Isabella Fyvie Mayo (1)

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RECOLLECTIONS
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CHAPTER I.

A MINGLED YARN OF FAMILY HISTORY.


THESE memories are in no sense an autobiography.  Yet there are manifold reasons why I must string them—especially the earlier ones—on an autobiographic thread.  Indeed, it is only thus that I can give my account of a typical Scottish middle-class family, and of the life of a girl in London, also fairly typical of that period.

    My paternal grandparents belonged to a line of farmers in Buchan, a remote district of Aberdeenshire.  From family tradition and from what remains of the family homestead, their outward life must have been bleak and Spartan in the extreme.  Family and servants shared their evenings round the kitchen-fire.  My father always cherished kindliest recollections of a certain "Maggie," whom he called the most faithful worker he had ever known, often quoting her words when, being too crippled by chilblains to move about, she would take to the spinning-wheel with the remark, "Ane can aye be deein' something."  He used to tell us, too, how, when calves were being taken away to market, he and his younger brother Charles would wander away across the hill-side to escape from the pathetic lowing of the bereaved cow.

    There were four sons and two daughters in the house.  One daughter soon married the other lived out an invalided life at home.  The eldest son succeeded his father on the farm the second proved rather "a rolling stone," extravagant, according to his thriftier brothers' estimate, ready to claim family help, and never dreaming he should be prepared to render it.  From his general financial confusions, I fear he caused some mystification and dispeace among his nearest relatives.  My father, the third son, left home for London when he was twenty-one.  The youngest child was my uncle Charles, afterwards Dean of Moray and Ross, the memory of whose personal charm and love for animals and for all things lovely and of good report has scarcely yet faded from Inverness.  He married twice.  The first wife, the daughter of a prosperous farmer in Morayshire, is said to have been a very pretty woman, of most retiring manners; the second spouse had some pretensions to "family," and was a person of strongly-marked and eccentric individuality, of whom many quaint stories are told in a charming book called "Inverness before Railways," written many years ago by my friend the late Miss Isabel Anderson, sister to the present librarian of Aberdeen University, who had known the Fyvies in her childhood.

    My uncle seems by his intimate associations with county families, who did not even belong to the Episcopal communion—such as the Forbes of Culloden—to have been something of a "society" man, but I possess letters and tractates of his which prove him to have been also an earnest and faithful "minister."

    My father disliked second marriages in a general way.  He had been much attached to the first wife of his brother Charles, in whose house he had paid a long visit on the solitary occasion when he returned from London to the North.  He was not the more reconciled to the second nuptials by the rather tactless way in which my uncle had written to his own brother that his second bride "is much above what my birth entitles me to expect."  My father might have been better pleased could he have known that the lady of this brother's middle-aged choice looked at the matter in quite another light.  All her pride was in her husband.  She claimed dignity from him alone.  It happened that, though a punctilious housekeeper, she was odd and careless in her dress, and Miss Anderson tells us that on one rainy day, when shopping in the market-place, a bystander took the liberty to hint to her that her dress was very muddy, though she was holding it in a way that displayed the holes in her stockings.  The lady drew herself up indignantly, and replied: "What does that signify?  I am Mrs. Fyvie!"

    My uncle Charles had been one of the early and enthusiastic admirers of Sir Walter Scott, eagerly procuring the Waverley novels as they came out, that he might enjoy them with some lads of the Dunbar family to whom he was then acting as tutor.  He remained always a bookish man, and not only had a good library of his own, but also started one in connection with his church—a very advanced movement in those days.  In the beginning of his ministry, however, Bishop Skinner alludes to him in a letter as "a raw youth," his grounds for this cruel appellation being that my uncle had celebrated a marriage during Lent.  Anybody who realizes the domestic habits but too common among the humbler rural folk in the North-East of Scotland is tempted to think that my uncle's breach of ecclesiastical etiquette may have been an act of social charity.

    I saw my uncle Charles once in London, when I was about six years old.  I well remember the tall grave man, in his Dean's garb, who laid his hand kindly upon my head.  He has no descendants in this country, but grandsons of his figured in the ill-omened Jameson's Raid.

    My father's mother died in very advanced age, passing away without suffering.  She only "wanted to sleep," and her son and daughter-in-law, understanding what was coming, persuaded her to remain in bed, and sent for those of her absent family who were within possibility of reaching her.  When the middle-aged sons entered with grave faces, she said to them: "I'm glad to see you, my dear boys; but I can't keep awake."  The family remained in her room, going to the bedside from time to time; then they found all was over so peacefully that the watchers never knew when the last moment came.  I have often wondered whether it may not be the true intention of Nature that all death should be thus: whether some law has not been broken—however ignorantly or innocently—where death is far otherwise.

    My maternal grandfather, Peter Thomson, himself a business man in London, was descended from masons, millers, and crofters on the Tweed Border, of whom I know no further particulars.  Among my mother's cousins on this side were three brothers Hislop, who were of some note in their generation.  The Rev. Alexander Hislop was one of the zealous promoters of the Free Church severance in 1843.  He was an antiquarian and a philologist.  His "Two Babylons," though he wrote it from the narrowest sectarian standpoint, becomes, from its honest and careful scholarship, a most illuminating book on the matter of world religions.  How narrow his own standpoint was may be guessed when I add that I have seen a diary of his in which he laments "the spiritual deadness" of his son, aged eight, and his own "hopelessness" when the poor child died of brain-fever a year later!

    The younger brother, the Rev. Stephen Hislop, became a missionary in India, and distinguished himself as a botanist.  Certain Indian flora which he discovered are known by his name.  He lost his life—by drowning—in pursuit of his hobby.

    The third brother, Robert, had a considerable influence in the educational world, and was a "collector" on natural history lines, some of his collections being now in one of the Edinburgh museums.

    A grandson of the Rev. Alexander Hislop perished nobly in saving life during the great floods in Bloemfontein a few years ago.  Himself a splendid swimmer, he had saved one after another, till he was caught in an overwhelming torrent, and those looking down from a height reported that his face wore a smile as he was swept away.

    My maternal great-grandmother was a well-connected Aberdeenshire woman of great force of character, one or two of whose sayings, shrewd, and possibly cynical, lingered long behind.  Her husband, my great-grandfather on this side, came from an acute commercial stock in Aberdeen and its neighbourhood—people honoured in their own place, and with occasional instances among them both of talent and eccentricity—the former too often left uncultivated, and the latter not always of an amiable type, but allied rather to "grippiness."

    When my mother, in her maidenhood, paid a short visit among her mother's "people," a son of the wealthiest and best-placed branch of these kinsfolk offered her marriage.  She declined on the score of the brevity of their acquaintance.  At parting he gave her as "a remembrance" a copy of the Shorter Catechism, "with proofs," bound in russia leather!

    On this side of the house were two old people who left very quaint benefactions, much grudged by some of their wealthy kin.  They were brother and sister—he, a combination of wastrel and miser; she, practical and kindly.  One frosty day she met with an accident in Market Street, Aberdeen, and received much kind help from a young policeman, who saw her safely to her home.  By-and-by she remarked to her brother that after both their deaths she should like her share of their property to go to the Aberdeen police, the interest to be annually disbursed among them, her gratitude to her own helper having shown her that they must have many opportunities for showing kindness for which they might get no reward and few thanks.  The brother pondered.  "And now I think of it," said he, "I shall leave my share to the scavengers, for I am sure they are a most deserving body!"

