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THE BOYHOOD OF WALTER

SCOTT.

PART I.

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1. WHEN Walter Scott was very young he was sickly and lame, and was therefore sent to his grandfather, to 'Sandy Knowe,' for change of air, in charge of his nurse. Now, this nursemaid had a lover whom she had been obliged to leave behind when she went with the sick child. This made her cross ; from that she began to hate the sick boy who was keeping her from her lover. Luckily, this was discovered, and she was sent off, his grandfather naturally pitying the boy all the more on account of the danger he had been in from her cruelty.

2. He asked everybody what was good for his grandson's complaint. One recommended that a lamb should be killed, and the child immediately wrapped in its warm skin. This was done ; and Walter might have been seen lying on the floor in his woolly covering, while his grandfather coaxed him to crawl round and exercise his little lame leg.

3. There was his grandmother, too, in her elbow-chair, looking on, and now and then a visitor would drop in to sit and talk about the American Revolution, then going on.

Their stories made little Walter's eyes shine, for though Walter was but a little boy, he had the heart of a lion.

Little

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by little he would crawl nearer and nearer to the chairs where the old men were sitting, and devour every word they said. All children like stories that are wonderful and marvellous; but perhaps Walter would never have been such a beautiful story writer when he grew up, had he not lain there in his lamb's skin, in the little parlour of Sandy Knowe, listening to these old men's stories.

4. Besides his grandfather and grandmother, Walter had a very kind aunt; by the name of Janet, who liked children, and was fond of telling Walter stories, and teaching him to repeat little ballads. Of one of these in particular he was very fond, and when he lay sprawling on the floor he used to say it over to himself. It seems that among his grandfather's friends was one of those persons who have no love for, and, of course, no patience with, children. Well, when little Walter lay there, amusing himself with his favourite ballad, this long-legged man would frown, and, turning to his grandfather, say, 'One may as well speak in the mouth of a cannon as where that child is !' It is so unnatural a thing to dislike children, that I prefer to believe, when persons do so, that it is because they are sick and nervous. However, Walter did not bear this gentleman any ill-will for it; because, long after, when he heard that he was sick and dying, he went to see him, and they took a kind farewell of each other. 5. It seems that Walter's illness did not sour his

Ballads, stories told in verse.

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disposition. An old woman by the name of Tibby, at Sandy Knowe, says that he was a sweettempered boy and a favourite with all the house.' The shepherds delighted to carry him on their backs among the crags, and he soon learnt to know every sheep and lamb in the flock by the marks put on their heads.

6. Best of all he liked an old man, who had the superintendence of all the flocks, and who was called the cow-bailie.' When Walter saw him in the morning, he never would be satisfied until he had been put astride his shoulders and carried to the crags, to keep him company while he watched his focks. After a while the child became weary of this,

a as children will; then the old man blew a particular note on his whistle, to let the maid-servant know that she was to come up and carry him down the crags to his grandfather in the little cosy parlour. Many years after this, when Walter was an old man, he went back to see those crags, and this is what he said : Oh ! how I used to love the sheep and lambs when I rolled round here upon the grass ! I have never forgotten the feeling-no, not till this

day!'

7. Once when Walter was up on the crags, the people in the house where he lived forgot him. A thunderstorm came up. Suddenly his aunt Janet remembered that he was there, and ran up, much frightened, to bring him home. There she found him, lying comfortably on his back, the sharp forked lightning playing over his head. He was clapping his hands and crying, 'Bonny ! bonny!' at every flash.

8. Walter's grandfather, finding that he was fond of riding on the old cow-bailie's shoulder, bought him a little Shetland pony, hardly as large as a Newfoundland dog ; in fact, he was so small that he used to walk into the parlour like a dog, and feed from the child's hand. He did not think, then, that one day he should have a little grandchild lame like himself, and that he should buy him just such a little pony, and name it like that-Marion;' but so it

was.

9. Walter was a great reader. He read to his aunt, read to himself, and read to his mother. One day he was reading to his mother an account of a shipwreck, and became very much excited, lifting his hands and eyes, and saying, “There's the mast gone! crash! now they'll all perish ! While he was reading, a lady had come in to see his mother. After he had recovered a little from his excitement, he turned to the lady visitor with a politeness quite remarkable in a child of only six years, and said, “This is too melancholy ! had I not better read you something more amusing ?'

10. The lady thought that if she wanted to be 'amused' she had better make him talk; so she said, knowing he had been reading Milton, • How did you like Milton, Walter ?' 'I think,' said he, ‘that it is very strange that Adam,

' Milton, a poet who lived in the time of Oliver Cromwell, and wrote the poem called 'Paradise Lost,'

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who had just come newly into the world, should know everything. I suppose, though, it must be only

I the poet's fancy.' 'You forget,' said the lady, 'that God created Adam quite perfect. Walter reflected a moment, seemed satisfied, and yielded the point.

II. When his aunt Janet took him up to bed that night, he said, 'Auntie, I like that lady: I think she is a virtuoso like myself.' 'Dear Walter !'exclaimed Aunt Janet, opening wide her eyes, 'what is a virtuoso ?' 'Why, aunt, it is one who wishes to, and will, know everything.'

12. I hope you are not tired of hearing stories about little Walter Scott, because I have another one I want to tell you. One day when Walter was sitting at the gate with an attendant, a woe-begone old beggar came up and asked for charity. After he had received it, the attendant said, “Walter, how thankful you should be that you are not obliged to beg your bread in that way!' Walter looked up wistfully as if he did not understand ; then replied, 'Homer' was a beggar.' 'How do

1 you know?' asked the attendant. Why, don't you remember

Seven Roman cities strove for Homer dead,

Through which the living Homer begg'd his bread ? You must not suppose that Walter Scott learnt nothing save that which the sky and the crags and the sheep taught him. Aunt Janet used to give him lessons when he was well enough, and as he could bear them.

Homer, an ancient Greek poet.

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