LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, Bart.
Chapter VIII 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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During April, May, and June of this year, Scott’s thoughts were much occupied with a plan for securing Melrose Abbey against the progress of decay, which had been making itself manifest to an alarming extent, and to which he had often before directed the attention of the Buccleuch family. Even in writing to persons who had never seen Melrose, he could not help touching on this business—for he wrote, as he spoke, out of the fulness of the heart. The young Duke readily concurred with his guardians in allowing the poet to direct such repairs as might seem to him adequate; and the result was extremely satisfactory to all the habitual worshippers of these classical ruins.

I return to the copious and candid correspondence from which it has been throughout my object to extract and combine the scattered fragments of an autobiography.

To Miss Edgeworth, Edgeworthstown.
“Abbotsford, 24th April, 1822.
“My dear Miss Edgeworth,

“I am extremely sorry indeed that you cannot fulfil your kind intentions to be at Abbotsford this year.
MARCH, 1822.179
It is a great disappointment, and I am grieved to think it should have arisen from the loss of a valued relation. That is the worst part of life when its earlier path is trod. If my limbs get stiff, my walks are made shorter, and my rides slower.—If my eyes fail me, I can use glasses and a large print.—If I get a little deaf, I comfort myself that, except in a few instances, I shall be no great loser by missing one full half of what is spoken; but I feel the loneliness of age when my companions and friends are taken from me. The sudden death of both the
Boswells, and the bloody end of the last, have given me great pain.* You have never got half the praise Vivian ought to have procured you. The reason is, that the class from which the excellent portrait was drawn, feel the resemblance too painfully to thank the author for it; and I do not believe the common readers understand it in the least. I who, thank God, am neither great man nor politician, have lived enough among them to recognise the truth and nature of the painting, and am no way implicated in the satire. I begin to think that of the three kingdoms the English alone are

* James Boswell of the Temple, editor of the last Variorum Shakspeare, &c., a man of considerable learning and admirable social qualities, died suddenly, in the prime of life, about a fortnight before his brother Sir Alexander. Scott was warmly attached to them both, and the fall of the Baronet might well give him a severe shock, for he had dined in Castle Street only two or three days before it occurred, and the merriest tones of his voice were still ringing in his friend’s ears when he received the fatal intelligence. That evening was, I think, the gayest I ever spent in Castle Street; and though Charles Mathews was present, and in his best force, poor Boswell’s songs, jokes, and anecdotes, had exhibited no symptom of eclipse. It turned out that he had joined the party whom he thus delighted, immediately after completing the last arrangements for his duel. It may be worth while to add, that several circumstances of his death are exactly reproduced in the duel scene of St Ronan’s Well.

qualified to mix in politics safely and without fatal results; the fierce and hasty resentments of the Irish, and the sullen, long-enduring, revengeful temper of my countrymen, make such agitations have a much wider and more dreadful effect amongst them. Well, we will forget what we cannot help, and pray that we may lose no more friends till we find, as I hope and am sure we shall do, friends in each other. I had arranged to stay at least a month after the 12th of May, in hopes of detaining you at Abbotsford, and I will not let you off under a month or two the next year. I shall have my house completed, my library replaced, my armoury new furbished, my piper new clothed, and the time shall be July. I trust I may have the same family about me, and perhaps my two sons.
Walter is at Berlin studying the great art of war—and entertaining a most military conviction that all the disturbances of Ireland are exclusively owing to his last regiment, the 18th hussars, having been imprudently reduced. Little Charles is striving to become a good scholar and fit for Oxford. Both have a chance of being at home in autumn 1823. I know nothing I should wish you to see which has any particular chance of becoming invisible in the course of fourteen months, excepting my old bloodhound, poor fellow, on whom age now sits so heavily, that he cannot follow me far from the house. I wished you to see him very much—he is of that noble breed which Ireland, as well as Scotland, once possessed, and which is now almost extinct in both countries. I have sometimes thought of the final cause of dogs having such short lives, and I am quite satisfied it is in compassion to the human race; for if we suffer so much in losing a dog after an acquaintance of ten or twelve years, what would it be if they were to live double that time?

“I don’t propose being in London this year—I do
not like it—there is such a riding and driving—so much to see—so much to say—not to mention plover’s eggs and champagne—that I always feel too much excited in London, though it is good to rub off the rust too, sometimes, and brings you up abreast with the world as it goes——But I must break off, being summoned to a conclave to examine how the progress of decay, which at present threatens to destroy the ruins of Melrose, can yet be arrested. The
Duke of Buccleuch, though but a boy, is very desirous to have something done, and his guardians have acquiesced in a wish so reasonable and creditable to the little chief. I only hope they will be liberal, for a trifle will do no good, or rather, I think, any partial tampering is likely to do harm. But the Duke has an immense estate, and I hope they will remember, that though a moderate sum may keep up this national monument, yet his whole income could not replace it should it fall.—Yours, dear Miss Edgeworth, with true respect and regard,

Walter Scott.”
To the Lord Montagu, &c.
“Abbotsford, 29th April, 1822.
“My dear Lord,

“The state of the east window is peculiarly precarious, and it may soon give way if not assisted. There would not only be dishonour in that, as Trinculo says when he lost his bottle in the pool, but an infinite loss. Messrs Smallwood and Smith concur, there will be no difficulty in erecting a scaffolding strong enough to support the weight of an interior arch or beam, as we call it, of wood, so as to admit the exterior two rows of the stone-arch to be lifted and replaced, stone by stone, and made as sure as ever they were. The other ribs
should then be pointed both above and beneath, every fissure closed, every tree and shrub eradicated, and the whole arch covered with Roman cement, or, what would be greatly better, with lead. This operation relates to the vault over the window. Smallwood thinks that the window itself, that is, the shafted columns, should be secured by renewing the cross-irons which formerly combined them together laterally, and the holes of which still remain; and, indeed, considering how it has kept its ground in its present defenceless state, I think it amounts to a certainty that the restoration of so many points d’appui will secure it against any tempest whatsoever, especially when the vaulted roof is preserved from the present risk of falling down on it.

“There is one way in which the expense would be greatly lessened, and the appearance of the building in the highest degree improved, but it depends on a proviso. Provided then that the whole eastern window, with the vault above it, were repaired and made, as Law says, sartum atque tectum, there could be no objection to taking down the modern roof with the clumsy buttresses on the northern side.* Indeed I do not see how the roofs continuing could in any respect protect the window, though it may be very doubtful whether the west gable should be pulled down, which would expose the east window to a thorough draft of air, a circumstance which the original builder did not contemplate, and against which, therefore, he made no provision. The taking down this roof and the beastly buttresses would expose a noble range of columns on each side.—Ever, my dear Lord, yours ever truly,

W. S.”

* Sometime after the disciples of John Knox had done their savage pleasure upon Melrose Abbey, the western part of the chancel was repaired in a most clumsy style to serve as a parish kirk.

To the Same.
“Abbotsford, 15th May, 1822.
“My dear Lord,

“I am quite delighted with the commencement of the Melrose repairs, and hope to report progress before I leave the country, though that must be on Monday next. Please God, I will be on the roof of the old Abbey myself when the scaffolding is up. When I was a boy I could climb like a wild-cat; and entire affection to the work on hand must on this occasion counterbalance the disadvantages of increased weight and stiffened limbs. The east and south windows certainly claim the preference in any repairs suggested; the side aisles are also in a very bad way, but cannot in this summer weather be the worse of delay. It is the rain that finds its way betwixt the arch-stones in winter, and is there arrested by the frost, which ruins ancient buildings when exposed to wet. Ice occupies more space than water unfrozen, and thus, when formed, operates as so many wedges inserted between the stones of the arch, which, of course, are dislocated by this interposition, and in process of time the equilibrium of the arch is destroyed—Q. E. D. There spoke the President of the R. S. E. The removal of the old roof would not be attended with a penny of expense, nay, might be a saving were it thought proper to replace the flags which now cover it upon the side aisles, where they certainly originally lay. The ruble stones would do much more than pay the labourers. But though this be the case, and though the beauty of the ruin would be greatly increased, still I should first like to be well assured that the east window was not thereby deprived of shelter. It is to be seriously weighed that the architect who has shown so much skill, would not fail to modify the strength of the different
parts of his building to the violence which they were to sustain; and as it never entered into his pious pate, that the east window was to be exposed to a thorough blast from west to east, it is possible he may not have constructed it of strength sufficient to withstand its fury, and therefore I say caution, caution.

