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of flour scones, a plate of fresh butter, and a mug things which, being wrought out in Heaven accordof black-currant jelly sitting on it. In the window ing to the lover's creed, no fellow, as poor, puzzled space itself, a blue painted chest. On the little shelf Lord Dundreary used to say, can understand. above the half-open room door a brass pan and two Unconscious of the good fortune that fate was smoothing-irons; and straggling round the clean quietly weaving in the loom of time for me, I sat hearth-stone-where the tortoise-shell cat and the enjoying my “twal-hours” in the midst of this venerable little one-eyed terrier quarrelled and made homely little company, which I was just now so it up again twenty times a day-three or four birch fervently wishing I could rejoin, and which I see so chairs and a couple of wooden stools, on which were plainly sitting in their accustomed places. The old seated the family and their friends enjoying their man, “twal-hours," completed the homely furnishings of
"Not speaking much, pleased my dear old interior.
Rather with the joy of his own thoughts," How I wish I could rise and take my place, in is seated in his elbow-chair in the right-hand chimneythe flesh, among this little circle after spending the corner, with the drumlie November sunlight striking forenoon in the old pew at church--sitting down the side of his head on its way to the delf-rack. among them as simply, and naturally, as if only a That he may feel more at ease in this hour of relaxaweek had elapsed since I had my “twal-hours
tion, as well as from notions of thrift and carefulness, with them, instead of half a lifetime! Like Colin's guidwife,
“I'm dounricht dizzy wi' the thocht,
In troth I'm like tae greet."
The earth and every common sight,
Apparell'd in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.”
he has divested himself of his black coat, along with
his Sunday face, and now looks quite human sitting would suffer in value through the removal of this
in his white shirt-sleeves, with his coloured cotton langsyne glamour. One's old wife might even feel different,
handkerchief spread over the knees of his black " But for those first affections,
trousers, eating his piece, and listening to Betty, an Those shadowy recollections,
old acquaintance who worshipped at a neighbouring Which be they what they may,
church, and regularly spent her “twal-hours" with Are yet the fountain light of all our day, them, it being too far to go to her own home and Are yet a master light of all our seeing.”
return again in time for the afternoon service. In But to leave Peg alone. I had not been brought those old-fashioned days folks like Betty would as under her sweet sway at the time of which I am soon think of flying as being at the trouble of dresspicturing. Our stars shone too far apart for the ing themselves in their Sunday clothes for half a day's witching light of hers to project itself into this little preaching. circle. And to this day I am ignorant to what Betty always occupied the “ laigh chair" bright Ariel I am indebted for performing this opposite the old man, with her big cotton umbrellamiracle for me. But I suppose that is one of those bleached a blae white with the rains of half a genera
tion of wet Sundays-between her knees. Her and, like most people so designated, was likewise a round, good-natured face is half-drowned among great talker. Her particular forte, I remember, was gum-flowers in a capacious brown silk bonnet. Her genealogy. As the different items of the week's
news came under review, Betty invariably set about discovering the pedigrees of such persons as had become public property, for the time being, through entering upon the married state, or adding to the number of their offspring, or contracting a disease and dying, which, with an “a-tweel-a-wat” in every second mouthful of words, she traced back-not always, it must be confessed, in a very direct line till they were lost in mist, if, indeed, as the slightlybored old man sometimes thought, and said too, after she was gone, they were not lost there before she started.
Then there is the lithe, nervous figure of the old woman herself, her dark hair, though now a "sabled silver," still retaining some of its old wavy character where it is parted above her low forehead. The tinge of red on the tops of her cheeks wears its old dusky glow. About her mouth, now slightly fallen in with the loss of her teeth, is lurking as much fun as ever. Her nose, too—her shabby little upturned nose, with its miraculous scent—is character itself, more eloquent sometimes than her tongue. And her eyes : what a vivacity is in those keen grey
eyes ? How they would twinkle with merriment, broad, stooping shoulders are arrayed in a faded or flash with sudden anger at the rehearsal of harness plaid, pinned under her chin with a brooch some meanness, or, at the bidding of a contrary containing a lock of her dead husband's bair—these emotion, dissolve as suddenly in a shining mist!
