LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, Bart.
Chapter XI 1820

Vol I Preface
Vol. I Contents.
Chapter I
Chapter II 1771-78
Chapter III 1778-83
Chapter IV 1783-86
Chapter V 1786-90
Chapter VI 1790-92
Chapter VII 1792-96
Chapter VIII 1796-97
Chapter IX 1798-99
Chapter X 1800-02
Chapter XI 1802-03
Chapter XII 1803-04
Vol. II Contents.
Chapter I 1804-05
Chapter II 1805
Chapter III 1806
Chapter IV 1806-08
Chapter V 1808
Chapter VI 1808-09
Chapter VII 1809-10
Chapter VIII 1810
Chapter IX 1810
Chapter X 1810-11
Chapter XI 1811
Chapter XII 1811-12
Vol. III Contents.
Chapter I 1812-13
Chapter II 1813
Chapter III 1814
Chapter IV 1814
Chapter V 1814
Chapter VI 1814
Chapter VII 1814
Chapter VIII 1814
Chapter IX 1814
Chapter X 1814-15
Chapter XI 1815
Chapter XII 1815
Vol III Appendix
Vol. IV Contents.
Chapter I 1816
Chapter II 1817
Chapter III 1817
Chapter IV 1818
Chapter V 1818
Chapter VI 1818
Chapter VII 1818-19
Chapter VIII 1819
Chapter IX 1819
Chapter X 1819
‣ Chapter XI 1820
Chapter XII 1820
Vol. V Contents.
Chapter I 1820
Chapter II 1820-21
Chapter III 1821
Chapter IV 1821
Chapter V 1821
Chapter VI 1821
Chapter VII 1822
Chapter VIII 1822
Chapter IX 1822-23
Chapter X 1823
Chapter XI 1823
Chapter XII 1824
Chapter XIII 1824-25
Vol. VI Contents.
Chapter I 1825
Chapter II 1825
Chapter III 1825
Chapter IV 1825
Chapter V 1826
Chapter VI 1826
Chapter VII 1826
Chapter VIII 1826
Chapter IX 1826
Chapter X 1826
Chapter XI 1826
Vol. VII Contents.
Vol VII Preface
Chapter I 1826-27
Chapter II 1827
Chapter III 1828
Chapter IV 1828
Chapter V 1829
Chapter VI 1830
Chapter VII 1830-31
Chapter VIII 1831
Chapter IX 1831
Chapter X 1831-32
Chapter XI 1832
Chapter XII
Vol VII Appendix
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In the course of December, 1819, and January, 1820, Scott drew up three essays, under the title of “The Visionary,” upon certain popular doctrines or delusions, the spread of which at this time filled with alarm, not only Tories like him, but many persons who had been distinguished through life for their adherence to political liberalism. These papers appeared successively in James Ballantyne’s Edinburgh Weekly Journal, and their parentage being obvious, they excited much attention in Scotland. Scott collected them into a pamphlet, which had also a large circulation; and I remember his showing very particular satisfaction when he observed a mason reading it to his comrades, as they sat at their luncheon, by a new house on Leith Walk. During January, however, his thoughts continued to be chiefly occupied with the details of the proposed corps of Foresters; of which, I believe, it was at last settled, as far as depended on the other gentlemen concerned in it, that he should be the Major. He wrote and spoke on this subject with undiminished zeal, until the whole fell to the ground in
consequence of the Government’s ultimately declining to take on itself any part of the expense; a refusal which must have been fatal to any such project when the
Duke of Buccleuch was a minor. He felt the disappointment keenly; but, in the mean time, the hearty alacrity with which his neighbours of all classes gave in their adhesion, had afforded him much pleasure, and, as regarded his own immediate dependants, served to rivet the bonds of affection and confidence, which were to the end maintained between him and them. Darnick had been especially ardent in the cause, and he thenceforth considered its volunteers as persons whose individual fortunes closely concerned him. I could fill many a page with the letters which he wrote at subsequent periods, with the view of promoting the success of these spirited young fellows in their various departments of industry: they were proud of their patron, as may be supposed, and he was highly gratified, as well as amused, when he learned that,—while the rest of the world were talking of “The Great Unknown,”—his usual sobriquet among these villagers was “the Duke of Darnick.” Already his possessions almost encircled this picturesque and thriving hamlet; and there were few things on which he had more strongly fixed his fancy than acquiring a sort of symbol of seigniory there, by becoming the purchaser of a certain then ruinous tower that predominated, with a few coeval trees, over the farm-houses and cottages of his ducal vassals. A letter, previously quoted, contains an allusion to this Peelhouse of Darnick; which is moreover exactly described in the novel which he had now in hand—the Monastery. The interest Scott seemed to take in the Peel awakened, however, the pride of its hereditary proprietor: and when that worthy person, who had made some money by trade in Edinburgh,
JANUARY, 1820.347
resolved on fitting it up for the evening retreat of his own life, his Grace of Darnick was too happy to wave his pretensions.

