LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, Bart.
Chapter V 1786-90

Vol I Preface
Vol. I Contents.
Chapter I
Chapter II 1771-78
Chapter III 1778-83
Chapter IV 1783-86
‣ Chapter V 1786-90
Chapter VI 1790-92
Chapter VII 1792-96
Chapter VIII 1796-97
Chapter IX 1798-99
Chapter X 1800-02
Chapter XI 1802-03
Chapter XII 1803-04
Vol. II Contents.
Chapter I 1804-05
Chapter II 1805
Chapter III 1806
Chapter IV 1806-08
Chapter V 1808
Chapter VI 1808-09
Chapter VII 1809-10
Chapter VIII 1810
Chapter IX 1810
Chapter X 1810-11
Chapter XI 1811
Chapter XII 1811-12
Vol. III Contents.
Chapter I 1812-13
Chapter II 1813
Chapter III 1814
Chapter IV 1814
Chapter V 1814
Chapter VI 1814
Chapter VII 1814
Chapter VIII 1814
Chapter IX 1814
Chapter X 1814-15
Chapter XI 1815
Chapter XII 1815
Vol III Appendix
Vol. IV Contents.
Chapter I 1816
Chapter II 1817
Chapter III 1817
Chapter IV 1818
Chapter V 1818
Chapter VI 1818
Chapter VII 1818-19
Chapter VIII 1819
Chapter IX 1819
Chapter X 1819
Chapter XI 1820
Chapter XII 1820
Vol. V Contents.
Chapter I 1820
Chapter II 1820-21
Chapter III 1821
Chapter IV 1821
Chapter V 1821
Chapter VI 1821
Chapter VII 1822
Chapter VIII 1822
Chapter IX 1822-23
Chapter X 1823
Chapter XI 1823
Chapter XII 1824
Chapter XIII 1824-25
Vol. VI Contents.
Chapter I 1825
Chapter II 1825
Chapter III 1825
Chapter IV 1825
Chapter V 1826
Chapter VI 1826
Chapter VII 1826
Chapter VIII 1826
Chapter IX 1826
Chapter X 1826
Chapter XI 1826
Vol. VII Contents.
Vol VII Preface
Chapter I 1826-27
Chapter II 1827
Chapter III 1828
Chapter IV 1828
Chapter V 1829
Chapter VI 1830
Chapter VII 1830-31
Chapter VIII 1831
Chapter IX 1831
Chapter X 1831-32
Chapter XI 1832
Chapter XII
Vol VII Appendix
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In the Minute-books of the Society of Writers to the Signet appears the following entry: “Edinburgh, 15th May, 1786. Compeared Walter Scott, and presented an indenture, dated 31st March last, entered into between him and Walter Scott, his son, for five years from the date thereof, under a mutual penalty of 40 sterling.”

An inauspicious step this might at first sight appear in the early history of one so strongly predisposed for pursuits wide as the antipodes asunder from the dry technicalities of conveyancing; but he himself, I believe, was never heard, in his mature age, to express any regret that it should have been taken; and I am convinced for my part that it was a fortunate one. It prevented him, indeed, from passing with the usual regularity through a long course of Scotch metaphysics; but I extremely doubt whether any discipline could ever have led him to derive either pleasure or profit from studies of that order. His apprenticeship left him time enough, as we shall find, for continuing his application to the stores of poetry and romance, and those old chroniclers, who to the end were his darling historians. Indeed, if he had wanted any new stimulus, the necessity of devoting certain hours of every day to
a routine of drudgery, however it might have operated on a spirit more prone to earth, must have tended to quicken his appetite for “the sweet bread eaten in secret.” But the duties which he had now to fulfil were, in various ways, directly and positively beneficial to the developement both of his genius and his character. It was in the discharge of his functions as a Writer’s Apprentice that he first penetrated into the Highlands, and formed those friendships among the surviving heroes of 1745, which laid the foundation for one great class of his works. Even the less attractive parts of his new vocation were calculated to give him a more complete insight into the smaller workings of poor human nature, than can ever perhaps be gathered from the experience of the legal profession in its higher walk;—the etiquette of the bar in Scotland, as in England, being averse to personal intercourse between the advocate and his client. But, finally, and I will say chiefly, it was to this prosaic discipline that he owed those habits of steady, sober diligence, which few imaginative authors had ever before exemplified—and which, unless thus beaten into his composition at a ductile stage, even he, in all probability, could never have carried into the almost professional exercise of some of the highest and most delicate faculties of the human mind. He speaks, in not the least remarkable passage of the preceding Memoir, as if constitutional indolence had been his portion in common with all the members of his father’s family. When
Gifford, in a dispute with Soame Jenyns, quoted Doctor Johnson’s own confession that he “knew little Greek,” Jenyns answered, “Yes, young man; but how shall we know what Johnson would have called much Greek?” and Gifford has recorded the deep impression which this hint left on his own mind. What Scott would have
called constitutional diligence, I know not; but surely if indolence of any kind had been inherent in his nature, even the triumph of
Socrates was not more signal than his.

It will be, by some of my friends, considered as trivial to remark on such a circumstance—but the reader who is unacquainted with the professional habits of the Scotch lawyers, may as well be told that the Writer’s Apprentice receives a certain allowance in money for every page he transcribes; and that, as in those days the greater part of the business, even of the supreme courts, was carried on by means of written papers, a ready penman, in a well-employed chamber, could earn in this way enough, at all events, to make a handsome addition to the pocket-money which was likely to be thought suitable for a youth of fifteen by such a man as the elder Scott. The allowance being, I believe, threepence for every page containing a certain fixed number of words, when Walter had finished, as he tells us he occasionally did, 120 pages within twenty-four hours, his fee would amount to thirty shillings; and in his early letters I find him more than once congratulating himself on having been, by some such exertion, enabled to purchase a book, or a coin, otherwise beyond his reach. A school-fellow, who was now, like himself, a writer’s apprentice, recollects the eagerness with which he thus made himself master of “Evans’s Ballads,” shortly after their publication; and another of them, already often referred to, remembers, in particular, his rapture with Meikle’sCumnor Hall,” which first appeared in that collection. “After the labours of the day were over,” says Mr Irving, “we often walked in the Meadows” (a large field intersected by formal alleys of old trees, adjoining George’s Square), “especially in the moonlight nights; and he seemed never weary of repeating the first stanza—

‘The dews of summer light did fall
The Moon, sweet regent of the sky,
Silvered the walls of Cumnor Hall,
And many an oak that grew thereby.’”