adornments being too great a work of art to lightly They are still too proud to be indebted to glasses, think of taking up and down in the brief interval though cherishing, as provokingly as ever, her between the preachings. She was quite a character, favourite half-belief that those who wear them do
it more from affectation than necessity. Even when presents itself, and the garrulous Betty pauses to bafiled in the threading of her needle—not such an take her breath, or a bite of her scone, or arrest, in uncommon occurrence now—she condescends in her hot haste, a blob of jelly before it slides over the despair to try the old man's, which, as they give her edge of her piece on to her gown, she courageously no help, but strengthen her in her prejudice. She is applies—usually with a dash of Lumpur—to her own too young in spirit to brook tamely the idea of the moral sores, or those of the human family in general; body's decay. She bustles about as light on her she is not the least particular. The constant effect feet as a fairy, spreading scones thick with jelly, of these sallies is the upsetting of Betty's train of and pressing them with as much heartiness as if they ancestral calculations, when, to the old man's horror, were cakes of blithemeat, particularly on Betty and she begins them all over again, till some fresh stroke the eldest daughter's young man.
of humour or satire from the old woman's quiver This bashful youth was always one of the party puts her forces entirely to flight, and compels her to at their "twal-hours," sitting nervously on the edge take a new tack. of the blue painted chest standing in the window- “ An' hoo dae ye think ye're gaun tae like ye're space. Since he was obliged to be on his good new minister ?” asks the old man, just as Betty is behaviour before folk, he generally contrived to give rallying from her last discomfiture. rent to his amorous feelings by abstractedly stroking “ 'Deed, I'm sure, a-tweel-a-wat, an' I dinna the back of the tortoise-shell cat, or scratching the ken," replies Betty. “They say the chiel's clever, venerable head of the one-eyed terrier, with whom an' it may be nia blin'ness that canna see't; though he shares his “twal-hours” for so kindly condescending to act as his substitutes. At least, so the roguish youth sitting in the shadow behind old Betty's chair, devouring with much relish his "twal-hours" and the Bride of Lammermoor” at
the same time, under cover of studying the shorter catechism, used to say when he wanted to tease his sister. Her sedate ladyship, who has just been relieving her mother of some of her household cares, takes her place among the group as far I'm nane that blin' but I can notice that he uses the from the chest as possible, thereby demonstrating, paper.” by that strange contrariness in lovers' natures, shall “ He reads 't, does he ?” we say, her greater nearness to it, and hearkens the “Every word o't, a-tweel-a-wat, an' daurna' lift demure little maiden, on the low stool by her father's his een aff the book-board for fear he losses the chair, her paraphrase,
place. Ma pouerless fit has mair delivery, a-tweelThe old woman, however, is the life and soul of the a-wat, haes 't,” making a shuffle on the floor with whole company: keeping up the conversation when it her paralytic extremity; "an' I'm sure he doesna' offers to flag, and rescuing it from dulness when, as tak'aff his forebears in that respec', a-tweel-a-wat; not unfrequently happens, it is in imminent danger no, they were weel giftit wi' the gab, every ane o' from that cause. Like the godly minister she sat them. He's a gran'son, ye ken, on the mither's side, under, being more of a moralist than a theologian, she o' auld Doctor what dae ye ca' him ? him that always contrived to bring away something from the wis sae lang in the pairish kirk; the same, dae ye sermon which just fitted to a nicety the particular min', that wis sae sairly han'let by his presbytry for phase of experience she happened to be passing -for-, lo'd I forget; but at onyrate his brither, through at the time, either in her own person or that that is by his second wife, his guid-brither like, she of her neighbours. The varied service she would wis a Miss afore she wis marriet, but it's nae press this single idea into, and its apparent mar- matter, gaed again him somehoo or ither, I canna' vellous fitness for the office, was a constant theme mak’ a story o't now ––”. of wonder to her less ingenious lord and master. Hoots, Betty,"
,” bursts in the old woman, “what These little rubs of caustic, whenever the occasion does't matter hoo they deliver't, as lang as it's some
thing when it comes, wuman. I reckon naething o' she?” asks the old woman, losing sight of the point your fine flouery preachers that jist Haff owre your under discussion in her newly-awakened interest in heid a shouer o rainbow words that daizles your her old friend's daughter. senses, but deil ane o' them bre’ks ony banes.”