This was a winter of uncommon severity in Scotland; and the snow lay so deep and so long as to interrupt very seriously all Scott’s country operations. I find, in his letters to Laidlaw, various paragraphs expressing the concern he took in the hardships which his poor neighbours must be suffering. Thus, on the 19th of January, he says,

“Dear Willie,

“I write by the post that you may receive the enclosed, or rather subjoined, cheque for L.60, in perfect safety. This dreadful morning will probably stop Mercer.* It makes me shiver in the midst of superfluous comforts, to think of the distress of others. L.10 of the L.60 I wish you to distribute among our poorer neighbours, so as may best aid them. I mean not only the actually indigent, but those who are, in our phrase, ill off. I am sure Dr Scott— will assist you with his advice in this labour of love. I think part of the wood-money,‡ too, should be given among the Abbotstown folks if the storm keeps them off work, as is like.

Yours truly,
Walter Scott.

“Deep, deep snow lying here. How do the goodwife and bairns? The little bodies will be half buried in snow drift.”

* The weekly Darnick carrier.

† Dr Scott of Darnlee.—See ante, p. 260. I regret to observe in the newspapers, as this page is passing through the press, the death of this very amiable, modest, and intelligent friend of Sir Walter Scott’s.

‡ Some money expected from the sale of larches.


And again, on the 25th, he writes thus:—

“Dear Willie,

“I have yours with the news of the inundation, which, it seems, has done no damage. I hope Mai will be taken care of. He should have a bed in the kitchen, and always be called in doors after it is dark, for all the kind are savage at night. Please cause Swanston to knock him up a box, and fill it with straw from time to time. I enclose a cheque for L.50 to pay accounts, &c. Do not let the poor bodies want for a L.5, or even a L.10, more or less.

‘We’ll get a blessing wi’ the lave,
And never miss’t.’*
W. S.”

In the course of this month, through the kindness of Mr Croker, Scott received from the late Earl Bathurst, then Colonial Secretary of State, the offer of an appointment in the civil service of the East India Company for his second son: and this seemed at the time too good a thing not to be gratefully accepted; though the apparently increasing prosperity of his fortunes induced him, a few years afterwards, to indulge his parental feelings by throwing it up. He thus alludes to this matter in a letter to his good old friend at Jedburgh.

To Robert Shortreed, Esq. Sheriff Substitute of Roxburghshire, Jedburgh.
“Edinburgh, 19th Jan. 1820,
“My Dear Sir,

“I heartily congratulate you on getting the appointment for your son William in a manner so very pleasant to your feelings, and which is, like all Whyt-

* BurnsLines to a Mouse.

bank does, considerate, friendly, and generous.* I am not aware that I have any friends at Calcutta, but if you think letters to
Sir John Malcolm and Lieut.-Colonel Russell would serve my young friend, he shall have my best commendations to them.

