LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, Bart.
Chapter II 1820-21

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 September of 1820, Longman, in conjunction with Constable, published The Abbot—the continuation, to a certain extent, of The Monastery, of which I barely mentioned the appearance under the preceding March. I had nothing of any consequence to add to the information which the subsequent Introduction affords us respecting the composition and fate of the former of these novels. It was considered as a failure—the first of the series on which any such sentence was pronounced; nor have I much to allege in favour of the White Lady of Avenel, generally criticised as the primary blot, or of Sir Percy Shafton, who was loudly, though not quite so generally, condemned. In either case, considered separately, he seems to have erred from dwelling (in the German taste) on materials that might have done very well for a rapid sketch. The phantom with whom we have leisure to become familiar is sure to fail—even the witch of Endor is contented with a momentary appearance and five syllables of the shade she evokes. And we may say the
same of any grotesque absurdity in human manners;
Scott might have considered with advantage how lightly and briefly Shakspeare introduces his Euphuism—though actually the prevalent humour of the hour when he was writing. But perhaps these errors might have attracted little notice, had the novelist been successful in finding some reconciling medium capable of giving consistence and harmony to his naturally incongruous materials. “These,” said one of his ablest critics, “are joined but they refuse to blend: Nothing can be more poetical in conception, and sometimes in language, than the fiction of the White Maid of Avenel; but when this ethereal personage, who rides on the cloud which ‘for Araby is bound’ who is
‘Something between heaven and hell,
Something that neither stood nor fell’—
whose existence is linked by an awful and mysterious destiny to the fortunes of a decaying family; when such a being as this descends to clownish pranks, and promotes a frivolous jest about a tailor’s bodkin, the course of our sympathies is rudely arrested, and we feel as if the author had put upon us the old-fashioned pleasantry of selling a bargain.”*

The beautiful natural scenery, and the sterling Scotch characters and manners introduced in the Monastery are, however, sufficient to redeem even these mistakes; and, indeed, I am inclined to believe that it will ultimately occupy a securer place than some romances enjoying hitherto a far higher reputation, in which he makes no use of Scottish materials.

Sir Walter himself thought well of The Abbot when he had finished it. When he sent me a complete copy, I found on a slip of paper at the beginning of volume

* Adolphus’s Letters to Heber, p. 13.

first, these two lines from
Tom Crib’s Memorial to Congress
“Up he rose in a funk, lapped a toothful of brandy,
And to it again!—any odds upon Sandy!”—
and whatever ground he had been supposed to lose in
the Monastery, part at least of it was regained by this tale, and especially by its most graceful and pathetic portraiture of Mary Stuart. “The Castle of Lochleven,” says the Chief-Commissioner Adam, “is seen at every turn from the northern side of Blair-Adam. This castle, renowned and attractive above all the others in my neighbourhood, became an object of much increased attention, and a theme of constant conversation, after the author of Waverley had, by his inimitable power of delineating character—by his creative poetic fancy in representing scenes of varied interest—and by the splendour of his romantic descriptions, infused a more diversified and a deeper tone of feeling into the history of Queen Mary’s captivity and escape.”

I have introduced this quotation from a little book privately printed for the amiable Judge’s own family and familiar friends, because Sir Walter owned to myself at the time, that the idea of The Abbot had arisen in his mind during a visit to Blair-Adam. In the pages of the tale itself, indeed, the beautiful localities of that estate are distinctly mentioned, with an allusion to the virtues and manners that adorn its mansion, such as must have been intended to satisfy the possessor (if he could have had any doubts on the subject) as to the authorship of those novels.

The Right Honourable William Adam (who must pardon my mentioning him here as the only man I ever knew that rivalled Sir Walter Scott in uniform graciousness of bonhammie and gentleness of humour)—was ap-
pointed, in 1815, to the Presidency of the Court for Jury Trial in Civil Cases, then instituted in Scotland, and he thenceforth spent a great part of his time at his paternal seat in Kinross-shire. Here, about midsummer 1816, he received a visit from his near relation
William Clerk, Adam Ferguson, his hereditary friend and especial favourite, and their lifelong intimate, Scott. They remained with him for two or three days, in the course of which they were all so much delighted with their host, and he with them, that it was resolved to reassemble the party, with a few additions, at the same season of every following year. This was the origin of the Blair-Adam Club, the regular members of which were in number nine; viz., the four already named—the Chief Commissioner’s son, Admiral Sir Charles Adam—his son-in-law, the late Mr Anstruther Thomson of Charleton, in Fifeshire—Mr Thomas Thomson, the Deputy Register of Scotland—his brother, the Rev. John Thomson, minister of Duddingston, who, though a most diligent and affectionate parish-priest, has found leisure to make himself one of the first masters of the British School of Landscape Painting—and the Right Hon. Sir Samuel Shepherd, who, after filling with high distinction the office of Attorney-General in England, became Chief Baron of the Court of Exchequer in Scotland, shortly after the third anniversary of this brotherhood, into which he was immediately welcomed with unanimous cordiality. They usually contrived to meet on a Friday; spent the Saturday in a ride to some scene of historical interest within an easy distance; enjoyed a quiet Sunday at home—“duly attending divine worship at the Kirk of Cleish (not Cleishbotham)”—gave Monday morning to another Antiquarian excursion, and returned to Edinburgh in time for the Courts of Tuesday.
From 1816 to 1831 inclusive, Sir Walter was a constant attendant at these meetings. He visited in this way Castle Campbell, Magus Moor, Falkland, Dunfermline, St Andrews, and many other scenes of ancient celebrity; to one of those trips we must ascribe his dramatic sketch of Macduff’s Cross—and to that of the dog-days of 1819, we owe the weightier obligation of
The Abbot.

