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Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, Bart.
Chapter X 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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The price received for Woodstock shows what eager competition had been called forth among the booksellers when, after the lapse of several years, Constable’s monopoly of Sir Walter’s novels was abolished by their common calamity. The interest excited, not only in Scotland and England, but all over civilized Europe, by the news of Scott’s misfortunes, must also have had its influence in quickening this commercial rivalry. The reader need hardly be told, that the first meeting of James Ballantyne and Company’s creditors witnessed the transformation, a month before darkly prophesied, of the “Great Unknown” into the “Too-well-known.” Even for those who had long ceased to entertain any doubt as to the main source at least of the Waverley romances, there would have been something stirring in the first confession of the author; but it in fact included the avowal, that he had stood alone in the work of creation; and when the mighty claim came in the same breath with the announcement of personal ruin, the effect on the community of Edinburgh was electrical. It is, in my opinion, not the least striking feature in the foregoing Diary, that it contains no allusion (save the omi-
nous one of 18th December) to this long withheld revelation. He notes his painful anticipation of returning to the Parliament-House—monstrari digito—as an insolvent. It does not seem even to have occurred to him, that when he appeared there the morning after his creditors had heard his confession, there could not be many men in the place but must gaze on his familiar features with a mixture of curiosity, admiration, and sympathy, of which a hero in the moment of victory might have been proud—which might have swelled the heart of a martyr as he was bound to the stake. The universal feeling was, I believe, much what the late amiable and accomplished
Earl of Dudley expressed to Mr Morritt when these news reached them at Brighton. “Scott ruined!” said he, “the author of Waverley ruined! Good God, let every man to whom he has given months of delight give him a sixpence, and he will rise to-morrow morning richer than Rothschild!”

It is no wonder that the book, which it was known he had been writing during this crisis of distress, should have been expected with solicitude. Shall we find him, asked thousands, to have been master truly of his genius in the moment of this ordeal? Shall we trace any thing of his own experiences in the construction of his imaginary personages and events?

I know not how others interpreted various passages in Woodstock, but there were not a few that carried deep meaning for such of Scott’s own friends as were acquainted with, not his pecuniary misfortune alone, but the drooping health of his wife, and the consolation afforded him by the dutiful devotion of his daughter Anne, in whose character and demeanour a change had occurred exactly similar to that painted in poor Alice Lee: “A light joyous air, with something of a humorous expression, which seemed to be looking for
amusement, had vanished before the touch of affliction, and a calm melancholy supplied its place, which seemed on the watch to administer comfort to others.” In several mottoes, and other scraps of verse, the curious reader will find similar traces of the facts and feelings recorded in the author’s Diary.

As to the novel itself, though none can pretend to class it in the very highest rank of his works, since we feel throughout the effects of the great fundamental error, likened by a contemporary critic to that of the writer who should lay his scene at Rome immediately after the battle of Philippi, and introduce Brutus as the survivor in that conflict, and Cicero as his companion in victory; yet even this censor is forced to allow that Woodstock displays certain excellences, not exemplified in all the author’s fictions, and which attest, more remarkably than any others could have done, the complete self-possession of the mind when composing it. Its great merit, Mr Senior thinks, is that it combines an extraordinary variety of incident with perfect unity of action! For the rest, after condemning, in my view far too broadly, the old Shakspearian Cavalier Sir Henry Lee, he says—

“The Cromwell and Charles II. are inaccurate as portraits, but, as imaginary characters, they are admirable. Charles is perhaps somewhat too stiff, and Cromwell too sentimental; but these impressions never struck us till our office forced us to pervert the work from its proper end, and to read for the purpose of criticism instead of enjoyment. We are not sure, however, that we do not prefer Tomkins to either of them; his cunning, profligacy, hypocrisy, and enthusiasm are combined into a character as spirited as it is original. Wildrake, Rochecliffe, Desborough, Holdenough, and Bletson are composed of fewer materials, and therefore exhibit less power in the author; but they are natural and forcible, particularly Holdenough. There are few subjects which Sir Walter seems more to delight in painting than the meliorating influence of religious feelings on an imperfect temper, even though somewhat alloyed by superstition and enthusiasm.—Woodstock is a picture full of false costume and incorrect design, but
splendidly grouped and coloured; and we envy those whose imperfect knowledge of the real events has enabled them to enjoy its beauties without being offended by its inaccuracies.”

