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THE REAL "THRUMS."
"Thrums" is the name which Mr. Barrie has given to the town of Kirriemuir in Forfarshire, situated sixty-two miles north of Edinburgh. To American eyes the surrounding country looks rather bare and windswept, yet it is a land of pleasant sweeping hills and valleys with the outlying ridges of the Grampians looming up along the northern horizon and stretching away to the west.
In a hollow by a little stream that winds through the village are two great stone mills, which furnish employment for most of the inhabitants of the town. The weaving now monopolized by the mills was once done in the homes, and one may still find houses whence the clack of the loom comes to the ears of the passer-by. Fifty years ago the rattle of the handloom would have been heard in every cottage.
Most of the village houses are built of red sand-stone, for the most part weather-darkened and battered, but some of the older dwellings are white washed. From the little square which is the town centre, the houses wind away along the valleys and up the hillsides in the most charming fashion. I suppose this is because the village site itself is so uncertain and hammocky. Whichever way you take, you either go up-hill or down-hill, and the hill is likely to be steep. The streets are crooked with unexpected turns and little lanes, that have an odd way of jerking around corners and dodging
By taking the road southward from the town square, ascending a short hill and crossing a heavy arched stone bridge, you at once commence to climb the steep ascent of Mr. Barrie's famous "brae." Coming to the elbow of the brae, you will see before you Hendry's cot at the top of the hill. It is much like Mr. Barrie's description,-a onestory house with white-washed walls and a tiny window in the gable, that you feel sure must be Jess's window the moment it comes into view. This window looks easterly down the brae and over the town, and it is remarkable
how as one wanders about the village and over the surrounding hillslopes, the cot at the top of the brae comes into view, and how the little window preternaturally follows your movements like an ever-watchful eye.
In front of the cottage is a garden which is separated from the street by a rough stone wall. The cottage-roof in Mr. Barrie's description is of thatch with ropes flung over it to protect it from the wind, but at present the roof is rudely slated. Thatch is out of date in Kerriemuir and is to be found only on a single rusty row of cottages on a neighboring hill. These have strips of boards fastened on the thatch to prevent its being torn off in a gale, but in farmyards the stacks of hay and grain have their round caps of thatch netted over with ropes.
Since "A Window in Thrums" became famous, Kirriemuir and Hendry's cot have been scenes of great interest. Many people visit the town and climb the brae just to see this humble little cottage. The present tenants of the cottage are plainly of a thrifty turn of mind, for a black sign-board hanging on the outside bears the inscription "The Window in Thrums," and announces that "souvenirs and lemonade are for sale within." There is not much to be seen about the house, which consists of two small rooms with a small passageway between. On the right hand is the kitchen with its fireplace, a bed, a table, and a few other primitive furnishings. On the left is "the room," which contains a second bed and a table on which rests an elaborate lamp, and books laid around the edge in regular order. The bare wooden rafters used to be seen in the ceiling of these rooms, but they have of late been sheathed from sight.
Up-stairs is an unfinished attic which is reached by a step-ladder through a trap-door, just as it was in the days when the school-master boarded with Hendry. The eaves are almost even with the floor, and one can hardly stand upright under the ridgepole. There is not much save dust and rubbish in the attic now, but it is lighted by the little
window that gives the book its name. For the sake of realism the window should be in the kitchen below, and some of the older inhabitants say there was once a little window like this in the kitchen through which one could look over the brae on the town, but Mr. Barrie has never known of such an one, and there are no indications in the wall to show that it ever existed. Apparently the interest in the book has given an early start to myth-making.
The first nine years of his life Mr. Barrie lived in an ancient row of dwellings known as "The Tenements," and it was during these early years that he acquired the intimate knowledge of the life and language of the poor, and the sympathetic feeling for them which has given his book a passport to all hearts. He afterwards lived in what is still the home of his father, a stone house just opposite the cottage commemorated in the "Window in Thrums:" Curiously enough, he himself has never been inside the cottage, but his readers make up for his delinquency, and spare no pains to make it fit his description in every detail.
Upon the whole, any one visiting Kirriemuir and hoping to find in it the "Thrums" of Mr. Barrie's creation, will be very well satisfied. There is the cot with its little window, and the brae with its constant stream of people ascending and descending. There, near by, is the steep hillside of the "commonty" with its boundary of hedgerows, and crisscrossed with neglected paths. Here the children play, and the women still come to dry their washing. T'nowhead farm and its pig-pen are not far away; the tenements where Tammas Haggart lived and the Auld Licht Manse are easily found; while the "dulseman" with his barrow and slimy boxes is still a familiar figure. The greatest changes one feels are in the substitution of the big stone mills for the old hand-looms in the homes, and the disappearance of the Auld Licht Kirk.
