LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, Bart.
Chapter VII 1809-10

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 end of 1808, a young man, by name Andrew Stewart, who had figured for some years before as a poetical contributor to the Scots Magazine, and inserted there, among other things, a set of stanzas in honour of The Last Minstrel,* was tried, and capitally convicted, on a charge of burglary. He addressed, some weeks after his sentence had been pronounced, the following letters:—

* One verse of this production will suffice.

“Sweetest Minstrel that e’er sung
Of valorous deeds by Scotia done,
‘Whose wild notes warbled in the win’,
Delightful strain!
O’er hills and dales, and vales amang,
We’ve heard again,’ &c.
To Walter Scott, Esq. Castle Street.
“Edinburgh Tolbooth, 20th January, 1809.

“Although I am a stranger to you, yet I am not to your works, which I have read and admired, and which will continue to be read and admired as long as there remains a taste for true excellence. Previous to committing the crime for which I am now convicted, I composed several poems in the Scottish dialect, which I herewith send for your perusal, and humbly hope you will listen to my tale of misery. I have been a truly unfortunate follower of the Muses. I was born in Edinburgh, of poor, but honest parents. My father is by trade a bookbinder, and my mother dying in 1798, he was left a widower, with five small children, who have all been brought up by his own industry. As soon as I was fit for a trade, he bound me apprentice to a tailor in Edinburgh, but owing to his using me badly, I went to law. The consequence was, I got up my indentures after being only two years in his service. To my father’s trade I have to ascribe my first attachment to the Muses. I perused with delight the books that came in the way; and the effusions of the poets of my country I read with rapture. I now formed the resolution of not binding myself to a trade again, as by that means I might get my propensity for reading followed. I acted as clerk to different people, and my character was irreproachable. I determined to settle in life, and for that purpose I married a young woman I formed a strong attachment to. Being out of employment these last nine months, I suffered all the hardships of want, and saw
‘Poverty with empty hand,
And eager look, half-naked stand.’—Fergusson.
Reduced to this miserable situation, with my wife
almost starving, and having no friends to render me the smallest assistance, I resided in a furnished room till I was unable to pay the rent, and then I was literally turned out of doors, like poor
Dermody, in poverty and rags. Having no kind hand stretched out to help me, I associated with company of very loose manners, till then strangers to me, and by them I was led to commit the crime I am condemned to suffer for. But my mind is so agitated, I can scarce narrate my tale of misery. My age is only twenty-three, and to all appearance will be cut off in the prime. I was tried along with my brother, Robert Stewart, and John M’Intyre, for breaking into the workshop of Peter More, calico-glazer, Edinburgh, and received the dreadful sentence to be executed on the 22d of February next. We have no friends to apply to for Royal Mercy. If I had any kind friend to mention my case to my Lord Justice-Clerk, perhaps I might get my sentence mitigated. You will see my poems are of the humorous cast. Alas! it is now the contrary. I remain your unfortunate humble servant,

Andrew Stewart.”
To the Same.
“Tolbooth, Sunday.

“Sir I received your kind letter last night, enclosing one pound sterling, for which I have only to request you will accept the return of a grateful heart. My prayers, while on earth, will be always for your welfare. Your letter came like a ministering angel to me. The idea of my approaching end darts across my brain; and, as our immortal bard, Shakspeare, says, ‘harrows up my soul.’ Some time since, when chance threw in my way Sir William Forbes’s Life of Beattie, the account of the closing scene of Principal Campbell, as therein
mentioned, made a deep impression on my mind. ‘At a time,’ says he, ‘when Campbell was just expiring, and had told his wife and niece so, a cordial happened unexpectedly to give some relief. As soon as he was able to speak he said, he wondered to see their faces so melancholy and covered with tears at the apprehension of his departure. ‘At that instant,’ said he, ‘I felt my mind in such a state in the thoughts of my immediate dissolution, that I can express my feelings in no other way than by saying I was in a rapture.’ There is something awfully satisfactory in the above.

“I have to mention, as a dying man, that it was not the greed of money that made me commit the crime, but the extreme pressure of poverty and want.

“How silent seems all—not a whisper is heard,
Save the guardians of night when they bawl;
How dreary and wild appears all around;
No pitying voice near my call.
“O life, what are all thy gay pleasures and cares,
When deprived of sweet liberty’s smile?
Not hope in all thy gay charms arrayed,
Can one heavy hour now beguile.
“How sad is the poor convict’s sorrowful lot,
Condemned in these walls to remain,
When torn from those that are nearest his heart,
Perhaps ne’er to view them again.
“The beauties of morning now burst on my view,
Remembrance of scenes that are past,
When contentment sat smiling, and happy my lot,
Scenes, alas! formed not for to last.
“Now fled are the hours I delighted to roam
Scotia’s hills, dales, and valleys among,
And with rapture would list to the songs of her bards,
And love’s tale as it flowed from the tongue.
“Nought but death now awaits me, how dread, but true,
How ghastly its form does appear;
Soon silent the muse that delighted to view
And sing of the sweets of the year.

“You are the first gentleman I ever sent my poems to, and I never corrected any of them, my mind has been in such a state. I remain, sir, your grateful unfortunate servant,

Andrew Stewart.”

It appears that Scott, and his good-natured old friend, Mr Manners the bookseller, who happened at this time to be one of the bailies of Edinburgh, exerted their joint influence in this tailor-poet’s behalf, and with such success, that his sentence was commuted for one of transportation for life. A thin octavo pamphlet, entitled, “Poems, chiefly in the Scottish dialect, by Andrew Stewart; printed for the benefit of the Author’s Father, and sold by Manners and Miller, and A. Constable and Co., 1809,” appeared soon after the convict’s departure for Botany Bay. But as to his fortunes in that new world I possess no information. There seemed to me something so striking in the working of his feelings as expressed in his letters to Scott, that I thought the reader would forgive this little episode.

In the course of February, Mr John Ballantyne had proceeded to London, for the purpose of introducing himself to the chief publishers there in his new capacity, and especially of taking Mr Murray’s instructions respecting the Scotch management of the Quarterly Review. As soon as the spring vacation began, Scott followed him by sea. He might naturally have wished to be at hand while his new partner was forming arrangements on which so much must depend; but some
circumstances in the procedure of the Scotch Law Commission had made the
Lord Advocate request his presence at this time in town. There he and Mrs Scott took up their quarters, as usual, under the roof of their kind old friends the Dumergues; while their eldest girl enjoyed the advantage of being domesticated with the Miss Baillies at Hampstead. They staid more than two months, and this being his first visit to town since his fame had been crowned by Marmion, he was of course more than ever the object of general curiosity and attention. Mr Morritt saw much of him, both at his own house in Portland Place and elsewhere, and I transcribe a few sentences from his memoranda of the period.