    Another member of this group of kinsfolk owned the land whereon "Union Place" was afterwards built.  He sold it for £100.  Even then it was seen he had made a bad bargain.  His defence was: "Eh, but the hundred gold pieces were bonnie!"  The same property, as built on, must now be worth scores of thousands.

    My maternal grandmother, who came of this stock, and became the wife of Peter Thomson, was herself a beautiful and talented woman, enjoying all the "culture" of the time.  Kept as a "parlour-boarder" at a fashionable school till she was nearly twenty, yet at thirty-two she, a young widow, courageously assumed charge of her husband's import business—a wreck, owing to the Napoleonic wars—went herself to his wharves, and acted with such aplomb and good sense that she speedily rallied her broken fortunes, and in due time dowered her daughters, made a provision for her own old age, and set up her three sons for life by dividing her revived business among them.  She was a tall, elegant woman, with waving chestnut hair, which at her death (at seventy-three) had scarcely changed to silver.  She was very precise and strict in demeanour—made her grand-children "sit up," not in the slangy sense, but in a literal one.  Nobody lounged in her presence; nobody was allowed to hang over the fire.  She kept all her own rules—never lay in bed for breakfast, never addressed strangers without polite prefix.  During the latest years of her life she lived with my mother's only sister, and the son of the house told me that down to her last appearance at the breakfast-table, very shortly before her death, her pretty curls were always in prim order under her lace cap.  She had embroidered most beautifully during her younger days, and specimens of her work, both in coloured silks and dainty laces, remain among my treasures.  She had learned French to perfection—it proved of great use among her business connections—and she was always very partial to French people.  An only child, she had no relations nearer than cousins, and of a large family of these, on her clever mother's side, many were most unfortunate, the sons "going wrong"; one of the daughters, in defiance of the then existing law, marrying her deceased sister's husband; and another sister, of somewhat limited mentality, ending her days in a genteel almshouse.  One of the younger sons had some little artistic faculty, and was actually placed as pupil in the studio of the unfortunate artist Haydon—singularly misplaced, it would seem, for the only artistic work of his which has reached posterity is a daintily-painted "conventional" valentine addressed to a young relative, who thought so little of her admirer that it is evident that she tried ineffectually to erase his name from his tribute.

    Though my father's family had been staunch Scottish Episcopalians, yet the general tenor of his own life and principles—even my Uncle Charles's lapse, so displeasing to his Bishop—makes me think that my own freedom from all sectarianism derives from this side.  Or possibly a certain width of thought may have evolved from the contradictory theological narrownesses joining in me!  For my maternal grandfather, Peter Thomson—the uncle of the Hislops—came of sternest Covenanting breed, and that branch of the family has steadily followed the progress of Scottish dissent.  Some of its younger people still cherish the dainty handless teacups which their foremothers had lent for use at the first social meeting of that seceding body which was long known as the United Presbyterian Church.  On the other hand, my maternal grandmother's people were staunch "Auld Kirk," and she had many stories of the parish ministers and schoolmasters of her race.

    One concerned a schoolmaster who had come to England, and had founded a fashionable "establishment" on the South Coast—a school which, I believe, still exists, and has had many famous men among its pupils.  This schoolmaster delighted to horrify his wife and her guest, my grandmother, by pointing to the glass-dropped candelabra on the drawing-room shelf, and declaring, "Those are my breeches," the good lady having exchanged sundry of those garments when half-worn for these ornaments.

    In the other story the kinsman was a parish minister in the wilds of the Scottish North-East.  On one Sunday his wife and daughter filled their pew, clad in gay garments which had come as fast as they could—in those days it was not very fast—from Paris.  The minister's discourse was on the follies of fashion and the wickedness of extravagance.  As he ended, he leaned over the pulpit, and, taking the congregation into his confidence by his dramatic action and tone, said: "Brethren, doubtless you are thinking that before I preach thus I should look at home.  Brethren, it is because I have looked at home that I preach thus."  He must have been a brave man, for he had to go back to the Manse!


 
CHAPTER II.

IN CHILDHOOD'S DAYS.


MY earliest recollections show forth manifold changes both in social custom and in thought.

    I recall being on the dickey of a stage-coach.  I do not remember who was with me, nor where I was being taken—nothing except the red-coated guard and his sonorous horn.

    I remember sitting on my mother's knee at breakfast, and thinking how very pretty her throat was as it rose out of the fine white muslin "neckerchief" that she wore inside her dress, which was always cut "half-low."  She persisted in that mode till her death in 1878, in winter adding a "fichu"  (she called it "a tippet") of the same stuff as each dress, and crossed over in front.  She wore caps made of net and "blond" lace, with bows of ribbon set among the latter at each side of her face.  The cap was fastened by ribbons under her chin.  She had worn caps of this type from the day after her marriage, when she was a girl of twenty-two.  Nor did she vary their fashion—save during the first year of her widowhood—in the least till about the year 1870, when the side-trimmings were slightly moderated, and others were added above the forehead.

    I remember being taken to the British Museum when it had high walls about it.  As the existing buildings were completed in 1847, this means that I must have been under four years of age.  My too youthful appearance caused our whole party to be turned back at the entrance.  I wept bitterly, and my mother indignantly told the person who repelled us (I don't remember who it was) that I had as much sense as many grown-up people.  Poor mother!  She snatched me up in her arms and carried me all the way home!

    I could read easily when I was four years old, and reading was never anything but a delight to me.  I have no recollection of the process of learning, though, as I remember that afterwards I had among my toys little flat blocks with a picture on one side and a letter of the alphabet on the other, and inscribed with such legends as "C is the Cat who sits on a Cushion," I suppose these had been used in my instruction.

    There were few toy or even juvenile books in those days, and I am proud of the literary discrimination I displayed, for my favourites were "Goody Two Shoes," the reputed work of Oliver Goldsmith; "Mrs. Lester's School," by Charles and Mary Lamb; and "Mary the Maid of the Inn," by Robert Southey, the reading of the latter being always rather "a fearful joy."  Of course, these great names meant nothing to me, nor do I even remember seeing them appended to my editions, which had paper covers and rude woodcuts, sometimes crudely coloured.  When I was five years old somebody gave me "The Childhood of Mary Leeson," by Mary Howitt.  I have it still with my name and the date in it, and though it was a great favourite, it is in a state of good preservation.

    During my father's lifetime (which means before I was eight) I liked to read Blair's "Belles Lettres"—a book no longer appreciated as it once was, but for which I have a kindness, because it first made me aware of the high literary culture of ancient Greece.  I can recall the day when I read the passage wherein Dr. Blair commends the simplicity of Virgil's description of an innocent rural flirtation, which Dryden translated as


"My Phillis me with pelted apples plies,
 Then tripping to the wood the wanton hies,
 And wishes to be seen before she flies,"


and goes on to say: "Mr. Pope wanted to imitate this passage, and, as he thought, to improve upon it.  He does it thus:


"'The sprightly Sylvia trips along the green;
  She runs, but hopes she does not run unseen,
  While a kind glance at her pursuer flies.
  How much at variance are her feet and eyes!'


This," proceeds Dr. Blair, "falls far short of Virgil.  The natural and pleasing simplicity of the description is destroyed by the quaint and affected turn in the last line."

    The critic did not add that Pope was only sixteen when he made this "imitation," as I understand to have been the case.  But I remember that the comparison between his verse and Dryden's gave me a peculiar delight—like the awakening of a new sense.  I must add that I did not explain these joys to my seniors—I had no words to fit the subject.  I remember somebody said, "What can that child be doing with that book?" and that my father answered, "Let her read it if she pleases."  I was very grateful to him, and I am sure he was right.

