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Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, Bart.
Chapter III 1814

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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I have to open the year 1814 with a melancholy story. Mention has been made, more than once, of Henry Weber, a poor German scholar, who escaping to this country in 1804, from misfortunes in his own, excited Scott’s compassion, and was thenceforth furnished, through his means, with literary employment of various sorts. Weber was a man of considerable learning; but Scott, as was his custom, appears to have formed an exaggerated notion of his capacity, and certainly countenanced him, to his own severe cost, in several most unfortunate undertakings. When not engaged on things of a more ambitious character, he had acted for ten years as his protector’s amanuensis, and when the family were in Edinburgh, he very often dined with them. There was something very interesting in his appearance and manners; he had a fair, open countenance, in which the honesty and the enthusiasm of his nation were alike visible; his demeanour was gentle and modest; and he had not only a stock of curious antiquarian knowledge, but the reminiscences, which he detailed with amusing
simplicity, of an early life chequered with many strange enough adventures. He was, in short, much a favourite with Scott and all the household; and was invited to dine with them so frequently, chiefly because his friend was aware that he had an unhappy propensity to drinking, and was anxious to keep him away from places where he might have been more likely to indulge it. This vice, however, had been growing on him; and of late Scott had found it necessary to make some rather severe remonstrances about habits which were at once injuring his health, and interrupting his literary industry.

They had, however, parted kindly when Scott left Edinburgh at Christmas 1813,—and the day after his return Weber attended him as usual in his library, being employed in transcribing extracts during several hours, while his friend, seated over against him, continued working at the Life of Swift. The light beginning to fail, Scott threw himself back in his chair, and was about to ring for candles, when he observed the German’s eyes fixed upon him with an unusual solemnity of expression. “Weber,” said he, “what’s the matter with you?” “Mr Scott,” said Weber rising, “you have long insulted me, and I can bear it no longer. I have brought a pair of pistols with me, and must insist on your taking one of them instantly;” and with that he produced the weapons, which had been deposited under his chair, and laid one of them on Scott’s manuscript. “You are mistaken, I think,” said Scott, “in your way of setting about this affair—but no matter. It can, however, be no part of your object to annoy Mrs Scott and the children; therefore, if you please, we will put the pistols into the drawer till after dinner, and then arrange to go out together like gentlemen.” Weber answered with equal coolness, “I believe that will be better,”
and laid the second pistol also on the table. Scott locked them both in his desk, and said, “I am glad you have felt the propriety of what I suggested—let me only request further that nothing may occur while we are at dinner to give my wife any suspicion of what has been passing.” Weber again assented, and Scott withdrew to his dressing-room, from which he immediately despatched a message to one of Weber’s intimate companions, and then dinner was served, and Weber joined the family circle as usual. He conducted himself with perfect composure, and every thing seemed to go on in the ordinary way, until whisky and hot water being produced, Scott, instead of inviting his guest to help himself, mixed two moderate tumblers of toddy, and handed one of them to Weber, who, upon that, started up with a furious countenance, but instantly sat down again, and when Mrs Scott expressed her fear that he was ill, answered placidly that he was liable to spasms, but that the pain was gone. He then took the glass, eagerly gulped down its contents, and pushed it back to Scott. At this moment the friend who had been sent for made his appearance, and Weber, on seeing him enter the room, rushed past him and out of the house, without stopping to put on his hat. The friend, who pursued instantly, came up with him at the end of the street, and did all he could to soothe his agitation, but in vain. The same evening he was obliged to be put into a strait waistcoat; and though, in a few days, he exhibited such symptoms of recovery that he was allowed to go by himself to pay a visit in the North of England, he there soon relapsed, and continued ever afterwards a hopeless lunatic, being supported to the end of his life in June, 1818, at Scott’s expense in an asylum at York.

The reader will now appreciate the gentle delicacy of the following letter:—

To J. B. S. Morritt, Esq. Rokeby, Greta Bridge.
“Edinburgh, 7th January, 1814.
“Many happy New-years to you and Mrs Morritt.
“My dear Morritt,