Scott,” his friend says, “more correctly than any other man I ever knew, appreciated the value of that apparently enthusiastic engouement which the world of London shows to the fashionable wonder of the year. During this sojourn of 1809, the homage paid him would have turned the head of any less gifted man of eminence. It neither altered his opinions, nor produced the affectation of despising it; on the contrary, he received it, cultivated it, and repaid it in its own coin. ‘All this is very flattering,’ he would say, ‘and very civil; and if people are amused with hearing me tell a parcel of old stories, or recite a pack of ballads to lovely young girls and gaping matrons, they are easily pleased, and a man would be very ill-natured who would not give pleasure so cheaply conferred.’ If he dined with us and found any new faces, ‘Well, do you want me to play lion to-day?’ was his usual question—‘I will roar if you like it to your heart’s content.’ He would, indeed, in such cases put forth all his inimitable powers of entertainment and day after day surprised me by their unexpected extent and variety. Then, as the party dwindled, and we were left alone, he laughed at himself, quoted, ‘yet know that I
one Snug the joiner am—no lion fierce,’ &c. and was at once himself again.

“He often lamented the injurious effects for literature and genius resulting from the influence of London celebrity on weaker minds, especially in the excitement of ambition for this subordinate and ephemeral reputation du salon. ‘It may be a pleasant gale to sail with,’ he said, ‘but it never yet led to a port that I should like to anchor in;’ nor did he willingly endure, either in London or in Edinburgh, the little exclusive circles of literary society, much less their occasional fastidiousness and petty partialities.

“One story which I heard of him from Dr Howley, now Archbishop of Canterbury (for I was not present), was very characteristic. The doctor was one of a grand congregation of lions, where Scott and Coleridge, cum multis altis, attended at Sotheby’s. Poets and poetry were the topics of the table, and there was plentiful recitation of effusions as yet unpublished, which of course obtained abundant applause. Coleridge repeated more than one, which, as Dr H. thought, were eulogized by some of the company with something like affectation, and a desire to humble Scott by raising a poet of inferior reputation on his shoulders. Scott, however, joined in the compliments as cordially as any body, until, in his turn, he was invited to display some of his occasional poetry, much of which he must, no doubt, have written. Scott said he had published so much, he had nothing of his own left that he could think worth their hearing, but he would repeat a little copy of verses which he had shortly before seen in a provincial newspaper, and which seemed to him almost as good as anything they had been listening to with so much pleasure. He repeated the stanzas now so well known of ‘Fire, Famine, and Slaughter.’ The applauses that ensued were faint—then came slight criticisms, from
which Scott defended the unknown author. At last, a more bitter antagonist opened, and fastening upon one line, cried ‘this at least is absolute nonsense.’ Scott denied the charge—the Zoilus persisted—until Coleridge, out of all patience, exclaimed, ‘For God’s sake let Mr Scott alone—I wrote the poem.’ This exposition of the real worth of dinner criticism can hardly be excelled.*

“He often complained of the real dulness of parties where each guest arrived under the implied and tacit obligation of exhibiting some extraordinary powers of talk or wit. ‘If,’ he said, ‘I encounter men of the world, men of business, odd or striking characters of professional excellence in any department, I am in my element, for they cannot lionize me without my returning the compliment and learning something from them.’ He was much with George Ellis, Canning, and Croker, and delighted in them,—as indeed who did not?—but he loved to study eminence of every class and sort, and his rising fame gave him easy access to gratify all his curiosity.”

The meetings with Canning, Croker, and Ellis, to which Mr Morritt alludes, were, as may be supposed, chiefly occupied with the affairs of the Quarterly

* It may amuse the reader to turn to Mr Coleridge’s own stately account of this lion-show in Grosvenor Street, in the preface to his celebrated Eclogue. There was one person present, it seems, who had been in the secret of its authorship—Sir Humphrey Davy; and no one could have enjoyed the scene more than he must have done. “At the house,” Coleridge says, “of a gentleman who, by the principles and corresponding virtues of a sincere Christian, consecrates a cultivated genius and the favourable accidents of birth, opulence, and splendid connexions, it was my good fortune to meet, in a dinner party, with more men of celebrity in science or polite literature than are commonly found collected around the same table. In the course of conversation, one of the party reminded an illustrious poet,” &c. &c.—Coleridge’s Poetical Works. Edition, 1835. Vol. I., P. 274.

Review. The first number of that Journal appeared while
Scott was in London: it contained three articles from his pen—namely, one on the Reliques of Burns; another on the Chronicle of the Cid; and a third on Sir John Carr’s Tour through Scotland. His conferences with the editor and publisher were frequent; and the latter certainly contemplated, at this time, a most close and intimate connexion with him, not only as a reviewer, but an author; and, consequently, with both the concerns of the Messrs Ballantyne. Scott continued for some time to be a very active contributor to the Quarterly Review; nor, indeed, was his connexion with it ever entirely suspended. But John Ballantyne transacted business in a fashion which soon cooled, and in no very long time dissolved, the general “alliance offensive and defensive” with Murray, which Scott had announced before leaving Edinburgh to both Southey and Ellis.

On his return northwards he spent a fortnight in Yorkshire with Mr Morritt; but his correspondence, from which I resume my extracts, will show, among other things, the lively impression made on him by his first view of Rokeby.

The next of these letters reminds me, however, that I should have mentioned sooner the death of Camp, the first of not a few dogs whose names will be “freshly remembered” as long as their master’s works are popular. This favourite began to droop early in 1808, and became incapable of accompanying Scott in his rides; but he preserved his affection and sagacity to the last. At Ashestiel, as the servant was laying the cloth for dinner, he would address the dog lying on his mat by the fire, and say, “Camp, my good fellow, the sheriff’s coming home by the ford—or by the hill;” and the sick animal would immediately bestir himself to welcome his master, going out at the back door or the front door, according to the
direction given, and advancing as far as he was able, either towards the ford of the Tweed, or the bridge over the Glenkinnon burn beyond
Laird Nippy’s gate. He died about January 1809, and was buried in a fine moonlight night, in the little garden behind the house in Castle Street, immediately opposite to the window at which Scott usually sat writing. My wife tells me she remembers the whole family standing in tears about the grave, as her father himself smoothed down the turf above Camp with the saddest expression of face she had ever seen in him. He had been engaged to dine abroad that day, but apologized on account of “the death of a dear old friend;” and Mr Macdonald Buchanan was not at all surprised that he should have done so, when it came out next morning that Camp was no more.

