Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

gifts apart, to that intimate friendship with the great Sir Walter, which brought him constantly to her house when in London. If any (and there seem to have been many) had a boon to crave of the Wizard,' such as a word of praise for a literary effort, or a “leg-up' to any saddle on a literary hobby-horse, it would be through Mrs Hughes that the request was made. She was in constant correspondence with him; and his regard for her may be estimated by the manner of the signature of his letters, as 'I am, dear Mrs Hughes, sincerely and affectionately yours, Walter Scott.'

Mrs Lockhart's later letters are the more pathetic in that they record the gradual wane of hopes that had been entertained after the first stroke that clouded Sir Walter's brain. She neglects to note the year on her letters, but it is likely that one of date, June 5, from Abbotsford, should be referred to 1831, soon after the first really dangerous seizure: • Papa and myself,' she writes, received your kind letters, for which many thanks, and I hasten to tell you what I can of good here. Papa is at present very well, but his disease is such a very dangerous one that till he passes many months without an attack the Drs consider him in a most anxious state of health. The only thing that remains is a thickness of speech, one day better and perhaps the same evening not so well, but never quite gone, which leads the medical men to say the tendency to disease is still there. I have been here now nearly six weeks and cannot flatter myself there is any change for the better. He attends very strictly to the regimen prescribed, but declares the medical men have mistaken his case and bled him too much, and that if he ate and drank as usual he would be well. I am certain in his present state a couple of glasses of wine would bring on an attack. One thing it is impossible to avoid-he will work, and that is as bad as anything. However, we get him out as much as possible on his pony, and the weather is so delightful he never tires of being amongst his trees. the seeing of a friend does him much good.'

The following winter was spent by Sir Walter, devotedly attended by some of his family, abroad. At his own earnest desire he was brought home to Scotland in the summer, arriving at Abbotsford on July 11. Five days later Mrs Lockhart writes to Mrs Hughes :

[ocr errors]

• Your kind letter followed me here' (to Abbotsford) “and indeed I did not want it to remind me your affection would wish to hear of us all, though I was obliged, from fatigue, total want of sleep, etc., to delay till we reached this and settled our future plan of life, to write to you. Papa made out this journey far better than we could have hoped he would, but, dear Mrs Hughes, he is no better, either in mind or body, than he was in town, and only now' (and then ?] aware where he is. . . . To give you an idea of our attendance, to-day from ter to four he was out and in bed, that is to say from his bed to his chair, ten times, with one or other of us either reading or speaking to him and with the misery of seeing he did not understand more than a few words occasionally, though he will not allow us to cease to read or speak to him. I know how you and Dr Hughes love Lockhart, but if you now saw the great comfort he is to us all, the tenderness, the patience with which he nurses poor Papa, you would feel, even we do, that we had not appreciated him enough, and Papa is so fond of him and, strange to say, however violent to Anne and I, is collected, in comparison, to him. ... We are told a change for better (not I fear in mind) may take place any day, or—what they anticipate—worse, and indeed you and all his friends will pray for his release should he continue in his present melancholy state.'

as

It was rather more than two months later that the merciful release was vouchsafed ; and at the end came a blessed gleam of intelligence to the great troubled mind, which was of much comfort to the family gathered round his death-bed.

Mrs Hughes's journal ends with a page or two of her * Last Recollections of Sir Walter; and the record concludes with the true version of an incident not quite correctly given by Captain Basil Hall: "Sir W.,' Mrs Hughes writes, 'was so much pleased with the Yarmouth bloaters on the day (Oct. 8th) when he breakfasted in Amen Corner, that Mrs Lockhart desired me to procure her half a hundred. As soon as they drove away I went to Mr Bateman, a great salesman in Billingsgate, and I gave the order: he replied that such a number would not suit a private family, for owing to the manner in which these fish are cured they will only keep good a short time. I then desired half the quantity to be sent to Sussex Place' (where Sir Walter was): 'he answered decidedly, but civilly, that it

was not their custom to send so far. I do not know what prompted me, but I said involuntarily, "I am very sorry the order cannot be complied with-it was for Sir Walter Scott." The rough fishmonger started back, and pushing forward to me through piles of fish cried out most loudly—“Sir Walter Scott, did you say, madam! Sir Walter Scott! God bless my soul, he shall have them directly, if I carry them myself. Sir Walter Scott! They shall be with him to-night”-then, pausing, “No, not to-night-for to-morrow morning at 7 o'clock a fresh cargo comes in, and he shall have them for his breakfast. Sir Walter Scott!”—then, with a very grave look and in as soft a tone as his loud voice could be lowered to, he said, “They say he has been ill, and is not well nowhow is he?” Mr Bateman kept his word and Sir Walter was more pleased than I can describe when I related the words I have been writing: he laughed and said, "I do not think my works ever produced an effect so much to my taste before."