“ That's the third lassock, an' never a callan.” “ 'Deed, a-tweel-a-wat, it's a truith. I canna' say “ Never a callan ?” I'm partial aithur tae baein' the word sot'n aff like “ A-tweel-a-wat, no; an' she had little need. o' playac'in', though I can as ill bide tae hear't read onything-oot tae me by a styte wi' the paper close tae his “ But you'll often see that it's them that can dae nose a' the time.”
best withoot them that gets them,” ventures the old " As oor minister wis sayin' this mornin',” tinues the old woman, without heeding Betty's "They're jist in sin an' mees'ry," proceeds Betty. rejoinder ; "his text wis in Exodus 4th and 10th, “ But, the truith is, they were far owre young marriet. Oh, Lord, I am slow of speech.' Tak’ ma word They jist gaed thegither wi’ little mair than what for't, says he-maybe no in thae words, but that they stood in; an' her man has but a wee wage, an? wis his meanin'—tak' ma word for’t, if it's some- he's no owre weel daein', forby; but he's come o' thing that comes fae the benmost bit o' him, an' the wrang kin' tae be ocht else, a-tweel-a-wat, is he. worth seein' the licht, it'll no be deliver't withoot a The Tamsons were a' fash'd wi' a drouth. The bit strissle o' ae kin' or anither. A bonnie thocht, gran'faither o' him drank a twa-storey hoose in a a' sabbin' wi' new fresh life, an' capable o' workin' fortnicht, an' it had ootshot garret windows, an'a a reformation in the breist that gies't a hame, ony back-jam built tillt, forbymair than a bonny bairn, canna' be born withoot “I declare if some thochtless creatres dinna' travail. It's no in nater tae expec' it.”
bring their pigs tae a puir market," ejaculates the old " True eneuch, but there's unco differences, a- woman, her mind more absorbed in the unfortunate tweel-a-wat, is there. Some hae their thochts jist Nancy than her drouthy husband's pedigree; " but as some puir creat'res get their bit hubble by a naething 'll ser'e a wheen young anes noo-a-days hantle-sicht easier than ithers. Nae far'er gaen nor but they mun be marriet,” casting a knowing look'in yesterday I wis speakin' tae Nancy Giffin at the the direction of the chest, " whether they're gether't pump, but ye'll maybe no ken her, she's ane o' the or no. They little ken, puir silly fuils, the botheraGiffins o' the toon-en'
tions that's afore them!” “Nancy Giffin !" ejaculates the old woman.
“A-tweel-a-wat, an' it's weel they dinna'.” “ She's marriet on a son o' Willie Tamson's," But, hark! the bells begin to ring from the explains her daughter.
different steeples. The youngsters shut their Bibles “ Brawly that; her mither an' me learn't dress- and catechisms, in which they had been rehearsing makin' thegither."
the Sabbath-school lessons when they did not happen “ Her gran'faither, ye min', wis fun hingin' tae to be listening to Betty's harangues. The old folk the post o' the bed ae Hogmanay mornin',” resumes break off their talk, and, shaking the crumbs from Betty. “He wis a body that took a heavy dram, their laps, rise to their feet. For the next few for twa months at a time whiles. His wife, puir
His wife, puir minutes all is hurry and bustle. The pile of Sunday thing, never wis the same after't. It tint her reason finery on the bed is transferred to the heads and a' thegither. She wis related tae the Cam'els; the backs of their several owners, who now step out to Bailie wis her uncle
church-the bashful intended and his lady-love, not “But what aboot hersel'?” interrupts the old the least daunted by the dismal side of the matriwoman, with impatience.
monial picture held up for their edification, taking the “Weel, as I wis sayin'," returns Betty, “I wis lead; and the old woman bringing up the rear, after crackin' tae Nancy, wha wis synin' a pickle pratoes locking the door on the not overly-well-pleased dog at the pump, an'in half-an-hoor after I wis mair nor and cat, and concealing the key under the bass. dumfoun'ert when Jean Aird cries ben tae me that And so they pass from my sight. Nancy had gotten anither dochter."
“Only an unseen presence fills the air, “Anither dochter? Hoo mony o' a fam’ly has
And baffles my pursuit.”