“I have postponed writing a long while, in hopes to send you the Life of Swift. But I have been delayed by an odd accident. Poor Weber, whom you may have heard me mention as a sort of grinder of mine, who assisted me in various ways, has fallen into a melancholy state. His habits, like those of most German students, were always too convivial—this, of course, I guarded against while he was in my house, which was always once a-week at least; but unfortunately he undertook a long walk through the Highlands of upwards of 2000 miles, and, I suppose, took potations pottle deep to support him through the fatigue. His mind became accordingly quite unsettled, and after some strange behaviour here, he was fortunately prevailed upon to go to * * * * who resides in Yorkshire. It is not unlikely, from something that dropped from him, that he may take it into his head to call at Rokeby, in which case you must parry any visit, upon the score of Mrs Morritt’s health. If he were what he used to be, you would be much pleased with him; for besides a very extensive general acquaintance with literature, he was particularly deep in our old dramatic lore, a good modern linguist, a tolerable draughtsman and antiquary, and a most excellent hydrographer. I have not the least doubt that if he submits to the proper regimen of abstinence and moderate exercise, he will be quite well in a few weeks or days—if not, it is miserable to think what may happen. The being suddenly deprived of his services in this melancholy way, has flung me back at least a month with Swift, and left me no time to write to my friends, for all my memoranda, &c. were in his hands, and had to be new-modelled, &c. &c.


“Our glorious prospects on the Continent called forth the congratulations of the City of Edinburgh amongothers. The Magistrates asked me to draw their address, which was presented by the Lord Provost in person, who happens to be a gentleman of birth and fortune.* The Prince said some very handsome things respecting the address, with which the Magistrates were so much elated, that they have done the genteel thing (as Winifred Jenkins says) by their literary adviser, and presented me with the freedom of the city, and a handsome piece of plate. I got the freedom at the same time with Lord Dalhousie and Sir Thomas Graham, and the Provost gave a very brilliant entertainment. About 150 gentlemen dined at his own house, all as well served as if there had been a dozen. So if one strikes a cuff on the one side from ill-will, there is a pat on the other from kindness, and the shuttlecock is kept flying. To poor Charlotte’s great horror, I chose my plate in the form of an old English tankard, an utensil for which I have a particular respect, especially when charged with good ale, cup, or any of those potables. I hope you will soon see mine.†

* The late Sir John Marjoribanks of Lees, Bart.

† The inscription for this tankard was penned by the late celebrated Dr James Gregory, Professor of the Practice of Physic in the University of Edinburgh; and I therefore transcribe it.


“Your little friends, Sophia and Walter, were at a magnificent party on Twelfth Night at Dalkeith, where the Duke and Duchess entertained all Edinburgh. I think they have dreamed of nothing since but Aladdin’s lamp and the palace of Haroun Alraschid. I am uncertain what to do this spring. I would fain go on the Continent for three or four weeks, if it be then safe for noncombatants. If not, we will have a merry meeting in London, and, like Master Silence,
‘Eat, drink, and make good cheer,
And thank heaven for the merry year.’
I have much to say about
Triermain. The fourth edition is at press. The Empress-Dowager of Russia has expressed such an interest in it, that it will be inscribed to her, in some doggrel sonnet or other, by the unknown author. This is funny enough. Love a thousand times to dear Mrs Morritt, who, I trust, keeps pretty well. Pray write soon a modest request from

Walter Scott.”

The last of Weber’s literary productions were the analyses of the old German Poems of the Helden Buch, and the Nibelungen Lied, which appeared in a massive quarto, entitled Illustrations of Northern Antiquities, published in the summer of 1814, by his and Scott’s friend, Mr Robert Jameson. Scott avowedly contributed to this collection an account of the Eyrbiggia Saga, which has since been included in his Prose Miscellanies (Vol. V., edition 1834); but any one who examines the share of the work which goes under Weber’s name, will see that Scott had a considerable hand in that also. The rhymed versions from the Nibelungen Lied came, I can have no doubt, from his pen; but he never reclaimed these, or any other similar benefactions,
of which I have traced not a few; nor, highly curious and even beautiful as many of them are, could they be intelligible, if separated from the prose narrative on which Weber embroidered them, in imitation of the style of
Ellis’s Specimens of Metrical Romance.

The following letters, on the first abdication of Napoleon, are too characteristic to be omitted here. I need not remind the reader how greatly Scott had calmed his opinions, and softened his feelings, respecting the career and fate of the most extraordinary man of our age, before he undertook to write his history.

To J. B. S. Morritt, Esq., Portland Place, London.
“Abbotsford, 30th April, 1814.

