Memories and Portraits Page 01
MEMORIES AND PORTRAITS
THIS volume of papers, unconnected as they are, it will be better to read through from the beginning, rather than dip into at random. A certain thread of meaning binds them. Memories of childhood and youth, portraits of those who have gone before us in the battle - taken together, they build up a face that "I have loved long since and lost awhile," the face of what was once myself. This has come by accident; I had no design at first to be autobiographical; I was but led away by the charm of beloved memories and by regret for the irrevocable dead; and when my own young face (which is a face of the dead also) began to appear in the well as by a kind of magic, I was the first to be surprised at the occurrence.
My grandfather the pious child, my father the idle eager sentimental youth, I have thus unconsciously exposed. Of their descendant, the person of to-day, I wish to keep the secret: not because I love him better, but because, with him, I am still in a business partnership, and cannot divide interests.
Of the papers which make up the volume, some have appeared already in THE CORNHILL, LONGMAN'S, SCRIBNER, THE ENGLISH ILLUSTRATED, THE MAGAZINE OF ART, THE CONTEMPORARY REVIEW; three are here in print for the first time; and two others have enjoyed only what may he regarded as a private circulation.
R. L S.
I. THE FOREIGNER AT HOME
II. SOME COLLEGE MEMORIES
III. OLD MORALITY
IV. A COLLEGE MAGAZINE
V. AN OLD SCOTCH GARDENER
VII. THE MANSE
VIII. MEMORIES OF AN ISLET
IX. THOMAS STEVENSON
X. TALK AND TALKERS: FIRST PAPER
XI. TALK AND TALKERS: SECOND PAPER
XII. THE CHARACTER OF DOGS
XIII. "A PENNY PLAIN AND TWOPENCE COLOURED"
XIV. A GOSSIP ON A NOVEL OF DUMAS'S
XV. A GOSSIP ON ROMANCE
XVI. A HUMBLE REMONSTRANCE
CHAPTER I. THE FOREIGNER AT HOME
"This is no my ain house; I ken by the biggin' o't."
Two recent books (1) one by Mr. Grant White on England, one on France by the diabolically clever Mr. Hillebrand, may well have set people thinking on the divisions of races and nations. Such thoughts should arise with particular congruity and force to inhabitants of that United Kingdom, peopled from so many different stocks, babbling so many different dialects, and offering in its extent such singular contrasts, from the busiest over-population to the unkindliest desert, from the Black Country to the Moor of Rannoch. It is not only when we cross the seas that we go abroad; there are foreign parts of England; and the race that has conquered so wide an empire has not yet managed to assimilate the islands whence she sprang. Ireland, Wales, and the Scottish mountains still cling, in part, to their old Gaelic speech. It was but the other day that English triumphed in Cornwall, and they still show in Mousehole, on St. Michael's Bay, the house of the last Cornish- speaking woman. English itself, which will now frank the traveller through the most of North America, through the greater South Sea Islands, in India, along much of the coast of Africa, and in the ports of China and Japan, is still to be heard, in its home country, in half a hundred varying stages of transition. You may go all over the States, and - setting aside the actual intrusion and influence of foreigners, negro, French, or Chinese - you shall scarce meet with so marked a difference of accent as in the forty miles between Edinburgh and Glasgow, or of dialect as in the hundred miles between Edinburgh and Aberdeen. Book English has gone round the world, but at home we still preserve the racy idioms of our fathers, and every county, in some parts every dale, has its own quality of speech, vocal or verbal. In like manner, local custom and prejudice, even local religion and local law, linger on into the latter end of the nineteenth century - IMPERIA IN IMPERIO, foreign things at home.