    At the same time, I had my beloved cats to play with, an undiminished interest in story-books, my dolls, and my doll's house.  My sister Elizabeth dressed me a doll in all the well-made garments of a baby—the clothing buttoned and tied, an could be constantly washed, even to the handsome "pelisse" it wore for "walking out."  I am sure this was more wholesome in every way than the readily-soiled "bought" finery I see dragged about on the dolls of to-day.  But I always preferred my pussies to my doll, because, as I put it, "they were alive."  My doll's house had two rooms, and its front was of real "harling," bits of genuine quartz glittering in it.  I wanted the resident family to have a husband and a son.  The small dolls of that day were very primitive creations, with no joints save at thighs, knees, and elbows.  They had wooden heads and painted faces, and they were all made feminine, with topknots.  My sister Elizabeth, twelve years my senior, and ever my good fairy, sympathized with my taste (I believe she shared it), so she hewed off two of the top-knots, inked over the bare spot, drew fierce whiskers on one of the cherubic faces, and prepared suitable garments.  We had a "grown-up gentleman" and "a boy."  Both had velvet coats and white "ducks," the latter a reflection of trousers then fashionable.

    We never had hot dinner on Sunday, as my father liked to spare labour as much as possible; but after our "cold beef and pickles" we always had particularly nice fruit-pie, and sometimes dessert also.  After dinner we sat round in a circle, including the servant-girl and any visitor, and read, "verse about," one or two chapters from the "story" parts of the Bible, going consecutively through the books; also, my father heard the hymns and Catechisms of those who wished to recite any.  We were "broad" in our selection of Catechisms, for we had the Church Catechism, the Shorter Catechism, and a simple little work (I think by Isaac Watts) called the Mother's Catechism, and each might learn any or all, as she chose!  I think I learned the whole of the Mother's Catechism, but in the Shorter Catechism I stopped on the first answer: "Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him for ever."  I never went beyond that.  I learned a few of Watts's "Hymns for Children," but they did not seem to fasten on my mind, except, perhaps, one or two of the "Moral Songs," especially


"Pity the sorrows of a poor old man,
 Whose trembling limbs have brought him to your door,"


which is not by Dr. Watts at all—though it was published as his in the edition I knew—but by one Rev. Thomas Moss.  I used to associate this with a decent-looking aged pensioner who came to us weekly for a tiny dole.

    For general Sunday reading I had the "Pilgrim's Progress," "Agathos, and other Stories" (Bishop Wilberforce), several volumes of the Child's Companion and the Youth's Magazine, of which I still possess forty volumes.  They are well-printed, well-bound books, full of carefully-conveyed information and excellent woodcuts and steel engravings.  In their early days Jane Taylor wrote in them as "Q. Q.," and in their latter days Jean Ingelow joined the staff.

    There was a red-leather bound copy of "Janeway's Token for Children," which had been given by some distant relative to my sister Elizabeth, and she could not endure it, and always took it from me if she saw it in my hands.  It consisted of histories of poor little children, all, if memory serves me, under ten years of age, but trained like, parrots in the repetition of a hideous Calvinism, and all dying young.  Certainly in the long-run I did read it, but it did me no harm, because I had heard my sister's opinion of it.  In the year 1900 I gave this copy as a curiosity to the Religious Tract Society, who were its original publishers.  I think my sister occasionally threatened to destroy, it, but the family had an almost Mohammedan reverence for "books," and, further, this was a gift.  We were never allowed to leave volumes lying about.  When a reading was done, all was carefully put away, each book in its unvarying place.

    One of my earliest remembrances is of awakening on a sunny morning, after, for some temporary reason, passing the night on an improvised couch in the little heavily-panelled "drawing-room" of my birthplace in Bedford Street, Strand.  The windows were open, and fresh breezes were blowing in, sweetened by passing over flower-laden carts going to Covent Garden, and the voice of my sister Elizabeth was carolling Ken's verse:


"Awake, my soul, and with the sun
 Thy daily stage of duty run."


She died at eighteen.  I first saw "the lovely appearance of death" as she lay in her coffin.  I remember my mother gently lifting one of the folded marble hands, and sighing "This busy hand!"  I was then six years old.  I had loved her dearly; I have loved her ever—have never forgotten her—and sixty years afterwards I can distinctly recall her appearance and manner.  Yet I do not recollect any very keen grief when she died, possibly because I could not then realize the "unutterable longing" of ever-present loss.  I was interested and excited, thinking how very pretty my other sisters looked in their black dresses and soft white frills, and marvelling why a certain young cousin absented himself from the funeral on the score that "it was more than he could bear."

    A child has no long past by which to measure the future of a new sorrow.

    In those days death had the gloomiest surroundings.  There were no flowers in or on my sister's coffin.  Early on the morning of the funeral "mutes" took up their position on each side of the front-door, each man holding a long wand, whose upper end was swathed in silken folds, so that the effect was of big black umbrellas badly "done up," and held handle downwards.  The mourners were wrapped in black scarves, and, "supported" by undertakers, as if physically prostrate, were borne away in black coaches with black cushions, and drawn by black horses.  My father himself hated this pageantry of woe, and cut it down as much as possible, absolutely forbidding the great bunches of black feathers with which hearses were generally decorated.  The mourners came home to tea, and there were madeira cakes on the table, which I have loathed ever since.

    Among my earliest recollections is one of an old negro who did odd jobs about our house, and called me "Missie."  He had been a slave, escaping from the Southern States, and his past sufferings cast strange glooms on his otherwise cheery nature, and in one of these he finally committed suicide.  It was not thought proper that I should know this, but I gathered the truth somehow, and was much horrified; yet, as if out of respect to the silence with which I had been guarded, I was silent in my turn, and did not reveal that I had discovered the fact.

    I saw one of the last processions of the Lord Mayor's Show by river. It was abolished, I think, about 1853.  We watched it—a long line of boats, almost hidden by a dense yellow fog—from an uncle's house on the Adelphi Terrace, and as he died in 1849, and his house was soon vacated, that fixes the date.

    In my childish days lamp-lighters went about at twilight bearing ladders, which they had to mount at each lamp-post.  The postmen wore scarlet coats and top-hats.  They struck a pretty note of colour in the streets.  Policemen also word high hats (partly, I think, glazed) and long heavy coats of pelisse-like pattern.  My eldest sister, fourteen years my senior, remembered the old "Charlies," with their long-drawn-out cries, "Ten o'clock, and a—fine—moonlight—night!" or whatever the weather might be.

    I can remember the old thick red penny postage-stamps, which one had to cut carefully apart.  I remember when the perforation began, and I recollect I thought I might have invented that myself, as I was always working markers of the then fashionable "perforated card," and knew how well and easily it would split.

    I recollect hearing the clatter of pattens in the streets on rainy nights.  These pattens—at least, as used in London—were an unyielding piece of wood roughly shaped to the size and instep of an average foot, and raised from the ground by a circle of iron fastened on by three prongs.  These were succeeded by "clogs," which (again as used in London) were a piece of wood with a joint in the middle, and heel and toe caps of leather, with a strap for fastening.  Some of these "clogs" were made as daintily as so primitive an article could be.  They were very useful, as in those days thick boots were not used, and ladies slipped off their clogs and left them in the hall.  Goloshes made their first appearance from America about 1847, but did not win or deserve popularity till four or five years later.