“We are not like to suffer on this occasion the mortification incurred by my old friend and kinsman Mr Keith of Ravelstone, a most excellent man, but the most irresolute in the world, more especially when the question was unloosing his purse strings. Conceiving himself to represent the great Earls-Marischal, and being certainly possessed of their castle and domains, he bethought him of the family vault, a curious Gothic building in the churchyard of Dunnotar: L.10 it was reported would do the job—my good friend proffered L.5—it would not do. Two years after he offered the full sum. A report was sent that the breaches were now so much increased that L.20 would scarce serve. Mr Keith humm’d and ha’d for three years more; then offered L.20. The wind and rain had not waited his decision—less than L.50 would not now serve. A year afterwards he sent a cheque for the L.50, which was returned by post, with the pleasing intelligence that the Earl-Marischal’s aisle had fallen the preceding week. Your Lordship’s prompt decision has probably saved Melrose Abbey from the same fate. I protest I often thought I was looking on it for the last time.

“I do not know how I could write in such a slovenly way as to lead your Lordship to think that I could recommend planting even the fertile soil of Bowden-moor in the month of April or May. Except evergreens, I would never transplant a tree betwixt March and Martinmas. Indeed I hold by the old proverb plant a tree before Candlemas, and command it to grow—plant
it after Candlemas, and you must entreat it. I only spoke of this as a thing which you might look at when your Lordship came here; and so your ideas exactly meet mine.

“I think I can read Lady Montagu’s dream, or your Lordship’s, or my own, or our common vision, without a Daniel coming to judgment, for I bethink me my promise related to some Botany Bay seeds, &c., sent me in gratitude by an honest gentleman who had once run some risk of being himself pendulous on a tree in this country. If they come to any thing pretty, we shall be too proud to have some of the produce at Ditton.

“Your hailstones have visited us—mingled, in Scripture phrase, with coals of fire. My uncle, now ninety-three years complete, lives in the house of Monklaw, where the offices were set on fire by the lightning. The old gentleman was on foot, and as active with his orders and directions as if he had been but forty-five. They wished to get him off, but he answered, ‘Na, na, lads, I have faced mony a fire in my time, and I winna turn my back on this ane.’ Was not this a good cut of an old Borderer?—Ever your Lordship’s faithful

W. Scott.”

In the next of these letters Sir Walter refers to the sudden death of the excellent Primate of Ireland, the Honourable William Stuart, brother to his and Lord Montagu’s dear friend Lady Louisa. His Grace appears to have been cut off in consequence of an over-dose of laudanum being accidentally administered to him.

To the Same.
“Edinburgh, 24th May, 1822.

“I do devoutly grieve for poor Lady Louisa. With
a mind and indeed a bodily frame which suffers so peculiarly as hers under domestic affliction, I think she has had a larger share of it than any person almost in my acquaintance. Perhaps, in her case, celibacy, by extending the affections of so kind a heart through the remoter range of relationship, has rendered her more liable to such inroads upon her happiness. I remember several accidents similar to that of the
Archbishop of Armagh. Henderson’s (the player) was one. His wife, who administered the fatal draught, was the only person who remained ignorant of the cause of his death. One of the Duke’s farmers, some years since, showed extraordinary resolution in the same situation. His father had given him a quantity of laudanum instead of some other medicine. The mistake was instantly discovered; but the young man had sufficient energy and force of mind to combat the operation of the drug. While all around him were stupid with fear, he rose, saddled his horse, and rode to Selkirk (six or seven miles); thus saving the time that the doctor must have taken in coming to him. It is very curious that his agony of mind was able to suspend the operation of the drug until he had alighted, when it instantly began to operate. He recovered perfectly.

“Much obliged by the communication of the symbols adopted by the lady patronesses at the ball for the Scottish Corporation. Some seem very apocryphal. I have somewhere two lists of the badges of the Highland clans, which do not quite correspond with each other. I suppose they sometimes shifted their symbols. In general [it] was a rule to have an evergreen; and I have heard that the downfall of the Stuarts was supposed to be omened by their having chosen the oak for their badge of distinction. I have always heard that of the Scotts was the heath-flower, and that they were some-
times called Heather-tops from that circumstance. There is a rhyme in
Satchells or elsewhere, which runs thus:—
“If heather-bells we’re corn of the best,
Buccleuch-mill would have a noble grist.”
In the Highlands I used sometimes to put heath in my hat, and was always welcomed as a kinsman by the Macdonalds, whose badge is freugh, or heather. By the way,
Glengarry has had an affair with a cow, in which, rumour says, he has not come off quite so triumphantly as Guy of Warwick in an incident of the same nature. Lord pity them that should mention Tom Thumb.—Yours ever,

W. S.”

In the following he touches, among other things, on a strange book, called, “Cranbourne Chase,” the performance of a clergyman mad upon sport, which had been sent to him by his friend William Rose;—the anniversary of the battle of Waterloo, as celebrated by him and his rural allies at Melrose;—a fire which had devastated the New Forest, in the neighbourhood of Lord Montagu’s seat of Beaulieu Abbey;—and the annual visit to Blair-Adam, which suggested the subject of another dramatic sketch, that of “Macduff’s Cross.”

To the Same.
“Edinburgh, June 23, 1822.

“I am glad your Lordship likes Cranbourne Chase: if you had not, I should have been mortified in my self-conceit, for I thought you were exactly the person to relish it. If you bind it, pray insert at the beginning or end two or three leaves of blank paper, that I may insert some excellent anecdotes of the learned author, which I got from good authority. His debût in the sporting line was shooting an old cat, for which
crime his father made him do penance upon bread and water for three months in a garret, where he amused himself with hunting rats upon a new principle. Is not this being game to the back-bone?

“I expect to be at Abbotsford for two days about the 18th, that I may hold a little jollification with the inhabitants of Melrose and neighbourhood, who always have a gaudeamus, like honest men, on the anniversary of Waterloo. I shall then see what is doing at the Abbey. I am very tenaciously disposed to think, that when the expense of scaffolding, &c. is incurred, it would be very desirable to complete the thing by covering the arch with lead, which will secure it for 500 years. I doubt compositions standing our evil climate; and then the old story of vegetation taking place among the stones comes round again, and twenty years put it in as much danger as before. To be sure the lead will not look so picturesque as cement, but then the preservation will be complete and effectual.

“The fire in Bewly forest reminds me of a pine wood in Strathspey taking fire, which threatened the most destructive consequences to the extensive forests of the Laird of Grant. He sent the fiery cross (there peculiarly appropriate, and the last time, it is said, that it was used) through Glen-Urquhart and all its dependencies, and assembled 500 Highlanders with axes, who could only stop the conflagration by cutting a gap of 500 yards in width betwixt the burning wood and the rest of the forest. This occurred about 1770, and must have been a most tremendous scene.

