LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, Bart.
Chapter XI 1815

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
Creative Commons License

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH

Goethe expressed, I fancy, a very general sentiment, when he said, that to him the great charm and value of my friend’s Life of Buonaparte seemed quite independent of the question of its accuracy as to small details; that he turned eagerly to the book, not to find dates sifted, and countermarches analyzed, but to contemplate what could not but be a true record of the broad impressions made on the mind of Scott by the marvellous revolutions of his own time in their progress. Feeling how justly in the main that work has preserved those impressions, though gracefully softened and sobered in the retrospect of peaceful and more advanced years, I the less regret that I have it not in my power to quote any letters of his touching the reappearance of Napoleon on the soil of France—the immortal march from Cannes—the reign of the Hundred Days, and the preparations for another struggle, which fixed the gaze of Europe in May 1815.

That he should have been among the first civilians who hurried over to see the field of Waterloo, and hear
English bugles sound about the walls of Paris, could have surprised none who knew the lively concern he had always taken in the military efforts of his countrymen, and the career of the illustrious captain, who had taught them to re-establish the renown of Agincourt and Blenheim,—
“Victor of Assaye’s Eastern plain,
Victor of all the fields of Spain.”
I had often heard him say, however, that his determination was, if not fixed, much quickened, by a letter of an old acquaintance of his, who had, on the arrival of the news of the 18th of June, instantly repaired to Brussels, to tender his professional skill in aid of the overburdened medical staff of the conqueror’s army. When, therefore, I found the letter in question preserved among
Scott’s papers, I perused it with a peculiar interest; and I now venture, with the writer’s permission, to present it to the reader. It was addressed by Sir Charles Bell to his brother, an eminent barrister in Edinburgh, who transmitted it to Scott. “When I read it,” said he, “it set me on fire.” The marriage of Miss Maclean Clephane of Torloisk with the Earl of Compton (now Marquis of Northampton), which took place on the 24th of July, was in fact the only cause why he did not leave Scotland instantly; for that dear young friend had chosen Scott for her guardian, and on him accordingly devolved the chief care of the arrangements on this occasion. The extract sent to him by Mr George Joseph Bell is as follows:—

“Brussels, 2d July, 1815.

“This country, the finest in the world, has been of late quite out of our minds. I did not, in any degree, anticipate the pleasure I should enjoy, the admiration
forced from me, on coming into one of these antique towns, or in journeying through this rich garden. Can you recollect the time when there were gentlemen meeting at the Cross of Edinburgh, or those whom we thought such? They are all collected here. You see the very men, with their scraggy necks sticking out of the collars of their old-fashioned square-skirted coats—their canes—their cocked-hats; and, when they meet, the formal bow, the hat off to the ground, and the powder flying in the wind. I could divert you with the odd resemblances of the Scottish faces among the peasants, too—but I noted them at the time with my pencil, and I write to you only of things that you won’t find in my pocket-book.

“I have just returned from seeing the French wounded received in their hospital; and could you see them laid out naked, or almost so—100 in a row of low beds on the ground though wounded, exhausted, beaten, you would still conclude with me that these were men capable of marching unopposed from the west of Europe to the east of Asia. Strong, thickset, hardy veterans, brave spirits and unsubdued, as they cast their wild glance upon you,—their black eyes and brown cheeks finely contrasted with the fresh sheets,—you would much admire their capacity of adaptation. These fellows are brought from the field after lying many days on the ground; many dying—many in the agony many miserably racked with pain and spasms; and the next mimicks his fellow, and gives it a tune,—Aha, vous chantez bien! How they are wounded you will see in my notes. But I must not have you to lose the present impression on me of the formidable nature of these fellows as exemplars of the breed in France. It is a forced praise; for from all I have seen, and all I have heard of their fierceness, cruelty, and bloodthirstiness, I cannot convey to
you my detestation of this race of trained banditti. By what means they are to be kept in subjection until other habits come upon them, I know not; but I am convinced that these men cannot be left to the bent of their propensities.

“This superb city is now ornamented with the finest groupes of armed men that the most romantic fancy could dream of. I was struck with the words of a friend—E.: ‘I saw,’ said he, ‘that man returning from the field on the 16th.’ (This was a Brunswicker of the Black or Death Hussars.) ‘He was wounded, and had had his arm amputated on the field. He was among the first that came in. He rode straight and stark upon his horse the bloody clouts about his stump pale as death, but upright, with a stern, fixed expression of feature, as if loth to lose his revenge.’ These troops are very remarkable in their fine military appearance; their dark and ominous dress sets off to advantage their strong, manly, northern features and white mustachios; and there is something more than commonly impressive about the whole effect.

“This is the second Sunday after the battle, and many are not yet dressed. There are 20,000 wounded in this town, besides those in the hospitals, and the many in the other towns;—only 3000 prisoners; 80,000, they say, killed and wounded on both sides.”

I think it not wonderful that this extract should have set Scott’s imagination effectually on fire; that he should have grasped at the idea of seeing probably the last shadows of real warfare that his own age would afford; or that some parts of the great surgeon’s simple phraseology are reproduced, almost verbatim, in the first of “Paul’s Letters to his Kinsfolk.” No sooner was Scott’s purpose known, than some of his young neighbours in
the country proposed to join his excursion; and, in company with three of them, namely, his kinsman,
John Scott of GalaAlexander Pringle, the younger, of Whytbank (now M. P. for Selkirkshire)—and Robert Bruce, advocate (now Sheriff of Argyle)—he left Edinburgh for the south, at 5 a.m., on the 27th of July.

They travelled by the stage-coach, and took the route of Hull and Lincoln to Cambridge; for Gala and Whytbank, being both members of that university, were anxious to seize this opportunity of revisiting it themselves, and showing its beautiful architecture to their friend. After this wish had been gratified, they proceeded to Harwich, and thence, on the 3d of August, took ship for Helvoetsluys.

“The weather was beautiful,” says Gala, “so we all went outside the coach from Cambridge to Harwich. At starting, there was a general complaint of thirst, the consequence of some experiments overnight on the celebrated bishop of my Alma Mater; our friend, however, was in great glee, and never was a merrier basket than he made it all the morning. He had cautioned us, on leaving Edinburgh, never to name names in such situations, and our adherence to this rule was rewarded by some amusing incidents. For example, as we entered the town where we were to dine, a heavy-looking man, who was to stop there, took occasion to thank Scott for the pleasure his anecdotes had afforded him: ‘You have a good memory, sir,’ said he; ‘mayhap, now, you sometimes write down what you hear or be a-reading about?’ He answered very gravely, that he did occasionally put down a few notes, if any thing struck him particularly. In the afternoon, it happened that he sat on the box, while the rest of us were behind him. Here, by degrees, he became quite absorbed in his own reflections. He frequently repeated to himself, or composed perhaps, for a good
while, and often smiled or raised his hand, seeming completely occupied and amused. His neighbour, a vastly scientific and rather grave professor, in a smooth drab Benjamin and broad-brimmed beaver, cast many a curious sidelong glance at him, evidently suspecting that all was not right with the upper story, but preserved perfect politeness. The poet was, however, discovered by the captain of the vessel in which we crossed the Channel, and a perilous passage it was, chiefly in consequence of the unceasing tumblers in which this worthy kept drinking his health.”

Before leaving Edinburgh, Scott had settled in his mind the plan of “Paul’s Letters;” for on that same day, his agent, John Ballantyne, addressed the following letter, from his marine villa near Newhaven—

To Messrs Constable and Co.
“Trinity, 27th July, 1815.
“Dear Sirs,

Mr Scott left town to-day for the Continent. He proposes writing from thence a series of letters on a peculiar plan, varied in matter and style, and to different supposititious correspondents.