    Our house in Bedford Street was quaintly interesting.  Before my day, in the chief room of the chief floor, there had been a carved wooden mantel.  My eldest sister had recollections of flowers, fruit, and birds, even of monkeys.  This was all ruthlessly cleared away by order of the factor of the Dukes of Bedford, from whom we held our lease, the fine wood-carving, beautifully adapted to the panelled chambers, being replaced by plinths of white marble.  The custom on the Bedford estate was to grant twenty-one years' leases at rather moderate rentals, and at the expiry of each, if it were to be renewed, repairs and improvements were ordered, costing from £300 to £500.  When the leases were not renewed, then certain reinstatements were called for.  The worst of all was that many of the so-called "improvements" were of disastrous nature.  Such was one wrought when our lease "fell in" during my school-days.  It was ordered that the rich old red-brick front was to be covered with Portland cement, straight architraves of the same to be placed above the windows, with their small, heavily-framed panes.  It was debated whether the fine old bracket windows of the shop and counting-house might not be removed for modern substitutes, but it was decided that any tampering with them might bring down the whole building.  The Portland cement architraves proved a source of endless worry and loss.  Behind our house was a great printing-office, and the steam it emitted caused these fearsome "ornaments" to peel off and to fall in masses through a glass roof in a neighbouring yard, and even upon the heads of passers-by in the street.  We were constantly the victims of complaints and damages.  Why such an "improvement" had ever been wrought was mysterious.  Many years afterwards we learned that the ducal factor of that day had had a cousin who was a Portland cement maker.

    The leisureliness of business at that time is indicated by our shop and counting-house being approached by flights of steps.  The counting-house and shop were both panelled throughout.  The dining-room was partly panelled and partly papered, the ceiling being also papered—an old fashion now revived.  Shop and dining-room were divided by a partition of small-paned windows, the upper part in bold, ornamental designs.  The dining-room had a large china closet.  The kitchen lay behind the dining-room, and was well lit, almost all of one side of it being glazed, and looking upon a paved yard, from which a ladder led up to a loft and granary.

    The staircase and hall were panelled, and the balustrades roughly carved.  All the rooms on the first and second floors were panelled.  There were four rooms—two small—on each flat, and all four communicated.  On the doors of the first-floor rooms there were beautifully wrought brass hanging handles, and keyholes with decorative appliances.  There were many commodious cupboards and fixture shelves.  The attic- rooms (three) were all papered; that at the back opened upon "leads."

    The sanitary arrangements of the house—and, indeed, of the whole street—were very bad.  This must have accounted for the undue mortality among its young people.  Whole families perished in youth, and I cannot recall a single household all of whose members survived to the age of twenty.  Yet the great cholera epidemics of that time, rampant all around, wholly passed by Bedford Street!

    The shop-windows were sashes, and occasions somebody would gently raise one and extract loaf or a roll.  The counters in the shop were fine mahogany, but my father judged it "cleanest" that they should be regularly scrubbed.  The shop inkstand, in the form of the base of a column, was of black Wedgwood.  For a year or two before we left the house (1869) "collectors" had tried to secure that inkstand, but, of course, we did not part from it.  The shop had only one gas-lamp.  It stood slightly back from the window, and was of brass, in form of a Corinthian pillar.  I suppose it would be gloomy now, but the light seemed very brilliant in those days, and I often saw lads standing outside and reading by it.  There was also gas in the bakehouses, but nowhere else on the premises.  For the living-rooms we used tall brass candlesticks, with tallow candles, snuffers and all.  These were succeeded by "composites," preferred as giving no smell, and consuming their own wicks, snuffing having involved perpetual interruption.  For staircase and bedroom use we carried flat brass candlesticks.

    The bakehouses and ovens were below the shop and dining-room.  They were not absolutely underground, as most were, because our flights of steps yielded them the level of ordinary "breakfast-parlours."  The conditions in those days could never be good, though my father, who had been through them himself, tried to do his best.  The men had their sleeping-quarters at the top of the house in an airy chamber opening on to the leads.  Between 1855 and 1868 wages stood at twenty-three shillings a week for foremen, and eighteen shillings a week for seconds, with house-room, firing, light, bread, and potatoes.  Before that, wages had been lower.  One very flourishing firmpatronized by royalty—kept eleven men, and had only one bed for them all.  During the twenty-four hours they occupied it turn and turn about.  One of these unfortunates was generally in Charing Cross Hospital, and the "master" got a reputation for generosity by his yearly subscription to its funds.  He, too, was a Scotsman, and when he finally retired from business with the (then) huge fortune of £80,000, he carried the national thrift so far that he married his head shopwoman, a spinster who had been in his service for more than a quarter of a century.  He thus spared himself from giving her any pension, and secured the services of a trusty housekeeper—without a salary!

    In my father's journeyman days men stayed long in their service, and when they left it was generally either to go abroad or to "set up" for themselves.  My father had arrived in London at the age of twenty-two.  He had taken a fortnight to travel by sea from Peterhead, the chief port of Buchan.  He spent his first night in London in the house of some "brither Scot" near the Docks, and next morning he entered the employment of Mr. Charles Grant, a wealthy old bachelor who then ruled in 2, Bedford Street.  Save for one brief visit to his old home, he never again slept outside that house, which to-day sounds almost incredible.  My father rose through every grade of the business till he finally bought it, and the leasehold.  As he had never received a farthing from home, but, on the contrary, had steadily contributed to its welfare, his own savings, at such wages as he received, could not with the utmost economy be large, and so, when he acquired his property, much remained to be "paid off."  I have seen his old private account-book—a model—the most moderate expenditure on dress, payment for a "sitting at church," "sent home," and "saved."

    No doubt his journeyman days had been full of what modern young men would consider unbearable hardship, yet the "tone" was different and better.  The old bachelor master had maintained friendly relations with his men.  On Sundays they had dined at his table along with other guests, such as the minister of the Scots Church in Crown Court, or any stranger who occupied his pulpit, while a constant visitor was an uncle of Lord Macaulay.

    The earlier hours of those very Sundays had, however, been devoted to peculiarly worrying toil, probably counted of "necessity" or "mercy," because it was not unprofitable, and was adapted to "keep together" the "custom" of a neighbourhood.  On Sunday the big oven, being empty of bread, was devoted to the baking of everybody's Sunday dinner.  My father said he had often seen more than a hundred of these awaiting their turn.  They were charged for on strictly "caste" principles.  The baking of a humble joint or small pie cost but a penny or three half-pence, but as the dishes rose to poultry, ducks, the lordly turkey, or the tin of fancy tarts, the charges also rose even to sixpence or eightpence.  Of course, the cost of kitchen fires was saved, and the care and skill of a "second hand" were brought into requisition.

    Many journeymen—and my father in his day—had felt all this peculiarly irksome.  I have heard an aged man, in his ninetieth year, describe with a strength of emotion which rose to poetic height his feeling when, on a sunny spring Sunday afternoon, nearly seventy years before, he had emerged, hot and soiled, from his underground bakehouse, and saw a bird soaring and singing in the blue sky.  Then and there he vowed that he would leave the trade at once, and he did so.

    My father had not been long a master before he agitated for the abrogation of this Sunday labour.  A number of neighbouring masters bound themselves to drop the practice on the same date, but they resumed it in a week or two.  Only my father and one other, a rich and refined old bachelor, kept to the bond.