Adam Ferguson and I spent Saturday, Sunday, and Monday last in scouring the country with the Chief Baron and Chief Commissioner in search of old castles, crosses, and so forth; and the pleasant weather rendered the excursion delightful. The beasts of Reformers have
left only the bottom-stone or socket of Macduff’s Cross, on which is supposed to have been recorded the bounty of
King Malcom Canmore to the unborn Thane of Fife. It was a comfort, however, to have seen any thing of it at all. As to your being in Bond Street, I can only say I pity you with all my heart. Castle Street is bad enough, even with the privilege of a hop-step-and-jump to Abbotsford, by way of shoemakers’ holiday.

“I shall be delighted to hear that Lady Charlotte’s bridal has taken place;* and as doubtless she destines a pair of gloves to one of her oldest friends and well-wishers, I hope her Ladyship will not allow the awful prospect before her to put out of her recollection that I have the largest pair of hands almost in Scotland (now that Hugh Warrender is gone), and that if there be seven-leagued gloves, as once there were seven-leagued boots, they will be most ‘germain to the matter.’ My respectful compliments to the bride-elect and her sisters, to Lady Montagu, and your own young ladies. I have scarce room to add that I always am your Lordship’s very faithful

Walter Scott.”

On the 12th of July, Sir Walter, as usual, left Edinburgh, but he was recalled within a week, by the business to which the following note refers—

To D. Terry, Esq., London.
“Edinburgh, 31st July, 1822.
“My dear Terry,

“I have not a moment to think my own thoughts, or mind my own matters: would you were here, for we are in a famous perplexity: the motto on the St Andrew’s

* Lady Charlotte Scott, sister to the present Duke of Buccleuch, was married about this time to her cousin Lord Stopford, now Earl of Courtown.

Cross, to be presented to the King, is ‘Righ Albainn gu brath,’ that is, ‘Long Life to the King of Scotland.’ ‘Righ gu brath’ would make a good motto for a button—‘the King for ever.’ I wish to have
Montrose’s sword down with the speed of light, as I have promised to let my cousin, the Knight-Marshal, have it on this occasion. Pray send it down by the mail-coach: I can add no more, for the whole of this work has devolved on my shoulders. If Montrose’s sword is not quite finished send it nevertheless.* Yours entirely,

W. Scott.”

We have him here in the hot bustle of preparation for King George the Fourth’s reception in Scotland, where his Majesty spent a fortnight in the ensuing August, as he had a similar period in Ireland the year before, immediately after his coronation. Before this time no Prince of the House of Hanover was known to have touched the soil of Scotland, except one, whose name had ever been held there in universal detestation—the cruel conqueror of Culloden,—‘the butcher Cumberland.’ Now that the very last dream of Jacobitism had expired with the Cardinal of York, there could be little doubt that all the northern Tories, of whatever shade of sentiment, would concur to give their lawful Sovereign a greeting of warm and devoted respect; but the feelings of the Liberals towards George IV. personally had been unfavourably tinctured, in consequence of several incidents in his history—above all—(speaking of the mass of population addicted to that political creed)—the unhappy dissensions and scandals which had termi-

* There is in the armoury at Abbotsford a sword presented by Charles I. to the great Marquis of Montrose with Prince Henry’s arms and cypher on one side of the blade, and his own on the other. Sir Walter had sent it to Terry for a new sheath, &c.

nated, as it were but yesterday, in the trial of his
Queen. The recent asperities of the political press on both sides, and some even fatal results to which these had led, must also be taken into account. On the whole it was, in the opinion of cool observers, a very doubtful experiment, which the new, but not young King, had resolved on trying. That he had been moved to do so in a very great measure, both directly and indirectly, by Scott, there can be no question; and I believe it will now be granted by all who can recall the particulars as they occurred, that his Majesty mainly owed to Scott’s personal influence, authority, and zeal, the more than full realization of the highest hopes he could have indulged on the occasion of this northern progress.

Whether all the arrangements which Sir Walter dictated or enforced, were conceived in the most accurate taste, is a different question. It appeared to be very generally thought, when the first programmes were issued, that the Highlanders, their kilts, and their bagpipes, were to occupy a great deal too much space in every scene of public ceremony connected with the King’s reception. With all respect and admiration for the noble and generous qualities which our countrymen of the Highland clans have so often exhibited, it was difficult to forget that they had always constituted a small, and almost always an unimportant part of the Scottish population; and when one reflected how miserably their numbers had of late years been reduced in consequence of the selfish and hard-hearted policy of their landlords, it almost seemed as if there was a cruel mockery in giving so much prominence to their pretensions. But there could be no question that they were picturesque—and their enthusiasm was too sincere not to be catching; so that by and by even the coolest-headed Sassenach felt his heart, like John of Argyle’s, “warm to the tartan;” and high and low
were in the humour, not only to applaud, but each, according to his station, to take a share in what might really be described as a sort of grand terryfication of the Holyrood chapters in
Waverley; George IV., anno ætatis 60, being well contented to enact “Prince Charlie,” with the Great Unknown himself for his Baron Bradwardine, “ad exeuendas vel detrahendas caligas domini regis post battalliam.

But Sir Walter had as many parts to play as ever tasked the Protean genius of his friend Mathews; and he played them all with as much cordial energy as animated the exertions of any Henchman or Piper in the company. His severest duties, however, were those of stage-manager, and under these I sincerely believe any other human being’s temper and patience would very soon have given way. The local magistrates, bewildered and perplexed with the rush of novelty, threw themselves on him for advice and direction about the merest trifles; and he had to arrange every thing, from the ordering of a procession to the cut of a button and the embroidering of a cross. Ere the greenroom in Castle Street had dismissed provosts, and bailies, and deacon-conveners of the trades of Edinburgh, it was sure to be besieged by swelling chieftains, who could not agree on the relative positions their clans had occupied at Bannockburn, which they considered as constituting the authentic precedent for determining their own places, each at the head of his little theatrical tail, in the line of the King’s escort between the Pier of Leith and the Canongate. It required all Scott’s unwearied good-humour, and imperturbable power of face, to hear in becoming gravity the sputtering controversies of such fiery rivals, each regarding himself as a true potentate, the representative of Princes as ancient as Bourbon; and no man could have coaxed them into
decent co-operation, except him whom all the Highlanders, from the haughtiest MacIvor to the slyest Callum-Beg, agreed in looking up to as the great restored and blazoner of their traditionary glories. He had, however, in all this most delicate part of his administration an admirable assistant in one who had also, by the direction of his literary talents, acquired no mean share of authority among the Celts—namely, the late
General David Stewart of Garth, author of the “History of the Highland Regiments.” On Garth (seamed all over with the scars of Egypt and Spain) devolved the Toy-Captainship of the Celtic Club, already alluded to as an association of young civilians enthusiastic for the promotion of the philabeg—and he drilled and conducted that motley array in such style, that they formed, perhaps, the most splendid feature in the whole of this plaided panorama. But he, too, had a potential voice in the conclave of rival chieftains,—and, with the able backing of this honoured veteran, Scott succeeded finally in assuaging all their heats, and reducing their conflicting pretensions to terms of truce, at least, and compromise. A ballad (now included in his works), wherein these magnates were most adroitly flattered, was widely circulated among them and their followers, and was understood to have had a considerable share of the merit in this peacemaking; but the constant hospitality of his table was a not less efficient organ of influence. A friend coming in upon him as a detachment of Duniewassails were enjoying, for the first time, his “Cogie now the King’s Come,” in his breakfast parlour, could not help whispering in his ear—“You are just your own Lindesay in Marmionstill thy verse hath charms;”—and, indeed, almost the whole of the description thus referred to might have been applied to him when arranging the etiquettes of
this ceremonial; for, among other persons in place and dignity who leaned to him for support on every question, was his friend and kinsman, the late worthy
Sir Alexander Keith, Knight-Marischal of Scotland; and—

“Heralds and pursuivants by name
Bute, Islay, Marchmont, Rothesay came,
Attendant on a king-at-arms,
Whose hand the armorial truncheon held,
That feudal strife had often quelled,
When wildest its alarms.
He was a man of middle age,
In aspect manly, grave, and sage,
As on King’s errand come;
But in the glances of his eye,
A penetrating, keen, and sly
Expression found its home . . . . . . . .
Still is thy name in high account,
And still thy verse hath charms;
Lord Lyon King-at-arms.”

