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Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, Bart.
Sir Walter Scott, Journal, 10 February-15 March 1826

Vol I Preface
Vol. I Contents.
Chapter I
Chapter II 1771-78
Chapter III 1778-83
Chapter IV 1783-86
Chapter V 1786-90
Chapter VI 1790-92
Chapter VII 1792-96
Chapter VIII 1796-97
Chapter IX 1798-99
Chapter X 1800-02
Chapter XI 1802-03
Chapter XII 1803-04
Vol. II Contents.
Chapter I 1804-05
Chapter II 1805
Chapter III 1806
Chapter IV 1806-08
Chapter V 1808
Chapter VI 1808-09
Chapter VII 1809-10
Chapter VIII 1810
Chapter IX 1810
Chapter X 1810-11
Chapter XI 1811
Chapter XII 1811-12
Vol. III Contents.
Chapter I 1812-13
Chapter II 1813
Chapter III 1814
Chapter IV 1814
Chapter V 1814
Chapter VI 1814
Chapter VII 1814
Chapter VIII 1814
Chapter IX 1814
Chapter X 1814-15
Chapter XI 1815
Chapter XII 1815
Vol III Appendix
Vol. IV Contents.
Chapter I 1816
Chapter II 1817
Chapter III 1817
Chapter IV 1818
Chapter V 1818
Chapter VI 1818
Chapter VII 1818-19
Chapter VIII 1819
Chapter IX 1819
Chapter X 1819
Chapter XI 1820
Chapter XII 1820
Vol. V Contents.
Chapter I 1820
Chapter II 1820-21
Chapter III 1821
Chapter IV 1821
Chapter V 1821
Chapter VI 1821
Chapter VII 1822
Chapter VIII 1822
Chapter IX 1822-23
Chapter X 1823
Chapter XI 1823
Chapter XII 1824
Chapter XIII 1824-25
Vol. VI Contents.
Chapter I 1825
Chapter II 1825
Chapter III 1825
Chapter IV 1825
Chapter V 1826
Chapter VI 1826
Chapter VII 1826
Chapter VIII 1826
Chapter IX 1826
Chapter X 1826
Chapter XI 1826
Vol. VII Contents.
Vol VII Preface
Chapter I 1826-27
Chapter II 1827
Chapter III 1828
Chapter IV 1828
Chapter V 1829
Chapter VI 1830
Chapter VII 1830-31
Chapter VIII 1831
Chapter IX 1831
Chapter X 1831-32
Chapter XI 1832
Chapter XII
Vol VII Appendix
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Edinburgh, February 10—Went through, for a new day, the task of buttoning, which seems to me somehow to fill up more of my morning than usual—not, certainly, that such is the case, but that my mind attends to the process, having so little left to hope or fear. The half hour between waking and rising has all my life proved propitious to any task which was exercising my invention. When I got over any knotty difficulty in a story, or have had in former times to fill up a passage in a poem, it was always when I first opened my eyes that the desired ideas thronged upon me. This is so much the case, that I am in the habit of relying upon it, and saying to myself, when I am at a loss, ‘Never mind, we shall have it at seven o’clock to-morrow morning.’ If I have forgot a circumstance, or a name, or a copy of verses, it is the same thing. I think the first hour of the morning is also favourable to the bodily strength.
Among other feats, when I was a young man, I was able at times to lift a smith’s anvil with one hand, by what is called the horn—that projecting piece of iron on which things are beaten to turn them round. But I could only do this before breakfast. It required my full strength, undiminished by the least exertion, and those who choose to try will find the feat no easy one. This morning I had some new ideas respecting
Woodstock, which will make the story better. The devil of a difficulty is, that one puzzles the skein in order to excite curiosity, and then cannot disentangle it for the satisfaction of the prying fiend they have raised. I have a prettily expressed letter of condolence from Sir James Mackintosh.* Yesterday I had an anecdote

* This letter is so honourable to the writer, as well as to Sir Walter, that I am tempted to insert it in a note:

To Sir W. Scott, Bart. Edinburgh.

“Having been sailing on Windermere when Lord Gifford past the Lakes, and almost constantly confined since my return to town, I did not hear till two days ago of your very kind message, which, if I had received it in the north, I should probably have answered in person. I do not know that I should now have troubled you with written thanks for what is so natural to you as an act of courtesy and hospitality, if I were not in hopes that you might consider it as excuse enough for an indulgence of inclination which might otherwise bethought intrusive.

“No man living has given pleasure to so many persons as you have done, and you must be assured that great multitudes who never saw you, in every quarter of the world, will regret the slightest disturbance of your convenience. But, as I have observed that the express declaration of one individual sometimes makes more impression than the strongest assurance of the sentiments of multitudes, I venture to say that I most sincerely lament that any untoward circumstances should, even for a time, interrupt the indulgence of your taste and your liberal enjoyments. I am sorry that Scotland

from old
Sir James Stewart Denham,* which is worth writing down. His uncle, Lord Elcho, was, as is well known, engaged in the affair of 1745. He was dissatisfied with the conduct of matters from beginning to end. But after the loft wing of the Highlanders was repulsed and broken at Culloden, Elcho rode up to the Chevalier and told him all was lost, and that nothing remained except to charge at the head of two thousand men, who were still unbroken, and either turn the fate of the day or die sword in hand, as became his pretensions. The Che-

should, for a moment, lose the very peculiar distinction of having the honours of the country done to visiters by the person at the head of our literature. Above all, I am sorry that a fortune earned by genius and expended so generously, should be for the shortest time shaken by the general calamities.

“Those dispositions of yours which most quicken the fellow-feelings of others will best console you. I have heard with delight that your composure and cheerfulness have already comforted those who are most affectionately interested in you. What I heard of your happy temper in this way reminded me of Warburton’s fine character of Bayle—‘He had a soul superior to the attacks of fortune, and a heart practised to the best philosophy.’ You have expended your fortune too well not to be consoled for a temporary suspension of its produce; you have your genius, your fame, and, what is better than either, your kind and cheerful nature.

“I trust so much to your good-natured indulgence, that I hope, you will pardon me for joining my sincere but very humble voice to the admiration and sympathy of Europe I am, my dear Sir, yours most truly,

* General Sir James Stewart Denham of Coltness, Bart., Colonel of the Scots Greys. His father, the celebrated political economist, took part in the Rebellion of 1745, and was long afterwards an exile. The reader is no doubt acquainted with Lady Mary Wortley Montagu’s Letters, addressed to him and his wife Lady Frances. The present venerable Sir James had, I think, attained the rank of captain in a foreign service before his father’s attainder was reversed; yet he has lived to become the senior general officer in the British army.