“The work is to form a demy 8vo volume of twenty-two sheets, to sell at 12s. It is to be begun immediately on his arrival in France, and to be published, if possible, the second week of September, when he proposes to return.

“We print 3000 of this, and I am empowered to offer you one-third of the edition, Messrs Longman and Co. and Mr Murray having each the same share: the terms, twelve months’ acceptance for paper and print, and half profits at six months, granted now, as under. The over copies will pay the charge for advertising. I am, &c.

John Ballantyne.
22 sheets printing,— L.3 15 0 L.82 10 0
145 reams, demy,—   1 10 0  217 10 0
    L.300 0 0
3000 at 8s. L.1200 0 0  
Cost,  300 0 0  
  L.900 0 0 Profit—one-half is L.450.”

Before Scott reached Harwich, he knew that this offer had been accepted without hesitation; and thenceforth, accordingly, he threw his daily letters to his wife into the form of communications meant for an imaginary group, consisting of a spinster sister, a statistical laird, a rural clergyman of the Presbyterian Kirk, and a brother, a veteran officer on half-pay. The rank of this last personage corresponded, however, exactly with that of his own elder brother, John Scott, who also, like the Major of the book, had served in the Duke of York’s unfortunate campaign of 1797; the sister is only a slender disguise for his aunt Christian Rutherfurd, already often mentioned; Lord Somerville, long President of the Board of Agriculture, was Paul’s laird; and the shrewd and unbigoted Dr Douglas of Galashiels was his “minister of the gospel.” These epistles, after having been devoured by the little circle at Abbotsford, were transmitted to Major John Scott, his mother and Miss Rutherfurd in Edinburgh; from their hands they passed to those of James Ballantyne and Mr Erskine, both of whom assured me that the copy ultimately sent to the press consisted, in great part, of the identical sheets that had successively reached Melrose through the post. The rest had of course been, as Ballantyne expresses it, “somewhat cobbled;” but, on the whole, Paul’s Let-
ters are to be considered as a true and faithful journal of this expedition; insomuch, that I might perhaps content myself, in this place, with a simple reference to that delightful volume. He found time, however, to write letters during his absence from Britain, to some others of his friends; and a specimen or two of these may interest the reader. I have also gathered, from the companions of the journey, a few more particulars, which Scott’s modesty withheld him from recording; and some trivial circumstances which occur to me, from recollection of his own conversation, may also be acceptable.

But I hope that, if the reader has not perused Paul’s Letters recently, he will refresh his memory, before he proceeds further, by bestowing an hour on that genuine fragment of the author’s autobiography. He is now, unless he had the advantage of Scott’s personal familiarity, much better acquainted with the man than he could have been before he took up this compilation of his private correspondence—and especially before he perused the full diary of the lighthouse yacht in 1814; and a thousand little turns and circumstances which may have, when he originally read the book, passed lightly before his eye, will now, I venture to say, possess a warm and vivid interest, as inimitably characteristic of a departed friend. The kindest of husbands and fathers never portrayed himself with more unaffected truth than in this vain effort, if such he really fancied he was making, to sustain the character of “a cross old bachelor.” The whole man, just as he was, breathes in every line, with all his compassionate and benevolent sympathy of heart, all his sharpness of observation, and sober shrewdness of reflection; all his enthusiasm for nature, for country life, for simple manners and simple pleasures, mixed up with an equally glowing enthusiasm, at which, many may smile, for the tiniest relics of feudal antiquity
—and last, not least, a pulse of physical rapture for the “circumstance of war,” which bears witness to the blood of
Boltfoot and Fire the Braes.

At Brussels, Scott found the small English garrison left there in command of Major-General Sir Frederick Adam, the son of his highly valued friend, the present Lord Chief Commissioner of the Jury Court in Scotland. Sir Frederick had been wounded at Waterloo, and could not as yet mount on horseback; but one of his aides-de-camp, Captain Campbell, escorted Scott and his party to the field of battle, on which occasion they were also accompanied by another old acquaintance of his, Major Pryse Gordon, who being then on half-pay, happened to be domesticated with his family at Brussels. Major Gordon has since published two lively volumes of “Personal Memoirs;” and Gala bears witness to the fidelity of certain reminiscences of Scott at Brussels and Waterloo, which occupy one of the chapters of this work. I shall, therefore, extract the passage.

Sir Walter Scott accepted my services to conduct him to Waterloo: the General’s aide-de-camp was also of the party. He made no secret of his having undertaken to write something on the battle; and perhaps he took the greater interest on this account in every thing that he saw. Besides, he had never seen the field of such a conflict; and never having been before on the Continent, it was all new to his comprehensive mind. The day was beautiful; and I had the precaution to send out a couple of saddle-horses, that he might not be fatigued in walking over the fields, which had been recently ploughed up. In our rounds we fell in with Monsieur de Costar, with whom he got into conversation. This man had attracted so much notice by his pretended story of being about the person of Napoleon, that he was of too much importance to be passed by: I did not, indeed, know as much of this fellow’s charlatanism at that time as afterwards, when I saw him confronted with a blacksmith of La Belle Alliance, who had been his companion in a hiding-place ten miles from the field during the whole day; a fact which he could not deny. But he had got up a tale so plausible and so profitable,
that he could afford to bestow hush-money on the companion of his flight, so that the imposition was but little known; and strangers continued to be gulled. He had picked up a good deal of information about the positions and details of the battle; and being naturally a sagacious Wallon, and speaking French pretty fluently, he became the favourite cicerone, and every lie he told was taken for gospel. Year after year, until his death in 1824, he continued his popularity, and raised the price of his rounds from a couple of francs to five; besides as much for the hire of a horse, his own property; for he pretended that the fatigue of walking so many hours was beyond his powers. It has been said that in this way he realized every summer a couple of hundred Napoleons.

“When Sir Walter had examined every point of defence and attack, we adjourned to the ‘Original Duke of Wellington’ at Waterloo, to lunch after the fatigues of the ride. Here he had a crowded levee of peasants, and collected a great many trophies, from cuirasses down to buttons and bullets. He picked up himself many little relics, and was fortunate in purchasing a grand cross of the legion of honour. But the most precious memorial was presented to him by my wife—a French soldier’s book, well stained with blood, and containing some songs popular in the French army, which he found so interesting that he introduced versions of them in his Paul’s Letters;’ of which he did me the honour to send me a copy, with a letter, saying, ‘that he considered my wife’s gift as the most valuable of all his Waterloo relics.’

“On our return from the field, he kindly passed the evening with us, and a few friends whom we invited to meet him. He charmed us with his delightful conversation, and was in great spirits from the agreeable day he had passed; and with great good-humour promised to write a stanza in my wife’s album. On the following morning he fulfilled his promise by contributing some beautiful verses on Hougoumont. I put him into my little library to prevent interruption, as a great many persons had paraded in the Pare opposite my window to get a peep of the celebrated man, many having dogged him from his hotel.

“Brussels affords but little worthy of the notice of such a traveller as the Author of ‘Waverley;’ but he greatly admired the splendid tower of the Maison de Ville, and the ancient sculpture and style of architecture of the buildings which surround the Grand Place.