About noon of the 14th of August, the royal yacht and the attendant vessels of war cast anchor in the Roads of Leith; but although Scott’s ballad-prologue had entreated the clergy to “warstle for a sunny day,” the weather was so unpropitious that it was found necessary to defer the landing until the 15th. In the midst of the rain, however, Sir Walter rowed off to the Royal George; and, says the newspaper of the day,—

“When his arrival alongside the yacht was announced to the King, ‘What!’ exclaimed his Majesty, ‘Sir Walter Scott! The man in Scotland I most wish to see! Let him come up.’ This distinguished Baronet then ascended the ship, and was presented to the King on the quarter-deck, where, after an appropriate speech in name of the ladies of Edinburgh, he presented his Majesty with a St Andrew’s Cross, in silver, which his fair subjects had provided for him.* The King, with evident marks of satisfaction, made a

* This was the cross inscribed “Righ Albainn gu brath,” about which Scott wrote to Terry on the 31st July.

AUGUST, 1822.195
gracious reply to
Sir Walter, received the gift in the most kind and condescending manner, and promised to wear it in public, in token of acknowledgment to the fair donors.”

To this record let me add, that, on receiving the poet on the quarter-deck, his Majesty called for a bottle of Highland whisky, and having drunk his health in this national liquor, desired a glass to be filled for him. Sir Walter, after draining his own bumper, made a request that the King would condescend to bestow on him. the glass out of which his Majesty had just drunk his health; and this being granted, the precious vessel was immediately wrapped up and carefully deposited in what he conceived to be the safest part of his dress. So he returned with it to Castle Street;—but to say nothing at this moment of graver distractions—on reaching his house he found a guest established there of a sort rather different from the usual visiters of the time. The poet Crabbe, to whom he had been introduced when last in London by Mr Murray of Albemarle Street, after repeatedly promising to follow up the acquaintance by an excursion to the north, had at last arrived in the midst of these tumultuous preparations for the royal advent. Notwithstanding all such impediments, he found his quarters ready for him, and Scott entering, wet and hurried, embraced the venerable man with brotherly affection. The royal gift was forgotten—the ample skirt of the coat within which it had been packed, and which he had hitherto held cautiously in front of his person, slipped back to its more usual position—he sat down beside Crabbe, and the glass was crushed to atoms. His scream and gesture made his wife conclude that he had sat down on a pair of scissors, or the like; but very little harm had been done except the breaking of the glass, of which alone he had been thinking. This was a damage not to be repaired: as for the scratch that
accompanied it, its scar was of no great consequence, as even when mounting the “cat-dath, or battle-garment” of the Celtic Club, he adhered, like his hero Waverley, to the trews.

By six o’clock next morning, Sir Walter, arrayed in the “Garb of old Gaul” (which he had of the Campbell tartan, in memory of one of his great grandmothers), was attending a muster of these gallant Celts in the Queen Street Gardens, where he had the honour of presenting them with a set of colours, and delivered a suitable exhortation, crowded with their rapturous applause. Some members of the Club, all of course in their full costume, were invited to breakfast with him. He had previously retired for a little to his library, and when he entered the parlour, Mr Crabbe, dressed in the highest style of professional neatness and decorum, with buckles in his shoes, and whatever was then considered as befitting an English clergyman of his years and station, was standing in the midst of half-a-dozen stalwart Highlanders, exchanging elaborate civilities with them, in what was at least meant to be French. He had come into the room shortly before, without having been warned about such company, and hearing the party conversing together in an unknown tongue, the polite old man had adopted, in his first salutation, what he considered as the universal language. Some of the Celts, on their part, took him for some foreign abbé or bishop, and were doing their best to explain to him that they were not the wild savages for which, from the startled glance he had thrown on their hirsute proportions, there seemed but too much reason to suspect he had taken them; others, more perspicacious, gave into the thing for the joke’s sake; and there was high fun when Scott dissolved the charm of their stammering, by grasping Crabbe with one hand, and the nearest of these figures with the
AUGUST 15TH, 1822.197
other, and greeted the whole group with the same hearty good-morning.

Perhaps no Englishman of these recent days ever arrived in Scotland with a scantier stock of information about the country and the people than (judging, from all that he said, and more expressively looked) this illustrious poet had brought with him in August 1822. It seemed as if he had never for one moment conceived that the same island, in which his peaceful parsonage stood, contained actually a race of men, and gentlemen too, owning no affinity with Englishmen, either in blood or in speech, and still proud in wearing, whenever opportunity served, a national dress of their own, bearing considerably more resemblance to an American Indian’s than to that of an old-fashioned rector from the Vale of Belvoir. His eyes were opened wide—but they were never opened in vain; and he soon began, if not to comprehend the machinery which his host had called into motion on this occasion, to sympathize at least very warmly and amiably with all the enthusiasm that animated the novel spectacle before him.

I regret that, having been on duty with a troop of yeomanry cavalry on the 15th of August, I lost the opportunity of witnessing Mr Crabbe’s demeanour when this magnificent scene was first fully revealed upon him. The whole aspect of the city and its vicinity was, in truth, as new to the inhabitants as it could have been even to the Rector of Muston:—every height and precipice occupied by military of the regular army, or by detachments of these more picturesque irregulars from beyond the Grampians—lines of tents, flags, and artillery circling Arthur’s Seat, Salisbury Crags, and the Calton Hill—and the old black Castle, and its rock, wreathed in the smoke of repeated salvoes, while a huge banner-royal, such as had not waved there since 1745,
floated and flapped over all;—every street, square, garden, or open space below paved with solid masses of silent expectants, except only where glittering lines of helmets marked the avenue guarded for the approaching procession. All captiousness of criticism sunk into nothing before the grandeur of this vision; and it was the same, or nearly so, on every subsequent day when the
King chose to take part in the devised ceremonial. I forget where Sir Walter’s place was on the 15th; but on one or other of these occasions I remember him seated in an open carriage, in the Highland dress, armed and accoutred as heroically as Garth himself, (who accompanied him), and evidently in a most bardish state of excitement, while honest Peter Mathieson managed as best he might four steeds of a fierier sort than he had usually in his keeping—though perhaps, after all, he might be less puzzled with them than with the cocked-hat and regular London Jehu’s flaxen wig which he, for the first and last time, displayed during “the royal fortnight.”

The first procession from Leith to Holyrood was marshalled in strict adherence, it must be admitted, to the poetical programme—
“Lord! how the pibrochs groan and yell!
Macdonnell’s ta’en the field himsel’,
Macleod comes branking o’er the fell—
Carle, now the King’s come!”
But I must transcribe the newspaper record in its details, because no one could well believe, unless he had a specimen of these before him, the extent to which the
Waverley and Rob Roy animus was allowed to pervade the whole of this affair.