I expect an easy forgiveness for introducing from the liber rarissimus of Blair-Adam the page that belongs to that particular meeting which, though less numerous than usual, is recorded as having been “most pleasing and delightful.” “There were,” writes the President, “only five of us; the Chief Baron, Sir Walter, Mr Clerk, Charles Adam, and myself. The weather was sultry, almost beyond bearing. We did not stir beyond the bounds of the pleasure-ground, indeed not far from the vicinity of the house; wandering from one shady place to another; lolling upon the grass, or sitting upon prostrate trees, not yet carried away by the purchaser. Our conversation was constant, though tranquil; and what might be expected from Mr Clerk, who is a superior converser, and whose mind is stored with knowledge; and from Sir Walter Scott, who has let the public know what his powers are. Our talk was of all sorts (except of beeves). Besides a display of their historic knowledge, at once extensive and correct, they touched frequently on the pleasing reminiscences of their early days. Shepherd and I could not go back to those periods; but we could trace our own intimacy and constant friendship for more than forty years back, when in 1783 we began our professional pursuits on the Circuit. So that if Scott could describe, with inconceivable humour, their doings at Mr Murray’s of Simprim, when emerging from boyhood;
when he, and Murray, and Clerk, and
Adam Ferguson acted plays in the schoolroom (Simprim making the dominie bear his part)—when Ferguson was prompter, orchestra, and audience—and as Scott said, representing the whole pit, kicked up an ‘O. P.’ row by anticipation; and many other such recollections Shepherd and I could tell of our Circuit fooleries, as old Fielding (the son of the great novelist) called them—of the Circuit songs which Will Fielding made and sung,—and of the grave Sir William Grant (then a briefless barrister), ycleped by Fielding the Chevalier Grant, bearing his part in those fooleries, enjoying all our pranks with great zest, and who talked of them with delight to his dying day. When the conversation took a graver tone, and turned upon literary subjects, the Chief-Baron took a great share in it; for notwithstanding his infirmity of deafness, he is a most pleasing and agreeable converser, and readily picks up what is passing; and having a classical mind, and classical information, gives a pleasing, gentlemanly, and well-informed tone to general conversation.—Before I bring these recollections of our social and cheerful doings to a close, let me observe, that there was a characteristic feature attending them, which it would be injustice to the individuals who composed our parties not to mention. The whole set of us were addicted to take a full share of conversation, and to discuss every subject that occurred with sufficient keenness. The topics were multifarious, and the opinions of course various; but during the whole time of our intercourse, for so many years, four days at a time, and always together, except when we were asleep, there never was the least tendency on any occasion to any unruly debate, nor to any thing that deviated from the pure delight of social intercourse.”


The Chief-Commissioner adds the following particulars in his appendix:—“Our return from Blair-Adam (after the first meeting of the Club) was very early on a Tuesday morning, that we might reach the Courts by nine o’clock. An occurrence took place near the Hawe’s Inn, which left little doubt upon my mind that Sir Walter Scott was the author of Waverley, of Guy Mannering, and of the Antiquary, his only novels then published. The morning was prodigiously fine, and the sea as smooth as glass. Sir Walter and I were standing on the beach, enjoying the prospect; the other gentlemen, were not come from the boat. The porpoises were rising in great numbers, when Sir Walter said to me, ‘Look at them, how they are showing themselves; what fine fellows they are! I have the greatest respect for them: I would as soon kill a man as a phoca.’ I could not conceive that the same idea could occur to two men respecting this animal, and set down that it could only be Sir Walter Scott who made the phoca have the better of the battle with the Antiquary’s nephew, Captain M’Intyre.

“Soon after, another occurrence quite confirmed me as to the authorship of the novels. On that visit to Blair-Adam, in course of conversation, I mentioned an anecdote about Wilkie, the author of the Epigoniad, who was but a formal poet, but whose conversation was most amusing, and full of fancy. Having heard much of him in my family, where he had been very intimate, I went, when quite a lad, to St Andrews, where he was a Professor, for the purpose of visiting him. I had scarcely let him know who I was, when he said, ‘Mr William, were you ever in this place before?’ I said no. ‘Then, sir, you must go and look at Regulus’ Tower,—no doubt you will have something of an eye of an architect about you;—walk up to it at an angle, ad-
vance and recede until you get to see it at its proper distance, and come back and tell me whether you ever saw any thing so beautiful in building: till I saw that tower, and studied it, I thought the beauty of architecture had consisted in curly-wurlies, but now I find it consists in symmetry and proportion.’ In the following winter
Rob Roy was published, and there I read, that the Cathedral of Glasgow was ‘a respectable Gothic structure, without any curly-wurlies.’

“But what confirmed, and was certainly meant to disclose to me the author (and that in a very elegant manner), was the mention of the Kiery Craigs— picturesque piece of scenery in the grounds of Blair-Adam—as being in the vicinity of Kelty Bridge, the howf of Auchtermuchty, the Kinross carrier.

“It was only an intimate friend of the family, in the habit of coming to Blair-Adam, who could know any thing of the Kiery Craigs, or its name; and both the scenery and the name had attractions for Sir Walter.

“At our first meeting after the publication of the ‘Abbot,’ when the party was assembled on the top of the rock, the Chief-Baron Shepherd, looking Sir Walter full in the face, and stamping his staff on the ground, said, ‘Now, Sir Walter, I think we be upon the top of the Kiery Craggs.’ Sir Walter preserved profound silence; but there was a conscious looking down, and a considerable elongation of his upper lip.”

