"the day after the feast." We took a great interest in the Trifle, which was no trifle in reality, in so far as regarded the care and anxiety involved in its preparation. In connection with this celebration, it was all established institution that a large hamper always arrived in good time from the farm attached to my mother's old home at Woodhall, near Edinburgh. It contained many substantial elements for the entertainment -- a fine turkey, fowls, duck, and suchlike; with two magnums of the richest cream. There never was such cream! It established a standard of cream in my memory; and since then I have always been hypercritical about the article.

On one of these occasions, when I was about four years old, and being the youngest of the family, I was taken into the company after the dinner was over, and held up by my sister Jane to sing a verse from a little song which my nurse Mary Peterkin had taught me, and Which ran thus:

  • "I'll no bide till Saturday,
  • But I'll awa' tile morn,
  • An' follow Donald Hielandman,
  • An' carry his poother-horn."
  • This was my first and last vocal performance. It was received with great applause. In fact, it was encored. The word "poother," which I pronounced "pootle", excited the enthusiasm of the audience. I was then sent to bed with a bit of plum-cake, and was doubtless awakened early next morning by the irritation of the dried crumbs of the previous night's feast.

    I am reminded, by reading over a letter of my brother Patrick's, of an awkward circumstance that happened to me when I was six years old. In his letter to my father, dated London, 22d September 1814, he says: "I did get a surprise when Margaret's letter informed me of my little brother Jamie's fall. It was a wonderful escape. For God's sake keep an eye upon him!', Like other strong and healthy boys, I had a turn for amusing myself in my own way. When sliding down the railing of the stairs I lost my grip and fell suddenly over. The steps were of stone. Fortunately, the servants were just coming up laden with carpets which they had been beating. I fell into their midst and knocked them out of their hands. I was thus saved from cracking my poor little skull. But for that there might have been no steam hammer -- at least of my contrivance!

    Everything connected with war and warlike exploits is interesting to a boy. The war with France was then in full progress. Troops and bands paraded the streets. Recruits were sent away as fast as they could be drilled. The whole air was filled with war. Everybody was full of excitement about the progress of events in Spain. When the great guns boomed forth from the Castle, the people were first startled. Then they were surprised and anxious. There had been a battle and a victory! "Who had fallen?" was the first thought in many minds. Where had the battle been, and what was the victory? Business was suspended. People rushed about the streets to ascertain the facts. It might have been at Salamanca, Talavera, or Vittoria. But a long time elapsed before the details could be received; and during that time sad suspense and anxiety prevailed in almost every household. There was no telegraph then. It was only after the Gazette had been published that people knew who had fallen and who had survived.

    The war proceeded. The volunteering which went on at the time gave quite a military aspect to the city. I remember how odd it appeared to me to see some well-known faces and figures metamorphosed into soldiers It was considered a test of loyalty as well as of patriotism, to give time, money, and leisure to take up the arms of defence, and to practise daily in military uniform in the Meadows or on Bruntsfield Links. Windows were thrown up to hear the bands playing at the head of the troops, and crowds of boys, full of military ardour, went, as usual, hand to hand in front of the drums and fifes. The most interesting part of the procession to my mind was the pioneers in front, with their leather aprons, their axes and saws, and their big hairy caps and beards. They were to me so suggestive of clearing the way through hedges and forests, and of what war was in its actual progress.

    Every victory was followed by the importation of large numbers of French prisoners. Many of them were sent to Edinburgh Castle. They were permitted to relieve the tedium of their confinement by manufacturing

  By PanEris using Melati.

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