AUGUST 15TH, 1822. 199

“Three Trumpeters MidLothian Yeomanry Cavalry.
Squadron Mid-Lothian Yeomanry.
Two Highland Pipers.
Captain Campbell, and Tail of Breadalbane.
Squadron Scots Greys.
Two Highland Pipers.
Colonel Stewart of Garth and Celtic Club.
Sir Evan M’Gregor mounted on horseback, and Tail of M’Gregor.
Herald mounted.
Marischal trumpets mounted.
A Marischal groom on foot.
Three Marischal grooms abreast.
Two Grooms.
Six Marischal Esquires mounted, three abreast.
Two Grooms.
Henchman. Groom.
Knight Marischal mounted, with his baton of office.
Henchman. Groom.
Marischal rear-guard of Highlanders.
Sheriff mounted.
Sheriff officers.
Deputy Lieutenants in green coats, mounted.
Two Pipers.
General Graham Stirling, and Tail.
Barons of Exchequer.
Lord Clerk Register.
Lords of Justiciary and Session, in carriages.
Marquis of Lothian, Lord Lieutenant, mounted.
Two Heralds, mounted.
Glengarry mounted, and grooms.
Young Glengarry and two supporters—Tail.
Four Herald Trumpeters.
White Rod, mounted, and equerries.
Lord Lyon Depute, mounted, and grooms.
Earl of Errol, Lord High Constable, mounted.
Two Heralds, mounted.
Squadron Scots Greys.
Royal Carriage and Six, in which were, the Marquis of Graham,
Vice-Chamberlain; Lord G. Beresford, Comptroller of the
Household; Lord C. Bentinck, Treasurer of the House-
hold; Sir R. H. Vivian, Equerry to the King; and
two others of his Majesty’s suite.
Ten Royal Footmen, two and two.
Sixteen Yeomen, two and two.
attended by the Duke of Dorset, Master of the Horse, and
the Marquis of Winchester, Groom of the Stole.
Sir Thomas Bradford and Staff.
Squadron Scots Greys,
Three Clans of Highlanders and banners.
Two Squadrons of Mid-Lothian Yeomanry.
Grenadiers of 77th regiment.
Two Squadrons Third dragoon Guards.
Band, and Scots Greys.”

It is, I believe, of the dinner of this 15th August in Castle Street, that Crabbe penned the following brief record in his Journal:—“Whilst it is fresh in my memory, I should describe the day which I have just passed, but I do not believe an accurate description to be possible. What avails it to say, for instance, that there met at the sumptuous dinner, in all the costume of the Highlanders, the great chief himself, and officers of his company. This expresses not the singularity of appearance and manners—the peculiarities of men all gentlemen, but remote from our society—leaders of clans—joyous company. Then we had Sir Walter Scott’s national songs and ballads, exhibiting all the feelings of clanship. I thought it an honour that Glengarry even took notice of me, for there were those, and gentlemen too, who considered themselves honoured by following in his train. There were also Lord Errol, and the Macleod, and the Fraser, and the Gordon, and the Ferguson;* and I conversed at dinner with Lady

* Sir Walter’s friend, the Captain of Huntleyburn, did not, as far as I remember, sport the Highland dress on this occasion, but no doubt his singing of certain Jacobite songs, &c. contributed to

AUGUST, 1822.201
Glengarry, and did almost believe myself a harper, or bard, rather for harp I cannot strike; and Sir Walter was the life and soul of the whole. It was a splendid festivity, and I felt I know not how much younger.”—Life of Crabbe, p. 273.

The King took up his residence, during his stay in his northern dominions, at Dalkeith Palace, a noble seat of the Buccleuch family, within six miles of Edinburgh: and here his dinner-party almost daily included Sir Walter Scott, who, however, appeared to have derived more deep-felt gratification from his Majesty’s kind and paternal attention to his juvenile host (the Duke of Buccleuch was at that time only in his sixteenth year), than from all the flattering condescension he lavished on himself. From Dalkeith the King repaired io Holyroodhouse two

make Crabbe set him down for the chief of a clan. Sir Adam, however, is a Highlander by descent, though the name, MacErries, has been, for two or three generations, translated into Ferguson; and even his reverend and philosophical father had, on at least one remarkable occasion, exhibited the warmth of his Celtic blood in perfection. In his essay on the Life of John Home, Scott says:—“Dr Adam Ferguson went as chaplain to the Black Watch, or 42d Highland regiment, when that corps was first sent to the Continent. As the regiment advanced to the battle of Fontenoy, the commanding officer, Sir Robert Monro, was astonished to see the chaplain at the head of the column, with a broadsword drawn in his hand. He desired him to go to the rear with the surgeons, a proposal which Adam Ferguson spurned. Sir Robert at length told him that his commission did not entitle him to be present in the post which he had assumed.—‘D—n my commission,’ said the warlike chaplain, throwing it towards his colonel. It may easily be supposed that the matter was only remembered as a good jest; but the future historian of Rome shared the honours and dangers of that dreadful day, where, according to the account of the French themselves, ‘the Highland furies rushed in upon them with more violence than ever did a sea driven by a tempest.’”—Miscellaneous Prose Works, vol. XIX. p. 331.

or three times, for the purposes of a levee or drawingroom. One Sunday he attended divine service in the Cathedral of St Giles’, when the decorum and silence preserved by the multitudes in the streets, struck him as a most remarkable contrast to the rapturous excitement of his reception on week days; and the scene was not less noticeable in the eyes of Crabbe, who says, in his Journal,—“The silence of Edinburgh on the Sunday is in itself devout.” Another very splendid day was that of a procession from Holyrood to the Castle, whereof the whole ceremonial had obviously been arranged under Scott’s auspices, for the purpose of calling up, as exactly as might be, the time-hallowed observance of “the Riding of the Parliament.”
Mr Peel (then Secretary of State for the Home Department) was desirous of witnessing this procession privately, instead of taking a place in it, and he walked up the High Street accordingly, in company with Scott, some time before the royal cavalcade was to get into motion. The Poet was as little desirous of attracting notice as the Secretary, but he was soon recognised—and his companion, recently revisiting Scotland, expressed his lively remembrance of the enthusiastic veneration with which Scott’s person was then greeted by all classes of his countrymen. When proposing Sir Walter’s memory at a public dinner given to him in Glasgow, in December 1836, Sir Robert Peel said “I had the honour of accompanying his late Majesty as his Secretary of State, when he paid a visit to Edinburgh. I suppose there are many of you here who were present on that occasion, at that memorable scene, when the days of ancient chivalry were recalled—when every man’s friendship seemed to be confirmed—when men met for the first time, who had always looked to each other with distrust, and resolved in the presence of their Sovereign
AUGUST, 1822.203
to forget their hereditary feuds and animosities. In the beautiful language of
‘Men met each other with erected look—
The steps were higher that they took;
Friends to congratulate their friends would haste,
And long inveterate foes saluted as they pass’d.’

Sir Walter Scott took an active lead in these ceremonies. On the day on which his Majesty was to pass from Holyroodhouse, he proposed to me to accompany him up the High Street, to see whether the arrangements were completed. I said to him, ‘You are trying a dangerous experiment—you will never get through in privacy.’ He said, ‘They are entirely absorbed in loyalty.’ But I was the better prophet; he was recognised from the one extremity of the street to the other, and never did I see such an instance of national devotion expressed.”

