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Title: Chambers's Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and Art, No. 699 - May 19, 1877
Author: Various
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Chambers's Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and Art, No. 699 - May 19, 1877" ***

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Fourth Series


NO. 699.      SATURDAY, MAY 19, 1877.      PRICE 1½_d._]


On the 1st of July 1874, two little boys, brothers, were playing on the
side of a public road near some villas at Germantown, a few miles from
Philadelphia. The elder of the two, Walter Ross, was nearly six years
of age; the younger, Charley Ross, was aged four years and two months.
They were the sons of Christian K. Ross, a gentleman in business in
Philadelphia, who lived in one of the villas at this pleasant part
of the environs. His wife and some other children were at the time
residing at Atlantic City on the sea-shore of New Jersey. Charley was
a charming little boy, with a round full face, broad forehead, bright
brown eyes, and light flaxen hair, curling in ringlets to the neck.
Like all American children whom we have ever seen, Charley and his
brother Walter were fond of candy, a sweetmeat of the barley-sugar
species, the taste for which led in the present case to a serious

For several days in their outdoor sports, the two boys had been
presented with a present of candy by two men who were driving in a
kind of wagon or drosky, and who stopped for a moment to talk to them.
These interviews produced a slight acquaintance with the men. When they
drove past on the 1st of July, and as usual gave them candy, Charley
asked them for a ride, and also whether they would not buy him some
crackers, which they promised to do. The crackers were meant to be
used as fireworks on the 4th July, the annual fête commemorative of
American Independence. After driving on for a certain distance, the men
returned and took them for a ride into the wagon. Walter asked them
to go to Main Street to get the fire-crackers, but was told that he
and his brother would be taken to Aunt Susie's store. This was a place
which had no existence. So onward the two boys were driven, amused with
talk, and supplied with fresh doles of candy. By-and-by, as Charley
thought the men were driving rather far, he began to cry, and begged
to be taken home. To pacify him, the men gave Walter some money to go
into a cigar-store which had crackers exhibited in the window; he was
to buy two packages of crackers and one of torpedoes, and come back to
the wagon. While he was gone on this deceitful mission, the wagon drove
off with Charley. When Walter came out of the store with his hands full
of fireworks, he was not a little surprised to find that the wagon had
disappeared. He looked about in all directions, but could not see or
hear anything of it. Finding himself deserted he cried loudly; a crowd
gathered round him, and a kindly disposed person took him home.

On returning to his house in the evening, Mr Ross was distressed at the
absence of little Charley, and alarmed from what Walter had to tell of
the two men in the wagon. The only reasonable conjecture he could form
was that the child had been stolen, though for what purpose he could
not divine. Assisted by a nephew, he went off to make inquiries at
different police stations; at none, however, could he hear any tidings
to allay his anxiety. In the account given by Walter, he described the
appearance of the two men, one of whom had rings on his fingers and
wore gold spectacles; the horse and wagon were also described. Strange
to say, no one knew who these men were. At taverns and livery-stables
they and their equipments were unknown. The officers of police were
at a loss what to make of the affair. For days Mr Ross continued the
search for the child and his abductors. With his nephew he scoured the
neighbourhood, telegraphed to various quarters, and advertised the loss
in the newspapers. Hearing that there had been a band of gipsies in
the neighbourhood, he supposed that they might have been concerned in
the theft. Detectives were employed to visit the gipsy camp and make
a rigorous search for the boy. The search was unavailing. The gipsies
were apparently innocent of the crime.

Much public sympathy was felt for the father of the lost boy, and
all were amazed at the possibility of a child being carried off in a
manner so totally inexplicable. Where could little Charley be? He and
his captors had seemingly vanished from the face of the earth. The
only rational supposition that could be formed was that Charley had
been stolen by two scoundrels in the hope of getting a heavy ransom
on his restoration. Yet, a crime of this kind, though common enough
in Sicily, where the laws meet with no sort of respect, was next to
unknown in Pennsylvania or any other northern part of the United
States. If Charley Ross had been abducted for the sake of a ransom, it
was the beginning of a new crime in this part of the world, and as such
would send a shiver through society; for no child of any man in good
circumstances would be safe.

The conjecture that little Charley was stolen with a view to being held
in ransom, proved to be the right one. The abductors had the audacity
to write to Mr Ross, July 3, that he might keep his mind easy about
Charley; but that no powers on earth would get him unless good payment
was offered for him. The letter was in affectedly bad writing and
spelling, and was not dated from any place. Strange to say, it must,
from the short time between posting and delivery, have been written in
Philadelphia, in which city, by a reasonable inference, the two thieves
were concealed. The authorities now made a more minute and vigorous
search, and a watch was put on all the railway dépôts day and night.
Barns, stables, sheds, and unoccupied houses were looked into, and the
police went through all known haunts of vice and professional beggars
and vagrants. The search was not confined to the town and suburbs, but
was extended up and down the Delaware and into the neighbouring states.
Every canal-boat was carefully examined. To do the local authorities
justice, they spared no pains to unravel this extraordinary mystery.
The crime, as it now stood revealed, did not alone concern the bereaved
father and his child; it concerned the whole community, and if allowed
to go undetected, there might be no end to the felonious abduction of

On the day after receiving the letter of the 3d July, Mr Ross
advertised that he would give a reward of three hundred dollars to
any person returning his lost child. To this there came a startling
response in a letter dated Philadelphia, 6th. It was as badly written
and badly spelled as the preceding, and plainly intimated that the
ransom to be paid for restoration of the boy was twenty thousand
dollars--not a dollar less would be taken, and all the powers in the
universe would fail to find out where he was. If Mr Ross was ready to
negotiate, he was to say so by advertisement in the _Public Ledger_.
On the 7th Mr Ross advertised that he would negotiate. At two o'clock
the same day a letter in reply was received. What was now demanded was
that Mr Ross should advertise in the _Evening Star_ as follows: either,
'Will come to terms,' or 'Will not come to terms.' If the former, it
would be understood that twenty thousand dollars would be given; if
the latter, the negotiation was at an end, and Charley's blood be on
his father's head. Here was an explicit and horrible threat that if
the full ransom were not forthcoming the unfortunate child would be
murdered. It being conclusive that this, like the preceding letter,
had been posted at Philadelphia, a watch was put on the letter-boxes,
to discover who were the senders. This effort failed in effect. The
thieves were evidently assisted by some unknown confederate, who posted
the letters, and whom it was impossible to identify.

We have not space to go into the numerous details of what ensued, as
given by Mr Ross in a volume which has lately made its appearance.[A]
Referring persons deeply interested in the matter to the book itself,
which will reward perusal, we proceed to say that the intercourse by
letter and advertisement between the abductors and the bereaved father
came to nothing. There were difficulties as regards the kind of notes
in which the ransom should be paid; there were worse difficulties as to
how the thieves could make the exchange of the boy for the money. In
Sicily, where a brigand leaves his card with the superior magistrate
of the district, things of this kind encounter no serious obstacle.
It is different in the United States, as it is in England. In these
countries, brigands are not on visiting terms with public authorities.
The two rascals who stole Charley Ross could make nothing of him
after they had got him. He was concealed with an extraordinary degree
of skill, somewhere about Philadelphia; but the ingenuity which was
displayed by his captors met with no recompense. It was evident from
the universal clamour, that a repetition of tricks of this kind could
not be carried on with any prospect of profit or security. The whole
newspaper world was up. Thousands of presses from New Orleans to the
Saskatchewan, from New York to San Francisco, were flaming with stories
and conjectures about the abduction of Charley Ross. In time, the
newspapers of England caught up the theme. The hearts of parents in
every part of the English reading world were acutely interested. What
will strike every one as marvellous, is the impenetrable secrecy which
shrouded the spot where Charley Ross was secluded. It was tantalisingly
near at hand, yet nobody could find it out.

It may amuse our readers to know that from the universal excitement
that was created, there sprung up a crop of pretended discoverers of
the lost child. All that was needed to restore him to the arms of his
loving parents was a little money. Some of the announcements were
hoaxes. Some were bare-faced attempts at extortion. The effect of these
despicable communications was to add poignancy to the sorrow that
was already endured by the father and mother of little Charley. The
credulity of the family was also painfully tried by information alleged
to have been obtained through the medium of spirits. Unfortunately, no
two mediums gave the same direction in which to look for the child.
Their revelations were simply a piece of nonsense, though imparted with
prodigious gravity.

Annoyed with pretenders of various classes, Ross and his nephew did
not relax endeavours to unravel the mystery. They travelled about over
the northern states, led on by communications from the two thieves,
who had quitted Philadelphia, and taken up new ground. It at length
appeared to be conclusive that Charley's captors had gone to New York,
and from rigorous investigations at the several hotels, it was almost
certain that their names were Mosher and Douglas. They had, however,
no child with them. Where he was stowed away, if still in life, no
one knew. Going with professional zest into the affair, the New York
police, greatly to their credit, under Superintendent Walling, made
every effort to track the windings of the two desperadoes, who, from
newspaper advertisements and bills stuck on the walls, saw that they
were momentarily in risk of capture. New York, however, has about
it holes and corners in which felons find temporary lurking-places,
and when pursuit is keen there is water on two sides, with boats, in
some of which there is a refuge from justice equal to that of the old
Alsatia in Whitefriars. On the opposite side of the narrow channel on
the east, lies Long Island, hilly and picturesque, and which, besides
Brooklyn, possesses a large number of villas of wealthy citizens
scattered about among gardens and pleasure-grounds. To this island,
as charming a retreat of families from New York, as are the Highland
borders of the Clyde for the citizens of Glasgow, we have to follow
Mosher and Douglas, the reputed abductors of Charley Ross.

