« AnkstesnisTęsti »
made to be used for either foot, each requiring to be used on alternate feet daily. With these on his feet he was taught at the High School by Dr. Adams, whose last words we can never forget: "But it grows darkthe boys may dismiss"; and where he wrote his first verse, carefully kept by his mother, docketed "My Walter's first lines, 1782."
Thereafter he went to the University, and was taught among others by Mr. Hill, whose Latin class was "the rowdies" in the University, and by Professor Dalziel, Clerk to the General Assembly and Professor of Greek, whom Sydney Smith declared he heard one dark night muttering to himself in the street: "If it had not been for that confounded Solemn League and Covenant, we would have made as good longs and shorts as the Episcopalians." Also by Dugald Stewart, in whose very spitting Lord Cockburn is alleged to have said there was eloquence, and whose lectures were "like the openings of the heavens."
Scott would attend as a young man, though his lameness kept him from dancing, the fashionable assemblies in George Square, "and here were the last remains of the ball-room discipline of the preceding age. Martinet dowagers and venerable beaux acted as masters and mistresses of ceremonies, and made all the preliminary arrangements. No couple could dance unless each party was provided with a ticket prescribing the precise place in the precise dance. If there was no ticket, the gentleman or the lady was dealt with as an intruder and turned out of the dance. If the ticket had marked upon it, say, for a country dance, the figures 3, 5, this meant that the holder was to place himself in the third dance and fifth from the top; and if he was anywhere else he was set right or excluded. And the partner's ticket
must correspond. Woe to the girl who with a ticket, 2, 7, was found opposite a youth marked 5, 9. It was flirting without a license and looked very ill, and would probably be reported by the ticket director of that dance to the mother. Of course parties or parents who wished to secure dancing for themselves or those they had charge of provided themselves with correct and corresponding vouchers before the ball day arrived. This could only be accomplished through a director; and the election of a Pope sometimes requires less jobbing. Tea was sipped in side-rooms, and he was a careless beau who did not present his partner with an orange at the end of each dance; and the orange and the tea, like everything else, were under exact and positive regulations.
"The prevailing dinner-hour about three o'clock. Two o'clock was quite common, if there was no company. Hence it was no great hardship to dine on Sunday between sermonsbetween one and two o'clock. The hour in time, Lord Cockburn tells us, but not without groans and predictions, became four, at which it stuck for several years. Then it got to five, which, however, was thought positively revolutionary; and four was long and gallantly adhered to by the haters of change as the 'good old hour.' At last even they were obliged to give in. But they only yielded inch by inch, and made a desperate stand at halfpast four. Even five, however, triumphed and continued the average polite hour from (I think) about 1806 or 1807 till about 1820. Six has at last prevailed, and half an hour later is not. unusual. As yet though this is the furthest stretch of London imitation. Thus within my memory, the hour has ranged from two to half-past six o'clock: and a stand has been regularly made at the end of every halfhour against each encroachment; and
always on the same grounds-dislike of change and jealousy of finery."
Mr. Oldbuck, of Monkbarns, it will be remembered, who flourished circa 1804, invited his guests to the famous cœnobitical symposium at four o'clock precisely. It may be presumed that the Antiquary in this matter, however, lingered a little in the rear of the fashion. The dishes at the symposium comprehended many savory specimens of Scottish viands now disused at the tables of those who affect elegance-hotch-potch, 'the relishing Solan goose,' fish and sauce, crappetheads, and chicken pie. The Antiquary's beverage was port, a wine highly approved of by the clerical friend, who ably disposed of the relics of the feast intended for the worthy host's supper.
The ladies went into dinner by themselves in a regular row, according to the ordinary rules of precedence, and waited, lingering behind the backs of their chairs, until the gentlemen came in in single file, also in the order of priority, and partners were selected. Champagne did not come into fashion until the Peace of 1815. Claret was free from duty until about 1780, and was the ordinary beverage. I have heard Henry Mackenzie and other old people say that, when a cargo of claret came to Leith, the common way of proclaiming its arrival was by sending a hogshead of it through the town on a cart, with a horn, and that anybody who wanted a sample, or a drink under pretence of a sample, had only to go to the cart with a jug, which, without much nicety about its size, was filled for a sixpence. The tax ended this mode of advertising, and, aided by the horror of everything French, drove claret from all tables below the richest. It was the day for healths and toasts. Every glass of wine taken at dinner was dedicated to the health of some one, and to drink without this
was thought to be sottish and rude; as if, forsooth, there was nobody present worth drinking with. Wine was very rarely on the table, and when you wanted to drink with some one you called aloud for the wine and named your partner. You could slay your friends "by coveys," proclaiming to the sideboard, "A glass of sherry for Mr. Dundas, Mrs. Murray, and Miss Hope, and a glass of port for Mr. Hume, and one for me." "Your good health!" followed as you made obeisance to one after the other with a polite bow, a smile, and your hand on your heart. This during dinner while the ladies were still present. Then when they left, the "rounds" of toasts began. A lady was named by one, a partner for her mentioned by another, and their healths were drunk. Then there were "sentiments" such as, "May the pleasures of the evening bear the reflections of the morning"; "May the friends of our youth be the companions of our old age"; "Delicate pleasures to susceptible minds"; "May the honest heart never feel distress"; "May the hand of charity wipe the tear from the eye of sorrow"; "May never worse be among us." It took some courage and invention to do this, and there is a story told of the poor dominie of Andelly, after much blushing, writhing, and groaning, coming out with "The reflection of the moon in the cawm bosom of the lake." The health of the King was never neglected at the family dinner table, even when no company were present.