The King at his first levee diverted many, and delighted Scott, by appearing in the full Highland garb,—the same brilliant Steuart Tartans, so called, in which certainly no Steuart, except Prince Charles, had ever before presented himself in the saloons of Holyrood. His Majesty’s Celtic toilette had been carefully watched and assisted by the gallant Laird of Garth, who was not a little proud of the result of his dexterous manipulations of the royal plaid, and pronounced the King “a vera pretty man.” And he did look a most stately and imposing person in that beautiful dress—but his satisfaction therein was cruelly disturbed, when he discovered, towering and blazing among and above the genuine Glengarries and Macleods and MacGregors, a figure even more portly than his own, equipped, from a sudden impulse of loyal ardour, in an equally complete set of the self-same conspicuous Steuart tartans:—
“He caught Sir William Curtis in a kilt—
While throng’d the chiefs of every Highland clan
To hail their brother, Vich Ian Alderman.”*

In truth, this portentous apparition cast an air of ridicule and caricature over the whole of Sir Walter’s Celtified pageantry. A sharp little bailie from Aberdeen, who had previously made acquaintance with the worthy Guildhall Baronet, and tasted the turtle-soup of his voluptuous yacht, tortured him, as he sailed down the long gallery of Holyrood, by suggesting that, after all, his costume was not quite perfect. Sir William, who had been rigged out, as the auctioneers’ advertisements say, “regardless of expense,” exclaimed that he must be mistaken—begged he would explain his criticism—and as he spoke threw a glance of admiration on a skene dhu (black knife), which, like a true “warrior and hunter of deer,” he wore stuck into one of his garters. “Oo ay—oo ay,” quoth the Aberdonian; “the knife’s a’ right, mon,—but faar’s your speen?”—(where’s your spoon?) Such was Scott’s story, but whether he “gave it a cocked-hat and walking-cane,” in the hope of restoring the King’s good-humour, so grievously shaken by this heroical dappel-ganger, it is not very necessary to enquire.

As in Hamlet, there was to be a play within the play; and, by his Majesty’s desire, Mr Murray’s company performed, in his presence, the drama of Rob Roy. Mr. James Ballantyne’s newspaper chronicle says:—

“In the pit and galleries the audience were so closely wedged together, that it would have been found difficult to introduce between any two, even the point of a sabre. It was astonishing to observe the patience, and even the good-nature with which the audience bore the extreme pressure. No one, indeed, could hope to better his situation by any effort; but the joy which was felt seemed com-

* Byron’s Age of Bronze.

AUGUST, 1822.205
pletely to have absorbed every feeling of uneasiness. The boxes were filled with the rank, wealth, and beauty of Scotland. In this dazzling galaxy were observed the gallant
Sir David Baird, Colonel Stewart of Garth, Glengarry, the Lord Provost, and Sir Walter Scott; each of whom, as he entered, was greeted with loud acclamations.

“At ten minutes past eight, the shouts of the multitude announced the approach of the King, which was confirmed by an outrider, who galloped up with the intelligence. The universal feeling of breathless suspense which at this moment pervaded the audience, cannot be described, and will never be forgotten. Our gracious King now stood before his assembled subjects. The momentary pause of death-like stillness which preceded the King’s appearance, gave a deep tone of enthusiasm to the shout—the prolonged and heartfelt shout, which for more than a minute rent the house. The waving of handkerchiefs, of the plumed bonnet, and the tartan scarf, added much to the impressive gladness of the scene which, at this instant, met the eye of the Chief of Chiefs. His Majesty, with his wonted affability, repeatedly bowed to the audience, while the kindly smile which beamed from his manly countenance expressed to this favoured portion of his loving subjects the regard with which he viewed them.

“The play was Rob Roy, which his Majesty, in the best taste, had been pleased to command, out of compliment, doubtless, to the country. During the whole performance, the King paid the greatest attention to the business of the stage, and laughed very heartily at some of the more odd incidents, such as the precipitate retreat of Mr Owen beneath the bed-clothes—the contest in which the Bailie displays his prowess with the het poker—and the Bailie’s loss of an essential part of his wardrobe. His Majesty seemed fully to comprehend and to relish very much the good-natured wit and innocent sarcasms of the Glasgow magistrate. He laughed outright when this most humorous of functionaries said to Frank Osbaldiston, who was toying with Matty,—‘Nane o’ your Lon’on tricks;’ when he mentioned the distinguishing appellatives of Old and Young Nick, which the citizens had bestowed upon his father and himself; when he testified his distrust of Major Galbraith, who ‘has mair brandy than brains,’ and of the Highlanders, of whom he says, ‘they may quarrel amang themselves now and then, and gie ane anither a stab wi’ a dirk or a slash wi’ a claymore; but, tak my word on’t, they’re ay sure to join in the lang run against a’ wha hae
purses in their pockets and breeks on their hinder-ends;’ and when he said to the boy who returned him his hat and wig, ‘that’s a braw callant! ye’ll be a man before your mither yet.’”

On the 24th of August the Magistrates of Edinburgh entertained their Sovereign with a sumptuous banquet in the Parliament-House; and upon that occasion also Sir Walter Scott filled a prominent station, having been invited to preside over one of the tables. But the most striking homage (though apparently an unconscious one) that his genius received during this festive period, was, when his Majesty, after proposing the health of his hosts the Magistrates and Corporation of the northern capital, rose and said there was one toast more, and but one, in which he must request the assembly to join him, “I shall simply give you,” said he, “The Chieftains and Clans of Scotland—and prosperity to the Land of Cakes.” So completely had this hallucination taken possession, that nobody seems to have been startled at the time by language which thus distinctly conveyed his Majesty’s impression that the marking and crowning glory of Scotland consisted in the Highland clans and their chieftains.

Scott’s early associations, and the prime labours and honours of his life had been so deeply connected with the Highlands, that it was no wonder he should have taught himself to look on their clans and chiefs with almost as much affection and respect as if he had had more than a scantling of their blood in his veins. But it was necessary to be an eye-witness of this royal visit, in order to comprehend the extent to which he had allowed his imagination to get the mastery over him as to all these matters; and perhaps it was necessary to understand him thoroughly on such points, in his personal relations, feelings, and demeanour, before one could follow his genius to advan-
tage in some of its most favoured and delightful walks of exertion. The strongest impression, however, which the whole affair left on my mind was, that I had never till then formed any just notion of his capacity for practical dealing and rule among men. I do not think he had much in common with the statesmen and diplomatists of his own age and country; but I am mistaken if Scott could not have played in other days either the
Cecil or the Gondomar; and I believe no man, after long and intimate knowledge of any other great poet, has ever ventured to say, that he could have conceived the possibility of any such parts being adequately filled on the active stage of the world, by a person in whom the powers of fancy and imagination had such predominant sway, as to make him in fact live three or four lives habitually in place of one. I have known other literary men of energy perhaps as restless as his; but all such have been entitled to the designation of busy-bodies—busy almost exclusively about trifles, and above all, supremely and constantly conscious of their own remarkable activity, and rejoicing and glorying in it. Whereas Scott, neither in literary labour nor in continual contact with the affairs of the world, ever did seem aware that he was making any very extraordinary exertion. The machine, thus gigantic in its impetus, moved so easily that the master had no perception of the obstructions it overcame—in fact, no measure for its power. Compared to him all the rest of the poet species that I have chanced to observe nearly—with but one glorious exception—have seemed to me to do little more than sleep through their lives—and at best to fill the sum with dreams; and I am persuaded that, taking all ages and countries together, the rare examples of indefatigable energy, in union with serene self-possession of mind and character, such as Scott’s, must be sought for in the
roll of great sovereigns, or great captains, rather than in that of literary genius.

In the case of such renowned practical masters, it has been usual to account for their apparent calmness amidst the stirring troubles of the world, by imputing to them callousness of the affections. Perhaps injustice has been done by the supposition; but at all events, hardly could any one extend it to the case of the placid man of the imaginative order;—a great depicter of man and nature, especially, would seem to be, ex vi termini, a profound sympathizer with the passions of his brethren, with the weaknesses as well as with the strength of humanity. Such assuredly was Scott. His heart was as “ramm’d with life” (to use a phrase of Ben Jonson’s) as his brain; and I never saw him tried in a tenderer point than he was during the full whirl of splendour and gaiety that seemed to make every brain but his dizzy in the Edinburgh of August 1822.