To George Ellis, Esq.
“Edinburgh, July 8, 1809.
“My dear Ellis,

“We reached home about a fortnight ago, having lingered a little while at Rokeby Park, the seat of our friend Morritt, and one of the most enviable places I have ever seen, as it unites the richness and luxuriance of English vegetation with the romantic variety of glen, torrent, and copse which dignifies our northern scenery. The Greta and Tees, two most beautiful and rapid rivers, join their currents in the demesne. The banks of the Tees resemble, from the height of the rocks, the glen of Roslin, so much and justly admired. The Greta is the scene of a comic romance,* of which I think I remember giving you the outline. It concerns the history of a ‘Felon Sowe,’—
‘Which won’d in Rokeby wood,
Ran endlong Greta side,’

* Scott printed this Ballad in the Notes to his poem of Rokeby.

bestowed by Ralph of Rokeby on the freres of Richmond—and the misadventures of the holy fathers in their awkward attempts to catch this intractable animal. We had the pleasure to find all our little folks well, and are now on the point of shifting quarters to Ashestiel. I have supplied the vacancy occasioned by the death of poor old Camp with a terrier puppy of the old shaggy Celtic breed. He is of high pedigree, and was procured with great difficulty by the kindness of
Miss Dunlop of Dunlop; so I have christened him Wallace, as the donor is a descendant of the Guardian of Scotland. Having given you all this curious and valuable information about my own affairs, let me call your attention to the enclosed, which was in fact the principal cause of my immediately troubling you.” * * *

The enclosure, and the rest of the letter, refer to the private affairs of Mr Southey, in whose favour Scott had for some time back been strenuously using his interest with his friends in the Government. How well he had, while in London, read the feelings of some of those ministers towards each other, appears from various letters written upon his return to Scotland. It may be sufficient to quote part of one addressed to the distinguished author whose fortunes he was exerting himself to promote. To him Scott says (14th June),—“Mr Canning’s opportunities to serve you will soon be numerous, or they will soon be gone altogether; for he is of a different mould from some of his colleagues, and a decided foe to those half measures which I know you detest as much as I do. It is not his fault that the cause of Spain is not at this moment triumphant. This I know, and the time will come when the world will know it too.”

Before fixing himself at Ashestiel for the autumn, he
had undertaken to have a third poem ready for publication, by
John Ballantyne, by the end of the year, and probably made some progress in the composition of the Lady of the Lake. On the rising of the Court in July, he went, accompanied by Mrs Scott and his eldest daughter, to revisit the localities, so dear to him in the days of his juvenile rambling, which he had chosen for the scene of his fable. He gave a week to his old friends at Cambusmore, and ascertained, in his own person, that a good horseman, well mounted, might gallop from the shore of Loch Vennachar to the rock of Stirling within the space allotted for that purpose to FitzJames. From Cambusmore the party proceeded to Ross Priory, and, under the guidance of Mr Macdonald Buchanan, explored the islands of Loch Lomond, Arrochar, Loch Sloy, and all the scenery of a hundred desperate conflicts between the Macfarlanes, the Colquhouns, and the Clan Alpine. At Buchanan House, which is very near Ross Priory, Scott’s friends, Lady Douglas and Lady Louisa Stuart, were then visiting the Duke of Montrose; he joined them there, and read to them the Stag Chase, which he had just completed under the full influence of the genius loci.

It was on this occasion, at Buchanan House, that he first saw Lord Byron’sEnglish Bards and Scotch Reviewers.” On this subject he says, in his Introduction to Marmion of 1830—“When Byron wrote his famous satire, I had my share of flagellation among my betters. My crime was having written a poem for a thousand pounds, which was no otherwise true than that I sold the copyright for that sum. Now, not to mention that an author can hardly be censured for accepting such a sum as the booksellers are willing to give him, especially as the gentlemen of the trade made no complaints of their bargain, I thought the interference with
my private affairs was rather beyond the limits of literary satire. I was, moreover, so far from having had any thing to do with the offensive criticism in the
Edinburgh, that I had remonstrated with the editor, because I thought the ‘Hours of Idleness’ treated with undue severity. They were written, like all juvenile poetry, rather from the recollection of what had pleased the author in others, than what had been suggested by his own imagination; but nevertheless I thought they contained passages of noble promise.”

I need hardly transcribe the well-known lines—
“Next view in state, proud prancing on his roan,
The golden-crested haughty Marmion,”
down to
“For this we spurn Apollo’s venal son,
And bid a long ‘good night to Marmion,’”
with his lordship’s note on the last line—“Good night to Marmion, the pathetic and also prophetic exclamation of Henry Blount, Esquire, on the death of honest Marmion.” But it may entertain my readers to compare the style in which
Scott alludes to Byron’s assault in the preface of 1830 with that of one of his contemporary letters on the subject. Addressing (August 7, 1809) the gentleman in whose behalf he had been interceding with Mr Canning, he says “By the way, is the ancient ****, whose decease is to open our quest, thinking of a better world? I only ask because about three years ago I accepted the office I hold in the Court of Session, the revenue to accrue to me only on the death of the old incumbent. But my friend has since taken out a new lease of life, and unless I get some Border lad to cut his throat, may, for aught I know, live as long as
I shall;—such odious deceivers are these invalids. Mine reminds me of Sindbad’s Old Man of the Sea, and will certainly throttle me if I can’t somehow dismount him. If I were once in possession of my reversionary income, I would, like you, bid farewell to the drudgery of literature, and do nothing but what I pleased, which might be another phrase for doing very little. I was always an admirer of the modest wish of a retainer in one of
Beaumont and Fletcher’s plays
I would not be a serving man
To carry the cloak-bag still,
Nor would I be a falconer,
The greedy hawks to fill;
But I would live in a good house,
And have a good master too,
And I would eat and drink of the best,
And no work would I do.’
In the mean time, it is funny enough to see a whelp of a young
Lord Byron abusing me, of whose circumstances he knows nothing, for endeavouring to scratch out a living with my pen. God help the bear if, having little else to eat, he must not even suck his own paws. I can assure the noble imp of fame it is not my fault that I was not born to a park and L.5000 a-year, as it is not his lordship’s merit, although it may be his great good fortune, that he was not born to live by his literary talents or success. Adieu, my dear friend. I shall be impatient to hear how your matters fadge.”

This gentleman’s affairs are again alluded to in a letter to Ellis, dated Ashestiel, September 14:—“I do not write to whet a purpose that is not blunted, but to express my anxious wishes that your kind endeavours may succeed while it is called to-day, for, by all tokens, it will soon be yesterday with this Ministry. And they
well deserve it, for crossing, jostling, and hampering the measures of the only man among them fit to be intrusted with the salvation of the country. The spring-tide may for ought I know, break in this next session of Parliament. There is an evil fate upon us in all we do at home and abroad, else why should the
conqueror of Talavera be retreating from the field of his glory at a moment when, by all reasonable calculation, he should have been the soul and mover of a combined army of 150,000 English, Spaniards, and Portuguese? And why should Gifford employ himself at home in the thriftless exercise of correction, as if Mercury, instead of stretching to a race himself, were to amuse himself with starting a bedrid cripple, and making a pair of crutches for him with his own hand? Much might have been done, and may yet be done; but we are not yet in the right way. Is there no one among you who can throw a Congreve rocket among the gerunds and supines of that model of pedants, Dr Philopatris Parr? I understand your foreign lingos too little to attempt it, but pretty things might be said upon the memorable tureen which he begged of Lord Somebody, whom he afterwards, wished to prove to be mad. For example, I would adopt some of the leading phrases of independent, high-souled, contentus parvo, and so forth, with which he is bespattered in the Edinburgh, and declare it our opinion, that, if indulged with the three wishes of Prior’s tale, he would answer, like the heroine Corisca—
‘A ladle to my silver dish
Is all I want, is all I wish.’
I did not
review Miss Edgeworth, nor do I think it all well done; at least, it falls below my opinion of that lady’s merits. Indeed, I have contributed nothing to the last Review, and am, therefore, according to all rules,
the more entitled to criticise it freely. The conclusion of the
article on Sir John Moore is transcendently written; and I think I can venture to say, ‘aut Erasmus, aut Diabolus’ Your sugar-cake is very far from being a heavy bon-bon; but there I think we stop. The Missionaries, though very good, is on a subject rather stale, and much of the rest is absolute wading.