There is one character of considerable importance which the reviewer does not allude to. If he had happened to have the slightest tincture of his author’s fondness for dogs, he would not have failed to say something of the elaborate and affectionate portraiture of old Maida, under the name of Bevis.

The success of this novel was great: large as the price was, its publishers had no reason to repent their bargain; and of course the rapid receipt of such a sum as L.8000, the product of hardly three months’ labour, highly gratified the body of creditors, whose debtor had devoted to them whatever labour his health should henceforth permit him to perform. We have seen that he very soon began another work of fiction; and it will appear that he from the first designed the “Chronicles of the Canongate” to be published by Mr Robert Cadell. That gentleman’s connexion with Constable was, from circumstances of which the reader may have traced various little indications, not likely to be renewed after the catastrophe of their old copartnership. They were now endeavouring to establish themselves in separate businesses; and each was, of course, eager to secure the countenance of Sir Walter. He did not hesitate a moment. He conceived that Constable had acted in such a manner by him, especially in urging him to borrow large sums of money for his support after all chance of recovery was over, that he had more than forfeited all claims on his confidence; and Mr Cadell’s frank conduct in warning Ballantyne and him against Constable’s last mad proposal about a guarantee for L.20,000, had produced a strong impression in his favour.


Sir Walter’s Diary has given us some pleasing glimpses of the kind of feeling displayed by Ballantyne towards him, and by him towards Ballantyne, during these dark months. In justice to both, I shall here insert one of the notes addressed by Scott, while Woodstock was at press, to his critical typographer. It has reference to a request, that the success of Malachi Malagrowther might be followed up by a set of essays on Irish Absenteeism in the Edinburgh Weekly Journal; the editorship of which paper, with the literary management of the printing-house, had been continued to Mr Ballantyne, upon a moderate salary, by his creditors’ trustees. I may observe that when the general superintendence of the printing-house came into the hands of regular men of business, it was found (notwithstanding the loss of Constable’s great employment) a lucrative one: the creditors, after paying James his salary, cleared in one year L.1200 from the concern, which had for many before been a source of nothing but perplexity to its founders. No hints of mutual complaint or recrimination ever dropt from either of the fallen partners. The printer, like Scott, submitted without a murmur of that sort, or indeed of any sort, to his reverses: he withdrew to a very small house in a sequestered suburban situation, and altered all his domestic habits and arrangements with decision and fortitude. Here he received many communications such as the following:—

To Mr James Ballantyne.
“North St David Street.
“Dear James,

“I cannot see to read my manuscript in the way you propose—I would give a thousand pounds I could; but, like the officer of the Customs, when the Board desired
him to read a coquet of his own,—I am coquet-writer, not coquet-reader—and you must be thankful that. I can perform even that part of the duty.

“We must in some sort, stand or fall together; and I do not wish you to think that I am forgetting your interest in my own—though I sincerely believe the former is what you least think of. But I am afraid I must decline the political task you invite me to. It would cost me a fortnight’s hard work to do any thing to purpose, for I have no information on the subject whatever. In short, as the Earl of Essex said on a certain occasion, ‘Frankly, it may not be.’ I hope next winter will afford me an opportunity to do something, which, as Falstaff says, ‘may do you good.’

Ever yours,
W. S.”

The date of this note (North St David’s Street) reminds me of a passage in Captain Basil Hall’s Diary. He called at Mrs Brown’s lodging-house one morning—and on his return home wrote as follows:—

“A hundred and fifty years hence, when his works have become old classical authorities, it may interest some fervent lover of his writings to know what this great genius was about on Saturday the 10th of June, 1826 five months after the total ruin of his pecuniary fortunes, and twenty-six days after the death of his wife.

