "memories" have already a certain antiquarian flavour.

    I must express my gratitude to the friends through whose instigation and sympathy I have been led to enjoy these "pleasures of memory."  I also offer my cordial thanks to the other friends who have given me ready furtherance in the matter of illustrations—viz., to Lord Guthrie, Miss Lydia Nicol, and Mr. Robert Brown.


I. F. M.

    BISHOPS' GATE,
                OLD ABERDEEN.



CONTENTS
―――♦―――

CHAPTER I.

A MINGLED YARN OF FAMILY HISTORY


A farm in Buchan—An old-fashioned servant—"Uncle Charles"—His second wife—My paternal grandmother—Euthanasia—"The Two Babylons"—A love gift—Policemen and scavengers—The hundred gold pieces—My maternal grandmother—An old valentine—"Breeches"—"Looking at home."


CHAPTER II.

IN CHILDHOOD'S DAYS


Early memories—Matronly fashions—The British Museum— Juvenile books—Blair's "Belles-lettres"—The "boy" dolls—Sundays—Funerals—An old African—The Lord Mayor's Show—Lamp-lighters—Postage-stamps—Pattens—An early Victorian shopkeeper's house—"On the Bedford estate"—Bakers and bakehouses—Rural holidays at Shepherd's Bush—Locomotion—The suspension bridge—Hungerford Market—Street advertisements—The window-tax—"Buy a broom"—Street sights—A vanished art—"Jack in the Green"—Burke and Hare—Curious custom at deaths of Dukes of Northumberland—Bedford Street—Some mysterious neighbours—London vignettes—"Holy water"—"A youth of accents mild"—A matrimonial "problem"—Our old Highland friend—The Great Exhibition of 1851— Early sorrows.


CHAPTER III.

A GIRLS' SCHOOL FIFTY YEARS AGO


Illiteracy of working class—Teaching the resort of the needy and unfit—My school-days—"Mixed education"—The new writing-master—A bewildering essay—The "back-board"—Thursday drill—Lessons—Marks—School episodes—A weird experience—Fees —The young female brain—The vortex of London.


CHAPTER IV.

THE BATTLE OF LIFE-WHO HELPED AND WHO
HINDERED


Financial difficulties—Mid-Victorian views of woman's work—Wild experiments—Mrs. S. C. Hall—The early telegraph service—Office for the employment of women—First secretarial work—Peep behind Scenes—Mrs. Rutherford Russell—Mid-Victorian squeamishness—A busy time—A Scottish literary hack—"Old Tom"—A Scottish Countess—At Farm Street—"A Popish plot!"—At an afternoon meeting in Grosvenor Square—Sir Edwin Arnold—Dr. Wardroper—George IV.'s physician—Law-writing—Suggestion from Family Herald—Experiences in Bloomsbury—A typical Mid-Victorian tragedy—A "waster"—Kindness in the offices—A "pitch" of my own—A vixen—Difficulties in employing women—The "Clergy Corporation"—"Well-connected"—The Rev. Dash Smith—Who was expected?—Balance sheets—End of financial difficulties—Marriage.


CHAPTER V.

IN LITERARY LIFE


The Lancet—Anecdote of Dr. Wakley—The Family Herald—The Bigg bequests—The Youth's Magazine—Jean Ingelow—My adventure with an old Scottish publisher—The Leisure Hour—Working in the dark—The friendship of Mrs. S. C. Hall—John Cassell—My "enigmas," and how they turned up after many days—The mystery of Margaret Blount—Further correspondence with Jean Ingelow—Tom Hood, junior—Mr. Benjamin Clarke—I make acquaintance with Alexander Strahan and his staff—The great offer—Alexander Japp—Fears—Dr. Thomas Guthrie—"Sunday reading"—A mistake—Troubles—Dr. W. G. Blaikie—Moody and Sankey—Heterodoxy—A premonition—Two troublesome editors—A jealous writer—An editor's comment—"Nobility or ability"—A Colonial woman's rash accusations—The family of Mickle the poet—Helen Jackson's "Blind Spinner"—John Nicol and his mother—Mrs. Henry Wood—Dr. William Alexander—"Johnnie Gibb of Gushetneuk"—The Rev. Charles Bullock.


CHAPTER VI.