The two villains had exhausted their means. They had made nothing of
the cruel capture we have been describing, and had indeed lost money by
the transaction. Driven to their last shifts, they resolved to begin
a career of house-breaking. As a commencement, they broke into the
villa of Judge Van Brunt of the Supreme Court of New York, situated
near the water's edge, at a picturesque part of Long Island. The judge
and his family were absent for the season, and the house being shut
up, offered, as was thought, a good chance of effecting a burglary. In
laying their plans, Mosher and Douglas were not possibly aware, that
before closing his house, the judge furnished it with 'a burglar alarm
telegraph, which conveys information of the slightest interference
with any of its doors or windows into the bedroom of his brother,' who
resided permanently in a house near at hand. The account of the attack
may be given in the words of Mr Ross:

'On the morning of December 14, at two o'clock, this alarm-bell rang
violently. Mr Van Brunt was at once awakened, and immediately called
his son Albert, who was asleep. When Albert came down stairs the father
said: "Go over and see what has sounded that alarm; I think the wind
has blown open one of those blinds again;" an occurrence which had more
than once before caused the bell to ring. The young man went, first
taking the precaution to put a pistol in his pocket. Approaching his
uncle's house, he noticed a flickering light through the blinds of
one of the windows; he returned and told his father about the light,
procured a lantern for himself, and went to arouse William Scott, the
judge's gardener, who lived in a cottage close by, and who had the keys
of the judge's house. On their way back, Scott and Albert ascertained
that more than one man was in the house with the light. They then
awoke Herman Frank, a hired man; and after placing one man in front
and another behind the judge's house, Albert returned to his father
and reported what he had seen and done. His father, although seriously
suffering from illness, after getting together the arms in the house,
joined his son, and calling the gardener and hired man to him, said:
"Now, boys, we have work to do, and must understand each other; we
must capture those fellows if we can without killing them; but if they
resist, we shall have to defend ourselves. Albert, you and Scott stand
before the front door; Frank and I will take the rear; and whatever
happens afterward, let us remain in the positions we first take up;
because if we move around, we shall be certain in the dark to shoot
one another instead of the thieves. Whichever way they come, let the
two who meet them take care of them as best they can; if they come out
and scatter both ways, then we will all have a chance to work." The
party took their respective places; the night was pitch dark, cold,
and wet. The watchers waited patiently for nearly an hour, while the
burglars went through every room in the house, with the rays from their
dark-lanterns flashing now and then through the chinks in the shutters.
At length they came down to the basement floor and into the pantry.
Through the window of this little apartment Mr Van Brunt could see
distinctly the faces of the two burglars. He could have shot them down
there and then in perfect safety to himself and his companions; but
he wished to refrain from taking life until he could be certain that
the robbers would shew resistance. He did not wish to kill them in the
house, nor in any other way than in self-defence.

'The elder Van Brunt, finding he was growing numb and weak from the
effects of the cold damp air of the inclement night, determined "to
push things," and standing in front of the back door, ordered the hired
man to open it quickly. In trying to get the key into the keyhole, he
made a noise which the quick-eared burglars heard. Their light went
out immediately, and their footsteps were heard ascending the cellar
stairs. Mr Van Brunt and his man moved towards the trap-door of the
cellar, the lock of which had been broken. This was soon opened, and
the body of a man started up, followed by the head of another. Mr Van
Brunt cried out "Halt!" in response to which two pistol-shots from
the cellar door flashed almost in his face, but without injuring him.
He then fired his shot-gun at the foremost man, and a cry of agony
followed. The other man fired at him a second time, and then ran
towards the front of the house. There he dashed almost into the arms of
the younger Van Brunt, at whom he fired two more shots, luckily missing
him also; and before the pistol could be fired again his arm was struck
down by a blow from Mr Van Brunt's shot-gun, which was shattered.
Uttering a terrible cry the burglar now retreated; but before he had
gone many rods, Mr Van Brunt sent a bullet into the would-be murderer's
back. The desperate house-breaker staggered for an instant, and then
fell dead.

'Meanwhile the other burglar, although mortally wounded from the
elder Van Brunt's first fire, continued to shoot in the dark until
he was exhausted. The firing now ceased; the only thing positively
known, after the second or third shot, being the gratifying fact that
while none of the defenders of the judge's property was hurt, the
two burglars were literally riddled with shot and bullets. One was
stone dead, with his empty revolver under his head; the other lived
until five o'clock--only about two hours. Several neighbours, aroused
by the firing, came rushing to the place, and got there by the time
the fight was over; one of whom was asked by the wounded man to give
him some whisky. After tasting it, he pushed it away, and called for
water, which he drank eagerly. He was then asked who they were, and
where they came from. He replied: "Men, I won't lie to you; my name is
Joseph Douglas, and that man over there is William Mosher." He spelled
M-O-S-H-E-R-'S name, adding: "Mosher lives in the city (New York),
and I have no home. I am a single man, and have no relatives except a
brother and sister, whom I have not seen for twelve or fifteen years.
Mosher is a married man, and has five children." Believing himself to
be mortally wounded, he continued: "I have forty dollars in my pocket;
I wish to be buried with it; I made it honestly." Then he said: "_It's
no use lying now: Mosher and I stole CHARLEY ROSS from Germantown._"
When asked why they stole him, he replied: "To make money." He was
then asked who had charge of the child; to which he replied: "Mosher
knows all about the child; ask him." He was then told that Mosher was
dead, and was raised up so that he could see the dead body of his
partner in guilt. He exclaimed: "God help his poor wife and family." To
the question, "Could he tell where the child was?" he answered: "God
knows I tell you the truth; I don't know where he is; Mosher knew."
The same question was repeated a number of times to him; but he gave
no further information, but said: "Superintendent Walling knows all
about us, and was after us, and now he shall have us. Send him word.
The child will be returned home safe and sound in a few days." He
told his inquirers that they had come over in a sloop which was lying
in the cove, and begged them not to question him any more, and not
to move him, as it hurt him to talk or move. He remained conscious
until about fifteen minutes before his death. Thus writhing in agony,
lying on the spot where he had fallen, drenched with the descending
rain, ended the purposeless and miserable life of one who aided in
rending the heart-strings of a family unknown to him, and in outraging
the feelings of the civilised world. So swiftly did retribution come
upon his companion, that not one word escaped his lips: no message to
his family--no confession of his terrible crimes--no prayer was he
permitted to utter: suddenly, as by the stroke of lightning, was his
soul ushered into eternity. Surely "the way of the transgressor is

That there might be no doubt about the identity of the two bodies,
Walter Ross was sent for. He recognised one as having been the man
who drove the wagon, and the other as having given him money to buy
the crackers. Others identified them as the men who had been seen
driving away with the children. There could therefore be no doubt that
William Mosher and Joseph Douglas were the real abductors of Charley
Ross. The discovery was so far satisfactory; but where was the lost
child? Mosher's wife was hunted up and questioned on the subject. 'She
said her husband had told her that the child had been placed with an
old man and woman, and was well cared for, but she did not know who
were his keepers, or where he lived.' Disappointed in getting any
useful information in this quarter, Mrs Ross's brothers offered by
advertisement a reward of five thousand dollars for the return of the
child within ten days. The child was not returned, and instead of any
useful information on the subject, there was a repetition of miserable
attempts at fraudulent extortion. At the same time, circumstances were
elicited regarding the career of the deceased culprits Mosher and
Douglas. It was ascertained that a person named William Westervelt, a
brother of Mosher's wife, and a notorious associate of thieves, was
concerned in the abduction. He, in fact, had been the confederate who
posted the letters and otherwise assisted the two thieves. In September
1875, he was tried for being engaged with others in abducting and
concealing the child; and being found guilty, he was sentenced to pay
a fine of one dollar, the cost of the prosecution, and to undergo an
imprisonment of solitary confinement for the term of seven years.

In the course of the trial, no fact was elicited respecting the
place of detention of the child. From the day he was stolen, July 1,
1874, till the present time, not a word has been heard of him. His
distressed parents exist only in hope that he is still in the land of
the living, and may yet be restored to them. If alive, he will now be
about seven years of age. It would afford us immeasurable satisfaction
if _Chambers's Journal_, which penetrates into all English-speaking
quarters in the American continent, should happily help to recover the
child who was lost, the helpless little boy, CHARLEY ROSS.

    W. C.


[A] _Charley Ross: the Story of his Abduction._ By C. K. Ross. London:
Hodder & Stoughton. 1877.



I stood for a few moments watching my strange new acquaintance,
rapidly widening the distance between us, then turned thoughtfully
homewards again. The story I had just heard had given me something
to think of besides my own happiness. Although poor Nancy might be
a little too ready to rebel, how hard things had been for her! How
much did I, and all women blessed as I, owe to such as Nancy. Well,
there would be Philip to help me by-and-by. Surely we two might be
able to do something, I thought, my cheeks uncomfortably hot with the
consciousness that the existence I had been dreaming of savoured too
much of ease and sunshine for two people who professed to desire the
highest life. Robert Wentworth would tell me that, and so of course
would Philip; and I was glad also to realise, as I did just then, that
continued ease and sunshine would pall quite as much upon me as upon
either of them. 'I was not to the manner born.'

I had reached the stile, and was absently stepping down on the other
side of it, as I afterwards found, stepping so wide of the lower step
as to involve an ignominious descent, when I was gently lifted on to
_terra firma_ by two strong arms.

'What makes you so careless to-night?' said Robert Wentworth.

'It was stupid,' I replied, realising the position; and adding: 'In
truth, my thoughts were wool-gathering; and I had forgotten where I

'Rather an awkward moment for forgetting where you were; wasn't it?'

'No; yes--yes; of course it was stupid,' I repeated.

'You are not generally so ready to plead guilty as that,' he replied
smilingly. 'What makes you so preternaturally meek to-night? Have you
just come off second-best in a wordy war with old Jemmy Rodgers?'
Bending down to get a better look into my face, he went on with quite
another tone and manner: 'What has happened, Mary?'

'Happened?' I repeated, hesitatingly. But why should I not tell him?
I presently asked myself. He knew that Philip was expected, and that
we were to be married; he knew that I loved Philip; and why should I
any longer act like a foolish girl about it? So after a moment or two,
I went on: 'That which you asked to be allowed to speak of in three
months may be spoken now, if you will.'

'Now!' As he echoed the word, bending to look at me again, I noticed
a swift change of expression in his face--an eager, startled, yet not
altogether assured look.

'Yes; I have had a letter this evening, telling me that Philip expected
to be able to sail within a week or so of sending it, and he may be
here any time during the next month.'


'Mr Dallas you know. We are to be married.'

He was silent; and after waiting a moment for a reply which came not, I
grew a little conscious of the awkwardness of talking about my lover to
him, and not the more pleased with him for making me feel so. A little
confusedly, I murmured something about having hoped that they would be
friends; so many Philip had known must be scattered and lost to him
during his long absence, and he was a man of all others to appreciate a

Nettled by his continued silence, I went on: 'If I have expected too
much, you yourself are a little to blame for my doing so. You have
always made me feel that I might expect something more from you than
from other people.'