If one chooses he may walk to Forfar (Tilliedrum) by the road over which Jamie tramped so often when he was a barber's apprentice, and can easily
trace the old farm-road, and the path across the field which figures in the tragedy of the last chapter. Finally, there is Glen Quharity where the Dominie lived. Glen Cova-its name is a wide fissure opening back into the great heather-covered hills of the Highlands. The whole region is grandly picturesque and awes one in its solitudes and vastness. The cele brated little schoolhouse stands on the hillside half-way up the Glen, and just beyond is Craigiebuckle farm, while the little river Esk meanders through the meadow bottom. The peatstacks stand in the farmyards, and the deer graze on the high moors; the snowbanks glisten white in the ravines of the craggy mountains even in midsummer, and the peavits and the waterbirds scream at you as you walk about the fields.
Whether in the Glen or in Thrums itself Mr. Barrie's book stands the rare test of being only more endeared to the reader by familiarity with the scenes among which it is laid; it has the right atmosphere and you feel its truth. To one who loves the book, I could not commend a more fascinating literary pilgrimage than to Kirriemuir and Glen Cova.
From Clifton Johnson's Introduction to the Illustrated Edition of "A Window In Thrums." Dodd Mead & Co., Publishers.
SEWARD AND LINCOLN.
Seward's first month as secretary of state was not to close without another incident, of no great importance except as it throws light on the state of the times, the characters of both the President and secretary, and their relations to each other.
On the 1st of April he submitted to Mr. Lincoln a paper entitled "Some Thoughts for the President's Consideration," in which he stated, that at the end of a month's administration we were "without a policy, either domestic or foreign." But, though he admitted this condition to have been unavoidable, the presence of the Senate and the pressure of the office-seekers having pre
vented attention to graver matters, any further delay to adopt and prosecute our policies for both domestic and foreign affairs, would, he said, not only bring scandal upon the administration, but danger upon the country.
As to domestic policy, he suggested that "we must change the question before the public from one upon slavery, or about slavery, for a question upon union or disunion." The occupation or evacuation of Fort Sumter being regarded as a slavery or party question, although it was not so in fact, he would terminate it, as a safe means of changing the issue;" and he deemed it "fortunate that the last administration created the necessity." He would reinforce and defend all forts in the gulf, have the navy recalled from foreign stations to be prepared for a blockade, and put Key West under martial law.
As to foreign nations,-he "would demand explanations from Spain and France categorically, at once;" and would convene Congress and declare war against them, if the explanations were unsatisfactory; he would also "seek explanations from Great Britain and Russia, and send agents into Canada, Mexico, and Central America to rouse a vigorous continental spirit of independence on this continent against European intervention." "But," he added, "whatever policy we adopt, there must be an energetic prosecution of it. It must be somebody's business to pursue and direct it incessantly. Either the President must do it himself, and be all the while active in it, or devolve it on some member of his Cabinet. It is not in my special province, but 1 neither seek to evade nor assume responsibility."
This paper was evidently written before Seward knew that the President had definitely determined on the expeditions to either fort. It is an extraordinary document in any point of view. Its suggestions as to foreign policy would have been wild at any time.
a period of domestic peace and prosperity, to invite the ill will of all the European powers at once, and to encour
age the other countries of America to do the same, would have been a mad scheme. But that any cabinet minister, when his country was distracted by domestic difficulties which threatened its destruction, when its treasury was bankrupt, its navy scattered, its army a mere handful of men, and the majority of its officers, both naval and military, of doubtful fidelity or confessed disloyalty, and when an absolute peace and a friendly understanding with all other countries was essential to its safety, should propose to throw down the gauntlet to the most powerful of the civilized countries, is incomprehensible. It is obvious that the suggestions as to foreign policy, came from the belief that a foreign war, or the prospect of one, would unite all our people, divert the attention of the South, give a new direction to the excitement there, and put an end for the moment to all schemes of secession. But that Seward should have entertained this idea only shows how blind he was to the signs of the times; how his very nearness to the troubles prevented his seeing what was clear to more distant observersthat, while the politicians at Washington were "vacillating between compromise and resistance, in the South there had been one steady, uninterrupted progress toward secession and war."
As a statement of the extreme need of a domestic policy, and yet of its entire absence, Seward's paper only repeated the common talk of the time,the language of the newspaper press and the opinions contained in the private letters not merely of ordinary observers, but of well-informed and sensible persons.
General Dix wrote about this time: "When I left Washington Saturday last (March 23), I do not think the administration had any settled policy. It was merely drifting with the current, at a loss to know whether it were better to come to anchor or set sail;" and a month later one of the most distinguished of Lincoln's Cabinet, Mr. Chase, thought that the President, in lieu of any policy, had "merely the general notion of drift
ing, the Micawber policy of waiting for something to turn up."
Seward had already made the suggestion that the issue before the country should be put as a question of union or disunion, rather than as a dispute about slavery. It was of the first importance that this should be done, if people at the North of all shades of political opinion, from the Breckenridge Democrats and those Whigs who in the last election had voted for Bell of Tennessee, to the most radical Republicans, were to be united in support of the government. The difficulty was how to effect this; but we had not long to wait for a solution of the problem; the seceding states determined it for us. To the great mass of the Northern people the situation was wholly changed by the attack on Sumter. To their minds it was no longer a question whether we should coerce the South; but whether we should see the national flag insulted, national troops fired on, a national fort besieged and captured, and tamely submit to it. To this question there could be but one answer.