MEMORIES OF INTERESTING PEOPLE


Royalties—The Duke of Wellington—The blocked-out note—A vain man—Disraeli and his wife—Garibaldi—Mystery about his departure—W. E. Gladstone—The Chambers at Putney House—Ricciotti Garibaldi—His ghost-story—Miss Tripp—Julian and Una Hawthrone—Curious incident—The Chevalier Chatelaine and the Dunmow Flitch—Arthur O'Shaughnessy—Joseph Edwards—Durham the sculptor—John Ruskin at home—Miss Susanah Beevor—Dinah Mulock —"Douglas, Douglas, tender and true"—Geraldine Jewsbury—Pension and petticoat—Civil List pensions—Advice to literary aspirants—A singer's tragic story—Richard Rowe, the man of many names—A very curious story—Lola Montez—Dr. Jacob de Liefde and his linguistic difficulties—Jean Ingelow in her own person—Her offer of marriage—Unfounded rumour about Browning—Browning at Edinburgh tercentenary—Lowell—Mrs. Elizabeth Charles—Bishop Colenso—Dickens and Thackeray—"The last of the Stuarts"—Arthur Sullivan and his brother Fred—The father of W. S. Gilbert—Dean Alford—"Sadie"—The Halls' stories of "L. E. L."—A vile man— George Cruikshank—J. Forbes Robertson, senior—Gustave Doré—Taglioni—Miss Glyn—Charles Dickens—The Royal Thanksgiving at St. Paul's—Robert Buchanan—Pinwell, the artist—The young Macdonalds—The Rev. H. R. Haweis—Martin Tupper—Jeremy Bentham—Dora Greenwell—Samuel Smiles' kind blunder—Zola—Père Hyacinthe—A Labour lecturer—Dr. Guthrie's visits—Mrs. Herschell—Dr. Guthrie in the Highlands—The Guthrie family—Dr. Norman MacLeod—Robert Moffatt—Was it telepathy?—Sir William Geddes—George Macdonald—Dr. Alexander Bain—A luckless student—A disgraceful riot—The first Mrs. Bain—John Stuart Blackie—An Aberdeen surgeon's peculiarities—The oddities of a Divinity Professor—Dr. John Struthers—Dr. Guthrie's favourite quotation—"G. L. B."—A bogus ghost-story—Waste-food kitchen—A patient woman.


CHAPTER VII.

FIFTY YEARS OF CHURCH LIFE


St. Martin's-in-the-Fields—Free seats—Queer pews—"Bumble"—Dukes—St. Paul's, Covent Garden—The Turner Tablet—"Our poorer brethren"—A cap that fitted— Sunday-schools—Testaments for China—St. John's in Broad Court—Confirmation—An apostolic pastor — Spurgeon's Tabernacle—"Real interesting"—"Not that kind of people"—Father Gavazzi—Dr. Guthrie as a preacher—Drawing-room meetings—Hang Theology Rogers—A mystery or a romance?—The Rev. A. Ross of Stepney—Early East-Ending—Stepney vignettes—A knight's daughter—Gold in the gutter—Irish Norah—A lost corpse—Polly Perkins and her general views—Mission business—Scottish church-going—Drunkenness and church membership—Sabbatarianism—A Sunday song—"No better than the lave"—Highland bigotry—Cars v. cabs—The Highland widow—Scottish gloom—Disregard for natural beauty, and tendency to destroy it.


CHAPTER VIII.

ON MY TRAVELS


Across the Atlantic in a sailing vessel—Fears of mutiny—Canada, 1870-1890—On liners—In haunts of ancient peace—On Loch Mares—The well of Isle Maree—Shetland in 1884—Visits to the East—Side-lights on the Bible—The American woman in the Jaffa Hotel—Traits —"Be jabe"—"Downcast"—"Women's work"—The revival of the Olympic games—A girl Cassabianca—Greek kindliness—British manners—Three quaint coincidences—A Scottish farmer on his travels—A railway guard's repartee—A grim railway dialogue—The true use of books of travel.


CHAPTER IX.

IN THE KITCHEN


Domestic problems—"Not made for such work"—Looking backwards—A madonna of the kitchen—"Unnecessary lies"—An odd mixture—"Respectable"—Aberdeenshire laxity—Highland and Shetland austerity—Ministerial obliquity—Magdalens—The organic unity of evil—A mysterious letter—Philanthropic folly—Insanity in the kitchen—Anonymous letters—By the claw of a fiend—"Opening the door"—Suggestions.


CHAPTER X.

CRIMES, CRIMINALS, AND PRISONS


A tragic corner—The story of the Rev. Mr. Watson—The Waterloo Bridge mystery—A toll for two—The Northumberland Street horror—An empty grave—The Psychology of the criminal—Female Prisoners—The infanticide—The degenerate—Fifty pounds annuity—Sad problems—The maid of an inn—The girl who defeated the Government—At the sheep-stealer's execution.


CHAPTER XI.

THE MYSTERIOUS BORDERLAND


A message in a dream—Dream dramas—A dream at sea—A vision of the distant—A forecasting dream—A dream landscape—A "double"—The narrow escape—Seen and heard across the world—A dream fulfilled—A romantic dream—A strange consciousness—The "shot" and the "bagpipes"—The family graves—A vision of tragedy—The cry of a lamb—Second sight in Shetland—An averted omen—An Athenian ghost-story—The witches of Tain—Spiritualistic phenomena—An adverse will—The Home trial—"Media" and genius—A silk dress—A collarette and muff—"Your wife's birthday"—A clairvoyante's "reading"—"Eleanor's lover"—Other people's business—The report of a singular and complex experience—A series of experiments—"My dear wife's touch"—Warnings and considerations.


CHAPTER XII.

THE END OF THE DAY


How one knows one is old—Leo Tolstoy's message—Shaking a limb—"Strangers yet"—Practical advice—Accounts—"Sundries, 15s."—Diaries—A judicial murder prevented—Arts and hobbies—Wide horizons—The limitations of money—Little things—Things essential—Why the children died—Incompatibles—Saints of to-day and sinners of to-morrow—Life's later lesson.

 


 

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