I saw his hand tighten on the bar of the stile it rested on with a
pressure which made the veins look like cords. He threw up his head,
and seemed to take counsel with the stars. Was it the pale moonlight
which made him look so white and rigid? Had I offended him? _What_ was
it? Then arose a new and terrible fear in my mind. Had I misunderstood
him--had he misunderstood _me_--all this time? Had I unwittingly led
him to believe me a free woman, and---- Was it possible that he loved
me--Robert Wentworth?

Deeply pained as well as ashamed, had I not always believed and
asserted that such complications are not brought about by single-minded
women? I bowed my head, covering my face with my trembling hands in the
bitterness of humiliation. My love for Philip had made all men seem as
brothers to me, and it had never for a moment entered my head that my
bearing towards them might be misconstrued. Then it must be remembered
I was not like a young and attractive girl; nor had I been accustomed
to receive lover-like attention. Bewildered and miserable--God forgive
me if I had wronged Robert Wentworth in my blindness--I was confusedly
trying to recollect what I had last said, so that I might be able to
add a few words which would serve as an excuse for leaving him not too
abruptly, when he at length spoke. Clear and firm his voice sounded in
the stillness, though the words came slowly: 'You have not expected too
much, Mary.' I could not say a word; and in my anxiety for him, still
lingered. 'You have not expected too much,' he gently repeated. Then
seeing that was not enough, he added, in the same low measured tone:
'God helping me, I will be your husband's friend, Mary.'

I put out my hands, involuntarily clasping them together. I think he
interpreted the gesture aright. With the old grave smile, he said: 'You
must not forget you have a brother as well as a husband, you know.'

'I will not; God bless you, Robert!'--laying my hand for a moment on

He waved his hand, and without a word turned away. I tried to gather
comfort from his quiet tone; tried to persuade myself that it was but
a passing fancy for me, which he would very quickly get over, now he
knew the truth; using all sorts of arguments to quiet my conscience.
But in my inmost heart I knew that Robert Wentworth was not the man
to be shaken in that way merely by a passing fancy. Beyond measure
depressed and dissatisfied with myself, I slowly and wearily made my
way back towards the cottage again. Ah me! how changed was the aspect
of things already! How different this still grayness, to the _couleur
de rose_ in which I had read Philip's letter, and how different was my
mental state! Was I the same person who only an hour or so previously
had been telling herself that her happiness was almost too great to
be borne? All my pretty pictures of the future, in which Lilian and
Robert Wentworth had figured so charmingly, were destroyed. I had fully
intended to take Lilian and dear old Mrs Tipper into my confidence
respecting Philip's expected arrival and my future prospects, as soon
as I reached the cottage; but how could I do so now? How could I talk
about Philip as he ought to be talked about, with the remembrance
of that set white face upturned in the moonlight, fresh upon me!
Impossible! My heart sank at the bare thought of parading my love just
then. It would be like dancing over a grave.

I could better turn my thoughts upon poor Nancy than upon my coming
marriage, just now. I found Lilian and her aunt at a loss to know what
had become of me, and it was some little relief to be able to talk
about my adventure with Nancy.

They were full of interest and sympathy, entering into my feelings upon
the subject at once, and only differing from me about my allowing her
to return to the Home, thinking that this was too much to expect from
her. But I still thought that it was her best course; and it did me a
little good to argue the point with them in the way of obliging me to
use my wits.

'She was not entirely blameless,' I replied. 'I think she recognised
that, in deciding to return to the Home, when I left it to her to

'But I am very glad you promised to procure a situation for her as soon
as you can, Mary,' said Lilian. 'It seems almost too much to expect her
to remain there for any length of time.'

'I have no fear of being able to do that when the right time comes,' I

I was not able to be quite as candid as I wished to be, because I
would not now touch upon the subject of my approaching marriage. I
was consequently obliged to speak more indefinitely than I felt about
obtaining a situation for Nancy.

'May I go with you to the Home, Mary? I too should like to say a
cheering word to poor Nancy.'

I very gladly acquiesced, and we agreed to set forth the following
morning. I did not, as I had always hitherto done with Philip's
letters, sit gloating over the contents of this last and most precious
of all half through the night, finding a new delicious meaning in
every word. The remembrance of Robert Wentworth came between me and
my happiness; and my letter was put away with a sigh. Disturbed and
ashamed, the possibility of Philip's wife being supposed a free woman,
was humiliating to me. My thoughts were reflected in my dreams. I
appeared to be all night wandering in hopeless search of an intangible

    A form without substance,
      A mental mirage,
    Which kindled a thirst
      That it could not assuage.

I awoke feverish and unrefreshed. But Lilian and I set forth in good
time to do our errand before the heat of the day; and a walk in the
fresh morning air, through the prettiest of Kentish scenery, proved a
very good remedy for a disturbed mind. Then I had a special reason for
exerting myself to keep Lilian's thoughts from straying that morning.
Her exclamation, 'Already!' when we found ourselves before the gates
of the Home, seemed to shew that my efforts had not been thrown away.
As the estate had been sold piecemeal, and very little ground had
been purchased with the house, it had been thought necessary to build
a wall round it. The aspect of the grand old house, surrounded thus
by a mean-looking new wall, was almost pathetic, as well as out of
character. And the great gates, which had once graced the entrance to a
beautiful old park, looked specially out of place, let into a wall some
feet lower than themselves, and with their fine iron-work boarded up.
We saw too that all the windows in view were boarded up so high as to
prevent the inmates looking out.

'I really do not see how it could hurt the people to see the beautiful
country,' ejaculated Lilian, as we stood waiting for admittance after
ringing the hanging bell. 'No prison could look more dismal.'

'Yes; Nancy Dean is one of the inmates here,' in answer to my query,
said a sullen-looking woman, in the ugliest of dresses in shape, and
make, and colour; and with her hair tucked away entirely out of sight
beneath a cap uglier if possible than her dress. 'But you can't see
her. This isn't visiting day. Wednesdays, second and last in the month,
two till four o'clock.' Wherewith the small door let into the wall by
the side of the gates, which she had opened to inquire our errand, was
unceremoniously slammed to.

I did not hesitate to ring again. This was Thursday, and not one of the
visiting weeks. Nancy must not be left until the following Wednesday
without the knowledge that I had kept my word. It was of the gravest
importance that she should know that I had made inquiries, even though
I could not obtain an interview with her. But I saw now that I had
made a mistake in first asking for her. I hurriedly tore a leaf from
my pocket-book, and pencilled a few lines upon it, to the effect that
'a lady much interested in the Home hoped Mrs Gower would accord her
a short interview;' and had it ready by the time the woman once more
opened the door.

'I wish to see Mrs Gower the lady-superintendent, if you please.'

'Have you got an appointment with her?' she asked.

'If you give this to her, it will explain,' I returned, putting the
folded paper into her hand.

She coolly unfolded it, read it through, and after a moment's
hesitation, ungraciously made way for us to enter. Then, after
relocking the gate, she left us standing just within, whilst she went
into the house to do my bidding.

'Not a very courteous reception,' said Lilian.

'We ought to have inquired for the matron at first; but we can do
without courtesy, if we succeed in getting our way,' I returned.

It seemed that we were to get our way. The woman came towards us again.
'I was to say that it is not usual for ladies to come at this time; Mrs
Gower is always very much engaged until two o'clock; but she will see
you, if you will step this way.'

We followed her into the house through a great hall, cold and
forlorn-looking enough even at this season, divested as it was
of everything in the way of furniture, and with its stone floor
distressingly whitened. Then she pushed open a swing-door, led the way
down a small well-carpeted passage, and ushered us into one of the
cosiest of little rooms, luxuriously furnished. I had just a momentary
glimpse of a lady lying back in an easy-chair, with her feet upon a
hassock, reading a newspaper, a dainty luncheon with wine, &c. on the
low table at her elbow, when at the words, 'The committee room, the
committee room, of course, Downs,' we were hurriedly hustled out of the
room again.

'This way, if you please,' said our conductress, leading us across the
forlorn-looking hall again.

But the room we were now ushered into was to my eyes more forlorn
still--a long room of noble proportions, with five windows, which had
once commanded the view of a beautifully wooded undulating park, but
which were now faced by a brick wall only four or five feet distant.
The only flowers now to be seen were the marble ones festooned about
the high old-fashioned fireplaces at each end of the room. It was now
used as a committee room; a long baize-covered table, a dozen or so
of heavy chairs, with ink and papers and one book, representing the

I was busily altering the aspect of things, telling myself that even
the committee must feel the depressing effects of such a room as this;
pulling down the offending wall, training rose-trees round the windows,
and so forth, when the door opened, and Mrs Gower entered. A stout
large-boned woman, between fifty and sixty years of age; severe of
countenance, and expensively attired--too elaborately, I thought, for a
gentlewoman's morning-dress.

'One of our lady patronesses, I presume?' she said, with a little
half-bend as she advanced. 'It is not usual for ladies to come at this
early hour; but we are always prepared for inspection, and happy to
shew the Home, and explain our system, to ladies who may be desirous of
co-operating with us.'

'I am very much interested, Mrs Gower. I do not think anything can be
of more interest and importance to women than is such work as this. But
I came as the friend of one of the inmates--Nancy Dean--to ask your
permission for me to see her.'

'Are you a subscriber to the institution, may I ask, madam?'


'Do you bring an introduction from any one who is a subscriber?'

'No; unfortunately I know no one in any way connected with the Home.'

There was a very marked change in Mrs Gower's bearing, as she coldly
observed: 'In that case, you did not, I presume, state your errand to
the portress; and she was neglectful of her duty in not inquiring what
it was, and giving you to understand that visitors to the inmates are
only admitted upon certain days and at certain hours.'

'No; she was not to blame. She told me that I could not see Nancy until
the usual visiting day.'

'Then I am quite at a loss to understand'----

'I should not have ventured to trespass upon your time if it were
an ordinary case, and I could wait until the next visiting day to
communicate with Nancy, Mrs Gower. I know, for the proper management
of a place like this, it must be necessary to make rules and enforce
them. But I hope you will make an exception in this case. It is of the
greatest importance to her as well as to me that she should know a
friend came here to see her to-day.'

'A friend! That means, I presume, that you have taken up her case? I
cannot suppose that you belong to her own class?'

I made a little bow serve for reply; and she very gravely went on: 'If
it be so, I am sorry to be obliged to tell you that you couldn't have
taken up a worse case. Dean is one of the most incorrigible characters
I have had to deal with during a long experience. You are probably not
aware that she is at present under discipline for bad conduct?'