Since I have obtained permission to quote from this private volume, I may as well mention that I was partly moved to ask that favour, by the author’s own confession, that his “Blair-Adam, from 1733 to 1834,” originated in a suggestion of Scott’s. “It was,” says the Judge, “on a fine Sunday, lying on the grassy summit of Bennarty, above its craggy brow, that Sir Walter
said, looking first at the flat expanse of Kinross-shire (on the south side of the Ochils), and then at the space which Blair-Adam fills between the hill of Drumglow (the highest of the Cleish hills), and the valley of Lochore—‘What an extraordinary thing it is, that here to the north so little appears to have been done, when there are so many proprietors to work upon it; and to the south, here is a district of country entirely made by the efforts of one family, in three generations, and one of them amongst us in the full enjoyment of what has been done by his two predecessors and himself? Blair-Adam, as I have always heard, had a wild, uncomely, and unhospitable appearance, before its improvements were begun. It would be most curious to record in writing its original state, and trace its gradual progress to its present condition.’” Upon this suggestion, enforced by the approbation of the other members present, the President of the Blair-Adam Club commenced arranging the materials for what constitutes a most instructive as well as entertaining history of the Agricultural and Arboricultural progress of his domains, in the course of a hundred years, under his grandfather, his
father (the celebrated architect), and himself. And Sir Walter had only suggested to his friend of Kinross-shire what he was resolved to put into practice with regard to his own improvements on Tweed-side; for he begun at precisely the same period to keep a regular Journal of all his rural transactions, under the title of “Sylva Abbotsfordiensis.”

For reasons, as we have seen, connected with the affairs of the Ballantynes, Messrs Longman published the first edition of The Monastery; and similar circumstances induced Sir Walter to associate this house with that of Constable in the succeeding novel. Constable disliked its title, and would fain have had the Nunnery
instead: but Scott stuck to his Abbot. The bookseller grumbled a little, but was soothed by the author’s reception of his request that
Queen Elizabeth might be brought into the field in his next romance, as a companion to the Mary Stuart of the Abbot. Scott would not indeed indulge him with the choice of the particular period of Elizabeth’s reign, indicated in the proposed title of The Armada; but expressed his willingness to take up his own old favourite, the legend of Meikle’s ballad. He wished to call the novel, like the ballad, Cumnor-hall, but in further deference to Constable’s wishes, substituted “Kenilworth.” John Ballantyne objected to this title, and told Constable the result would be “something worthy of the kennel;” but Constable had all reason to be satisfied with the child of his christening. His partner, Mr Cadell, says “his vanity boiled over so much at this time, on having his suggestion gone into, that when in his high moods he used to stalk up and down his room, and exclaim, ‘By G——, I am all but the author of the Waverley Novels!’” Constable’s bibliographical knowledge, however, it is but fair to say, was really of most essential service to Scott upon many of these occasions; and his letter (now before me) proposing the subject of The Armada, furnished the Novelist with such a catalogue of materials for the illustration of the period as may, probably enough, have called forth some very energetic expression of thankfulness.

Scott’s kindness secured for John Ballantyne the usual interest in the profits of Kenilworth, the last of his great works in which this friend was to have any concern. I have already mentioned the obvious drooping of his health and strength; and a document to be introduced presently, will show that John himself had occasional glimpses, at least, of his danger, before the close
of 1819. Nevertheless, his spirits continued, at the time of which I am now treating, to be in general as high as ever; nay, it was now, after his maladies had taken a very serious shape, and it was hardly possible to look on him without anticipating a speedy termination of his career, that the gay, hopeful spirit of the shattered and trembling invalid led him to plunge into a new stream of costly indulgence. It was an amiable point in his character that he had always retained a tender fondness for his native place. He had now taken up the ambition of rivalling his illustrious friend, in some sort, by providing himself with a summer retirement amidst the scenery of his boyhood; and it need not be doubted, at the same time, that in erecting a villa at Kelso, he anticipated and calculated on substantial advantages from its vicinity to Abbotsford.

One fine day of this autumn, I accompanied Sir Walter to inspect the progress of this edifice, which was to have the title of Walton Hall. John had purchased two or three old houses of two stories in height, with knotched gables, and thatched roofs, near the end of the long, original street of Kelso, and not far from the gateway of the Duke of Roxburghe’s magnificent park, with their small gardens and paddocks running down to the margin of the Tweed. He had already fitted up convenient bachelor’s lodgings in one of the primitive tenements, and converted the others into a goodly range of stabling, and was now watching the completion of his new corps de logis behind, which included a handsome entrance-hall, or saloon, destined to have old Piscator’s bust, on a stand, in the centre, and to be embellished all round with emblems of his sport. Behind this were spacious rooms overlooking the little pleasance which was to be laid out somewhat in the Italian style, with ornamental steps, a fountain, and
jet d’eau, and a broad terrace hanging over the river, and commanding an extensive view of perhaps the most beautiful landscape in Scotland. In these new dominions John received us with pride and hilarity; and we then walked with him over this pretty town, lounged away an hour among the ruins of the Abbey, and closed our perambulation with the Garden, where Scott had spent some of the happiest of his early summers, and where he pointed out with sorrowful eyes the site of the Platanus, under which he first read
Percy’s Reliques. Returning to John’s villa, we dined gaily, al fresco, by the side of his fountain; and after not a few bumpers to the prosperity of Walton Hall, he mounted Old Mortality, and escorted us for several miles on our ride homewards. It was this day that, overflowing with kindly zeal, Scott revived one of the long-forgotten projects of their early connexion in business, and offered his services as editor of a Novelist’s Library, to be printed and published for the sole benefit of his host. The offer was eagerly embraced, and when two or three mornings afterwards John returned Sir Walter’s visit, he had put into his hands the MS. of that admirable life of Fielding, which was followed at brief intervals, as the arrangements of the projected work required, by others of Smollett, Richardson, Defoe, Sterne, Johnson, Goldsmith, Le Sage, Horace Walpole, Cumberland, Mrs Radcliffe, Charles Johnstone, Clara Reeve, Charlotte Smith, and Robert Bage. The publication of the first volume of “Ballantyne’s Novelist’s Library” did not take place, however, until February 1821; and the series was closed soon after the proprietor’s death in the ensuing summer. In spite of the charming prefaces in which Scott combines all the graces of his easy narrative with a perpetual stream of deep and gentle wisdom in commenting on the tempers and fortunes of his best predecessors in novel literature, and
also with expositions of his own critical views, which prove how profoundly he had investigated the principles and practice of those masters before he struck out a new path for himself—in spite of these delightful and valuable essays, the publication was not prosperous.
Constable, after Ballantyne’s death, would willingly have resumed the scheme. But Scott had by that time convinced himself that it was in vain to expect much success for a collection so bulky and miscellaneous, and which must of necessity include a large proportion of matter, condemned by the purity, whether real or affected, of modern taste. He could hardly have failed to perceive, on reflection, that his own novels, already constituting an extensive library of fiction, in which no purist could pretend to discover danger for the morals of youth, had in fact superseded the works of less strait-laced days in the only permanently and solidly profitable market for books of this order. He at all events declined Constable’s proposition for renewing and extending this attempt. What he did was done gratuitously for John Ballantyne’s sake; and I have dwelt on it thus long, because, as the reader will perceive by and by, it was so done during (with one exception) the very busiest period of Scott’s literary life.

