LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, Bart.
Sir Walter Scott to Joanna Baillie, 11 July 1823

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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“Edinburgh, July 11, 1823.

“Your kind letter, my dear friend, heaps coals of fire on my head, for I should have written to you, in common gratitude, long since; but I waited till I should read through the Miscellany with some attention, which as I have not yet done, I can scarce say much to the purpose, so far as that is concerned. My own production sate in the porch like an evil thing, and scared me from proceeding farther than to hurry through your compositions, with which I was delighted, and two or three others. In my own case, I have almost a nervous reluctance to look back on any recent poetical performance of my own. I may almost say with Macbeth,—
“I am afraid to think what I have done.
Look on’t again I dare not.”
But the best of the matter is, that your purpose has been so satisfactorily answered and great reason have you to be proud of your influence with the poem-buyers as well as the poem-makers. By the by, you know your request first set me a hammering on an old tale of the Swintons, from whom, by the mother’s side, I am descended, and the tinkering work I made of it warmed the heart of a cousin* in the East Indies, a descendant of the renowned Sir Allan, who has sent his kindred poet by this fleet not a butt of sack, but a pipe of most parti-

* George Swinton, Esq. (now of Swinton) was at this time Secretary to the Council in Bengal.

cular Madeira. You and
Mrs Agnes shall have a glass of it when you come to Abbotsford, for I always consider your last only a payment to account—you did not stay half the time you promised. I am going out there on Friday, and shall see all my family re-united around me for the first time these many years. They make a very good figure as ‘honest men and bonny lasses.’ I read Miss Fanshawe’s pieces, which are quite beautiful. Mrs Hemans is somewhat too poetical for my taste—too many flowers I mean, and too little fruit—but that may be the cynical criticism of an elderly gentleman; for it is certain that when I was young, I read verses of every kind with infinitely more indulgence, because with more pleasure than I can now do the more shame for me now to refuse the complaisance which I have had so often to solicit. I am hastening to think prose a better thing than verse, and if you have any hopes to convince me to the contrary, it must be by writing and publishing another volume of plays as fast as possible. I think they would be most favourably received; and beg, like Burns, to
——“tell you of mine and Scotland’s drouth,
Your servant’s humble ——”
A young friend of mine,
Lord Francis Gower, has made a very fair attempt to translate Goethe’s untranslatable play of Faust, or Faustus. He has given also a version of Schiller’s very fine poem on Casting the Bell, which I think equals Mr Sotheby’s—nay, privately (for tell it not in Epping Forest, whisper it not in Hampstead), rather outdoes our excellent friend, I have not compared them minutely, however. As for Mr Howison, such is the worldly name of Polydore, I never saw such a change in my life upon a young man. It may be fourteen years, or thereabouts, since he introduced himself to me, by send-
JULY, 1823.289
ing me some most excellent verses for a youth of sixteen years old. I asked him to Ashestiel, and he came—a thin hectic youth, with an eye of dark fire, a cheek that coloured on the slightest emotion, and a mind fraught with feeling of the tender and the beautiful, and eager for poetical fame—otherwise, of so little acquaintance with the world and the world’s ways, that a sucking-turkey might have been his tutor. I was rather a bear-like nurse for such a lamb-like charge. We could hardly indeed associate together, for I was then eternally restless, and he as sedentary. He could neither fish, shoot, or course—he could not bear the inside of a carriage with the ladies, for it made him sick, nor the outside with my boys, for it made him giddy. He could not walk, for it fatigued him, nor ride, for he fell off. I did all I could to make him happy, and it was not till he had caught two colds and one sprain, besides risking his life in the Tweed, that I gave up all attempts to convert him to the things of this world. Our acquaintance after this languished, and at last fell asleep, till one day last year I met at
Lockhart’s a thin consumptive-looking man, bent double with study, and whose eyes seemed to have been extinguished almost by poring over the midnight lamp, though protected by immense green spectacles. I then found that my poet had turned metaphysician, and that these spectacles were to assist him in gazing into the millstone of moral philosophy. He looked at least twice as old as he really is, and has since published a book, very small in size, but, from its extreme abstracted doctrines, more difficult to comprehend than any I ever opened in my life.* I will take

* “An Essay on the Sentiments of Attraction, Adaptation, and Variety. To which are added, A Key to the Mythology of the An-

care he has one of my copies of the Miscellany. If he gets into the right line, he will do something remarkable yet.

“We saw, you will readily suppose, a great deal of Miss Edgeworth, and two very nice girls, her younger sisters. It is scarcely possible to say more of this very remarkable person than that she not only completely answered, but exceeded the expectations which I had formed. I am particularly pleased with the naïveté and good-humoured ardour of mind which she unites with such formidable powers of acute observation. In external appearance, she is quite the fairy of our nursery-tale, the Whippity Stourie, if you remember such a sprite, who came flying through the window to work all sorts of marvels. I will never believe but what she has a wand in her pocket, and pulls it out to conjure a little before she begins to those very striking pictures of manners. I am grieved to say, that, since they left Edinburgh on a tour to the Highlands, they have been detained at Forres by an erysipelas breaking out on Miss Edgeworth’s face. They have been twelve days there, and are now returning southwards, as a letter from Harriet informs me. I hope soon to have them at Abbotsford, where we will take good care of them, and the invalid in particular. What would I give to have you and Mrs Agnes to meet them, and what canty cracks we would set up about the days of langsyne! The increasing powers of steam, which, like you, I look on half-proud, half-sad, half-angry, and half-pleased, in doing so much for the commercial world, promise something also for the sociable; and, like Prince Houssein’s tapestry, will, I think, one day waft friends together in the course of a few hours, and, for aught we may be able to tell, bring

cients; and Europe’s Likeness to the Human Spirit. By William Howison.” Edinburgh; 1822.

Hampstead and Abbotsford within the distance of,—‘Will you dine with us quietly to-morrow?’ I wish I could advance this happy abridgment of time and space, so as to make it serve my present wishes.

“Abbotsford, July 18. ——

“I have, for the first time these several years, my whole family united around me, excepting Lockhart, who is with his yeomanry, but joins us to-morrow. Walter is returned a fine steady soldier-like young man from his abode on the Continent, and little Charles, with his friend Surtees, has come from Wales, so that we draw together from distant quarters. When you add Sophia’s baby, I assure you my wife and I look very patriarchal. The misfortune is, all this must be soon over, for Walter is admitted one of the higher class of students in the Military College, and must join against the 1st of August. I have some chance, I think, when he has had a year’s study, of getting him upon the staff in the Ionian islands, which I should greatly prefer to his lounging about villages in horse-quarters; he has a strong mathematical turn, which promises to be of service in his profession; little Charles is getting steadily on with his learning—but to what use he is to turn it I scarce know yet.—I am very sorry indeed that the doctor is complaining—he whose life has been one course of administering help and comfort to others, should not, one would think, suffer himself; but such are the terms on which we hold our gifts—however valuable to others, they are sometimes less available to ourselves. I sincerely hope this will find him better, and Mrs Baillie easier in proportion. When I was subject a little to sore throats, I cured myself of that tendency by spunging my throat, breast, and shoulders every morning with the coldest water I could
get; but this is rather a horse remedy, though I still keep up the practice. All here, that is, wives, maidens, and bachelors bluff, not forgetting little
John Hugh, or, as he is popularly styled, Hugh Littlejohn, send loving remembrances to you and Mrs Agnes. Ever, dear Mrs Joanna, most truly yours,

Walter Scott.”