“In the days of his good luck he used to live at No. 39 in North Castle Street, in a house befitting a rich baronet; but on reaching the door, I found the plate on it covered with rust (so soon is glory obscured), the windows shuttered up, dusty, and comfortless; and from the side of one projected a board, with this inscription, “To Sell;” the stairs were unwashed, and not a foot-
mark told of the ancient hospitality which reigned within. In all nations with which I am acquainted the fashionable world move westward, in imitation, perhaps, of the great tide of civilisation; and, vice versa, those persons who decline in fortune, which is mostly equivalent to declining in fashion, shape their course eastward. Accordingly, by an involuntary impulse, I turned my head that way, and enquiring at the clubs in Prince’s Street, learned that he now resided in St David Street, No. 6.

“I was rather glad to recognise my old friend the Abbotsford butler, who answered the door—the saying about heroes and valets-de-chambre comes to one’s recollection on such occasions, and nothing, we may be sure, is more likely to be satisfactory to a man whose fortune is reduced than the stanch adherence of a mere servant, whose wages must be altered for the worse. At the top of the stair we saw a small tray, with a single plate and glasses for one solitary person’s dinner. Some few months ago Sir Walter was surrounded by his family, and wherever he moved, his headquarters were the focus of fashion. Travellers from all nations crowded round, and, like the recorded honours of Lord Chatham, ‘thickened over him.’ Lady and Miss Scott were his constant companions; the Lockharts were his neighbours both in town and in Roxburghshire; his eldest son was his frequent guest; and in short, what with his own family and the clouds of tourists, who, like so many hordes of Cossacks, pressed upon him, there was not, perhaps, out of a palace, any man so attended, I had almost said overpowered, by company. His wife is now dead—is son-in-law and favourite daughter gone to London, and his grandchild, I fear, just staggering, poor little fellow, on the edge of the grave, which, perhaps, is the securest refuge for him—his eldest son is married, and at a distance, and report
speaks of no probability of the title descending; in short, all are dispersed, and the tourists, those “curiosos impertinentes,” drive past Abbotsford gate, and curse their folly in having delayed for a year too late their long projected jaunt to the north. Mean-while not to mince the matter, the great man had, somehow or other, managed to involve himself with printers, publishers, bankers, gas-makers, wool-staplers, and all the fraternity of speculators, accommodation-bill manufacturers, land-jobbers, and so on, till, at a season of distrust in money matters, the hour of reckoning came, like a thief in the night; and as our friend, like the unthrifty virgins, had no oil in his lamp, all his affairs went to wreck and ruin, and landed him, after the gale was over, in the predicament of Robinson Crusoe, with little more than a shirt to his back. But like that able navigator, he is not cast away upon a barren rock. The tide has ebbed, indeed, and left him on the beach, but the hull of his fortunes is above water still, and it will go hard, indeed, with him if he does not shape a raft that shall bring to shore much of the cargo that an ordinary mind would leave in despair, to be swept away by the next change of the moon. The distinction between man and the rest of the living creation, certainly, is in nothing more remarkable, than in the power which he possesses over them, of turning to varied account the means with which the world is stocked. But it has always struck me, that there is a far greater distinction between man and man than between many men and most other animals; and it is from a familiarity with the practical operation of this marvellous difference that I venture to predict, that our Crusoe will cultivate his own island, and build himself a bark in which, in process of time, he will sail back to his friends and fortune in greater triumph than if he had never been driven amongst the breakers.


Sir Walter Scott, then, was sitting at a writing-desk covered with papers, and on the top was a pile of bound volumes of the Moniteur,—one, which he was leaning over as my brother and I entered, was open on a chair, and two others were lying on the floor. As he rose to receive us he closed the volume which he had been extracting from, and came forward to shake hands. He was, of course, in deep mourning, with weepers and the other trappings of woe, but his countenance, though certainly a little woe-begonish, was not cast into any very deep furrows. His tone and manner were as friendly as heretofore, and when he saw that we had no intention of making any attempt at sympathy or moanification, but spoke to him as of old, he gradually contracted the length of his countenance, and allowed the corners of his mouth to curl almost imperceptibly upwards, and a renewed lustre came into his eye, if not exactly indicative of cheerfulness, at all events of well-regulated, patient, Christian resignation. My meaning will be misunderstood if it be imagined from this picture that I suspected any hypocrisy, or an affectation of grief in the first instance. I have no doubt, indeed, that he feels, and most acutely, the bereavements which have come upon him; but we may very fairly suppose, that among the many visiters he must have, there may be some who cannot understand that it is proper, decent, or even possible to hide those finer emotions deep in the heart.—He immediately began conversing in his usual style—the chief topic being Captain Denham (whom I had recently seen in London), and his book of African Travels, which Sir Walter had evidently read with much attention. * * * After sitting a quarter of an hour, we came away, well pleased to see our friend quite unbroken in spirit and though bowed down a little by the blast, and here and there a branch the less, as sturdy
DIARY—JUNE, 1826.317
in the trunk as ever, and very possibly all the better—for the discipline better, I mean, for the public, inasmuch as he has now a vast additional stimulus for exertion—and one which all the world must admit to be thoroughly noble and generous.”