valier gave him some evasive answer, and, turning his horse’s head, rode off the field. Lord Elcho called after him (I write his very words), ‘There you go for a damned cowardly Italian,’ and never would see him again, though he lost his property and remained an exile in the cause. Lord Elcho left two copies of his memoirs, one with Sir James Stewart’s family, one with
Lord Wemyss. This is better evidence than the romance of Chevalier Johnstone; and I have little doubt it is true. Yet it is no proof of the Prince’s cowardice, though it shows him to have been no John of Gaunt. Princes are constantly surrounded with people who hold up their own life and safety to them as by far the most important stake in any contest; and this is a doctrine in which conviction is easily received. Such an eminent person finds every body’s advice, save here and there that of a desperate Elcho, recommend obedience to the natural instinct of self-preservation, which very often men of inferior situations find it difficult to combat, when all the world are crying to them to get on and be damned, instead of encouraging them to run away. At Prestonpans the Chevalier offered to lead the van, and he was with the second line, which, during that brief affair, followed the first very close. Johnstone’s own account, carefully read, brings him within a pistol-shot of the first line. At the same time Charles Edward had not a head or heart for great things, notwithstanding his daring adventure; and the Irish officers, by whom he was guided, were poor creatures. Lord George Murray was the soul of the undertaking.*

* “Had Prince Charles slept during the whole of the expedition,” says the Chevalier Johnstone, “and allowed Lord George Murray to act for him according to his own judgment, there is every reason


February 11.—Court sat till half-past one. A man, calling himself * * * * of * * * * *, writes to me, expressing sympathy for my misfortunes, and offering me half the profits of what, if I understand him right, is a patent medicine, to which I suppose he expects me to stand trumpeter. He endeavours to get over my objections to accepting his liberality (supposing me to entertain them) by assuring me his conduct is founded on ‘a sage selfishness!’ This is diverting enough. I suppose the Commissioners of Police will next send me a letter of condolence, begging my acceptance of a broom, a shovel, and a scavenger’s great-coat, and assuring me that they had appointed me to all the emoluments of a well-frequented crossing. It would be doing more than they have done of late for the cleanliness of the streets, which, witness my shoes, are in a piteous pickle. I thanked the selfish sage with due decorum—for what purpose can anger serve? I remember once before, a mad woman, from about Alnwick, by name * * * *, baited me with letters and plans first for charity for herself or some protegé—I gave my guinea—then she wanted to have half the profits of a novel which I was to publish under my name and auspices. She sent me the manuscript, and a moving tale it was, for some of the scenes lay in the Cabinet à l’eau. I declined the partnership. Lastly, my fair correspondent insisted I was a lover of speculation, and would be much profited by going shares in a patent medicine which she had invented for the benefit of little babes. I dreaded to have any thing to do with such a Herod-like affair, and begged to decline the honour of her correspondence in future. I should have thought the thing a quiz but that the novel was real

for supposing he would have found the crown of Great Britain on his head when he awoke.”—Memoirs of the Rebellion of 1745, &c. London, 1810. 4to. p. 140.

and substantial.
Sir Alexander Don called, and we had a good laugh together.

February 12.—Having ended the second volume or Woodstock last night, I had to begin the third this morning. Now I have not the slightest idea how the story is to be wound up to a catastrophe. I am just in the same case as I used to be when I lost myself in former days in some country to which I was a stranger. I always pushed for the pleasantest route, and either found or made it the nearest. It is the same in writing. I never could lay down a plan—or, having laid it down, I never could adhere to it; the action of composition always extended some passages, and abridged or omitted others; and personages were rendered important or insignificant, not according to their agency in the original conception of the piece, but according to the success, or otherwise, with which I was able to bring them out. I only tried to make that which I was actually writing diverting and interesting, leaving the rest to fate. I have been often amused with the critics distinguishing some passages as particularly laboured, when the pen passed over the whole as fast as it could move, and the eye never again saw them, except in proof. Verse I write twice, and sometimes three times over. This hab nab at a venture is a perilous style, I grant, but I cannot help it. When I strain my mind to ideas which are purely imaginative—for argument is a different thing—it seems to me that the sun leaves the landscape—that I think away the whole vivacity of my original conception, and that the results are cold, tame, and spiritless. It is the difference between a written oration and one bursting from the unpremeditated exertions of the speaker, which have always something the air of enthusiasm and
inspiration. I would not have young authors imitate my carelessness, however.

“Read a few pages of Will D’Avenant, who was fond of having it supposed that Shakspeare intrigued with his mother. I think the pretension can only be treated as Phaeton was, according to Fielding’s farce
‘Besides, by all the village boys I’m shamed,
You, the sun’s son, you rascal you be damn’d.’
Egad I’ll put that into
Woodstock. It might come well from the old admirer of Shakspeare. Then Fielding’s lines were not written. What then? it is an anachronism for some sly rogue to detect. Besides, it is easy to swear they were written, and that Fielding adopted them from tradition.*

February 13.—The Institution for the Encouragement of the Fine Arts opens to-day, with a handsome entertainment in the Exhibition-room, as at Somerset House. It strikes me that the direction given by amateurs and professors to their protegés and pupils, who aspire to be artists, is upon a pedantic and false principle. All the fine arts have it for their highest and most legitimate end and purpose, to affect the human passions, or smooth and alleviate, for a time, the near unquiet feelings of the mind—to excite wonder, or terror, or pleasure, or emotion of some kind or other. It often happens that, in the very rise and origin of these arts, as in the instance of Homer, the principal object is obtained in a degree not equalled by any successor. But there is a degree of execution which, in more refined times, the poet or musician begins to study, which gives a value of its own to their productions of a different

* See the couplet, and the apology, in WoodstockWaverley Novels, vol. xl. p. 134.

kind from the rude strength of their predecessors. Poetry becomes complicated in its rules—music learned in its cadences and harmonies—rhetoric subtle in its periods. There is more given to the labour of executing—less attained by the effect produced. Still the nobler and popular end of these arts is not forgotten; and if we have some productions too learned, too récherchés for public feeling, we have, every now and then, music that electrifies a whole assembly, eloquence which shakes the forum, and poetry which carries men up to the third heaven. But in painting it is different; it is all become a mystery, the secret of which is lodged in a few connoisseurs, whose object is not to praise the works of such painters as produce effect on mankind at large, but to class them according to their proficiency in the inferior rules of the art, which, though most necessary to be taught and learned, should yet only be considered as the Gradus ad Parnassum, the steps by which the higher and ultimate object of a great popular effect is to be attained. They have all embraced the very style of criticism which induced
Michael Angelo to call some Pope a poor creature, when, turning his attention from the general effect of a noble statue, his Holiness began to criticize the hem of the robe. This seems to me the cause of the decay of this delightful art, especially in history, its noblest branch. As I speak to myself, I may say that a painting should, to be excellent, have something to say to the mind of a man, like myself, well educated, and susceptible of those feelings which any thing strongly recalling natural emotion is likely to inspire. But how seldom do I see any thing that moves me much! Wilkie, the far more than Teniers of Scotland, certainly gave many new ideas. So does Will Allan, though overwhelmed with their remarks about colouring and grouping, against which they are
not willing to place his general and original merits.
Landseer’s dogs were the most magnificent things I ever saw—leaping, and bounding, and grinning on the canvass. Leslie has great powers; and the scenes from Moliere by Newton are excellent. Yet painting wants a regenerator—some one who will sweep the cobwebs out of his head before he takes the pallet, as Chantrey has done in the sister art. At present we are painting pictures from the ancients, as authors in the days of Louis Quatorze wrote epic poems according to the recipe of Dacier and Co. The poor reader or spectator has no remedy; the compositions are secundum artem; and if he does not like them, he is no judge, that’s all.