“He told us, with great humour, a laughable incident which had occurred to him at Antwerp. The morning after his arrival at that
city from Holland, he started at an early hour to visit the tomb of
Rubens in the Church of St Jacques, before his party were up. After wandering about for some time, without finding the object he had in view, he determined to make enquiry, and observing a person stalking about, he addressed him in his best French; but the stranger, pulling off his hat, very respectfully replied in the pure Highland accent, ‘I’m vary sorry, Sir, but I canna speak ony thing besides English.’—‘This is very unlucky indeed, Donald,’ said Sir Walter, ‘but we must help one another; for to tell you the truth, I’m not good at any other tongue but the English, or rather, the Scotch.’—‘Oh, sir, maybe,’ replied the Highlander, ‘you are a countryman, and ken my maister Captain Cameron of the 79th, and could tell me whare he lodges. I’m just cum in, sir, frae a place they ca’ Machlin,* and ha’ forgotten the name of the captain’s quarters; it was something like the Laaborer.’—‘I can, I think, help you with this, my friend,’ rejoined Sir Walter. ‘There is an inn just opposite to you (pointing to the Hotel du Grand Laboureur): I dare say that will be the captain’s quarters’; and it was so. I cannot do justice to the humour with which Sir Walter recounted this dialogue.”†

The following is the letter which Scott addressed to the Duke of Buccleuch, immediately after seeing the field of Waterloo; and it may amuse the reader to compare it with Major Gordon’s chapter, and with the writer’s own fuller, and, of course, “cobbled” detail, in the pages of Paul:—

To his Grace the Duke of Buccleuch, &c.
“My dear Lord Duke,

“I promised to let you hear of my wanderings, however unimportant; and have now the pleasure of informing your Grace, that I am at this present time an inhabitant of the Premier Hotel de Cambrai, after having been about a week upon the Continent. We landed at Helvoet, and proceeded to Brussels, by Ber-

* Mechlin—the Highlander gave it the familiar pronunciation of a Scotch village, Mauchline, celebrated in many of Burns’s poems.

† See Major Gordon’s Personal Memoirs, (1830), vol. ii. pp. 325-338.

gen-op-Zoom and Antwerp, both of which are very strongly fortified. The ravages of war are little remarked in a country so rich by nature; but every thing seems at present stationary, or rather retrograde, where capital is required. The chateaux are deserted, and going to decay; no new houses are built, and those of older date are passing rapidly into the possession of a class inferior to those for whom we must suppose them to have been built. Even the old gentlewoman of Babylon has lost much of her splendour, and her robes and pomp are of a description far subordinate to the costume of her more magnificent days. The dresses of the priests were worn and shabby, both at Antwerp and Brussels, and reminded me of the decayed wardrobe of a bankrupt theatre: yet, though the gentry and priesthood have suffered, the eternal bounty of nature has protected the lower ranks against much distress. The unexampled fertility of the soil gives them all, and more than they want; and could they but sell the grain which they raise in the Netherlands, nothing else would be wanting to render them the richest people (common people, that is to say) in the world.

“On Wednesday last, I rode over the field of Waterloo, now for ever consecrated to immortality. The more ghastly tokens of the carnage are now removed, the bodies both of men and horses being either burned or buried; but all the ground is still torn with the shot and shells, and covered with cartridges, old hats, and shoes, and various relics of the fray which the peasants have not thought worth removing. Besides, at Waterloo and all the hamlets in the vicinage, there is a mart established for cuirasses; for the eagles worn by the imperial guard on their caps; for casques, swords, carabines, and similar articles. I have bought two handsome cuirasses, and intend them, one for Bowhill, and one for
Abbotsford, if I can get them safe over, which
Major Pryse Gordon has promised to manage for me. I have also, for your Grace, one of the little memorandum-books, which I picked up on the field, in which every French soldier was obliged to enter his receipts and expenditure, his services, and even his punishments. The field was covered with fragments of these records. I also got a good MS. collection of French songs, probably the work of some young officer, and a croix of the Legion of Honour. I enclose, under another cover, a sketch of the battle, made at Brussels. It is not, I understand, strictly accurate; but sufficiently so to give a good notion of what took place. In fact, it would require twenty separate plans to give an idea of the battle at its various stages. The front, upon which the armies engaged, does not exceed a long mile. Our line, indeed, originally extended half a-mile farther towards the village of Brain-la-Leude; but as the French indicated no disposition to attack in that direction, the troops which occupied this space were gradually concentrated by Lord Wellington, and made to advance till they had reached Hougomont—a sort of chateau, with a garden and wood attached to it, which was powerfully and effectually maintained by the Guards during the action. This place was particularly interesting. It was a quiet-looking gentleman’s house, which had been burnt by the French shells. The defenders, burnt out of the house itself, betook themselves to the little garden, where, breaking loop-holes through the brick walls, they kept up a most destructive fire on the assailants, who had possessed themselves of a little wood which surrounds the villa on one side. In this spot vast numbers had fallen; and, being hastily buried, the smell is most offensive at this moment. Indeed, I felt the same annoyance in many parts of the field; and, did I live near the
spot, I should be anxious about the diseases which this steaming carnage might occasion. The rest of the ground, excepting this chateau, and a farm-house called La Hay Sainte, early taken, and long held, by the French, because it was too close under the brow of the descent on which our artillery was placed to admit of the pieces being depressed so as to play into it, the rest of the ground, I say, is quite open, and lies between two ridges, one of which (Mont St Jean) was constantly occupied by the English; the other, upon which is the farm of La Belle Alliance, was the position of the French. The slopes between are gentle and varied; the ground every where practicable for cavalry, as was well experienced on that memorable day. The cuirassiers, despite their arms of proof, were quite inferior to our heavy dragoons. The meeting of the two bodies occasioned a noise, not unaptly compared to the tinkering and hammering of a smith’s shop. Generally the cuirassiers came on stooping their heads very low, and giving point; the British frequently struck away their casques while they were in this position, and then laid at the bare head. Officers and soldiers all fought, hand to hand, without distinction; and many of the former owed their life to dexterity at their weapon, and personal strength of body. Shaw, the milling Life-Guards’ man, whom your Grace may remember among the champions of The Fancy, maintained the honour of the fist, and killed or disabled upwards of twenty Frenchmen, with his single arm, until he was killed by the assault of numbers. At one place, where there is a precipitous sand or gravel pit, the heavy English cavalry drove many of the cuirassiers over pell-mell, and followed over themselves like fox-hunters. The conduct of the infantry and artillery was equally, or, if possible, more distinguished, and it was all fully necessary; for, besides that
our army was much outnumbered, a great part of the sum-total were foreigners. Of these, the Brunswickers and Hanoverians behaved very well; the Belgians but sorrily enough. On one occasion, when a Belgic regiment fairly ran off,
Lord Wellington rode up to them, and said, ‘My lads, you must be a little blown; come, do take your breath for a moment, and then we’ll go back, and try if we can do a little better;’ and he actually carried them back to the charge. He was, indeed, upon that day, every where, and the soul of every thing; nor could less than his personal endeavours have supported the spirits of the men through a contest so long, so desperate, and so unequal. At his last attack, Buonaparte brought up 15,000 of his Guard, who had never drawn trigger during the day. It was upon their failure that his hopes abandoned him.

