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THERE is a point in life which, having reached, we have no longer any objection to call ourselves old. On the table-land up to-shall I say sixty-the level lasts long with some people, less long with others, age is allowed either with conscious magnanimity or slightly uneasy mirth, a laugh at the wrong side of the mouth, according to the forcible popular description. "Getting quite an old fellow" we admit with a certain kindly ridicule of ourselves, if we are still strong and well.


as the years go on the position changes, and one gets less and less to object to the role of Methuselah. There begins to arise a forlorn gratification in speaking of one's self as old. At first, perhaps, a faint hope of being contradicted is in the speaker's tone; but he soon gets over that, and almost with a touch of pleasure, often quite happily, at the last with a sense that


it is a distinction, allows the once appalling fact that he is an old


If ever old age could be in fashion, it would be now, when all our thoughts are concentrated on the celebration of a great life, which has already passed the limits traced for mankind the threescore and ten to which, whatever other things may be doubted in Scripture, we all adhere with a touching unanimity. If there was a new order instituted, not of Victoria but of THE QUEEN, to distinguish those who had marched behind her Majesty over the snows of seventy years, it would be quite a popular thing, and would help the young people to culti vate a quality in which, I fear, they do not now (if they ever did) excel-that respect for white hairs, which is so seemly on their part. The Queen's example should bring the Seventies into fashion.

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The Greatest Lady in the land has made it evident that they neither dull the faculties nor chill the heart, and that life may burn with as warm an ardour in feeling, in interest, in sympathy, on those frost-bound summits as in the softest of the valleys below. Nay, might we not say more? the valleys care for themselves, for their cultivation, their vine and their figtree, and the prosperity of their flocks and herds. But on the mountain - tops there is no harvest to be gathered: all further achievement is impossible, the point is reached at which human endeavour stands still. Feeling, Interest, Sympathy: these are not things that affect a man for himself. We say feeling for, interest in, sympathy with-the welfare of others is suggested in every word. I do not know how other people may feel, but it seems to me that the sight of an old Queen, to whom all the world would agree in according every ease, every comfort, that are within the reach of man, yet upon whom at the same time all the world calls clamorous for a look, for a word, a personal attention-setting forth in her triumph through the dingy streets of the Borough, that the last of her people may not miss the great spectacle, the pageant of the ending century, is such a thing as brings the water to one's eyes. Were it Beauty and Youth and Hope which set out on that progress, how much less, by dint of being so much more, would it not be! But the great Monarch who goes forth in weariness and painfulness, with many an ache of memory and many a pang of loss, with her white hair and care-lined face, in profound humility of greatness to visit the poorest and the meanest, is such a spectacle as never was seen before.

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has been shaken once and again to its foundations, great countries have changed their constitutions, their boundaries, almost their character, even their names, in the strain and stress of movement; not to speak of the changes made by science, by knowledge, by colonial development, by the growth of new worlds, and the dismemberment of the old. When Sir Walter Scott wrote the words 'Tis Sixty years since at the head of his first great romance, it was no doubt his opinion that his country could not in the nature of things see any other such complete alteration in manners and customs as that which he recorded. A land one portion of which was occupied by the primitive tribal rule, and where whole communities of men obeyed the will of a petty chieftain, even when in opposition to all the laws of the country, was indeed a wonder to the sober and law-abiding nation which had gradually broken the clans to pieces, and set up its tribunals, its peaceful magistrates, and steadfast order within the farthest rocks of its dominion. We have made no such inherent and fundamental change. Yet I wonder whether Sir Walter, if he could communicate his opinion, would not marvel over the state of affairs now, as he did over the changes which had taken place then, feeling, along with some sober satisfaction, no small amount of regret? He would not have loved a world in which all distinctions tend to grow less and less, where the Scot differs but little

from the Englishman, and much picturesque circumstance has been swept ruthlessly away. He would have been deafened by the clamour, hurried off his feet by the speed. Many of our expedients for smoothing life, which also vulgarise it, would have been odious to him; and what such an observer would think of all our glory of railways and telegraphs, who can say? He saw the clans out, not without approval: would he see the old parish schools out, which were the making of Scotland in modern times, with equal satisfaction? Probably he would think the difference greater in our, than in his, sixty years.

It is curious and whimsical that, in looking back over this long stretch of life, it is an incident of the minutest kind which comes to the mind of the writer, very small, very unimportant, yet not uninstructive in respect to the differences which have come over the world during these sixty years. This rude little frontispiece to the survey represents the first journey of a little pilgrim who since then has tramped many a weary mile over hill and dale. The Queen was at that time about ascending the throne, and the little traveller must have been six years old, on the edge of conscious recollection, not very well aware what had happened to him before that first conscious act in his career. He was going from Edinburgh to Glasgow, a journey which I believe is now made in about an hour. The journey was by canal-boat, and the lamps were still lit along the long line of Princes Street, a gold thread, as he said, in the dark of the wintry morning, when he was carried along to the embarkation. I do not know how many hours were occupied by the journey, but it was a long, long day to the con

sciousness of the little traveller, full of the sensation of movement, the half-dreamy half-exciting mixture of change and of monotony which make up a child's idea of a journey and it was dark again with scattered wind-blown lights about the quay when he arrived. How well he remembered all his life the transition from the earlier part of the voyage, which must have been accomplished in a bad boat, cold, without means of getting warm, muddy with passengers, dark and dismal, to the better conveyance at the end. Does any one remember what it was to have cold feet at six years old? The sensation of discomfort becomes a state, a period in life, the Ice age, if you like, never ending, rolling on for slow hours which might as well have been centuries. He feels them now, though 'tis sixty years since. But at Falkirk (I think) the party changed into another boat, which was lively with green and red paint, and in which a warm stove was alight, throwing in comparison a genial atmosphere around. The Ice age was over, the sudden paradise of the fire lighted up a new period. Warmth stole into the little blue toes, curling into life again, and growing pink in front of that genial glow. To warm his soul as well as his body there were also those lines of paint,-none of your drab tints, but primitive glories of blazing red, and green scarcely less warm, which the young hero could trace with his finger in a blessedness beyond speech. There was also a table covered with newspapers. Do not suppose that there were picture papers in those days: a Penny Magazine with a print of a steam - engine was the highest effort of the periodical press. But the journey all the same ended in triumph and happiness, all the

little world of passengers admiring and applauding his proficiency in letters for our young friend could read!