February 14.—I had a call from Glengarry yesterday, as kind and friendly as usual.* This gentleman is a kind of Quixote in our age, having retained, in their full extent, the whole feelings of clanship and chieftainship, elsewhere so long abandoned. He seems to have lived a century too late, and to exist, in a state of complete law and order, like a Glengarry of old, whose will was law to his sept. Warm-hearted, generous, friendly; he is beloved by those who know him, and his efforts are unceasing to show kindness to those of his clan who are disposed fully to admit his pretensions. To dispute them is to incur his resentment, which has sometimes broken out in acts of violence which have brought him into collision with the law. To me he is a treasure, as being full of information as to the history of his own clan and the manners and customs of the Highlanders in general. Strong, active, and muscular, he follows the chase of the deer for days and nights together, sleeping in his plaid

* The late Colonel Ranaldson Macdonell of Glengarry. He died in January, 1828.

when darkness overtakes him. The number of his singular exploits would fill a volume; for, as his pretensions are high, and not always willingly yielded to, he is every now and then giving rise to some rumour. He is, on many of these occasions, as much sinned against as sinning; for men, knowing his temper, sometimes provoke him, conscious that Glengarry, from his character for violence, will always be put in the wrong by the public. I have seen him behave in a very manly manner when thus tempted. He has of late prosecuted a quarrel, ridiculous enough in the present day, to have himself admitted and recognised as Chief of the whole Clan Ranald, or surname of Macdonald. The truth seems to be, that the present Clanranald is not descended from a legitimate chieftain of the tribe; for, having accomplished a revolution in the 16th century, they adopted a Tanist, or Captain, that is, a Chief not in the direct line of succession—namely, a certain Ian Moidart, or John of Moidart, who took the title of Captain of Clanranald, with all the powers of Chief, and even Glengarry’s ancestor recognised them as chiefs de facto if not de jure. The fact is, that this elective power was, in cases of insanity, imbecility, or the like, exercised by the Celtic tribes; and though Ian Moidart was no chief by birth, yet by election he became so, and transmitted his power to his descendants, as would
King William III., if he had had any. So it is absurd to set up the jus sanguinis now, which Glengarry’s ancestors did not, or could not make good, when it was a right worth combating for. I wrought out my full task yesterday.

“Saw Cadell as I returned from the Court. He seemed dejected, and gloomy about the extent of stock of novels, &c. on hand. He infected me with his want of spirits, and I almost wish my wife had not asked Mr Scrope and Charles K. Sharpe
for this day. But the former sent such loads of game that
Lady Scott’s gratitude became ungovernable. I have not seen a creature at dinner since the direful 17th of January, except my own family and Mr Laidlaw. The love of solitude increases by indulgence; I hope it will not diverge into misanthropy. It does not mend the matter that this is the first day that a ticket for sale is on my house, poor No. 39. One gets accustomed even to stone walls, and the place suited me very well. All our furniture too is to go—a hundred little articles that seemed to me connected with all the happier years of my life. It is a sorry business. But sursum corda.

“My two friends came as expected, also Missie, and staid till half-past ten. Promised Sharpe the set of Piranesi’s views in the dining-parlour. They belonged to my uncle, so I do not like to sell them.

February 15—Yesterday I did not write a line of Woodstock. Partly, I was a little out of spirits, though that would not have hindered. Partly, I wanted to wait for some new ideas—a sort of collecting of straw to make bricks of. Partly, I was a little too far beyond the press. I cannot pull well in long traces, when the draught is too far behind me. I love to have the press thumping, clattering, and banging in my rear; it creates the necessity which almost always makes me work best. Needs must when the devil drives—and drive he does even according to the letter. I must work to-day, however.—Attended a meeting of the Faculty about our new library. I spoke saying that I hoped we would now at length act upon a general plan, and look forward to commencing upon such a scale as might secure us at least for a century against the petty and partial management, which we have hitherto thought sufficient, of fitting up one room after another. Discon-
nected and distant, these have been costing large sums of money from time to time, all now thrown away. We are now to have space enough for a very large range of buildings, which we may execute in a simple taste, leaving Government to ornament them if they shall think proper—otherwise to be plain, modest, and handsome, and capable of being executed by degrees, and in such portions as convenience may admit of. Poor
James Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd, came to advise with me about his affairs,—he is sinking under the times; having no assistance to give him, my advice I fear will be of little service. I am sorry for him if that would help him, especially as, by his own account, a couple of hundred pounds would carry him on.

February 16.—‘Misfortune’s gowling bark’* comes louder and louder. By assigning my whole property to trustees for behoof of creditors, with two works in progress and nigh publication, and with all my future literary labours, I conceived I was bringing into the field a large fund of payment, which could not exist without my exertions, and that thus far I was entitled to a corresponding degree of indulgence. I therefore supposed, on selling this house, and various other property, and on receiving the price of Woodstock and Napoleon, that they would give me leisure to make other exertions, and be content with the rents of Abbotsford, without attempting a sale. This would have been the more reasonable, as the very printing of these works must amount to a large sum, of which they will touch the profits. In the course of this delay I supposed I was to have the chance of getting some insight both into Constable’s affairs and those of Hurst and Robinson. Nay, employing these houses, under pre-

* Burns’s Dedication to Gavin Hamilton.

cautions, to sell the works, the publishers’ profit would have come in to pay part of their debt. But
Gibson last night came in after dinner, and gave me to understand that the Bank of Scotland see this in a different point of view, and consider my contribution of the produce of past, present, and future labours, as compensated in full by their accepting of the trust-deed, instead of pursuing the mode of sequestration, and placing me in the Gazette. They therefore expect the trustees to commence a lawsuit to reduce the marriage settlement, which settles the estate upon Walter; thus loading me with a most expensive suit, and I suppose selling library and whatever else they can lay hold on.

“Now this seems unequal measure, and would besides of itself totally destroy any power of fancy, of genius, if it deserves the name, which may remain to me. A man cannot write in the House of Correction; and this species of peine forte et dure which is threatened, would render it impossible for one to help himself or others. So I told Gibson I had my mind made up as far back as the 24th of January, not to suffer myself to be harder pressed than law would press me. If this great commercial company, through whose hands I have directed so many thousands, think they are right in taking every advantage and giving none, it must be my care to see that they take none but what the law gives them. If they take the sword of the law, I must lay hold of the shield. If they are determined to consider me as an irretrievable bankrupt, they have no title to object to my settling upon the usual terms which the Statute requires. They probably are of opinion, that I will be ashamed to do this by applying publicly for a sequestration. Now, my feelings are different. I am ashamed to owe debts I cannot pay; but I am not ashamed of being classed with those to whose rank I
belong. The disgrace is in being an actual bankrupt, not in being made a legal one. I had like to have been too hasty in this matter. I must have a clear understanding that I am to be benefited or indulged in some way, if I bring in two such funds as those works in progress, worth certainly from L.10,000 to L.15,000.