“It is very odd that almost the same thing has happened to me; for about a week ago, I was surprised by a letter, saying, that an unknown friend (who since proves to be Lord Bathurst, whom I never saw or spoke with) would give my second son a writer’s situation for India. Charles is two years too young for this appointment; but I do not think I am at liberty to decline an offer so advantageous, if it can be so arranged that, by exchange or otherwise, it can be kept open for him. Ever yours faithfully,

Walter Scott.”

About the middle of February—it having been ere that time arranged that I should marry his eldest daughter in the course of the spring,—I accompanied him and part of his family on one of those flying visits to Abbotsford, with which he often indulged himself on a Saturday during term. Upon such occasions, Scott appeared at the usual hour in Court, but wearing, instead of the official suit of black, his country morning dress, green jacket and so forth, under the clerk’s gown; a license of which many gentlemen of the long robe had been accustomed to avail themselves in the days of his youth—it being then considered as the authentic badge that they were lairds as well as lawyers—but which, to use the dialect of the place, had fallen into desuetude

* “An India appointment, with the name blank, which the late Mr Pringle of Whytbank sent unsolicited, believing it might be found useful to a family where there were seven sons to provide for.”—Note, by Mr A. Shortrede.

before I knew the Parliament House. He was, I think, one of the two or three, or, at most, the half dozen, who still adhered to this privilege of their order; and it has now, in all likelihood, become quite obsolete, like the ancient custom, a part of the same system, for all Scotch barristers to appear without gowns or wigs, and in coloured clothes, when upon circuit. At noon, when the Court broke up,
Peter Mathieson was sure to be in attendance in the Parliament Close, and five minutes after, the gown had been tossed off, and Scott, rubbing his hands for glee, was under weigh for Tweedside. On this occasion, he was, of course, in mourning; but I hare thought it worth while to preserve the circumstance of his usual Saturday’s costume. As we proceeded, he talked without reserve of the novel of the Monastery, of which he had the first volume with him: and mentioned, what he had probably forgotten when he wrote the Introduction of 1830, that a good deal of that volume had been composed before he concluded Ivanhoe. “It was a relief,” he said, “to interlay the scenery most familiar to me with the strange world for which I had to draw so much on imagination.”

Next morning there appeared at breakfast John Ballantyne, who had at this time a shooting or hunting-box a few miles off in the vale of the Leader, and with him Mr Constable, his guest; and it being a fine clear day, as soon as Scott had read the Church service and one of Jeremy Taylor’s sermons, we all sallied out, before noon, on a perambulation of his upland territories; Maida and the rest of the favourites accompanying our march. At starting we were joined by the constant henchman, Tom Purdie—and I may save myself the trouble of any attempt to describe his appearance, for his master has given us an inimitably true one in introducing a certain personage of his Redgauntlet:—“He
was, perhaps, sixty years old; yet his brow was not much furrowed, and his jet black hair was only grizzled, not whitened, by the advance of age. All his motions spoke strength unabated; and, though rather undersized, he had very broad shoulders, was square made, thin-flanked, and apparently combined in his frame muscular strength and activity; the last somewhat impaired, perhaps, by years, but the first remaining in full vigour. A hard and harsh countenance; eyes far sunk under projecting eyebrows, which were grizzled like his hair; a wide mouth, furnished from ear to ear with a range of unimpaired teeth of uncommon whiteness, and a size and breadth which might have become the jaws of an ogre, completed this delightful portrait.” Equip this figure in Scott’s cast-off green jacket, white hat, and drab trousers; and imagine that years of kind treatment, comfort, and the honest consequence of a confidential grieve, had softened away much of the hardness and harshness originally impressed on the visage by anxious penury and the sinister habits of a black-fisher;—and the Tom Purdie of 1820 stands before us.

