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soon captured, and political troubles were forgotten in oldfashioned laughter. Even the Prime Minister's anxious face relaxed.

This lasted till the entrée, the famous Caerlaverock curry.

As I have said, I was not in the secret, and did not detect the transition. As I partook of the dish I remember feeling a sudden giddiness and a slight nausea. The antidote, to those who had not taken the drug, must have been, I suppose, in the nature of a mild emetic. A mist seemed to obscure the faces of my fellow-guests, and slowly the tide of conversation ebbed away. First Vennard, then Cargill, became silent. I was feeling rather sick, and I noticed with some satisfaction that all our faces were a little green. I wondered casually if I had been poisoned.

The sensation passed, but the party had changed. More especially I was soon conscious that something had happened to the three Ministers. I noticed Mulross particularly, for he was my neighbour. The look of keenness and vitality had died out of him, and suddenly he seemed a rather old, rather tired man, very weary about the eyes.

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I asked him if he felt seedy. No, not specially," he replied, "but that accident gave me a nasty shock."

"You should go off for a change,” I said.

"I almost think I will," was the answer. "I had not meant to leave town till just before the Twelfth, but I think I had

better get away to Marienbad for a fortnight. There is nothing doing in the House, and work at the office is at a standstill. Yes, I fancy I'll go abroad before the end of the week."

I caught the Prime Minister's eye and saw that he had forgotten the purpose of the dinner, being dimly conscious that that purpose was idle.

now

Cargill and Vennard had ceased to talk like rebels. The Home Secretary had subsided into his old, suave, phrasing self. The humour had gone out of his eye, and the looseness had returned to his lips. He was an older and more commonplace man, but harmless, quite harmless. Vennard, too, wore a new air, or rather had recaptured his old one. He was saying little, but his voice had lost its crispness and recovered its halfplaintive unction; his shoulders had a droop in them; once more he bristled with selfconsciousness.

We others were still shaky from the detestable curry, and were so puzzled as to be acutely uncomfortable. Relief would come later, no doubt; for the present we were uneasy at this weird transformation. I saw the Prime Minister examining the two faces intently, and the result seemed to satisfy him. He sighed and looked at Caerlaverock, who smiled and nodded.

"What about that Bill of yours, Vennard?" he asked. "There have been a lot of stupid rumours."

"Bill?" Vennard said. "I

know of no Bill. Now that my departmental work is over, I can give my whole soul to Cargill's Small Holdings. Do you mean that?"

66 Yes, of course. There was some confusion in the popular mind, but the old arrangement holds. You and Cargill will pull it through between you."

They began to talk about those weariful small holdings, and I ceased to listen. We left the dining-room and drifted to the library, where a fire tried to dispel the gloom of the weather. There was a feeling of deadly depression abroad, so that, for all its awkwardness, I would really have preferred the former Caerlaverock dinner.

The Prime Minister was whispering to his host. I heard him say something about there being "the devil of a lot of explaining" before him.

Vennard and Cargill came last to the library, arm-in-arm as before.

"I should count it a greater honour," Vennard was saying, "to sweeten the lot of one toiler in England than to add a million miles to our territory. While one English household falls below the minimum scale of civic wellbeing, all talk of Empire is sin and folly."

"Excellent!" said Mr Car

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SIR WALTER SCOTT: HIS FRIENDS AND CRITICS.

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IF, as Dr Johnson declared, "that man is little to be envied whose piety would not grow warmer among the ruins of Iona, a Scotsman is even more to be pitied whose heart is not stirred within him at his first sight of Abbotsford. For that fantastic medley of turrets and pinnacles, embewered in woods under the shadow of the Eildon Hills, and with the Tweed running clear and strong almost under the windows, is consecrated to the memory of the greatest Scotsman since the days of Bruce. Abbotsford, in fact, is to the Scots what Stratford-on-Avon is to the English, the shrine and home of one who shares with Burns the honours of a national poet. The house itself may be, as Ruskin declared, "the most incongruous pile ever designed by gentlemanly modernism," but it has been softened and mellowed by time, and is not without a certain bizarre dignity of its own. Within, it is a treasure-house of relics and antiquities "the gabions of Jonathan Oldbuck"-left much as the founder disposed them; but more touching and interesting than all this "medieval upholstery" is the sight of Walter Scott's large writingdesk, and elbow-chair left as if he had just risen from it, and his well-known green shooting-coat and white beaver-hat worn by him when he walked about his plantations with Tom Purdie.

