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I sat on the box by the coachman, who gave me the names, with more or less scorn, of the owners or occupiers of the châteaux we passed. 'And who lives there?' I would say. O, just one Patterson fro' Dundee,' or 'Just a writer fro' Arbroath.'
9th.—Among some tea-party guests to-day we were presented to a lady who credits herself with 'second sight.' Though Southron-bred, and not prone to this particular superstition, I confess to having felt some uneasiness in her presence, as part of her quality is to see people's faces more or less covered with a grey veil, according as their death is nearer or further off. Sophia kept her own veil resolutely down, and I did not happen to interest her. Tom did, and though he avoided the good lady to the best of his power, and even at last took refuge in the smoking-room, she tracked him thither; and from what I could afterwards glean amongst his frequent exclamations of 'Fudge!' the sibyl had given him a date on which he would be in peril of a watery grave. It will be interesting to see if he will give up his cruise to Norway. Another odd power possessed by this lady is that of seeing one's head in an aura of other heads, these being the people who have most influenced one. I was delighted to learn that my own cloud of witnesses was so nebulous as to be indistinguishable. Others may lay this to my bad memory; I prefer to impute it to original genius. Eugenia's most prominent companion was a young person with what seemed to be a halo. Him she claimed as St. Aldate, the saint for whom she has peculiar devotion. But I tell her St. Aldate has been exploded by the young Oxford historians; and the wraith is probably the new curate at in his soft felt hat. We were greatly pleased at the sibyl's success with Tom. Only one head,' said she, ‘is very plainly marked; and that is furnished with a stubbly chinbeard; and has something odd about the eyes, not a cast, nor a squint, ...It is a glass eye, ma'am,' said Tom, if, as I infer, you are describing my gamekeeper.' Surely this is a new thing even in ghosts, the ghost with a glass eye!
In the evening we sat round the fire in the hall and told ghost stories, beginning with the ghost of the house, of whom I then learned for the first time. It haunts the corridor, which is perhaps considerate; though if I were a ghost I should haunt the dining or smoking room, not of course for the creature comforts, but for the society. Scotland has this great advantage over England, that any company there are sure to be one or two persons who have
1 These were not the names.
seen a ghost themselves. One lady had seen several, but the particulars were not especially remarkable, except in the case of one which she saw in a street in Dresden pointing to a scaffolded house, which fell the next day, killing several persons. Another lady was more sensitive with the ear than the eye. She was sleeping in a room at a girl's school opening into a large dormitory; at the door came several raps, and opening it suddenly, she found nothing at the other side. By the post she heard that her aged father had been picked up fainting outside her bedroom door at home, at which he had knocked, forgetting her absence. In another house, the lower part of which had once formed part of a monastery, she was nursing her mother who was ill with heart disease; and hearing suddenly the cellar doors being unbarred, and suspecting burglars, she hurried downstairs with the plate that was brought to her mother's room every night, to bribe the thieves to depart, fearing that the shock of their appearance would kill the old lady. But the doors were all fast.
12th. A fine day in every sense. But, admiring Goldsmith's art in leaving his famous 'Grouse in the gun-room' story to the imagination, I shall follow his example.
15th. Now that the first fierce zest of slaughter has been satiated, I have begun to explore the beauties of this romantic neighbourhood. The brown-watered river flows through the strath, and there is fascination enough in hanging upon the bridge or walking along the side to watch the water swirling under. We came this morning upon a little dell with a cascade dashing down through it, and on the banks here and there among ferns and thistles a rich poisonous-looking plant, which, not being botanists, we named 'Aglavaine.' It was a picture out of the Faery Queene,' and if Una had appeared with her licn we should hardly have been surprised. A little higher, we found ourselves in Beulah, with the Delectable Mountains full in view.
In the afternoon we made an excursion to in a waggonette, indulging by the way in a form of reciprocal torture, each side calling the attention of the other to the beauties at its back. At the best of times one resents having the obvious beauties of the landscape pointed out to one; even the transports of the judicious are somewhat boring. Coleridge tells a story of how at the Falls of Clyde he was unable to find a word to express his feelings. At last a stranger at his side said 'How majestic!' It was the precise term, and Coleridge turned round and was saying 'Thank you,
sir; that is the exact word for it,' when the stranger added in the same breath, ́ Yes, how very pretty!' One sight much impressed me. As we were nearing a bridge with a single span, arching considerably, a flock of Highland sheep with black twisting horns appeared suddenly crowding the ridge in face of us. It was quite beautiful.
17th. This duel between the French and Italian princes is a godsend to the newspapers, and, taking tale and moral together, fills many columns. The moral of the matter is really very simple. Selden in the Table Talk is reported as having said: 'War is lawful, because God is the only Judge betwixt two that are supreme. Now, if a difference happen betwixt two subjects, and it cannot be decided by human testimony, why may they not put it to God to judge between them by the permission of the prince? Nay, why should we not bring it down, for argument's sake, to the swordmen? One gives me the lie; 'tis a great disgrace to take it, the law has made no provision to give remedy for the injury, why am not I in this case supreme, and may therefore right myself?' We have only to remember that modern law has made provision to remedy such injuries to see that duelling is therefore as indefensible in these days as the old wager of battle,' of which indeed it is a survival.
