« AnkstesnisTęsti »
Churchyard in the early part of the last century. She sang, as I have said, very charmingly, told stories in such a way as to have them worked into his novels by Scott and into his "Legends" by Barham, and drew about her many other men distinguished in the world of letters, art, and music, who valued sprightly talk and genial ways. She also rendered herself agreeable to her intimates by the attention which she paid to their creature comforts. This may be read between the lines of the following anecdote, which she used to tell with delight, as showing how, high and low, all loved and almost worshiped the "Wizard." Scott was staying in London at the time, some
the rule, from the palace on Fifth Avenue to the cow-boy's shanty in Colorado!
The much-beloved canon, my grandfather, who was the kindest and most genial of men, went to his rest in 1833. The living of Uffington passed into other hands, and two years afterward my father bought and moved to Donnington Priory, in the Vale of the Kennett, a livelier part of the county, to the south of the White Horse range of hills. My grandmother, however, could not persuade herself for many years to leave her beloved country-side, with its broad meadows and stiff clay soil, and the simple peasants who had been cared for by her family for so many scores of years. She moved
our cumbing I should histali about this for fene of gelling a dick one my wame for lucking awn! Kequiel name of an honest family but you are not I Mit be louchy in Karksi
I bygen will merke my best expects acceptable to Ms hughes other enfant Du Qualters and blini ne
your truly oblige
FACSIMILE OF PART OF LETTER TO JOHN HUGHES, DATED DECEMBER 9, 1829 where in the West End. One evening he admired some fish at her table, which she had, as was usual with her, bought at a famous stall in Billingsgate Market and carried home herself. The next morning she included in her purchase some of this particular fish, and asked the stall-keeper if he could deliver it at the West End. Taking a very decided "No" for an answer, she observed regretfully, "Sir Walter will be much disappointed." "Sir Walter, mum! You don't mean Sir Walter Scott?" "Yes, indeed, I do." "Why, mum, I'd send it to him free of charge if he was in Hedinboro'!" Also, between the lines of this fish story may be read the strict economy and hatred of unnecessary expense which, with all her lavish giving, became, as it seemed to her friends, almost a craze later in life. Only the other day I came across the envelop to one of her letters to me (written soon after the invention of that useful article), which had been carefully turned by her and redirected, after having made its first journey as cover to a letter from one of her London correspondents. Dear lady! how must her true-blue-Tory soul be vexed if she is aware of her only surviving grandson having turned out a radical, and "citizenized" in a country in which extravagance and waste are
to Kingston Lisle, a pretty village, nearer the northern foot of the hills than Uffington. Here she lived till she was nearly eighty, taking excellent care of successive Mustards and Peppers of the true Dandie Dinmont breed (the ancestors of whom had been given her by Sir Walter), and exchanging, as her teeth grew scarce, with the little boys of the neighborhood, marbles for the fresh eggs of small birds, which latter she treated in such a way as to make impossible for her grandchildren the presumptuous impertinence (to judge from the proverb) common among English children.
When I revisited the Vale of the White Horse eight years ago, I found friends still living who remembered her in her Kingston Lisle days. Two of these, whose home was three miles from that place, told how she would walk across to their house to early breakfast, accompanied by Mustard and Pepper, and knitting all the way there and all the way back, and start them on their day's work refreshed by her gay talk and amusing stories.
This reminds me that knitting and netting were a passion with her, and that, for many years, all the worsted socks on the feet of seven active grandsons, and all the fish-nets where
with we were wont to clear our trout-stream at Donnington of the so-called "vermin,"-dace and chub and roach,—were the product of her needles.
During those years at Kingston Lisle she made frequent trips to London, so as not to lose touch of her old friends there; and, shortly before 1850, removed to a small house in Reading, the capital of Berkshire, nearer both to London and to the part of the county where her son and those of his family who were
THE HUGHES LETTERS OF SIR WALTER SCOTT
QUITE accidentally my notice was directed to these letters of Sir Walter's, of which Lockhart does not seem to have suspected the existence, although probably he was aware that at one time a considerable correspondence was maintained between Mrs. Hughes and his father-in-law. That this was so he implies clearly (vide "Life of Scott," page 524. Any quotation I make
from this source comes from the edition published by Black in 1881):
Among Scott's visitors of the next month, first in Edinburgh, and afterwards on Tweedside, were the late amiable and venerable Dr.
Hughes, one of the Canons-residentiary of St. Paul's, and his warm-hearted lady. The latter had been numbered among his friends from an early period of life, and a more zealously affectionate friend he never possessed. On her way to Scotland she had halted at Keswick to visit Mr. Southey, whom also she had long known well, and corresponded with frequently.