“As an excuse for my own indolence, I have been in the Highlands for some time past; and who should I meet there, of all fowls in the air, but your friend Mr Blackburn, to whom I was so much obliged for the care he took of my late unfortunate relative, at your friendly request. The recognition was unfortunately made just when I was leaving the country, and as he was in a gig, and I on the driving-seat of a carriage, the place of meeting a narrow Highland road, which looked as if forty patent ploughs had furrowed it, we had not time or space for so long a greeting as we could have wished. He has a capital good house on the banks of the Leven, about three miles below its discharge from the lake, and very near the classical spot where Matthew Bramble and his whole family were conducted by Smollett, and where Smollett himself was born. There is a new inducement for you to come to Caledon. Your health, thank God, is now no impediment; and I am told sugar and rum excel even whisky, so your purse must be proportionally distended.”

The unfortunate brother, the blot of the family, to whom Scott alludes in this letter, had disappointed all the hopes under which his friends sent him to Jamaica. It may be remarked, as characteristic of Scott at this time, that in the various letters to Ellis concerning Daniel, he speaks of him as his relation, never as his brother; and it must also be mentioned as a circumstance suggesting that Daniel had retained, after all, some
sense of pride, that his West Indian patron was allowed by himself to remain, to the end of their connexion, in ignorance of what his distinguished brother had thus thought fit to suppress.
Mr Blackburn, in fact, never knew that Daniel was Walter Scott’s brother, until he was applied to for some information respecting him on my own behalf, after this narrative was begun. The story is shortly, that the adventurer’s habits of dissipation proved incurable; but he finally left Jamaica under a stigma which Walter Scott regarded with utter severity. Being employed in some service against a refractory or insurgent body of negroes, he had exhibited a lamentable deficiency of spirit and conduct. He returned to Scotland a dishonoured man; and though he found shelter and compassion from his mother, his brother would never see him again. Nay, when soon after, his health, shattered by dissolute indulgence, and probably the intolerable load of shame, gave way altogether, and he died as yet a young man, the poet refused either to attend his funeral or to wear mourning for him like the rest of the family. Thus sternly, when in the height and pride of his blood, could Scott, whose heart was never hardened against the distress of an enemy, recoil from the disgrace of a brother. It is a more pleasing part of my duty to add, that he spoke to me, twenty years afterwards, in terms of great and painful contrition for the austerity with which he had conducted himself on this occasion. I must add, moreover, that he took a warm interest in a natural child whom Daniel had bequeathed to his mother’s care; and after the old lady’s death, religiously supplied her place as the boy’s protector.

About this time the edition of Sir Ralph Sadler’s State Papers, &c. (3 vols. royal 4 to) was at length completed by Scott, and published by Constable; but the letters which passed between the Editor and the bookseller show
that their personal estrangement had as yet undergone slender alteration. The collection of the
Sadler papers was chiefly the work of Mr Arthur Clifford—but Scott drew up the Memoir and Notes, and superintended the printing. His account of the Life of Sadler* extends to thirty pages; and both it and his notes are written with all that lively solicitude about points of antiquarian detail, which accompanied him through so many tasks less attractive than the personal career of a distinguished statesman intimately connected with the fortunes of Mary Queen of Scots. Some volumes of the edition of Somers’s Tracts (which he had undertaken for Mr Miller and other booksellers of London two or three years before) were also published about the same period; but that compilation was not finished (13 vols. royal 4to) until 1812. His part in it (for which the booksellers paid him 1300 guineas) was diligently performed, and shows abundant traces of his sagacious understanding and graceful expression. His editorial labours on Dryden, Swift, and these other collections, were gradually storing his mind with that minute and accurate knowledge of the leading persons and events both of Scotch and English history, which made his conversation on such subjects that of one who had rather lived with than read about the departed; while, unlike other antiquaries, he always preserved the keenest interest in the transactions of his own time.

The reader has seen that during his stay in London in the spring of this year, Scott became strongly impressed with a suspicion that the Duke of Portland’s Cabinet could not much longer hold together; and the letters which have been quoted, when considered along with the actual course of subsequent events, can leave little doubt

* Republished in the Miscellaneous Prose Works, vol. iv.

that he had gathered this impression from the tone of
Mr Canning’s private conversation as to the recent management of the War Department by Lord Castlereagh. It is now known that, as early as Easter, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs had informed the head of the Government that, unless the Secretary for War and the Colonies were replaced by a more competent person, he himself must withdraw from the Ministry; that the Duke of Portland and the majority of the Cabinet concurred in the necessity of Lord Castlereagh’s removal, but pressed Mr Canning to allow the matter to lie over until the conclusion of the Parliamentary Session; that Mr Canning, reluctantly agreeing to this delay, continued to sit for some months in the same Cabinet with the colleague whose eventual dismissal had been conceded to his representation; and that when, on the 20th of September, the Duke of Portland at length informed him of Mr Canning’s resolution, with the date of its original communication to his Grace and the other Ministers, Lord Castlereagh tendered his resignation, and wrote the same day to Mr Canning, reproaching him with double dealing. “Having,” he said, “pronounced it unfit that I should remain charged with the conduct of the war, and made my situation as a Minister of the Crown dependent on your will and pleasure, you continued to sit in the same Cabinet with me, and leave me not only in the persuasion that I possessed your confidence and support as a colleague, but allowed me, in breach of every principle of good faith, both public and private, to originate and proceed in the execution of a new enterprise of the most arduous and important nature (the Walcheren Expedition) with your apparent concurrence and ostensible approbation. You were fully aware that, if my situation in the government had been disclosed to me, I could not have submitted to remain one moment in office, without
the entire abandonment of my private honour and public duty. You knew I was deceived, and you continued to deceive me.”

The result was a duel on the morning of the 21st, in which Mr Canning was attended by Mr Charles Ellis (now Lord Seaford) as his second. Mr Canning, at the second fire, was severely wounded in the thigh, while his antagonist, had a narrow escape, a button on the lapel of his coat having been shot off. In consequence of this quarrel, both Lord Castlereagh and Mr Canning retired from office; their example was followed by the Duke of Portland himself; and after fruitless negotiations with Lords Grey and Grenville, Mr Percival became First Lord of the Treasury, as well as Chancellor of the Exchequer; while the Marquis Wellesley took the Seals of the Foreign Department, and Lord Liverpool removed from the Home Office to that which Lord Castlereagh had occupied. There were some other changes, but Scott’s friend, Mr R. Dundas (now Lord Melville), remained in his place at the head of the Board of Control.