I have thought it worth while to preserve these reminiscences of his companions at the time, though he has himself stated the circumstance in his Preface to Kenilworth. “There is a period in youth,” he there says, “when the mere power of numbers has a more strong effect on ear and imagination than in after life. At this season of immature taste, the author was greatly delighted with the poems of Meikle and Langhorne. The first stanza of Cumnor Hall especially had a peculiar enchantment for his youthful ear the force of which is not yet (1829) entirely spent.”—

Thus that favourite elegy, after having dwelt on his memory and imagination for forty years, suggested the subject of one of his noblest romances.

It is affirmed by a preceding biographer, on the authority of one of these brother-apprentices, that about this period Scott showed him a MS. poem on “the Conquest of Granada,” in four books, each amounting to about 400 lines, which, soon after it was finished, he committed to the flames.* As he states in his Essay on the Imitation of Popular Poetry, that, for ten years previous to 1796, when his first translation from the German was executed, he had written no verses “except an occasional sonnet to his mistress’s eyebrow,” I presume this Conquest of Granada, the fruit of his study of the Guerras Civiles, must be assigned to the summer of 1786—or, making allowance for trivial inaccuracy, to the next year at latest. It was probably composed in imitation of Meikle’s Lusiad:—at all events,

* Life of Scott, by Mr Allan, p. 53.

we have a very distinct statement, that he made no attempts in the manner of the old minstrels, early as his admiration for them had been, until the period of his acquaintance with
Bürger. Thus with him, as with most others, genius had hazarded many a random effort ere it discovered the true key-note. Long had
‘Amid the strings his fingers stray’d,
And an uncertain warbling made,’
before ‘the measure wild’ was caught, and
‘In varying cadence, soft or strong,
He swept the sounding chords along.’

His youthful admiration of Langhorne has been rendered memorable by his own record of his first and only interview with his great predecessor, Robert Burns. Although the letter, in which he narrates this incident, addressed to myself in 1827, when I was writing a short biography of that poet, has been often reprinted, it is too important for my present purpose to be omitted here.

“As for Burns” (he writes), “I may truly say, Virgilium vidi tantum. I was a lad of fifteen in 1786-7, when he came first to Edinburgh, but had sense and feeling enough to be much interested in his poetry, and would have given the world to know him; but I had very little acquaintance with any literary people, and still less with the gentry of the west country, the two sets that he most frequented. Mr Thomas Grierson was at that time a clerk of my father’s. He knew Burns, and promised to ask him to his lodgings to dinner, but had no opportunity to keep his word, otherwise I might have seen more of this distinguished man. As it was, I saw him one day at the late venerable Professor Fergusson’s, where there were several gentlemen of literary reputation, among whom I remember the celebrated Mr Dugald
Stewart. Of course we youngsters sate silent, looked and listened. The only thing I remember which was remarkable in Burns’ manner, was the effect produced upon him by a print of Bunbury’s, representing a soldier lying dead on the snow, his dog sitting in misery on the one side, on the other his widow, with a child in her arms. These lines were written beneath—
‘Cold on Canadian hills, or Minden’s plain,
Perhaps that parent wept her soldier slain;
Bent o’er her babe, her eye dissolved in dew,
The big drops, mingling with the milk he drew,
Gave the sad presage of his future years,
The child of misery baptized in tears.’
Burns seemed much affected by the print, or rather the ideas which it suggested to his mind. He actually shed tears. He asked whose the lines were, and it chanced that nobody but myself remembered that they occur in a half-forgotten poem of Langhorne’s, called by the unpromising title of ‘
The Justice of the Peace.’ I whispered my information to a friend present, who mentioned it to Burns, who rewarded me with a look and a word, which, though of mere civility, I then received and still recollect with very great pleasure.

“His person was strong and robust: his manners rustic, not clownish; a sort of dignified plainness and simplicity, which received part of its effect perhaps from one’s knowledge of his extraordinary talents. His features are represented in Mr Nasmyth’s picture, but to me it conveys the idea that they are diminished as if seen in perspective. I think his countenance was more massive than it looks in any of the portraits. I would have taken the poet, had I not known what he was, for a very sagacious country farmer of the old Scotch school—i. e. none of your modern agriculturists, who keep labourers for their drudgery, but the douce gudeman who
held his own plough. There was a strong expression of sense and shrewdness in all his lineaments; the eye alone, I think, indicated the poetical character and temperament. It was large and of a dark cast, and glowed (I say literally glowed) when he spoke with feeling or interest. I never saw such another eye in a human head, though I have seen the most distinguished men in my time. His conversation expressed perfect self-confidence, without the slightest presumption. Among the men who were the most learned of their time and country, he expressed himself with perfect firmness, but without the least intrusive forwardness; and when he differed in opinion, he did not hesitate to express it firmly, yet at the same time with modesty. I do not remember any part of his conversation distinctly enough to be quoted, nor did I ever see him again, except in the street, where he did not recognise me, as I could not expect he should. He was much caressed in Edinburgh, but (considering what literary emoluments have been since his day) the efforts made for his relief were extremely trifling.

“I remember on this occasion I mention, I thought Burns’ acquaintance with English poetry was rather limited, and also, that having twenty times the abilities of Allan Ramsay and of Ferguson, he talked of them with too much humility as his models; there was doubtless national predilection in his estimate.”

I need not remark on the extent of knowledge, and justice of taste, exemplified in this early measurement of Burns, both as a student of English literature and as a Scottish poet. The print, over which Scott saw Burns shed tears, is still in the possession of Dr Fergusson’s family, and I had often heard him tell the story, in the room where the precious relic hangs, before I requested him to set it down in writing—how little anticipating the use to which I should ultimately apply it!


His intimacy with Adam (now Sir Adam Fergusson) was thus his first means of introduction to the higher literary society of Edinburgh, and it was very probably to that connexion that he owed, among the rest, his acquaintance with the blind poet Blacklock, whom Johnson, twelve years earlier, “beheld with reverence.” We have seen, however, that the venerable author of Douglas was a friend of his own parents, and had noticed him even in his infancy at Bath. John Home now inhabited a villa at no great distance from Edinburgh, and there, all through his young days, Scott was a frequent guest. Nor must it be forgotten that his uncle, Dr Rutherford, inherited much of the general accomplishments, as well as the professional reputation of his father—and that it was beneath that roof he saw, several years before this, Dr Cartwright, then in the enjoyment of some fame as a poet. In this family, indeed, he had more than one kind and strenuous encourager of his early literary tastes, as will be shown abundantly when we reach certain relics of his correspondence with his mother’s sister, Miss Christian Rutherford. Dr Rutherford’s good-natured remonstrances with him, as a boy, for reading at breakfast, are well remembered, and will remind my reader of a similar trait in the juvenile manners both of Burns and Byron; nor was this habit entirely laid aside even in Scott’s advanced age.