“‘Joy—joy in London now!’—and in Edinburgh, moreover, my dear Morritt; for never did you or I see, and never again shall we see, according to all human prospects, a consummation so truly glorious, as now bids fair to conclude this long and eventful war. It is startling to think that, but for the preternatural presumption and hardness of heart displayed by the arch-enemy of mankind, we should have had a hollow and ominous truce with him, instead of a glorious and stable peace with the country over which he tyrannized, and its lawful ruler. But Providence had its own wise purposes to answer—and such was the deference of France to the ruling power—so devoutly did they worship the Devil for possession of his burning throne, that, it may be, nothing short of his rejection of every fair and advantageous offer of peace could have driven them to those acts of resistance which remembrance of former convulsions had rendered so fearful to them. Thank God! it is done at last: and—although I rather grudge him even the mouthful of air which he may draw in the Isle of Elba
—yet I question whether the moral lesson would have been completed either by his perishing in battle, or being torn to pieces (which I should greatly have preferred), like the
De Witts, by an infuriated crowd of conscripts and their parents. Good God! with what strange feelings must that man retire from the most unbounded authority ever vested in the hands of one man, to the seclusion of privacy and restraint. We have never heard of one good action which he did, at least for which there was not some selfish or political reason; and the train of slaughter, pestilence, and famine and fire, which his ambition has occasioned, would have outweighed five hundredfold the private virtues of a Titus. These are comfortable reflections to carry with one to privacy. If he writes his own history, as he proposes, we may gain something; but he must send it here to be printed. Nothing less than a neck-or-nothing London bookseller, like John Dunton of yore, will venture to commit to the press his strange details uncastrated. I doubt that he has stamina to undertake such a labour; and yet, in youth, as I know from the brothers of Lauriston, who were his school-companions, Buonaparte’s habits were distinctly and strongly literary. Spain, the Continental System, and the invasion of Russia he may record as his three leading blunders—an awful lesson to sovereigns that morality is not so indifferent to politics as Machiavelians will assert. Res nolunt diu male administrari. Why can we not meet to talk over these matters over a glass of claret; and when shall that be? Not this spring, I fear, for time wears fast away, and I have remained here nailed among my future oaks, which I measure daily with a foot-rule. Those which were planted two years ago, begin to look very gaily, and a venerable plantation of four years old looks as bobbish as yours at the dairy by Greta side.
Besides, I am arranging this cottage a little more conveniently, to put off the plague and expense of building another year; and I assure you, I expect to spare
Mrs Morritt and you a chamber in the wall, with a dressing-room, and every thing handsome about you. You will not stipulate, of course, for many square feet. You would be surprised to hear how the Continent is awakening from its iron sleep. The utmost eagerness seems to prevail about English literature. I have had several voluntary epistles from different parts of Germany, from men of letters, who are eager to know what we have been doing, while they were compelled to play at blindman’s buff with the ci-devant Empereur. The feeling of the French officers, of whom we have many in our vicinity, is very curious, and yet natural.* Many of them, companions of Buonaparte’s victories, and who hitherto have marched with him from conquest to conquest, disbelieve the change entirely. This is all very stupid to write to you, who are in the centre of these wonders; but what else can I say, unless I should send you the measure of the future fathers of the forest? Mrs Scott is With me heres—the children in Edinburgh. Our kindest love attends Mrs Morritt. I hope to hear soon that her health continues to gain ground.

“I have a letter from Southey, in high spirits on the glorious news. What a pity this last battle† was fought. But I am glad the rascals were beaten once more. Ever yours,

Walter Scott.”

* A good many French officers, prisoners of war, had been living on parole in Melrose, and the adjoining villages; and Mr and Mrs Scott had been particularly kind and hospitable to them.

† The battle of Thoulouse.