    More than once during my father's lifetime we went to Shepherd's Bush for a summer holiday.  The place was really rural then.  A bit of quite genuine country road separated it from Notting Hill.  The little "green" of Shepherd's Bush stood fresh, open, and primitive, unguarded by any paling, though there were generally cows or donkeys grazing upon it.  I think there was but one house on the south side—a building standing behind walls, and surrounded by fine old poplars.  On the West side were a few antique cottages; one, heavily thatched, and almost hidden behind a dense hedge, we believed—I know not on what grounds—to have been a haunt of the highwayman Jack Sheppard.  The northern side had some tiny cottage of more modern build, with pretty gardens front; an old-world inn, its sign swinging from a pole over a horse-trough; and beside it an old-fashioned village shop, over which were the rooms we rented.  Our landlord and his wife, kind, homely people, were very fond of animals.  There was always a puppy or a kitten to the fore, and it was during our visits there that I learned, through their dear old "Pompey," to be fearless and familiar with dogs.

    Wood Lane and Wormwood Scrubs—it was long before the prison's date—in the immediate neighbourhood, were so lonesome that they were not regarded as safe for the walks of young people.

    During those summer holidays my father always joined us early on Sunday morning, returning to town late in the evening.  The journey took more than an hour, for there was no way of suburban locomotion save by omnibus.  These vehicles went slowly at best, and stopped at many intervals, apparently at the sweet will of the driver and conductor.  In those days the omnibus was small and narrow, and though seats were covered with red velvet, the floor was stuffed with straw.  On wet days this became very unpleasant from muddy feet and dripping umbrellas.  Six passengers sat on each side-seat, while in most of the vehicles there was also a cross-seat opposite the door—a point of vantage in which I delighted, as it gave one a good survey of all one's fellow-travellers.  The outside was gained by help of an inch-wide projections and a strap. Mounting was really an athletic feat, possible only for active men.  Naturally, with such conditions, the outside fares were slightly lower than the inside.  After dark the interior was dimly lit by a small hanging oil-lamp, whose droppings frequently threatened to defile coats and dresses.

    There were few cabs on the streets when I was a girl.  If my memory serves me rightly, the fares were very much a matter of personal arrangement, and many of the cabmen were sadly apt to bully helpless or ignorant passengers.  In other ways they were often very kind, naming most moderate sums if conveying a servant-maid to a situation or a sick person to a hospital.  There were no ambulances then.  All sorts of patients used cabs taken from the rank.  They were uncomfortable enough, too, wellnigh springless, with straw on the floor.  Hansoms were a later innovation, and for a long while it was regarded as very "fast" for a woman to drive in one.  To do so alone was wellnigh to lose character.

    The first railway-trains were most primitive.  I have travelled with an aged man, who told me that in his youth he had gone in a third-class carriage, which had neither roof overhead nor seat within, and that the railway officials used a long stick to indicate to the passengers how to crowd together.  I remember being told that my father and mother had once gone off on an adventure, not particularly wanting to go anywhere, but only it "to ride on a train," as people might now aspire to an aeroplane.  I cannot remember my own first use of the railroad.  There were very few to use—scarcely any for short distances.  I saw the sea for the first time when I was about seventeen, and my eldest sister and I took a one-day trip to Brighton.  My first long journey was in going to Scotland in 1868, when I was twenty-five.  We started from King's Cross at eight in the evening, reaching Edinburgh at eight next morning.  The seats had no cushions, and we had to make ourselves as comfortable as we could with our own rugs.  All the refreshment to be obtained was a cup of tea at York.  Ten minutes' stop was allowed, according to the time-table, but as the train was nearly always late, the pause was generally curtailed, and after having had a free fight at the buffet, one had to leave the scalding liquid wellnigh untouched.

    It is not easy for one who knew the river-side near Charing Cross then to realize his whereabouts now.  In those days the beautiful suspension-bridge, now at Clifton, hung over the Thames near where the railway-bridge is to-day.  It was a very pleasant resort in summer—perfectly safe for children, as its rail was high, and it had no wheeled traffic.  The toll was one halfpenny.  The same toll was exacted on Waterloo Bridge.

    The suspension bridge was reached by a short street, which has wholly vanished.  It led down, nearly opposite the Golden Cross Hotel, to a fish-market known as Hungerford Market.  The whole place was very quaint and interesting.  In the end it proved a dead failure as a market, and its premises went through many vicissitudes before, about 1864, they finally disappeared to make way for the railway-station.  One forlorn adventure was that which turned the market into a covered promenade, of which the chief attraction was to be wall advertisements.  These were coming to the front about that time.  They had been few indeed until 1860, when Dion Boucicault covered every yard of space he could find with repetitionary announcements of his "Colleen Bawn."  I was a well-grown girl before any decent magazines accepted any advertisements, saving, perhaps, of a few books, and these were announced on the covers only.  There were no extra leaves, and certainly no advertisements interwoven with the literature.

    London streets generally bore a very different aspect from that of to-day.  To begin with, people lived over their shops and offices, and their female servants' lives must have been much livelier and with better prospects than the suburban maid enjoys to-day.  The infamous window-tax had persisted, though with modifications, till 1851.  During the time when the imposition was heaviest (from 1784 to 1808), many householders had closed every "unnecessary" window, and many of these were not reopened.  Rooms with two windows were deprived of one, and closet and passage windows were often closed altogether, so that many houses had a strangely blinded aspect.  Neither my father nor his predecessor had done aught of the kind to our house, preferring to pay the tax, and I was brought up in the just belief that such an imposition was wicked.

    At the corner of nearly every street sat an old dame beside a trestle, from which she sold apples or other seasonable fruit.  Fruiterers' and greengrocers' shops were few and far between, and were generally thrust away in back-streets.  The mode of selling strawberries is changed.  When I was young they were sold in "pottles"—long, slight baskets, tapering downward to a point, and carried by a handle.

    At certain seasons of the year there was an annual invasion of Dutch or German girls, who, from the articles they sold, were known as "Buy-a-Brooms."  They used to be neatly dressed, with quaintly-braided fair hair.  They had not a word more of "English" than sufficed to do their trade.

    Every busy corner of every broad street had its crossing-sweeper, street-cleaning arrangements being then of the most rudimentary sort.  Some of these sweepers were picturesque, and romantic tales were told about them and the money they made.  I recall a villainous-looking old dame who kept a corner of the Haymarket.  Many of the old-men sweepers had medals on their breasts.  Regular passers-by often gave a weekly toll to the sweeper, whose work did so much to spare trousers and skirts.  Occasionally one would see a young boy or girl wielding a broom, with a pathetic air of eager enterprise.

    There were a great many street-shows in those days.  Besides "Punch and Judy," there was another show carried about in much the same way, and only displayed after dark, when the shadows of its marionettes were cast upon an illuminated screen.  As my memory serves me, this was a much more refined show than "Punch."  Then there were acrobats—parties of from five to ten or eleven, who went about carrying their meagre properties on their backs, and, when they caught an opportunity, throwing off their coats, displaying their tights and spangles, and turning themselves into "human pyramids" and so forth.  I have seen them mounted decoratively, one upon each other, till a height was reached from which the highest could look into a second-floor window.  Sometimes the troupe was quite a family party—not only a father and three or four growing-up sons, but the mother also, her function being to mind the performers' clothes and carry round the hat.

    A perennial show was the large cage fixed on a lorry which generally stood somewhere near St. Martin's Church, and contained what was known as "the Happy Family"—i.e., dogs, cats, rabbits, rats, mice, and canary-birds all living together in visible peace and apparent contentment.