February 17.—Slept sound, for nature repays herself for the vexation the mind sometimes gives her. This morning put interlocutor on several Sheriff-Court processes from Selkirkshire. Gibson came to-night to say that he had spoken at full length with Alexander Monypenny, proposed as trustee on the part of the Bank of Scotland, and found him decidedly in favour of the most moderate measures, and taking burden on himself that the Bank would proceed with such lenity as might enable me to have some time and opportunity to clear these affairs out. I repose trust in Mr M. entirely. His father, Colonel Monypenny, was my early friend, kind and hospitable to me when I was a mere boy. He had much of old General Withers about him, as expressed in Pope’s epitaph
* ‘——A worth in youth approved,
A soft humanity in age beloved!’
His son
David, and a younger brother, Frank, a soldier, who perished by drowning on a boating party from Gibraltar, were my schoolfellows; and with the survivor, now Lord Pitmilly, I have always kept up a friendly intercourse. Of this gentleman, on whom my fortunes are to depend, I know little. He was Colin Mackenzie’s partner in business while my friend pursued it, and he speaks highly of him: that’s a great deal. He is secretary to the Pitt Club, and we have had all our lives the habit idem sentire de republica: that’s much too. Lastly,
he is a man of perfect honour and reputation; and I have nothing to ask which such a man would not either grant or convince me was unreasonable. I have, to be sure, something of a constitutional and hereditary obstinacy; but it is in me a dormant quality. Convince my understanding, and I am perfectly docile; stir my passions by coldness or affronts, and the devil would not drive me from my purpose. Let me record, I have striven against this besetting sin. When I was a boy, and on foot expeditions, as we had many, no creature could be so indifferent which way our course was directed, and I acquiesced in what any one proposed; but if I was once driven to make a choice, and felt piqued in honour to maintain my proposition, I have broken off from the whole party, rather than yield to any one. Time has sobered this pertinacity of mind; but it still exists, and I must be on my guard against it. It is the same with me in politics. In general I care very little about the matter, and from year’s end to year’s end have scarce a thought connected with them, except to laugh at the fools, who think to make themselves great men out of little by swaggering in the rear of a party. But either actually important events, or such as seemed so by their close neighbourhood to me, have always hurried me off my feet, and made me, as I have sometimes regretted, more forward and more violent than those who had a regular jog-trot way of busying themselves in public matters. Good luck; for had I lived in troublesome times, and chanced to be on the unhappy side, I had been hanged to a certainty. What I have always remarked has been, that many who have hallooed me on at public meetings, and so forth, have quietly left me to the odium which a man known to the public always has more than his own share of; while, on the other hand, they were easily successful in pressing before me, who never
pressed forward at all, when there was any distribution of public favours or the like. I am horribly tempted to interfere in this business of altering the system of banks in Scotland; and yet I know that if I can attract any notice, I will offend my English friends, without propitiating our doom in Scotland. I will think of it till to-morrow. It is making myself of too much importance, after all.

February 18.—I set about Malachi Malagrowther’s Letter on the late disposition to change every thing in Scotland to an English model, but without resolving about the publication. They do treat us very provokingly.
‘O Land of Cakes! said the Northern bard,
Though all the world betrays thee,
One faithful pen thy rights shall guard,
One faithful harp shall praise thee.’*

February 19.—Finished my letter (Malachi Malagrowther) this morning, and sent it to James B., who is to call with the result this forenoon. I am not very anxious to get on with Woodstock. I want to see what Constable’s people mean to do when they have their trustee. For an unfinished work they must treat with the author. It is the old story of the varnish spread over the picture, which nothing but the artist’s own hand could remove. A finished work might be seized under some legal pretence.

“Being troubled with thick-coming fancies, and a slight palpitation of the heart, I have been reading the Chronicle of the Good Knight Messire Jacques de Lalain curious, but dull, from the constant repetition of the same species of combats in the same style and

* A parody on Moore’s Minstrel Boy.

phrase. It is like washing bushels of sand for a grain of gold. It passes the time, however, especially in that listless mood when your mind is half on your book, half on something else. You catch something to arrest the attention every now and then, and what you miss is not worth going back upon; idle man’s studies, in short. Still things occur to one. Something might be made of a tale of chivalry,—taken from the Passage of Arms, which Jacques de Lalain maintained for the first day of every month for a twelvemonth.* The first mention perhaps of red-hot balls appears in the siege of Oudenarde by the Citizens of Ghent—Chronique, p. 293. This would be light summer work.

J. B. came and sat an hour. I led him to talk of Woodstock; and, to say truth, his approbation did me much good. I am aware it may, nay, must be partial; yet is he Tom Tell-truth, and totally unable to disguise his real feelings. I think I make no habit of feeding on praise, and despise those whom I see greedy for it, as much as I should an under-bred fellow who, after eating a cherry-tart, proceeded to lick the plate. But when one is flagging, a little praise (if it can be had genuine and unadulterated by flattery, which is as difficult to come by as the genuine mountain-dew) is a cordial after all. So now—vamos corazon—let us atone for the loss of the morning.

February 20.—Yesterday, though late in beginning, I nearly finished my task, which is six of my close pages, about thirty pages of print, a full and uninterrupted day’s work. To-day I have already written four, and with some confidence. Thus does flattery or praise oil the wheels. It is but two o’clock. Skene was here remonstrating against my taking apartments at the

* This hint was taken up in Count Robert of Paris.

Albyn Club, and recommending that I should rather stay with them. I told him that was altogether impossible. I hoped to visit them often, but for taking a permanent residence, I was altogether the country mouse, and voted for
‘——A hollow tree,
A crust of bread and liberty.’
The chain of friendship, however bright, does not stand the attrition of constant close contact.

February 21.—Corrected the proofs of Malachi this morning; it may fall dead, and there will be a squib lost; it may chance to light on some ingredients of national feeling and set folk’s beards in a blaze—and so much the better if it does. I mean better for Scotland—not a whit for me. Attended the hearing in Parliament-House till near four o’clock, so I shall do little to-night for I am tired and sleepy. One person talking for a long time, whether in pulpit or at the bar, or any where else, unless the interest be great, and the eloquence of the highest character, sets me to sleep. I impudently lean my head on my hand in the Court and take my nap without shame. The Lords may keep awake and mind their own affairs. Quod supra nos nihil ad nos. These clerks’ stools are certainly as easy seats as are in Scotland, those of the Barons of Exchequer always excepted.

February 22.—Ballantyne breakfasted, and is to negotiate about Malachi with Blackwood. It reads not amiss; and if I can get a few guineas for it, I shall not be ashamed to take them; for, paying Lady Scott, I have just left between L.3 and L.4 for any necessary occasion, and my salary does not become due until 20th March, and the expense of removing, &c., is to be provided for:
‘But shall we go mourn for that, my dear?’
The mere scarcity of money (so that actual wants are provided) is not poverty—it is the bitter draught to owe money which we cannot pay. Laboured fairly at
Woodstock to-day, but principally in revising and adding to Malachi, of which an edition as a pamphlet is anxiously desired. I have lugged in my old friend Cardrona*—I hope it will not be thought unkindly. The Banks are anxious to have it published. They were lately exercising lenity towards me, and if I can benefit them, it will be an instance of the ‘King’s errand lying in the cadger’s gate.’