To Robert Southey, Esq., Keswick.
“Edinburgh, 17th June, 1814.
“My dear Southey,

“I suspended writing to thank you for the Carmen Triumphale—(a happy omen of what you can do to immortalize our public story)—until the feverish mood of expectation and anxiety should be over. And then, as you truly say, there followed a stunning sort of listless astonishment and complication of feeling, which if it did not lessen enjoyment, confused and confounded one’s sense of it. I remember the first time I happened to see a launch, I was neither so much struck with the descent of the vessel, nor with its majestic sweep to its moorings, as with the blank which was suddenly made from the withdrawing so large an object, and the prospect which was at once opened to the opposite side of the dock crowded with spectators. Buonaparte’s fall strikes me something in the same way; the huge bulk of his power, against which a thousand arms were hammering, was obviously to sink when its main props were struck away—and yet now—when it has disappeared—the vacancy which it leaves in our minds and attention, marks its huge and preponderating importance more strongly than even its presence. Yet I so devoutly expected the termination, that in discussing the matter with Major Philips, who seemed to partake of the doubts which prevailed during the feverish period preceding the capture of Paris, when he was expressing his apprehensions that the capital of France would be defended to the last, I hazarded a prophecy that a battle would be fought on the heights of Mont Martre—(no great saga-city, since it was the point where Marlborough proposed to attack, and for which Saxe projected a scheme of defence)—and that if the allies were successful, which I little doubted, the city would surrender, and the
Senate proclaim the dethronement of Buonaparte. But I never thought nor imagined that he would have given in as he has done. I always considered him as possessing the genius and talents of an Eastern conqueror; and although I never supposed that he possessed, allowing for some difference of education, the liberality of conduct and political views which were sometimes exhibited by old
Hyder Ally, yet I did think he might have shown the same resolved and dogged spirit of resolution which induced Tippoo Saib to die manfully upon the breach of his capital city with his sabre clenched in his hand. But this is a poor devil, and cannot play the tyrant so rarely as Bottom the Weaver proposed to do. I think it is Strap in Roderick Random, who seeing a highwayman that had lately robbed him, disarmed and bound, fairly offers to box him for a shilling. One has really the same feeling with respect to Buonaparte, though if he go out of life after all in the usual manner, it will be the strongest proof of his own insignificance, and the liberality of the age we live in. Were I a son of Palm or Hoffer, I should be tempted to take a long shot at him in his retreat to Elba. As for coaxing the French by restoring all our conquests, it would be driving generosity into extravagance; most of them have been colonized with British subjects, and improved by British capital, and surely we owe no more to the French nation than any well-meaning individual might owe to a madman, whom—at the expense of a hard struggle, black eyes, and bruises—he has at length overpowered, knocked down, and by the wholesome discipline of a bull’s pizzle and strait-jacket, brought to the handsome enjoyment of his senses. I think with you, what we return to them should be well paid for; and they should have no Pondicherry to be a nest of smugglers, nor Mauri-
tius to nurse a hornet-swarm of privateers. In short, draw teeth, and pare claws, and leave them to fatten themselves in peace and quiet, when they are deprived of the means of indulging their restless spirit of enterprise.

“—The above was written at Abbotsford last month, but left in my portfolio there till my return some days ago; and now, when I look over what I have written, I am confirmed in my opinion that we have given the rascals too good an opportunity to boast that they have got well off. An intimate friend of mine,* just returned from a long captivity in France, witnessed the entry of the King, guarded by the Imperial Guards, whose countenances betokened the most sullen and ferocious discontent. The mob, and especially the women, pelted them for refusing to cry ‘Vive le Roi.’ If Louis is well advised, he will get rid of these fellows gradually, but as soon as possible. ‘Joy, joy in London now!’ What a scene has been going on there; I think you may see the Czar appear on the top of one of your stages one morning. He is a fine fellow, and has fought the good fight. Yours affectionately,

Walter Scott.”

On the 1st of July, 1814, Scott’s Life and Edition of Swift, in nineteen volumes 8vo, at length issued from the press. This adventure, undertaken by Constable in 1808, had been proceeded in during all the variety of their personal relations, and now came forth when author and publisher felt more warmly towards each other than perhaps they had ever before done. The impression was of 1250 copies; and a reprint of similar extent was

* Sir Adam Ferguson, who had been taken prisoner in the course of the Duke of Wellington’s retreat from Burgos.

called for in 1824. The
Life of Swift has subsequently been included in the author’s Miscellanies, and has obtained a very wide circulation.

By his industrious enquiries, in which, as the preface gratefully acknowledges, he found many zealous assistants, especially among the Irish literati,* Scott added to this edition many admirable pieces, both in prose and verse, which had never before been printed, and still more which had escaped notice amidst old bundles of pamphlets and broadsides. To the illustration of these and of all the better known writings of the Dean, he brought the same qualifications which had, by general consent, distinguished his Dryden, “uniting,” as the Edinburgh Review expresses it, “to the minute knowledge and patient research of the Malones and Chalmerses, a vigour of judgment, and a vivacity of style to which they had no pretensions.” His biographical narrative, introductory essays, and notes on Swift, show, indeed, an intimacy of acquaintance with the obscurest details of the political, social, and literary history of the period of Queen Anne, which it is impossible to consider without feeling a lively regret that he never accomplished a long cherished purpose of preparing a Life and Edition of Pope on a similar scale. It has been specially unfortunate for that “true deacon of the craft,” as Scott often called Pope, that first Goldsmith, and then Scott should have taken up, only to abandon it, the project of writing his life and editing his works.