    We have heard much lately about the Lucas busts and figures in wax.  I wonder if anybody remembers a vanished "art" somewhat allied?  In cases displayed outside a house on the left-hand side of Regent Street, going north, there used to be seen in my childhood tiny profile portraits in wax, with real hair and eyebrows, probably belonging to the sitter, the waxen shoulders daintily draped in "practicable" silks or satins, presumably also chosen from her wardrobe.  The wax heads were scarcely larger than those in cabinet photographs, and the whole effect was very ghastly.  Each little plaque was enclosed under glass sufficiently curved.

    The only May-Day festival that survived in the London of my youth was that enacted by the chimney-sweeps, who in gay disguises perambulated the streets in the wake of a moving mass of greenery carried by a man concealed within it.  In my earliest recollections the chimney-sweeps' womenkind assisted at this curious celebration, wearing rose-wreathed hats, white aprons, and flying ribbons.  One, I think, used to be garbed as a rustic bride.  But later on the women did not appear, but were personated, roughly enough, by lads, and so the custom died out, for certainly I had not seen it for many years before I left London.

    There were permanent beggars in the streets in those days—for example, a rather gentlemanly-looking, pathetic-faced dwarf, who played a concertina beneath the wall of the National Gallery.  Another, whom we saw in nearly all our walks, though he was never in exactly the same spot, was no other than Hare, who saved his life by giving King's evidence as to the awful dissecting-room crimes of Burke and Hare.  He had become blind through being thrown into a lime-pit by some navvies who had discovered his identity, which he did not proclaim on the board he wore, whereon he had the effrontery to announce: "Kind friends, I lost my sight through falling into a lime-kiln."  I once saw him kicking the miserable woman who brought his food to his begging-station.

    A quaint, quiet, old-world precinct stretched above the river from Charing Cross as far as Whitehall.  All is altered now, though here and then one can recognize an old landmark.  Part of this region was flanked by the back-wall of the gardens of Northumberland House—the stately mansion which then stood on the south-east corner of Charing Cross, where Northumberland Avenue now opens.  The house was built as a quadrangle, and presented its dullest side to Charing Cross.  The windows seemed all closed and dead, and the great carriage-gates were never ajar unless some liveried servant was lounging there.  But by some curious custom Northumberland House was always thrown open after the death of each Duke of Northumberland, and the public were admitted by ticket.  When I was taken there I was too young to observe many details, but I was impressed by the stately proportions of the apartments and by the garden views seen from the many high, narrow windows.  I also remember a solid silver fender, and I was struck by the hideousness and physical horror of the great pictures chosen for the dining-rooms, that conspicuous in what was called the "small dining-room" being the death of Abel, with every accompaniment of raw flesh and streaming gore.

    The reigning Duke was forced to sell this property that Northumberland Avenue, with its clubs and hotels, should not be diverted from its present sweep by even a few yards!

    Another greatly changed area is that now occupied by Garrick Street.  When I was a child this was covered by congeries of close, narrow and alleys, among them that Rose Street where Dryden the poet was unaccountably assaulted, and whence Butler, writer of "Hudibras," was carried to his last resting-place in the yard of St. Paul's, Covent Garden.  I was "under orders" never to go down Rose Street, which had become a disreputable retreat; but I have looked down it, and, so far as my memory serves, it was narrow and winding, did not lead anywhere, and was so hidden away that one did not see it till one looked for it.

    Amid such manifold changes certain patches remain intact.  For example, in Bedford Street, where I was born, every house on the left-hand side going from the Strand to Chandos Street was utterly changed more than forty years ago.  The Lancet offices, which were there in my childhood, I think, remain, but much altered in appearance; a long, low, old-fashioned hostelry, which covered a good deal of ground, is transformed out of all knowledge; and the houses higher up—our own, another, and some very ancient residences beyond—have all made place for great Civil Service Stores.  Yet, when I was last there, by taking up a position on the pavement where our house stood, I could see almost exactly what I saw from our windows when I was a child.  The houses on the east side of the street are unchanged; some of them are even used for the same trades, though, of course, by different people.

    I remember the last days of the state of things which had prevailed in that neighbourhood even in the time of the chronicler Strype, who alluded, however, rather to that part of the street north of Chandos Street.  He speaks of "Mercers, Lace-men, etc."  The small house opposite ours, with a curious half-moon-shaped window on the third story, was occupied by a lady who was a "lace-man"—a little, rather comical old maiden, the daughter of an army officer, and the only sister of nineteen brothers, many of whom perished "in the wars."  She survived them all, ministered to their orphaned children, and at last died in great poverty.  At the time of my father's death she was a well-to-do woman, to whose tiny "shop" Duchesses and Countesses resorted, though it made no window display save two or three pieces of rare lace spread out on dark silk between two dainty punch-bowls.

    After the lace lady's retirement her house had many a strange vicissitude.  It was a time of revolt and trouble in Italy, and for a while the old maid's former home seemed to pass into the hands of nondescript refugees.  For some weeks it was inhabited by two gentlemen (for such they seemed), one between thirty and forty, the other a mere lad.  At first they used only the second-floor front-room, where we once saw the elder carefully brushing out the beautiful curly hair of the youth.  They came over to our house once or twice to beg in broken English some homely loan, as of pail or steps.  Their manners were extremely courteous.  By-and-by the shop-window was lined by a long wire blind, marked "Agent."  We never saw anybody on the place but these two, and we saw little of them.  Suddenly one morning we found the wire blind turned round, so that the word "Agent" was hidden, and in front of the blind stood a teapot and cups and a plate with a steak upon it.  The house had become a coffee-house!  We never again saw either of the gentlemen, and the only person who ever stirred in the coffee-house was a very handsome, able-bodied young woman, whom one observant neighbour declared was a man in disguise.  The "coffee-house" was soon closed, and the premises passed into the hands, first of betting men, and then of very commonplace newsagents.  I utilized the vicissitudes of this house in my story, "Not by Bread Alone," and did not draw very much on my imagination!

    The house next to this, higher up from the Strand, had also been occupied by exiles; but these were Polish gentlemen, who, calling themselves the Brothers Levinsky, opened an establishment for the sale of combs, brushes, and other toilet requisites.  These left the street while I was very young.  They had been preceded by a high-class lending-library and bookseller's, which had enjoyed the personal patronage of the daughters of George III.

    The house afterwards came into the possession of a homely couple—a gasfitter and his wife—who let it out in "floors," for we did not hear of "flats" in those days.  The gasfitter's wife was careful only to keep her house full, and was not always particular as to whom she received.  After I had read Shakespeare I called her "Dame Quickly."  Among the fleeting pictures of human life which we got from the floating population of that establishment I remember two elderly maiden sisters, who lived on the first floor with a little nephew and a beautiful cat.  They earned their living by making dressing-gowns, and they sat stitching at the window from morning till night.  They never rested but on Sunday, when they went to church in the morning, while in the afternoon an elder nephew came to tea.  The monotony of their existence seemed to have no intermission, yet they were always bright and chirpy.  They looked like well-bred women, and the elder nephew was handsome and gentlemanly.

    At another time these rooms were occupied by a Jewish family—father, mother, two sons, and a daughter.  They seemed to have plenty of money, and to follow no regular occupation.  The girl was of a type of rare Syrian beauty.  Long after they had left our street we saw their name in the newspaper as plaintiffs against a Russian noble for the abduction of this daughter.  In the evidence it transpired that they were betting people.  In her testimony the girl declared that she had been only too glad to be taken from the gambling and riot of her home.  About that time I saw her in the street, still retaining the delicacy of her Oriental loveliness.  She was accompanied by a stately and swarthy man in a furred overcoat, who looked old enough to be her father.  I suppose this was the Russian noble.

