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PART IV. PREMONITIONS AND SECOND SIGHT.
_Leaving Darlington Fore-seen._
The first occasion on which I had an absolutely unmistakable intimation of the change about to occur in my own circumstances was in 1880, the year in which I left the editorship of the _Northern Echo_ to become the assistant of Mr. John Morley on the _Pall Mall Gazette_.
 Now Lord Morley.
On New Year's Day, 1880, it was forcibly impressed upon my mind that I was to leave Darlington in the course of that year. I remember on the 1st of January meeting a journalistic confrère on my way from Darlington station to the _Northern Echo_ office. After wishing him a Happy New Year, I said, "This is the last New Year's Day I shall ever spend in Darlington; I shall leave the _Northern Echo_ this year." My friend looked at me in some amazement, and said, "And where are you going to?" "To London," I replied, "because it is the only place which could tempt me from my present position, which is very comfortable, and where I have perfect freedom to say my say." "But," said my friend, somewhat dubiously, "what paper are you going to?" "I have no idea in the world," I said; "neither do I know a single London paper which would offer me a position on their staff of any kind, let alone one on which I would have any liberty of utterance. I see no prospect of any opening anywhere. But I know for certain that before the year is out I shall be on the staff of a London paper." "Come," said my friend, "this is superstition, and with a wife and family I hope you will do nothing rashly." "You need not fear as to that," I said; "I shall not seek any position elsewhere, it will have to come to me if I have to go to it. I am not going to throw myself out of a berth until I know where my next place is to be. Humanly speaking, I see no chance of my leaving Darlington, yet I have no more doubt than of my own existence that I shall be gone by this time next year." We parted.
The General Election soon came upon us, and when the time came for renewing my engagement on the _Northern Echo_, I had no option but to renew my contract and bind myself to remain at Darlington until July, 1880. Although I signed the contract, when the day arrived on which I had either to give notice or renew my engagement, I could not shake from me the conviction that I was destined to leave Darlington at least six months before my engagement expired. At that time the _Pall Mall Gazette_ was edited by Mr. Greenwood, and was, of all the papers in the land, the most antipathetic to the principles upon which I had conducted the _Northern Echo_.
The possibility of my becoming assistant editor to the editor of the _Pall Mall Gazette_ seemed at that time about as remote as that of the Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland receiving a cardinal's hat from the Pope of Rome. Nevertheless, no sooner had Mr. Gladstone been seated in power than Mr. George Smith handed over the _Pall Mall Gazette_ to his son-in-law, Mr. Henry Yates Thompson. Mr. Greenwood departed to found and edit the _St. James' Gazette_, and Mr. Morley became editor. Even then I never dreamed of going to the _Pall Mall_. Two other North-country editors and I, thinking that Mr. Morley was left in rather a difficulty by the secession of several of the _Pall Mall_ staff, agreed to send up occasional contributions solely for the purpose of enabling Mr. Morley to get through the temporary difficulty in which he was placed by being suddenly summoned to edit a daily paper under such circumstances.