February 23.—Corrected two sheets of Woodstock this morning. These are not the days of idleness. The fact is, that the not seeing company gives me a command of my time which I possessed at no other period in my life, at least since I knew how to make some use of my leisure. There is a great pleasure in sitting down to write with the consciousness that nothing will occur during the day to break the spell. Detained in the Court till past three, and came home just in time to escape a terrible squall. I am a good deal jaded, and will not work till after dinner. There is a sort of drowsy vacillation of mind attends fatigue with me. I can command my pen as the school-copy recommends, but cannot equally command my thoughts, and often write one word for another. Read a little volume called the Omen very well written deep and powerful language.†

* The late Mr Williamson of Cardrona, in Peebleshire, was a strange humorist, of whom Sir Walter told many stories. The allusion here is to the anecdote of the Leetle Anderson in the first of Malachi’s Epistles. See Scott’s Prose Miscellanies, vol. xxi., p. 289.

The Omen, by Mr Galt, had just been published.—See Miscellaneous Prose, vol. xviii., p. 333.


February 24.—Went down to printing-office after the Court, and corrected Malachi. J. B. reproaches me with having taken much more pains in this temporary pamphlet than on works which have a greater interest on my fortunes. I have certainly bestowed enough of revision and correction. But the cases are different. In a novel or poem, I run the course alone—here I am taking up the cudgels, and may expect a drubbing in return. Besides, I do feel that this is public matter in which the country is deeply interested; and, therefore, is far more important than any thing referring to my fame or fortune alone. The pamphlet will soon be out—mean-time Malachi prospers and excites much attention. The banks have bespoke 500 copies. The country is taking the alarm; and, I think, the Ministers will not dare to press the measure. I should rejoice to see the old red lion ramp a little, and the thistle again claim its nemo me impune. I do believe Scotsmen will show themselves unanimous at last, where their cash is concerned. They shall not want backing. I incline to cry with Biron in Love’s Labour’s Lost,
‘More Atés, more Atés, stir them on.’
I suppose all imaginative people feel more or less of excitation from a scene of insurrection or tumult, or of general expression of national feeling. When I was a lad, poor
Davie Douglas* used to accuse me of being cupidus novarum rerum, and say that I loved the stimulus of a broil. It might be so then, and even still.
‘Even in our ashes live their wonted fires.’
Whimsical enough, that when I was trying to animate Scotland against the currency bill,
John Gibson brought me the deed of trust, assigning my whole estate, to be

* Lord Reston. See ante, vol. i., p. 28.

subscribed by me; so that I am turning patriot, and taking charge of the affairs of the country, on the very day I proclaim myself incapable of managing my own. What of that? Who would think of their own trumpery debts, when they are taking the support of the whole system of Scottish banking on their shoulders? Odd enough too on this day, for the first time since the awful 17th January, we entertain a party at dinner
Lady Anna Maria Elliot, W. Clerk, John A. Murray, and Thomas Thomson as if we gave a dinner on account of my cessio fori.

February 25.—Our party yesterday went off very gaily; much laugh and fun, and I think I enjoyed it more from the rarity of the event—I mean from having seen society at home so seldom of late. My head aches slightly though; yet we were but a bottle of Champagne, one of Port, one of old Sherry, and two of Claret, among four gentlemen and three ladies. I have been led, from this incident, to think of taking chambers near Clerk, in Rose Court. Methinks the retired situation should suit me well. Then a man and woman would be my whole establishment. My superfluous furniture might serve, and I could ask a friend or two to dinner, as I have been accustomed to do. I shall look at the place to-day. I must set now to a second epistle of Malachi to the Athenians. If I can but get the sulky Scottish spirit set up, the devil won’t turn them.

‘Cock up your beaver, and cock it fu’ sprush;
We’ll over the Border, and give them a brush;
There’s somebody there we’ll teach better behaviour;
Hey, Johnnie, lad, cock up your beaver.’

February 26.—Spent the morning and till dinner on Malachi’s second epistle. It is difficult to steer be-
twixt the natural impulse of one’s national feelings setting in one direction, and the prudent regard to the interests of the empire and its internal peace and quiet, recommending less vehement expression. I will endeavour to keep sight of both. But were my own interest alone concerned, d——n me but I would give it them hot! Had some valuable communications from
Colin Mackenzie, which will supply my plentiful lack of facts.

“Received an anonymous satire in doggrel, which, having read the first verse and last, I committed to the flames. Peter Murray of Simprim called, and sat half-an-hour—an old friend, and who, from the peculiarity, and originality of his genius, is one of the most entertaining companions I have ever known. But I must finish Malachi.

February 27.—Malachi is getting on; I must finish him to-night. I dare say some of my London friends will be displeased—Canning perhaps, for he is engoué of Huskisson. Can’t help it. The place I looked at won’t do; but I must really get some lodging, for, reason or none, Dalgliesh will not leave me, and cries and makes a scene. Now, if I staid alone in a little set of chambers, he would serve greatly for my accommodation. There are some places of the kind in the New Buildings; but they are distant from the Court, and I cannot walk well on the pavement. It is odd enough, that just when I had made a resolution to use my coach frequently, I ceased to keep one.

February 28.—Completed Malachi to-day. It is more serious than the first, and in some places perhaps

* Dalgliesh was Sir Walter’s butler. He said he cared not how much his wages were reduced—but go he would not.

DIARY—MARCH, 1826.249
too peppery. Never mind; if you would have a horse kick, make a crupper out of a whin-cow;* and I trust to see Scotland kick and fling to some purpose.
Woodstock lies back for this. But quid non pro patria?

March 1.—Malachi is in the Edinburgh Journal to-day, and reads like the work of an uncompromising right-forward Scot of the old school. Some of the cautious and pluckless instigators will be afraid of their confederate; for if a man of some energy and openness of character happens to be on the same side with these jobbers, they stand as much in awe of his vehemence as did the inexperienced conjurer who invoked a fiend whom he could not manage. Came home in a heavy shower with the Solicitor. I tried him on the question, but found him reserved. The future Lord Advocate must be cautious; but I can tell my good friend John Hope, that if he acts the part of a firm and resolute Scottish patriot, both his own country and England will respect him the more. Ah! Hal Dundas, there was no truckling in thy day!

“Looked out a quantity of things, to go to Abbotsford; for we are flitting, if you please. It is with a sense of pain that I leave behind a parcel of trumpery prints and little ornaments, once the pride of Lady S——’s heart, but which she sees consigned with indifference to the chance of an auction. Things that have had their day of importance with me I cannot forget, though the merest trifles. But I am glad that she, with bad health, and enough to vex her, has not the same useless mode of associating recollections with this unpleasant business. The best part of it is the necessity of leaving behind, viz. getting rid of, a set of most wretched daubs of landscapes, in great gilded frames, of which I

* Whin-cow—Anglice, a bush of furze.

have often been heartily ashamed. The history of them was curious. An amateur artist (a lady) happened to fall into misfortunes, upon which her landscapes, the character of which had been buoyed up far beyond their proper level, sank now beneath it, and it was low enough. One most amiable and accomplished old lady continued to encourage her pencil, and to order pictures after pictures, which she sent in presents to her friends. I suppose I have eight or ten of them, which I could not avoid accepting. There will be plenty of laughing when they come to be sold. It would be a good joke enough to cause it to be circulated that they were performances of my own in early youth, and looked on and bought up as curiosities. Do you know why you have written all this down,
Sir W.? You want to put off writing Woodstock, just as easily done as these memoranda, but which it happens your duty and your prudence recommend, and therefore you are loth to begin.