Dr and Mrs Hughes were guests at Abbotsford on two occasions, first in 1824 and again two years later; and of both visits Mrs Hughes gives a very full and lively account in her journal. Scarcely less vividly interesting is her description of the journeys to and fro, which they extended by a little tour in Scotland on each occasion. In those days this was no small enterprise for an elderly clergyman and his lady to undertake. The journal includes a descriptive sketch of the interior of Abbotsford : “The walls are compleatly covered with every description of ancient weapon; a small armoury between the drawing and dining room is now compleating to contain the overflow of treasure which Sir Walter possesses; he showed us Rob Roy's gun, Claverhouse's pistol, and the Marquis of Montrose's sword; round the great Court which is in front of the house runs a high wall in which are placed pieces of sculpture, some of them relics of Edinburgh Cross: the gateway which leads from another court down to the Tweed, above which the house stands, is the doorway of the ancient Tolbooth of Edinburgh, so celebrated in the “Heart of Midlothian”: when Sir Walter obtained a gift of it, on its being taken down to widen the High Street, he had every stone numbered, so that it might be exactly replaced : there are marks of fire on many of the stones.' Elsewhere she writes: ‘Abbotsford is the paradise of dogs—they abound in it and have free quarters in every room: a venerable old Highland Deer

Greyhound of the breed of Ban and Buscar, who in his prime of days could seize and overcome the powerful red stag, three terriers of Dandy Dinmont's breed, avowed “Mustards and Peppers, ”with a black long-haired pet of Lady Scott's, are constant inmates, and Sir W. is seldom seen without a fourfooted follower.'

There too Mrs Hughes made acquaintance with many of Sir Walter's cronies and intimates, including that very curious genius the Ettrick Shepherd,' of whom she writes : ‘Hogg is a very simple-mannered pleasant person, much less rough in exterior than I had expected, and has an open, good-humoured face which must prepossess everyone in his favour.'

It was soon after the death of Dr Hughes, in 1833, that his widow left Uffington for the neighbouring village of Kingston Lisle. 'Here,' as her grandson writes, 'she lived till she was nearly eighty. When I revisited the Vale of White Horse eight [now over twenty years ago, I found friends still living who remembered her in her Kingston Lisle days. Two of these, whose homewas 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. . . . 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. . . Here she died in 1853, carefully and lovingly attended to the last by a faithful old servant who, it was found, had been for years married to a worthy butler of the neighbourhood, on condition that she should retain her maiden name and not leave her mistress so long as she should need her services.'

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Art. 14.—THE COURSE OF THE WAR.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

DURING the past three months the general aspect of the
war has undergone a noticeable change. The Germans
have been forced to abandon their attack against Verdun,
and for the first time have been thrown on the defensive
in every theatre of war, while the Allies are pressing
them on all fronts. The change is attributable in a
great degree to the closer accord which has been estab-
lished between the Allies. The operations on the various
fronts, which formerly appeared to be conducted inde-
pendently and in a haphazard manner, have been com-
bined in accordance with a systematic plan determined
by the Allied Powers in consultation. This unity of
action, however, has depended on other conditions besides
general agreement. The development of the Allied
Armies in numbers and munitions, by making active
cooperation possible, has caused the accord between
the Allies to become manifest; for, so long as each was
liable, in turn, to attack by superior forces, the necessity
for husbanding men and munitions precluded any attempt
at a general offensive. And so the enemy were free to
pursue their design of defeating the Allies in detail by
concentrating against each in succession, without en-
dangering their positions on the fronts which, for the
time being, they held defensively.

As time went on, the situation became gradually less
favourable for the enemy. The growing strength of the
Allies, especially in munitions, enabled them, from time
to time, to undertake a strictly limited offensive. Thus,
in September 1915, the Franco-British armies made a
diversion in Champagne and Artois, with the view of
assisting the Russians, who were being severely pressed
about Dwinsk and Wilna. The enterprise met with
enough success to cause the Germans some disquietude;
for several divisions were hurriedly transported from
the Russian front to stem the advance. Later, at the
beginning of this year, the Russians began an offensive
in the Bukowina ; and in March they made another
effort in the lake district, between Wilna and Dwinsk,
which, however, had no perceptible effect on the German
operations before Verdun. In every case the design of

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« PředchozíPokračovat »