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person of some note, Lady Jane Douglas's maid, whose evidence was so influential in the great Douglas Cause, and I think she informed me that her father had once been Provost of Perth, but that their family had after his death got reduced in circumstances. She had passed almost the whole of her life, which was not a short one, in the service of the Stoneywood family. As to my grandmother, she was a perfect picture of an old lady of the last century. Her fair comely countenance was encircled in a pure white close cap with a quilled border, over which was a rich black lace cap in the form in which several of Queen Mary's pictures represent her to have worn; a gray satin gown with a laced stomacher, and deeply frilled hanging sleeves that reached the elbow; and over her arms black lace gloves without fingers, or rather which left the fingers free for the ornament of rings; about her shoulders a small black lace tippet, with high-heeled shoes, and small square silver buckles; there were also buckles in the stomacher. From her waistband also was suspended a portly watch in a shagreen case, and on the opposite side was a wire-sheath for her knitting. Such was old Lady Stoneywood. Her portrait, as well as that of her husband, having been accidentally destroyed, I am tempted to substitute in words some idea of her appearance.”
And now we must leave our window and our bright glimpse into the family within, and go our ways. We might have tarried and seen much else, very different, but full of interest; we might have seen by and by the entrance of that noble, homely figure, the greatest, the largest nature in Scottish literature, whose head and face, stoop and smile and burr we all know, and who has filled, and will continue to fill, with innocent sunshine the young (ay, and the old) life of mankind. Sir Walter would have soon come in, with that manly, honest limp; and his earliest and oldest friend would be there with him, he whose words have just painted for us these two old companions
in their cordial strife, and whose own evening was as tranquil, as beautiful, and nearly as prolonged, as that of the dear and comely lady of Stoney wood.
As we said before, what material is here for a story! There is the crafty Bailie and the ower canty" Laird of Ellon; the Sunday tragedy; the young loves and sorrows of James and Margaret; the green purse and its gold-pieces shining through, and its "fendy" keeper; the gallant Stoneywood, six foot two, bending in Slains before his Prince; John Gunn with his Cairds, and his dark-eyed, rich-haired wife; the wild havoc of Culloden ; the wandering from Speyside to his own Don; the tap at the midnight window, heard by the one unsleeping heart; the brief rapture; the hunted life in Buchan; the cobbler with his 'prentice and their cracks; "Mons. Jacques Jamieson," the honored merchant and Swedish nobleman; the vanishing away of his seven sons into the land o' the leal; Penelope, her Ulysses gone, living on with Anne Caw, waiting sweetly till her time of departure and of reunion came. We are the better of stirring ourselves about these, the unknown and long time dead; it quickens the capacity of receptive, realizing imagination, which all of us have more or less, and this waxes into something like an immediate and primary power, just as all good poetry makes the reader in a certain sense himself a poet, finding him one in little, and leaving him one in much.
So does any such glimpse into our common life, in its truth and depth and power, quicken us throughout, and make us tell living stories to ourselves; leaves us stronger, sweeter, swifter in mind, readier for all the many things in heaven and on earth we have to do; for we all have wings, though they are often but in bud, or blighted.
Sad is it for a man and for a nation when they are all unused, and therefore shrivel and dwine and die, or leave some sadly ludicrous remembrancer of their absence, as "of one that once had wings."
If we grovel and pick up all our daily food at our feet, and never soar, we may grow fat and huge like the Dodo,* which was once a true dove, beautiful, hot-blooded, and strong of wing; as becomes Aphrodité's own, but got itself developed into a big goose of a pigeon, waddling as it went, and proving itself worthy of its extinction and of its name, the only hint of its ancestry being in its
But even the best wings can't act in vacuo; they must have something to energize upon, and all imagination worth the name must act upon some objective truth, must achieve for itself, or through others, a realized ideal
*This is a real bit of natural history, from the Mauritius. The first pigeons there, having plenty on the ground to eat, and no need to fly, and waxing fat like Jeshurun, did not "plume their feathers, and let grow their wings," but grovelled on, got monstrous, so that their wings, taking the huff, dwarfed into a fluttering stump. Sir T. Herbert thus quaintly describes this embarrassed creature:-"The Dodo, a bird the Dutch call Walghvogel, or Dod Eerson; her body is round and fat, which occasions the slow pace, so that her corpulence is so great as few of them weigh less than fifty pounds. It is of a melancholy visage, as though sensible of nature's injury, in framing so massie a body to be directed by complimental wings, such, indeed, as are unable to hoise her from the ground, serving only to rank her among birds; her traine three small plumes, short and unproportionable; her lègs suiting her body; her pounce sharp; her appetite strong and greedy; stones and iron are digested."-1625. We have in our time seen an occasional human Dodo, with its "complimental wings," a pure and advanced Darwinian bird, — its earthly appetites strong and greedy; "an ill-favored head"; "great black eyes"; "its gape huge and wide"; "slow-paced and stupid"; its visage absurd and melancholy-very.
or an idealized reality. Beauty and truth must embrace
each other, and goodness bless them both;
"For Beauty, Good, and Knowledge are three sisters
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