We were all delighted to see how completely Scott had recovered his bodily vigour, and none more so than Constable, who, as he puffed and panted after him up one ravine and down another, often stopped to wipe his forehead, and remarked that “it was not every author who should lead him such a dance.” But Purdie’s face shone with rapture as he observed how severely the swag-bellied bookseller’s activity was tasked. Scott exclaiming exultingly, though perhaps for the tenth time, “This will be a glorious spring for our trees, Tom!”—“You may say that. Sheriff,” quoth Tom,—and then lingering a moment for Constable—“My certy,” he added, scratching his head, “and I think it
will be a grand season for our buiks too.” But indeed Tom always talked of our buiks as if they had been as regular products of the soil as our aits and our birks. Having threaded, first the Hexilcleugh and then the Rhymer’s Glen, we arrived at Huntly Burn, where the hospitality of the kind Weird-Sisters, as Scott called the Miss Fergusons, reanimated our exhausted Bibliopoles, and gave them courage to extend their walk a little further down the same famous brook. Here there was a small cottage in a very sequestered situation, by making some little additions to which Scott thought it might be converted into a suitable summer residence for his daughter and future son-in-law. The details of that plan were soon settled—it was agreed on all hands that a sweeter scene of seclusion could not be fancied. He repeated some verses of
Rogers’Wish,” which paint the spot:
“Mine be a cot beside the hill—
A bee-hive’s hum shall soothe my ear;
A willowy brook that turns a mill,
With many a fall shall linger near:” &c.
But when he came to the Stanza—
“And Lucy at her wheel shall sing,
In russet-gown and apron blue,”
he departed from the text, adding—
“But if Bluestockings here you bring,
The Great Unknown won’t dine with you.”

Johnny Ballantyne, a projector to the core, was particularly zealous about this embryo establishment. Foreseeing that he should have had walking enough ere he reached Huntly Burn, his dapper little Newmarket groom had been ordered to fetch Old Mortality thither, and now, mounted on his fine hunter, he capered about us, looking pallid and emaciated as a ghost, but as gay
and cheerful as ever, and would fain have been permitted to ride over hedge and ditch to mark out the proper line of the future avenue.
Scott admonished him that the country people, if they saw him at such work, would take the whole party for heathens; and clapping spurs to his horse, he left us. “The deil’s in the body,” quoth Tom Purdie, “he’ll be ower every yett atween this and Turnagain, though it be the Lord’s day. I wadna wonder if he were to be ceeted before the Session.” “Be sure, Tam,” cries Constable, “that ye egg on the Dominie to blaw up his father—I would na grudge a hundred miles o’ gait to see the ne’er-do-weel on the stool, and neither, I’ll be sworn, would the Sheriff.”—“Na, na,” quoth the Sheriff—“we’ll let sleeping dogs be, Tam.”

As we walked homeward, Scott, being a little fatigued, laid his left hand on Tom’s shoulder and leaned heavily for support, chatting to his “Sunday poney,” as he called the affectionate fellow, just as freely as with the rest of the party, and Tom put in his word shrewdly and manfully, and grinned and grunted whenever the joke chanced to be within his apprehension. It was easy to see that his heart swelled within him from the moment that the Sheriff got his collar in his gripe.

There arose a little dispute between them about what tree or trees ought to be cut down in a hedgerow that we passed, and Scott seemed somewhat ruffled with finding that some previous hints of his on that head had not been attended to. When we got into motion again, his hand was on Constable’s shoulder and Tom dropped a pace or two to the rear, until we approached a gate, when he jumped forward and opened it. “Give us a pinch of your snuff, Tom,” quoth the Sheriff—Tom’s mull was produced, and the hand resumed its position. I was much diverted with Tom’s behaviour when we at length
reached Abbotsford. There were some garden chairs on the green in front of the cottage porch. Scott sat down on one of them to enjoy the view of his new tower as it gleamed in the sunset, and Constable and I did the like. Mr Purdie remained lounging near us for a few minutes, and then asked the Sheriff “to speak a word.” They withdrew together into the garden—and Scott presently rejoined us with a particularly comical expression of face. As soon as Tom was out of sight, he said—“Will ye guess what he has been saying, now?—Well, this is a great satisfaction! Tom assures me that he has thought the matter over, and will take my advice about the thinning of that clump behind
Captain Ferguson’s.”