It is only right and fitting that Abbotsford, with all its associations, should be preserved, and that Scott's memory should be kept green and fresh among us, for he occupies a far larger space in the national life than Shakespeare ever did indeed the debt his country owes him is incalculable. Shakespeare belongs solely to the domain of poetry; for, though his historical plays may have done something to stimulate English patriotism - not that it required much stimulating in the age of Elizabeth-his practical influence on his own generation was almost nil. But it was

Scott's great mission to make the Union between England and his own country a fait accompli-a union of hearts, of mutual tastes and sympathies, instead of the abstract and barren terms of a treaty. Not only did he, as it were, reveal Scotland to herself, by opening out a new world of thought and feeling and lifting the veil which had obscured for centuries her picturesque history of the past; but he also revealed her true character to England and the nations of the world, and dispelled for ever that cloud of prejudice and suspicion with which all south of the Tweed regarded the "land of the mountain and the flood." In the eighteenth century, during the ill-omened administration of Lord Bute, Englishmen regarded the Scots as & race of gloomy

fanatics and lawless savages, dwelling in dirt and squalor, among treeless and trackless wastes beggarly, rapacious, and hopelessly uncivilised. The abortive rising of the '45, the panic at Carlisle, and the cruel reprisals after Culloden had intensified the mutual dislike and suspicion of Scotch and English. Burns had indeed done something to mitigate the national antipathy; but Burns appealed to only a small circle of English readers, and it was reserved for Scott, by the magic of his poems and tales, to open out the Highlands, to create a taste for mountain scenery, and to reveal to the astonished Southron the unsuspected virtues of his ancient enemies-the chivalry, the tenderness, the devotion, and the heroism that often

lurked under rough and rude exteriors. Hence came & remarkable reaction in English sentiment and feeling. Fashion soon made Scotland popular. The road from London to Edinburgh was alive with a constant stream of postchaises; tourists in thousands crossed the Border; and, as Lockhart puts it, "every London citizen hastened to make Loch Lomond his wash-pot and to throw his shoe over Ben Nevis." The climax of this Scotomania was reached when in 1822 George IV. appeared at Holyrood in the full dress of a Highland chieftain-the same dress which less than

a

century before had been banned and proscribed as the attire of an outlaw and cateran.

Unlike Shakespeare,

whose personality we know little beyond a few vague traditions, and who is nothing more to us than magni nominis umbra, almost every detail in Scott's life, from the cradle to the grave, is familiar to us from his own letters and journals and from Lockhart's admirable biography. It is interesting to trace the makings of a poet in Scott's earliest associations and surroundings, as he listened to stories told him by the old cow-man at Sandyknowe or to fragments of Jacobite songs sung by the dairymaids in the byres

Up the rocky mountain and down the mossy glen

We daurna gae a-milking for Charlie and his men."

His taste for poetry was indeed developed early, for at the age of three he deafened the visitors at Sandy knowe by bawling out the ballad of "Hardyknute" at the top of his voice, causing the old minister to exclaim testily: "One may as well speak in the mouth of a cannon 88 where that child is." Then at the age of six we hear of his declaiming Falconer's "Shipwreck" with the airs and gestures of a Garrick,

so his aunt declared,-and getting his ears cuffed for singing

"There's nae repentance in my heart, My fiddle's in my arms."

Even at that early age, he had begun to conjure up pictures of the past from the old cowman's tales, and to fill the of ruins of Smailholme Tower

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Then he would pass long afternoons on the orags below Arthur's Seat, telling story after story to a companion; or lie beneath the huge planetree in his uncle's garden at Kelso poring over Percy's 'Reliques.'

Ruskin says somewhere that Scott had the inestimable benefit of a neglected education. He was left free and unfettered to follow the bent of his own genius; and though it is true that he received some private tuition at home, and attended for a time the High School, both at Edinburgh and Kelso, practically he was, as he says himself, "self-taught." But, in his case, the results were more satisfactory than if his studies had been directed by a whole board of educational pundits. Never was a youth better equipped for his future vocation as a poet and novelist than was Walter Scott when he donned his advocate's gown in 1792. He had a wide and varied acquaintance with English literature, and in his youth was an eager and omnivorous reader. "I plunged through the sea of books," he says, "like a ship without rudder or pilot." Shakespeare and Spenser, Cervantes and Ariosto, seem to have been

the authors who attracted him most-but nothing came amiss to his insatiable appetite. During his recovery from a sickness while yet a boy, he is said to have read through the chiefly romance, poetry, and contents of a circulating library old plays; and repeated the performance in another oldfashioned library which was stored with works of history, travel, and memoirs-finding, as he says, truth almost as strange as fiction. The extent and variety of these desultory studies is shown in Lockhart's account of two notebooks filled in 1792 with transcripts of all kinds, from the Descent of Odin to curious cases in old Scots Law.1 And though a good memory is said to be rarely associated with original genius, Scott's memory was as wonderful in its way as Macaulay's. His mind seemed to assimilate and retain anything that struck his fancy, rejecting all that was incongruous or distasteful to it. Thus he could reproduce a convivial song he had once heard at a wine-party years after the words had been forgotten by the singer; a chance remark of Tom Purdie's would appear in one of the Waverleys ten years later; and he repeated the poem of "Christabel -which he had heard read at Lasswade in 1804 - to Lord Byron in Murray's drawing room in 1815.

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One lesson, learned by Scott in early life while Writer's apprentice (Anglicè, lawyer's clerk) in his father's office, was

1 Lockhart, i. 201.

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