One of the results of this visit was the reuniting of the bonds of friendship between these already distinguished men, which had been interrupted for some years by one of those miserable and petty misunderstandings that not even the friendships of the greatest souls always escape. Scott's conciliatory letter is quite charming, in his own manner. For the moment I would wish merely to point out that in the sentence, "whom also she had long known well, and corresponded with frequently," the "also" seems to imply on the writer's part a knowledge of the fairly frequent correspondence steadily maintained over a length of years between her and Sir
Walter Scott. Indeed, Lockhart himself, in his preface, includes Mrs. Hughes of Uffington in a list of those to whom he is indebted for "the kind readiness with which whatever papers in their possession could be serviceable to my advantage were supplied." But in this recognition "Mrs. Hughes of Uffington" appears only as one among very many others; and I cannot but think that Lockhart, had he known of the extent of the correspondence and its exceedingly interesting character, would not have left it, as he did, wholly untouched.
The dates of the letters which have been committed to my hands to put before the public extend over a great period of years, but there is a big gap. There is a letter or two of 1808 or 1809 or earlier. The great man was careless in the dating of his letters, and often the contents are the only guide to the date if, as happens, the postmarked date is undecipherable.
After 1813 there is no letter in the collection that has been handed to me till 1821, an eight years' interval. And it is noticeable that this first letter of 1821, first of the series that has regularly been preserved, denies in pretty direct terms the authorship of the novels. Now it is hardly to be believed, I think, that there was no correspondence between these two very close and mutually appreciative friends between 1813 and 1821. There is no reasonable doubt that many letters were exchanged and destroyed, more 's the pity. But then, in 1821, I will venture to surmise that it suddenly dawned on Mrs. Hughes that this delightful correspondent and lifelong friend of hers was an even greater man
1 The most worthy Mary Hawkes (I forget her husband's name), who left to my brother Tom the little portrait of my grandmother which was sent to you the other day by his widow.-W. H. H.
than she had suspected him of being. She knew him, of course, as one of the most charming of men, most delightful of companions, most perfect of gentlemen, and most gifted of all whom she had met. There seems to have been a really marvelous consensus of opinion on the part of all who knew him to this effect. She knew him as the acknowledged author of the poems, "The Lay" and the rest. But only now, perhaps, did it dawn upon her with anything like conviction that he was indeed the "Great Unknown," the author of those delightful novels that were making the Anglo-Saxon nations young again; only now did she begin to suspect him of being what we know him to be.
But having realized (in spite of his unblushing denial of the authorship) or having at least possessed herself of a good working faith in his authorship of the novels, and perceiving that her correspondent's letters would be of interest not only to the one to whom they were addressed, but to all the world that was filled with his fame, from that time forward she seems to have begun to keep the letters regularly; and I do not think that we have one missing until the last, written in 1831, when the outlook of his great intellect was already clouded by the darkness that closed in on it so prematurely. By 1826 it is quite certain that the interest of the correspondence had revealed itself, for in that year she began to make copies of the letters, prefacing the collection with a note to her grandson, to whom she bequeathed the originals, in which Occurs the following passage: "These letters will, I am persuaded, be valuable in future as literary curiosities." She also annotated them with many notes, throwing light on obscure allusions. Most of these notes I am quoting in their place, at the foot of the letters to which they refer.
Over these ten years, from 1821 to 1831, the letters, between forty and fifty in number, extend; and they are written in the main at fairly regular intervals, so as to cover the period without leaving gaps. By covering the period I mean that no very particular event is likely to have been omitted in consequence of any long lapse between one letter and the next; and it is fortunate that the period which this correspondence thus embraces is perhaps the most interesting period of Sir Walter's lifethe period of the zenith of his powers and
of his fame; the period of the zenith and also of the nadir of his financial fortunes. Naturally the letters are of very unequal length and interest. A few are no more than mere notes. But the great majority are such letters as Sir Walter was likely to write to a friend who was in full appreciation of the literary and other tastes that appealed to him, with a considerable acquaintance among the most interesting people of the day, -the literary, artistic, musical world,—and of the sex that can give man the most perfect sympathy and understanding.