I must not forget that, whoever might be at Abbotsford, Tom always appeared at his master’s elbow on Sunday, when dinner was over, and drank long life to the Laird and the Lady and all the good company, in a quaigh of whisky, or a tumbler of wine, according to his fancy. I believe Scott has somewhere expressed in. print his satisfaction that, among all the changes of our manners, the ancient freedom of personal intercourse may still be indulged between a master and an out-of-doors’ servant; but in truth he kept by the old fashion even with domestic servants, to an extent which I have hardly seen practised by any other gentleman. He conversed with his coachman if he sat by him, as he often did, on the box with his footman, if he happened to be in the rumble; and when there was any very young lad in the household, he held it a point of duty to see that his employments were so arranged as to leave time for advancing his education, made him bring his copybook once a-week to the library, and examined him as to all that he was doing. Indeed he did not confine this humanity to his own people. Any steady servant of a
friend of his was soon considered as a sort of friend too, and was sure to have a kind little colloquy to himself at coming and going. With all this, Scott was a very rigid enforcer of discipline—contrived to make it thoroughly understood by all about him, that they must do their part by him as he did his by them; and the result was happy. I never knew any man so well served as he was—so carefully, so respectfully, and so silently; and I cannot help doubting if, in any department of human operations, real kindness ever compromised real dignity.

In a letter, already quoted, there occurs some mention of the Prince Gustavus Vasa, who was spending this winter in Edinburgh, and his Royal Highness’s accomplished attendant, the Baron Polier. I met them frequently in Castle Street, and remember as especially interesting the first evening that they dined there. The only portrait in Scott’s Edinburgh dining room was one of Charles XII. of Sweden, and he was struck, as indeed every one must have been, with the remarkable resemblance which the exiled Prince’s air and features presented to the hero of his race. Young Gustavus, on his part, hung with keen and melancholy enthusiasm on Scott’s anecdotes of the expedition of Charles Edward Stewart. The Prince, accompanied by Scott and myself, witnessed the ceremonial of the proclamation of King George IV. on the 2d of February at the Cross of Edinburgh, from a window over Mr Constable’s shop in the High Street; and on that occasion also the air of sadness, that mixed in his features with eager curiosity, was very affecting. Scott explained all the details to him, not without many lamentations over the barbarity of the Auld Reekie bailies, who had removed the beautiful Gothic Cross itself, for the sake of widening the thoroughfare. The weather was fine, the sun shone bright; and the antique tabards
of the heralds, the trumpet notes of God save the King, and the hearty cheerings of the immense uncovered multitude that filled the noble old street, produced altogether a scene of great splendour and solemnity. The Royal Exile surveyed it with a flushed cheek and a watery eye, and Scott, observing his emotion, withdrew with me to another window, whispering “poor lad! poor lad! God help him.” Later in the season the Prince spent a few days at Abbotsford; but I have said enough to explain some allusions in the following letter to
Lord Montagu, in which Scott also adverts to several public events of January and February, 1820—the assassination of the Duke of Berri—the death and funeral of King George III.—the general election which ensued the royal demise—and its more unhappy consequence, the re-agitation of the old disagreement between George IV. and his wife, who, as soon as she learned his accession to the throne, announced her resolution of returning to England from the Continent (where she had been leading for some years a wandering life), and asserting her rights as Queen. The Tory gentleman in whose canvass of the Selkirk boroughs Scott was now earnestly concerned, was his worthy friend, Mr Henry Monteith of Carstairs, who ultimately carried the election.