    Then foreign refugees appeared in these rooms—an elderly couple, a young man, and a spaniel.  They all worked diligently as tailors, seemed rather superior to their position, and were quiet, respectable neighbours.  Suddenly one morning the rooms were empty; they were gone!  We never knew why, for they appeared to have left no debts whatever.

    I can never recall without a pang a family who lived for some months in the second floor of this house.  It consisted of an elderly mother, a daughter of about eight-and-twenty, and a son of eight or nine years younger.  They were manifestly people of good condition, their furniture the relics of a comfortable home.  The son and daughter were always looking through advertisement-sheets, always posting letters, always trotting in and out.  The old lady, in her worn silk dress and little cap, used to watch at the window for them.  They grew thinner and shabbier.  Somehow we heard that the landlady had given them "notice" because their rent was in arrear, and that she was going to keep back some of the furniture to repay herself.  I remember the last we saw of them.  I don't know what had become of the old lady, but the brother and sister came out together, and went off clinging to each other under one little umbrella through the persistent drizzle of a London winter day.  One wonders if the clouds ever lifted off their path, or if they finally sank in the oblivion which closes over so much?  We never knew even their name.  That is part of London tragedy!

    There was another tragic lodger who lived in the same rooms long afterwards.  This was good-looking young woman living alone.  To visit her came one or two other young women, loud of manner and flaunting in attire.  Also, three or four young men, handsomely appointed, but treating their female companions with no sign of respect.  One of them came constantly, and lingered long.  A neighbour persisted that this was no other than the notorious Frederick Windham, of Felbrigge Hall, concerning whose mental condition there had been a long legal inquiry, and whose subsequent social and domestic adventures frequently filled corners of newspapers.  Whether this conjecture had any ground I cannot tell.  But here begins the pathos of this episode.  Every Sunday before noon a lad of about sixteen came to visit this girl.  He spent the day with her.  By their resemblance he was manifestly her brother, and looked as one employed in some good-class shop.  None of her other visitors ever met him.  On those days her manner and dress were alike quiet.  He and she used to walk out together, and spend the rest of the day seated at each side of the window reading.  Her sad way of life was evidently kept secret from him, but the terrible revelation could not have been long withheld, for before she left our street she was "drinking," and her fresh full beauty was growing raddled and besotted.

    On our own side of the street one of the old "mercers' shops" lingered till long after I became a schoolgirl.  It was a shop, well appointed after the old style, with no window display beyond a few mounted samples of rich brocade.  In the days of the shop's decadence these were left so long undisturbed that they faded into mere blotches of indeterminate hue.

    Nearer to our house than this mercer's were two very old houses which bore the inscription, "This is Bedford Street."  These houses were in the occupation of two brothers of the name of Davenport.  One was married to a Roman Catholic, and the other, who professed to be something of a free-thinker, had his two sisters, also Roman Catholics, living with him as housekeepers.  I remember his once coming to my father in some distress, saying that he had by accident greatly upset these good ladies.  They had brought home a bottle of "holy water," and he, unaware of its sacerdotal character, had sprinkled it over the shop.  My father advised that he should endeavour to persuade these devotees that, at any rate, the shop was now blessed.  This good man was very fond of animals, and used to bring white mice to show me.  His brother had a son and daughter.  The daughter was brought up in her mother's faith, and was presently hurried off to some convent, and only returned home once or twice afterwards; then she died.  Her mother soon followed her, and the death of the son a little later left the old man quite alone.  His wife and his boy were buried in the dismal little graveyard in Pratt Street, Kentish Town (it belonged to St. Martin's Parish).  The old gentleman composed verses for their tombstone.  I can remember but two lines:


"He was a youth of accents mild,
 He was his mother's darling child."


The mourner visited the grave every week for years, until his own decease.

    Our next-door neighbours had a strange history.  The husband had been a young working man, a Sunday-school teacher, and of irreproachable character so far as was known.  The wife was the daughter of a well-to-do and very superior man in business in the Strand.  He had not approved of his daughter's marriage, but had assisted the man of her choice to go into business for himself.  They had three children—a daughter and two boys.  The two elder of these were in girlhood and boyhood when their father suddenly disappeared.  There were many strange whispers.  Some thought it to be a case of mere desertion, a few whispered of murder or suicide, others decided that everything was explained when it was found that his affairs were at so low an ebb that his creditors sold off his goods.  I was about six at the time, and I remember the horror of seeing the household furniture carted away, and even the children's toys flung from the windows.  The father-in-law came to the rescue, and reinstated his daughter.  She was constantly in and out of our house at that time seeking counsels and whispering her alternate fears and suspicions.  The latter grew stronger until, from information somehow received, she resolved to play the part of a spy, borrowing old garments from my mother and my eldest sister wherein to disguise herself.  Nothing came out of that proceeding; yet some weeks afterwards the runaway arrived at home, and resumed life as if he had never been away.  From that time he often absented himself, and business and home were kept together only by the exertions of the eldest boy.  People naturally suspected a double life and the charms of an unknown syren.  In the course of a few years his wife died, never revealing his secret, if, indeed, it was known to her.  In due time he brought home another wife—an elderly, plain, respectable-looking woman whom one could scarcely suspect of having willingly lived in impropriety.  His son, who was always entirely worthy, received her with honour, and they all lived together in perfect amity.  But it was noticed that from that time the wanderer never ran away again.  I should imagine the solution of the puzzle to be that, for some reasons of his own, this man had lived in bigamy, and that, for some reasons of their own, both the wives had kept this secret.

    The first wife, who had always in every problem and puzzle sought my father's counsel, but rarely called on us when times were smooth, once entered our house exclaiming: "Ah, Mr. Fyvie, you are the friend in time of need!"  To which my father quietly rejoined: "Well, well, is that why I am not the friend at other times?"  I, too, have noticed something of the same sort in certain people!

    I think our neighbourhood was brimful of human interest.  Perhaps any neighbourhood is whose inhabitants remain long in it, and can tell the story of many years.

    A quaint influence fell upon my life about the time of my father's death.  For some time before an old lady had visited our shop regularly every week.  She and my father struck up an acquaintance, as Scottish people are apt to do when they meet in other countries.  She showed so much sympathy during his illness and at his death that presently she was invited to our parlour, and for some years took tea with us once or twice a week.  She never told us her history in any formal or regular way, but I think she had done so to my father, for she seemed to infer that we knew it, and freely alluded to its various incidents at almost every visit.

    I need not give her name.  It was a fine Highland name, and she was the daughter of a landed proprietor on the West Coast.  Entail to male heirs had cut off her sister and herself.  The former had retired into a convent.  Our friend had battled with the world.  She had taught for a while in a school in Edinburgh, and she had made various other efforts.  When we knew her, she was relying mainly on a small stipend, I know not how derived, which was paid to her quarterly, and did not amount to more than £25 a year.  She was full of anecdote of all the life—high and low—in which she had mingled.  She had danced with Sir Colin Campbell (Lord Clyde) when he was a young subaltern.  We gathered, rather by pauses and changes of her tone than by anything she said, that the love of her life had been killed at Waterloo.  She had known Lord Palmerston, Lord Melbourne, and Lord John Russell, and had many romantic stories of the love affairs and characteristics of titled people whose names I have forgotten.  She used to take great interest in my drawings, and on the eve of the annual school ball she brought me a pair of white satin slippers in which she herself had danced more than half a century before.