Besides Sir Walter's letters to Mrs. Hughes, there is one from him to "Miss Hayman," there are one or two from Mrs. Lockhart to Mrs. Hughes, and there is an account, in form of a long letter, by Mr. John Hughes (son of the canon and Mrs. Hughes) of a visit to Abbotsford and of the life there in 1825. There are also journals by Mrs. Hughes herself descriptive of life at Abbotsford on the occasion of two different visits, the first in 1824, the second four years later. I do not in the least know how it is that this "Miss Hayman," as Scott writes of her, turns into "Mrs. Hayman" in Lockhart's" Life," but it is not of much consequence how it happens. Howbeit, as I find this letter here, so I give it; but first, in order to make things clear and save the reader the trouble of referring elsewhere, I may as well give a very short chronological table of Sir Walter's literary productions up to the year 1821. At the date of this letter to Miss Hayman". November 9, 1806-he was engaged, as I gather, on the third canto of "Marmion." Previously to "The Lay of the Last Minstrel" he had published things comparatively little known: "Ballads after Bürger," "Götz of Berlichingen," " Ballads," "Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border," "Sir Tristram," and so on-a goodly show. But of course all were forgotten, consumed, in the blaze of fame which greeted the publication, in the very first days of 1805, of "The Lay of the Last Minstrel." After that he was no longer the lawyer with the law as his crutch and literature as his stick, but the writer with the strongest crutch, most gold-weighted, that any writer has ever had in his writings, at liberty to do a little law for his pleasure, as a way of meeting old friends and moving in the world, if he so pleased.
But still he did not publish again till
"Marmion" came out in February, 1808. Perhaps the interval is not long, considering the character of the work, considering, too, that the writer was still busy with law work of various kinds and had so many outlooks on the world; but it is long in consideration of the rate of production of his novels later. Perhaps, too, his breath was a little taken away by the reception of "The Lay." Also he was at work all the while at his Dryden. In November of 1807 he wrote this letter:
MY DEAR MISS HAYMAN Whatever you admire will I am sure add greatly to the value of the work in which you are pleased to request a place for it. I am just now finishing my romantic poem of Marmion, a tale of war and wonder with notes like Noah's ark, an ample receptacle for every thing that savours of romantic lore. I will take care to distinguish the poem in all honourable fashion of type and introduction but I must beg the favour that you will forward it as soon as possible, as I am printing rapidly, & must drive a peg somewhere into my own poem to hang your friend's ballad upon.
You do me but justice in believing that I was quite delighted with Mrs. Hughes; I have achieved a doleful song to an ancient Gaelic air and intend as soon as I can get it arranged to the music to send it as a little tribute of gratitude for the pleasure I received from her melody. I have destined a copy of Marmion for you, and the promised ballad will give it double interest. Shall it be sent to Berkley Street or how? I have also one with some ornaments which I should wish to reach Blackheath some
time before the work is public, which may I think be in February. Will you be so good as to inform me who will be in waiting on the Princess about that time. I should be happy if it happens to be your time of duty. I visited Bothwell Castle this summer and returned in the most dreadful storm that ever was raised by Charlotte Smyth or Mrs. Ratcliffe. We narrowly escaped drowning more than once. I sincerely hope that I may have leisure (which according to the best definitions includes time and money) to visit Wales this next summer; it is a scheme I have long had at heart and the pleasure of your acquaintance.
I have just abandoned my own hills and glens for this city to which Mr. Wynn (to whom present my compliments) will be so good as to address the communication which I expect with impatience.
Believe me Dear Miss Hughes
with sincere respect
Edinburgh 10th Novb
Yours Walter Scott.
Miss "Hughes" here is evidently a slip for "Hayman." Miss or Mrs. Hayman was the friend who introduced Mrs. Hughes to Sir Walter Scott in the year 1806, as described a little later. She was one of the ladies attached to the establishment of the unhappy Queen Caroline when Princess of Wales. The letter, though not dated as to the year, must have been written in 1807, for "Marmion" was published in 1808.
The poem to which Scott purposes to give honorable distinction is the ballad of the "Spirit's blasted Tree," in the fifth canto of "Marmion," and the "doleful ditty" the ballad sung by Fitz Eustace in the third canto; the notes were afterward sent to Mrs. Hughes by Sir Walter, and are affixed to the letter with which they were sent.
The occasion of his writing thus was that the princess had already shown much interest in a ballad that he had recited from The Mountain Bard" by way of obtaining her patronage for the Ettrick Shepherd. Of course the princess had begged his recitation of one of his own poems; and, equally of course, he had preferred to do a good turn to a friend.
It was to Mrs. Hayman (for thus it probably is right to speak of the lady) that Mrs. Hughes owed her introduction to the great Mr. Scott-as he then was; and the account of the introduction is pleasantly given by Mrs. Hughes in a note to her Abbotsford journal:
My first introduction to Sir Walter Scott was given me by my friend Mrs. Hayman in the year 1806-when Sir W. S. was in town enjoying his first fame after the publication of "The Lay of the Last Minstrel."
Queen Caroline invited him, immediately on his arrival in the Metropolis, to visit her at Blackheath; by which means he became intimately acquainted with Mrs. Hayman, who was a very superior person both in intellect and information, and singularly agreeable. When not in immediate attendance on the Queen, Mrs. Hayman lodged in Berkeley Square, in order that she might have a little home of her own, and relaxation from her most disagreeable duties. Behind her house there was a mews, which opened into Hay Hill, at the entrance of which mews I always saw a halfstarved dog-a fac-simile of that in Hogarth's 6th print. I had such a feeling of compassion for the poor, forlorn, halfstarved creature, that I always carried in my muff a parcel of bones in a newspaper for him, and as I visited Mrs.
Hayman generally twice a week, the dog was by my gifts kept alive; his gratitude was extreme; I always found him watching for me, and his expression of delight on seeing me is not to be described; but my friend Mrs. Hayman, whose only fault was a dislike to dogs, always quizzed me unmercifully, and told everybody to whom she introduced me, of my folly and greasyness as she called it.
On the morning when I went to meet Sir Walter Scott he had arrived and was sitting with her, and immediately on my entrance, she cried out-"Well! have you been pampering your nasty, mangy cur!" and when I answered in the affirmative-she turned to Sir Walter and said "I don't know, Mr. Scott, whether you will thank me for the introduction, unless she wins you over by her singing; but I must tell you that this simpleton lives in the Cloisters of Westminster and comes here twice
or thrice a week, bringing with her a parcel of
dirty bones, with which she fills her nice new muff, for a nasty half starved cur and feeds the
creature with them." He made no reply for a
minute or two, but leaned back in his chair gazing hard at me under his shaggy brows, but
with the most benevolent smile- then thrusting out his hand, he caught hold of mine with a grip which I can only compare to a blacksmith's vice, exclaiming "You and I must be friends!" which, during his remaining life, he verified.
In the year 1824, when on a visit to Abbotsford we were walking through the Huntly Burn, he turned short round upon me and said, "Do you know what made me take such a fancy to you?" to which question I could only reply that I had not an idea, but that, whatever it was, it was a most fortunate circumstance. He paused and said "Why the dog and the muff!"-I, who had forgotten the circumstance, thought he was demented and then he said, "the dog in Berkeley Square; " (which recalled it to my mind) "from that moment I was sure that we were in perfect sympathy for I should have done just the same myself.”
That his request, proffered through Mrs. Hayman, was well received by the princess is shown by Lockhart (page 144):
As early as the 22d February 1807, I find Mrs. Hayman acknowledging, in the name of the Princess of Wales, the receipt of a copy of the Introduction to Canto III, in which occurs the tribute to Her Royal Highness's heroic father, mortally wounded the year before at Jena-a tribute so grateful to her feelings, that she herself shortly after sent the poet an elegant silver vase as a memorial of her thankfulness.
In the next letter, the first to Mrs. Hughes, of date December 15, 1807,
he again makes reference to the ballad which he purposes to introduce into “Marmion." The "quizzing article" is a pamphlet called "Hints to Young Reviewers," by Dr. Copplestone.
MY DEAR MRS. HUGHES I was very much diverted with the quizzing article which you were so kind as to send me and particularly delighted as it was a mark of my retaining a place in your memory. I had the pleasure of shewing the critique to our great Judge Jeffrey [sic] who considering the strength & sharpness of his claws is the tamest lion you ever saw in your life. He was extremely delighted with the imitations of his style and proposes to write to the author, without of course being supposed to know his name, inviting him to contribute to the Edinburgh Review as he seems so well to understand the rules of criticism.
I heard from Miss Hayman some time ago with an elegant Welsh tale, a contribution to Marmion, for so is called the new ditty about which you express such flattering curiosity. The said doughty knight (for a knight is he and of merry England) is to sally forth in January-the printing is going on rapidly, but my time is so much occupied with the discharge of my official duties that I have hardly time to keep up with its exertions.
My motions in spring are uncertain. I am always easily dragged up to London, but the expense of the journey is an object to a poor bard with four small children; but as this is only a prudential I am greatly afraid it will as usual give way to inclination. I need not add the charms of Amen Corner [where Canon Hughes then resided] will be a great additional temptation. There is in the 3rd Canto of Marmion a certain doleful ditty adapted to a curious Gaelic air literally picked up from the Highlanders who have the same attachment to reaping in Scotland that the Irish have to making hay with you ; & always descend to the low country (low comparatively speaking) in great bands to get down the harvest. I will endeavour to get a noted copy of this same air which I think has some interest in itself and to which I am certain you could give a great Ideal. It has much the character of the beautiful Welsh airs to which you give so much interest but is quite irregular in comparison. I beg my best compts. to Mr. Hughes & am with great regard
My dear Madam
your obliged humble servant