'Bad conduct?' I repeated interrogatively, a little curious to hear
_her_ version of the story.

'Yesterday, she conducted herself in the most disgraceful way before
the committee. Afterwards she got through the window of the room in
which she was confined, and ran away. Then, I suppose in consequence of
not being able to find any place of refuge, she presented herself at
the gates again late last night, saying that she had returned to take
the punishment for what she had done, and to try to reform. Of course
the true reason is, she prefers staying here until her plans are more
matured, and she can leave at her own convenience.'

'May she not be sincere in her desire for reform, Mrs Gower?'

'That is perfectly hopeless. A very short residence here would teach
you the hopelessness of expecting any thorough reform in such as Dean.'

'It must be very painful to you to feel that of any human creature, Mrs

'Of course it is painful'--a trifle snappishly; 'but such knowledge
as, I am sorry to say, is gained here does not increase one's faith in
human nature, madam. We have to face a great many unpleasant facts,
and one of them is, that such women as Nancy Dean are altogether

'It must be very discouraging to think so.'

'Nothing discourages us from doing our duty.' And here Mrs Gower very
decidedly touched a hand-bell on the table.

Not appearing to notice the hint, I quietly rejoined: 'But great
mistakes may be made in such cases; and I hope you will excuse my
saying that I think you have been mistaken with respect to Nancy Dean,
and taken her incorrigibility too much for granted.'

Mrs Gower drew herself up; if she thought it possible that she could
make mistakes, she was evidently not in the habit of being told that
she could. It was probably all the more unpardonable from the fact
that the portress, who had noiselessly obeyed her summons, heard
what passed. I had not of course intended her to hear it; but she
must have entered so very quickly after the bell sounded, and moved
so noiselessly, that I was quite unaware of her presence, until the
direction which Mrs Gower's eyes took informed me of it.

Mrs Gower's colour was a little raised, as she begged to decline any
further discussion upon so painful a subject with one who evidently had
had no experience, and therefore could not understand it.

'But you will, I hope, oblige me so far as to let Nancy Dean know that
her friend Miss Haddon came to see her, and will come again on the
first visiting day?' I pleaded, seeing that it was no use to press for
an interview.

'I cannot promise anything of the kind,' loftily returned Mrs Gower.
'Dean is under discipline; and the course of treatment I adopt will
entirely depend upon her conduct while under that discipline.'

'I beg'----

'I cannot promise anything.' Then somewhat irrelevantly, as it appeared
to me at the moment, but as I now think, for the purpose of pointing
out to me that the fault lay with Nancy Dean, and not with the
system, she added, glancing for a moment towards the woman, who stood
with downcast eyes, waiting for further orders: 'This is one of our

'This' appeared to my eyes but a very poor success--a very doubtful
one indeed, if the low narrow brows and heavy mouth and chin expressed
anything of the character. She appeared to be quite accustomed to be
so alluded to, no change in her face shewing that she was in any way
impressed by it. There she stood, a success, make what you choose of
it, she seemed to say, eyeing us with stolid indifference. I could not
help contrasting her face with that of the 'incorrigible' whom I had
seen the night previously, so open and honest even in its passionate
anger. Nevertheless, in my anxiety upon Nancy's account, I ventured to
make an indirect appeal to 'This.'

'I am glad to hear it. Her own reformation doubtlessly makes her more
desirous to help her fellow-women, and poor Nancy Dean so terribly
needs a friend just now.' Then turning again towards Mrs Gower, I
added: 'I trust that you will allow Nancy Dean to be informed that I
called, madam?'

I think she perceived my motive for repeating the request before the
woman. She very decidedly replied: 'As I informed you just now, I
cannot give any promise of the kind; and Downs knows her duty. And I
must remind you that my time is valuable; I have already given you
more than I can spare. Good-morning, Miss Haddon.--The gate, Downs.'
And with a very slight inclination of the head, Mrs Gower gave us our

Lilian and I followed the woman to the gate, where I paused a moment,
trying to gather from the expression of her face whether it would be
of any avail to make a more direct appeal to her. It seemed useless
to attempt it; one might as well hope to influence a wooden figure. As
I stood hesitating, unwilling to go without making one more effort,
I said a few words to Lilian, more to give myself time than anything
else, but which served the end I had in view: 'I would give a great
deal to get a message conveyed to poor Nancy.'

A new and altogether different expression dwelt for a moment in Down's
eyes, fixed straight before her; an expression which suggested an idea
to me that I had not had in using the words. In a moment I had my purse
out of my pocket, and a half-sovereign between my fingers; taking care,
as I noticed she did, to turn towards the open gate and away from the

Brighter and brighter grew the expression of her face as she said in a
low voice: 'I might perhaps just mention to Nancy Dean that you called
this morning, ma'am--if that's all you want done?'

'That is all I want you to do; just to tell her that her friend Miss
Haddon called, and intends to come again next visiting day.'

'Very well, ma'am; I don't mind telling her that,' she returned,
looking wooden and dull again, as her fingers closed over the money;
once more the same sullen, unimpressionable woman we had at first seen,
as she closed the gates upon us.

'O Mary, what a dreadful place! How could any one be expected to be
better for living there!' ejaculated Lilian. 'How could they select a
woman like Mrs Gower to influence her fellow-creatures!'

'There certainly appears to have been a great mistake somewhere,' I
thoughtfully replied. 'So benevolent a scheme might surely be better
carried out.'

I may as well state here what came to my knowledge later--respecting
the Home and its management. Mrs Osborne, the founder, had commenced
her work of benevolence without sufficient experience and knowledge of
the class she wished to benefit. Like many other benevolent people, she
believed that love was all that was needed for the work; and the lady
she had at first engaged to act as superintendent was as enthusiastic
and non-executive as herself. The consequences were disastrous; and
it told much in Mrs Osborne's favour that she had the courage to try
again. Unfortunately, in her anxiety to avoid her former error, she ran
into the opposite extreme. Mrs Gower was selected from numerous other
applicants on account of her having previously held office as matron of
a prison, and possessing testimonials as to her special fitness for the
executive department.

Accustomed to deal with the worst side of human nature, and to the
enforcement of the necessarily rigid rules of prison-life, in which
all must pass through one routine, Mrs Gower had become a mere
disciplinarian, treating those under her charge in the Home as though
their minds were all of precisely the same pattern, and that a very bad

If half the stories which reached me respecting her luxurious
self-indulgent life were true, the effect upon those to whom she was
supposed to be an example was undoubtedly bad. And if there were good
grounds for the statement that her appointment to the office of prison
matron had been to her a rise in life, it quite sufficiently accounted
for the want of refinement in thought and habit, which occasioned her
to live too luxuriously, and deck herself in too rich clothing for
one living amongst women supposed to be endeavouring to strengthen
themselves against yielding to temptation.

Again, good as he undoubtedly was, Mr Wyatt, upon whom Mrs Osborne
depended for spiritual help, was not fitted for the task. He was too
young, as well as too naturally timid and shy, to manage a number of
women, who deceived him with the pretence of reformation when it suited
their purpose better than openly laughing at him. Long afterwards, he
told me how terribly he used to dread his visits to the Home, and how
much he was troubled at the little effect of his teachings. It took him
a long time to understand that the best natures might appear to be the
worst under such training as Mrs Gower's.

That Mrs Osborne herself was quite satisfied with the new management,
is too much to say. But although Mrs Gower was not a woman after her
heart, past failures had rendered Mrs Osborne distrustful of her own
judgment; and she could not deny that there at least appeared to be
better effects produced now than during the former management. Although
there were occasional failures, which nothing could gloss over, Mrs
Gower could point to the fact that a certain number of the inmates were
annually drafted into service, and whatever became of them, they did
not reappear at the Home.



The men of St Kilda are in the habit of congregating in front of one
of the houses almost every morning for the discussion of business. I
called this assembly the Parliament, and, with a laugh, they adopted
the name. When the subject is exciting, the members talk with loud
voices and all at one time; but when the question is once settled, they
work together in perfect harmony. Shall we go to catch solan-geese, or
ling, or mend the boat to-day? are examples of the subjects that occupy
the House. Sometimes disputes are settled by drawing lots. A system of
mutual insurance has existed from time immemorial. A large number of
sheep are annually lost by falling over the cliffs, and the owners are
indemnified by the other members of the community, whose contributions
are in proportion to the number of sheep they possess, and the
consequent risk. As the calculations are all performed mentally, I
think this shews no small arithmetical power. Parliament, besides being
necessary to the conduct of business, has, I think, a salutary effect
on the minds of the people, and helps to keep them cheerful in spite
of their isolated position and excessive religious exercises. Man is a
gregarious animal, and there are no people more so than the St Kildans.
In work every one follows his neighbour. If one puts a new thatch on
his barn, a man is to be seen on the top of every barn in the village.
If the voice of praise is heard at the door of one house, all, you may
be sure, are engaged in worship; and so on.

The St Kildans are remarkable for their piety. They are all members of
the Free Church, and contribute somewhere about ten pounds annually
to the Sustentation Fund of that body. They go three times to church
on Sunday, and hold a prayer-meeting every Wednesday. They have also
service on the first Tuesday of every month to return thanks for the
preservation of Captain Otter and his crew, whose ship was nearly lost
on the island about thirteen years ago. This was instituted at the
request of the (now deceased) captain, who brought them supplies in
a season of dearth, and attempted some improvements; which have all
proved abortive. The minister is one who commands attention--every
eye fastened on him throughout the discourse; and if any one happens
to drop asleep, he or she is immediately aroused by a stinging
remonstrance from the pulpit! Such, for instance, as saying in
Gaelic: 'Arouse your wife, Lachlin--she won't sleep much in Tophet, I
think, eh?' which causes Lachlin to poke his elbow in his wife's side
immediately. The church is a miserable place, with no floor but mother
earth, and with damp sticking to the walls like hoar-frost or feathers.
The seats are rude benches, many of them bored and grooved by the
ship-worm. Here all the women sit for about six and a half hours every
Sunday with bare feet and legs, even in winter. Family worship is held
in every house morning and evening; and when parties of men or women
reside in the other islands they 'make their worship,' as they phrase
it, just as they do at home. Every meal is preceded by a grace, nor
will they take a drink of milk or water without uncovering the head.