If he is quite accurate in referring his first acquaintance with the Highlands to his fifteenth year, this incident also belongs to the first season of his apprenticeship. His father had, among a rather numerous list of Highland clients, Alexander Stewart of Invernahyle, an enthusiastic Jacobite, who had survived to recount, in secure and vigorous old age, his active experiences in the insurrections both of 1715 and 1745. He had,
it appears, attracted
Walter’s attention and admiration at a very early date; for he speaks of having “seen him in arms” and heard him “exult in the prospect of drawing his claymore once more before he died,” when Paul Jones threatened a descent on Edinburgh; which transaction occurred in September 1779. Invernahyle, as Scott adds, was the only person who seemed to have retained possession of his cool senses at the period of that disgraceful alarm, and offered the magistrates to collect as many Highlanders as would suffice for cutting off any part of the pirate’s crew that might venture in quest of plunder into a city full of high houses and narrow lanes, and every way well calculated for defence. The eager delight with which the young apprentice now listened to the tales of this fine old man’s early days produced an invitation to his residence among the mountains, and to this excursion he probably devoted the few weeks of an autumnal vacation—whether in 1786 or 1787, it is of no great consequence to ascertain.

In the Introduction to one of his Novels he has preserved a vivid picture of his sensations when the vale of Perth first burst on his view, in the course of his progress to Invernahyle, and the description has made classical ground of the Wicks of Baiglie, the spot from which that beautiful landscape was surveyed. “Childish wonder, indeed,” he says, “was an ingredient in my delight, for I was not above fifteen years old, and as this had been the first excursion which I was permitted to make on a pony of my own, I also experienced the glow of independence, mingled with that degree of anxiety which the most conceited boy feels when he is first abandoned to his own undirected counsels. I recollect pulling up the reins, without meaning to do so, and gazing on the scene before me as if I had been afraid it would shift, like those in a theatre, before I could dis-
tinctly observe its different parts, or convince myself that what I saw was real. Since that hour, the recollection of that inimitable landscape has possessed the strongest influence over my mind, and retained its place as a memorable thing, while much that was influential on my own fortunes has fled from my recollection.” So speaks the poet; and who will not recognise his habitual modesty, in thus undervaluing, as uninfluential in comparison with some affair of worldly business, the ineffaceable impression thus stamped on the glowing imagination of his boyhood?

I need not quote the numerous passages scattered over his writings, both early and late, in which he dwells with fond affection on the chivalrous character of Invernahyle—the delight with which he heard the veteran describe his broadsword duel with Rob Roy—his campaigns with Mar and Charles Edward and his long seclusion (as pictured in the story of Bradwardine) within a rocky cave situated not far from his own house, while it was garrisoned by a party of English soldiers, after the battle of Culloden. Here, too, still survived the trusty henchman who had attended the chieftain in many a bloody field and perilous escape, the same “grim-looking old Highlander” who was in the act of cutting down Colonel Whitefoord with his Lochaber axe at Prestonpans when his master arrested the blow—an incident to which Invernahyle owed his life, and we are indebted for another of the most striking pages in Waverley.

I have often heard Scott mention some curious particulars of his first visit to the remote fastness of one of these Highland friends; but whether he told the story of Invernahyle, or of one of his own relations of the Clan Campbell, I do not recollect; I rather think the latter was the case. On reaching the
brow of a bleak eminence overhanging the primitive tower and its tiny patch of cultivated ground, he found his host and three sons, and perhaps half-a-dozen attendant gillies, all stretched half asleep in their tartans upon the heath, with guns and dogs, and a profusion of game about them; while in the courtyard, far below, appeared a company of women, actively engaged in loading a cart with manure. The stranger was not a little astonished when he discovered, on descending from the height, that among these industrious females were the laird’s own lady, and two or three of her daughters; but they seemed quite unconscious of having been detected in an occupation unsuitable to their rank—retired presently to their “bowers,” and when they re-appeared in other dresses, retained no traces of their morning’s work, except complexions glowing with a radiant freshness, for one evening of which many a high-bred beauty would have bartered half her diamonds. He found the young ladies not ill informed, and exceedingly agreeable; and the song and the dance seemed to form the invariable termination of their busy days. I must not forget his admiration at the principal article of this laird’s first course; namely, a gigantic haggis, borne into the hall in a wicker basket by two half-naked Celts, while the piper strutted fiercely behind them, blowing a tempest of dissonnance.

These Highland visits were repeated almost every summer for several successive years, and perhaps even the first of them was in some degree connected with his professional business. At all events, it was to his allotted task of enforcing the execution of a legal instrument against some Maclarens, refractory tenants of Stewart of Appin, brother-in-law to Invernahyle, that Scott owed his introduction to the scenery of the Lady of the Lake. “An escort of a sergeant and six men,” he says, “was
obtained from a Highland regiment lying in Stirling, and the author, then a writer’s apprentice, equivalent to the honourable situation of an attorney’s clerk, was invested with the superintendence of the expedition, with directions to see that the messenger discharged his duty fully, and that the gallant sergeant did not exceed his part by committing violence or plunder. And thus it happened, oddly enough, that the author first entered the romantic scenery of Loch Katrine, of which he may perhaps say he has somewhat extended the reputation, riding in all the dignity of danger, with a front and rear guard, and loaded arms. The sergeant was absolutely a Highland Sergeant Kite, full of stories of
Rob Roy and of himself, and a very good companion. We experienced no interruption whatever, and when we came to Invernenty, found the house deserted. We took up our quarters for the night, and used some of the victuals which we found there. The Maclarens, who probably had never thought of any serious opposition, went to America, where, having had some slight share in removing them from their paupera regna, I sincerely hope they prospered.”*