    She was quite ready to enjoy the humours of her present way of life.  She told us how the mistress of a humble eating-house in the Tottenham Court Road, seeing her coming in often for a meal, took a kind interest in the lonely woman, and told her that she and her husband would be pleased and "proud" if she would visit them as a friend, "Though, of course, madam," added the good woman, "we can see that you are quite above our spear."  She told us that, when she first came to London, she had felt herself in a foreign-speaking country!  Once she had gone in quest of an address which had been given her as in the Mary-le-bone Road, near the church.  She could make nobody understand her (being a Highland woman, she spoke perfect English), but at last one woman, after puzzling a little, looked up, relieved.  "I see what you means," she said.  "Go down Marrybone Road, and you'll see the church just past the big vine waults."  Our friend said she followed the direction, looking out for something in the way of vineries, and marvelling what "waults " meant.  Presently it dawned upon her that her informant had made confusion between her v's and w's—the peculiar Cockneyism of the time.

    The old lady never told us her precise addresses, and through that in the end we lost sight of her, and she vanished into the silence.  One or two other acquaintances lost sight of her at the same time, and called on us for tidings of her; so I think the vanishing must have meant brief illness and death.

    I recollect her telling us once of much insolence endured while she was living over a little dairy in Kensington—insolence based on her manifest poverty and her presumed "stuck-upness."  "But I know how to deal with these people," she said.  "I took all quite quietly, as if I did not notice what was meant, but a day or two afterwards I took out a piece of Turkey carpet and hung it over the banister, and I washed a piece of fine old lace and hung it up to dry.  I heard that woman come out of her shop and look at the things, and presently she was whispering to her cronies, and next time I went downstairs they were quite civil—quite servile."

    She always looked well-dressed and lady-like, yet her garments were little more than "gentle rags."  I remember once meeting her walking in scorching sunshine.  "Oh, Miss Mac!" I cried, with youth's rash ignorance, "why don't you put up your parasol?"  She had one in her hand.  With a smile, she opened it.  It hung in ribbons.  "That's why I don't put it up, my dear," she said, and went off, laughing heartily.

    I was duly taken to the Exhibition of 1851, being then eight years old.  The crush along the roads of Piccadilly and Knightsbridge was fearful, and we had a terrible experience on our return, for rain was falling heavily, and neither shelter nor vehicle was to be had.  I have a distinct recollection of the beauty of the big glass building, which enclosed many of the fine trees of Hyde Park.  My memory tells me that the show, though I then thought it glorious, was heterogeneous and gaudy.  Of details, I remember "the Queen of Spain's jewels," which looked to me like a pair of stays encrusted with diamonds and precious stones; a wax model of a Pope in full canonicals; some fine "groups" in silver; a model of Eddystone Lighthouse; a breakwater; and a piece of statuary showing a dog saving a child from a serpent.  I remember that I demanded unceasing interest from my eldest sister and a cousin who escorted us, saying to them, "Why did you bring me out, unless you mean to attend to me?" and calling blushes to their faces by announcing, "People are looking at us, and they take you two for my Papa and mamma."  I have a distinct remembrance that I knew I was mischievous, and delighted in it.  The words "papa" and "mamma" my father never allowed us to use to himself or my mother.  He always insisted on the proper English titles.

    I had troubles in those days that nobody knew of.  A house fell down in the Strand, killing one or two people.  This made me very anxious.  I knew our house was old, and in the little panelled counting-house I noted wide cracks in the wall.  Of course, they were only in the wainscoting, due to the great dryness of the place.  I did not know this.  To me, they threatened a final and fatal crash.  Every day I examined them, and trembled when they seemed wider.  I do not think I ever spoke on the subject.  The most tenderly-guarded children live, after all, in a separate world of their own.

    It was about this time that I established for myself a kind of reputation as "uncanny"—as unaccountable to myself as to everybody else.  It lay at the base of what became rather a household mystery.  A regular visitor of ours was a young kinsman from the North, to whom my father had shown much kindness.  It was this young man's habit to look in upon us early in the evening, go away to carry through some business with a neighbour of ours, and then return to us for supper.  On a certain occasion which was to prove memorable he "dropped in" as usual, bringing with him a beautiful book, a gift for me.  He seemed quite his usual self, and when he went away he said he would return within an hour.  One hour passed, two hours.  The family began to question, "What can have become of him?"  Thereupon I, a child about eight, looked into my eldest sister's face and asked: "Do you think he means ever to come back?"  I cannot tell what impelled this utterance.  My sister, fourteen years my senior, used to whisper afterwards that, as I asked this unexpected question, the expression on my face was strange and witch-like.  But the visitor never did come back.  Though for years he was constantly in our neighbourhood, and though he struck up an intimacy with relations on my mother's side, of which we never heard till long afterwards, yet not one of us ever again even saw him.  None of us ever knew the reason why, and I never knew what made me utter my queer forecast.

    This happened a few months after my father's death.  My father, who had lost all his four sons in their earliest years, had never seemed to rally after the death of my sister Elizabeth in her opening womanhood.  From then till his death he was more or less an invalid, and through those months I was his constant companion.  He often talked to me, rather, I fancy, as "thinking aloud" than as realizing that I heard, though once or twice my interruptions must have reminded him that I had ears.  Once he spoke dreamily of his loneliness in his early days in London, and I, seven years old, said: "But why did you not get married?"  Again he spoke, less as answering me than as turning over the leaves of the past: "I had to pay my debts.  I would not marry till I owed nobody a penny."  The impression never left me.

    His very last words were for me, spoken after had been thought unconscious.  Then I was sent out of his room, and presently my eldest sister came to me and said that "father was at rest."  It was a warm, sunshiny July afternoon, and I was in the little counting-house, where father and I had spent so much happy time together.

    I think that since the death of Elizabeth I had had time to learn what loss means; for, fond as I had been of her, whose pet I was, I grieved much more deeply for my father, whom I missed at every turn.

    No more sitting on his knee in the firelight on Sunday evenings when the others were out, hearing stories of his boyhood in Buchan—of the hole in the hill, where tradition said a piper went in and came back no more; of the "standing stones" near his father's farm, so very difficult to count.  No more discussion of Bible characters, and whispered admissions that we did not like Jael, and thought Jacob a mean fellow.

    No more going with him for afternoon excursions on the river, notably to Greenwich, whose Hospital was then noisy and merry with its company of old naval pensioners.  We used to watch them at tea, and they would pour some in a saucer and give it to me, and once an old sailor took me on his knee, and said: "Now, missy, don't forget you've sat on the knee of one of Nelson's men."  I remember, too, that there was a negro among them, one of the merriest.

    I always thank my father for one beautiful memory.  At the back of the shop there was a little cupboard, where he kept blacking and brushes, with which every Saturday afternoon he brightened his boots for to-morrow's church-going, not approving of a woman-servant doing this.  Once, when I was so little that I could scarcely walk, I doddered to the cupboard, and leaned over the little door, which was low enough even for my stature.  My father called this "holding the door open for him, and helping him," and ever afterwards he summoned me to do this, and I proudly went "to help father."  It was only long after his death that I found the door would stand open of itself!  Well might I dedicate my first book to "the memory of my father," who "showed us what God means when He bids us call Him 'Our Father.'"  Owing to my recollection of the pride and joy of those Saturday afternoons, the smell of blacking remains to this day as pleasant and grateful to me as it was obnoxious to the bitter memories of Charles Dickens.



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