“I spoke long with a shrewd Flemish peasant, called John De Costar, whom he had seized upon as his guide, and who remained beside him the whole day, and afterwards accompanied him in his flight as far as Charleroi. Your Grace may be sure that I interrogated Mynheer very closely about what he heard and saw. He guided me to the spot where Buonaparte remained during the latter part of the action. It was in the highway from Brussels to Charleroi, where it runs between two high banks, on each of which was a French battery. He was pretty well sheltered from the English fire; and, though many bullets flew over his head, neither he nor any of his suite were touched. His other stations, during that day, were still more remote from all danger. The story of his having an observatory erected for him is a mistake. There is such a thing, and he repaired to it during the action; but it was built or erected some months before, for the purpose of a trigonometrical survey of the country, by
King of the Netherlands. Bony’s last position was nearly fronting a tree, where the Duke of Wellington was stationed; there was not more than a quarter of a mile between them; but Bony was well sheltered, and the Duke so much exposed, that the tree is barked in several places by the cannon-balls levelled at him. As for Bony, De Costar says he was very cool during the whole day, and even gay. As the cannon-balls flew over them, De Costar ducked; at which the Emperor laughed, and told him they would hit him all the same. At length, about the time he made his grand and last effort, the fire of the Prussian artillery was heard upon his right, and the heads of their columns became visible pressing out of the woods. Aid-de-camp after aid-de-camp came with the tidings of their advance, to which Bony only replied, attendez, attendez un instant, until he saw his troops, fantassins et cavaliers, return in disorder from the attack. He then observed hastily to a general beside him, je crois qu’ils sont mélés. The person to whom he spoke, hastily raised the spyglass to his eye; but Bony, whom the first glance had satisfied of their total discomfiture, bent his face to the ground, and shook his head twice, his complexion being then as pale as death. The general then said something, to which Buonaparte answered, c’est trop tard sauvons nous. Just at that moment, the allied troops, cavalry and infantry, appeared in full advance on all hands; and the Prussians, operating upon the right flank of the French, were rapidly gaining their rear. Bony, therefore, was compelled to abandon the high-road, which, besides, was choked with dead, with baggage, and with cannon; and, gaining the open country, kept at full gallop, until he gained, like Johnnie Cope, the van of the flying army. The marshals followed his example; and it was the most complete sauve qui peut that can well be imagined. Nevertheless, the
prisoners who were brought into Brussels maintained their national impudence, and boldly avowed their intention of sacking the city with every sort of severity. At the same time they had friends there. One man of rank and wealth went over to Bony during the action, and I saw his hotel converted into an hospital for wounded soldiers. It occupied one-half of one of the sides of the Place Royale, a noble square, which your Grace has probably seen. But, in general, the inhabitants of Brussels were very differently disposed; and their benevolence to our poor wounded fellows was unbounded. The difficulty was to prevent them from killing their guests with kindness, by giving them butcher’s meat and wine during their fever. As I cannot put my letter into post until we get to Paris, I shall continue it as we get along.

“12th August, Roye, in Picardy.—I imagine your Grace about this time to be tolerably well fagged with a hard day on the moors. If the weather has been as propitious as with us, it must be delightful. The country through which we have travelled is most uncommonly fertile, and skirted with beautiful woods; but its present political situation is so very uncommon, that I would give the world your Grace had come over for a fortnight. France may be considered as neither at peace or war. Valenciennes, for example, is in a state of blockade; we passed through the posts of the allies, all in the utmost state of vigilance, with patroles of cavalry, and videttes of infantry, up to the very gates, and two or three batteries were manned and mounted. The French troops were equally vigilant at the gates, yet made no objections to our passing through the town. Most of them had the white cockade, but looked very sulky, and were in obvious disorder and confusion. They had not yet made their terms with the King, nor accepted a com-
mander appointed by him; but as they obviously feel their party desperate, the soldiers are running from the officers, and the officers from the soldiers. In fact, the multiplied hosts which pour into this country, exhibiting all the various dresses and forms of war which can be imagined, must necessarily render resistance impracticable. Yet, like Satan, these fellows retain the unconquered propensity to defiance, even in the midst of defeat and despair. This morning we passed a great number of the disbanded garrison of Conde, and they were the most horrid-looking cut-throats I ever saw, extremely disposed to be very insolent, and only repressed by the consciousness that all the villages and towns around are occupied by the allies. They began by crying to us, in an ironical tone, Vive le Roi; then followed, sotto voce, Sacre B——, Mille diables, and other graces of French eloquence. I felt very well pleased that we were armed, and four in number; and still more so that it was daylight, for they seemed most mischievous ruffians. As for the appearance of the country, it is, notwithstanding a fine harvest, most melancholy. The windows of all the detached houses on the road are uniformly shut up; and you see few people, excepting the peasants who are employed in driving the contributions to maintain the armies. The towns are little better, having for the most part been partially injured by shells or by storm, as was the case both of Cambrai and Peronne. The men look very sulky; and if you speak three words to a woman, she is sure to fall a-crying. In short, the politesse and good humour of this people have fled with the annihilation of their self-conceit; and they look on you as if they thought you were laughing at them, or come to enjoy the triumph of our arms over theirs. Postmasters and landlords are all the same, and hardly to be propitiated even by English money,
although they charge us about three times as much as they durst do to their countryfolks. As for the Prussians, a party of cavalry dined at our hotel at Mons, eat and drank of the best the poor devils had left to give, called for their horses, and laughed in the face of the landlord when he offered his bill, telling him they should pay as they came back. The English, they say, have always paid honourably, and upon these they indemnify themselves. It is impossible to marchander, for if you object, the poor landlady begins to cry, and tells you she will accept whatever your lordship pleases, but that she is almost ruined and bankrupt, &c. &c. &c.

“This is a long stupid letter, but I will endeavour to send a better from Paris. Ever your Grace’s truly obliged,

Walter Scott.”

The only letter which Scott addressed to Joanna Baillie, while in Paris, goes over partly the same ground:—I transcribe the rest.

“Paris, 6th Sept. 1815.
“My dear Friend,

“I owe you a long letter, but my late travels and the date of this epistle will be a tolerable plea for your indulgence. The truth is, I became very restless after the battle of Waterloo, and was only detained by the necessity of attending a friend’s marriage from setting off instantly for the Continent. At length, however, I got away to Brussels, and was on the memorable field of battle about five weeks after it had been fought. . . .

“If our army had been all British, the day would have been soon decided; but the Duke, or, as they call him here, from his detestation of all manner of foppery, the Beau, had not above 35,000 British. All this was to
PARIS—AUG.—SEPT. 1815.365
be supplied by treble exertion on the part of our troops. The Duke was every where during the battle; and it was the mercy of Heaven that protected him, when all his staff had been killed or wounded round him. I asked him, among many other questions, if he had seen
Buonaparte; he said ‘No; but at one time, from the repeated shouts of Vive l’Empereur, I thought he must be near.’ This was when John De Costar placed him in the hollow way. I think, so near as I can judge, there may at that time have been a quarter of a mile between these two great generals.

“The fate of the French, after this day of decisive appeal, has been severe enough. There were never people more mortified, more subdued, and apparently more broken in spirit. They submit with sad civility to the extortions of the Prussians and the Russians, and avenge themselves at the expense of the English, whom they charge three prices for everything, because they are the only people who pay at all. They are in the right, however, to enforce discipline and good order, which not only maintains the national character in the mean time, but will prevent the army from suffering by habits of indulgence. I question if the Prussians will soon regain their discipline and habits of hardihood. At present their powers of eating and drinking, which are really something preternatural, are exerted to the very utmost. A thin Prussian boy, whom I sometimes see, eats in one day as much as three English ploughmen. At daybreak he roars for chocolate and eggs; about nine he breakfasts more solemnly à la fourchette, when, besides all the usual apparatus of an English déjeuner, he eats a world of cutlets, oysters, fruit, &c., and drinks a glass of brandy and a bottle of champagne. His dinner might serve Garagantua, at which he gets himself about three parts drunk—a circumstance which does not prevent the charge upon
cold meat, with tea and chocolate, about six o’clock; and concluding the whole with an immense supper. Positively the appetite of this lad reminds one of the Eastern tale of a man taken out of the sea by a ship’s crew, who, in return, ate up all the provisions of the vessel. He was, I think, flown away with by a roc; but from what quarter of the heavens the French are to look for deliverance from these devourers, I cannot presume to guess.

