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Mystifications
by [?]

“Health to the auld wife, and weel mat she be,
That busks her fause rock wi’ the lint o’ the lee (lie),
Whirling her spindle and twisting the twine,
Wynds aye the richt pirn into the richt line.”

Those who knew the best of Edinburgh society eight-and-thirty years ago–and when was there ever a better than that best?–must remember the personations of an old Scottish gentlewoman by Miss Stirling Graham, one of which, when Lord Jeffrey was victimized, was famous enough to find its way into Blackwood, but in an incorrect form.

Miss Graham’s friends have for years urged her to print for them her notes of these pleasant records of the harmless and heart-easing mirth of bygone times; to this she has at last assented, and the result is this entertaining, curious, and beautiful little quarto, in which her friends will recognize the strong understanding and goodness, the wit and invention, and fine pawky humor of the much-loved and warmhearted representative of Viscount Dundee–the terrible Clavers.[1] They will recall that blithe and winning face, sagacious and sincere, that kindly, cheery voice, that rich and quiet laugh, that mingled sense and sensibility, which all met, and still, to our happiness, meet in her, who, with all her gifts and keen perception of the odd, and power of embodying it, never gratified her consciousness of these powers, or ever played

“Her quips and cranks and wanton wiles,”

so as to give pain to any human being.

[Footnote 1: Miss Graham’s genealogy in connection with Claverhouse–the same who was killed at Killiecrankie–is as follows:–John Graham of Claverhouse married the Honorable Jean Cochrane, daughter of William Lord Cochrane, eldest son of the first Earl of Dundonald. Their only son, an infant, died December 1689. David Graham, his brother, fought at Killiecrankie, and was outlawed in 1690–died without issue–when the representation of the family devolved on his cousin, David Graham of Duntrune. Alexander Graham of Duntrune died 1782; and on the demise of his last surviving son, Alexander, in 1804, the property was inherited equally by his four surviving sisters, Anne, Amelia, Clementina, and Alison. Amelia, who married Patrick Stirling, Esq., of Pittendreich, was her mother. Clementina married Captain Gavin Drummond of Keltie; their only child was Clementina Countess of Airlie, and mother of the present Earl.]

The title of this memorial is Mystifications, and in the opening letter to her dear kinswoman and life-long friend, Mrs. Gillies, widow of Lord Gillies, she thus tells her story:–

DUNTRUNE, April 1859.

MY DEAREST MRS. GILLIES,

To you and the friends who have partaken in these “Mystifications,” I dedicate this little volume, trusting that, after a silence of forty years, its echoes may awaken many agreeable memorials of a society that has nearly passed away.

I have been asked if I had no remorse in ridiculing singularities of character, or practising deceptions;–certainly not.

There was no personal ridicule or mimicry of any living creature, but merely the personation or type of a bygone class, that had survived the fashion of its day.

It was altogether a fanciful existence, developing itself according to circumstances, or for the amusement of a select party, among whom the announcement of a stranger lady, an original, led to no suspicion of deception. No one ever took offence: indeed it generally elicited the finest individual traits of sympathy in the minds of the dupes, especially in the case of Mr. Jeffrey, whose sweet-tempered kindly nature manifested itself throughout the whole of the tiresome interview with the law-loving Lady Pitlyal.

No one enjoyed her eccentricities more than he did, or more readily devised the arrangement of a similar scene for the amusement of our mutual friends.

The cleverest people were the easiest mystified, and when once the deception took place, it mattered not how arrant the nonsense or how exaggerated the costume. Indeed, children and dogs were the only detectives.