I MUST begin with
a confidential word to my readers. I have been a hard-working
literary woman for more than forty years, but I do not write these
"memories" because I attach any significance to my own personality.
I have written them for my own pleasure; because friends have
seemed interested and amused by scraps which I have told them;
because I think some of my contemporaries may like to be reminded of
ways of life and thought which are passing into oblivion; because I
have witnessed some "beginnings" which are ripening yet; and because
I find the present abounds with those to whom some of my "memories"
have already a certain antiquarian flavour.
I must express my gratitude to the friends through whose
instigation and sympathy I have been led to enjoy these "pleasures
of memory." I also offer my cordial thanks to the other
friends who have given me ready furtherance in the matter of
illustrations—viz., to Lord Guthrie, Miss Lydia Nicol, and Mr.
I. F. M.
A MINGLED YARN OF FAMILY HISTORY
A farm in Buchan—An old-fashioned servant—"Uncle Charles"—His second
wife—My paternal grandmother—Euthanasia—"The Two Babylons"—A love
gift—Policemen and scavengers—The hundred gold pieces—My maternal
grandmother—An old valentine—"Breeches"—"Looking at home."
IN CHILDHOOD'S DAYS
Early memories—Matronly fashions—The British Museum—
Juvenile books—Blair's "Belles-lettres"—The "boy"
dolls—Sundays—Funerals—An old African—The Lord Mayor's
Show—Lamp-lighters—Postage-stamps—Pattens—An early Victorian
shopkeeper's house—"On the Bedford estate"—Bakers and
bakehouses—Rural holidays at Shepherd's Bush—Locomotion—The
suspension bridge—Hungerford Market—Street advertisements—The
window-tax—"Buy a broom"—Street sights—A vanished art—"Jack in the
Green"—Burke and Hare—Curious custom at deaths of Dukes of
Northumberland—Bedford Street—Some mysterious neighbours—London
vignettes—"Holy water"—"A youth of accents mild"—A matrimonial
"problem"—Our old Highland friend—The Great Exhibition of 1851—
A GIRLS' SCHOOL FIFTY YEARS AGO
Illiteracy of working class—Teaching the resort of
the needy and unfit—My school-days—"Mixed education"—The new
writing-master—A bewildering essay—The "back-board"—Thursday
drill—Lessons—Marks—School episodes—A weird experience—Fees —The
young female brain—The vortex of London.
THE BATTLE OF LIFE-WHO HELPED AND WHO
Financial difficulties—Mid-Victorian views of woman's
work—Wild experiments—Mrs. S. C. Hall—The early telegraph
service—Office for the employment of women—First secretarial
work—Peep behind Scenes—Mrs. Rutherford Russell—Mid-Victorian
squeamishness—A busy time—A Scottish literary hack—"Old Tom"—A
Scottish Countess—At Farm Street—"A Popish plot!"—At an afternoon
meeting in Grosvenor Square—Sir Edwin Arnold—Dr. Wardroper—George
IV.'s physician—Law-writing—Suggestion from Family Herald—Experiences
in Bloomsbury—A typical Mid-Victorian tragedy—A "waster"—Kindness in
the offices—A "pitch" of my own—A vixen—Difficulties in employing
women—The "Clergy Corporation"—"Well-connected"—The Rev. Dash
Smith—Who was expected?—Balance sheets—End of financial
IN LITERARY LIFE
The Lancet—Anecdote of Dr. Wakley—The
Family Herald—The Bigg bequests—The Youth's Magazine—Jean
Ingelow—My adventure with an old Scottish publisher—The Leisure
Hour—Working in the dark—The friendship of Mrs. S. C. Hall—John
Cassell—My "enigmas," and how they turned up after many days—The
mystery of Margaret Blount—Further correspondence with Jean
Ingelow—Tom Hood, junior—Mr. Benjamin Clarke—I make acquaintance
with Alexander Strahan and his staff—The great offer—Alexander Japp—Fears—Dr.
Thomas Guthrie—"Sunday reading"—A mistake—Troubles—Dr. W. G. Blaikie—Moody
and Sankey—Heterodoxy—A premonition—Two troublesome editors—A
jealous writer—An editor's comment—"Nobility or ability"—A Colonial
woman's rash accusations—The family of Mickle the poet—Helen
Jackson's "Blind Spinner"—John Nicol and his mother—Mrs. Henry
Wood—Dr. William Alexander—"Johnnie Gibb of Gushetneuk"—The Rev.
MEMORIES OF INTERESTING PEOPLE
Royalties—The Duke of Wellington—The blocked-out
note—A vain man—Disraeli and his wife—Garibaldi—Mystery about his
departure—W. E. Gladstone—The Chambers at Putney House—Ricciotti
Garibaldi—His ghost-story—Miss Tripp—Julian and Una Hawthrone—Curious
incident—The Chevalier Chatelaine and the Dunmow Flitch—Arthur
O'Shaughnessy—Joseph Edwards—Durham the sculptor—John Ruskin at
home—Miss Susanah Beevor—Dinah Mulock —"Douglas, Douglas, tender and
true"—Geraldine Jewsbury—Pension and petticoat—Civil List
pensions—Advice to literary aspirants—A singer's tragic
story—Richard Rowe, the man of many names—A very curious story—Lola
Montez—Dr. Jacob de Liefde and his linguistic difficulties—Jean
Ingelow in her own person—Her offer of marriage—Unfounded rumour
about Browning—Browning at Edinburgh tercentenary—Lowell—Mrs.