“The needless wreck and ruin which they make in the houses, adds much to the inconvenience of their presence, Most of the chateaux, where the Prussians are quartered, are what is technically called rumped, that is to say, plundered out and out. In the fine chateau of Montmorency, for instance, the most splendid apartments, highly ornamented with gilding and carving, were converted into barracks for the dirtiest and most savage-looking hussars I have yet seen. Imagine the work these fellows make with velvet hangings and embroidery. I saw one hag boiling her camp-kettle with part of a picture frame; the picture Itself has probably gone to Prussia. With all this greediness and love of mischief, the Prussians are not blood-thirsty; and their utmost violence seldom exceeds a blow or two with the flat of the sabre. They are also very civil to the women, and in both respects behave much better than the French did in their country; but they follow the bad example quite close enough for the sake of humanity and of discipline. As for our people, they live in a most orderly and regular manner. All the young men pique themselves on imitating the Duke of Wellington in non-chalance and coolness of manner; so they wander about every where, with their hands in the pockets of their long waistcoats, or cantering upon Cossack ponies, staring and whistling, and trotting to and fro, as if all Paris was theirs. The French hate
them sufficiently for the hauteur of their manner and pretensions, but the grounds of dislike against us are drowned in the actual detestation afforded by the other powers.

“This morning I saw a grand military spectacle,—about 20,000 Russians pass in review before all the Kings and Dominations who are now resident at Paris. The Emperor, King of Prussia, Duke of Wellington, with their numerous and brilliant attendance of generals, staff-officers, &c., were in the centre of what is called the Place Louis Quinze, almost on the very spot where Louis XVI. was beheaded. A very long avenue, which faces the station where they were placed, was like a glowing furnace, so fiercely were the sunbeams reflected from the arms of the host by which it was filled. A body of Cossacks kept the ground with their pikes, and, by their wild appearance, added to the singularity of the scene. On one hand was the extended line of the Tuileries, seen through the gardens and the rows of orange trees; on the other, the long column of troops advancing to the music. Behind was a long colonnade, forming the front to the palace, where the Chamber of Representatives are to hold their sittings; and in front of the monarchs was a superb row of buildings, on which you distinguish the bronze pillar erected by Napoleon to commemorate his victories over Russia, Prussia, and Austria, whose princes were now reviewing their victorious armies in what was so lately his capital. Your fancy, my dear friend, will anticipate, better than I can express, the thousand sentiments which arose in my mind from witnessing such a splendid scene, in a spot connected with such various associations. It may give you some idea of the feelings of the French—once so fond of spectacles—to know that, I think, there were not a hundred of that nation looking on. Yet this
country will soon recover the actual losses she has sustained, for never was there a soil so blessed by nature, or so rich in corn, wine, and oil, and in the animated industry of its inhabitants. France is at present the fabled giant, struggling, or rather lying supine, under the load of mountains which have been precipitated on her; but she is not, and cannot be crushed. Remove the incumbent weight of 600,000 or 700,000 foreigners, and she will soon stand upright—happy, if experience shall have taught her to be contented to exert her natural strength only for her own protection, and not for the annoyance of her neighbours. I am cut short in my lucubrations, by an opportunity to send this letter with
Lord Castlereagh’s despatches; which is of less consequence, as I will endeavour to see you in passing through London. I leave this city for Dieppe on Saturday, but I intend to go round by Harfleur, if possible. Ever your truly obliged and affectionate,

Walter Scott.”

“Paul” modestly acknowledges, in his last letter, the personal attentions which he received while in Paris, from Lords Cathcart, Aberdeen, and Castlereagh; and hints that, through their intervention, he had witnessed several of the splendid fêtes given by the Duke of Wellington, where he saw half the crowned heads of Europe grouped among the gallant soldiers who had cut a way for them to the guilty capital of France. Scott’s reception, however, had been distinguished to a degree of which Paul’s language gives no notion. The noble lords above-named welcomed him with cordial satisfaction; and the Duke of Wellington, to whom he was first presented by Sir John Malcolm, treated him then, and ever afterwards, with a kindness and confidence, which, I have often heard him say, he considered as “the highest dis-
tinction of his life.” He used to tell, with great effect, the circumstances of his introduction to the Emperor Alexander, at a dinner given by the Earl of Cathcart. Scott appeared, on that occasion, in the blue and red dress of the Selkirkshire Lieutenancy; and the Czar’s first question, glancing at his lameness, was, “In what affair were you wounded?” Scott signified that he suffered from a natural infirmity; upon which the Emperor said, “I thought Lord Cathcart mentioned that you had served.” Scott observed that the Earl looked a little embarrassed at this, and promptly answered, “O, yes; in a certain sense I have served—that is, in the yeomanry cavalry; a home force resembling the Landwehr, or Landsturm.”—“Under what commander?”—“Sous
M. le Chevalier Rae.”—“Were you ever engaged?”—“In some slight actions such as the battle of the Cross Causeway and the affair of Moredun-Mill.”—“This,” says Mr Pringle of Whytbank, “was, as he saw in Lord Cathcart’s face, quite sufficient, so he managed to turn the conversation to some other subject.” It was at the same dinner that he first met Platoff,* who seemed to take a great fancy to him, though, adds my friend, “I really don’t think they had any common language to converse in.” Next day, however, when Pringle and Scott were walking together in the Rue de la Paix, the Hetman happened to come up, cantering with some of his Cossacks; as soon as he saw

* Scott acknowledges, in a note to St Ronan’s Well (vol. i., p. 252), that he took from Platoff this portrait of Mr Touchwood:—“His face, which at the distance of a yard or two seemed hale and smooth, appeared, when closely examined, to be seamed with a million of wrinkles, crossing each other in every direction possible, but as fine as if drawn by the point of a very fine needle.” Thus did every little peculiarity remain treasured in his memory, to be used in due time for giving the air of minute reality to some imaginary personage.

Scott, he jumped off his horse, leaving it to the Pulk, and, running up to him, kissed him on each side of the cheek with extraordinary demonstrations of affection—and then made him understand, through an aid-de-camp, that he wished him to join his staff at the next great review, when he would take care to mount him on the gentlest of his Ukraine horses. So mounted, accordingly, he witnessed the great closing spectacle on the Champ de Mars.

It will seem less surprising that Scott should have been honoured with much attention by the leading soldiers and statesmen of Germany then in Paris. The fame of his poetry had already been established for some years in that country. Yet it may be doubted whether Blücher had heard of Marmion any more than Platoff; and old Blucher struck Scott’s fellow-travellers as taking more interest in him than any foreign general, except only the Hetman.

A striking passage in Paul’s tenth letter indicates the high notion which Scott had formed of the personal qualities of the Prince of Orange. After depicting, with almost prophetic accuracy, the dangers to which the then recent union of Holland and Belgium must be exposed, he concludes with expressing his hope that the firmness and sagacity of the King of the Netherlands, and the admiration which his heir’s character and bearing had already excited among all, even Belgian observers, might ultimately prove effective in redeeming this difficult experiment from the usual failure of “arrondissements, indemnities, and all the other terms of modern date, under sanction of which cities and districts, and even kingdoms, have been passed from one government to another, as the property of lands or stock is transferred by a bargain between private parties.”

It is not less curious to compare, with the subsequent
course of affairs in France, the following brief hint in Paul’s 16th letter:—“The general rallying point of the Liberalistes is an avowed dislike to the present monarch and his immediate connexions. They will sacrifice, they pretend, so much to the general inclinations of Europe, as to select a king from the Bourbon race; but he must be one of their own choosing, and the
Duke of Orleans is most familiar in their mouths.” Thus, in its very bud, had his eye detected the conjuration de quinze ans!