While the public mind was occupied with the duel and its yet uncertain results, Scott wrote as follows to the nearest relation and most intimate friend of Mr Canning’s second:—

To George Ellis, Esq.
“Ashestiel, Sept. 26, 1809.
“My dear Ellis,

“Your letter gave me great pleasure, especially the outside, for Canning’s frank assured me that his wound was at least not materially serious. So for once the envelope of your letter was even more welcome than the contents. That harebrained Irishman’s letter car-
ries absurdity upon the face of it, for surely he would have had much more reason for personal animosity had Canning made the matter public, against the wishes of his uncle and every other person concerned, than for his consenting, at their request, that it should remain a secret, and leaving it to them to make such communication to Lord C. as they should think proper, and when they should think proper. I am ill situated here for the explanations I would wish to give, but I have forwarded copies of the letters to
Lord Dalkeith, a high-spirited and independent young nobleman, in whose opinion Mr Canning would, I think, wish to stand well. I have also taken some measures to prevent the good folks of Edinburgh from running after any straw that may be thrown into the wind. I wrote a very hurried note to Mr C. Ellis the instant I saw the accident in the papers, not knowing exactly where you might be, and trusting he would excuse my extreme anxiety and solicitude upon the occasion.

“I see, among other reports, that my friend, Robert Dundas, is mentioned as Secretary at War. I confess I shall be both vexed and disappointed if he, of whose talents and opinions I. think very highly, should be prevailed on to embark in so patched and crazy a vessel as can now be lashed together, and that upon a sea which promises to be sufficiently boisterous. My own hopes of every kind are as low as the heels of my boots, and methinks I would say to any friend of mine as Tybalt says to Benvolio—‘What! art thou drawn among these heartless hinds?’ I suppose the Doctor will be move the first, and then the Whigs will come in like a land-flood, and lay the country at the feet of Buonaparte for peace. This, if his devil does not fail, he will readily patch up, and send a few hundred thousands among our coach-driving noblesse, and perhaps among our Princes of the
Blood. With the influence acquired by such gages d’amitié, and by ostentatious hospitality at his court to all those idiots who will forget the rat-trap of the detenus, and crowd there for novelty, there will be, in the course of five or six years, what we have never yet seen, a real French party in this country. To this you are to add all the Burdettites, men who, rather than want combustibles, will fetch brimstone from hell. It is not these whom I fear, however, it is the vile and degrading spirit of egoisme so prevalent among the higher ranks, especially among the highest. God forgive me if I do them injustice, but I think champagne duty free would go a great way to seduce some of them; and is it not a strong symptom when people, knowing and feeling their own weakness, will, from mere selfishness and pride, suffer the vessel to drive on the shelves rather than she should be saved by the only pilot capable of the task? I will be much obliged to you to let me know what is likely to be done—whether any fight can yet be made, or if all is over.
Lord Melville had been furious for some time against this Administration—I think he will hardly lend a hand to clear the wreck. I should think, if Marquis Wellesley returns, he might form a steady Administration, but God wot he must condemn most of the present rotten planks before he can lay down the new vessel. Above all, let me know how Canning’s recovery goes on. We must think what is to be done about the Review. Ever yours truly,

W. S.”

Scott’s views as to the transactions of this period, and the principal parties concerned in them, were considerably altered by the observation of subsequent years; but I have been much interested with watching the course of his sentiments and opinions on such subjects; and, in the belief that others may feel in the same way
with myself, I shall insert, without comment, some further extracts from this correspondence:

To the Same.
“Ashestiel, Nov. 3, 1809.
“My dear Ellis,

“I had your letter some time ago, which gave me less comfort in the present public emergency than your letters usually do. Frankly, I see great doubts, not to say an impossibility, of Canning’s attaining that rank among the Opposition which will enable him to command the use of their shoulders to place him where you cannot be more convinced that I am—he is entitled to stand. The condottieri of the Grenvilles,—for they have no political principles, and therefore no political party, detached from their immense influence over individuals—will hardly be seduced from their standard to that of Canning, by an eloquence which has been exerted upon them in vain, even when they might have hoped to be gainers by listening to it. The soi-disant Whigs stick together like burs. The ragged regiment of Burdett and Folkstone is under yet stricter discipline, for you may have observed that no lover was ever so jealous of his mistress as Sir Francis is of his mob popularity—witness the fate of Paull, Tierney, even Wardle; in short, of whomsoever presumed to rival the brazen image whom the mob of Westminster has set up. That either, or both of these parties, will be delighted with the accession of our friend’s wisdom and eloquence, cannot for a moment be disputed. That the Grenvilles, in particular, did he only propose to himself a slice of the great pudding, would allow him to help himself where the plums lie thickest, cannot be doubted. But I think it is very doubtful whether they, closely banded and confident of
triumph as they at present are, will accept of a colleague upon terms which would make him a master; and unless Canning has these, it appears to me that we (the Republic) should be no better than if he had retained his office in the present, or rather late, Administration. But how far, in throwing himself altogether into the arms of Opposition at this crisis, Canning will injure himself with the large and sound party who profess Pittism, is, I really think, worthy of consideration. The influence of his name is at present as great as you or I could wish it; but those who wish to undermine it want but, according to our Scottish proverb, ‘a hair to make a tether of.’ I admit his hand is very difficult to play, and much as I love and admire him, I am most interested because it is the decided interest of his country, that he should pique, repique, and capot his antagonists. But you know much of the delicacy of the game lies in discarding—so I hope he will be in no hurry on throwing out his cards.

“I am the more anxious on this score, because I feel an internal conviction that neither Marquis Wellesley nor Lord Melville will lend their names to bolster out this rump of an Administration. Symptoms of this are said to have transpired in Scotland, but in this retirement I cannot learn upon what authority. Should this prove so, I confess my best wishes would be realized, because I cannot see how Percival could avoid surrendering at discretion, and taking, perhaps, a peerage. We should then have an Administration à la Pitt, which is a much better thing than an Opposition, howsoever conducted or headed, which, like a wave of the sea, forms indeed but a single body when it is rolling towards the shore, but dashes into foam and dispersion the instant it reaches its object. Should Canning and the above named noble peers come to understand each other, joined to all among the present Ministry whom their na-
tive good sense, and an attachment to good warm places, will lead to hear reason, it does seem to me that we might form a deeper front to the enemy than we have presented since the death of Pitt, or rather since the dissolution of his first Administration. But if this be a dream, as it may very probably be, I still hope Canning will take his own ground in Parliament, and hoist his own standard. Sooner or later it must be successful. So much for politics—about which, after all, my neighbours the black-cocks know about as much as I do.

“I have a great deal to write you about a new poem which I have on the anvil—also, upon the melancholy death of a favourite greyhound bitch—rest her body, since I dare not say soul! She was of high blood and excellent promise. Should any of your sporting friends have a whelp to spare, of a good kind, and of the female sex, I would be grateful beyond measure, especially if she has had the distemper. As I have quite laid aside the gun, coursing is my only and constant amusement, and my valued pair of four-legged champions, Douglas and Percy, wax old and unfeary. Ever yours truly,

W. S.”
To Walter Scott, Esq.
“Gloucester Lodge, Nov. 13, 1809.
“My dear Sir,

“I am very sensibly gratified by your kind expressions, whether of condolence or congratulation, and I acknowledge, if not (with your Highland writer) the synonymousness of the two terms, at least the union of the two sentiments, as applied to my present circumstances. I am not so heroically fond of being out (quátenus out), as not to consider that a matter of condolence. But I am at the same time sufficiently convinced of the desirableness of not being in, when one should be in to no purpose,
either of public advantage or personal credit, to be satisfied that on that ground I am entitled to your congratulations.