I can’t say no;
But this piece of task-work off I can stave, O,
For Malachi’s posting into an octavo;
To correct the proof-sheets only this night I have, O,
So Conscience you’ve gotten as good as you gave, O.
But to-morrow a new day we’ll better behave, O
So I lay down the pen, and your pardon I crave, O.’

March 2.—I have a letter from Colin Mackenzie, approving Malachi, ‘Cold men may say it is too strong; but from the true men of Scotland you are sure of the warmest gratitude.’ I never have yet found, nor do I expect it on this occasion, that ill-will dies in debt, or what is called gratitude distresses herself by frequent payments. The one is like a ward-holding, and pays its reddendo in hard blows. The other a blanch-tenure,
DIARY—MARCH, 1826.251
and is discharged for payment of a red rose, or a peppercorn. He that takes the forlorn hope in an attack, is often deserted by them that should support him, and who generally throw the blame of their own cowardice upon his rashness. We shall see this end in the same way. But I foresaw it from the beginning. The bankers will be persuaded that it is a squib which may burn their own fingers, and will curse the poor pyrotechnist that compounded it—if they do, they be d——d. Slept indifferently, and dreamed of
Napoleon’s last moments, of which I was reading a medical account last night, by Dr Arnott. Horrible death—a cancer on the pylorus. I would have given something to have lain still this morning and made up for lost time. But desidiæ valedixi. If you once turn on your side after the hour at which you ought to rise, it is all over. Bolt up at once. Bad night last—the next is sure to be better.

‘When the drum beats, make ready;
When the fife plays, march away—
To the roll-call, to the roll-call, to the roll-call,
Before the break of day.’

“Dined with Chief Commissioner: Admiral Adam, W. Clerk, Thomson, and I. The excellent old man was cheerful at intervals—at times sad, as was natural. A good blunder, he told us, occurred in the Annandale case, which was a question partly of domicile. It was proved, that leaving Lochwood, the Earl had given up his kain and carriages;* this an English counsel contended was the best of all possible proofs that the noble Earl designed an absolute change of residence, since he laid aside his walking-stick and his coach. First epistle of Malachi out of print already.

* Kain, in Scotch law, means payment in kindCarriages, in the same phraseology, stands for services in driving with horse and cart.


March 3.—Could not get the last sheets of Malachi, Second Epistle, so they must go out to the world uncorrected—a great loss, for the last touches are always most effectual; and I expect misprints in the additional matter. We were especially obliged to have it out this morning, that it may operate as a gentle preparative for the meeting of inhabitants at two o’clock. Vogue la galere—we shall see if Scotsmen have any pluck left. If not, they may kill the next Percy themselves. It is ridiculous enough for me, in a state of insolvency for the present, to be battling about gold and paper currency—it is something like the humorous touch in Hogarth’s Distressed Poet, where the poor starveling of the Muses is engaged, when in the abyss of poverty, in writing an Essay on Payment of the National Debt; and his wall is adorned with a plan of the mines of Peru. Nevertheless, even these fugitive attempts, from the success which they have had, and the noise they are making, serve to show the truth of the old proverb—
‘When house and land are gone and spent,
Then learning is most excellent.’
On the whole, I am glad of this bruilzie, as far as I am concerned; people will not dare talk of me as an object of pity—no more ‘poor-manning.’ Who asks how many punds Scots the old champion had in his pocket when
‘He set a bugle to his mouth,
And blew so loud and shrill,
The trees in greenwood shook thereat,
Sae loud rang every hill?’
This sounds conceited enough, yet is not far from truth.

“The meeting was very numerous, 500 or 600 at least, and unanimous, saving one Mr Howden, who having been all his life, as I am told, in bitter opposition to
Ministers, proposed on the present occasion that the whole contested measure should be trusted to their wisdom. I suppose he chose the opportunity of placing his own opinion in opposition, single opposition too, to one of a large assembly. The speaking was very moderate. Report had said that
Jeffrey, J. A. Murray, and other sages of the economical school, were to unbuckle their mails, and give us their opinions. But no such great guns appeared. If they had, having the multitude on my side, I would have tried to break a lance with them. A few short, but well expressed resolutions, were adopted unanimously. These were proposed by Lord Rollo, and seconded by Sir James Fergusson, Bart. I was named one of a committee to encourage all sorts of opposition to the measure. So I have already broken through two good and wise resolutions—one, that I would not write on political controversy; another, that I would not be named in public committees. If my good resolves go this way, like snaw off a dyke—the Lord help me!

March 4.—Last night I had a letter from Lockhart, who, speaking of Malachi, says, ‘The Ministers are sore beyond imagination at present; and some of them, I hear, have felt this new whip on the raw to some purpose.’ I conclude he means Canning is offended. I can’t help it, as I said before—fiat justitia, mat cœlum. No cause in which I had the slightest personal interest should have made me use my pen against them, blunt and pointed as it may be. But as they are about to throw this country into distress and danger, by a measure of useless and uncalled for experiment, they must hear the opinion of the Scotsman, to whom it is of no other consequence than as a general measure affecting the country at large—and more they shall hear. I
had determined to lay down the pen. But now they shall have another of Malachi, beginning with buffoonery, and ending as seriously as I can write it. It is like a frenzy that they will agitate the upper and middling classes of society, so very friendly to them, with unnecessary and hazardous projects.
‘Oh, thus it was they loved them dear,
And sought how to requite ’em,
And having no friends left but they,
They did resolve to fight them.’
The country is very high just now. England may carry the measure if she will, doubtless. But what will be the consequence of the distress ensuing. God only can foretell. Lockhart, moreover, enquires about my affairs anxiously, and asks what he is to say about them; says ‘he has enquiries every day; kind, most kind all, and among the most interested and anxious,
Sir William Knighton, who told me the King was quite melancholy all the evening he heard of it.’ This I can well believe, for the King, educated as a prince, has nevertheless as true and kind a heart as any subject in his dominions. He goes on—‘I do think they would give you a Baron’s gown as soon as possible,’ &c. I have written to him in answer, showing I have enough to carry me on, and can dedicate my literary efforts to clear my land. The preferment would suit me well, and the late Duke of Buccleuch gave me his interest for it. I daresay the young Duke would do the same, for the invaried love I have borne his house; and by and by he will have a voice potential. But there is Sir William Rae, whose prevailing claim I would never place my own in opposition to, even were it possible, by a tour de force, such as L. points at, to set it aside. Mean-time, I am building a barrier betwixt me and promotion.

“In the mean-while, now I am not pulled about for
DIARY—MARCH, 1826.255
money, &c., methinks I am happier without my wealth than with it. Every thing is paid. I have no one anxious to make up a sum, and pushing for his account to be paid. Since 17th January I have not laid out a guinea, out of my own hand, save two or three in charity, and six shillings for a pocket-book. But the cash with which I set out having run short for family expenses, I drew on
Blackwood, through Ballantyne, which was honoured, for L.25, to account of Malachi’s Letters, of which another edition of 1000 is ordered, and gave it to Lady Scott, because our removal will require that in hand. On the 20th my quarter comes in, and though I have something to pay out of it, I shall be on velvet for expense and regular I will be. Methinks all trifling objects of expenditure seem to grow light in my eyes. That I may regain independence I must be saving. But ambition awakes as love of indulgence dies and is mortified within me. ‘Dark Cuthullin will be renowned or dead.’