The St Kildans are quite as industrious as they are pious. Every family
has a croft of ground, which they carefully cultivate, although their
method of husbandry admits of improvement. They grow oats, barley, and
potatoes, all of which are planted too thickly. The ground is manured
with the carcases of puffins. But there is a great waste of this
valuable manure, many thousands of these birds being left after the
plucking season, to rot in the island of Boreray every year! The grain
is ground into meal by handmills. In the beginning of summer the rocks
are scaled, and the neighbouring islets visited, for old solan-geese
and eggs. They fish for ling in summer and pluck instead of clipping
their sheep. The wool is spun by the women, and woven by the men into
cloth and blankets, which, after providing clothes for themselves,
are sold to the factor. In August they catch the young fulmars, and
in September the young solan-geese. In winter the spinning-wheels and
looms are busy from the dawn of day until two or three next morning.
Their diligence and endurance are astonishing.

The belted plaid (the original kilt) was the dress worn by the St
Kildans when Martin visited the island in 1697. Previous to that they
wore sheep-skins. But leg-garments wide and open at the knees were
beginning to be introduced. Now the men wear trousers and vests of
coarse blue cloth with blanket shirts. On Sundays they wear jackets in
addition. The _brog tiondadh_ or turned shoe, so called because it is
sewed on the wrong side and then turned inside out, was in vogue until
quite recently, and specimens are still to be seen. It is made to
fit either foot, and is sewed with thongs of sheep-skin. They buy the
leather from the factor. The sheep-skins are still tanned by themselves
with, according to my informants, a kind of bark found under the turf.

The dress of the women consists of a cotton handkerchief on the
head--Turkey-red being preferred--which is tied under the chin, and a
gown (made by the men) of strong blue cloth, or blue with a thin purple
stripe, fastened at the breast with a large pin made from a fish-hook.
The skirt is girdled below the waist with a sash of divers colours,
and is worn very short, their muscular limbs being visible to near the
knee. They wear neither shoes nor stockings in summer, and very seldom
in winter. They go barefoot even to church, and on that occasion don
a dark plaid, which is fastened with a copper brooch made from an old
penny. Formerly the heads and necks of solan-geese were used by the
fair sex as shoes; but these have gone out of fashion. The men too are
generally to be seen without shoes. Sheep-skin caps were once common,
and are yet worn by a few.

Both sexes look strong and healthy, have bright eyes, teeth like new
ivory, and are capable of long-continued exertion. There are only six
surnames on the island--namely Gillies, Ferguson, Macdonald, MacKinnon,
MacQueen, and MacCrimmen. The average height of the men is about five
feet six inches. The tallest man is five feet nine inches, the shortest
four feet ten and a half. I measured twenty-one male adults. They are
tough and hardy, and know nothing of the diseases which are common in
other places. There is one old man of weak intellect, who is quiet and
peaceable when not contradicted. He lives in a smoky thatched old hovel
by himself. He has a sister afflicted with epilepsy. Another old man is
blind from cataract.

The most extraordinary complaint that visits St Kilda is called the
Stranger's Cold. The natives firmly believe that the arrival of a
boat communicates this disease. They say that the illness is more
severe when the ship or boat comes from Harris, and that they suffer
less when the vessel comes from Glasgow or London. It is curious that
every one caught this distemper immediately after the arrival of the
smack and boat in 1876, and again on the landing of the Austrians
this year. Not one St Kildan escaped. No one was ill during the
intervening six or seven months. The symptoms are a severe headache,
and pain and stiffness in the muscles of the jaw, a deep rough cough,
discharge from the nose, and rapid pulse. But the great scourge of
St Kilda is a distemper to which the infants are subject. This keeps
down the population, and has prevailed for at least one hundred and
twenty years. Medical men call it Tetanus and the Irish 'Nine-day
fits.' Doctors differ as to the cause: some say that it arises from
the mothers living on sea-fowl; others to weakening of the blood from
long-continued intermarriage; some that an operation necessary at
birth is not properly performed; others that the infant is smothered
with peat-smoke; whilst some aver that the child is killed by improper
feeding; and I am now inclined to believe that the last is the true
reason. Comparatively few of the children born on the rock survive for
more than a few days; they are seized with convulsions and lockjaw,
and soon become exhausted. Those who escape grow up into fine men
and women--sound as a general rule in mind and body; but it is a
significant fact that intending mothers often go to Harris if they can,
to be confined, that they may escape the curse that seems to hang over
the child that is born in St Kilda.

The people of St Kilda and Harris have no great esteem for each other.
Mothers in Harris threaten to send their children when naughty to St
Kilda; Harris men call the St Kildans _gougan_ (young solan-geese). The
St Kildans again never mention Harris but in terms of contempt: A poor
place--dirty, shabby, greedy, &c.

The St Kildans talk Gaelic, and nothing but Gaelic. The minister and a
woman who is a relation of his know English as well; but both are from
the mainland. All are very polite in their own way. When they meet one
of a morning they lift their bonnets with the left hand, and hold out
the right, and never fail to ask for one's health and how one has slept.

When I had acquired some little knowledge of the language, I made
inquiries about Lady Grange, who had been forcibly sent to St Kilda
in 1734, and kept there for seven years. Her name was familiar to all
the old people and to some of the young. Tradition says that she slept
during the day and got up at night. She never learned Gaelic. The house
in which she lived was demolished a few years ago. It belonged to the
steward, and was exactly like the old houses still standing, but a
little larger. A dearth happened to prevail during the whole time she
remained on the island; but she got an ample share of what little food
there was. The best turf was provided for her fire, and the spot where
it was got is still called the Lady's Pool. She was much beloved; and
the people presented her with a straw-chair, as a token of respect,
when she was carried off to Harris. I heard nothing of her violent
temper. Perhaps she had some reason to be violent when at home!

The churchyard, small and elliptical in form, is at the back of the
village. The door is kept carefully shut. None of the tombstones
bears an inscription, except one erected by a minister. I brought two
sculptor's chisels with me, intending to carve a stone as a pattern,
but could not find one soft enough to cut. Some of the men seemed
eager to erect monuments to their friends, and brought me slabs; but
none was found suitable. The ruins of an ancient chapel stood in the
middle of the churchyard. The walls, I was informed, were about sixteen
feet high; but this ruin was removed a few years ago, the stones being
adapted for building. One is to be seen built into the wall of a
cottage, and has a cross incised upon it. It must have been a good bit
of steel that cut it, as the stone is like granite.

Close to the churchyard is a stone called the Stone of Knowledge, which
is said to have possessed magical properties. He who stood upon it
on the first day of the quarter became gifted with the second-sight,
and was able to foresee all the events that were to occur during that
quarter. I tried it on the first day (old style) of the present spring,
but saw nothing except three or four women laden with peats, and
smiling at my affected credulity. It does not seem to be much venerated
in these sceptical times.

At the back of the village is an old cellar, said to have been erected
by one man in a single day. It is built of huge stones, some of them
too ponderous to be lifted by any two men of these degenerate times.
The people refer to this cellar as a proof of the superior strength of
their ancestors. The builder had very nearly stumbled on the principle
of the arch, which is as yet unknown in St Kilda. I shewed the men
(who are all experienced masons in their own way) the photograph of
an old bridge, and they looked at it with much interest and thorough

There were formerly three chapels on St Kilda, dedicated respectively
to Christ, Columba, and Brendon. They still existed in 1759, but not a
vestige of them now remains.

But the most extraordinary relic of antiquity in the village is a
subterranean house. I had heard of it on my first visit; and on the
13th July 1876 determined to have it opened and examined. A crop of
potatoes grew on the top, and the owner at first refused to allow this
to be disturbed. But by dint of raillery, persuasion, and a promise to
pay the damage, he at length acceded to my request. This underground
dwelling was discovered about thirty-two years ago by a man who was
digging the ground above it, and was generally called the House of the
Fairies. The aperture on the top was filled up again, and it had never
been opened since. But after a little search the hole was found and an
entrance made. Two or three men volunteered to clear out the stones and
soil that had accumulated on the floor to a depth of several feet, and
worked with a will. The house was found to be twenty-five feet long by
three feet eight inches wide, and about four feet in height. The walls
consisted of three or four ranges of stones, a roof of slabs resting on
the sides. This house runs due north and south, and curiously enough
there is a drain under the floor. Amongst the _débris_ on the floor I
found numerous stone axes, knives, and fragments of a lamp, as well
as pieces of rude pottery. As there was no tradition concerning this
house, and as it is assigned to the fairies, it may be very old; but I
am inclined to think that the stone period extended to a very recent
date in St Kilda. I have some satisfaction in believing that I am the
discoverer of stone implements in St Kilda, and that my claim has been
recognised by the Society of Scottish Antiquaries.

One day I went to the islet called The Dun, which stands opposite
the village, and forms the south or south-west side of the bay. It
is separated from St Kilda by a narrow channel. I went along with
three men and three boys, who for want of better work tried to catch
puffins. This business being easy, is generally left to the women.
Although the sea was covered with these birds, they were uncommonly
shy on shore and difficult to catch; about forty-five was the average
bag. The Dun, although the crags are comparatively low, affords some
grand bits of rock-scenery. The site of an ancient altar is still to
be seen. The stones which formed it have, however, been removed. At
the southern extremity of the island is a mount on which great blocks
of stone are piled up in wild disorder. These blocks have been spoken
of as being the relics of a fort; but this is open to doubt. The St
Kildans probably trusted to hiding themselves in times of danger. There
is not a single weapon of war in the island; but bows and arrows are
mentioned in the traditions. The Dun, comparatively tame on the side
next the bay, is wild and picturesque where it faces the ocean. Some of
the crags are crowned by pinnacles and fantastic protuberances, and the
base is perforated with caves, into which the foaming billows rush and
rage for ever.

On my return from The Dun I found a boat at the shore laden with
puffins. She had come from Boreray, and had brought a cargo of birds to
be plucked at home, so as to assist the young women, who were suffering
from the 'Stranger's Cold,' combined with swollen throats--and no
wonder! for the weather had been bad, and these unprotected females
had never changed their clothes, but slept in the garments that they
wore during the day; and although accustomed to severe exercise in the
open air, had sat exposed to the cold, plucking feathers from morning
till night. They suffered great hardships, and only get the pittance of
six shillings a St Kilda stone (twenty-four pounds) for the feathers,
which are of excellent quality. At that time the few people left in
the village were also busy plucking feathers; and the smell of roasted
puffins--'a very ancient and fish-like smell'--came from every door.
These birds also furnish a feast for all the dogs and hooded crows
that haunt the village. I ate a puffin by way of experiment, and found
it tasted like a kippered herring, with a flavour of the dog-fish.
Custom would no doubt make it more palatable. On the 3d of August a
boat went to Boreray and brought back a cargo of puffins and _gougan_
or young solan-geese. On the 6th two boats went again to that island,
and brought back the twelve young women who had been catching puffins,
together with the feathers. Some of the women caught as many as six
hundred puffins a day. I calculate that eighty-nine thousand six
hundred puffins must have been killed by both sexes. The fingers of
the girls had become so sore from plucking the feathers that they were
obliged to use their teeth in drawing the tail and pinions!

