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ET. 59.] LETTERS FROM BLAIRBETH-PUBLIC DINNER.
-beyond pleasure, and amounting to pain. came to speak of Dugald Stewart, Alison, and others of my old Edinburgh friends, the act of suppressing tears (for I did suppress them) amounted to agony. I would not willingly go over the day again; and I shall not go to Ireland.*
"I made one escape at the Edinburgh dinner which I call providential. An execution of a man of color, who was burnt alive by the Lynch-law justice of five hundred American fiends, was related in the papers, and filled my soul with horror and indignation. It was like a nightmare on my waking thoughts; and I longed vehemently for the first opportunity of speaking publicly on the subject, and of publicly renouncing whatever partiality I had hitherto felt for the name of America. Before dinner, however, I found a Virginia gentleman in the room-a man of great suavity of manners. I told him my intention of giving vent to my feelings on this horrible transaction. 'Sir,' he said to me, 'believe me-ninety-nine out of every hundred Americans lament this atrocity as much as you do; but think, before you give me the pain of publicly hearing us denounced for this. dreadful event.' Well, I thought, the poor sufferer can get no good from my remarks. The subject is not connected with the dinner, and so I held my peace on the horrible affair. It was better that I did so-for I should have been infallibly hurried into a red-hot speech."
"On Saturday evening, after the dinner,* I called at Dr. Alison's, and found my old friend waiting for me with an open barouche, to accompany me to Mrs. Dugald Stewart's at Portobello, two miles out of town. It was a great trial to see Mrs. Stewart. I sat with her some twenty minutes, with my hand between her's, and her daughter on one side, and Margaret Alison on the other. Her mind is not gone, but depressed since her husband's death. She looked and spoke to me with her ancient motherly smile; but she had not strength to say much.
* A visit to his friends in Ireland was a promise of long standing. In Dublin, a public dinner was to have been given him as the author of "O'Connor's Child," &c.; but a return of ill health, and urgent business in London, defeated his arrangements.
Further reference to the dinner will be found in these pages.
"CLAREMONT PLACE, Aug. 16.
It is a chequered world-tolerably happy, to be sure, I am; but my happiness, like that of the Sybarite on his bed of roses, is at present disturbed by a small accident.. I have been refused the freedom of the city of Paisley! Observe, I never applied for it; but, before the dinner given to Wilson, the Provost and magistrates met to discuss the question, whether John Wilson and Tammas' Campbell should be offered the high honor of being made burgesses of the town. There were four for us, and five against us. It was decreed that Wilson was ineligible, for being an inveterate Tory; and that I was ineligible for countenancing Wilson! So take care, M.! You Tories are dangerous folks! One cannot even keep company with you, without disgrace! Only think of my misfortune! Who knows that I might not have set up a snuff-shop at Paisley, with a Highlander for the sign-post-called it the 'Lochiel snuff-shop'-made lots of money-and become a baillie of Paisley!"
"In the speech after dinner, sure enough, I spoke enthusiastically of Wilson's personal character,* and his celebrity; for he is popular in Scotland beyond conception. When he was going on about the importance of the city of Paisley, and boasting that it now contains 60,000 souls, I leant over to Wilson, on the other side of the chairman, and said—'Ah, but you are counting a soul to every body!"
"Aug. 16th.-I went to the Paisley races. The day was fine -the race-ground is a beautiful plain, amphitheatred by hills. I got prodigiously interested in the first race, and betted on the success of one horse to the amount of 50l. with Professor Wilson. At the end of the race, I thought I had lost the bet, and said to Wilson-I owe you 507.; but really, when I reflect that you are a Professor of Moral Philosophy, and that betting is a sort of gambling, only fit for black-legs, I cannot bring my conscience to pay the bet. 'Oh,' said Wilson, I very much approve of your principles, and mean to act upon them. In point of fact, Yellow Cap,' on whom you betted, has won the race; and, but for conscience, I ought to pay you the 507.--but you will excuse me.' Hang it, thought I; this is what comes of speaking
"I shall never wish or hope to find a man of an honester heart, or a brighter genius."-Report of the Speech
out one's morality! In the same stand, or wooden house for the spectators, there were seats in front for the ladies, and behind whom stood the gentlemen. W- introduced me to his daughter-the youngest-and I talked to her over the bench. A sweeter, franker, blue-eyed creature you never saw; and I was so caught with her, and made, or tried to make, myself so agreeable to her, that, when the sun was blinding my eyes, I said I must retire from her. 'Don't go away,' she said, in joke and innocence, 'I will take you under my veil.' I replied, 'I will take the veil and swear under it.'-Hush-hush,' she said, patting me with the end of her fan--and the affair ended with a laugh.