Shortly before Scott wrote the following letters, he had placed his second son (at this time in his fifteenth year) under the care of the Reverend John Williams, who had been my intimate friend and companion at Oxford, with a view of preparing him for that University. Mr Williams was then Vicar of Lampeter, in Cardiganshire, and the high satisfaction with which his care of Charles Scott inspired Sir Walter, induced several other Scotch gentlemen of distinction by and by to send their sons also to his Welsh parsonage; the result of which northern connexions was important to the fortunes of one of
the most accurate and extensive scholars, and most skilful teachers of the present time.

To Walter Scott, Esq., 18th Hussars, Cork.
“Edinburgh, 14th November, 1820.
“My dear Walter,

“I send you a cheque on Coutts for your quarter’s allowance. I hope you manage your cash like a person of discretion—above all, avoid the card tables of ancient dowagers. Always remember that my fortune, however much my efforts may increase it, and although I am improving it for your benefit, not for any that can accrue in my own time,—yet never can be more than a decent independence, and therefore will make a poor figure unless managed with good sense, moderation, and prudence—which are habits easily acquired in youth, while habitual extravagance is a fault very difficult to be afterwards corrected.

“We came to town yesterday, and bade adieu to Abbotsford for the season. Fife,* to mamma’s great surprise and scandal, chose to stay at Abbotsford with Mai, and plainly denied to follow the carriage—so our canine establishment in Castle Street is reduced to little Ury.† We spent two days at Arniston, on the road, and on coming here, found Sophia as nicely and orderly settled in her house as if she had been a married woman these five years. I believe she is very happy—perhaps unusually so, for her wishes are moderate, and all seem anxious to please her. She is preparing in due time for the arrival of a little stranger, who will make you an uncle and me (God help me!) a grandpapa.

“The Round Towers you mention are very curious, and seem to have been built, as the Irish hackney-

* Finette—a spaniel of Lady Scott’s.

Urisk—a small terrier of the long silky-haired Kintail breed.

NOVEMBER, 1820.33
coachman said of the Martello one at the Black Rock, ‘to puzzle posterity.’ There are two of them in Scotland—both excellent pieces of architecture; one at Brechin, built quite close to the old church, so as to appear united with it, but in fact it is quite detached from the church, and sways from it in a high wind, when it vibrates like a lighthouse. The other is at Abernethy in Perthshire—said to have been the capital city of the Picts. I am glad to see you observe objects of interest and curiosity, because otherwise a man may travel over the universe without acquiring any more knowledge than his horse does.

“We had our hunt and our jollification after it on last Wednesday. It went off in great style, although I felt a little sorry at having neither Charles nor you in the field. By the way, Charles seems most admirably settled. I had a most sensible letter on the subject from Mr Williams, who appears to have taken great pains, and to have formed a very just conception both of his merits and foibles. When I have an opportunity, I will hand you his letter; for it will entertain you, it is so correct a picture of Monsieur Charles.

Dominie Thomson has gone to a Mrs Dennistoun, of Colgrain, to drill her youngsters. I am afraid he will find a change; but I hope to have a nook open to him by and by—as a sort of retreat or harbour on his lee. Adieu, my dear always believe me your affectionate father,

Walter Scott.”
To Mr Charles Scott, care of the Rev. John Williams, Lampeter.
“Edinburgh, 14th Nov. 1820.
“My dear boy Charles,

“Your letters made us all very happy, and I trust you are now comfortably settled and plying your task hard. Mr Williams will probably ground you more
perfectly in the grammar of the classical languages than has hitherto been done, and this you will at first find but dry work. But there are many indispensable reasons why you must bestow the utmost attention upon it. A perfect knowledge of the classical languages has been fixed upon, and not without good reason, as the mark of a well-educated young man; and though people may have scrambled into distinction without it, it is always with the greatest difficulty, just like climbing over a wall, instead of giving your ticket at the door. Perhaps you may think another proof of a youth’s talents might have been adopted; but what good will arise from your thinking so, if the general practice of society has fixed on this particular branch of knowledge as the criterion? Wheat or barley were as good grain, I suppose, as sesamum; but it was only to sesamum that the talisman gave way, and the rock opened; and it is equally certain that, if you are not a well-founded grammatical scholar in Greek and Latin, you will in vain present other qualifications to distinction. Besides, the study of grammar, from its very asperities, is calculated to teach youth that patient labour which is necessary to the useful exertion of the understanding upon every other branch of knowledge; and your great deficiency is want of steadiness and of resolute application to the dry as well as the interesting parts of your learning. But exerting yourself, as I have no doubt you will do, under the direction of so learned a man, and so excellent a teacher as Mr Williams, and being without the temptations to idleness which occurred at home, I have every reason to believe that, to your natural quickness you will presently add such a habit of application and steadiness, as will make you a respected member of society, perhaps a distinguished one. It is very probable that the whole success of your future life may depend on the manner in
which you employ the next two years; and I am therefore most anxious you should fully avail yourself of the opportunities now afforded you.

“You must not be too much disconcerted with the apparent dryness of your immediate studies. Language is the great mark by which man is distinguished from the beasts, and a strict acquaintance with the manner in which it is composed, becomes, as you follow it a little way, one of the most curious and interesting exercises of the intellect.

“We had our grand hunt on Wednesday last, a fine day, and plenty of sport. We hunted all over Huntly wood, and so on to Halidon and Prieston—saw twelve hares, and killed six, having very hard runs, and turning three packs of grouse completely. In absence of Walter and you, Stenhouse the horse-couper led the field, and rode as if he had been a piece of his horse, sweltering like a wild-drake all through Marriage-Moss at a motion betwixt swimming and riding. One unlucky accident befell. Queen Mab, who was bestrode by Captain Adam, lifted up her heels against Mr Craig of Galashiels,* whose leg she greeted with a thump like a pistol-shot, while by the same movement she very nearly sent the noble Captain over her ears. Mr Craig was helped from horse, but would not permit his boot to be drawn off, protesting he would faint if he saw the bone of his leg sticking through the stocking. Some thought he was reluctant to exhibit his legs in their primitive and unclothed simplicity, in respect they have an unhappy resemblance to a pair of tongs. As for the Captain, he declared that if the accident had happened in action, the surgeon and drum-boys would have had off, not his boot

* Mr George Craig, factor to the laird of Gala, and manager of a little branch bank at Galashiels. This worthy man was one of the regular members of the Abbotsford hunt.

only, but his leg to boot, before he could have uttered a remonstrance. At length Gala and I prevailed to have the boot drawn, and to my great joy I found the damage was not serious, though the pain must have been severe.

“On Saturday we left Abbotsford, and dined and spent Sunday at Arniston, where we had many enquiries after you from Robert Dundas, who was so kind to you last year.

“I must conclude for the present, requesting your earnest pursuit of such branches of study as Mr Williams recommends. In a short time, as you begin to comprehend the subjects you are learning, you will find the path turn smoother, and that which at present seems wrapped up in an inextricable labyrinth of thorns and briers, will at once become easy and attractive.—Always, dear Charlie, your affectionate father,

W. S.”

On the same day Scott wrote as follows to the manly and amiable author of “Sir Marmaduke Maxwell,” who had shortly before sent the MS. of that romantic drama to Abbotsford for his inspection:

To Mr Allan Cunningham; care of F. Chantrey, Esq. R.A., London.
“Edinburgh, 14th November, 1820.
“My dear Allan,

“I have been meditating a long letter to you for many weeks past; but company, and rural business, and rural sports, are very unfavourable to writing letters. I have now a double reason for writing, for I have to thank you for sending me in safety a beautiful specimen of our English Michael’s talents in the cast of my venerable friend Mr Watt: it is a most striking resemblance, with all that living character which we are apt to think life itself alone can exhibit. I hope Mr Chantrey does
not permit his distinguished skill either to remain unexercised, or to be lavished exclusively on subjects of little interest. I would like to see him engaged on some subject of importance completely adapted to the purpose of his chisel, and demanding its highest powers. Pray remember me to him most kindly.

“I have perused twice your curious and interesting manuscript. Many parts of the poetry are eminently beautiful, though I fear the great length of the piece, and some obscurity of the plot, would render it unfit for dramatic representation. There is also a fine tone of supernatural impulse spread over the whole action, which I think a common audience would not be likely to adopt or comprehend—though I own that to me it has a very powerful effect. Speaking of dramatic composition in general, I think it is almost essential (though the rule be most difficult in practice) that the plot, or business of the piece, should advance with every line that is spoken. The fact is, the drama is addressed chiefly to the eyes, and as much as can be, by any possibility, represented on the stage, should neither be told or described. Of the miscellaneous part of a large audience, many do not understand, nay, many cannot hear, either narrative or description, but are solely intent upon the action exhibited. It is, I conceive, for this reason that very bad plays, written by performers themselves, often contrive to get through, and not without applause; while others, immeasurably superior in point of poetical merit, fail, merely because the author is not sufficiently possessed of the trick of the scene, or enough aware of the importance of a maxim pronounced by no less a performer than Punch himself (at least he was the last authority from whom I heard it)—Push on, keep moving!—Now, in your very ingenious dramatic effort, the interest not only stands still, but sometimes retrogrades. It con-
tains, notwithstanding, many passages of eminent beauty, many specimens of most interesting dialogue; and, on the whole, if it is not fitted for the modern stage, I am not sure that its very imperfections do not render it more fit for the closet, for we certainly do not always read with the greatest pleasure those plays which act best.

“If, however, you should at any time wish to become a candidate for dramatic laurels, I would advise you, in the first place, to consult some professional person of judgment and taste. I should regard friend Terry as an excellent Mentor, and I believe he would concur with me in recommending that at least one-third of the drama be retrenched, that the plot should be rendered simpler, and the motives more obvious; and I think the powerful language and many of the situations might then have their full effect upon the audience. I am uncertain if I have made myself sufficiently understood; but I would say, for example, that it is ill explained by what means Comyn and his gang, who land as shipwrecked men, become at once possessed of the old lord’s domains, merely by killing and taking possession. I am aware of what you mean, namely, that being attached to the then rulers, he is supported in his ill-acquired power by their authority. But this is imperfectly brought out, and escaped me at the first reading. The superstitious motives, also, which induced the shepherds to delay their vengeance, are not likely to be intelligible to the generality of the hearers. It would seem more probable that the young Baron should have led his faithful vassals to avenge the death of his parents; and it has escaped me what prevents him from taking this direct and natural course. Besides it is, I believe, a rule (and it seems a good one) that one single interest, to which every other is subordinate, should occupy the whole play,—each separate object having just the effect of
NOVEMBER, 1820.39
a mill-dam, sluicing off a certain portion of the sympathy, which should move on with increasing force and rapidity to the catastrophe. Now, in your work, there are several divided points of interest—there is the murder of the old Baron—the escape of his wife—that of his son—the loss of his bride—the villanous artifices of Comyn to possess himself of her person, and, finally, the fall of Comyn, and acceleration of the vengeance due to his crimes. I am sure your own excellent sense, which I admire as much as I do your genius, will give me credit for my frankness in these matters; I only know, that I do not know many persons on whose performances I would venture to offer so much criticism.

“I will return the manuscript under Mr Freeling’s Post-Office cover, and I hope it will reach you safe.—Adieu, my leal and esteemed friend—yours truly,

Walter Scott.”

Shortly afterwards Mr Cunningham, thanking his critic, said he had not yet received back his MS.; but that he hoped the delay had been occasioned by Sir Walter’s communication of it to some friend of theatrical experience. He also mentioned his having undertaken a collection of “The Songs of Scotland,” with notes. The answer was in these terms:—

To Mr Allan Cunningham.
“My dear Allan,

“It was as you supposed.—I detained your manuscript to read it over with Terry. The plot appears to Terry as to me ill-combined, which is a great defect in a drama, though less perceptible in the closet than on the stage. Still if the mind can be kept upon one unbroken course of interest, the effect even in perusal is more gra-
tifying. I have always considered this as the great secret in dramatic poetry, and conceive it one of the most difficult exercises of the invention possible to conduct a story through five acts, developing it gradually in every scene, so as to keep up the attention, yet never till the very conclusion permitting the nature of the catastrophe to become visible,—and all the while to accompany this by the necessary delineation of character and beauty of language. I am glad, however, that you mean to preserve in some permanent form your very curious drama, which, if not altogether fitted for the stage, cannot be read without very much and very deep interest.

“I am glad you are about Scottish song. No man—not Robert Burns himself—has contributed more beautiful effusions to enrich it. Here and there I would pluck a flower from your Posy to give what remains an effect of greater simplicity, but luxuriance can only be the fault of genius, and many of your songs are, I think, unmatched. I would instance—“It’s hame and it’s hame,” which my daughter Mrs Lockhart sings with such uncommon effect. You cannot do any thing either in the way of original composition, or collection, or criticism, that will not be highly acceptable to all who are worth pleasing in the Scottish public—and I pray you to proceed with it.

“Remember me kindly to Chantrey. I am happy my effigy is to go with that of Wordsworth*, for (differing from him in very many points of taste) I do not know a man more to be venerated for uprightness of heart and loftiness of genius. Why he will sometimes choose to crawl upon all fours, when God has given him so noble a countenance to lift to heaven, I am as little able to ac-

* Mr Cunningham had told Scott that Chantrey’s bust of Wordsworth (another of his noblest works) was also to be produced at the Royal Academy’s Exhibition for 1821.

NOVEMBER, 1820.41
count for as for his quarrelling (as you tell me) with the wrinkles which time and meditation have stamped his brow withal.

“I am obliged to conclude hastily, having long letters to write—God wot upon very different subjects. I pray my kind respects to Mrs Chantrey.—Believe me, dear Allan, very truly yours, &c.,

Walter Scott.”

The following letter touches on the dropping of the Bill which had been introduced by Government for the purpose of degrading the consort of George the Fourth; the riotous rejoicings of the Edinburgh mob on that occasion; and Scott’s acquiescence in the request of the guardians of the young Duke of Buccleuch, that he should act as chancellor of the jury about to serve his grace heir (as the law phrase goes) to the Scottish estates of his family.

To the Lord Montagu, &c. &c.
“Edinburgh, 30th November, 1820.
“My dear Lord,

“I had your letter some time since, and have now to congratulate you on your two months’ spell of labour-in-vain duty being at length at an end. The old sign of the Labour-in-vain Tavern was a fellow attempting to scrub a black-a-moor white; but the present difficulty seems to lie in showing that one is black. Truly, I congratulate the country on the issue; for, since the days of Queen Dollalolla* and the Rumti-iddity chorus in Tom
* Queen. “What though I now am half-seas o’er,
I scorn to baulk this bout;
Of stiff rack-punch fetch bowls a score,
’Fore George, I’ll see them out!
Chorus.— Rumti-iddity, row, row, row,
If we’d a good sup, we’d take it now.”
Thumb, never was there so jolly a representative of royalty. A good ballad might be made by way of parody on
Gay’s Jonathan Wild,—
Her Majesty’s trial has set us at ease,
And every wife round me may kiss if she please.
We had the
Marquis of Bute and Francis Jeffrey very brilliant in George Street, and I think one grocer besides. I was hard threatened by letter, but I caused my servant to say in the quarter where I thought the threatening came from, that I should suffer my windows to be broken like a Christian, but if any thing else was attempted, I should become as great a heathen as the Dey of Algiers. We were passed over, but many houses were terribly Cossaqué, as was the phrase in Paris 1814 and 1815. The next night, being, like true Scotsmen, wise behind the hand, the bailies had a sufficient force sufficiently arranged, and put down every attempt to riot. If the same precautions had been taken before, the town would have been saved some disgrace, and the loss of at least L.1000 worth of property. Hay Donaldson* is getting stout again, and up to the throat in business; there is no getting a word out of him that does not smell of parchment and special service. He asked me, as it is to be a mere law service, to act as chancellor on the Duke’s inquest, which honourable office I will of course undertake with great willingness, and discharge, I mean the hospitable part of it, to the best of my power. I think you are right to avoid a more extended service, as L.1000 certainly would not clear the expense, as you would have to dine at least four counties, and as sweetly sing, with Duke Wharton on Chevy Chase,

* This gentleman, Scott’s friend and confidential solicitor, had obtained, (I believe) on his recommendation, the legal management of the Buccleuch affairs in Scotland.

DECEMBER, 1820.43
Pity it were
So much good wine to spill,
As these bold freeholders would drink,
Before they had their fill.
I hope we shall all live to see our young baron take his own chair, and feast the land in his own way. Ever your Lordship’s most truly faithful

Walter Scott.

“P.S.—In the illumination row, young Romilly was knocked down and robbed by the mob, just while he was in the act of declaiming on the impropriety of having constables and volunteers to interfere with the harmless mirth of the people.”

To Mr Charles Scott, care of the Rev. John Williams, Lampeter.
“Edinburgh, 19th Dec. 1820.
“My dear Charles,

“We begin to be afraid that, in improving your head, you have lost the use of your fingers, or got so deep into the Greek and Latin grammar, that you have forgotten how to express yourself in your own language. To ease our anxious minds in these important doubts, we beg you will write as soon as possible, and give us a full account of your proceedings, as I do not approve of long intervals of silence, or think that you need to stand very rigorously upon the exchange of letters, especially as mine are so much the longest.

“I rely upon it that you are now working hard in the classical mine, getting out the rubbish as fast as you can, and preparing yourself to collect the ore. I cannot too much impress upon your mind that labour is the condition which God has imposed on us in every station
of life—there is nothing worth having that can be had without it, from the bread which the peasant wins with the sweat of his brow, to the sports by which the rich man must get rid of his ennui. The only difference betwixt them is, that the poor man labours to get a dinner to his appetite, the rich man to get an appetite to his dinner. As for knowledge, it can no more be planted in the human mind without labour, than a field of wheat can be produced without the previous use of the plough. There is indeed this great difference, that chance or circumstances may so cause it that another shall reap what the farmer sows; but no man can be deprived, whether by accident or misfortune, of the fruits of his own studies, and the liberal and extended acquisitions of knowledge which he makes are all for his own use. Labour, my dear boy, therefore, and improve the time. In youth our steps are light, and our minds are ductile, and knowledge is easily laid up. But if we neglect our spring, our summers will be useless and contemptible, our harvest will be chaff, and the winter of our old age unrespected and desolate.

“It is now Christmas-tide, and it comes sadly round to me as reminding me of your excellent grandmother, who was taken from us last year at this time. Do you, my dear Charles, pay attention to the wishes of your parents while they are with you, that you may have no self-reproach when you think of them at a future period.

“You hear the Welsh spoken much about you, and if you can pick it up without interfering with more important labours, it will be worth while. I suppose you can easily get a grammar and dictionary. It is, you know, the language spoken by the Britons before the invasion of the Anglo-Saxons, who brought in the principal ingredients of our present language, called from thence English. It was afterwards, however,
much mingled with Norman French, the language of
William the Conqueror and his followers; so if you can pick up a little of the Cambro-British speech, it will qualify you hereafter to be a good philologist, should your genius turn towards languages. Pray, have you yet learned who Howel Dha was?—Glendower you are well acquainted with by reading Shakspeare. The wild mysterious barbaric grandeur with which he has invested that chieftain has often struck me as very fine. I wish we had some more of him.

“We are all well here, and I hope to get to Abbotsford for a few days—they cannot be many—in the ensuing vacation, when I trust to see the planting has got well forward. All are well here, and Mr Cadell* is come back, and gives a pleasant account of your journey. Let me hear from you very soon, and tell me if you expect any skating, and whether there is any ice in Wales. I presume there will be a merry Christmas, and beg my best wishes on the subject to Mr Williams, his sister and family. The Lockharts dine with us, and the Scotts of Harden, James Scott† with his pipes, and I hope Captain Adam. We will remember your health in a glass of claret just about six o’clock at night; so that you will know exactly (allowing for variation of time) what we are doing at the same moment.

“But I think I have written quite enough to a young Welshman, who has forgot all his Scots kith, kin, and allies. Mamma and Anne send many loves. Walter came like a shadow, and so departed—after about ten days’ stay. The effect was quite dramatic, for the door

* Mr Robert Cadell, of the house of Constable, had this year conveyed Charles Scott from Abbotsford to Lampeter.

Sir Walter’s cousin, a son of his uncle Thomas. See ante, vol. i., p. 74.

was flung open as we were about to go down to dinner, and Turner announced Captain Scott: We could not conceive who was meant, when in walked Walter as large as life. He is positively a new edition of the Irish giant. I beg my kind respects to
Mr Williams. At his leisure I should be happy to have a line from him.—I am, my dear little boy, always your affectionate father,

Walter Scott.”