There was a debate whether it would be advisable to begin to catch
the young fulmars, or to delay for a day or two, in the hope that the
weather would improve. It was decided to delay, but meanwhile to bring
out and test the ropes used for going down the cliffs. Some of the
ropes were made from hair cut from St Kilda horses, and were forty
years old. One of them gave way. Old men remember when there were
ponies on the island; but many under forty have never seen a horse
except in pictures. Ropes of manilla hemp are now used, and fewer
accidents occur than in the olden time, when ropes of hair and even
straw were employed. Some of the men made me feel the bumps and scars
upon their scalps caused by the falling of stones from the cliffs
above, whilst they were dangling below.

At length fulmar-catching began in earnest. I went in the morning with
a party of men in a small boat to the islet of Soa, which is close to
St Kilda. It is exceedingly difficult to land on that small island in
any weather, from the swell of the sea and the steepness of the shore;
but I determined to go to the top. We landed on the south side. With
the end of a rope around my waist, the other end being held by a man
on shore, I leaped on the rocks and climbed up the cliffs at the base,
assisted by a pull when needful from a man, who now preceded me. At
a short distance up, the rocks became less regular. Great masses of
stone spring tower-like out of the ground, and blocks of all sizes are
crowded together on the steep acclivity. An old man called _MacRuaridh_
or the Son of Rory acts as my guide; and although he totters on level
ground, he goes up the hill without any difficulty. About half way
up, amongst masses of huge blocks of stone, he shews me an old house
which tradition says was made by one Duncan in ancient times. Close
to this antique bothy are three houses equally primitive, in which
the women pluck and store the feathers. Farther up, the steep ground
is covered with a rich crop of grass, which affords sustenance to a
flock of sheep of a peculiar breed. They are of a fawn colour, and are
very wild. They run like deer; and are only caught to be plucked. They
belong to the proprietor of the island. By means of a gentle ascent, I
reached the highest part of the island, which terminates abruptly in
a cliff one thousand and thirty-one feet in height. Far down I could
just distinguish two of our crew, who were busy catching fulmars on
the rocks, and the boat floating like a tiny mussel-shell at the base.
These afforded a kind of standard by which to estimate the height of
this stupendous crag. MacRuaridh and I sat and rested for a little on
the verge of the cliff; but he soon grew tired of doing nothing, and
began to peer over the edge in search of young fulmars, some of which
he saw on a cliff adjacent, and caught.

Having caught as many fulmars as he could carry, we descended to the
rocks where we had landed. The sea had risen considerably since that
time. After waiting for about two hours, the boat came round the island
heavily laden with fulmars. Some of the crew (there were twelve in all)
had got into her on the other side. But four or five came down the
rocks to where I was, and cast anxious looks at the boat and at the
waves, that came sweeping along from the west at a right angle with the
shore. Two young men sat on the top of the cliff, each holding a rope,
by the help of which the others slid into the boat. Then came my turn.
A line was fastened around my waist, and a hair-rope put into my hand.
I was peremptorily requested to take off my shoes; and as I descended,
I pushed my toes into any crevice or cranny that offered, until the
rock became so smooth that I could find no hold for my feet. Then I was
obliged to be passive, and allowed myself to be lowered like a sack
until I reached a small limpet-covered shelf on which the waves rose
about knee-deep. 'Jump! Jump!' shout the crew; and when the boat mounts
on the wave, I leap, and fall in a heap amongst the fulmars--all right.
The air was quite calm, but the sea continued to rise, and the boat
was in imminent danger of being dashed to pieces against the wall. At
one time she became altogether unmanageable, and was forced by the sea
into a place where the rocks were under her bottom, and caused several
hard bumps. The water too began to pour over the gunnel, and I thought
that every wave would send us to the bottom. It being impossible to get
the two men on board at that spot, the boat was rowed along to a cliff
farther south. The waves were quite as wild there; but a double line
having been passed around a projecting stone, and the ends held firmly
in the boat, the two men slid down and pulled the rope after them. A
few strokes of the oars carried us out of danger. In the excursion
I experienced no little exhaustion. A morsel of cheese and a bit of
oat-cake was all I had tasted during the day, as I had hurried off
without breakfast. It was dark when we reached the village.




All next day Eliza was paler than her wont; her face wore a restless
troubled expression, and she went about the house in an absent
preoccupied manner, very different from usual.

Mary Conlan, who watched her face all day, thought that the omens
of the night before, which seemed to indicate some dire misfortune,
had roused her to serious reflection, and that she was making up her
mind to abandon all thoughts of Crofton for ever, and return to her
allegiance to Hogan, hoping it might yet be possible to avert the
threatened evil.

Yet whatever her thoughts may have been, that evening found Eliza in
the garden as usual, glancing up and down the road; and twilight saw
her leaning over the gate engaged in earnest conversation with Crofton.
Thus on each succeeding evening she might be seen. Those who had known
her from a child came to her with advice and warnings. But some stood
aloof and shook their heads. 'Sure, it's no use,' they said. 'She can't
help the doom that's on her, poor thing; best leave her alone.'

Her father, too, seriously remonstrated with her. He did not indeed
know how frequent her meetings with Crofton were, for he, worthy
man, was generally napping in his chair after his day's labour when
the interviews at the garden-gate took place; still, he had heard
and seen enough to make him very uneasy. Even supposing that Crofton
were in earnest and wished to marry Eliza, he felt sure that such an
unequal marriage would not bring happiness to her in any way. And
besides, he had set his heart on her wedding Hogan, whom he cordially
liked, with whom he could trust her; and everything would be open and
straightforward, she living on the spot, and among the people with whom
she had been brought up. He tried to represent the thing clearly to
Eliza, how Charles Crofton's family would be offended, and how he would
needs break his engagement to Miss Courtney. He tried to shew her all
the unpleasantness that must result.

She heard him in a silence that seemed dogged, pouting her lips when he
spoke of the advantage she would have in always remaining amongst them
as Hogan's wife. In the same manner she listened to all the rest who
spoke to her on this subject; but no promise could be extracted from
her to discontinue her meetings with Crofton. From that time, however,
the garden interviews were given up, but only, as it appeared, for a
more secret meeting-place.

One evening after dusk, as Hogan was walking along a path between some
fields, he heard voices behind the hedge. He stood still a moment. He
could not mistake that tone, with its accent of refinement. It was
certainly Crofton and Eliza. They seemed as if taking leave of each
other. He could not overhear their words, save a few disconnected ones.

'To-morrow morning,' Crofton was saying, 'before any one'---- The
remainder of the sentence was lost.

Then came Eliza's voice, low and somewhat tremulous; and Crofton again,
in tender impassioned tones. Then there was a few moments' silence,
and they seemed to part. But the footsteps returned, and again he
heard their voices, as if they could not bear to tear themselves from
each other without more last fond words and (Hogan clenched his hand
as the suggestion arose) caresses. A low murmur only reached him now,
followed by another short silence. How was it filled up? he wondered;
and he ground his teeth in anger, and the hot blood mounted to his
forehead. Steps now came along by the hedge. He walked on. He knew
Crofton was behind him. In a few minutes the latter came up, and as he
passed, looked at Hogan sharply, with an expression of annoyance on
his handsome face; but he said gaily, though with a touch of insolence
in his tone: 'Wandering absorbed in thoughts of love, Hogan; or only
considering what crops you will sow this year? Which, may I inquire?'

'It doesn't concern any one but myself, I think, sir; but my thoughts
are honest at anyrate.'

'Which means that somebody else's aren't, and I suppose I am that
somebody. But I assure you, my good fellow, I haven't the slightest
intention of filching anything from your barns, or committing other
depredation upon you.'

'I don't know,' muttered Hogan, as the other passed on whistling an air.

'She must pass just now,' he said to himself, and stopping, leaned on
part of a broken wall, half concealed from view. In a little while he
heard the rustle of a dress and a light tread. Eliza came by, a bright
flush on her cheek. She started a little on seeing him; then with a nod
and a careless 'Good-evening,' was going on, when he detained her.

'You've just parted from Mr Crofton?' he said.

'Well,' she answered, looking full at him; 'and what then?'

'Eliza!' he burst out passionately, 'is it all over between us? Tell me
at once, and crush me with one word. I would rather know. This suspense
is more than I can bear. It is killing me.'

She hesitated. 'Well, Will, I suppose so.'

'You suppose so! You can say it thus coolly, and call me by the name
you used to speak so tenderly once, and not so long ago either. O
Eliza!' His voice fairly broke down, and he covered his face with his

She stood by, her cheeks a deep crimson, her eyes cast down, beating
her palm with a flower she held, a rare hot-house flower. Hogan knew
well who had given it to her.

'And will he marry you?' he asked.

She ceased the restless movement and looked up quickly.

'Will he marry me?' she repeated indignantly. 'Will I marry him? Ask
that, rather. _He_ thinks the compliment's there.'

'He is so much above you, Eliza. Take care you are not making your own
misery. I speak now only as a friend, one interested in your welfare.
Oh, take care; I warn you before it is too late!'

She stamped her foot on the ground in sudden anger, and her eyes

'I am sick of these warnings!' she exclaimed. 'I'm not bound to stand
here and listen to them from you; and what's more, I won't either!' She
darted past him and sped swiftly along the path.

'Good-bye, then, Eliza,' called he after her. 'And may you never feel
the sorrow and desolation that I do this evening.'

But she neither stopped nor glanced round at him. He walked on, sighing
as he went. The chill November wind whistled drearily over the fields;
it was November too in his heart. All that night he lay sleepless,
tossing about, unable to find rest for body or mind. At one instant
he was cursing him who had alienated the heart that had once been
wholly his own, vowing vengeance, and resolving to wrest Eliza from him
by some means, before it was too late. The next moment, he bitterly
reproached her for her faithlessness, called her vain, worldly,
worthless, undeserving of serious love; half hoped she might suffer for
her treatment of him, and proudly resolved to think no more of her;
then groaning, and covering his face with his hands, as the thought of
all she had been to him rushed overwhelmingly over his mind, and he
felt how impossible it would be to forget her.

