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so few gifted with poetical abilities. So strange does it seem, that I am led to believe that bashfulness must be the true cause of this great lack. Now, I think that if your Editors did not require the name of the Author to be affixed to all contributions, 'not necesrarily for publication, that perhaps some poor, timid, nervous poets might pluck up spirit enough to submit some of their little attempts for the Editors' approval, who, I am sure, will, on their part, be as lenient as their duty to ‘The Cheltonian' allows.
With regard to correspondence, however, I agree with the Editors, that names should be given, as 'a guarantee of good faith.' I remain, Gentlemen, faithfully yours,
X. Y. Z.
DEATH OF THE REV. W. DOBSON.
To the Editors of the Cheltonian. GENTLEMEN, -I feel sure that many old Cheltonians will have heard with great regret of the death of the Rev. Willliam Dobson, formerly the respected Principal of the College; and my object in troubling you with these few lines, is to express a hope that ere long we may hear of some fitting memorial being raised to the memory of one who, during the 15 years he was associated with the College, did so much for it, more particularly in raising the tone of the school, and bringing it so prominently forward, that numerous families made Cheltenham their residence for the purpose of education, until it eventually became the largest public school in England, barring Eton; and in point of University Scholarships, certainly second to none.
I am confident that hundreds of old boys' would gladly come forward and assist in doing honour to the memory of one to whom it is most justly due, if the intention were made public; and might not a committee be formed in London, to consider the best plan to adopt in carrying out so interesting an object, and to receive subscriptions.
It is very possible that something of the kind may already have been started; if so, I can only say, I shall be very glad to find such to be the case. Apologising for having intruded so far on your space, I am, Gentlemen, yours faithfully,
AN OLD CHELTONIAN, London, January 30th, 1868.
OW the wind howls! but there isn't much in the sound
of a wind nowadays—they don't suggest anything but barometers and lifeboats. I remember the time when a wind like this would have brought us all round the fire, to talk in whispers and tell weird stories by the hour. But, bless you, ghosts have gone out with stage coaches: we are far too well educated to believe in them now.” Yes, that's true; true, at least, of your old-fashioned ghost, with its grave clothes, walking uneasily, in the night time, about his old haunts. But it isn't true of the supernatural altogether. People believe just as much now as ever in dreams, presentiments, and such like, which are just as silly, and a great deal nastier, than your true apparition. Why, it was only the other day that a relative of my own, now an old man, told me a story which proved how fully he was under the influence of these fancies : and it was the more remarkable in his case, as he is in other respects a man of strong and practical intellect, not likely to be imposed upon by others, and certainly not inclined by temperament to superstition. Draw your chair closer: I'll tell you the story. It's curious, as shewing how easily the most natural things in the world may be turned into evidences of occult influences.
"Forty years ago," I shall give the story in the old man's words, “in the latter part of September-I forget the exact date, I got a letter from an old school friend, asking me to go down, for a few days, into -shire. He had just had news, he said, that his brother would arrive in England in a day or two, after a long residence in India, and he wanted some of his old friends to meet him.
No. 21. Vol. III.
“On arriving at · I found my old friend, whom I shall call C-, as friendly and agreeable as ever.
His brother had come, and I soon got to love and admire one brother almost as well as the other. And, indeed, it was not in my esteem and affection only that they were indistinguishable. They were twins; and, notwithstanding the slightly deeper colour that an eastern sun had given to the one brother, they were so exactly alike, that even those who had known them from childhood frequently made mistakes. Nor was it in their faces and persons merely that the resemblance existed. There was a mental and a moral similarity, I had almost said identity, besides: in tastes, in modes of thought, in turns of expression, in everything they were one. I do not mention this with any view of offering any explanation for what occurred on this the first evening of my stay at —; I merely record facts: everyone is at liberty to draw his own conclusion.
“ But before I go on, I must say something about the house. The residence of the C-'s was one of those old-fashioned gabled houses, which look as though they had been built by a square yard at a time, and had begun just after the flood. A quaint old building it was; and quainter inside than out, what with rooms that couldn't be used because of the rottenness of the floors, and rooms that none would enter because of certain scampering noises heard there, (the servants said 'ghosts,' C— said “rats,') there was only one corner of the place left habitable.