One of Scott's friends was Dr. William Robertson, described in "Guy Mannering" by Mr. Pleydell with some pride as "our historian of Scotland, of the Continent, and of America." He succeeded his father as minister of Old Greyfriars' Church, to which Pleydell conducts Colonel Mannering to hear him preach. He was greater as a church leader and a man of letters
than as a preacher. He was "essentially a literary artist." Conscientious and prolonged research gave a value to his historical works which largely atoned for the monotony of his somewhat too ornate and dignified style. He has the glory, and that, too, when Samuel Johnson was at his zenith, of having established a record in literary remuneration. For his history of Charles V. he received £4,500, the largest sum which had till then been paid for a single work.
When Colonel Mannering and Mr. Pleydell went to Greyfriars' Church to hear Dr. Robertson, they found, somewhat to their disappointment, that the great historian was not to be the preacher that morning. "Never mind," said the counsellor, "have a moment's patience, and we shall do very well," and Robertson's colleague, Dr. John Erskine, appeared. "This preacher seems a very ungainly person," said Mannering. "Never fear, he's the son of an excellent Scottish lawyer; he'll show blood, I'll warrant him." The learned counsellor predicted truly; and Mannering is fain to admit that he had seldom heard so much learning, metaphysical acuteness, and energy of argument brought into the service of Christianity.
Speaking of Robertson and Erskine's notorious difference in regard to Church government, Mannering asks the advocate what he thinks of these points of difference. "Why, I hope, Colonel, a plain man may go to heaven without thinking about them at all." And there spoke Scott himself.
Professor Adam Ferguson was another friend. He was a strict abstainer both from wine and animal food. He seldom dined out on this account, except with his relative Dr. Joseph Black, a kindred spirit; and his son used to say it was delightful to see the two philosophers rioting over a boiled turnip! The death of Dr. Jo
seph Black, the eminent chemist, was as quiet and peaceable as his life. "He died seated with a bowl of milk on his knee, of which his ceasing to live did not spill a drop; a departure which, it seemed, after the event happened, might have been foretold of this attenuated philosophical gentleman."
Dr. Robert Henry, the historian, died in a similarly quiet manner. Four days before his death he wrote to Sir Harry Moncrieff, "Come out here, directly; I have got something to do this week. I have got to die." While Sir Harry and he were sitting together, and he, in his easy chair, was dozing and talking by turns, a neighboring minister, who was a notorious and much-dreaded bore, came to call. "Keep him out!" cried the Doctor; "don't let the creature in here." It was too late, the creature entered; but when he came in the Doctor was to all appearance fast asleep. Moncrieff, at once taking in the situation, signed to the visitor to be silent. The visitor sat down, apparently to wait till Dr. Henry might awake. Every time he offered to speak, he was checked by solemn gestures from Moncrieff or Mrs. Henry. So he sat on, all in solemn silence, for about a quarter of an hour, during which Sir Henry occasionally detected the dying man peeping cautiously through the fringes of his eyelids to see how his visitor was coming on. At last, Sir Henry tired, and he and Mrs. Henry, pointing to the poor doctor, fairly waved the visitor out of the room; on which the doctor opened his eyes wide and had a tolerably hearty laugh, which was renewed when the sound of the horse's feet made them certain that their friend was actually off the premises. Dr. Henry died that night. In his "History of Great Britain" Dr. Henry was the forerunner of Macaulay and Green
Socially Scotland was just emerging from roughness and ignorance. Scott tells of "a dame of no small quality, the worshipful Lady Pumphraston, who buttered a pound of green tea, sent her as an exquisite delicacy, dressed it as a condiment to a rump of salt beef, and complained that no degree of boiling would render those foreign green tender." "There was, however, no real vulgarity about the people, and in the Scots tongue of that day the vowels were not pronounced much broader than in the Italian language, and there was none of the disagreeable drawl which is so offensive to modern ears. The ladies were like Scott's Mrs. Bethune; it seemed to be the Scotch spoken by the ancient Court of Scotland, to which no idea of vulgarity could be attached."
all my life. When, shortly before her death, she was asked how she was, she answered: "Very weel-quite weel. But eh! I had a dismal dream last night: a fearful dream!" "Ay! I'm sorry for that. What was it?" "An' what d'ye think? Of a' the places in the world, I dreamed I were in Heaven! And what d'ye think I saw there? Deil ha'et, but thoosands upon thoosands, and ten thoosands upon ten thoosands, O' stark naked weans! That wad be a dreadfu' thing, for ye ken I ne'er could bide bairns a' my days."