March 5.—Something of toddy and cigar in that last quotation, I think. Yet I only smoked two, and liquified with one glass of spirits and water. I have sworn I will not blot out what I have once written here.

March 6.—Finished third Malachi, which I don’t much like. It respects the difficulty of finding gold to replace the paper circulation. Now this should have been considered first. The admitting that the measure may be imposed, is yielding up the question, and Malachi is like a commandant who should begin to fire from interior defences before his outworks were carried. If Ballantyne be of my own opinion I will suppress it. We are all in a bustle shifting things to Abbotsford. It is odd, but I don’t feel the impatience for the country which I have usually experienced.


March 7.—Detained in the Court till three by a hearing. Then to the committee appointed at the meeting on Friday, to look after the small note business. A pack of old faineants, incapable of managing such a business, and who will lose the day from mere coldness of heart. There are about a thousand names at the petition. They have added no designations—a great blunder; for testimonia sunt ponderanda non numeranda should never be lost sight of. They are disconcerted and helpless; just as in the business of the King’s visit, when every body threw the weight on me. In another time so disgusted was I with seeing them sitting in ineffectual helplessness, spitting on the hot iron that lay before them, and touching it with a timid finger, as if afraid of being scalded, that I might have dashed in and taken up the hammer, summoned the deacons and other heads of public bodies, and by consulting them have carried them with me. But I cannot waste my time, health, and spirits, in fighting thankless battles. I left them in a quarter of an hour, and presage, unless the country make an alarm, the cause is lost. The philosophical reviewers manage their affairs better—hold off avoid committing themselves, but throw their vis inertiæ into the opposite scale, and neutralize feelings which they cannot combat. To force them to fight on disadvantageous ground is our policy. But we have more sneakers after ministerial favour than men who love their country, and who, upon a liberal scale, would serve their party. For to force the Whigs to avow an unpopular doctrine in popular assemblies, or to wrench the government of such bodies from them, would be a coup de maître. But they are alike destitute of manly resolution and sound policy. D—n the whole nest of them! I have corrected the last of Malachi, and let the thing take its chance. I have made just enemies enough, and indisposed enough of friends.


March 8.—At the Court, though a teind day. A foolish thing happened while the Court were engaged with the teinds. I amused myself with writing on a sheet of paper, notes on Frederick Maitland’s account of the capture of Buonaparte; and I have lost these notes—shuffled in perhaps among my own papers, or those of the teind clerks. What a curious document to be found in a process of valuation. Being jaded and sleepy, I took up Le Duc de Guise on Naples. I think this, with the old Memoirs on the same subject which I have at Abbotsford, would enable me to make a pretty essay for the Quarterly. We must take up Woodstock now in good earnest. Mr Cowan, a good and able man, is chosen trustee in Constable’s affairs, with full power. From what I hear, the poor man Constable is not sensible of the nature of his own situation; for myself, I have succeeded in putting the matter perfectly out of my mind since I cannot help it, and have arrived at a flocci-pauci-nihili-pili-fication of misery, and I thank whoever invented that long word. They are removing our wine, &c. to the carts, and you will judge if our flitting is not making a noise in the world, or in the street at least.

March 9.—I foresaw justly,
‘When first I set this dangerous stone a-rolling,
’Twould full upon myself.’
Sir Robert Dundas to-day put into my hands a letter of between twenty and forty pages, in angry and bitter reprobation of Malachi, full of general averments, and very untenable arguments, all written at me by name, but of which I am to have no copy, and which is to be circulated to other special friends, to whom it may be necessary to ‘give the sign to hate.’ I got it at two
o’clock, and returned it with an answer four hours afterwards, in which I have studied not to be tempted into either sarcastic or harsh expressions. A quarrel it is, however, in all the forms, between my old friend and myself, and his Lordship’s reprimand is to be read out in order to all our friends. They all know what I have said is true, but that will be nothing to the purpose if they are desired to consider it as false. Nobody at least can plague me for interest with
Lord Melville as they used to do. By the way, from the tone of his letter, I think his Lordship will give up the measure, and I shall be the peace-offering. All wilt agree to condemn me as too warm—too rash—and yet rejoice in privileges which they would not have been able to save but for a little rousing of spirit, which will not perhaps fall asleep again.—A gentleman called on the part of a Captain Rutherford, to make enquiry about the Lord Rutherfords. Not being very cleever, as John Fraser used to say, at these pedigree matters, referred him to my cousin Robert Rutherford. Very odd—when there is a vacant, or dormant title in a Scottish family or name, every body, and all connected with the clan, conceive they have quodam modo a right to it. Not being engrossed by any individual, it communicates part of its lustre to every individual in the tribe, as if it remained in common stock for that purpose.

March 10.—I am not made entirely on the same mould of passions like other people. Many men would deeply regret a breach with so old a friend as Lord Melville, and many men would be in despair at losing the good graces of a Minister of State for Scotland, and all pretty views about what might be done for myself and my sons, especially Charles. But I think my good Lord doth ill to be angry, like the patriarch of old, and
DIARY—MARCH, 1826.259
I have, in my odd sans souciance character, a good handful of meal from the grist of the Jolly Miller, who
Dwelled on the river Dee;
I care for nobody, no not I,
Since nobody cares for me.’

Sandie Young* came in at breakfast-time with a Monsieur Brocque of Montpelier. Saw Sir Robert Dundas at Court. He is to send my letter to Lord Melville. Colin Mackenzie concurs in thinking Lord M. quite wrong. He must cool in the skin he het in.

“On coming home from the Court a good deal fatigued, I took a nap in my easy-chair, then packed my books, and committed the refuse to Jock Stevenson
‘Left not a limb on which a Dane could triumph.’
Mr Gibson my father’s cabinet, which suits a man of business well. Gave Jock Stevenson the picture of my favourite dog Camp, mentioned in one of the introductions to Marmion, and a little crow-quill drawing of Melrose Abbey by Nelson, whom I used to call the Admiral, poor fellow. He had some ingenuity, and was in a moderate way a good penman and draughtsman. He left his situation of amanuensis to go into Lord Home’s militia regiment, but his dissipation got the better of a strong constitution, and he fell into bad habits and poverty, and died, I believe, in the Hospital at Liverpool.—Strange enough that Henry Weber, who acted afterwards as my amanuensis for many years, had also a melancholy fate ultimately. He was a man of very superior attainments, an excellent linguist and geographer, and a remarkable antiquary. He published a collection of ancient Romances, superior, I think, to the elaborate Ritson. He also published an edition of

* Alexander Young, Esq. of Harburn—a steady Whig of the old school, and a steady and highly esteemed friend of Sir Walter’s.