Elizabeth Charles—Bishop Colenso—Dickens and Thackeray—"The last of
the Stuarts"—Arthur Sullivan and his brother Fred—The father of W.
S. Gilbert—Dean Alford—"Sadie"—The Halls' stories of "L. E. L."—A
vile man— George Cruikshank—J. Forbes Robertson, senior—Gustave Doré—Taglioni—Miss
Glyn—Charles Dickens—The Royal Thanksgiving at St. Paul's—Robert
Buchanan—Pinwell, the artist—The young Macdonalds—The Rev. H. R.
Haweis—Martin Tupper—Jeremy Bentham—Dora Greenwell—Samuel Smiles'
kind blunder—Zola—Père Hyacinthe—A
Labour lecturer—Dr. Guthrie's visits—Mrs. Herschell—Dr. Guthrie in
the Highlands—The Guthrie family—Dr. Norman MacLeod—Robert Moffatt—Was
it telepathy?—Sir William Geddes—George Macdonald—Dr. Alexander
Bain—A luckless student—A disgraceful riot—The first Mrs. Bain—John
Stuart Blackie—An Aberdeen surgeon's peculiarities—The oddities of a
Divinity Professor—Dr. John Struthers—Dr. Guthrie's favourite
quotation—"G. L. B."—A bogus ghost-story—Waste-food kitchen—A
FIFTY YEARS OF CHURCH LIFE
St. Martin's-in-the-Fields—Free seats—Queer
pews—"Bumble"—Dukes—St. Paul's, Covent Garden—The Turner Tablet—"Our
poorer brethren"—A cap that fitted— Sunday-schools—Testaments for
China—St. John's in Broad Court—Confirmation—An apostolic pastor —
Spurgeon's Tabernacle—"Real interesting"—"Not that kind of
people"—Father Gavazzi—Dr. Guthrie as a preacher—Drawing-room
meetings—Hang Theology Rogers—A mystery or a romance?—The Rev. A.
Ross of Stepney—Early East-Ending—Stepney vignettes—A knight's
daughter—Gold in the gutter—Irish Norah—A lost corpse—Polly Perkins
and her general views—Mission business—Scottish
church-going—Drunkenness and church membership—Sabbatarianism—A
Sunday song—"No better than the lave"—Highland bigotry—Cars v.
cabs—The Highland widow—Scottish gloom—Disregard for natural beauty,
and tendency to destroy it.
ON MY TRAVELS
Across the Atlantic in a sailing vessel—Fears of
mutiny—Canada, 1870-1890—On liners—In haunts of ancient peace—On
Loch Mares—The well of Isle Maree—Shetland in 1884—Visits to the
East—Side-lights on the Bible—The American woman in the Jaffa
Hotel—Traits —"Be jabe"—"Downcast"—"Women's work"—The revival of the
Olympic games—A girl Cassabianca—Greek kindliness—British
manners—Three quaint coincidences—A Scottish farmer on his travels—A
railway guard's repartee—A grim railway dialogue—The true use of
books of travel.
IN THE KITCHEN
Domestic problems—"Not made for such work"—Looking
backwards—A madonna of the kitchen—"Unnecessary lies"—An odd
mixture—"Respectable"—Aberdeenshire laxity—Highland and Shetland
austerity—Ministerial obliquity—Magdalens—The organic unity of
evil—A mysterious letter—Philanthropic folly—Insanity in the
kitchen—Anonymous letters—By the claw of a fiend—"Opening the
CRIMES, CRIMINALS, AND PRISONS
A tragic corner—The story of the Rev. Mr. Watson—The
Waterloo Bridge mystery—A toll for two—The Northumberland Street
horror—An empty grave—The Psychology of the criminal—Female
Prisoners—The infanticide—The degenerate—Fifty pounds annuity—Sad
problems—The maid of an inn—The girl who defeated the Government—At
the sheep-stealer's execution.
THE MYSTERIOUS BORDERLAND
A message in a dream—Dream dramas—A dream at sea—A
vision of the distant—A forecasting dream—A dream landscape—A
"double"—The narrow escape—Seen and heard across the world—A dream
fulfilled—A romantic dream—A strange consciousness—The "shot" and
the "bagpipes"—The family graves—A vision of tragedy—The cry of a
lamb—Second sight in Shetland—An averted omen—An Athenian
ghost-story—The witches of Tain—Spiritualistic phenomena—An adverse
will—The Home trial—"Media" and genius—A silk dress—A collarette and
muff—"Your wife's birthday"—A clairvoyante's "reading"—"Eleanor's
lover"—Other people's business—The report of a singular and complex
experience—A series of experiments—"My dear wife's touch"—Warnings
THE END OF THE DAY
How one knows one is old—Leo Tolstoy's
message—Shaking a limb—"Strangers yet"—Practical
advice—Accounts—"Sundries, 15s."—Diaries—A judicial murder
prevented—Arts and hobbies—Wide horizons—The limitations of
money—Little things—Things essential—Why the children
died—Incompatibles—Saints of to-day and sinners of to-morrow—Life's