The Edinburgh Reviewer thus characterises Scott’s Memoir of the Dean of St Patrick’s:

* The names which he particularly mentions, are those of the late Matthew Weld Hartstonge, Esq., of Dublin, Theophilus Swift, Esq., Major Tickell, Thomas Steele, Esq., Leonard Macnally, Esq., and the Rev. M. Berwick.


“It is not every where extremely well written, in a literary point of view, but it is drawn up in substance with great intelligence, liberality, and good feeling. It is quite fair and moderate in politics; and perhaps rather too indulgent and tender towards individuals of all descriptions—more full, at least, of kindness and veneration for genius and social virtue, than of indignation at baseness and profligacy. Altogether, it is not much like the production of a mere man of letters, or a fastidious speculator in sentiment and morality; but exhibits throughout, and in a very pleasing form, the good sense and large toleration of a man of the world, with much of that generous allowance for the
‘Fears of the brave and follies of the wise,’
which genius too often requires, and should therefore always be most forward to show. It is impossible, however, to avoid noticing that
Mr Scott is by far too favourable to the personal character of his author, whom we think it would really be injurious to the cause of morality to allow to pass either as a very dignified, or a very amiable person. The truth is, we think, that he was extremely ambitious, arrogant, and selfish; of a morose, vindictive, and haughty temper; and though capable of a sort of patronising generosity towards his dependents, and of some attachment towards those who had long known and flattered him, his general demeanour, both in public and private life, appears to have been far from exemplary; destitute of temper and magnanimity, and we will add, of principle, in the former; and in the latter, of tenderness, fidelity, or compassion.”—Edinburgh Review, vol. xvii., p. 9.

I have no desire to break a lance in this place in defence of the personal character of Swift. It does not appear to me that he stands at all distinguished among politicians (least of all, among the politicians of his time) for laxity of principle; nor can I consent to charge his private demeanour with the absence either of tenderness, or fidelity, or compassion. But who ever dreamed—most assuredly not Scott—of holding up the Dean of St Patrick’s as on the whole an “exemplary character?” The biographer felt, whatever his critic may have thought on the subject, that a vein of morbid humour ran through Swift’s whole existence, both mental and
physical, from the beginning. “He early adopted,” says Scott, “the custom of observing his birth-day, as a term not of joy but of sorrow, and of reading, when it annually recurred, the striking passage of Scripture in which Job laments and execrates the day upon which it was said in his father’s house that a man-child was born;” and I should have expected that any man who had considered the black close of the career thus early clouded, and read the entry of Swift’s diary on the funeral of
Stella, his epitaph on himself, and the testament by which he disposed of his fortune, would have been willing, like Scott, to dwell on the splendour of his immortal genius, and the many traits of manly generosity “which he unquestionably exhibited,” rather than on the faults and foibles of nameless and inscrutable disease, which tormented and embittered the far greater part of his earthly being. What the critic says of the practical and business-like style of Scott’s biography, appears very just—and I think the circumstance eminently characteristic—nor, on the whole, could his edition, as an edition, have been better dealt with than in the Essay which I have quoted. It was, by the way, written by Mr Jeffrey, at Constable’s particular request. “It was, I think, the first time I ever asked such a thing of him,” the bookseller said to me; “and I assure you the result was no encouragement to repeat such petitions.” Mr Jeffrey attacked Swift’s whole character at great length, and with consummate dexterity; and, in Constable’s opinion, his article threw such a cloud on the Dean, as materially checked, for a time, the popularity of his writings. Admirable as the paper is, in point of ability, I think Mr Constable may have considerably exaggerated its effects; but in those days it must have been difficult for him to form an impartial opinion upon such a question; for, as Johnson said of Cave, that “he
could not spit over his window without thinking of
The Gentleman’s Magazine,” I believe Constable allowed nothing to interrupt his paternal pride in the concerns of his Review, until the Waverley Novels supplied him with another periodical publication still more important to his fortunes.