By Ex-PROFESSOR JOHN STUART BLACKIE. I CANNOT but regard it as one of the great misfor- department of criticism it is not always knowledge tunes of the educated youth of the present age that but crude opinion that is distributed, and that very so much of their intellectual energy is put forth in often in a fashion pernicious both to the critic and to the shape of criticism. This evil has its origin in the the public. The evil comes in this wise. Judgment extraordinary multiplication of literary periodicals in all matters, according to the Hippocratic maxim, is monthly, weekly, and daily–which has marked the difficult, and experience slippery; it must therefore, present century: a good thing in itself, no doubt; for like the fruits of the field, have time to grow and to knowledge is naturally as much bound to distribute ripen, and can no more be expected to develop itself itself as the sun is to radiate light. But in the special normally in young men than apples can be expected
in May to have the sweetness or the flavour of fault should be imaginary? In this case a new and sutumn. But, unfortunately, when periodicals are a much more contagious evil emerges; the faultstarted and books require to be reviewed, while wise finder is feeding the public with husks, and deluding old gentlemen of large experience and ripe judgmenthimself with words; the real fault lies in himself, in like the Weimarian Goethe, are contented to hold the narrow range of his ideas, and his want of their tongues, troops of ambitious younglings are catholic appreciation. Of course, I have not the eager to flourish their swords—of wood or of steel, as least desire to insinuate that all, or the greater part, the case may be—in the ventilation of opinion; and, of the literary criticism at present current is of this if they can only express themselves smartly and with shallow, false, and altogether unsatisfactory descripsome show of knowledge, however fragmentary and tion; there are many agencies in operation to prevent however shallow, they will find little difficulty of this evil becoming universal; I only say that there is a getting critical work put into their hands, of which great danger to young men in starting as writers of no very conscientious account needs to be given. criticism, especially in this country where anonyThe article is smart, and the guinea is profitable; and mous writing is so largely favoured; for, whatever no further inquiry is made. The effect of this sort of may be said in defence of anonymous penmanship, it crude writing on the public is bad indeed, as all un certainly cannot be denied that it yields itself readily, truthful dealings with serious matters must be; but on any occasion, to act as the shield of ignorance and it is seldom that a really good book can be perma the mother of impertinence. Instead of being forward nently damaged by a few shallow or ill-natured to pronounce critical judgment, young men should criticisms. What is damaged is the character of the cultivate love, reverence, and catholic appreciation; critic, whose position from the beginning is false, and, if they will find fault, let them learn to find fault and who soon becomes thoroughly demoralised by with their own work in the first place, and then with dealing loosely with truth, and cheating the public that of their neighbours. But it is better in every of its due by vending a hasty opinion for a ripe way to put forth the energy of youth in the approjudgment.
priation of what is good than in the condemnation of There is a threefold evil iuvolved in the practice what is bad; if the good be carefully sought out, of this precocious criticism. First, there is the accepted, and assimilated, the bad will naturally fall nourishment given to juvenile conceit which ought off by its own badness, and the less said about it the rather to be repressed in the assumption of a better. character which does not naturally belong to unripe I have been led to make these remarks partly as years and limited experience. Then there is the the result of some fifty years' experience in various temptation to find faults rather than to admire excel- departments of literary exertion, partly from the effect lences, a temptation arising from the natural enough produced on my mind by the chapter on “ Criticism” notion that the fault-finder possesses some sort of in the second volume of Anthony Trollope's excellent superiority to the person whom he condemns; and Autobiography. That chapter I recommend with all this is a habit of mind in the highest degree hurtful seriousness to the attention of our educated youth, to the fault-finder, even when the fault pointed out is and finish what I have to say at present with the a real one. But what if, whether from a desire to following verses, which flowed from my pen sponappear superior, or from prejudice, or personal taneously when fresh from the perusal of that hostility, or gross ignorance, or sheer stupidity, the chapter:
If you are young, and wish to flap your pinion ;
know little and would seem to know
Echoed tenfold where every wind may blow,
Then be a critic: you might gain a penny
At your blind will the blind, unthinking many.
The seed of truth, and by that virtue grow
Judge not : but look with love and reverence low-