This is the record, how well remembered, of a day's travel, 'tis sixty years since. There was, of course, in those days also a coach between Edinburgh and Glasgow. I know not why the canal was chosen instead,-probably as being less constrained for the child; perhaps it was cheaper; at all events it was no unusual mode of travel. And thus resignedly, cold and patient, we all moved about the country, not dreaming of anything better, much consoled when the circumstances were more favourable and the boat painted brightly in red and green.

A kindred scene occurs to me, a little companion picture, which illustrates another feature in the days that are no more. A kind observer walking about the quays -was it of the Broomielaw, was it of the Liverpool landing-places? I forget which- -saw on several occasions a little girl older than our hero of the canal - boat, a bright-faced maiden of ten or twelve, seated patiently on a bench against the wall, sometimes for hours together. Having seen her on two or three occasions, and perceived that this was no idle gazer, but a little woman with a purpose, he took the trouble to watch and find out what that purpose was. Her station was close to the spot at which the steamboat arrived which made periodical journeys between Glasgow and Liverpool. The little girl sat waiting often for some time: a spark of pleasure lighted up in her eye when the steamer came, with much churning of water and flapping of paddles (for screwsteamers were not as yet), to the quay, but she kept still until the bustle of arrival was over, and

the passengers and their goods disembarked. Then there would appear at the top of the cabin stairs a white-capped head, which was the signal for our maiden to board the steamboat in her turn, coming back triumphant with a small brown-paper parcel, with which, all smiles and waving wings of happy childish speed, she hurried home. Who could imagine in 1897 what it was she received so joyfully and had waited for so long? The brown-paper parcel

contained a letter from an absent son to the mother, and this young messenger was no better than a smuggler carrying a contraband article which ought to have paid some two shillings for conveyance from one country to another by her Majesty's Post-office. The humble transaction had been accomplished by a private bargain between the poor lady, whose son was absent, and the stewardess of the boat, who had pitied her tears when she saw him go. I presume that the shillings of this poor lady were few, and the letters were precious. The post would have charged double or treble for the long outpourings of family news and affection which were so unrestrained in the snug bosom of the brownpaper parcel. The stewardess had a little present from time to time in acknowledgment of her kindness. The child, too young to take any harm, drew in the fresh air from the sea, and many a gleam of shining horizons, which were a possession to her for ever. She was a young contrabandist, but she was not aware of it, for nobody thought it wrong in those days to cheat the Post.

For the whole system of franks was also of course invented for the sole purpose of cheating the Post. People who might perhaps consider themselves above the minis

trations of a stewardess and the help of a brown paper parcel (though there was nobody who despised the advantage of "a private hand") moved heaven and earth to obtain franks. The theory of these strange and authorised encroachments upon the revenue was no doubt that the public officials, peers and members of Parliament, to whom the privilege was granted, had so much correspondence on public business, that it was only just to relieve them of the cost of it. The result really was that half the correspondence of the country was carried on by this means. The name of one of those privileged persons scrawled on the outside of a sheet was dear above all things, specially to the female bosom. People delayed the most intimate communications from week to week until they could obtain a frank; they made all sorts of shifts to use the precious signature twice over, advising their correspondents how to refold the paper that it might be used again. They apologised for the presumption of writing by the post; it was vanity to imagine that a letter from you could be considered worth paying postage for. A wealthy man I have heard of had his Indian mails sent under cover to a post-office official, by whom it was forwarded by frank, though he had sons in India, and this occasioned a delay of two or three days. The charge was heavy indeed, but it is almost inconceivable now that one should subject one's correspondence to such delays for the sake of the postage: yet that was not the general idea then. What a school for patience, and how natural it must have seemed to wait, and how long the silences must have been! There were no envelopes in those days. These

handy articles arose like a flight of birds in a moment when cheap postage came in; but sixty years since if there was an enclosure the charge was doubled. From this arose the large paper which we still call Post, as a survival of the period when that square sheet was your only letter paper, carefully folded so as to obtain the largest possible amount of space, every flap to the very edge of the sheet being written over, if not crossed. What a curious fundamental change of habit is implied in such a small revolution as this. Other ingenious modes of communication were also current to cheat the exacting revenue. Newspapers were sometimes sent in the place of letters, your safe arrival at the end of a journey being often intimated by this dumb messenger; which sometimes also was made to speak by means of pencil lines under various words. But this last expedient was considered, I think, with less favour, as touching the edge of the unlawful. As for the others, the much-used franks, the brown-paper parcels, nobody's conscience was in the least touched by such devices.

The thought occurs as we write that probably this extreme reluctance to pay postage indicates even a profounder change in our habits than anything connected with the Post alone. Is it the fact that in these sixty years we have come to be less careful what we spend, less concerned about our shillings, less narrow in our views of legitimate expenditure? Were it possible that the postal system could be changed again, and a letter cost a shilling instead of a penny, should we all go back to those old devices, the private hand, the brown-paper parcel, the much-used frank, if that were procurable? We think not, at least

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