18th.-A misty morning; what we English in our violent idiom call 'raining cats and dogs.' The books of the house did not, at the first blush, look alluring. 'Saurin's Sermons' (who was Saurin ?), The Scottish Biographical Dictionary,' 'The Edinburgh Review' from the commencement, Boswell's Tour in the Hebrides'-I noted that for use if better books failed-and then my eye lighted on 'Sir Charles Grandison.' It was just the book for the situation. At noon it cleared suddenly, and we ventured out to the Highland sports at Of the party was a French professor, a member of the Franco-Scottish League, who considered it necessary to pay Eugenia compliments, the very elaborateness of which would have rendered them innocuous, even if they had not been addressed to the company at large. He compared the colour of the heather to her hair, at which she did not look enchanted. I fancy the compliment was a classical reminiscence, and I fancy too they were not both looking at the same patch; for the colour varies greatly under so cloudy a sky. The smoke from a cottage chimney which showed blue against the firs gave him a better opportunity. To think, Mademoiselle Eugénie, that so much beauty-the exquisite VOL. III.-NO. 16, N.S.
blue of that smoke-should depend upon the turbidity of the medium. Is it unnatural that the blue of so beautiful eyes should in their turn mediate a turbidity?' I don't think Eugenia quite understood the theory of turbid media or the point of the application. But the professor proceeded. It is a grand pity our poets know so little. I am full of ideas, but the expression I can give them does not satisfy. You know our poet Sully Prudhomme. He asks a question which draws tears.
Partout scintillent les couleurs,
Mais d'où vient cette force en elles?
Il existe un bleu dont je meurs
Parce qu'il est dans les prunelles.
How much more tears should he draw, if like me he knew the answer!' At this point we reached the field. The sports did not differ from those of other places in the Highlands. Our professor grew very eloquent over 'tossing the caber.' He had no doubt that the sport, like the word, was originally Norman, and had come to Scotland with other essentials of civilisation, such as napery' and 'carafes,' in the days when French and Scotch were brothers-in-arms. I confess I have my doubts about this. We Southerners very much resented the intrusion of hornpipes into the dancing competitions. But on reflection I don't see why Highlanders should not be sailors as well as soldiers. At the dinner-party this evening one of the guests-a maiden lady— gave me much quiet amusement. The servant was offering her the choice of two entrées, one hot and one cold, and his fellow attended with the two plates. But the good lady not appreciating the situation, instead of making her choice of meats, tapped on the table for a plate; and continued to do so in a sufficiently imperative manner till in despair the man gave her a cold plate and left her to her devices.
25th. Our party, Edinburgh and York.
leaving the Toms behind, returned by Sophia left the hospitable roof, according to her custom, with a monstrous bunch of heather, a root or two of tropæolum, a basket of ferns, and a recipe for scones, begged from the cook.
1 I quote the description of 'Tossing the Caber' from the Voces Populi' of Mr. Anstey, a gentleman whose pen is as accurate as it is facile. The caber-a rough fir-trunk twenty-one feet long-is tossed, that is, is lifted by six men, set on end, and placed in the hands of the athlete, who, after looking at it doubtfully for a time, poises it, raises it a foot or two, and runs several yards with it, after which he jerks it forward by a mighty effort, so as to pitch on the thicker end, and fall over in the direction furthest from him.'
On our way to Perth, whom should we meet but our young friend H. and his bride honeymooning. They were occupied, when we took them by storm, in reading Maeterlinck's 'Aglavaine and Selysette.' I could not help congratulating H. on finding his Aglavaine, without first declining upon any Selysette with a range of lower feelings. I confess I forgot at the moment that he had been engaged before; but as he seemed to have forgotten it too, no harm was done. Sophia, when his present engagement was announced, had been overjoyed, because, as she said, 'now neither of them can spoil another pair.' I am afraid they both have just a touch of the prig in their constitution. When they had left the train at the little station where they are fleeting the time carelessly, Sophia, always tender-hearted, upbraided me with my unkindness in comparing them to 'those horrid creatures.' But it was plain they took my speech for a compliment, as I knew they And I protested I had said nothing nearly so unkind as a remark that fell from her. I was saying to the bride, 'I suppose, when you get home, you will be setting up a salon?' And when she blushed and bridled, Sophia put in, 'Take my advice, my dear, and set up a salle à manger.' Sophia undervalues Maeterlinck's play through a feminine distaste for irony, which does not allow her to recognise that the author of the prigs knows how priggish they are, even better than the reader. When the book came from Mudie's we had quite a warm discussion over it. 'Now,' Sophia began, 'in the first scene of all; look at this description of Aglavaine: "Her hair is very strange... you will see... it seems to take part in every one of her thoughts... as she is happy or sad, so does her hair smile or weep; and this even at times when she herself scarcely knows whether she should be happy or whether she should be sad." What twaddle that is!' 'My dear,' I said, 'a most unfortunate place to choose for censure. Living here in the retirement of the country you have never chanced to meet a case of emotional hair, that is all. Now I have. At school there was a boy whose hair used to play all sorts of pranks. We used to make him eat marmalade, which he hated but his hair liked, just to make it sit up. That is what the poet means here; both were cases of uncertainty between conflicting emotions.' 'Well, then,' said Sophia, 'what does this mean? "So long as we know not what it opens, nothing can be more beautiful than a key." "My love,' I replied, 'it means just what it says. I have always admired your chatelaine, and I have not the most