Next morning it was later than usual when he rose, for about daybreak
he had slumbered a little. On going out, whether by accident or design,
his steps turned in the direction of Daly's farm, and his eyes sought
the window of Eliza's apartment. It seemed to him that there was an
unusual commotion in the house. Figures moved hurriedly about the
rooms and flitted past the windows. As he gazed up, the house-door
was suddenly thrown open, and some of the farm-servants, who slept in
the house, rushed out and ran down the garden. At the same instant,
Daly appeared, his face pale and full of distress and agitation. Hogan
hurried forward, some half-formed fear and alarm in his mind, to ask
what was the matter. On seeing him, Daly exclaimed: 'She's gone, gone
from us for ever! disappeared during the night!'

'Who?' cried Hogan. 'Not Eliza? It can't have come to that so soon! You
don't mean that she has fled, fled with _him_?' He asked the question
in a kind of desperation, hoping against hope and probability, for what
else could the words he had heard mean?

'Yes; fled, and of a certainty with Mr Crofton,' answered Daly.

'But they may be overtaken. Let us try to save her before it is too

'It is too late, I'm afraid. From what I am told, she must have left
about four o'clock this morning. Mary says she heard a slight stir in
the house about that time, but didn't mind it then.'

Hogan turned away, and walked to a little distance. 'Gone!' he murmured
in accents of deep despair.

At that moment Mary Conlan ran up to her uncle. She held a letter in
her hand. 'See!' she exclaimed. 'We found this on the floor, under the
table. It must have fallen down, and no one saw it till now.'

Daly seized it eagerly, and tearing it open, began to read. It seemed
short, for after a minute or two he called to Hogan, and handed it to

It was from Eliza, addressed to her father. She began by saying that
when he read it she would be the wife of Charles Crofton. As she saw
that they would all be against her marriage with him--though why,
she did not know, unless some didn't wish to see her in a position
so different from their own; and as there would be so many obstacles
from Mr Crofton's family, they thought it best to take this step, and
avoid useless remonstrances. She then mentioned the church where they
had been married that morning and the name of the clergyman. She hoped
her father would not be angry. He oughtn't to be; for should he not
be glad of her happiness and rejoice in her social elevation. 'Now
good-bye, dear old dad,' she concluded. 'I know Mary will take good
care of you; and believe that I am still your affectionate daughter,
ELIZA.--To-morrow, I may sign myself Eliza Crofton. Tell Will Hogan not
to be fretting after me.'

'Careless and cold enough; isn't it?' said Daly sadly, as the other
handed back Eliza's letter to him. 'I'm afraid she doesn't mind much
what either of us feels, thinking of the grand life that's before her.
I'll go to town at once and see if it's as she says.'

Hogan made no reply. He walked away; and when he had gone a little
distance, threw himself down on the ground and groaned aloud in agony
of spirit.

Daly's inquiries proved that the marriage had actually taken place that
morning in the church Eliza mentioned. He was even shewn her signature
in the book; and there remained not a doubt that she was actually
the lawful wife of Charles Crofton. Daly felt a certain pride in his
daughter's position; but he sorely missed her bright face and laughing
teasing ways. He felt that he had lost his daughter for ever, and it
sometimes almost seemed to him as if she had died.

As time went on, an occasional letter came, dated at first from London,
afterwards from the continent; but they were as brief as they were far
between, and told almost nothing. She hoped he was in good health. She
was well, and seeing many things she had never even heard of before,
and going into a great deal of gay society. This was usually their

From the time of Eliza's departure, a great change came over Hogan. He
grew so gloomy and irritable, that those with whom he had formerly been
a favourite began gradually to shrink from him. Few will take misery as
an excuse for broken spirits, and all steal away from the stricken one--

    As the ancients shunned the token
      Of a lightning-blasted tree.

But there was one who never avoided Hogan. Mary Conlan was often by his
side, always ready with smiles and cheering words. She never alluded
to his grief; but he saw by her actions and her sympathetic eyes how
she felt for him in his sorrow. And though it seemed sometimes, when he
turned from her with a dark brow and monosyllabic answer, that her task
was an ungracious one, yet he blessed her in his heart that she still
did not forsake him, and cherished the kind and gentle words she spoke
as the only thing that made life not utterly a burden.


In an elegantly furnished apartment of one of the most fashionable
hotels of Paris, a young lady sat alone. The rich sunshine of a warm
July afternoon streamed through the room. Now and then a gentle breeze
strayed in at the open window beside which she was seated, and sounds
of life, careless, outwardly happy life, floated upwards.

It was a brilliant and varied scene to look on: the handsome equipages
dashing by, the gaily attired ladies, the city itself, of which
the window commanded a fine view, with its sungilt trees and white
glittering domes; a scene that might well attract the eye.

But this gazer, though beautiful and young, not more apparently than
twenty years of age, one for whom it might be supposed to have every
attraction, appeared indifferent to it. Her attitude, as she leaned
back in her chair, her head resting on its cushioned top, betokened
weariness; and the beautiful large black eyes fixed so wistfully,
appeared to look far away and beyond what lay before her. It might be
that it was a scene she was well accustomed to from childhood--that
she was worn out after last night's gaiety. Yet she did not look like
a born Parisian. There was a light in those eyes that seemed as if
reflected from limpid, rippling streams, a something about that form
which told of mountains and heath-covered paths. She roused herself
from her reverie with a deep sigh and sat upright in her chair.

'Oh, if I could see it once again!' she murmured, 'the dear old place,
and my father and all the familiar faces! It is a long time since I
wrote to him. I never care to do it, because I can tell him nothing.
Yet why should I not? What a relief it would be if I might freely
unburden my heart to some one! I must do it.'

She rose, and walking to a small writing-table, unlocked the desk that
stood on it and took out a letter. It was written in a large masculine
hand. She read it over with fond brimming eyes, then seated herself at
the table, and taking a sheet of paper, began to write rapidly, seldom
pausing for consideration, as if she wrote straight down the thoughts
that were in her mind. The letter abounded in fond expressions of love
and interest, that seemed as if wrung from a sad home-sick heart.

'I sometimes think,' she wrote, 'in the morning when I awake, that I
am at home, and fancy I hear the loud chirping of the birds among the
ivy round my window, the lowing of the cattle, your voice in the yard
talking to the labourers, and all the sounds that used to rouse me.
Shall I never, never hear any of these again? I left them heedlessly,
thinking only of _him_ and the life of enjoyment I was going to. I do
not think I cast one parting glance on the hills and fields that last
evening, nor pressed a warmer kiss than usual on your cheek at night.
There seemed some glamour over me that I could not resist, and that
made me cold and unfeeling to all but the one. It is a just retribution
that I should pine to return now, when I never can. He may tell me
that I shall yet be there as mistress of Crofton Hall; but shall I?
Something in my heart tells me that I shall see it never, nevermore!
Would you know me now, I wonder, if you saw me? I am changed, I think,
but the change within is the greatest of all. I can hardly recognise
myself sometimes, as the same lively, thoughtless Eliza Daly.'

She then went on to tell how she had at first enjoyed her entrance into
society. It was plain that she had been greatly admired, and that she
had been able to adapt herself quickly to her new sphere in life. But
as her triumph became less new, spots began to tarnish its brightness.
With the murmurs of admiration and praise that reached her ears,
scornful reflections on her humble birth were mingled; and she began
to notice a tinge of condescension in the manner of many towards her,
which at first, when absorbed in delight at the novelty and grandeur of
everything, had not struck her. It was not possible even that with all
her native quickness and tact, the humble farmer's daughter could at
once be transformed into the polished lady, and so occasionally slight
breaches of etiquette were observable, which did not fail to excite
criticism. She would have thought much less about all this, only she
saw how her husband was annoyed by it. She found too that remarks which
she made in conversation frequently displeased him. He would accuse
her of being too _naïve_, and of allowing her ignorance of some things
with which she should be familiar, and her familiarity with others of
which she ought to be ignorant, to appear. At first he would reprove
her laughingly; but gradually, whenever she offended, with more and
more displeasure. She soon learned to seal her lips on such subjects,
and appear to know no more of the ways among which she had been brought
up than any of them--learned even to deny all knowledge of the familiar
spot itself.

But the gloss had gone from her pleasure, and she saw that it was also
fading from something more valued still--her husband's love. She feared
that he was becoming tired of her. She had amused him for a while, and
he had lavished the most passionate fondness on her; but that was past
now. She thought he repented, and was ashamed of the unequal match he
had made; and she resolved that her presence by his side should no
longer remind people of it and wound his pride. She absented herself
from every gaiety. At first he would ask her to accompany him as usual,
and seem surprised when she refused; but he never pressed her. He
thought, or feigned to think, it was because of delicate health she
would not go; but she knew that he was glad.

Withdrawn from the excitement in which she had lately lived, her
spirits sank, and as they did so, her husband grew more and more
careless and indifferent. Still, he was never unkind. He brought her
presents and indulged every fancy; but she could not be content with
the light good-nature that prompted this. She was dependent on him
only, and he left her alone and unhappy, scarcely seeming to know that
she was so, or betraying impatience at it.

As she finished her letter, the outpouring of a sad disappointed heart,
which has found in the reality so mournful a contrast to the bright
ideal, her tears fell heavily one by one. When she wrote the direction
on the envelope, she sobbed aloud, and buried her face in her hands. In
a few minutes she composed herself to read over what she had written.
Having done so, she paused and seemed to consider.

'No; I will not send it,' she said aloud. 'It would be a comfort to me
to get the affectionate reply I know I should from him, but it would
grieve him too much to think I was unhappy. It must not go.'

She was about to tear it across; but a sudden thought stayed her hand.
She folded it up and placed it in the envelope. 'If I die, let them
send it to him. And stay! I will put a little piece of my hair in
it.' She took up a pair of scissors, and going to the glass, severed
a glossy curl. She folded it in a piece of paper, and wrote, 'With
Eliza's love;' then laid it within the letter, which she sealed with
black wax, and instantly locked her desk.

As she did so the door opened, and her husband entered. He threw
himself on one of the couches with some commonplace remark, such as
people make when they think it incumbent on them to say something, but
are urged by no impulse from the heart.

