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say a word more in praise of the good wife, very lately dead, to whom this admirable order was mainly due. She was a sweet motherly woman, realising our notion of one of Scott's most charming characters, Ailie Dinmont, in her simplicity, her kindness, and her devotion to her husband and her children.
At this time William Cobbett was at the height of his political reputation ; but of politics we heard little, and should, I think, have heard nothing, but for an occasional red-hot patriot, who would introduce the subject, which our host would fain put aside, and got rid of as speedily as possible. There was something of Dandie Dinmont about him, with his unfailing good-humour and good spirits-his heartiness-his love of field sports--and his liking for a foray. He was a tall, stout man, fair, and sunburnt, with a bright smile, and an air compounded of the soldier and the farmer, to which his habit of wearing an eternal red waistcoat contributed not a little. He was, I think, the most athletic and vigorous person that I have ever known.
Nothing could tire him. At home in the morning he would begin his active day by mowing his own lawn, beating his gardener, Robinson, the best mower, except himself, in the parish, at that fatiguing work.
For early rising, indeed, he had an absolute passion, and some of the poetry that we trace in his
writings, whenever he speaks of scenery or of rural objects, broke out in his method of training his children into his own matutinal habits. The boy who was first down stairs was called the Lark for the day, and had, amongst other indulgences, the pretty privilege of making his mother's nosegay and that of any lady visitors. Nor was this the only trace of poetical feeling that he displayed. Whenever he described a place, were it only to say where such a covey lay, or such a hare was found sitting, you could see it, so graphic—so vivid-sotrue was the picture. He showed the same taste in the purchase of his beautiful farm at Botley, Fairthorn ; even in the pretty name. To be sure, he did not give the name, but I always thought that it unconsciously influenced his choice in the purchase. The beauty of the situation certainly did. The fields lay along the Bursledon River, and might have been shown to a foreigner as a specimen of the richest and loveliest English scenery.
In the cultivation of his garden, too, he displayed the same taste. excelled him in the management of vegetables, fruit, and flowers. His green Indian corn-his Carolina beans—his water-melons could hardly have been exceeded at New York. His wall-fruit was equally splendid, and much as flowers have been studied since that day, I never saw a more glowing or a more fragrant autumn garden than that at Botley, with its pyramids of hollyhocks, and its masses of
china-asters, of cloves, of mignionette, and of variegated geranium.
The chances of life soon parted us, as, without grave faults on either side, people do lose sight of one another ; but I shall always look back with pleasure and regret to that visit.
While we were there, a grand display of English games, especially of single-stick and wrestling, took place under Mr. Cobbett's auspices. Players came from all parts of the country—the south, the west, and the north—to contend for fame and glory, and also, I believe, for a well-filled purse; and this exhibition which-quite forgetting the precedent set by a certain princess, de jure, called Rosalind, and another princess, de fucto, called Celia—she termed barbarous, was the cause of his quarrel with my mamma that might have been, Mrs. Blamire. In
my life I never saw two people in a greater passion. Each was thoroughly persuaded of being in the right, either would have gone to the stake upon it, and of course the longer they argued the more determined became their conviction. They said all manner of uncivil things; they called each other very unpretty names; she got very near to saying, “Sir, you're a savage;" he did say, “Ma'am, you're a fine lady;" they talked, both at once, until they could talk no longer, and I have always considered it as one of the greatest pieces of Christian forgiveness that I ever met with when Mr. Cobbett, after they had both rather cooled down a little, invited Mrs. Blamire to dine at his house the next day. She, less charitable, declined the invitation, and we parted. As I have said, my father and he had too much of the hearty English character in common not to be great friends ; I myself was somewhat of a favourite (I think because of my love for poetry, though he always said not), and I shall never forget the earnestness with which he congratulated us both on our escape from such a wife and such a mother. “She'd have been the death of you!” quoth he, and he believed it. Doubtless, she, when we were gone, spoke quite as ill of him, and believed it also. Nevertheless, excellent persons were they both ;-only they had quarrelled about the propriety or the impropriety of a bout at single-stick! Such a thing is anger !
Upon comparing names, and dates, and places, it seems probable that the Miss Blamire, whose name figures at the head of this paper, was the aunt of the Dr. Blamire, of whom we have been speaking. She died unmarried at Carlisle, in the year 1794, being then forty-seven years of age, the daughter of a respectable Cumberland gentleman, and having accompanied a married sister into Scotland many years before—a happy circumstance to which she owes her command of the pretty doric that so becomes small pieces of poetry. Her verses remained uncollected till 1842, when they were published by Mr. Maxwell. They are well worth preserving, especially the one entitled
When silent time wi' lightly footy
Had trod on thirty years,
Wi' mony hopes and fears.
May still continue mine?
The joys I left langsyne ?
As I drew near my ancient pile,
My heart beat a’ the way;
O’some dear former day.
Those happy days o’mine,
A'naething to langsyne.
The ivied tower now met my eye,
Where minstrels used to blaw;
Wham I left in his prime,
He bore about langsyne.