And this consummation was not long delayed; a considerable addition having by that time been made to the original fragment, there appeared in The Scot’s Magazine, for February 1st, 1814, an announcement, that “Waverley; or, ’tis Sixty Years Since, a novel, in 3 vols, 12mo,” would be published in March. And before Scott came into Edinburgh, at the close of the Christmas vacation on the 12th of January, Mr Erskine had perused the greater part of the first volume, and expressed his decided opinion that Waverley would prove the most popular of all his friend’s writings. The MS. was forthwith copied by John Ballantyne, and sent to press. As soon as a volume was printed, Ballantyne conveyed it to Constable, who did not for a moment doubt from what pen it proceeded, but took a few days to consider of the matter, and then offered L.700 for the copyright. When we recollect what the state of novel literature in those days was, and that the only exceptions to its mediocrity, the Irish Tales of Miss Edgeworth, however appreciated in refined circles, had a circulation so limited that she had never realized a tithe of L.700 by the best of them—it must be allowed that Constable’s offer was a liberal one. Scott’s answer, however, transmitted through the same channel, was, that L.700 was too much, in case the novel should not be successful, and too little in case it should. He added, “If our fat friend had said L.1000, I should have been staggered.” John did not forget to hint this last circumstance to Constable, but the latter did not choose to
act upon it; and he ultimately published the work, on the footing of an equal division of profits between himself and the author. There was a considerable pause between the finishing of the first volume and the beginning of the second. Constable had, in 1812, acquired the copyright of the
Encyclopædia Britannica, and was now preparing to publish the valuable Supplement to that work, which has since, with modifications, been incorporated into its text. He earnestly requested Scott to undertake a few articles for the Supplement; he agreed—and, anxious to gratify the generous bookseller, at once laid aside his tale until he had finished two essays—those on Chivalry and the Drama. They appear to have been completed in the course of April and May, and he received for each of them (as he did subsequently for that on Romance)—L.100.

The two next letters will give us, in more exact detail than the author’s own recollection could supply in 1830, the history of the completion of Waverley. It was published on the 7th of July; and two days afterwards he thus writes:—

To J. B. S. Morritt, Esq. M. P., London.
“Edinburgh, 9th July, 1814.
“My dear Morritt,

“I owe you many apologies for not sooner answering your very entertaining letter upon your Parisian journey. I heartily wish I had been of your party, for you have seen what I trust will not be seen again in a hurry; since, to enjoy the delight of a restoration, there is a necessity for a previous bouleversement of every thing that is valuable in morals and policy, which seems to have been the case in France since 1790.* The Duke

* Mr Morritt had, in the spring of this year, been present at the first levee held at the Tuileries by Monsieur, (afterwards Charles X.),

Buccleuch told me yesterday of a very good reply of Louis to some of his attendants, who proposed shutting the doors of his apartments to keep out the throng of people. ‘Open the door,’ he said, ‘to John Bull; he has suffered a great deal in keeping the door open for me.’

“Now, to go from one important subject to another, I must account for my own laziness, which I do by referring you to a small anonymous sort of a novel, in three volumes, Waverley, which you will receive by the mail of this day. It was a very old attempt of mine to embody some traits of those characters and manners peculiar to Scotland, the last remnants of which vanished during my own youth, so that few or no traces now remain. I had written great part of the first volume, and sketched other passages, when I mislaid the MS., and only found it by the merest accident as I was rummaging the drawers of an old cabinet; and I took the fancy of finishing it, which I did so fast, that the last two volumes were written in three weeks. I had a great deal of fun in the accomplishment of this task, though I do not expect that it will be popular in the south, as much of the humour, if there be any, is local, and some of it even professional. You, however, who are an adopted Scotchman, will find some amusement in it. It has made a very strong impression here, and the good people of Edinburgh are busied in tracing the author, and in finding out originals for the portraits it contains. In the first case, they will probably find it difficult to convict the guilty author, although he is far from escaping suspicion. Jeffrey has offered to make oath that it is mine, and another great critic has tendered his affidavit ex contrario; so that these authorities have divided

as representative of his brother Louis XVIII. Mr M. had not been in Paris till that time since 1789.

the Gude Town. However, the thing has succeeded very well, and is thought highly of. I don’t know if it has got to London yet. I intend to maintain my incognito. Let me know your opinion about it. I should be most happy if I could think it would amuse a painful thought at this anxious moment. I was in hopes
Mrs Morritt was getting so much better that this relapse affects me very much. Ever yours truly,

W. Scott.”

“P.S.—As your conscience has very few things to answer for, you must still burthen it with the secret of the Bridal. It is spreading very rapidly, and I have one or two little fairy romances, which will make a second volume, and which I would wish published, but not with my name. The truth is, that this sort of muddling work amuses me, and I am something in the condition of Joseph Surface, who was embarrassed by getting himself too good a reputation; for many things may please people well enough anonymously, which, if they have me in the title-page, would just give me that sort of ill name which precedes hanging—and that would be in many respects inconvenient if I thought of again trying a grande opus