Lincoln's reply to Seward's memorandum was eminently characteristic, tactful, and judicious. It dealt with the several points of the paper, but as a rule did not combat them directly. To use one of the President's favorite illustrations, he ploughed round the log, rather than attempted to go through it. To the closing suggestion that some one must devote himself to pursuing the policy determined on, he replied that, if any one were to do this, the President must be the person. Having sent his answer, he put the paper away and never spoke of it; its existence was wholly unknown until after his death and its publication by his biographers.
That Seward should have made suggestions to Mr. Lincoln is not extraordinary: his doing so could hardly be called an impropriety, even if it were not within the strict line of his duty as a cabinet minister. Mr. Chase did exactly the same thing; and other people, not merely men in public stations, but private citizens, were at this time pro
fuse of their advice to the President.
IN THE WATCH-TOWER.
The first light that I saw on the earth, as I remember, was the bright light of a September morning on the moors. And that morning and that evening have made my day of life. And whereas in my earlier days it was the evening that I remembered most often and most bitterly, now that I am in the eve of life myself, the thought of that bright morning lieth in my heart like a wine to make death gentle. Marriage and giving in marriage are not in heaven, we are told; but we are not told, there is no love; and that is all that I have found within this world eternal; we but pretend to other things. I have heard, too, all that is said by priest or puritan.
I have often thought also how strange
our meeting was-in what troubled soil, and in what lull of great worldtempests my love was sown; and blossomed there so tenderly, so hardily, like our first March meadow-flowers, that are the frailest ever. For it was that lull in the shock of steel coat and leather jerkin, joy and thought, honor and conscience, Charles and Cromwell, that made our two grandfathers thoughtless of our trifling hearts, and gave my own, just born, its chance of breath.
For my grandfather, either that he was old or thought the crop uncertain, had turned squire and let both his farms that year; and I had no labor, but was left to roam like a gentleman's son, only that I had neither tutors nor horses. So fair an August had I never known: the warm, rich sky lay over all the west of England, softly blue, above the scarlet heather and the golden gorse, and the sweet, soft green where on the moors the new grass grew; the glory of those days stayed with me many sober years, and tinged their blankness faintly.
The moors were mine, and the openness, and the sweet air of life. And from the northern seacliffs to the ivyclad valley of the Holne Chase, aye, west, to wilder Dartmoor, I was king. But most I liked, of all dominions, that central nest of moor and moss where Barle and the Lyn-stream rise, and the fields have no hedge, nor the heather any paths, save what the wild moorponies make; even sheep roam not there, for the farmers dare not trust them in that wilderness.
This year, though, they had been safe enough; for, all that season, not one armed man did I see, they being elsewhere engaged. And that the sheep had been there in older, gentler times, the heart of my domain was evidence. For, in a gentle fold of the valley, on the topmost moor, where the first soft crease of green showed in the stern purple highlands, only just hidden, yet safe beyond all seeking (as a lady's love-letter in her bosom), lay my home -my true home. It was an old abandoned sheep-fold (bield, we called it)
built of stone; a square rod only, in extent, but yet like a little fortalice; for at one corner of the thick stone wall, and that the lowermost, rose a round stone tower, so that it made a sort of sentrypost and cover at the top; and below (which had been the shepherd's room) a room for me.
And this was my true home; here my being was; my seeming (at mealtimes, and of nights, when I could not get away) was at my grandfather's. In the stone enclosure I kept a wild moorpony, that I had caught and bridled with a rope; no longer wild now, for he neighed to me at the dawn, and made sleepy, comfortable noises, when I sang to him in the evening.
No man (so far as I knew) came to this place. It was long since sheep had been pastured there; I fancied that its owner was dead, and it forgotten by his heirs. So I called it mine. And on the first of those forty days that I remember, it was early of a Monday morn that I started from my grandfather's; the sun-rise sunlight lay freshly on the moors, as I started northward, skirting the dangerous bogs for haste to get there and see my pony; for my grandfather had had a sermon fit the day before, and kept me indoors all the Sunday. On such occasions poor Noll, the pony, had to find new grass as best he might in the courtyard, and beware lest he kick over the water-trough.
All my life I have believed there was enchantment in the air that day. I was conscious of it before I came to my sheep tower; and the dread Mole's Chamber, lying in the sink of the down upon my left, had veiled its evil surface in a rosy cloud. Noll whinnied at seeing me, though his water-trough was full. I brought him grass, and he seemed not. hungry; and then I sat on the little slope of grass that lay sunward, above the brook, leaning on the last dense wall of heather, now full of bloom and fragrant. And the water made soft murmurs, and I dreamed.
Then became I conscious of the spell. There was a presence there; I felt that I was not alone. So strong grew this upon me that I fancied I heard a breath