Few things had ever given him so much pleasure as William Erskine’s promotion to the Bench. It seemed to have restored his dearest friend to content and cheerfulness, and thus to have doubled his own sources of enjoyment. But Erskine’s constitution had been shaken before he attained this dignity; and the anxious delicacy of his conscience rendered its duties oppressive and overwhelming. In a feeble state of body, and with a sensitive mind stretched and strained, a silly calumny, set a-foot by some envious gossip, was sufficient literally to chase him out of life. On his return to Edinburgh about the 20th of July, Scott found him in visible danger; he did whatever friendship could do to comfort and stimulate him; but all was in vain. Lord Kinnedder survived his elevation hardly half a year—and who that observed Scott’s public doings during the three or four weeks I have been describing, could have suspected that he was
daily and nightly the watcher of a deathbed, or the consoler of orphans; striving all the while against
“True earnest sorrows, rooted miseries,
Anguish in grain, vexations ripe and blown?”
I am not aware that I ever saw him in such a state of dejection as he was when I accompanied him and his friend
Mr Thomas Thomson from Edinburgh to Queensferry, in attendance upon Lord Kinnedder’s funeral. Yet that was one of the noisiest days of the royal festival, and he had to plunge into some scene of high gaiety the moment after he returned. As we halted in Castle Street, Mr Crabbe’s mild, thoughtful face appeared at the window, and Scott said, on leaving me,—“Now for what our old friend there puts down as the crowning curse of his poor player in the Borough
‘To hide in rant the heart-ache of the night.’”

The very few letters that Sir Walter addressed to friends at a distance during the King’s stay in Scotland, are chiefly occupied with the calumny which proved fatal to Erskine,—the pains which his friends took, at his request, to sift it to the bottom,—their conviction that he had been charged with an improper liaison, without even a shadow of justice,—and their ineffectual efforts to soothe his morbid sensibility. In one of these letters Scott says,—“The legend would have done honour to the invention of the devil himself, especially the object (at least the effect) being to torture to death one of the most soft-hearted and sensitive of God’s creatures. I think it was in his nature to like female society in general better than that of men; he had also what might have given some slight shadow to these foul suspicions, an air of being particular in his attentions to women, a sort of Philandering which I used to laugh at him about. The
result of a close investigation having been completely satisfactory, one would have thought the business at an end—but the shaft had hit the mark. At first, while these matters were going on, I got him to hold up his head pretty well; he dined with me, went to the play with my wife—got court dresses for his daughters, whom
Lady Scott was to present, and behaved, in my presence at least, like a man, feeling indeed painfully, but bearing up as an innocent man ought to do. Unhappily I could only see him by snatches—the whole business of the reception was suddenly thrown on my hands, and with such a general abandonment, I may say, on all sides, that to work from morning till night was too little time to make the necessary arrangements. In the mean-time, poor Erskine’s nerves became weaker and weaker; he was by nature extremely sensitive, easily moved to smiles or tears, and deeply affected by all those circumstances in society to which men of the world become hardened; as, for example, formal introductions to people of rank, and so forth; he was unhappily haunted by the idea that his character, assailed as it had been, was degraded in the eyes of the public, and no argument could remove this delusion. At length fever and delirium came on; he was bled repeatedly and very copiously, a necessary treatment perhaps, but which completely exhausted his weak frame. On the morning of Tuesday, the day of the King’s arrival, he waked from his sleep, ordered his window to be opened that he might see the sun once more, and was a dead man immediately after. And so died a man whose head and heart were alike honourable to his kind, and died merely because he could not endure the slightest stain on his reputation.—The present is a scene of great bustle and interest, but though I must act my part, I am not, thank God, obliged at this moment to write about it.”


In another letter, of nearly the same date, Scott says—“It would be rather difficult for any one who has never lived much among my good country-people, to comprehend that an idle story of a love-intrigue, a story alike base and baseless, should be the death of an innocent man of high character, high station, and well advanced in years. It struck into poor Erskine’s heart and soul, however, quite as cruelly as any similar calumny ever affected a modest woman—he withered and sunk. There is no need that I should say peace be with him! If ever a pure spirit quitted this vale of tears it was William Erskine’s. I must turn to and see what can be done about getting some pension for his daughters.”

The following letter to his son Walter, now a lieutenant in the 15th Hussars, but not yet returned from his German travels, was written a few days later:—

“My dearest Walter,

“This town has been a scene of such giddy tumult since the King’s coming, and for a fortnight before, that I have scarce had an instant to myself. For a long time every thing was thrown on my hand, and even now, looking back, and thinking how many difficulties I had to reconcile, objections to answer, prejudices to smoothe away, and purses to open, I am astonished that I did not fever in the midst of it. All, however, has gone off most happily; and the Edinburgh populace have behaved themselves like so many princes. In the day when he went in state from the Abbey to the Castle with the Regalia borne before him, the street was lined with the various trades and professions, all arranged under their own deacons and office-bearers, with white wands in their hands, and with their banners,
and so forth; as they were all in their Sunday’s clothes, you positively saw nothing like mob, and their behaviour, which was most steady and respectful towards the King, without either jostling or crowding, had a most singular effect. They shouted with great emphasis, but without any running or roaring, each standing as still in his place as if the honour of Scotland had depended on the propriety of his behaviour. This made the scene quite new to all who had witnessed the Irish reception. The Celtic Society, “all plaided and plumed in their tartan array,” mounted guard over the regalia while in the Abbey with great military order and steadiness. They were exceedingly nobly dressed and armed. There were two or three hundred Highlanders besides, brought down by their own Chiefs, and armed cap-à-pie. They were all put under my immediate command by their various chiefs, as they would not have liked to have received orders from each other—so I acted as Adjutant-General, and had scores of them parading in Castle Street every day, with piob agus brattach, namely, pipe and banner. The whole went off excellently well. Nobody was so gallant as the
Knight-Marischal, who came out with a full retinue of Esquires and Yeomen,—Walter and Charles were his pages. The Archers acted as gentlemen-pensioners, and kept guard in the interior of the palace. Mamma, Sophia, and Anne were presented, and went through the scene with suitable resignation and decorum. In short, I leave the girls to tell you all about balls, plays, sermons, and other varieties of this gay period. Tomorrow or next day the King sets off; and I also take my departure, being willing to see Canning before he goes off for India, if, indeed, they are insane enough to part with a man of his power in the House of Commons at this eventful crisis.


“You have heard of poor Lord Londonderry (Castlereagh’s) death by his own hand, in a fit of insanity. This explains a story he once told me of having seen a ghost, and which I thought was a very extraordinary narrative from the lips of a man of so much sense and steadiness of nerve. But no doubt he had been subject to aberrations of mind, which often create such phantoms.

“I have had a most severe personal loss in my excellent friend Lord Kinnedder, whose promotion lately rejoiced us so much. I leave you to judge what pain this must have given me, happening as it did in the midst of a confusion from which it was impossible for me to withdraw myself. . . . . . . . .

“All our usual occupations have been broken in upon by this most royal row. Whether Abbotsford is in progress or not I scarcely know; in short, I cannot say that I have thought my own thoughts, or wrought my own work for at least a month past. The same hurry must make me conclude abruptly Ever yours, most affectionately,

Walter Scott.”

