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[283] prospect; but there is a kindness and hospitality there which are better than anything else, and make everything else forgotten. We had come down on an invitation to pass as much time with him as we could, and were received with the simple good-nature and good spirits which I have constantly found in his house. Mrs. Scott was not there, nor either of the sons. . . . The establishment, therefore, consisted of Mr. Scott, his two girls, Sophia and Anne, and Mr. Skeene, to whom he has dedicated one of the cantos of ‘Marmion.’

Mr. Scott himself was more amusing here than I had found him even in town. He seemed, like Antaeus, to feel that he touched a kindred earth, and to quicken into new life by its influences. The Border country is indeed the natural home of his talent, and it is when walking with him over his own hills and through his own valleys,. . . . and in the bosom and affections of his own family, that he is all you can imagine or desire him to be. His house itself is a kind of collection of fragments of history; architectural ornaments,—copies from Melrose in one part, the old identical gate of the Tolbooth, or rather the stone part of it, through which the Porteous mob forced its way, in another,—an old fountain before the house, and odd inscriptions and statues everywhere, make such a kind of irregular, poetical habitation as ought to belong to him. Then for every big stone on his estate, as well as for all the great points of the country about, he has a tradition or a ballad, which he repeats with an enthusiasm that kindles his face to an animation that forms a singular contrast to the quiet in which it usually rests.

Sophia shares and enjoys these local feelings and attachments, and can tell as many Border stories as her father, and repeat perhaps as many ballads, and certainly more Jacobite songs. She is, indeed, in some respects, an extraordinary person. There is nothing romantic about her, for she is as perfectly right-minded as I ever saw one so young; and, indeed, perhaps right-mindedness is the prevailing feature in her character. She has no uncommon talent, and yet I am sure he must have little taste or feeling who could find her conversation dull; she is not beautiful, though after seeing her several times in company with those handsomer than herself, I found my eye at last rested with most pleasure on the playful simplicity and natural openness of her countenance. . . . . Anne is younger, no less natural, and perhaps has more talent, and is generally thought prettier; but nobody, I think, places her in competition with her sister. . . . .

Nobody came to Abbotsford while we stayed there, and of course we had a happy time. The breakfast-hour was nine, and after that

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