This statement of the foregoing letter (repeated still more precisely in a following one), as to the time occupied in the composition of the second and third volumes of Waverley, recalls to my memory a trifling anecdote, which, as connected with a dear friend of my youth, whom I have not seen for many years, and may very probably never see again in this world, I shall here set down, in the hope of affording him a momentary, though not an unmixed pleasure, when he may chance to read this compilation on a distant shore—and also in the hope
that my humble record may impart to some active mind in the rising generation a shadow of the influence which the reality certainly exerted upon his. Happening to pass through Edinburgh in June, 1814, I dined one day with the gentleman in question (now the
Honourable William Menzies, one of the Supreme Judges at the Cape of Good Hope), whose residence was then in George Street, situated very near to, and at right angles with, North Castle Street. It was a party of very young persons, most of them, like Menzies and myself, destined for the bar of Scotland, all gay and thoughtless, enjoying the first flush of manhood, with little remembrance of the yesterday or care of the morrow. When my companion’s worthy father and uncle, after seeing two or three bottles go round, left the juveniles to themselves, the weather being hot, we adjourned to a library which had one large window looking northwards. After carousing here for an hour or more, I observed that a shade had come over the aspect of my friend, who happened to be placed immediately opposite to myself, and said something that intimated a fear of his being unwell. “No,” said he, “I shall be well enough presently, if you will only let me sit where you are, and take my chair; for there is a confounded hand in sight of me here, which has often bothered me before, and now it won’t let me fill my glass with a good will.” I rose to change places with him accordingly, and he pointed out to me this hand which, like the writing on Belshazzar’s wall, disturbed his hour of hilarity. “Since we sat down,” he said, “I have been watching it—it fascinates my eye—it never stops—page after page is finished and thrown on that heap of MS., and still it goes on unwearied—and so it will be till candles are brought in, and God knows how long after that. It is the same every night—I can’t stand the sight of it when I am not at my books.”—“Some
stupid, dogged, engrossing clerk, probably,” exclaimed myself, or some other giddy youth in our society. “No, boys,” said our host, “I well know what hand it is—’tis
Walter Scott’s.” This was the hand that, in the evenings of three summer weeks, wrote the two last volumes of Waverley. Would that all who that night watched it, had profited by its example of diligence as largely as William Menzies!

In the next of these letters Scott enclosed to Mr Morritt the Prospectus of a new edition of the old poems of the Bruce and the Wallace, undertaken by the learned lexicographer, Dr John Jamieson; and he announces his departure on a sailing excursion round the north of Scotland. It will be observed, that when Scott began his letter, he had only had Mr Morritt’s opinion of the first volume of Waverley, and that before he closed it, he had received his friend’s honest criticism on the work as a whole, with the expression of an earnest hope that he would drop his incognito on the title-page of a second edition.

J. S. S. Morritt, Esq. M.P. Portland Place, London.
Abbotsford, July 24, 1814.
“My dear Morritt,

“I am going to say my vales to you for some weeks, having accepted an invitation from a committee of the Commissioners for the Northern Lights (I don’t mean the Edinburgh Reviewers, but the bonâ fide commissioners for the beacons), to accompany them upon a nautical tour round Scotland, visiting all that is curious on continent and isle. The party are three gentlemen with whom I am very well acquainted, William Erskine being one. We have a stout cutter, well fitted up and manned for the service by Government; and to make assurance double sure, the admiral has sent a sloop of
war to cruise in the dangerous points of our tour, and sweep the sea of the Yankee privateers, which sometimes annoy our northern latitudes. I shall visit the
Clephanes in their solitude—and let you know all that I see that is rare and entertaining, which, as we are masters of our time and vessel, should add much to my stock of knowledge.

“As to Waverley, I will play Sir Fretful for once, and assure you that I left the story to flag in the first volume on purpose; the second and third have rather more bustle and interest. I wished (with what success Heaven knows) to avoid the ordinary error of novel-writers, whose first volume is usually their best. But since it has served to amuse Mrs Morritt and you usque ab initio, I have no doubt you will tolerate it even unto the end. It may really boast to be a tolerably faithful portrait of Scottish manners, and has been recognised as such in Edinburgh. The first edition of a thousand instantly disappeared, and the bookseller informs me that the second, of double the quantity, will not supply the market for long. As I shall be very anxious to know how Mrs Morritt is, I hope to have a few lines from you on my return, which will be about the end of August or beginning of September. I should have mentioned that we have the celebrated engineer, Stevenson, along with us. I delight in these professional men of talent; they always give you some new lights by the peculiarity of their habits and studies, so different from the people who are rounded, and smoothed, and ground down for conversation, and who can say all that every other person says, and—nothing more.