Beaumont and Fletcher, but too carelessly done to be reputable. He was a violent Jacobin, which he thought he disguised from me, while I, who cared not a fig about the poor young man’s politics, used to amuse myself with teazing him. He was an excellent and affectiqnate creature, but unhappily was afflicted with partial insanity, especially if he used strong liquors, to which, like others with that unhappy tendency, he was occasionally addicted. In 1814 he became quite insane, and, at the risk of my life, I had to disarm him of a pair of loaded pistols, which I did by exerting the sort of authority which, I believe, gives an effectual control in such cases.* My patronage in this way has not been lucky to the parties protected. I hope poor George Huntly Gordon will escape the influence of the evil star. He has no vice, poor fellow, but his total deafness makes him helpless.

March 11.—This day the Court rose after a long and laborious sederunt. I employed the remainder of the day in completing a set of notes on Captain Maitland’s manuscript narrative of the reception of Napoleon Buonaparte on board the Bellerophon. It had been previously in the hands of my friend Basil Hall, who had made many excellent corrections in point of style; but he had been hypercritical in wishing (in so important a matter, where every thing depends on accuracy) this expression to be altered for delicacy’s sake,—that to be corrected, for fear of giving offence—and that other to be abridged, for fear of being tedious. The plain sailor’s narrative for me, written on the spot, and bearing in its minuteness the evidence of its veracity. Lord Elgin sent me, some time since, a curious account of his imprisonment in France, and the attempts which were made to draw him into some intrigue which might authorize

* See ante, vol. iii. p. 109.

DIARY—MARCH, 1826.261
treating him with rigour.* He called to-day and communicated some curious circumstances, on the authority of
Fouché, Denon, and others, respecting Buonaparte and the Empress Maria Louisa, whom Lord Elgin had conversed with on the subject in Italy. His conduct towards her was something like that of Ethwald to Elburga, in Joanna Baillie’s fine tragedy, making her postpone her high rank by birth to the authority which he had acquired by his talents.

March 12.—Resumed Woodstock, and wrote my task of six pages. I cannot gurnalize, however, having wrought my eyes nearly out.

March 13.—Wrote to the end of a chapter, and knowing no more than the man in the moon what comes next, I will put down a few of Lord Elgin’s remembrances, and something may occur to me in the meanwhile. * * * * *

“I have hinted in these notes that I am not entirely free from a sort of gloomy fits, with a fluttering of the heart and depression of spirits, just as if I knew not what was going to befall me. I can sometimes resist this successfully, but it is better to evade than to combat it. The hang-dog spirit may have originated in the confusion and chucking about of our old furniture, the stripping of walls of pictures, and rooms of ornaments; the leaving of a house we have so long called our home, is altogether melancholy enough. I am glad Lady S. does not mind it, and yet I wonder, too. She insists on my remaining till Wednesday, not knowing what I suffer. Mean-while, to make my recusant spirit do penance, I have set to work to clear away papers and

* See Life of BuonaparteMiscellaneous Prose Works, vol. xi. pp. 346-351.

pack them for my journey. What a strange medley of thoughts such a task produces. There lie letters which made the heart throb when received, now lifeless and uninteresting—as are perhaps their writers. Riddles which have been read—schemes which time has destroyed or brought to maturity—memorials of friendships and enmities which are now alike faded. Thus does the ring of Saturn consume itself. To-day annihilates yesterday, as the old tyrant swallowed his children, and the snake its tail. But I must say to my Journal as poor
Byron did to Moore—‘D—n it, Tom, don’t be poetical.’

March 14.—J. B. called this morning to take leave, and receive directions about proofs, &c. Talks of the uproar about Malachi; but I am tired of Malachi—the humour is off, and I have said what I wanted to say, and put the people of Scotland on their guard, as well as Ministers, if they like to be warned. They are gradually destroying what remains of nationality, and making the country tabula rasa for doctrines of bold innovation. Their loosening and grinding down all those peculiarities which distinguished us as Scotsmen will throw the country into a state in which it will be universally turned to democracy, and instead of canny Saunders, they will have a very dangerous North British neighbourhood. Some lawyer expressed to Lord Elibank an opinion, that at the Union the English law should have been extended all over Scotland. ‘I cannot say how that might have answered our purpose,’ said Lord Patrick, who was never nonsuited for want of an answer, ‘but it would scarce have suited yours, since by this time the Aberdeen Advocates* would have possessed themselves of all the business in Westminster Hall.’

* The Attorneys of the town of Aberdeen are styled Advocates. This valuable privilege is said to have been bestowed at an early period by some (sportive) monarch.

DIARY—MARCH, 1826. 263

“What a detestable feeling this fluttering of the heart is! I know it is nothing organic, and that it is entirely nervous; but the sickening effects of it are dispiriting to a degree. Is it the body brings it on the mind, or the mind that inflicts upon the body? I cannot tell; but it is a severe price to pay for the Fata Morgana with which Fancy sometimes amuses men of warm imaginations. As to body and mind, I fancy I might as well enquire whether the fiddle or fiddlestick makes the tune. In youth this complaint used to throw me into involuntary passions of causeless tears. But I will drive it away in the country by exercise. I wish I had been a mechanic: a turning-lathe or a chest of tools would have been a God-send; for thought makes the access of melancholy rather worse than better. I have it seldom, thank God, and, I believe, lightly, in comparison of others.

“It was the fiddle, after all, was out of order—not the fiddlestick; the body, not the mind. I walked out; met Mrs Skene, who took a round with me in Prince’s Street. Bade Constable and Cadell farewell, and had a brisk walk home, which enables me to face the desolation here with more spirit. News from Sophia. She has had the luck to get an anti-druggist in a Dr Gooch, who prescribes care for Johnnie instead of drugs, and a little home-brewed ale instead of wine; and, like a liberal physician, supplies the medicine he prescribes. As for myself, since I had scarce stirred to take exercise for four or five days, no wonder I had the mulligrubs. It is an awful sensation though, and would have made an enthusiast of me, had I indulged my imagination on devotional subjects. I have been always careful to place my mind in the most tranquil posture which it can assume during my private exercises of devotion.


“I have amused myself occasionally very pleasantly during the last few days by reading over Lady Morgan’s novel of O’Donnel, which has some striking and beautiful passages of situation and description, and in the comic part is very rich and entertaining. I do not remember being so much pleased with it at first. There is a want of story, always fatal to a book the first reading—and it is well if it gets a chance of a second. Alas, poor novel! Also read again, and for the third time at least, Miss Austen’s very finely written novel of Pride and Prejudice. That young lady had a talent for describing the involvements, and feelings, and characters of ordinary life, which is to me the most wonderful I ever met with. The Big Bow-wow strain I can do myself like any now going; but the exquisite touch, which renders ordinary commonplace things and characters interesting, from the truth of the description and the sentiment, is denied to me. What a pity such a gifted creature died so early!

March 15.—This morning I leave No. 39, Castle Street, for the last time. ‘The cabin was convenient,’ and habit had made it agreeable to me. I never reckoned upon a change in this particular so long as I held an office in the Court of Session. In all my former changes of residence it was from good to better; this is retrograding. I leave this house for sale, and I cease to be an Edinburgh citizen, in the sense of being a proprietor, which my father and I have been for sixty years at least. So farewell, poor 39, and may you never harbour worse people than those who now leave you. Not to desert the Lares all at once, Lady S. and Anne remain till Sunday. As for me, I go, as aforesaid, this morning.
‘Ha til mi tulidh’!—”*

* We return no more.