“But the imperfections in the house itself (though it seems unkind to call the decay of an old family-house an imperfection) were amply made up by the gardens which surrounded it. Oh! the gardens of
“Everyone in the three counties knew the gardens of -- It was not that they were of great extent, for they were not : it wasn't that they were trimly kept, for a gardener hadn't been near the place for years : it wasn't the flowers, or the trees; but it was a nameless sort of quaint repose that seemed to hang over them :great groups of elms, with here and there a yew, the long untended grass, the air of utter desolation and death that brooded over the place, all seemed to speak of the past, nothing of the present. The very smell of the last year's leaves, and the sighing of the autumnal wind as it wooed the few survivors on the trees to fall and join their forgotten brethren on the ground, all seemed to tell of olden time, of ruffles and minuets, of hawking and love-making, when each true knight had his fair lady, more to him than creed or fate. To
anyone with a touch of romance in his disposition, these were charms enough; but to most they did not form the chief attraction
in these gardens. This was a most remarkable echo, the clearest and truest that I have ever heard. Indeed, the rapidity and decision of utterance, which were its characteristics, frequently gave me a feeling of awe, as though some unearthly visitor were repeating my words, almost before they had left my lips. It may be that subsequent events give colour to my thoughts; but even before this last visit to I had always thought of this echo as part of the place, as a guardian spirit, an inanimate witness of all that passed in those most weird and solemn grounds.
“In the afternoon, C-, his brother, and I sat in the garden, talked over old times, and waited for the dinner bell. One part of our conversation I remember as though it were, not forty years ago, but yesterday.
Now that I have once got you here, John,' said my old schoolfellow to his brother, 'I shall not let you go away again in a hurry: the old place will hold us both, and we shan't easily quarrel.'
“No,' said John, and it isn't much use keeping one copy at home, and another abroad: it is a most unnatural separation.'
Unnatural, you may well say,' said my friend, and in more ways than you think, John. I am certain that there is a deeper connection between us than between most brothers. laugh, but what I mean is, that I am convinced that, from whatever cause, anything really affecting one of us does, in some deep inner way, affect the other. I believe firmly, that if you were ill and dying even in India, I should feel it in some way or other.'
"Well,' said John, “you would probably know it soon enough. However, if it be as you say, I'll be sure and let you know in time.'
“All that followed on that evening I can hardly bring myself to tell. I shall do
I shall do it as briefly as possible, only premising, that the facts of the case are well known, and you may easily learn that they are not merely the creations of my own fancy.
“We had a pleasant dinner, and sat chatting for some time after, when John, who had, it seems, not yet got over his Indian habits, went off early to bed. C- then proposed that we should finish our cigars in the garden, and try the echo.
“The servants had now all retired, and the house, not over cheerful at any time, was now still and gloomy as death. As we walked along the dark corridors, only lighted by the fitful light of the moon as it now and then made its way through the trees, we could see the grim faces of the old portraits peering out at us from each side ; and, it may have been fancy, but even then, I know I thought there was an indescribable look of sorrow and warning in every dusky face.
“We went into the garden, and threaded its sad aisles of elms in order to reach the point from which the echo was most distinctly heard. As we walked along, the old trees seemed, as the wind swept over them, to lean forward over us, reaching out gaunt ragged arms, as though to impede our progress. And then the whispers, the low meaning whispers, of those old elms! How they seemed to talk to us, and to each other, of the old tree that fell beneath the last spring gales, and of the people who met beneath its branches in the summer; of the lovers who sought its shade, and who might yet find a home, a small still home, made out of the heart of the old elm. But whatever we thought, we did not speak to each other of our thoughts. To each other we laughed, and talked of what name we were first to give the echo.
“At last we came to the place. We shouted ladies names and our own, and drew omens from the clearness of the answer. We taunted the old walls with their sober wakefulness, that watched while others slept. Let me get over what follows as quickly as I may. I remember that C- stepped laughingly forward, and shouted, “What news ?' A moment we waited, and then turned blank enquiring looks upon each other. There was no echo at all. A second time he shouted, “What news?' and back upon the cool night wind, floated the one word, Dead !' It was so strange, so sudden, that we stood for some seconds half in a dream. Then C-turned to me and said, 'Ask.' I shouted, “What news?' and promptly and clearly echo answered, 'What news?' Inexpressibly relieved by this, I turned to C, and was shocked to see that upon him it had quite the opposite effect.
"The answer is for me, then,' he whispered in hollow tones, and not for you. Starting forward, he shouted in a voice which I should never have recognised as his, so wild, so shrill, "What news ?' and yet once more upon the soft low wind of night'was borne the one word 'Dead.' Quick as thought C-turned, and walked away to the house. I followed. We made our way silently to his brother's room. We found him leaning against the broad deep window-dead. “Heart disease,' said the doctors."