The ghost story to which the foregoing letter alludes, was this:—Lord Castlereagh, when commanding, in early life, a militia regiment in Ireland, was stationed one night in a large desolate country-house, and his bed was at one end of a long dilapidated room, while at the other extremity a great fire of wood and turf had been prepared within a huge gaping old-fashioned chimney. Waking in the middle of the night, he lay watching from his pillow the gradual darkening of the embers on the hearth, when suddenly they blazed up, and a naked child stepped from among them upon the floor. The figure advanced slowly towards Lord Cas-
tlereagh, rising in stature at every step, until on coming within two or three paces of his bed, it had assumed the appearance of a ghastly giant, pale as death, with a bleeding wound on the brow, and eyes glaring with rage and despair. Lord Castlereagh leaped from his bed, and confronted the figure in an attitude of defiance. It retreated before him, diminishing as it withdrew, in the same manner that it had previously shot up and expanded; he followed it pace by pace, until the original childlike form disappeared among the embers. He then went back to his bed, and was disturbed no more. This story Lord Castlereagh told with perfect gravity at one of his wife’s supper parties in Paris in 1815, when
Scott was among the hearers. I had often heard him repeat it—before the fatal catastrophe of August 1822 afforded the solution in the text—when he merely mentioned it as a singularly vivid dream, the product probably of a feverish night following upon a military debauch,—but affording a striking indication of the courageous temper, which proved true to itself even amidst the terrors of fancy.

Circumstances did not permit Sir Walter to fulfil his intention of being present at the public dinner given in Liverpool, on the 30th August, to Mr Canning, who on that occasion delivered one of the most noble of all his orations, and soon afterwards, instead of proceeding, as had been arranged, to take on him the supreme government of British India, was called to fill the place in the Cabinet which Lord Londonderry’s calamitous death had left vacant. The King’s stay in Scotland was protracted until the 29th of August. He then embarked from the Earl of Hopetoun’s magnificent seat on the Firth of Forth, and Sir Walter had the gratification of seeing his Majesty, in the moment of departure, confer the honour of knighthood on two of his friends—both of whom,
I believe, owed some obligation in this matter to his good offices—namely,
Captain Adam Ferguson, deputy-keeper of the Regalia, and Henry Raeburn, R.A., properly selected as the representative of the fine arts in Scotland. This amiable man and excellent artist, however, did not long survive the receipt of his title. Sir Henry died on the 8th of July, 1823 the last work of his pencil having been, as already mentioned, a portrait of Scott.

On the eve of the King’s departure he received the following communication:—

To Sir Walter Scott, Bart., &c. &c., Castle Street.
“Edinburgh, August 28, 1822.
“My dear Sir,

“The King has commanded me to acquaint you, that he cannot bid adieu to Scotland without conveying to you individually his warm personal acknowledgments for the deep interest you have taken in every ceremony and arrangement connected with his Majesty’s visit, and for your ample contributions to their complete success.

“His Majesty well knows how many difficulties have been smoothed, and how much has been effected by your unremitting activity, by your knowledge of your countrymen, and by the just estimation in which they hold you.

“The King wishes to make you the channel of conveying to the Highland chiefs and their followers, who have given to the varied scene which we have witnessed so peculiar and romantic a character, his particular thanks for their attendance, and his warm approbation of their uniform deportment. He does justice to the ardent spirit of loyalty by which they are animated, and is convinced that he could offer no recompense for their services so gratifying to them as the assurance, which
I now convey, of the esteem and approbation of their Sovereign.

“I have the honour to-be, my dear Sir, with great truth, most truly and faithfully yours,

Robert Peel.”

Sir Walter forwarded copies of Mr Peel’s paragraph touching the Highlanders to such heads of clans as had been of late in his counsels, and he received very grateful letters in return from Macleod, Glengarry, Sir Evan MacGregor, and several others of the order, on their return to the hills as also from the Countess (now Duchess-Countess) of Sutherland, whose son, Lord Francis, had, as she playfully expressed it, “been out” as her representative at the head of the most numerous and best appointed of all the kilted detachments. Glengarry was so delighted with what the Secretary of State had said, that the paragraph in question soon found its way to the newspapers; and then there appeared, in some Whig journal, a sarcastic commentary upon it, insinuating that, however highly the King might now choose to eulogize the poet and his Celtic allies, his Majesty had been considerably annoyed with much of their arrangements and proceedings, and that a visible coolness had, in fact, been manifested towards Sir Walter during the King’s stay in the north. As this idle piece of malice has been revived in some formal biographies of recent date, I may as well dispose of it for ever, by extracting the following notes, which passed in the course of the next month between Scott and the Secretary of the Admiralty, whose official duty, I presume, it was to be in waiting at Ramsgate when the King disembarked from his yacht.—The “Dean Cannon” to whom these notes allude, was a clerical humorist, Dean of a fictitious order, who sat to Mr
Theodore Hooke for the jolly “Rector of Fuddle-cum-Pipes” in his novel of “Maxwell.”

To J. W. Croker, Esq., M.P., Admiralty, London.
“Abbotsford, Thursday.
“My dear Croker,

“What have you been doing this fifty years? We had a jolly day or two with your Dean Cannon at Edinburgh. He promised me a call if he returned through the Borders; but, I suppose, passed in the midst of the royal turmoil, or, perhaps, got tired of sheep’s-head and haggis in the pass of Killiekrankie. He was wrong if he did; for even Win Jenkins herself discovered that where there were heads there must be bodies; and my forest haunch of mutton is noway to be sneezed at.—Ever yours,

Walter Scott.”
To Sir Walter Scott, Bart., Abbotsford.
“Admiralty, Sept. 29, 1822.
“My dear Scott,

“I wish it were ‘fifty years since’ you had heard of me, as, perhaps, I should find myself by and by celebrated, like the Baron of Bradwardine and some other friends of ‘sixty years since.’

“I have not seen our Dean since his Scotch tour. I am sorry he was with you in such a period of bustle, as I should have liked to hear his sober observations on the usual style of Edinburgh society.

“I had the honour of receiving his Majesty on his return, when he, after the first three words, began most graciously to tell me ‘all about our friend Scott.’ Some silly or malicious person, his Majesty said, had reported that there had been some coolness between you, but, he added, that it was utterly false, and that he was, in every respect, highly pleased and gratified, and, he said, grate-
ful for the devoted attention you had paid him; and he celebrated very warmly the success that had attended all your arrangements.

Peel has sung your praises to the same tune; and I have been flattered to find that both the King and Peel thought me so much your friend that they, as it were, reported to me the merit of ‘my friend Scott.’—Yours ever,

J. W. Croker.”

If Sir Walter lost something in not seeing more of Dean Cannon—who, among other social merits, sang the Ballads of Robin Hood with delightful skill and effect—there was a great deal better cause for regret in the unpropitious time selected for Mr Crabbe’s visit to Scotland. In the glittering and tumultuous assemblages of that season, the elder bard was (to use one of his friend’s favourite similitudes) very like a cow in a fremd loaning; and though Scott could never have been seen in colours more likely to excite admiration, Crabbe had hardly any opportunity of observing him in the everyday loveableness of his converse. Sir Walter’s enthusiastic excitement about the kilts and the processions, seemed at first utterly incomprehensible to him; but by degrees he caught not a little of the spirit of the time, and even indited a set of stanzas, which have perhaps no other merit than that of reflecting it. He also perceived and appreciated Scott’s dexterous management of prejudices and pretensions. He exclaims, in his Journal,—“What a keen discriminating man is my friend!” But I shall ever regret that Crabbe did not see him at Abbotsford among his books, his trees, and his own good simple peasants. They had, I believe, but one quiet walk together, and it was to the ruins of St Anthony’s Chapel and Muschat’s Cairn, which the
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deep impression made on Crabbe by the
Heart of MidLothian had given him an earnest wish to see. I accompanied them, and the hour so spent, in the course of which the fine old man gave us some most touching anecdotes of his early struggles, was a truly delightful contrast to the bustle and worry of miscellaneous society which consumed so many of his few hours in Scotland. Scott’s family were more fortunate than himself in this respect. They had from infancy been taught to reverence Crabbe’s genius, and they now saw enough of him to make them think of him ever afterwards with tender affection.