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BESIDE the Doo'cot up the braes

The fields slope down frae me,
And fine's the glint on blawing days,

O’ the bonnie plains o' sea.

Yont is my mither's housie sma'

The smiddy by the byre,
Whaur aye my feyther dings awa'

And my brither minds the fire.

For Lachlan lo'es the smiddy's reek,

An' Geordie's but a fule, Wha' drives the plough his bread to seek,

And Rob's to teach the schule.

He'll haver in the schule-house wa's

And ring the schule-house bell,
He'll skelp the scholars wi' the tawse

(I'd like that fine mysel'!)

They're easy pleased, my brithers three !

I hate the smiddy's lowe, A weary dominie I'd be,

An' I canna thole the plough!

But by the doo'cot up the braes

There's nane frae me can steal The blue sea and the ocean haze

And the ships I like sae weel.

The brigs ride out past Ferryden

’Ahind the girning tugs, And the lasses wave to the Baltic men

Wi' the gowd rings in their lugs.

My mither's sweer to let me gang,

My feyther gi’es me blame,
But youth is sair and life is lang

When ye're hairt's sae far frae hame.

But in the doo'cot up the braes

Whaur nane may see my wurk, I've hid my pennies and my claes

And the Buik I read at kirk.

And come ae nicht when fowks are sound,

I'll lift them whaur they lie, And to the harbour I'll be bound

In the dim licht o' the sky.

And when the eastern blink grows wide,

And dark still smoors the west, A Baltic brig will tak’ the tide

Wi' a lad that canna rest!




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'The Christmas Dinner needs no other Garnish than Peace and Goodwill.'

The Sayings of John Honorius, 1685. If it had not been for my love of gasteropod mollusks I should never have become intimate with the late Lord Livingstone, and could not possibly have learned the true story of Cobley's journey on Christmas Eve in which that strange personality John Honorius played so characteristic a part. Henrietta Fulshaw was a cousin of Mrs. Black-Brooks, and her version of it I heard at second-hand early in the New Year.

Lord Livingstone, like myself, was a snail-lover and collector. He became President of our Surbiton Snail Society, and when I showed him my modest yet perfect collection of the Helicidae the lord disappeared in him and we were as brothers.

To me the snail has always been a vast scientific problem of whorls and spires and peristomes, and in appreciation of these things his lordship was more than my equal. But to his literary and poetic mind there was a perfection of dignity in the movement of the snail, the rhythm and tempo of which were in correct harmony with his own ideas of orderly government. It was this quality in him that made his appointment to the Dilatory Office so satisfactory to the nation.

I was dining with his lordship at the Scientific Societies Club we had been talking mollusks—when he waved the potatoes away with a sigh, saying ' The potato without patience is pulp.'

'You know John Honorius ? 'I cried eagerly, for I had heard the saying from Colonel Black-Brooks.

'I have known that wonderful man for many years,' replied his lordship gravely. He is a good man.'

' It is curious that I, who have never been privileged to meet him, should have been able by the accidents of friendship to piece together many stories of his strange and gracious charity. This story of Cobley would have been difficult to credit had not the main features of it been vouched for by Lord Livingstone and corroborated by Henrietta Fulshaw.

Everard Cobley, C.B., was Assistant Under-Secretary in the Dilatory Office. Traditionally morose towards the members of the

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public during office hours, he exercised a charming tact towards his superiors. When Lord Livingstone—then over eighty-became Secretary of State, he bought all his lordship’s literary works -including the Life of Luther' in ten volumes--and read them sparingly and talked about them widely.

One afternoon when he and his chief had spent several hours together settling that famous Dilatory dispatch to Nova Scotia, the old man turned round and said to Cobley with light-hearted curiosity: “I hear you are a reader of my books.'

‘Every one of them is on my shelves,' replied Cobley with honest enthusiasm.

* And your favourite ? 'asked his lordship with an anxious smile.

'Luther,' replied the other authoritatively ; 'undoubtedly Luther.'

'Strange,' said his chief; I so seldom hear that said.'

I have only one criticism to make on Luther,' continued Cobley.

' And that is?' It is too short.'

Lord Livingstone looked up at the simple honest face of his subordinate, and taking him by the hand said : ‘Mr. Cobley, I thought I was the only person who knew that. You are a man of discernment.'

It was in the next list of honours that Everard Cobley got his C.B.'

And this joyous disposition, this endeavour to make the best of the worst and to heighten the pleasure of his neighbours, Everard Cobley carried into the wider world where friends and relatives were always glad of his smiling presence. Cobley was a believer and an optimist. He had no part in the crabbing jaundiced spirit of modern times, and though he felt that he was, as the 'Book of Sayings ' has it, 'standing on an Island of Joy washed by the Waves of a Sea of Troubles' he knew that there was enough of solid land to last his time and he was happy.

Alone in his flat in Bloomsbury with his fire and his books or a few friends to dinner and a quiet rubber his best wants were gratified. Very regular were his out-goings and his in-comings, and most regular of all were his holidays. In the spring a fortnight in the Riviera, in September three weeks in Switzerland, and Christmas—that was always spent with his brother, Denvers Cobley, of Cobley End, in the north of Lancashire,

If there was any one thing that Everard Cobley would have confessed to as the greatest delight in life it was the old-fashioned keeping of Christmas. The misrule of an old-world Christmas at a country house was the necessary rhythmic break in the symmetry of his life. From January to December he looked forward to his annual visit to Cobley End. And who that has been of the party could not tell you what glory he added to the festival with his fun and high spirits ? The heads of the Dilatory Office would never have recognised their model Assistant Secretary as he romped with the children as King of Christmas, led off the ball in the kitchen facing the cook in Sir Roger de Coverley, played in charades, mixed the punch, and sang carols till the midnight chimes from Cobley Steeple sounded the retreat bedward. Everard Cobley had once told Colonel Black-Brooks, who often quoted the thought, that Christmas at Cobley was spiritually to him what Harrogate is to others physically. It cleared away any clogging envy, hatred, and malice lingering in the system, and restored a sufficient quantity of the hungry microbes of childhood to keep down the poisonous germs of old age.

' You may take away all my other holidays,' he said, “but Christmas at Cobley I cannot give up.'

The blow came at the beginning of December. For some days it was noted in the office that Cobley was not as cheery as usual. When he entered the chief's room no smile preceded him. He was listless and dull. His lordship’s question as to what he thought of his essay in The Fortnightly on 'The Hesitancy of Dissent' only brought forth the bald statement that Cobley had not read it.

Lord Livingstone frowned.

You are not yourself, Mr. Cobley. Just now when the Dilatory Office is being attacked on all sides, and they are clamouring for us to finish things up before Christmas, we want to be at our best, Remember our motto, “ Prevention is better than Cure.'

The word Christmas was the trigger that set him off. Confession is good for the soul, and he poured out his woes to his kind-hearted chief.

There was to be no Christmas party at Cobley End. His brother had written and it was finally determined. The family did not want Christmas. The son and heir was going north to a shooting party, some of the girls were going to Leicestershire for hunting, and the younger ones wanted to come to town and do the

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