Among the gay parties of this festive period, Scott mentioned with special pleasure one fine day given to an excursion to Ermenonville, under the auspices of Lady Castlereagh. The company was a large one, including most of the distinguished personages whom I have been naming, and they dined al fresco among the scenes of Rousseau’s retirement, but in a fashion less accordant with the spirit of his rêveries d’un promeneur solitaire, than with the song which commemorates some earlier tenants of that delicious valley—
“La belle Gabrielle
Etoit dans ces lieux—
Et le souvenir d’elle
Nous rend heureux,” &c.

At some stage of this merry day’s proceedings, the ladies got tired of walking, and one of Lord Castlereagh’s young diplomatists was despatched into a village in quest of donkeys for their accommodation. The attaché returned by and by with a face of disappointment, complaining that the charge the people made was so extravagant, he could not think of yielding to the extortion. “Marshal Forwards” said nothing, but nodded to an aid-de-camp. They had passed a Prussian picket a little while before;—three times the requisite number of donkeys appeared presently, driven before half a dozen
hussars, who were followed by the screaming population of the refractory hamlet; and “an angry man was
Blücher,” said Scott, “when Lord Castlereagh condescended to go among them, all smiles, and sent them back with more Napoleons than perhaps the fee-simple of the whole stud was worth.”

Another evening of more peaceful enjoyment has left a better record. But I need not quote here the “Lines on St Cloud.”* They were sent, on the 16th of August, to the late Lady Alvanley, with whom and her daughters he spent much of his time while in Paris.

As yet, the literary reputation of Scott had made but little way among the French nation; but some few of their eminent men vied even with the enthusiastic Germans in their courteous and unwearied attentions to him. The venerable Chevalier, in particular, seemed anxious to embrace every opportunity of acting as his Cicerone; and many mornings were spent in exploring, under his guidance, the most remarkable scenes and objects of historical and antiquarian interest both in Paris and its neighbourhood. He several times also entertained Scott and his young companions at dinner; but the last of those dinners was thoroughly poisoned by a preliminary circumstance. The poet, on entering the saloon, was presented to a stranger, whose physiognomy struck him as the most hideous he had ever seen; nor was his disgust lessened, when he found, a few minutes afterwards, that he had undergone the accollade of David “of the blood-stained brush.”

From Paris, Mr Bruce and Mr Pringle went on to Switzerland, leaving the poet and Gala to return home together, which they did by way of Dieppe, Brighton, and London. It was here, on the 14th of September,

* See Poetical Works, vol. xi. p. 295.

Scott had that last meeting with Lord Byron, alluded to in his communication to Mr Moore, already quoted. He carried his young friend in the morning to call on Lord Byron, who agreed to dine with them at their hotel, where he met also Charles Matthews and Daniel Terry. The only survivor of the party has recorded it in his note-book as the most interesting day he ever spent. “How I did stare,” he says, “at Byron’s beautiful pale face, like a spirit’s good or evil. But he was bitter—what a contrast to Scott! Among other anecdotes of British prowess and spirit, Scott mentioned that a young gentleman —— —— —— had been awfully shot in the head while conveying an order from the Duke, and yet staggered on, and delivered his message when at the point of death. ‘Ha!’ said Byron, ‘I daresay he could do as well as most people without his head—it was never of much use to him.’ Waterloo did not delight him, probably—and Scott could talk or think of scarcely any thing else.”

Matthews accompanied them as far as Warwick and Kenilworth, both of which castles the poet had seen before, but now re-examined with particular curiosity. They spent a night on this occasion at Birmingham; and early next morning Scott sallied forth to provide himself with a planter’s knife of the most complex contrivance and finished workmanship. Having secured one to his mind, and which for many years after was his constant pocket-companion, he wrote his name on a card, “Walter Scott, Abbotsford,” and directed it to be engraved on the handle. On his mentioning this acquisition at breakfast, young Gala expressed his desire to equip himself in like fashion, and was directed to the shop accordingly. When he had purchased a similar knife, and produced his name in turn for the engraver, the master cutler eyed the signature for a mo-
ment, and exclaimed “John Scott of Gala! Well, I hope your ticket may serve me in as good stead as another Mr Scott’s has just done. Upon my word, one of my best men, an honest fellow from the North, went out of his senses when he saw it—he offered me a week’s work if I would let him keep it to himself—and I took Saunders at his word.” Scott used to talk of this as one of the most gratifying compliments he ever received in his literary capacity.

Their next halt was at Rokeby; but since Scott had heard from thence, Mrs Morritt’s illness had made such alarming progress, that the travellers regretted having obtruded themselves on the scene of affliction, and resumed their journey early next morning.

Reaching Abbotsford, Scott found with his family his old friend Mr Skene of Rubislaw, who had expected him to come home sooner, and James Ballantyne, who had arrived with a copious budget of bills, calendars, booksellers’ letters, and proof-sheets. From each of these visiters’ memoranda I now extract an anecdote. Mr Skene’s is of a small enough matter, but still it places the man so completely before myself, that I am glad he thought it worth setting down. “During Scott’s absence,” says his friend, “his wife had had the tiny drawingroom of the cottage fitted up with new chintz furniture—every thing had been set out in the best style—and she and her girls had been looking forward to the pleasure which they supposed the little surprise of the arrangements would give him. He was received in the spruce fresh room, set himself comfortably down in the chair prepared for him, and remained in the full enjoyment of his own fireside, and a return to his family circle, without the least consciousness that any change had taken place—until, at length, Mrs Scott’s patience could hold out no longer, and his attention was expressly call-
ed to it. The vexation he showed at having caused such a disappointment, struck me as amiably characteristic—and in the course of the evening, he every now and then threw out some word of admiration, to reconsole mamma.”

Ballantyne’s note of their next morning’s conference is in these terms. “He had just been reviewing a pageant of emperors and kings, which seemed, like another Field of the Cloth of Gold, to have been got up to realize before his eyes some of his own splendid descriptions. I begged him to tell me what was the general impression left on his mind. He answered, that he might now say he had seen and conversed with all classes of society, from the palace to the cottage, and including every conceivable shade of science and ignorance—but that he had never felt awed or abashed except in the presence of one man—the Duke of Wellington. I expressed some surprise. He said I ought not, for that the Duke of Wellington possessed every one mighty quality of the mind in a higher degree than any other man did, or had ever done. He said he beheld in him a great soldier and a great statesman—the greatest of each. When it was suggested that the Duke, on his part, saw before him a great poet and novelist, he smiled, and said, ‘What would the Duke of Wellington think of a few bits of novels, which perhaps he had never read, and for which the strong probability is that he would not care a sixpence if he had?’ You are not” (adds Ballantyne) “to suppose that he looked either sheepish or embarrassed in the presence of the Duke—indeed you well know that he did not, and could not do so; but the feeling, qualified and modified as I have described it, unquestionably did exist to a certain extent. Its origin forms a curious moral problem; and may probably be traced to a secret consciousness, which he might not himself
advert to, that the Duke, however great as a soldier and statesman, was so defective in imagination as to be incapable of appreciating that which had formed the charm of his own life, as well as of his works.”