Even Miss Sophia ("Sophy") Johnson, notwithstanding her man's hat and indoor garment like a great-coat, buttoned closely from the chin to the ground, worsted stockings, strong shoes, with large brass clasps, was a lady, whose company was much prized by the fashionable and aristocratic, as it well might be, for she had rare intellectual powers, and her talk was racy, spiced with anecdote, and shrewd, often sarcastic, observation. She and some other of the ladies of that day were as stout in heart as they were strong in arm. When Miss "Sophy's" strength was giving way, the famous Dr. Gregory cautioned her to leave off animal food and be content with "spoon meat," unless she wished to die. "Dee, doctor; odd! I'm thinking they've forgotten an auld wife like me up yonder." And when the doctor called next day he found her spoon meat consisted of a haggis!
Then there was Miss Meenie Trotter, of the Mortonhall family, who, till within a few years of her death, could do her ten miles of a walk. I seem to have known the story of her dream
Scott and his friend Clark were admitted to the Faculty of Advocates on the 11th of July, 1792. When the ceremony of "putting on the gown" was completed, Scott said to Clark, putting on the air and tone of some Highland lassie waiting at the Cross to be "fee'd for the harvest." "We've stood here an hour by the Tron, hinny, an' deil a one has speird our price." The friends were about to leave the outer court, when a friend, a solicitor, came up and gave Scott his first guinea fee. As he and Clark went down the High Street, they passed a hosier's shop, and Scott remarked, "This is a sort of wedding day, Willie. I think I must go in and buy me a new nightcap." Thus he "wared" his guinea. But it is pleasing to know that his first big fee was spent on a silver letter stand for his mother, which (Lockhart tells) the old lady used to point to with great satisfaction as it stood on her chimney-piece five-and-twenty years afterwards. Almost the only story Cockburn ever heard of Lord Braxfield that had some fun in it without immodesty was when a butler gave up his place because his lordship's wife was always scolding him. "Lord!" he exclaimed, "ye've little to complain o'; ye may be thankfu' ye're no married to her." It was he who said to Masgarot, one of the Friends of the Peo
ple, who made a speech in his own defence, "Ye're a very clever chiel, man, but ye wad be nane that waur o' a-hanging." If some political prosecution seemed in danger of being marred by anticipated difficulties, he would say, "Let them bring me prisoners, and I'll find them law." Before Hume's "Commentaries" had made criminal law The Academy.
intelligible, the forms and precedent were a mystery understood by the initiated alone, and by nobody so much as by Mr. Joseph Norris, the ancient clerk. Braxfield used to squash anticipated doubts by saying, "Hoot! just gie me Josie Norrie and a gude jury, an' I'll doo for the fallow!"
THE MALADY OF ARMAMENTS.
We shall take leave to assume that when the Prime Minister, quoting Sir Edward Grey, tells the House of Commons that the four "Dreadnoughts" which are to be laid down next April are "without prejudice" to next year's programme, he means precisely what he says, no more and no less. The naval programme of 1910-11 will, as he says, be considered "by reference to the circumstances of that time." There will be, in other words, a state of almost perfect freedom. We shall be considering not this year's programme, but next year's. The Government ought to be free to say that the four may not be wanted so soon. Failing this, they are certainly at liberty to urge either that they will be wanted, but that no more will be wanted, or that more will be wanted. The House will be free to consider, and to reject or approve. either of these propositions. This simple statement vitiates the attempts of the Opposition to treat the new four ships as a supplement to an average programme of four "Dreadnoughts" next year, or even to an unthinkable enlargement to the tune of eight. We claim for the Liberal Party entire dissociation from each of these calculations. It is a tribute to the never-ending audacity of elected persons that Mr. Balfour, in face of his attitude to the Budget, should have advanced them at all. But when he calls for de
ficit on deficit, and rails at the "preposterously meagre" programme of eight "Dreadnoughts" finished in three years, and laid down in one, the Liberal Party will, we hope, make it clear that they have no part or lot in any such proposition. When the Naval estimates for 1910-11 are presented, they will be considered with reference to the state of Europe, the needs of national defence, the advance of the programmes of other Powers, and, above all, the aims and policy of this country. Private Liberals go into this controversy unpledged to a single new "Dreadnought." They may be disposed to look leniently on the novel form of insurance against panic under which the Government propose to place twenty such vessels on the home seas by the spring of 1912. But they have not taken one step further in the "grammar of assent" which their opponents kindly propose for them.
Meanwhile we must assert with some emphasis the disappearance of the case on which the scare of last March arose. In its place, we are offered an entirely new argument in defence of the programme to which the scare gave birth. Four months ago the Admiralty presented us with a thoroughly alarmist statement as to an all-round acceleration of German ship-building, and a development of naval power which had practically annulled our own superior capacity. It was further sug