That he entered with ready zeal into such professional business as inferred Highland expeditions with comrades who had known Rob Roy, no one will think strange; but more than one of his biographers allege, that in the ordinary indoor fagging of the chamber in George’s Square, he was always an unwilling, and rarely an efficient assistant. Their addition that he often played chess with one of his companions in the office, and had to conceal the board with precipitation when the old gentleman’s footsteps were heard on the staircase, is, I do not doubt, true; and we may remember along with it his own insinuation that his father was sometimes poring in his secret

* Introduction to Rob Roy, p. lxxxix, note.

nook over Spottiswoode or Wodrow when his apprentices supposed him to be deep in Dirleton’s Doubts, or Stair’s Decisions. But the Memoir of 1808, so candid—indeed, more than candid—as to many juvenile irregularities, contains no confession that supports the broad assertion to which I have alluded; nor can I easily believe, that with his affection for his father, and that sense of duty which seems to have been inherent in his character, and, lastly, with the evidence of a most severe training in industry which the habits of his after-life presented, it is at all deserving of serious acceptation. His mere handwriting, indeed, continued, during the whole of his prime, to afford most striking and irresistible proof how completely he must have submitted himself for some very considerable period to the mechanical discipline of his father’s office. It spoke to months after months of this humble toil, as distinctly as the illegible scrawl of
Lord Byron did to his self-mastership from the hour that he left Harrow. There are some little technical tricks, such as no gentleman who has not been subjected to a similar regimen ever can fall into, which he practised invariably while composing his poetry, which appear not unfrequently on the MSS. of his best novels, and which now and then dropt instinctively from his pen, even in the private letters and diaries of his closing years. I allude particularly to a sort of flourish at the bottom of the page, originally, I presume, adopted in engrossing as a safeguard against the intrusion of a forged line between the legitimate text and the attesting signature. He was quite sensible that this ornament might as well be dispensed with; and his family often heard him mutter, after involuntarily performing it, “There goes the old shop again!”

I dwell on this matter, because it was always his favourite tenet, in contradiction to what he called the
cant of sonnetteers, that there is no necessary connexion between genius and an aversion or contempt for any of the common duties of life; he thought, on the contrary, that to spend some fair portion of every day in any matter of fact occupation, is good for the higher faculties themselves in the upshot. In a word, from beginning to end, he piqued himself on being a man of business; and did—with one sad and memorable exception—whatever the ordinary course of things threw in his way, in exactly the business-like fashion which might have been expected from the son of a thoroughbred old Clerk to the Signet, who had never deserted his father’s profession.

In the winter of 1788, however, his apprentice habits were exposed to a new danger; and from that date I believe them to have undergone a considerable change. He was then sent to attend the lectures of the Professor of Civil Law in the University, this course forming part of the usual professional education of Writers to the Signet, as well as of Advocates. For some time his companions, when in Edinburgh, had been chiefly, almost solely, his brother apprentices and the clerks in his father’s office. He had latterly seen comparatively little even of the better of his old High School friends, such as Fergusson and Irving—for though both of these also were writer’s apprentices, they had been indentured to other masters, and each had naturally formed new intimacies within his own chamber. The civil law class brought him again into daily contact with both Irving and Fergusson, as well as others of his earlier acquaintance of the higher ranks; but it also led him into the society of some young gentlemen previously unknown to him, who had from the outset been destined for the bar, and whose conversation, tinctured with certain prejudices natural to scions of what he calls in Redgaunt-
let the Scottish noblesse de la robe, soon banished from his mind every thought of ultimately adhering to the secondary branch of the law. He found these future barristers cultivating general literature without any apprehension that such elegant pursuits could be regarded by any one as interfering with the proper studies of their professional career; justly believing, on the contrary, that for the higher class of forensic exertion some acquaintance with almost every branch of science and letters is a necessary preparative. He contrasted their liberal aspirations, and the encouragement which these received in their domestic circles, with the narrower views which predominated in his own home, and resolved to gratify his ambition by adopting a most precarious walk in life, instead of adhering to that in which he might have counted with perfect security on the early attainment of pecuniary independence. This resolution appears to have been foreseen by his father, long before it was announced in terms; and the handsome manner in which the old gentleman conducted himself upon the occasion, is remembered with dutiful gratitude in the preceding autobiography.

The most important of these new alliances was the intimate friendship which he now formed with William Clerk of Eldin, of whose powerful talents and extensive accomplishments we shall hereafter meet with many enthusiastic notices. It was in company with this gentleman that he entered the debating societies described in his Memoir; through him he soon became linked in the closest intimacy with George Cranstoun (now Lord Corehouse), George Abercromby (now Lord Abercromby), Sir Patrick Murray of Ochtertyre, John James Edmonstone of Newton, Patrick Murray of Simprim, and a group of other young men, all high in birth and connexion, and all remarkable in early life for the qua-
lities which afterwards led them to eminent station, or adorned it. The introduction to their several families is alluded to by
Scott as having opened to him abundantly certain advantages, which no one could have been more qualified to improve, but from which he had hitherto been in great measure debarred in consequence of the retired habits of his parents.

Mr Clerk says, that he had been struck from the first day he entered the civil law class-room with something odd and remarkable in Scott’s appearance; what this something was he cannot now recall, but he remembers telling his companion some time afterwards that he thought he looked like a hautboy-player. Scott was amused with this notion, as he had never touched any musical instrument of any kind; but I fancy his friend had been watching a certain noticeable but altogether indescribable play of the upper lip when in an abstracted mood. He rallied Walter, he says, during one of their first evening walks together, on the slovenliness of his dress; he wore a pair of corduroy breeches, much glazed by the rubbing of his staff, which he immediately flourished and said, “they be good enough for drinking in—let us go and have some oysters in the Covenant Close.”

Convivial habits were then indulged among the young men of Edinburgh, whether students of law, writers, or barristers, to an extent now happily unknown; and this anecdote recalls some striking hints on that subject which occur in Scott’s brief autobiography. That he partook profusely in the juvenile bacchanalia of that day, and continued to take a plentiful share in such jollities down to the time of his marriage, are facts worthy of being distinctly stated—for no man in mature life was more habitually averse to every sort of intemperance. He could, when I first knew him, swallow a great quantity of wine without being at all visibly disordered by it;
but nothing short of some very particular occasion could ever induce him to put this strength of head to a trial; and I have heard him many times utter words which no one in the days of his youthful temptation can be the worse for remembering:—“Depend upon it, of all vices drinking is the most incompatible with greatness.”