“What a miserable thing it is that our royal family cannot be quiet and decent at least, if not correct and moral in their deportment. Old farmer George’s manly simplicity, modesty of expense, and domestic virtue,
saved this country at its most perilous crisis; for it is inconceivable the number of persons whom these qualities united in his behalf, who would have felt but feebly the abstract duty of supporting a crown less worthily worn.

“—I had just proceeded thus far when your kind favour of the 21st reached Abbotsford. I am heartily glad you continued to like Waverley to the end. The hero is a sneaking piece of imbecility; and if he had married Flora, she would have set him up upon the chimney-piece, as Count Borowlaski’s wife used to do with him.* I am a bad hand at depicting a hero properly so called, and have an unfortunate propensity for the dubious characters of borderers, buccaneers, Highland robbers, and all others of a Robin-Hood description. I do not know why it should be, as I am myself, like Hamlet, indifferent honest; but I suppose the blood of the old cattle-drivers of Teviotdale continues to stir in my veins.

“I shall not own Waverley; my chief reason is, that it would prevent me of the pleasure of writing again. David Hume, nephew of the historian, says the author must be of a Jacobite family and predilections, a yeoman-cavalry man, and a Scottish lawyer, and desires me to guess in whom these happy attributes are united. I shall not plead guilty, however; and, as such seems to be the fashion of the day, I hope charitable people will

* Count Borowlaski was a Polish dwarf, who, after realizing some money as an itinerant object of exhibition, settled, married, and died at Durham. He was a well-bred creature, and much noticed by the clergy and other gentry of that city. Indeed, even when travelling the country as a show, he had always maintained a sort of dignity. I remember him as going from house to house, when I was a child, in a sedan chair, with a servant in livery following him, who took the fee—M. le Comte himself (dressed in a scarlet coat and bag wig) being ushered into the room like any ordinary visitor.

believe my affidavit in contradiction to all other evidence. The Edinburgh faith now is, that Waverley is written by
Jeffrey, having been composed to lighten the tedium of his late Transatlantic voyage. So you see the unknown infant is like to come to preferment. In truth, I am not sure it would be considered quite decorous for me, as a Clerk of Session, to write novels. Judges being monks, Clerks are a sort of lay brethren, from whom some solemnity of walk and conduct may be expected. So, whatever I may do of this kind, I shall whistle it down the wind to prey on fortune. I will take care, in the next edition, to make the corrections you recommend. The second is, I believe, nearly through the press. It will hardly be printed faster than it was written; for though the first volume was begun long ago, and actually lost for a time, yet the other two were begun and finished between the 4th June and the 1st July, during all which I attended my duty in Court, and proceeded without loss of time or hinderance of business.

“I wish, for poor auld Scotland’s sake, and for the Manes of Bruce and Wallace, and for the living comfort of a very worthy and ingenious dissenting clergyman, who has collected a library and medals of some value, and brought up, I believe, sixteen or seventeen children (his wife’s ambition extended to twenty) upon about L.150 a-year—I say I wish, for all these reasons, you could get me among your wealthy friends a name or two for the enclosed proposals. The price is, I think, too high; but the booksellers fixed it two guineas above what I proposed. I trust it will be yet lowered to five guineas, which is a more comeatable sum than six. The poems themselves are great curiosities, both to the philologist and antiquary; and that of Bruce is invaluable, even to the historian. They have been hitherto wretchedly edited.


“I am glad you are not to pay for this scrawl. Ever yours,

Walter Scott.”

“P.S. I do not see how my silence can be considered as imposing on the public. If I give my name to a book without writing it, unquestionably that would be a trick. But, unless in the case of his averring facts which he may be called upon to defend or justify, I think an author may use his own discretion in giving or withholding his name. Harry Mackenzie never put his name in a title-page till the last edition of his works; and Swift only owned one out of his thousand and one publications. In point of emolument, every body knows that I sacrifice much money by withholding my name; and what should I gain by it, that any human being has a right to consider as an unfair advantage? In fact, only the freedom of writing trifles with less personal responsibility, and perhaps more frequently than I otherwise might do.

W. S.”

I am not able to give the exact date of the following reply to one of John Ballantyne’s expostulations on the subject of the secret:—

“No, John, I will not own the book—
I won’t, you Picaroon.
When next I try St Grubby’s brook,
The A. of Wa— shall bait the hook—
And flat-fish bite as soon,
As if before them they had got
The worn-out wriggler