Page:Littell's Living Age - Volume 128.djvu/830

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A WINTER MORNING'S RIDE.

She saw her nephew grow up to be worthy of his father, and his reputation to be as brilliant.

Her nephew made several journeys to see her, and brought with him his eldest son on one occasion.

She lived in great comfort, for the annuity left by her brother of a hundred a year was affluence.

Celebrated men came to pay their respects to her.

Her own attainments and labours were recognized and honoured.

She had troops of friends, from royalty downwards, who all delighted to show her honour.

Kindness and tenderness she received from them abundantly.

Amongst her own kindred there were those who loved her and showed her unremitting kindness when the days of darkness came, and her infirmities were heavier than she could bear; but the mistake she had made in quitting England remained a mistake to the end.

Her letters and journals depict her life with a simplicity and reality that no one on the outside could give; and if the readers of them feel some of the love and admiration with which they have inspired me, they will feel that in Caroline Lucretia Herschel they have found a friend.




From Macmillan's Magazine.

A WINTER MORNING'S RIDE.

The proverb that "the early bird gets most worms" has no truer application than in travelling, considered as a fine art. Of course to him who uses locomotion as a mere method of getting from one place to another, it matters nothing whether he starts at 3 a.m. or at noon. But to the man who likes to get the most he can out of his life, and looks upon a journey as an opportunity for gaining some new insight into the ways, and habits, and notions, of his fellow-men, there is no comparison between their value. The noonday travelling-mood, like noonday light, is commonplace and uniform; while the early morning mood, like the light when it first comes, is full of colour and surprise. Such, at any rate, has been my experience, and I never made an out-of-the-way early start without coming upon one or more companions who gave me a new glimpse into some corner of life, and whose encounter I should have been the poorer for having missed. My last experience in this matter is very recent. In the midst of the wild days of last December I received an unexpected summons on business to the north. My appointment was for eleven o'clock on the morrow, two hundred miles from London. It was too late to make arrangements for leaving home at once, so I resolved to start by the first morning train, which leaves Euston Square at 5.15 a.m. Accordingly, soon after four next day I closed the house door gently behind me, and set out on my walk, not without a sense of that self-approval and satisfaction which is apt to creep over early risers, and others who pride themselves on keeping ahead of their neighbours.

It was a fine wild morning, with half a gale of wind blowing from the northwest, and driving the low rain-clouds at headlong speed across the deep clear sky and bright stars. The great town felt as fresh and sweet as a country hillside. Not a soul in the streets but an occasional solitary policeman, and here and there a scavenger or two, plying their much-needed trade, for the wet mud lay inches deep. I was early at the station, where a sleepy clerk was just preparing to open the booking-offices, and a couple of porters were watering and sweeping the floor of the big hall. Soon my fellow-passengers began to arrive, labouring men for the most part, with here and there a clerk, or commercial traveller, muffled to the eyes.

Amongst them, as they gathered round the fire, or took short restless walks up and down the platform, was one who puzzled me not a little. He had arrived on foot just before me, indeed I had followed him for the last quarter of a mile through Euston Square, and had already begun to speculate as to who he could be, and on what errand. But now that I could get a deliberate look at him under the lights in the hall, my curiosity was at once raised and baffled. He was a strongly built, well-set young fellow of five feet ten or eleven, with clear grey eyes, deep set under very straight brows. His hair was dark, and would have curled but that it was cropped too short. He was clean shaved, so that one saw all the lower lines of his face, which a thick nose, slightly turned up, just hindered from being handsome. He wore a high sealskin cap, a striped flannel shirt with turn-down collars, and a slip-knot tie with a rather handsome pin. His clothes were good enough, but had a somewhat dissipated look, owing perhaps to the fact that only one button of his waistcoat was fastened, and that his boots, good broad