The liveliness of his conversation—the strange variety of his knowledge—and above all, perhaps, the portentous tenacity of his memory—riveted more and more Clerk’s attention, and commanded the wonder of all his new allies; but of these extraordinary gifts Scott himself appeared to be little conscious; or at least he impressed them all as attaching infinitely greater consequence (exactly as had been the case with him in the days of the Cowgate Port and the kittle nine steps) to feats of personal agility and prowess. William Clerk’s brother, James, a midshipman in the navy, happened to come home from a cruise in the Mediterranean shortly after this acquaintance began, and Scott and the sailor became almost at sight “sworn brothers.” In order to complete his time under the late Sir Alexander Cochrane, who was then on the Leith station, James Clerk obtained the command of a lugger, and the young friends often made little excursions to sea with him. “The first time Scott dined on board,” says William Clerk, “we met before embarking at a tavern in Leith—it was a large party, mostly midshipmen, and strangers to him, and our host introducing his landsmen guests said, ‘my brother you know, gentlemen; as for Mr Scott, mayhaps you may take him for a poor lamiter, but he is the first to begin a row, and the last to end it;’ which eulogium he confirmed with some of the expletives of Tom Pipes.”*

* “Dinna steer him,” says Hobbie Elliot; “ye may think Elshie’s

When, many years afterwards, Clerk read
The Pirate, he was startled by the resurrection of a hundred traits of the tabletalk of this lugger; but the author has since traced some of the most striking passages in that novel to his recollection of the almost childish period when he hung on his own brother Robert’s stories about Rodney’s battles and the haunted keys of the West Indies.

One morning Scott called on Clerk, and, exhibiting his stick all cut and marked, told him he had been attacked in the streets the night before by three fellows, against whom he had defended himself for an hour. “By Shrewsbury clock?” said his friend. “No,” says Scott smiling, “by the Tron.” But thenceforth, adds Mr Clerk, and for twenty years after, he called his walking stick by the name of “Shrewsbury.”

With these comrades Scott now resumed, and pushed to a much greater extent, his early habits of wandering over the country in quest of castles and other remains of antiquity, his passion for which derived a new impulse from the conversation of the celebrated John Clerk of Eldin,* the father of his friend. William Clerk well remembers his father telling a story which was introduced in due time in The Antiquary. While he was visiting his grandfather, Sir John Clerk, at Dumcrieff, in Dumfriesshire, many years before this time, the old Baronet carried some English Virtuosos to see a supposed Roman camp; and on his exclaiming at a particular spot, “this I take to have been the Prætorium,” a herdsman, who stood by, answered, “Prætorium. here, Prætorium there, I made it wi’ a flaughter spade.”†

but a lamiter, but I warrant ye, grippie for grippie, he’ll gar the blue blood spin frae your nails his hand’s like a smith’s vice.” ‘Black DwarfWaverley Novels, vol. ix. p. 202.

* Author of the famous Essay on dividing the Line in Sea-fights.

† Compare “The Antiquary,” vol. i. p. 49.

Many traits of the elder Clerk were, his son has no doubt, embroidered on the character of
George Constable in the composition of Jonathan Oldbuck. The old gentleman’s enthusiasm for antiquities was often played on by these young friends, but more effectually by his eldest son, John Clerk (Lord Eldin), who, having a great genius for art, used to amuse himself with manufacturing mutilated heads, which, after being buried for a convenient time in the ground, were accidentally discovered in some fortunate hour, and received by the laird with great honour as valuable accessions to his museum.*

On a fishing excursion to a loch near Howgate, among the Moorfoot Hills, Scott, Clerk, Irving, and Abercromby spent the night at a little public-house kept by one Mrs Margaret Dods. When St Ronan’s Well was published, Clerk, meeting Scott in the street, observed, “That’s an odd name; surely I have met with it somewhere before.” Scott smiled, said, “Don’t you remember Howgate?” and passed on. The name alone, however, was taken from the Howgate hostess.

At one of their drinking bouts of those days, William Clerk, Sir P. Murray, Edmonstone, and Abercromby being of the party, the sitting was prolonged to a very late hour, and Scott fell asleep. When he awoke, his friends succeeded in convincing him that he had sung a song in the course of the evening, and sung it extremely well. How must these gentlemen have chuckled when they read Frank Osbaldistone’s account of his revels in the old hall! “It has even been reported by maligners that I sung a song while

* The most remarkable of these antique heads was so highly appreciated by another distinguished connoisseur, the late Earl of Buchan, that he carried it off from Mr Clerk’s museum, and presented it to the Scottish Society of Antiquaries—in whose collection, no doubt, it may still be admired.

under this vinous influence; but as I remember nothing of it, and never attempted to turn a tune in all my life, either before or since, I would willingly hope there is no actual foundation for the calumny.”*

On one of his first long walks with Clerk and others of the same set, their pace, being about four miles an hour, was found rather too much for Scott, and he offered to contract for three, which measure was thenceforth considered as the legal one. At this rate they often continued to wander from five in the morning till eight in the evening, halting for such refreshment at mid-day as any village alehouse might afford. On many occasions, however, they had stretched so far into the country, that they were obliged to be absent from home all night; and though great was the alarm which the first occurrence of this sort created in George’s Square, the family soon got accustomed to such things, and little notice was taken, even though Walter remained away for the better part of a week. I have heard him laugh heartily over the recollections of one protracted excursion, towards the close of which the party found themselves a long day’s walk—thirty miles, I think—from Edinburgh, without a single sixpence left among them. “We were put to our shifts,” said he; “but we asked every now and then at a cottage-door for a drink of water; and one or two of the goodwives, observing our worn-out looks, brought forth milk in place of water—so with that, and hips and haws, we came in little the worse.” His father met him with some impatient questions as to what he had been living on so long, for the old man well knew how scantily his pocket was supplied. “Pretty much like the young ravens,” answered he; “I only wished I had been as good a player on

* “Rob Roy,” Waverley Novels, vol. vii. p. 182.

the flute as poor George Primrose in
The Vicar of Wakefield. If I had his art, I should like nothing better than to tramp like him from cottage to cottage over the world.” “I doubt,’ said the grave Clerk to the Signet, “I greatly doubt, sir, you were born for nae better than a gangrel scrape-gut.” Some allusions to reproaches of this kind occur in the “Memoir;” and we shall find others in letters subsequent to his admission at the bar.