“I should be very happy indeed to look forward, with the prospect of being able to realize it, to the trip to Scotland which you suggest to me; and still more to the visit included therein, which, as you hold it out, would not be the least part of my temptation. Of this, however, I hope we shall have opportunities of talking before the season arrives; for I reckon upon your spring visit to London, and think of it, I assure you, with great pleasure, as likely to happen at a period when I shall have it more in my power than I have had on any former occasion to enjoy the advantage of it. You will find me not in quite so romantic a scene of seclusion and tranquillity here as that which you describe—but very tranquil and secluded nevertheless, at a mile and a half’s distance from Hyde Park Corner—a distance considerable enough, as I now am, to save me from any very overwhelming ‘unda salutantium.’

“Here, or any where else, I beg you to believe in the very sincere satisfaction which I shall derive from your society, and which I do derive from the assurance of your regard and good opinion. Ever, my dear sir, very truly and faithfully yours,

Geo. Canning.

“P.S.—I expect, in the course of this week, to send you a copy of a more ample statement of the circumstances of my retirement, which the misrepresentations of some who, I think, must have known they were misrepresenting (though that I must not say), have rendered necessary.”

I could not quote more largely from these political letters without trespassing against the feelings of dis-
tinguished individuals still alive. I believe the extracts which I have given are sufficient to illustrate the sagacity with which
Scott had at that early period apprehended the dangers to which the political career of Mr Canning was exposed, by the jealousy of the old Tory aristocracy on the one hand, and the insidious flatteries of Whig intriguers on the other. Even in communications which he must have known would pass under Mr Canning’s own eye, I think we may trace something of the lurking suspicion, that a propensity to tamper with intrigue might eventually develope itself in that great statesman’s otherwise noble character. In after years he certainly expressed himself concerning the quarrel of 1809 as if, on a cool retrospect, he considered the “harebrained Irishman” to have been much more sinned against than sinning; but his original impressions on this point had of course been modified by the subsequent lives of the two antagonists—as, indeed, his correspondence will be found to confess. I willingly turn from Scott’s politics to some other matters, which about this time occupied a large share of his thoughts.

He had from his boyish days a great love for theatrical representation; and so soon as circumstances enabled him to practise extended hospitality, the chief actors of his time, whenever they happened to be in Scotland, were among the most acceptable of his guests. Mr Charles Young was, I believe, the first of them of whom he saw much: As early as 1803 I find him writing of that gentleman to the Marchioness of Abercorn as a valuable addition to the society of Edinburgh; and down to the end of Scott’s life Mr Young was never in the north without visiting him.

Another graceful and intelligent performer in whom he took a special interest, and of whom he saw a great
deal in his private circle, was Miss Smith, afterwards
Mrs Bartley. But at the period of which I am now treating, his principal theatrical intimacy was with John Philip Kemble, and his sister Mrs Siddons, both of whom he appears to have often met at Lord Abercorn’s villa near Stanmore, during his spring visits to London after the first establishment of his poetical celebrity. Of John Kemble’s personal character and manners, he has recorded his impressions in a pleasing reviewal of Mr Boaden’s Memoir.* The great tragedian’s love of black-letter learning, especially of dramatic antiquities, afforded a strong bond of fellowship; and I have heard Scott say that the only man who ever seduced him into very deep potations in his middle life was Kemble. He was frequently at Ashestiel, and the “fat Scotch butler,” whom Mr Skene has described to us, by name John Macbeth, made sore complaints of the bad hours kept on such occasions in one of the most regular of households; but the watchings of the night were not more grievous to “Cousin Macbeth,” as Kemble called the honest beauffetier, than were the hazards and fatigues of the morning to the representative of the Scotch usurper. Kemble’s miseries during a rough gallop were quite as grotesque as those of his namesake, and it must be owned that species of distress was one from the contemplation of which his host could never derive any thing but amusement.

I have heard Scott chuckle with particular glee over the recollection of an excursion to the vale of the Ettrick, near which river the party were pursued by a bull. “Come, King John,” said he, “we must even take the water,” and accordingly he and his daughter

* Miscellaneous Prose Works 3 vol. xx.

plunged into the stream. But King John, halting on the bank and surveying the river, which happened to be full and turbid, exclaimed, in his usual solemn manner,
—“The flood is angry, Sheriff,
Methinks I’ll get me up into a tree.”*
It was well that the dogs had succeeded in diverting the bull, because there was no tree at hand which could have sustained King John, nor, had that been otherwise, could so stately a personage have dismounted and ascended with such alacrity as circumstances would have required. He at length followed his friends through the river with the rueful dignity of Don Quixote.

It was this intercourse which led Scott to exert himself very strenuously, when some change in the administration of the Edinburgh stage became necessary—(I believe in 1808),—to prevail on Mr Henry Siddons, the nephew of Kemble, to undertake the lease and management. Such an arrangement would, he expected, induce both Kemble and his sister to be more in Scotland than hitherto; and what he had seen of young Siddons himself led him to prognosticate a great improvement in the whole conduct of the northern stage. His wishes were at length accomplished in the summer of 1809. On this occasion he purchased a share, and became one of the acting trustees for the general body of proprietors; and thenceforth, during a long series of years, he continued to take a very lively concern in the proceedings of the Edinburgh company. In this he was plentifully encouraged by his domestic camarilla; for his wife had all a Frenchwoman’s passion for the

* John Kemble’s most familiar table-talk often flowed into blank verse; and so indeed did his sister’s. Scott (who was a capital mimic) often repeated her tragic exclamation to a footboy during a dinner at Ashestiel,

“You’ve brought me water, boy,—I asked for beer.”
spectacle; and the elder of the two
Ballantynes (both equally devoted to the company of players) was a regular newspaper critic of theatrical affairs, and in that capacity had already attained a measure of authority supremely gratifying to himself.

The first new play produced by Henry Siddons was the Family Legend of Joanna Baillie. This was, I believe, the first of her dramas that ever underwent the test of representation in her native kingdom; and Scott appears to have exerted himself most indefatiga.bly in its behalf. He was consulted about all the minutiæ of costume, attended every rehearsal, and supplied the prologue. The play was better received than any other which the gifted authoress has since subjected to the same experiment; and how ardently Scott enjoyed its success will appear from a few specimens of the many letters which he addressed to his friend on the occasion.