It is proper to add to Mr Ballantyne’s solution of his “curious moral problem,” that he was, in his latter days, a strenuous opponent of the Duke of Wellington’s politics; to which circumstance he ascribes, in these same memoranda, the only coolness that ever occurred between him and Scott. I need hardly repeat, what has been already distinctly stated more than once, that Scott never considered any amount of literary distinction as entitled to be spoken of in the same breath with mastery in the higher departments of practical life least of all, with the glory of a first-rate captain. To have done things worthy to be written, was in his eyes a dignity to which no man made any approach, who had only written things worthy to be read. He on two occasions, which I can never forget, betrayed painful uneasiness when his works were alluded to as reflecting honour on the age that had produced Watt’s improvement of the steam-engine, and the safety-lamp of Sir Humphry Davy. Such was his modest creed—but from all I ever saw or heard of his intercourse with the Duke of Wellington, I am not disposed to believe that he partook it with the only man in whose presence he ever felt awe and abashment.*

* I think it very probable that Scott had his own first interview with the Duke of Wellington in his mind when he described the introduction of Roland Graham to the Regent Murray, in the novel of The Abbot: “Such was the personage before whom Roland Graham now presented himself with a feeling of breathless awe, very different from the usual boldness and vivacity of his temper. In fact he was, from education and nature, much more easily controlled by the moral superiority arising from the elevated talents and


A charming page in Mr Washington Irving’sAbbotsford and Newstead,” affords us another anecdote connected with this return from Paris. Two years after this time, when the amiable American visited Scott, he walked with him to a quarry, where his people were at work. “The face of the humblest dependant” (he says) “brightened at his approach—all paused from their labour, to have a pleasant ‘crack wi’ the laird.’ Among the rest was a tall straight old fellow, with a healthful complexion and silver hairs, and a small round-crowned white hat. He had been about to shoulder a hod, but paused, and stood looking at Scott with a slight sparkling of his blue eye, as if waiting his turn; for the old fellow knew he was a favourite. Scott accosted him in an affable tone, and asked for a pinch of snuff. The old man drew forth a horn snuff-box. ‘Hoot, man,’ said Scott, ‘not that old mull. Where’s the bonnie French one that I brought you from Paris?’—‘Troth, your honour,’ replied the old fellow, ‘sic a mull as that is nae for week-days.’ On leaving the quarry, Scott informed me, that, when absent at Paris, he had purchased several trifling articles as presents for his dependants, and, among others, the gay snuff-box in question, which was so carefully reserved for Sundays by the veteran. ‘It was not so much the value of the gifts,’ said he, ‘that pleased them, as the idea that the laird should think of them when so far away.’”

One more incident of this return—it was told to me

renown of those with whom he conversed, than by pretensions founded only on rank or external show. He might have braved with indifference the presence of an Earl merely distinguished by his belt and coronet; but he felt overawed in that of the eminent soldier and statesman, the wielder of a nation’s power, and the leader of her armies.” Waverley Novels, vol. xx., p. 292.

by himself, some years afterwards, with gravity, and even sadness. “The last of my chargers,” he said, “was a high-spirited and very handsome one, by name Daisy, all over white, without a speck, and with such a mane as
Rubens delighted to paint. He had, among other good qualities, one always particularly valuable in my case, that of standing like a rock to be mounted. When he was brought to the door, after I came home from the Continent, instead of signifying, by the usual tokens, that he was pleased to see his master, he looked askant at me like a devil; and when I put my foot in the stirrup, he reared bolt upright, and I fell to the ground rather awkwardly. The experiment was repeated twice or thrice, always with the same result. It occurred to me that he might have taken some capricious dislike to my dress; and Tom Purdie, who always falls heir to the white hat and green jacket, and so forth, when Mrs Scott has made me discard a set of garments, was sent for, to try whether these habiliments would produce him a similar reception from his old friend Daisy: But Daisy allowed Tom to back him with all manner of gentleness. The thing was inexplicable—but he had certainly taken some part of my conduct in high dudgeon and disgust; and after trying him again, at the interval of a week, I was obliged to part with Daisy and wars and rumours of wars being over, I resolved thenceforth to have done with such dainty blood. I now stick to a good sober cob.” Somebody suggested, that Daisy might have considered himself as ill-used, by being left at home when the Laird went on his journey. “Ay,” said he, “these creatures have many thoughts of their own, no doubt, that we can never penetrate.” Then, laughing, “Troth,” said he, “maybe some bird had whispered Daisy that I had been to see the grand reviews at Paris
on a little scrag of a Cossack, while my own gallant trooper was left behind bearing Peter and the post-bag to Melrose.”

A few letters, written shortly after this return to Abbotsford, will, among other things, show with what zeal he at once resumed his literary industry, if indeed that can be said to have been at all interrupted by a journey, in the course of which a great part of Paul’s narrative, and also of the poem of “the Field of Waterloo,” must have been composed.

To J. B. S. Morritt, Esq. M.P. Rokeby Park.
“Abbotsford, 2d Oct. 1815.
“My dear Morritt,

“Few things could have given me more real pain, than to see Mrs Morritt under such severe suffering, and the misery you sustain in witnessing it. Yet let us trust in the goodness of Providence, which restored the health so deservedly dear to you from as great a state of depression upon a former occasion. Our visit was indeed a melancholy one, and, I fear, added to your distress, when, God knows, it required no addition. The contrast of this quiet bird’s nest of a place, with the late scene of confusion and military splendour which I have witnessed, is something of a stunning nature, and, for the first five or six days, I have been content to fold my hands, and saunter up and down in a sort of indolent and stupified tranquillity, my only attempt at occupation having gone no farther than pruning a young tree now and then. Yesterday, however, and to-day, I began, from necessity, to prune verses, and have been correcting proofs of my little attempt at a poem on Waterloo. It will be out this week, and you shall have a copy by the Carlisle coach, which pray judge favourably, and
remember it is not always the grandest actions which are best adapted for the arts of poetry and painting. I believe I shall give offence to my old friends the Whigs, by not condoling with
Buonaparte. Since his sentence of transportation, he has begun to look wonderfully comely in their eyes. I would they had hanged him, that he might have died a perfect Adonis. Every reasonable creature must think the Ministers would have deserved the cord themselves, if they had left him in a condition again to cost us the loss of 10,000 of our best and bravest, besides thirty millions of good money. The very threats and frights which he has given the well-meaning people of this realm (myself included), deserved no less a punishment than banishment, since the ‘putting in bodily fear’ makes so material a part of every criminal indictment. But, no doubt, we shall see Ministers attacked for their want of generosity to a fallen enemy, by the same party who last year, with better grounds, assailed them for having left him in a situation again to disturb the tranquillity of Europe. My young friend Gala has left me, after a short visit to Abbotsford. He is my nearest (conversable) neighbour, and I promise myself much comfort in him, as he has a turn both for the sciences and for the arts, rather uncommon among our young Scotch lairds. He was delighted with Rokeby and its lord, though he saw both at so melancholy a period, and endured, not only with good humour but with sympathy, the stupidity of his fellow-traveller, who was not by any means dans son brillant for some time after leaving you.

“We visited Corby Castle on our return to Scotland, which remains, in point of situation, as beautiful as when its walks were celebrated by David Hume, in the only rhymes he was ever known to be guilty of. Here they are, from a pane of glass in an inn at Carlisle:
‘Here chicks in eggs for breakfast sprawl,
Here godless boys God’s glories squall,
Here Scotchmen’s heads do guard the wall,
But Corby’s walks atone for all.’
Would it not be a good quiz to advertise The Poetical Works of David Hume, with notes, critical, historical, and so forth—with an historical enquiry into the use of eggs for breakfast, a physical discussion on the causes of their being addled; a history of the English church music, and of the choir of Carlisle in particular; a full account of the affair of 1745, with the trials, last speeches, and so forth, of the poor plaids who were strapped up at Carlisle; and, lastly, a full and particular description of Corby, with the genealogy of every family who ever possessed it? I think, even without more than the usual waste of margin, the Poems of David would make a decent twelve shilling touch. I shall think about it, when I have exhausted mine own century of inventions.