The debating club formed among these young friends at this era of their studies, was called The Literary Society; and is not to be confounded with the more celebrated Speculative Society, which Scott did not join for two years later. At the Literary he spoke frequently, and very amusingly and sensibly, but was not at all numbered among the most brilliant members. He had a world of knowledge to produce; but he had not acquired the art of arranging it to the best advantage in a continued address; nor, indeed, did he ever, I think, except under the influence of strong personal feeling, even when years and fame had given him full confidence in himself, exhibit upon any occasion the powers of oral eloquence. His antiquarian information, however, supplied many an interesting feature in these evenings of discussion. He had already dabbled in Anglo-Saxon and the Norse Sagas: in his Essay on Imitations of Popular Poetry, he alludes to these studies as having facilitated his acquisition of German: But he was deep especially in Fordun and Wyntoun, and all the Scotch chronicles; and his friends rewarded him by the honourable title of Duns Scotus.

A smaller society, formed with less ambitious views, originated in a ride to Pennycuik, the seat of the head of Mr Clerk’s family, whose elegant hospitalities are
recorded in the Memoir. This was called, by way of excellence, The Club, and I believe it is continued under the same name to this day. Here, too,
Walter had his sobriquet; and—his corduroy breeches, I presume, not being as yet worn out—it was Colonel Grogg.*

Meantime he had not broken up his connexion with Rosebank; he appears to have spent several weeks in the autumn, both of 1788 and 1789, under his uncle’s roof; and it was, I think, of his journey thither, in the last named year, that he used to tell an anecdote, which I shall here set down—how shorn, alas! of all the accessaries that gave it life when he recited it. Calling, before he set out, on one of the ancient spinsters of his family, to enquire if she had any message for

* “The members of The Club used to meet on Friday evenings in a room in Carrubber’s Close, from which some of them usually adjourned to sup at an oyster tavern in the same neighbourhood. In after life those of them who chanced to be in Edinburgh dined together twice every year, at the close of the winter and summer sessions of the Law Courts; and during thirty years, Sir Walter was very rarely absent on these occasions. It was also a rule, that when any member received an appointment or promotion, he should give a dinner to his old associates; and they had accordingly two such dinners from him one when he became Sheriff of Selkirkshire, and another when he was named Clerk of Session. The original members were, in number, nineteen viz., Sir Walter Scott, Mr William Clerk, Sir A. Fergusson, Mr James Edmonstone, Mr George Abercromby (Lord Abercromby), Mr D. Boyle (now Lord Justice-Clerk), Mr James Glassford (Advocate), Mr James Ferguson (Clerk of Session), Mr David Monypenny (Lord Pitmilly), Mr Robert Davidson (Professor of Law at Glasgow), Sir William Rae, Bart., Sir Patrick Murray, Bart., David Douglas (Lord Reston), Mr Murray of Simprim, Mr Monteath of Closeburn, Mr Archibald Miller (son of Professor Miller), Baron Reden, a Hanoverian; the Honourable Thomas Douglas, afterwards Earl of Selkirk, and John Irving. Except the five whose names are underlined, these original members are all still alive.”—Letter from Mr Irving, dated 29th September, 1836.

Kelso, she retired, and presently placed in his hands a packet of some bulk and weight, which required, she said, very particular attention. He took it without examining the address, and carried it in his pocket next day, not at all to the lightening of a forty miles’ ride in August. On his arrival, it turned out to contain one of the old lady’s pattens, sealed up for a particular cobbler in Kelso, and accompanied with fourpence to pay for mending it, and special directions that it might be brought back to her by the same economical conveyance.

It will be seen from the following letter, the earliest of Scott’s writing that has fallen into my hands, that professional business had some share in this excursion to Kelso; but I consider with more interest the brief allusion to a day at Sandy-Knowe.

To Mrs Scott, George Square, Edinburgh.
“(With a parcel).
“Rosebank, 5th Sept. 1788.
“Dear Mother,

“I was favoured with your letter, and send you Anne’s stockings along with this: I would have sent them last week, but had some expectations of a private opportunity. I have been very happy for this fortnight; we have some plan or other for every day. Last week my uncle, my cousin William* and I, rode to Smailholm, and from thence walked to Sandy-knowe Craigs, where we spent the whole day, and made a very hearty dinner by the side of the Orderlaw Well, on some cold beef and bread and cheese: we had also a small case-bottle of rum to make grog with, which we drank to the Sandy-

* The present Laird of Raeburn.

knowe bairns, and all their connexions. This jaunt gave me much pleasure, and had I time, I would give you a more full account of it.

“The fishing has been hitherto but indifferent, and 1 fear I shall not be able to accomplish my promise with regard to the wild-ducks. I was out on Friday, and only saw three. I may probably, however, send you a hare, as my uncle has got a present of two greyhounds from Sir H. MacDougall, and as he has a license, only waits till the corn is off the ground to commence coursing. Be it known to you, however, I am not altogether employed in amusements, for I have got two or three clients besides my uncle, and am busy drawing tacks and contracts, not, however, of marriage. I am in a fair way of making money, if I stay here long.

“Here I have written a pretty long letter, and nothing in it; but you know writing to one’s friends is the next thing to seeing them. My love to my father and the boys from, dear mother, your dutiful and affectionate son,

Walter Scott.”

It appears from James Ballantyne’s memoranda, that having been very early bound apprentice to a solicitor in Kelso, he had no intercourse with Scott during the three or four years that followed their companionship at the school of Lancelot Whale; but Ballantyne was now sent to spend a winter in Edinburgh for the completion of his professional education, and in the course of his attendance on the Scots-law class, became a member of a young Teviotdale club, where Walter Scott seldom failed to make his appearance. They supped together, it seems, once a-month; and here, as in the associations above mentioned, good fellowship was often pushed beyond the limits of modern indulgence. The strict
intimacy between Scott and Ballantyne was not at this time renewed—their avocations prevented it—but the latter was no uninterested observer of his old comrade’s bearing on this new scene. “Upon all these occasions,” he says, “one of the principal features of his character was displayed as conspicuously as I believe it ever was at any later period. This was the remarkable ascendency he never failed to exhibit among his young companions, and which appeared to arise from their involuntary and unconscious submission to the same firmness of understanding, and gentle exercise of it, which produced the same effects throughout his after life. Where there was always a good deal of drinking, there was of course now and then a good deal of quarrelling. But three words from Walter Scott never failed to put all such propensities to quietness.”