To the Lord Montagu, &c. &c., Dillon Park, Windsor.
“Edinburgh, 22d February, 1820.
“My dear Lord,

“I have nothing to say, except that Selkirk has declared decidedly for Monteith, and that his calling and election seem to be sure. Roxburghshire is right and tight. Harden will not stir for Berwickshire. In short, within my sphere of observation, there is nothing which need make you regret your personal absence; and I
hope my dear young
namesake and chief will not find his influence abated while he is unable to head it himself. It is but little I can do, but it shall always be done with a good will and merits no thanks, for I owe much more to his father’s memory than ever I can pay a tittle of. I often think what he would have said or wished, and, within my limited sphere, that will always be a rule to me while I have the means of advancing in any respect the interest of his son—certainly if any thing could increase this desire, it would be the banner being at present in your Lordship’s hand. I can do little but look out a-head, but that is always something. When I look back on the house of Buccleuch, as I once knew it, it is a sad retrospect. But we must look forward, and hope for the young blossom of so goodly a tree. I think your Lordship judged quite right in carrying Walter in his place to the funeral.* He will long remember it, and may survive many occasions of the same kind, to all human appearance. Here is a horrid business of the Duke de Berri. It was first told me yesterday by Count Itterburg (i. e. Prince Gustavus of Sweden, son of the ex-King), who comes to see me very often. No fairy tale could match the extravagance of such a tale being told to a private Scotch gentleman by such a narrator, his own grandfather having perished in the same manner. But our age has been one of complete revolution, baffling all argument and expectation. As to the King; and Queen, or to use the abbreviation of an old Jacobite of my acquaintance, who, not loving to hear them so called at full length, and yet desirous to have the newspapers read to him, commanded these words always to be pronounced as the letters K. and Q.—I say then, as to the K. and the Q. I venture to think, that which-

* The funeral of George III. at Windsor: the young Duke of Buccleuch was at this time at Eton.

ever strikes the first blow will lose the battle. The sound, well-judging, and well-principled body of the people will be much shocked at the stirring such a hateful and disgraceful question. If the K. urges it unprovoked, the public feeling will put him in the wrong; if he lets her alone, her own imprudence, and that of her hot-headed adviser
Harry Brougham, will push on the discussion; and, take a fool’s word for it, as Sancho says, the country will never bear her coming back, foul with the various kinds of infamy she has been stained with, to force herself into the throne. On the whole, it is a discussion most devoutly to be deprecated by those who wish well to the Royal family.

“Now for a very different subject. I have a report that there is found on the farm of Melsington, in a bog, the limb of a bronze figure, full size, with a spur on the heel. This has been reported to Mr Riddell, as Commissioner, and to me as Antiquary in chief, on the estate. I wish your lordship would permit it to be sent provisionally to Abbotsford, and also allow me, if it shall seem really curious, to make search for the rest of the statue. Clarkson* has sent me a curious account of it; and that a Roman statue, for such it seems, of that size should be found in so wild a place, has something very irritating to the curiosity. I do not of course desire to have any thing more than the opportunity of examining the relique. It may be the foundation of a set of bronzes, if stout Lord Walter should turn to virtu.

“Always my dear Lord, most truly yours,

Walter Scott.”

The novel of the Monastery was published, by Messrs

* Ebenezer Clarkson, Esq., a surgeon of distinguished skill at Selkirk, and through life a trusty friend and crony of the Sheriff’s.

Longman and Co., in the beginning of March. It appeared not in the post 8vo form of Ivanhoe, but in 3 vols. 12mo, like the earlier works of the series. In fact, a few sheets of the Monastery had been printed before Scott agreed to let Ivanhoe have “By the Author of Waverley” on its title-page; and the different shapes of the two books belonged to the abortive scheme of passing off “Mr Laurence Templeton” as a hitherto unheard of candidate for literary success.