'Paris is beginning to shew signs of getting thin,' he continued
lazily. 'We must leave it soon. I think of Rome for the winter. What do
you say?'

'I have no objection,' she answered, trying to speak cheerfully; but
there was a tremble in her voice, and something that seemed to strike
him as unusual, for he turned round and looked at her.

'What is the matter?' he asked.

'Nothing; there is nothing the matter with me.'

'Very well; that's all right.' He closed his eyes.

She stood looking at him wistfully. Though her own love had grown dim
and faint as his for her, and another face--that of him whom she had
turned from in her infatuation--was ever before her, yet the change
pained her. She went to him, and taking his hand, said gently, but with
a thrill in her voice that told of deep emotion: 'Do you remember that
evening--it is nearly a year ago now--when you first told me that you
loved me, and asked me to be your wife? I was frightened, and said it
was impossible the thing could ever be; but you knelt at my feet, and
declared that the happiness of your life depended on me.'

'Well, of course. And what then?' he answered, somewhat impatiently.

'It does not now, I'm afraid.'

'Oh, do not talk such nonsense, dear. I was courting you then; but now
such raptures and declarations would be ridiculous. _You_ are altered.
You always meet me with a sad face now. It is not very pleasant, I
assure you.' He spoke peevishly, and getting up, walked to the window,
and stood looking out with a discontented brow.

She followed him and laid her hand on his arm. 'Oh, do not--do not
withdraw your love altogether from me!' she said pleadingly. 'You are
all I have. Think of all I left to go with you.'

'All you left!' he repeated. 'And did I leave nothing, give up nothing
for your sake?' There was a bitterness in his tone as he asked the
question, and she perceived it.

'Oh, yes, yes; I know you did,' she answered. 'Much; and that is what
grieves me; because I fear,' she added in a lower tone, 'that if it
were to do again you might act differently.'

'Oh, don't bother yourself and me with such fancies. Of course I do
not, and never can regret that step. There; let us say no more about
it. I'm going to the Opera to-night. Will you come? You are moping
yourself to death.'

She hesitated. She felt no inclination to go, but she thought it might
be some real concern for her that made him ask, instead of the careless
good-nature, more than half selfishness perhaps, which disliked to see
sorrow on any face near him, because it made things less bright for
him. She consented to go.

'Very well,' he said. 'It is time for you to get ready; and don't let
me see red circles round your eyes again. You do not look so pretty
when you cry, Eliza.' He bent down, and pressed a light kiss on her


To Mr W. Jones' book on _Finger Ring Lore_, Historical, Legendary,
Anecdotal, just published by Chatto and Windus (price 7s. 6d.), we are
indebted for the following gossip, which may interest our readers.

In speaking of wedding-rings, we learn that these important symbols
have not always been manufactured from the precious metal, gold. We
are told that in lieu of a ring the church key has often been used;
and Walpole tells of an instance where a curtain-ring was employed.
The Duke of Hamilton fell so violently in love with the younger of the
celebrated Misses Gunning at a party in Lord Chesterfield's house, that
two days after he sent for a parson to perform the marriage ceremony;
but as the Duke had neither license nor ring, the clergyman refused
to act. Nothing daunted, Hamilton declared 'he would send for the
Archbishop; at last they were married with a ring of the bed-curtain,
at half an hour past twelve at night, at Mayfair Chapel.' Forgetful
bridegrooms have been reduced to greater straits than this even; in one
instance a leather ring had, on the spur of the moment, to be cut out
of a piece of kid from the bride's glove. A tragic story of a forgotten
wedding-ring is told in the _Lives of the Lindsays_. When he should
have been at church, Colin Lindsay, the young Earl of Balcarres, was
quietly eating his breakfast in nightgown and slippers; when reminded
that Mauritia of Nassau was waiting for him at the altar, he hurried to
church, but forgot the ring; a friend present gave him one, which he,
without looking at, placed on the bride's finger. After the ceremony
was over, the countess glanced at her hand and beheld a grinning
Death's-head on her ring. She fainted away; and the omen made such an
impression on her, that on recovering, she declared she was destined to
die within the year; a presentiment that probably brought about its own
fulfilment, for in a few months the careless Colin was a widower.

In medieval annals and ballads we find very frequent allusions to
'token'-rings; that is, rings given to prove identity; as knightly
gages, like the ring of the 'Fair Queen of France' that James wore at
Flodden; as pledges, &c. Many examples might be given of these uses of
rings. Perhaps as good as any are the two memorable instances in Queen
Elizabeth's life. She was peculiarly unfortunate in her token-rings.
When Essex was in her favour she gave him a ring, saying that if ever
he forfeited her esteem, and sent back this signet, the sight of it
would insure her forgiveness. The story is well known how, when Essex
lay in prison, doomed to death, he sent the ring to the Queen; but
Lady Nottingham intercepted it, and Essex was allowed to die. Recent
documents tend to prove the truth of the romantic ending of this story,
that when the dying and repentant Countess told the Queen how she had
kept back the ring, the effect on Elizabeth was so overpowering that
she died three days afterwards. The Virgin Queen's other historical
token-ring was one of the many gems that passed between her and Mary
Queen of Scots. She sent Mary part of a ring, with a promise similar
to that in the case of Essex; but though Mary, previous to her fatal
journey into England, wrote reminding Elizabeth of her promise, we all
know how little effect it had.

Bequests of rings in wills, as memorials, were frequent in the middle
ages as well as now. The sapphire ring that Mary sent from Fotheringay,
just before her execution, to Lord Claude Hamilton is still in
Hamilton palace; M'Gowan the antiquary had another of the rings she
distributed among her faithful attendants, which the _Times_ in 1857
traced to Broadstairs. Sir Henry Halford gave Sir Walter Scott a lock
of Charles I.'s hair, which Scott wore in a virgin gold setting with
'Remember' embossed upon it. Instances could easily be multiplied, but
one deserves special mention. The metal of the ball that slew Nelson
was divided into three and set in gold; on the lead in each was cut a
basso-relievo half-bust of the great admiral. Many special memorial
rings of Nelson were made about Trafalgar-time, but none so interesting
as these.

Besides other curious matter, Mr Jones gives us notices of the
customs and incidents in connection with rings, and many anecdotes
of remarkable rings, amongst the more remarkable of which were 'the
wedding of the Adriatic' by the Doge dropping a ring into the bosom
of the sea; the 'death-rings' of Borgia and the medieval Italian
poisoners; the part rings have played in identifying the living and
the dead, as when Cœur-de-Lion, returning from Palestine in disguise,
was recognised at Gazara in Slavonia by his ring. The body of Sir
Cloudesley Shovel, cast up after a storm on the rocks of Scilly
in 1707, was identified by his emerald ring, and was removed to
Westminster Abbey. Rings have saved life, have promoted diplomatic
relations with semi-civilised nations, have been used as bribes; in
short, have played an important part on many different occasions. The
_refusal_ of a bribe-ring was the first step on the ladder by which the
herdsman's son climbed up to be Earl Godwin and the father of a king.

Rings have been lost and found in many strange ways: a matron of East
Lulworth lost her ring one day; two years afterwards she found it
inside a potato! A calf sucked off the ring of Mrs Mountjoy of Brechin:
she kept the calf for three years, and when it became veal, or rather
beef, the ring was found in its inside. Moore tells us, in his _Life of
Byron_, of the interesting recovery of the ring his lordship's mother
had lost many years before, and which the gardener brought in just as
Byron got the letter containing Miss Millbanke's answer to his proposal
of marriage. 'If it contains a consent, I will be married with this
very ring,' exclaimed Byron, before reading the lady's acceptance of
his offer. Solomon's ring, and the story Herodotus gives us of the
recovery of Polycrates' ring from the inside of a fish, are the first
examples of a great array of like legends. Glasgow got the salmon and
the ring in her city arms from a recovery of this kind, of which,
however, there are several conflicting accounts. In former pages of
this _Journal_ we have noticed curious losses and subsequent recoveries
of rings; and those who are further interested in the subject will find
much entertaining matter in the volume before us.


This, it seems, is no fanciful name got up to please children.
There was a real Mrs Goose, or as she was familiarly called, Mother
Goose, who signalised herself by her literature for the nursery.
We learn this rather curious fact from an American newspaper, the
_Congregationalist_, which, in describing a Christmas festival at the
Old South Street Church, Boston, enters pretty largely into a biography
of the lady. Her maiden name was Elizabeth Foster. She was born at
Charlestown, where she resided until her marriage with Isaac Goose,
when she became step-mother to ten children. As if that was not a
sufficient family to look after, she by-and-by added six children of
her own to the number, making sixteen 'goslings' in all. It was rather
a heavy handful, and we do not wonder that she poured out her feelings
in the celebrated lines--

    There was an old woman who lived in a shoe,
    She had so many children she didn't know what to do.

To entertain her young flock, Mrs Goose was in the habit of telling
little stories in prose and verse, and singing songs, which were
highly relished. Though tasked, she spent on the whole an agreeable
existence. Her children having grown up, she was very much at her ease.
Her daughter Elizabeth became the wife of Thomas Fleet, a printer in a
small way in Boston. With this daughter, Mrs Goose, now a widow, went
to live, and had the satisfaction of singing her old songs to an infant
grandson. Now begins the literary history of Mother Goose. Fleet, the
son-in-law, was a shrewd fellow, and, as a printer, he thought he might
turn the penny by noting down granny's nursery songs, and selling
them in a cheap and attractive form. They were issued in a book under
the title, 'Songs for the Nursery; or Mother Goose's Melodies for
Children. Printed by T. Fleet, at his Printing House, Pudding Lane,
1719. Price two coppers.' This title-page also bore a large cut of a
veritable goose, with wide open mouth, shewing that the proverbial
irreverence of sons-in-law is not a thing of recent origin. We are
told that old Mother Goose did not resent the pictorial illustration,
but took it just as sweetly as she had taken all the other trials of
life. Possessing her soul in patience, and gladdening the hearts of
grandchildren, she lived until 1757, dying at the advanced age of
ninety-two. There, then, as we are assured, is the true history of
Mother Goose. How the little books which she originated have spread
over the world, need not be specified.

       *       *       *       *       *

Printed and Published by W. & R. CHAMBERS, 47 Paternoster Row, LONDON,
and 339 High Street, EDINBURGH.

       *       *       *       *       *

_All Rights Reserved._

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