Mr Ballantyne’s account of his friend’s peace-making exertions at this club may seem a little at variance with some preceding details. There is a difference, however, between encouraging quarrels in the bosom of a convivial party, and taking a fair part in a row between one’s own party and another. But Ballantyne adds, that at The Teviotdale, Scott was always remarkable for being the most temperate of the set; and if the club consisted chiefly of persons, like Ballantyne himself, somewhat inferior to Scott in birth arid station, his carefulness both of sobriety and decorum at their meetings was but another feature of his unchanged and unchangeable character—qualis ab imo.

At one of the many merry suppers of this time, Walter Scott had said something, of which, on recollecting himself next morning, he was sensible that his friend Clerk might have reason to complain. He sent him accordingly a note apologetical, which has by some accident been preserved, and which I am sure every reader will
agree with me in considering well worthy of preservation. In it Scott contrives to make use of both his own club designations, and addresses his friend by another of the same order, which Clerk had received in consequence of comparing himself on some forgotten occasion to Sir John Brute in the play. This characteristic document is as follows:—

To William Clerk, Esq.
“Dear Baronet,

“I am sorry to find that our friend Colonel Grogg has behaved with a very undue degree of vehemence in a dispute with you last night, occasioned by what I am convinced was a gross misconception of your expressions. As the Colonel, though a military man, is not too haughty to acknowledge an error, he has commissioned me to make his apology as a mutual friend, which I am convinced you will accept from yours ever,

Duns Scotus.”
“Given at Castle-Duns,

I should perhaps have mentioned sooner, that when first Duns Scotus became the Baronet’s daily companion—this new alliance was observed with considerable jealousy by some of his former inseparables of the writing office. At the next annual supper of the clerks and apprentices, the gaudy of the chamber, this feeling showed itself in various ways, and when the cloth was drawn, Walter rose and asked what was meant. “Well,” said one of the lads, “since you will have it out, you are cutting your old friends for the sake of Clerk and some more of these dons that look down on the like of us.” “Gentlemen,” answered Scott, “I will never cut any man unless I detect him in scoundrelism, but I know not what
right any of you have to interfere with my choice of my company. If any one thought I had injured him, he would have done well to ask an explanation in a more private manner. As it is, I fairly own that though I like many of you very much, and have long done so, I think William Clerk well worth you all put together.” The senior in the chair was wise enough to laugh, and the evening passed off without further disturbance.

As one effect of his office education, Scott soon began to preserve in regular files the letters addressed to him; and from the style and tone of such letters, as Mr Southey observes in his Life of Cowper, a man’s character may often be gathered even more surely than from those written by himself. The first series of any considerable extent in his collection, includes letters dated as far back as 1786, and proceeds, with not many interruptions, down beyond the period when his fame had been established. I regret, that from the delicate nature of the transactions chiefly dwelt upon in the earlier of these communications, I dare not make a free use of them; but I feel it my duty to record the strong impression they have left on my own mind of high generosity of affection, coupled with calm judgment, and perseverance in well-doing on the part of the stripling Scott. To these indeed every line in the collection bears pregnant testimony. A young gentleman, born of good family, and heir to a tolerable fortune, is sent to Edinburgh College, and is seen partaking, along with Scott, through several apparently happy and careless years, of the studies and amusements of which the reader may by this time have formed an adequate notion. By degrees, from the usual license of his equal comrades, he sinks into habits of a looser description—becomes reckless, contracts debts, irritates his own family almost beyond hope of reconciliation, is
virtually cast off by them, runs away from Scotland, forms a marriage far below his condition in a remote part of the sister kingdom—and, when the poor girl has made him a father, then first begins to open his eyes to the full consequences of his mad career. He appeals to Scott, by this time in his eighteenth year, ‘as the truest and noblest of friends,’ who had given him ‘the earliest and the strongest warnings,’ had assisted him ‘the most generously throughout all his wanderings and distresses,’ and will not now abandon him in his ‘penitent lowliness of misery,’ the result of his seeing ‘virtue and innocence involved in the punishment of his errors.’ I find Scott obtaining the slow and reluctant assistance of his own careful
father,—who had long before observed this youth’s wayward disposition, and often cautioned his son against the connexion,—to intercede with the unfortunate wanderer’s family, and procure, if possible, some mitigation of their sentence. The result is, that he is furnished with the scanty means of removing himself to a distant colony, where he spends several years in the drudgery of a very humble occupation, but by degrees establishes for himself a new character, which commands the anxious interest of strangers;—and I find these strangers, particularly a benevolent and venerable clergyman, addressing, on his behalf, without his privacy, the young person, as yet unknown to the world, whom the object of their concern had painted to them as ‘uniting the warm feelings of youth with the sense of years’ whose hair he had, ‘from the day he left England, worn next his heart.’ Just at the time when this appeal reached Scott, he hears that his exiled friend’s father has died suddenly, and after all intestate; he has actually been taking steps to ascertain the truth of the case at the moment when the American despatch is laid on his table. I
leave the reader to guess with what pleasure Scott has to communicate the intelligence that his repentant and reformed friend may return to take possession of his inheritance. The letters before me contain touching pictures of their meeting—of Walter’s first visit to the ancient hall, where a happy family are now assembled—and of the affectionately respectful sense which his friend retained ever afterwards of all that he had done for him in the season of his struggles. But what a grievous loss is Scott’s part of this correspondence! I find this correspondent over and over again expressing his admiration of the letters in which Scott described to him his early tours both in the Highlands and the Border dales: I find him prophesying from them, as early as 1789, ‘one day your pen will make you famous,’ and already, in 1790, urging him to concentrate his ambition on a ‘history of the clans.’*

This young gentleman appears to have had a decided turn for literature; and, though in his earlier epistles he makes no allusion to Scott as ever dabbling in rhyme, he often inserts verses of his own, some of which are not without merit. There is a long letter in doggrel, dated 1788, descriptive of a ramble from Edinburgh to Carlisle of which I may quote the opening lines, as a sample of the simple habits of these young people.

“At four in the morning, I won’t be too sure,
Yet, if right I remember me, that was the hour,
When with Fergusson, Ramsay, and Jones, sir, and you,
From Auld Reekie I southward my route did pursue.
But two of the dogs (yet God bless them, I said)
Grew tired, and but set me half way to Lasswade,
While Jones, you and I, Wat, went on without flutter,
And at Symonds’s feasted on good bread and butter;

* All Scott’s letters to the friend here alluded to are said to have perished in an accidental fire.