“I do not know whether it is perverseness of taste, or old associations, but an excellent and very handsome modern house, which Mr Howard has lately built at Corby, does not, in my mind, assimilate so well with the scenery as the old irregular monastic hall, with its weatherbeaten and antique appearance, which I remember there some years ago.

“Out of my Field of Waterloo has sprung an odd wild sort of thing, which I intend to finish separately, and call it the Dance of Death.* These matters take up my time so much, that I must bid you adieu for the present. Besides, I am summoned to attend a grand chasse, and I see the children are all mounted upon the

* This was published in the Edinburgh Annual Register in 1815.—See Poetical Works, Ed. 1834, vol. xi. p. 297.

ponies. By the way,
Walter promises to be a gallant horseman. Ever most truly yours,

Walter Scott.”

I shall close this chapter with a transcript of some Notes on the proof sheets of the “Field of Waterloo.” John Ballantyne being at Abbotsford on the 3d of October, his brother the printer addressed the packet containing the sheets to him. John appears to have considered James’s observations on the margin before Scott saw them; and the record of the style in which the Poet repelled, or yielded to, his critics, will at all events illustrate his habitual good-nature.

John Ballantyne writes on the fly-leaf of the proofs to his confidential clerk:—“Mr Hodgson, I beg these sheets and all the MS. may be carefully preserved just as they stand, and put in my father’s desk. J. B.”

James prefaces his animadversions with this quotation:—
“Cut deep and spare not.—Penruddock

The Notes are these:—

Stanza I.—“Fair Brussells, them art far behind.”

James Ballantyne.—I do not like this line. It is tame, and the phrase “far behind,” has, to my feeling, some associated vulgarity.


Stanza II. “Let not the stranger with disdain
The architecture view.”

James.—These two words are cacophonous. Would not its do?’

Scott.—Th. is a bad sound. Ts. a much worse. Read their.

Stanza IV. “A stranger might reply.”

James.—My objection to this is probably fantastical, and I state it only, because from the first moment to the last, it has always made me boggle. I don’t like a stranger—Query, “The questioned”—The “spectator”—“gazer,” &c.

Scott.—Stranger is appropriate—it means stranger to the circumstances.


Stanza VI.—James.—You had changed “garner-house profound,” which I think quite admirable, to “garner under ground,” which I think quite otherways. I have presumed not to make the change—must I?

Scott.—I acquiesce, but with doubts; profound sounds affected.

Stanza VIII.—“The deadly tug of war at length
Must limits find in human strength,
And cease when these are passed.
Vain hope! &c.”

James.—I must needs repeat, that the deadly tug did cease in the case supposed. It lasted long very long; but, when the limits of resistance, of human strength were past that is, after they had fought for ten hours, then the deadly tug did cease. Therefore the “hope” was not “vain.”

Scott.—I answer it did not, because the observation relates to the strength of those actually engaged, and when their strength was exhausted other squadrons were brought up. Suppose you saw two lawyers scolding at the bar, you might say this must have an end—human lungs cannot hold out—but, if the debate were continued by the senior counsel, your well-grounded expectations would be disappointed—“Cousin, thou wert not wont to be so dull!”—

Ibid.—“Nor ceased the intermitted shot.”

James.—Mr Erskine contends that “intermitted” is redundant.

Scott.—“Nor ceased the storm of shell and shot.”

Stanza X. “Never shall our country say
We gave one inch of ground away,
When battling for her right.”

James.—In conflict?

John B.Warring? I am afraid battling must stand.

Scott.—All worse than the text.

Stanza XI.—“Peal’d wildly the imperial name.”

James.—I submit with diffidence whether this be not a somewhat tame conclusion to so very animated a stanza? And, at any rate, you will observe, that as it stands, you have no rhyme whatever to “The Cohort eagles fly.”—You have no rhyme to fly. Flew and fly, also, are perhaps too near, considering that each word closes a line of the same sort. I don’t well like “Thus in a torrent,” either. If it were, “In one broad torrent,” &c., it strikes me that it would be more spirited.


Scott.—Granted as to most of these observations Read, “in one dark torrent broad and strong,” &c. The “imperial name” is true, therefore must stand.

Stanza XII.—“Nor was one forward footstep stopped.”

James.—This staggering word was intended, I presume, but I don’t like it.

Scott.—Granted. Read staid, &c.

Ibid.—“Down were the eagle banners sent,
Down, down the horse and horsemen went.”

James.—This is very spirited and very fine; but it is unquestionably liable to the charge of being very nearly a direct repetition of yourself. See Lord of the Isles, Canto vi. St. 24:—

Down! down! in headlong overthrow,
Horseman and horse, the foremost go,” &c.

This passage is at once so striking and so recent, that its close similarity to the present, if not indeed its identity, must strike every reader; and really, to borrow from one’s self, is hardly much better than to borrow from one’s neighbours. And yet again, a few lines lower:
“As hammers on the anvils reel,
Against the cuirass clangs the steel.”
Lady of the Lake, Canto vi., Stanza 18:—
“I heard the broadswords’ deadly clang,
As if an hundred anvils rang.”
Here is precisely the same image, in very nearly the same words.

Scott.—I have altered the expression, but made a note, which, I think, will vindicate my retaining the simile.

Stanza XIII.—“As their own Ocean-rocks hold stance.”

John.—I do not know such an English word as stance.

Scott.—Then we’ll make it one for the nance.

Ibid.—“And newer standards fly.”

James.—I don’t like newer.

Scott.—“And other standards fly.”

Ibid.—“Or can thy memory fail to quote,
Heard to thy cost the vengeful note.”

James.—Would to God you would alter this quote!

John.—Would to God I could!—I certainly should.—


“Or can thy memory fail to know,
Heard oft before in hour of wo.”
“Or dwells not in thy memory still,
Heard frequent in thine hour of ill.”

Stanza XV.—“Wrung forth by pride, regret, and shame.”

James.—I have ventured to submit to your choice—

“Wrung forth by pride, and rage, and shame.”

Regret appearing a faint epithet amidst such a combination of bitter feelings.


Ibid.—“So mingle banner, wain, and gun,
Where in one tide of horror run
The warriors,” &c.

James.—In the first place, warriors running in a tide, is a clashing metaphor; in the second, the warriors running at all is a little homely. It is true, no doubt; but really running is little better than scampering. For these causes, one or both, I think the lines should be altered.

Scott.—You are wrong in one respect. A tide is always said to run, but I thought of the tide without attending to the equivoque, which must be altered. Read,—
“Where the tumultuous flight rolls on.”

Stanza. XVI—“found gallant grave.”

James.—This is surely a singular epithet to a grave. I think the whole of this stanza eminently fine; and, in particular, the conclusion.

Scott.— ——“found soldier’s grave.”——

Stanza XXI.—“Redoubled Picton’s soul of fire.”

James.—From long association, this epithet strikes me as conveying a semi-ludicrous idea.

Scott.—It is here appropriate, and your objection seems merely personal to your own association.

Ibid.—“Through his friend’s heart to wound his own.”

James.—Quaere—Pierce, or rather stabwound is faint.

Scott.— —“Pierce.”

Stanza XXI.—“Forgive, brave fallen, the imperfect lay.”

James.—Don’t like “brave fallen” at all; nor “appropriate praise,” three lines after. The latter in particular is prosaic.

Scott.—“Forgive, brave dead.”

——“The dear earned praise.”