The next letter contains a brief allusion to an affair, which in the life of any other man of letters would have deserved to be considered as of some consequence. The late Sir James Hall of Dunglass resigned, in November, 1820, the Presidency of the Royal Society of Edinburgh; and the Fellows, though they had on all former occasions selected a man of science to fill that post, paid Sir Walter the compliment of unanimously requesting him to be Sir James’s successor in it. He felt and expressed a natural hesitation about accepting this honour—which at first sight seemed like invading the proper department of another order of scholars. But when it was urged upon him that the Society is really a double one—embracing a section for literature as well as one of science,—and that it was only due to the former to let it occasionally supply the chief of the whole body, Scott acquiesced in the flattering proposal; and his gentle skill was found effective, so long as he held the Chair, in maintaining and strengthening the tone of good feeling and good manners which can alone render the meetings of such a Society either agreeable or useful. The new President himself soon began to take a lively interest in many of their discussions—those at least which pointed to any discovery of practical use;—and he, by and by, added some eminent men of science, with whom his acquaintance had hitherto been slight, to the list of his
most valued friends:—I may mention in particular
Dr, now Sir David, Brewster.

Sir Walter also alludes to an institution of a far different description,—that called “The Celtic Society of Edinburgh;” a club established mainly for the patronage of ancient Highland manners and customs, especially the use of “the Garb of Old Gaul”—though part of their funds have always been applied to the really important object of extending education in the wilder districts of the north. At their annual meetings Scott was, as may be supposed, a regular attendant. He appeared, as in duty bound, in the costume of the Fraternity, and was usually followed by “John of Skye,” in a still more complete, or rather incomplete, style of equipment.

To the Lord Montagu, &c. &c. &c., Ditton Park.
“Edinburgh, 17th January, 1821.
“My dear Lord,

“We had a tight day of it on Monday last, both dry and wet. The dry part was as dry as may be, consisting in rehearsing the whole lands of the Buccleuch estate for five mortal hours, although Donaldson had kindly selected a clerk whose tongue went over baronies, lordships, and regalities at as high a rate of top speed as ever Eclipse displayed in clearing the course at Newmarket. The evening went off very well considering that while looking forward with the natural feelings of hope and expectation on behalf of our young friend, most of us who were present could not help casting looks of sad remembrance on the days we had seen. However, we did very well, and I kept the chair till eleven, when we had coffee, and departed, “no very fou, but gaily yet.” Besides the law gentlemen and immediate agents of the family, I picked up on my own
Tom Ogilvie,* Sir Harry Hay Macdougal, Harden and his son, Gala, and Captain John Ferguson, whom I asked as from myself, stating that the party was to be quite private. I suppose there was no harm in this, and it helped us well on. I believe your nephew and my young chief enters life with as favourable auspices as could well attend him, for to few youths can attach so many good wishes, and none can look back to more estimable examples both in his father and grandfather. I think he will succeed to the warm and social affections of his relatives, which, if they sometimes occasion pain to those who possess them, contain also the purest sources of happiness as well as of virtue.

“Our late Pitt meeting amounted to about 800, a most tremendous multitude. I had charge of a separate room, containing a detachment of about 250, and gained a headach of two days, by roaring to them for five or six hours almost incessantly. The Foxites had also a very numerous meeting, 500 at least, but sad scamps. We had a most formidable band of young men, almost all born gentlemen and zealous proselytes. We shall now begin to look anxiously to London for news. I suppose they will go by the ears in the House of Commons; but I trust Ministers will have a great majority. If not they should go out, and let the others make the best of it with their acquitted Queen, who will be a ticklish card in their hand, for she is by nature intrigante more ways than one. The loss of Canning is a serious disadvantage. Many of our friends have good talents and good taste; but I think he alone has that higher order of parts which we call genius. I wish he had had more prudence to guide it. He has been a most unlucky poli-

* The late Thomas Elliott Ogilvie, Esq. of Chesters, in Roxburghshire—one of Sir Walter’s chief friends among his country neighbours.

JANUARY, 1821.49
tician. Adieu. Best love to all at Ditton, and great respect withal. My best compliments attend my young chief, now seated, to use an Oriental phrase, upon the Musnud. I am almost knocked up with public meetings, for the triple Hecate was a joke to my plurality of offices this week. On Friday I had my Pittite stewardship; on Monday my chancellorship; yesterday my presidentship of the Royal Society, for I had a meeting of that learned body at my house last night, where mulled wine and punch were manufactured and consumed according to the latest philosophical discoveries. Besides all this, I have before my eyes the terrors of a certain Highland Association, who dine bonneted and kilted in the old fashion (all save myself, of course), and armed to the teeth. This is rather severe service; but men who wear broad-swords, dirks, and pistols, are not to be neglected in these days; and the Gael are very loyal lads, so it is as well to keep up an influence with them. Once more, my dear Lord, farewell, and believe always most truly yours,

Walter Scott.”

In the course of the riotous week commemorated in the preceding letter, appeared Kenilworth, in 3 vols. post 8vo, like Ivanhoe, which form was adhered to with all the subsequent novels of the series. Kenilworth was one of the most successful of them all at the time of publication; and it continues, and, I doubt not, will ever continue, to be placed in the very highest rank of prose fiction. The rich variety of character, and scenery, and incident in this novel, has never indeed been surpassed; nor, with the one exception of the Bride of Lammermoor, has Scott bequeathed us a deeper and more affecting tragedy than that of Amy Robsart.