Where I, wanting a sixpence, you lugged out a shilling,
And paid for me too, though I was most unwilling.
We parted—be sure I was ready to snivel—
Jones and you to go home—I to go to the devil.”

In a letter of later date, describing the adventurer’s captivation with the cottage maiden whom he afterwards married, there are some lines of a very different stamp. This couplet at least seems to me exquisite:—
“Lowly beauty, dear friend, beams with primitive grace,
And ’tis innocence self plays the rogue in her face.”

I find in another letter of this collection—and it is among the first of the series—the following passage:—“Your Quixotism, dear Walter, was highly characteristic. From the description of the blooming fair, as she appeared when she lowered her manteau vert, I am hopeful you have not dropt the acquaintance. At least I am certain some of our more rakish friends would have been glad enough of such an introduction.” This hint I cannot help connecting with the first scene of The Lady Green Mantle in Redgauntlet; but indeed I could easily trace many more coincidences between these letters and that novel, though at the same time I have no sort of doubt that William Clerk was, in the main, Darsie Latimer, while Scott himself unquestionably sat for his own picture in young Alan Fairford.

The allusion to ‘our more rakish friends’ is in keeping with the whole strain of this juvenile correspondence. Throughout there occurs no coarse or even jocular suggestion as to the conduct of Scott in that particular, as to which most youths of his then age are so apt to lay up stores of self-reproach. In this season of hot and impetuous blood he may not have escaped quite blameless, but I have the concurrent testimony of all the most intimate among his surviving associates,
that he was remarkably free from such indiscretions; that while his high sense of honour shielded him from the remotest dream of tampering with female innocence, he had an instinctive delicacy about him which made him recoil with utter disgust from low and vulgar debaucheries. His friends, I have heard more than one of them confess, used often to rally him on the coldness of his nature. By degrees they discovered that he had from almost the dawn of the passions, cherished a secret attachment, which continued, through all the most perilous stage of life, to act as a romantic charm in safeguard of virtue. This—(however he may have disguised the story by mixing it up with the Quixotic adventure of the damsel in the Green Mantle)—this was the early and innocent affection to which we owe the tenderest pages, not only of
Redgauntlet, but of the Lay of the Last Minstrel, and of Rokeby. In all of these works the heroine has certain distinctive features, drawn from one and the same haunting dream of his manly adolescence.

It was about 1790, according to Mr William Clerk, that Scott was observed to lay aside that carelessness, not to say slovenliness, as to dress, which used to furnish matter for joking at the beginning of their acquaintance. He now did himself more justice in these little matters, became fond of mixing in general female society, and, as his friend expresses it, ‘began to set up for a squire of dames.’

His personal appearance at this time was not unengaging. A lady of high rank, who well remembers him in the Old Assembly Rooms, gays, ‘Young Walter Scott was a comely creature.’ He had outgrown the sallowness of early ill health, and had a fresh brilliant complexion. His eyes were clear, open, and well set, with a changeful radiance, to which teeth of the most
perfect regularity and whiteness lent their assistance, while the noble expanse and elevation of the brow gave to the whole aspect a dignity far above the charm of mere features. His smile was always delightful; and I can easily fancy the peculiar intermixture of tenderness and gravity, with playful innocent hilarity and humour in the expression, as being well calculated to fix a fair lady’s eye. His figure, excepting the blemish in one limb, must in those days have been eminently handsome; tall, much above the usual standard, it was cast in the very mould of a young Hercules, the head set on with singular grace, the throat and chest after the truest model of the antique, the hands delicately finished, the whole outline that of extraordinary vigour, without as yet a touch of clumsiness. When he had acquired a little facility of manner, his conversation must have been such as could have dispensed with any exterior advantages, and certainly brought swift forgiveness for the one unkindness of nature. I have heard him, in talking of this part of his life, say, with an arch simplicity of look and tone which those who were familiar with him can fill in for themselves,—‘It was a proud night with me when I first found that a pretty young woman could think it worth her while to sit and talk with me, hour after hour, in a corner of the ball-room, while all the world were capering in our view.’

I believe, however, that the ‘pretty young woman’ here specially alluded to had occupied his attention long before he ever appeared in the Edinburgh Assembly Rooms, or any of his friends took note of him as ‘setting up for a squire of dames.’ I have been told that their acquaintance began in the Greyfriars’ Churchyard, where rain beginning to fall one Sunday as the congregation were dispersing, Scott happened to offer his umbrella, and the tender being accepted, so escorted her
to her residence, which proved to be at no great distance from his own. To return from church together had, it seems, grown into something like a custom, before they met in society,
Mrs Scott being of the party. It then appeared that she and the lady’s mother had been companions in their youth, though, both living secludedly, they had scarcely seen each other for many years; and the two matrons now renewed their former intercourse. But no acquaintance appears to have existed between the fathers of the young people, until things had advanced in appearance further than met the approbation of the good Clerk to the Signet.

Being aware that the young lady, who was very highly connected, had prospects of fortune far above his son’s, the upright and honourable man conceived it his duty to give her parents warning that he observed a degree of intimacy which, if allowed to go on, might involve the parties in future pain and disappointment. He had heard his son talk of a contemplated excursion to the part of the country in which his neighbour’s estates lay, and not doubting that Walter’s real object was different from that which he announced, introduced himself with a frank statement that he wished no such affair to proceed without the express sanction of those most interested in the happiness of persons as yet too young to calculate consequences for themselves. The northern Baronet had heard nothing of the young apprentice’s intended excursion, and appeared to treat the whole business very lightly. He thanked Mr Scott for his scrupulous attention—but added, that he believed he was mistaken; and this paternal interference, which Walter did not hear of till long afterwards, produced no change in his relations with the object of his growing attachment.

I have neither the power nor the wish to give in detail the sequel of this story. It is sufficient to say, that after
he had through several long years nourished the dream of an ultimate union with this lady, his hopes terminated in her being married to a
gentleman of the highest character, to whom some affectionate allusions occur in one of the greatest of his works, and who lived to act the part of a most generous friend to his early rival throughout the anxieties and distresses of 1826 and 1827. I have said enough for my purpose which was only to render intelligible a few allusions in the letters which I shall by and by have to introduce; but I may add, that I have no doubt this unfortunate passion, besides one good effect already adverted to, had a powerful influence in nerving Scott’s mind for the sedulous diligence with which he pursued his proper legal studies, as described in his Memoir, during the two or three years that preceded his call to the bar.