"A minute afterwards, an alarm spread, that the stand was falling, and the timbers giving way. Goodness, Mr. Campbell,' she said, 'do you think there is any danger? If so I must get off to mamma and my sister in the carriage. Where is papa ?' He was not to be found. Miss W, I said, 'don't talk of danger! it is positive certainty that the stand is coming down; and if we don't escape, we shall be all buried in the ruins!' I knew there was not an atom of danger-but I helped her over the bench, and taking her under my arm, escorted her for half a mile to her mother and the carriage.-A sad fellow, you will say, is this incorrigible old flirt, your friend. No wonder the 'Ladies of Paisley' thought him free enough already, without making him a free-man of their city. T. C."
By the way, you must not be afraid of my running off with 'Highland Margaret,'* for she is soon to be
* I need hardly remind the reader of the lines, suggested by this "paragon of classic mould," and entitled, "Margaret and Dora :"
married to a fine, strapping young man of her own station, who is to carry her away to a distant part of Scotland. Some days ago, Margaret shone so wondrously beautiful, that I wished you had seen her. We had at Blairbeth a large dinner party, including many officers of the 14th Light Dragoons, quartered here. I had dined at their mess and told them of the lovely serving-maid they should see--beseeching them, at the same time, not to look hard at her. They behaved with all proper respect; but Margaret herself could not help seeing that she was the object of kind glances. Besides (though the Grays have two men-servants,) she was required to wait at table, and those men-servants, I suspect, chafed her Highland pride, by bidding her fetch and carry, in and out of the room. So it was that Margaret's complexion flushed unusually, and her eyes increased in brilliancy. It was agreed by all of us that we had never seen so splendid a sample of beauty. Her Grecian mouth is improved by a smile; and the Grays remark that I tell my best stories during dinner, when Margaret, who hears them, is not restrained by her menial capacity from smiling at them. "T. C." "EDINBURGH, Sept. 5.
I found my Alisons all wonderfully well. M. told me that she was agreeably disappointed in all her fears, about my venerable old friend being over-agitated at meeting me. He was, on the contrary, more cheerful than usual. I
spent two delightful days with him, his guardian angel, M., his son, and daughter-in-law, and sweet little grand-daughter. He lives at Woodville, a pleasant villa a few miles from Edinburgh, while, by his positive orders, I inhabit his town house.
Saturday and Sunday I spent at the old castellated house of Sir James Craig,* who was the principal adviser of Mac Arthur to leave me the legacy. He has a large family of bonny daughters who kept me transcribing and reading scraps of poetry to them, and walking about the splendid grounds, many acres wide, which exceed anything I have seen about a private gentleman's estate, either here or in England. Terrace beyond terrace is skirted with flowers of their own planting. Dacres t would not here complain of the want of old timber.
"I fell in love, as a matter of course, with every female in the family; but the more particular conquests made over my
*The late Sir James Gibson Craig, of Riccarton, Bart.
Nephew of the lady to whom the letter is addressed,
affections were by Lady Craig, well nigh seventy, and by her grand-daughter, who is a twelvemonth old. When I was alone in the drawing-room, grandmamma came in with her little. Anne-Clarissa in her arms, and welcomed me without introduction. She is exceedingly comely, even in spite of her years; and the baby, oh M., you never saw the like of it! Connoisseur as I am in infant beauty, I never saw anything lovelier. It stretched out its little arms and kissed me. The likeness to its grandmother is very striking. T. C."
"BROUGHAM HALL, Sept. 26.
I am finishing the third day with Brougham. Three more entertaining days I shall never spend on this side of Abraham's bosom. B. has quite recovered. His mind has put on its best, and most natural looks of health, and athletic vigor. He is to be among you next session; and, by Jove, ye will hear him, both Whigs and Tories-and the Bishops above all. . .
"My sense of honor restrains me from trusting to paper the many interesting remarks on men and things I have had from him. But when conversation is written, there is no saying where it may get to. We are on the friendliest terms, but have had disputes upon sundry subjects-e. g. this morning we had a blow-up about the pronunciation of London-he calls it Lunnon! Yesterday he threatened to make a stir about my pension not being equal to - -'s, which, to be serious, I conjured him not to do. Oh, little does the world know—not even you, my best friend-what sore, sore mortification this proud heart of mine feels at my needing a pension at all! May the day come before I die, when I shall be able to give it up!
"Mrs. Brougham (mother of the peer) whom I had expected to find, from her marble bust in London, to be a stately Roman-like matron, is not stately, but the sweetest pattern of aged suavity that can be imagined. . . . Her grand-daughter, who, it is feared, is dying, is very mild and sensible in the little she says. Intent, however, on getting as much of Brougham's conversation as I could, I have been but little with the ladies; but last night I read poetry to them and talked all the evening about Algiers. Lord B.'s sister, Miss B., is a very cheerful, agreeable woman.
Among the few lyrics of this period, was the following: