LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, Bart.
Chapter VII 1822

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 January 1822 Sir Walter had the great satisfaction of seeing Erskine at length promoted to a seat on the Bench of the Court of Session, by the title of Lord Kinnedder; and his pleasure was enhanced doubtless by the reflection that his friend owed this elevation very much, if not mainly, to his own unwearied exertions on his behalf. This happy event occurred just about the time when Joanna Baillie was distressed by hearing of the sudden and total ruin of an old friend of hers, a Scotch gentleman long distinguished in the commerce of the city of London; and she thought of collecting among her literary acquaintance such contributions as might, with some gleanings of her own portfolios, fill up a volume of poetical miscellanies, to be published, by subscription, for the benefit of the merchant’s family. In requesting Sir Walter to write something for this purpose, she also asked him to communicate the scheme, in her name, to various common friends in the North—among others, to the new Judge. Scott’s answer was—

FEBRUARY, 1822. 157
To Miss Joanna Baillie, Hampstead.
“Edinburgh, Feb. 10, 1822.
“My Dear Friend,

“No one has so good a title as you to command me in all my strength, and in all my weakness. I do not believe I have a single scrap of unpublished poetry, for I was never a willing composer of occasional pieces, and when I have been guilty of such effusions, it was to answer the purpose of some publisher of songs, or the like immediate demand. The consequence is, that all these trifles have been long before the public, and whatever I add to your collection must have the grace of novelty, in case it should have no other. I do not know what should make it rather a melancholy task for me nowadays to sit down to versify—I did not use to think it so—but I have ceased, I know not why, to find pleasure in it, and yet I do not think I have lost any of the faculties I ever possessed for the task; but I was never fond of my own poetry, and am now much out of conceit with it. All this another person less candid in construction than yourself would interpret into a hint to send a good dose of praise—but you know we have agreed long ago to be above ordinances, like Cromwell’s saints. When I go to the country upon the 12th of March, I will try what the water-side can do for me, for there is no inspiration in causeways and kennels, or even the Court of Session. You have the victory over me now, for I remember laughing at you for saying you could only write your beautiful lyrics upon a fine warm day. But what is this something to be? I wish you would give me a subject, for that would cut off half my difficulties.

“I am delighted with the prospect of seeing Miss Edgeworth, and making her personal acquaintance. I expect her to be just what you describe, a being totally void of affectation, and who, like one other lady
of my acquaintance, carries her literary reputation as freely and easily as the milk-maid in my country does the leglen, which she carries on her head, and walks as gracefully with it as a duchess. Some of the fair sex, and some of the foul sex, too, carry their renown in London fashion on a yoke and a pair of pitchers. The consequence is, that besides poking frightfully, they are hitting every one on the shins with their buckets. Now this is all nonsense, too fantastic to be written to any body but a person of good sense. By the way, did you know
Miss Austen, authoress of some novels which have a great deal of nature in them? nature in ordinary and middle life, to be sure, but valuable from its strong resemblance and correct drawing. I wonder which way she carried her pail?*

“I did indeed rejoice at Erskine’s promotion. There is a degree of melancholy attending the later stage of a barrister’s profession, which, though no one cares for sentimentalities attendant on a man of fifty or thereabout, in a rusty black bombazine gown, are not the less cruelly felt; their business sooner or later fails, for younger men will work cheaper, and longer, and harder—besides

* When the late collection of Sir Walter Scott’s Prose Miscellanies was preparing, the publisher of the Quarterly Review led me into a mistake, which I may as well take this opportunity of apologizing for. Glancing hastily over his private records, he included in his list of Sir Walter’s contributions to his journal an article on Miss Austen’s novels; and as the opinions which the article expresses on their merits and defects harmonized with the usual tone of Scott’s conversation, I saw no reason to doubt that he had drawn it up, although the style might have been considerably doctored by Mr Gifford. I have since learned that the reviewal was in fact written by Dr Whateley,—now Archbishop of Dublin. Miss Austen’s novels, especially Emma and Northanger Abbey, were great favourites with Scott, and he often read chapters of them to his evening circle.

that the cases are few, comparatively, in which senior counsel are engaged, and it is not etiquette to ask any one in that advanced age to take the whole burden of a cause. Insensibly, without decay of talent, and without losing the public esteem, there is a gradual decay of employment, which almost no man ever practised thirty years without experiencing; and thus the honours and dignities of the Bench, so hardly earned, and themselves leading but to toils of another kind, are peculiarly desirable. Erskine would have sat there ten years ago, but for wretched intrigues. He has a very poetical and elegant mind, but I do not know of any poetry of his writing, except some
additional stanzas to Collins’ ode on Scottish superstitions, long since published in the Border Minstrelsy. I doubt it would not be consistent with his high office to write poetry now, but you may add his name with Mrs Scott’s (Heaven forgive me! I should have said Lady Scott’s) and mine to the subscription-list. I will not promise to get you more, for people always look as if you were asking the guinea for yourself—there John Bull has the better of Sawney; to be sure he has more guineas to bestow, but we retain our reluctance to part with hard cash, though profuse enough in our hospitality. I have seen a laird, after giving us more champagne and claret than we cared to drink, look pale at the idea of paying a crown in charity.

“I am seriously tempted, though it would be sending coals to Newcastle with a vengeance, not to mention salt to Dysart, and all other superfluous importations—I am, I say, strangely tempted to write for your Protegés a dramatic scene on an incident which happened at the battle of Halidon Hill (I think). It was to me a nursery-tale, often told by Mrs Margaret Swinton, sister of my maternal grandmother; a fine old lady of high blood, and of as high a mind, who was lineally descended from
one of the actors. The anecdote was briefly thus. The family of Swinton is very ancient, and was once very powerful, and at the period of this battle the knight of Swinton was gigantic in stature, unequalled in strength, and a sage and experienced leader to boot. In one of those quarrels which divided the kingdom of Scotland in every corner, he had slain his neighbour, the head of the Gordon family, and an inveterate feud had ensued; for it seems that powerful as the Gordons always were, the Swintons could then bide a bang with them. Well, the battle of Halidon began, and the Scottish army, unskilfully disposed on the side of a hill where no arrow fell in vain, was dreadfully galled by the archery of the English, as usual; upon which Swinton approached the Scottish General, requesting command of a body of cavalry, and pledging his honour that he would, if so supported, charge and disperse the English archers—one of the manœuvres by which
Bruce gained the battle of Bannockburn. This was refused, out of stupidity or sullenness, by the General, on which Swinton expressed his determination to charge at the head of his own followers, though totally inadequate for the purpose. The young Gordon heard the proposal, son of him whom Swinton had slain, and with one of those irregular bursts of generosity and feeling which redeem the dark ages from the character of utter barbarism, he threw himself from his horse, and kneeled down before Swinton.—‘I have not yet been knighted,’ he said, ‘and never can I take the honour from the hand of a truer, more loyal, more valiant leader, than he who slew my father: grant me,’ he said, ‘the boon I ask, and I unite my forces to yours, that we may live and die together.’ His feudal enemy became instantly his godfather in chivalry, and his ally in battle. Swinton knighted the young Gordon, and they rushed down at
the head of their united retainers, dispersed the archery, and would have turned the battle, had they been supported. At length they both fell, and all who followed them were cut off, and it was remarked, that while the fight lasted, the old giant guarded the young man’s life more than his own, and the same was indicated by the manner in which his body lay stretched over that of Gordon. Now, do not laugh at my Berwickshire burr, which I assure you is literally and lineally handed down to me by my grandmother, from this fine old Goliah. Tell me, if I can clamper up the story into a sort of single scene, will it answer your purpose? I would rather try my hand in blank verse than rhyme.

“The story, with many others of the same kind, is consecrated to me by the remembrance of the narrator, with her brown silk gown, and triple ruffles, and her benevolent face, which was always beside our beds when there were childish complaints among us. Poor Aunt Margaret had a most shocking fate, being murdered by a favourite maid-servant in a fit of insanity, when I was about ten years old; the catastrophe was much owing to the scrupulous delicacy and high courage of my poor relation, who would not have the assistance of men called in for exposing the unhappy wretch her servant. I think you will not ask for a letter from me in a hurry again, but, as I have no chance of seeing you for a long time, I must be contented with writing. My kindest respects attend Mrs Agnes, your kind brother and family, and the Richardsons, little and big, short and tall; and believe me most truly yours,

W. Scott.

“P.S.—Sophia is come up to her Sunday dinner, and begs to send a thousand remembrances, with the important intelligence that her baby actually says ma-ma, and
bow wow, when he sees the dog. Moreover, he is christened
John Hugh; and I intend to plant two little knolls at their cottage, to be called Mount Saint John, and Hugomont. The Papa also sends his respects.”

About this time Cornet Scott, being for a short period in Edinburgh, sat to William Allan for that admirable portrait which now hangs (being the only picture in the room) over the mantelpiece of the Great Library at Abbotsford. Sir Walter, in extolling this performance to Lord Montagu, happened to mention that an engraving was about to appear from Mr Allan’s “Death of Archbishop Sharp,” and requested his lordship to subscribe for a copy of it. Lord Montagu read his letter hurriedly, and thought the forthcoming engraving was of the Cornet and his charger. He signified that he would very gladly have that; but took occasion to remind Sir Walter, that the Buccleuch family had not forgot his old promise to sit to Raeburn himself for a portrait, to be hung up at Bowhill. Scott’s letter of explanation includes his opinion of Horace Walpole’s posthumous “Memoirs.”

To the Lord Montagu.
“Abbotsford, 15th March, 1822.
“My dear Lord,

“It is close firing to reply to your kind letter so soon, but I had led your Lordship into two mistakes, from writing my former letter in a hurry; and therefore to try whether I cannot contradict the old proverb of ‘two blacks not making a white,’ I write this in a hurry to mend former blunders.

“In the first place, I never dreamed of asking you to subscribe to a print of my son—it will be time for him to be copperplated, as Joseph Gillon used to call
it, when he is major-general. I only meant to ask you to take a print of the Murder of Archbishop Sharp, and to mention historically that the same
artist, who made a capital picture of that event, had painted for me a very good portrait of my son. I suppose I may apply your Lordship’s kind permission to the work for which I did mean to require your patronage; and for a Scottish subject of interest by a Scottish artist of high promise, I will presume to reckon also on the patronage of my young chief. I had no idea of sitting for my own picture; and I think it will be as well to let Duke Walter, when he feels his own ground in the world, take his own taste in the way of adorning his house. Two or three years will make him an adequate judge on such a subject, and if they will not make me more beautiful, they have every chance of making me more picturesque. The distinction was ably drawn in the case of parsons’ horses, by Sydney Smith, in one of his lectures:—‘The rector’s horse is beautiful—the curate’s is picturesque.’ If the portrait had been begun, that were another matter; as it is, the Duke, when he is two or three years older, shall command my picture, as the original, à vendre et à pendre—an admirable expression of devotion, which I picked up from a curious letter of Lord Lovat’s, which I found the other day. I am greatly afraid the said original will by and by be fit only for the last branch of the dilemma.

“Have you read Lord Orford’s History of his own Time—it is acid and lively, but serves, I think, to show how little those, who live in public business, and of course in constant agitation and intrigue, know about the real and deep progress of opinions and events. The Memoirs of our Scots Sir George Mackenzie are of the same class—both immersed in little political detail, and the struggling skirmish of party, seem to have lost sight of the great progressive movements of human affairs.
They put me somewhat in mind of a miller, who is so busy with the clatter of his own wheels, grindstones, and machinery, and so much employed in regulating his own artificial mill-dam, that he is incapable of noticing the gradual swell of the river from which he derives his little stream, until it comes down in such force as to carry his whole manufactory away before it. It is comical, too, that Lord Orford should have delayed trusting the public with his reminiscences, until so many years had destroyed all our interest in the Parliamentary and Court intrigues which he tells with so much vivacity. It is like a man who should brick up a hogshead of cyder, to be drunk half a century afterwards, when it could contain little but acidity and vapidity.

“I am here, thank God, for two months. I have acquired, as I trust, a good gardener,* warranted by Macdonald of Dalkeith. So the seeds, which your Lordship is so kind as to promise me, will be managed like a tansy. The greatest advance of age which I have yet found is liking a cat, an animal I detested, and becoming fond of a garden, an art which I despised—but I suppose the indulgent mother Nature has pets and hobby-horses suited to her children at all ages. Ever, my dear Lord, most truly yours,

Walter Scott.”

Acquiescing in the propriety of what Sir Walter had thus said respecting the proposed portrait for Bowhill, Lord Montagu requested him to sit without delay for a smaller picture on his own behalf; and the result was that half-length now at Ditton, which possesses a peculiar value and interest as being the very last work of

* Mr Bogie. This respectable person is now seneschal of Scott’s deserted castle.

MARCH, 1822.165
Raeburn’s pencil. The poet’s answer to Lord Montagu’s request was as follows:

To the Lord Montagu.
“Abbotsford, 27th March, 1822.
“My dear Lord,

“I should be very unworthy of so great a proof of your regard, did I not immediately assure you of the pleasure with which I will contribute the head you wish to the halls of Ditton. I know no place where the substance has been so happy, and, therefore, the shadow may be so far well placed. I will not suffer this important affair to languish so far as I am concerned, but will arrange with Raeburn when I return to Edinburgh in May. Allan is not in the ordinary habit of doing portraits, and as he is really a rising historical painter, I should be sorry to see him seduced into the lucrative branch which carries off most artists of that description. If he goes on as he has begun, the young Duke may one day patronise the Scottish Arts, so far as to order a picture of the “Releasing” of Kinmont Willie* from him. I agree entirely with your Lordship’s idea of leaving the young chief to have the grace of forming his own ideas on many points, contenting yourself with giving him such principles as may enable him to judge rightly. I believe more youths of high expectation have bolted from the course, merely because well-meaning friends had taken too much care to rope it in, than from any other reason whatever. There is in youth a feeling of independence, a desire, in short, of being their own master, and enjoying their own free agency, which is

* See, in the Border Minstrelsy (vol. ii. p. 32), the capital old ballad on this dashing exploit of “the Bold Buccleuch” of Queen Elizabeth’s time.

not always attended to by guardians and parents, and hence the best laid schemes fail in execution from being a little too prominently brought forward. I trust that Walter, with the good sense which he seems to possess, will never lose that most amiable characteristic of his father’s family, the love and affection which all the members of it have, for two generations, borne to each other, and which has made them patterns as well as blessings to the country they lived in. I have few happier days to look forward to, and yet, like all happiness which comes to grey-headed men, it will have a touch of sorrow in it, than that in which he shall assume his high situation with the resolution which I am sure he will have to be a good friend to the country in which he has so large a stake, and to the multitudes which must depend upon him for protection, countenance, and bread. Selfish feelings are so much the fashion among fashionable men—it is accounted so completely absurd to do any thing which is not to contribute more or less directly to the immediate personal eclat or personal enjoyment of the party—that young men lose sight of real power and real importance, the foundation of which must be laid, even selfishly considered, in contributing to the general welfare,—like those who have thrown their bread on the waters, expecting, and surely receiving, after many days, its return in gratitude, attachment, and support of every kind. The memory of the most splendid entertainment passes away with the season, but the money and pains bestowed upon a large estate not only contribute to its improvement, but root the bestower in the hearts of hundreds over hundreds; should these become needful he is sure to exercise a correspondent influence. I cannot look forward to these as settled times. In the retrenchments proposed, Government agree to diminish
MARCH, 1822.167
their own influence, and while they contribute a comparative trifle to the relief of the public burdens, are making new discontents among those who, for interest’s sake at least, were their natural adherents. In this they are acting weakly, and trying to soothe the insatiate appetite of innovation, by throwing down their outworks, as if that which renders attack more secure and easy would diminish the courage of the assailants. Last year the manufacturing classes were rising—this year the agricultural interest is discontented, and whatever temporary relief either class receives will indeed render them quiet for the moment, but not erase from their minds the rooted belief that the government and constitution of this country are in fault for their embarrassments. Well, I cannot help it, and therefore will not think about it, for that at least I can help.
‘Time and the hour run through the roughest day.’

“We have had dreadful tempests here of wind and rain, and for a variety a little snow. I assure you it is as uncommon to see a hill with snow on its top these two last seasons as to see a beau on the better side of thirty with powder in his hair. I built an ice-house last year and could get no ice to fill it—this year I took the opportunity of even poor twenty-four hours and packed it full of hard-rammed snow but lo, ye the snow is now in meditatione fugæ, and I wish I may have enough to cool a decanter when you come to Abbotsford, as I trust your Lordship will be likely to be here next autumn. It is worth while to come, were it but to see what a romance of a house I am making, which is neither to be castle nor abbey (God forbid!) but an old Scottish manor-house. I believe Atkinson is in despair with my whims, for he cries out yes—yes—yes—in a
tone which exactly signifies no—no—no—by no manner of means. Believe me always, my dear Lord, most gratefully yours,

Walter Scott.”

At the commencement of this spring, then, Scott found his new edifice in rapid progress; and letters on that subject to and from Terry, occupy, during many subsequent months, a very large share in his correspondence. Before the end of the vacation, however, he had finished the MS. of his Nigel. Nor had he lost sight of his promise to Joanna Baillie. He produced, and that, as I well remember, in the course of two rainy mornings, the dramatic sketch of Halidon Hill; but on concluding it, he found that he had given it an extent quite incompatible with his friend’s arrangements for her charitable pic-nic. He therefore cast about for another subject likely to be embraced in smaller compass; and the Blair-Adam meeting of the next June supplied him with one in Macduff’s Cross. Meantime, on hearing a whisper about Halidon Hill, Messrs Constable, without seeing the MS., forthwith tendered L.1000 for the copyright—the same sum that had appeared almost irrationally munificent when offered in 1807 for the embryo Marmion. It was accepted, and a letter from Constable himself, about to be introduced, will show how well the head of the firm was pleased with this wild bargain. At the moment when his head was giddy with the popular applauses of the new-launched Nigel—and although he had been informed that Peveril of the Peak was already on the stocks—he suggested that a little pinnace, of the Halidon class, might easily be rigged out once a-quarter, by way of diversion, and thus add another L.4000 per annum to
the L.10 or L.15,000, on which all parties counted as the sure yearly profit of three-deckers in fore.

Before I quote Constable’s effusion, however, I must recall to the reader’s recollection some very gratifying, but I am sure perfectly sincere, laudation of him in his professional capacity, which the Author of the Fortunes of Nigel had put into the mouth of his Captain Clutterbuck in the humorous Epistle Introductory to that Novel. After alluding, in affectionate terms, to the recent death of John Ballantyne, the Captain adds, “To this great deprivation has been added, I trust for a time only, the loss of another bibliopolical friend, whose vigorous intellect, and liberal ideas, have not only rendered his native country the mart of her own literature, but established there a court of letters, which must command respect, even from those most inclined to dissent from many of its canons. The effect of these changes operated in a great measure by the strong sense and sagacious calculations of an individual, who knew how to avail himself, to an unhoped for extent, of the various kinds of talent which his country produced, will probably appear more clearly to the generation which shall follow the present. I entered the shop at the Cross to enquire after the health of my worthy friend, and learned with satisfaction that his residence in the south had abated the rigour of the symptoms of his disorder.”

It appears that Nigel was published on the 30th of May 1822; and next day Constable writes as follows, from his temporary residence near London:

To Sir Walter Scott, Bart., Castle Street, Edinburgh.
“Castlebeare Park, 31st May, 1822.
“Dear Sir Walter,

“I have received the highest gratification from the perusal of a certain new work. I may indeed say new
work, for it is entirely so, and will, if that be possible, eclipse in popularity all that has gone before it.

“The author will be blamed for one thing, however unreasonably, and that is, for concluding the story without giving his readers a little more of it. We are a set of ungrateful mortals. For one thing at least I trust I am never to be found so, for I must ever most duly appreciate the kind things intended to be applied to me in the Introductory Epistle to this work. I learn with astonishment, but not less delight, that the press is at work again; the title, which has been handed to me, is quite excellent.

“I am now so well as to find it compatible to pay my respects to some of my old haunts in the metropolis, where I go occasionally. I was in town yesterday, and so keenly were the people devouring my friend Jingling Geordie, that I actually saw them reading it in the streets as they passed along. I assure you there is no exaggeration in this. A new novel from the author of Waverley puts aside, in other words puts down for the time, every other literary performance. The Smack Ocean, by which the new work was shipped, arrived at the wharf on Sunday; the bales were got out by one on Monday morning, and before half-past ten o’clock 7000 copies had been dispersed from 90, Cheapside.* I sent my secretary on purpose to witness the activity with which such things are conducted, and to bring me the account, gratifying certainly, which I now give you.

“I went yesterday to the shop of a curious person—Mr Swaby, in Warden-street—to look at an old portrait which my son, when lately here, mentioned to me. It is, I think, a portrait of James the Fourth, and if not

* Constable’s London agents, Messrs Hurst, Robinson, and Co., had then their premises in Cheapside.

an original, is doubtless a picture as early as his reign. Our friend
Mr Thomson has seen it and is of the same opinion; but I purpose that you should be called upon to decide this nice point, and I have ordered it to be forwarded to you, trusting that erelong I may see it in, the Armoury at Abbotsford.

“I found at the same place two large elbow chairs, elaborately carved, in boxwood—with figures, foliage, &c. perfectly entire. Mr Swaby, from whom I purchased them, assured me they came from the Borghese Palace at Rome; he possessed originally ten such chairs, and had sold six of them to the Duke of Rutland, for Belvoir Castle, where they will be appropriate furniture; the two which I have obtained would, I think, not be less so in the Library of Abbotsford.

“I have been so fortunate as to secure a still more curious article—a slab of mosaic pavement, quite entire and large enough to make an outer hearth-stone, which I also destine for Abbotsford. It occurred to me that these three articles might prove suitable to your taste, and under that impression I am now induced to take the liberty of requesting you to accept them as a small but sincere pledge of grateful feeling. Our literary connexion is too important to make it necessary for your publishers to trouble you about the pounds, shillings, and pence of such things; and I therefore trust you will receive them on the footing I have thus taken the liberty to name. I have been on the outlook for antique carvings, and if I knew the purposes for which you would want such, I might probably be able to send you some.

“I was truly happy to hear of ‘Halidon Hill,’ and of the satisfactory arrangements made for its publication. I wish I had the power of prevailing with you to give us a similar production every three months; and that our ancient enemies on this side the Border might not
have too much their own way, perhaps your next dramatic sketch might be Bannockburn.* It would be presumptuous in me to point out subjects, but you know my craving to be great, and I cannot resist mentioning here that I should like to see a Battle of Hastings—a Cressy—a Bosworth Field—and many more.

Sir Thomas Lawrence was so kind as invite me to see his pictures,—what an admirable portrait he has commenced of you!—he has altogether hit a happy and interesting expression. I do not know whether you have heard that there is an exhibition at Leeds this year. I had an application for the use of Raeburn’s picture, which is now there; and it stands No. 1 in the catalogue, of which I inclose you a copy.

“You will receive with this a copy of the ‘Poetry, original and selected.’ I have, I fear, overshot the mark by including the poetry of the Pirate, a liberty for which I must hope to be forgiven. The publication of the volume will be delayed ten days, in case you should do me the favour to suggest any alteration in the advertisement, or other change.—I have the honour to be, dear Sir Walter, your faithful humble servant,

Archibald Constable.”

The last paragraph of this letter alludes to a little volume, into which Constable had collected the songs, mottoes, and other scraps of verse scattered over Scott’s Novels, from Waverley to the Pirate. It had a considerable run; and had it appeared sooner, might have saved Mr Adolphus the trouble of writing an essay to prove that the Author of Waverley, whoever he might be, was a Poet.

Constable, during his residence in England at this time, was in the habit of writing every week or two to Sir

* Had Mr Constable quite forgotten the Lord of the Isles?

Walter, and his letters now before me are all of the same complexion as the preceding specimen. The ardent bookseller’s brain seems to have been well-nigh unsettled at this period; and I have often thought that the foxglove which he then swallowed (his complaint being a threatening of water in the chest) might have had a share in the extravagant excitement of his mind. Occasionally, however, he enters on details as to which, or at least as to Sir Walter’s share in them, there could not have been any mistake; and these were, it must be owned, of a nature well calculated to nourish and sustain, in the author’s fancy a degree of almost mad exhilaration, near akin to his publisher’s own predominant mood. In a letter of the ensuing month, for example, after returning to the progress of Peveril of the Peak, under 10,000 copies of which (or nearly that number) Ballantyne’s presses were now groaning, and glancing gaily to the prospect of their being kept regularly employed to the same extent until three other novels, as yet unchristened, had followed Peveril, he adds a summary of what was then, had just been, or was about to be, the amount of occupation furnished to the same office by reprints of older works of the same pen;—“a summary,” he exclaims, “to which I venture to say there will be no rival in our day!” And well might Constable say so; for the result is, that James Ballantyne and Co. had just executed, or were on the eve of executing, by his order—
“A new edition of Sir W. Scott’s Poetical Works, in 10 vols. (miniature),5000 copies.
“Novels and Tales, 12 vols. ditto,5000 —
“Historical Romances, 6 vols. ditto,5000 —
“Poetry from Waverley, &c. 1 vol. 12mo,5000 —
“Paper required,7772 reams.
“Volumes produced from Ballantyne’s press, 145,000!”  
To which we may safely add from 30,000 to 40,000 volumes more as the immediate produce of the author’s daily industry within the space of twelve months. The scale of these operations was, without question, enough to turn any bookseller’s wits; Constable’s, in its soberest hours, was as inflammable a head-piece as ever sat on the shoulders of a poet; and his ambition, in truth, had been moving pari passu, during several of these last stirring and turmoiling years, with that of his poet. He, too, as I ought to have mentioned ere now, had, like a true Scotchman, concentred his dreams on the hope of bequeathing to his heir the name and dignity of a lord of acres. He, too, had considerably before this time purchased a landed estate in his native county of Fife; he, too, I doubt not, had, while Abbotsford was rising, ‘his own rural castle in petto; and alas! for “Archibald Constable of Balniel” also, and his overweening intoxication of worldly success, Fortune had already begun to prepare a stern rebuke.

Nigel was, I need not say, considered as ranking in the first class of Scott’s romances. Indeed, as a historical portraiture, his of James I. stands forth preeminent, and almost alone; nor, perhaps, in reperusing these novels deliberately as a series, does any one of them leave so complete an impression as the picture of an age. It is, in fact, the best commentary on the old English drama—hardly a single picturesque point of manners touched by Ben Jonson and his contemporaries but has been dovetailed into this story, and all so easily and naturally, as to form the most striking contrast to the historical romances of authors who cram, as the schoolboys phrase it, and then set to work oppressed and bewildered with their crude and undigested burden.

The novel was followed in June by the dramatic sketch of Halidon Hill; but that had far inferior success. I
shall say a word on it presently, in connexion with another piece of the same order.

A few weeks before this time Cornet Scott had sailed for Germany, and, it seems, in the midst of rough weather his immediate destination being Berlin, where his father’s valued friend Sir George Rose was then Ambassador from the Court of St James:—

For Walter Scott, Esq., care of His Excellency Sir George Rose, &c. &c., Berlin.
“My dear Walter,

“Your letters came both together this morning, and relieved me from a disagreeable state of anxiety about you, for the winds have been tremendous since you sailed; and no news arriving from the Continent, owing to their sticking in the west, I was really very uneasy. Luckily mamma did not take any alarm. I have no news to send you save what are agreeable. We are well here, and going on in the old fashion. Last night Mathews the comedian was with us, and made himself very entertaining. About a week ago the Comptesse Nial, a lady in the service of Princess Louisa of Prussia, came to dine here with the Lord Chief Commissioner and family, and seemed to take a great interest in what she heard and saw of our Scottish fashions. She was so good as to offer me letters for you to the Princess Louisa; General Gneissenau, who was Adjutant-General of Blucher’s army, and formed the plan of almost all the veteran’s campaigns; and to the Baroness de la Motte Fouquè, who is distinguished in the world of letters, as well as her husband the Baron, the author of many very pleasing works of fiction, particularly the beautiful tale of Undine, and the travels of Theodulph. If you find an opportunity to say to the Baroness how much I have been interested by her writings and Mons. de la Motte Fouquè’s, you will say no more than the
truth, and it will be civil, for folks like to know that they are known and respected beyond the limits of their own country.

“Having the advantage of good introductions to foreigners of distinction, I hope you will not follow the established English fashion of herding with your countrymen, and neglecting the opportunity of extending your acquaintance with the language and society. There is, I own, a great temptation to this in a strange country; but it is destruction of all the purposes for which the expense and trouble of foreign travel are incurred. Labour particularly at the German, as the French can be acquired elsewhere; but I should rather say, work hard at both. It is not, I think, likely, though it is possible, that you may fall into company with some of the Têtes échauffées, who are now so common in Germany—men that would pull down the whole political system in order to rebuild it on a better model: a proposal about as wild as that of a man who should propose to change the bridle of a furious horse, and commence his labours by slipping the headstall in the midst of a heath. Prudence, as well as principle and my earnest desire, will induce you to avoid this class of politicians, who, I know, are always on the alert to kidnap young men.

“I account Sir George Rose’s being at Berlin the most fortunate circumstance which could have befallen you, as you will always have a friend whom you can consult in case of need. Do not omit immediately arranging your time so as to secure as much as possible for your studies and exercises. For the last I recommend fencing and riding in the academy; for though a good horseman, it is right you should keep up the habit, and many of the German schools are excellent. I think, however, Sir George Rose says that of Berlin is but indifferent; and he is a good judge of the art. I pray
MAY, 1822.177
you not to lose time in dawdling; for, betwixt Edinburgh, London, and the passage, much of the time which our plan destined for your studies has been consumed, and your return into the active service of your profession is proportionally delayed; so lose no time. I cannot say but what I am very happy that you are not engaged in the inglorious, yet dangerous and harassing, warfare of Ireland at present. Your old friend Paddy is now stark mad, and doing much mischief. Sixteen of the Peelers have, I see by this morning’s papers, been besieged in their quarters by the mob, four killed, and the rest obliged to surrender after they had fired the house in which they were quartered. The officers write that the service is more harassing than on the Peninsula, and it would appear a considerable part of the country is literally in possession of the insurgents. You are just as well learning Teütsche sprechen. I am glad to see you are writing a firm and good hand. Your last from Hamburgh was distinctly written, and well composed. Pray write all your remarks, and pay some little attention to the style, which, without being stiff or pedantic, should always be accurate.

“The Lockharts are well; but baby has a cough, which keeps Sophia anxious: they cannot say whether it be the hooping-cough or no. Mamma, Anne, and little Walter* send kind love. The little fellow studies hard, and will, I hope, be a credit to the name he bears. If you do not take care, he may be a General before you. Always, my dear Walter, most affectionately yours,

Walter Scott.

“P.S.—The Germans are a people of form. You will take care to learn the proper etiquette about delivering the enclosed letters.”

* Walter, the son of Mr Thomas Scott, was at this time domiciled with his uncle’s family.