The first of these letters is dated Edinburgh, October 27, 1809. He had gone into town for the purpose of entering his eldest boy at the High School:—

“On receiving your long kind letter yesterday, I sought out Siddons, who was equally surprised and delighted at your liberal arrangement about the Lady of the Rock. I will put all the names to rights, and retain enough of locality and personality to please the antiquary, without the least risk of bringing the clan Gillian about our ears. I went through the theatre, which is the most complete little thing of the kind I ever saw, elegantly fitted up, and large enough for every purpose. I trust, with you, that in this as in other cases, our Scotch poverty may be a counterbalance to our Scotch pride, and that we shall not need in my time a larger or more expensive building. Siddons himself observes, that even for the purposes of show (so paramount now-
adays) a moderate stage is better fitted than a large one, because the machinery is pliable and manageable in proportion to its size. With regard to the equipment of the
Family Legend, I have been much diverted with a discovery which I have made. I had occasion to visit our Lord Provost (by profession a stocking-weaver),* and was surprised to find the worthy magistrate filled with a new born zeal for the drama. He spoke of Mr Siddons’ merits with enthusiasm, and of Miss Baillie’s powers almost with tears of rapture. Being a curious investigator of cause and effect, I never rested until I found out that this theatric rage which had seized his lordship of a sudden, was owing to a large order for hose, pantaloons, and plaids for equipping the rival clans of Campbell and Maclean, and which Siddons was sensible enough to send to the warehouse of our excellent provost. . . . . The Laird† is just gone to the High School, and it is with inexpressible feeling that I hear him trying to babble the first words of Latin, the signal of commencing serious study, for his acquirements hitherto have been under the mild dominion of a governess. I felt very like Leontes—
“Looking on the lines
Of my boy’s face, methought I did recall
Thirty good years”—

* This magistrate was Mr William Coulter, who died in office in April, 1810, and is said to have been greatly consoled on his deathbed by the prospect of so grand a funeral as must needs occur in the case of an actual Lord Provost of Auld Reekie. Scott used to take him off as, saying at some public meeting, “Gentlemen, though doomed to the trade of a stocking-weaver, I was born with the soul of a Sheepio!” (Scipio.)

Young Walter Scott was called Gilnockie, the Laird of Gilnockie, or simply the Laird, in consequence of his childish admiration for Johnnie Armstrong, whose ruined tower is still extant at Gilnockie on the Esk, nearly opposite Netherby.

And O my dear Miss Baillie, what a tale thirty years can tell even in an uniform and unhazardous course of life! How much I have reaped that I have never sown, and sown that I have never reaped! Always, I shall think it one of the proudest and happiest circumstances of my life that enables me to subscribe myself your faithful and affectionate friend,

W. S.”

Three months later he thus communicates the result of the experiment.

To Miss Joanna Baillie, Hampstead.
“Jan. 30th, 1810.
“My dear Miss Baillie,

“You have only to imagine all that you could wish to give success to a play, and your conceptions will still fall short of the complete and decided triumph of the Family Legend. The house was crowded to a most extraordinary degree; many people had come from your native capital of the west; every thing that pretended to distinction, whether from rank or literature, was in the boxes, and in the pit such an aggregate mass of humanity as I have seldom if ever witnessed in the same space. It was quite obvious from the beginning, that the cause was to be very fairly tried before the public, and that if any thing went wrong, no effort, even of your numerous and zealous friends, could have had much influence in guiding or restraining the general feeling. Some good-natured persons had been kind enough to propagate reports of a strong opposition, which, though I considered them as totally groundless, did not by any means lessen the extreme anxiety with which I waited the rise of the curtain. But in a short time I saw there
was no ground whatever for apprehension, and yet I sat the whole time shaking for fear a scene-shifter, or a carpenter, or some of the subaltern actors should make some blunder, and interrupt the feeling of deep and general interest which soon seized on the whole pit, box, and gallery, as Mr Bayes has it. The scene on the rock struck the utmost possible effect into the audience, and you heard nothing but sobs on all sides. The banquet-scene was equally impressive, and so was the combat. Of the greater scenes, that between Lorn and Helen in the castle of Maclean, that between Helen and her lover, and the examination of Maclean himself in Argyle’s castle, were applauded to the very echo.
Siddons announced the play ‘for the rest of the week,’ which was received not only with a thunder of applause, but with cheering and throwing up of hats and handkerchiefs. Mrs Siddons supported her part incomparably, although just recovered from the indisposition mentioned in my last. Siddons himself played Lorn very well indeed, and moved and looked with great spirit. A Mr Terry, who promises to be a fine performer, went through the part of the Old Earl with great taste and effect. For the rest I cannot say much, excepting that from highest to lowest they were most accurately perfect in their parts, and did their very best. Malcolm de Grey was tolerable but stickish—Maclean came off decently—but the conspirators were sad hounds. You are, my dear Miss Baillie, too much of a democrat in your writings; you allow life, soul, and spirit to these inferior creatures of the drama, and expect they will be the better of it. Now it was obvious to me, that the poor monsters, whose mouths are only of use to spout the vapid blank verse which your modern playwright puts into the part of the confidant and subaltern villain of his piece, did not know what to make of the energetic and poetical diction which
even these subordinate departments abound with in the Legend. As the play greatly exceeded the usual length (lasting till half-past ten), we intend, when it is repeated to-night, to omit some of the passages where the weight necessarily fell on the weakest of our host, although we may hereby injure the detail of the plot. The scenery was very good, and the rock, without appearance of pantomime, was so contrived as to place Mrs Siddons in a very precarious situation to all appearance. The dresses were more tawdry than I should have judged proper, but expensive and showy. I got my
brother John’s Highland recruiting party to reinforce the garrison of Inverary, and as they mustered beneath the porch of the castle, and seemed to fill the court-yard behind, the combat scene had really the appearance of reality. Siddons has been most attentive, anxious, assiduous, and docile, and had drilled his troops so well that the prompter’s aid was unnecessary, and I do not believe he gave a single hint the whole night; nor were there any false or ridiculous accents or gestures even among the underlings, though God knows they fell often far short of the true spirit. Mrs Siddons spoke the epilogue* extremely well: the prologue,† which I will send you in its revised state, was also very well received. Mrs Scott sends her kindest compliments of congratulation; she had a party of thirty friends in one small box, which she was obliged to watch like a clucking hen till she had gathered her whole flock, for the crowd was insufferable. I am going to see the Legend to-night, when I shall enjoy it quietly, for last night I was so much interested in its reception that I cannot say I was at leisure to attend to the feelings arising from the representation itself. People are dying to read it. If you think of suffering a single edition to be

* Written by Henry Mackenzie.

† See Scott’s Poetical Works, vol. viii. p. 387.

MR TERRY—1810.273
printed to gratify their curiosity, I will take care of it. But I do not advise this, because until printed no other theatres can have it before you give leave. My kind respects attend
Miss Agnes Baillie, and believe me ever your obliged and faithful servant,

Walter Scott.

“P.S. A friend of mine writes dramatic criticism now and then. I have begged him to send me a copy of the Edinburgh paper in which he inserts his lucubrations, and I will transmit it to you: he is a play-going man, and more in the habit of expressing himself on such subjects than most people.—In case you have not got a playbill, I enclose one, because I think in my own case I should like to see it.”

The Family Legend had a continuous run of fourteen nights, and was soon afterwards printed and published by the Ballantynes.

The theatrical critic alluded to in the last of these letters was the elder of those brothers; the newspaper in which his lucubrations then appeared was the Edinburgh Evening Courant; and so it continued until 1817, when the Edinburgh Weekly Journal was purchased by the printing company in the Canongate; ever after which period it was edited by the prominent member of that firm, and from time to time was the vehicle of many fugitive pieces by the unseen partner.

In one of these letters there occurs, for the first time, the name of a person who soon obtained a large share of Scott’s regard and confidence—the late ingenious comedian, Mr Daniel Terry. He had received a good education, and been regularly trained as an architect; but abandoned that profession, at an early period of life, for the stage, and was now beginning to attract attention as a va-
luable and efficient actor in
Henry Siddons’s new company at Edinburgh. Already he and the Ballantynes were constant companions, and through his familiarity with them, Scott had abundant opportunities of appreciating his many excellent and agreeable qualities. He had the manners and feelings of a gentleman. Like John Kemble, he was deeply skilled in the old literature of the drama, and he rivalled Scott’s own enthusiasm for the antiquities of vertu. Their epistolary correspondence in after days was frequent, and will supply me with many illustrations of Scott’s minor tastes and habits. As their letters lie before me, they appear as if they had all been penned by the same hand. Terry’s idolatry of his new friend induced him to imitate his writing so zealously, that Scott used to say, if he were called on to swear to any document, the utmost he could venture to attest would be, that it was either in his own hand or in Terry’s. The actor, perhaps unconsciously, mimicked him in other matters with hardly inferior pertinacity. His small lively features had acquired, before I knew him, a truly ludicrous cast of Scott’s graver expression; he had taught his tiny eyebrow the very trick of the poet’s meditative frown; and to crown all, he so habitually affected his tone and accent that, though a native of Bath, a stranger could hardly have doubted he must be a Scotchman. These things afforded Scott and all their mutual acquaintances much diversion; but perhaps no Stoic could have helped being secretly gratified by seeing a clever and sensible man convert himself into a living type and symbol of admiration.

Charles Mathews and Terry were once thrown out of a gig together, and the former received an injury which made him halt ever afterwards, while the latter escaped unhurt. “Dooms, Dauniel,” said Mathews when they next met, “what a pity that it wasna your luck to get
the game leg, mon! Your
Shirra wad hae been the very thing, ye ken, an’ ye wad hae been croose till ye war coffined!” Terry, though he did not always relish bantering on this subject, replied readily and good-humouredly by a quotation from Peter Pindar’s Bozzy and Piozzi:
“When Foote his leg by some misfortune broke,
Says I to Johnson, all by way of joke,
Sam, sir, in Paragraph will soon be clever,
He’ll take off Peter better now than ever.”

Mathews’s mirthful caricature of Terry’s sober mimicry of Scott was one of the richest extravaganzas of his social hours; but indeed I have often seen this Proteus dramatize the whole Ballantyne group with equal success while Rigdumfunnidos screamed with delight, and Aldiborontiphoscophornio faintly chuckled, and the Sheriff, gently smiling, pushed round his decanters.

Miss Seward died in March, 1809. She bequeathed her poetry to Scott, with an injunction to publish it speedily, and prefix a sketch of her life; while she made her letters (of which she had kept copies) the property of Mr Constable, in the assurance that due regard for his own interests would forthwith place the whole collection before the admiring world. Scott superintended accordingly the edition of the lady’s verses, which was published in three volumes in August, 1810, by John Ballantyne and Co.; and Constable lost no time in announcing her correspondence, which appeared a year later, in six volumes. The following letter alludes to these productions, as well as a comedy by Mr Henry Siddons, which he had recently brought out on the Edinburgh stage; and lastly, to the Lady of the Lake, the printing of which had by this time made great progress.

To Miss Joanna Baillie.
“Edinburgh, March 18, 1810.

“Nothing, my dear Miss Baillie, can loiter in my hands, when you are commanding officer. I have put the play in progress through the press, and find my publishers, the Ballantynes, had previously determined to make Mr Longman, the proprietor of your other works, the offer of this. All that can be made of it in such a cause certainly shall, and the booksellers shall be content with as little profit as can in reason be expected. I understand the trade well, and will take care of this. Indeed, I believe the honour weighs more with the booksellers here than the profit of a single play. So much for business. You are quite right in the risk I run of failure in a third poem; yet I think I understand the British public well enough to set every sail towards the popular breeze. One set of folks pique themselves upon sailing in the wind’s eye another class drive right before it; now I would neither do one or t’other, but endeavour to go, as the sailors express it, upon a wind, and make use of it to carry me my own way, instead of going precisely in its direction; or, to speak in a dialect with which I am more familiar, I would endeavour to make my horse carry me, instead of attempting to carry my horse. I have a vain-glorious presentiment of success upon this occasion, which may very well deceive me, but which I would hardly confess to any body but you, nor perhaps to you neither, unless I knew you would find it out whether I told it you or no,—
“You are a sharp observer, and you look
Quite through the eyes of men.—

“I plead guilty to the charge of ill-breeding to Miss ***. The despair which I used to feel on receiving poor
Miss Seward’s letters, whom I really liked, gave me a most unsentimental horror for sentimental letters. The crossest thing I ever did in my life was to poor, dear Miss Seward; she wrote me in an evil hour (I had never seen her, mark that!) a long and most passionate epistle upon the death of a dear friend, whom I had never seen neither, concluding with a charge not to attempt answering the said letter, for she was dead to the world, &c. &c. &c. Never were commands more literally obeyed. I remained as silent as the grave, till the lady made so many enquiries after me, that I was afraid of my death being prematurely announced by a sonnet or an elegy. When I did see her, however, she interested me very much, and I am now doing penance for my ill-breeding, by submitting to edite her posthumous poetry, most of which is absolutely execrable. This, however, is the least of my evils, for when she proposed this bequest to me, which I could not in decency refuse, she combined it with a request that I would publish her whole literary correspondence. This I declined on principle, having a particular aversion at perpetuating that sort of gossip; but what availed it? Lo! to ensure the publication, she left it to an Edinburgh bookseller; and I anticipate the horror of seeing myself advertised for a live poet like a wild beast on a painted streamer, for I understand all her friends are depicted therein in body, mind, and manners. So much for the risks of sentimental correspondence.

Siddons’ play was truly flat, but not unprofitable; he contrived to get it well propped in the acting, and—though it was such a thing as if you or I had written it (supposing, that is, what in your case, and I think even in my own, is impossible) would have been damned seventyfold,—yet it went through with applause. Such is the humour of the multitude; and they will quarrel with venison for being dressed a day sooner than fashion
requires, and batten on a neck of mutton, because, on the whole, it is rather better than they expected; however, Siddons is a good lad, and deserves success, through whatever channel it comes. His
mother is here just now. I was quite shocked to see her, for the two last years have made a dreadful inroad both on voice and person; she has, however, a very bad cold. I hope she will be able to act Jane de Montfort, which we have long planned. Very truly yours,

W. S.”