A week before this visit took place, Sir Walter had sufficiently mastered himself to resume his literary tasks; and he thenceforth worked with determined resolution on the Life of Napoleon, interlaying a day or two of the Chronicles of the Canongate, whenever he had got before the press with his historical MS., or felt the want of the only repose he ever cared for—a change of labour. In resuming his own Diary, I shall make extracts rather less largely than before, because many entries merely reflect the life of painful exertion to which he had now submitted himself, without giving us any interesting glimpses either of his feelings or opinions. I hope I have kept enough to satisfy all proper curiosity on these last points.


Edinburgh, June 4.—I wrote a good task yesterday, and to-day a great one, scarce stirring from the desk. I am not sure that it is right to work so hard; but a man must take himself, as well as other people, when in the humour. I doubt if men of method, who can lay aside or take up the pen just at the hours appointed, will ever be better than poor creatures. Lady Louisa Stuart used to tell me of Mr Hoole, the translator of Tasso and Ariosto, and in that capacity a noble transmuter of gold into lead, that he was a clerk in the India-House, with long ruffles and a snuff-coloured suit
of clothes, who occasionally visited her father,
John Earl of Bute. She sometimes conversed with him, and was amused to find that he did exactly so many couplets day by day, neither more nor less; and habit had made it light to him, however heavy it might seem to the reader. Well, but if I lay down the pen, as the pain in my breast hints that I should, what am I to do? If I think, why I shall weep—and that’s nonsense; and I have no friend now—none—to relieve my tediousness for half-an-hour of the gloaming. Let me be grateful—I have good news from Abbotsford.

June 7.—Again a day of hard work—busy at half-past-eight. I went to the Dean of Faculty’s to a consultation about Constable,* and sat with said Dean and Mr J. S. More and J. Gibson. I find they have as high hope of success as lawyers ought to express; and I think I know how our profession speak when sincere; but I cannot interest myself deeply in it. When I had come home from such a business, I used to carry the news to poor Charlotte, who dressed her face in sadness or mirth as she saw the news affect me; this hangs lightly about me. I had almost forgot the appointment, if J. G. had not sent me a card; I passed a piper in the street as I went to the Dean’s, and could not help giving him a shilling to play Pibroch a Donuil Dhu for luck’s sake; what a child I am!

June 8.—Bilious and headach this morning. A dog howl’d all night and left me little sleep,—poor cur! I dare say he had his distresses, as I have mine. I was obliged to make Dalgliesh shut the windows when he appeared at half-past six, as usual, and did not rise till

* This alludes to the claim advanced by the creditors of Constable and Co. to the copyright of Woodstock and the Life of Napoleon.

DIARY—JUNE, 1826.319
nine. I have often deserved a headach in my younger days without having one, and Nature is, I suppose, paying off old scores. Ay, but then the want of the affectionate care that used to be ready, with lowered voice and stealthy pace, to smoothe the pillow and offer condolence and assistance,—gone—gone for ever—ever—ever. Well, there is another world, and we’ll meet free from the mortal sorrows and frailties which beset us here; amen, so be it. Let me change the topic with hand and head, and the heart must follow. I finished four pages to-day, headach, laziness and all.

June 9.—Corrected a stubborn proof this morning. These battles have been the death of many a man—I think they will be mine. Well, but it clears to windward; so we will fag on. Slept well last night. By the way, how intolerably selfish this Journal makes me seem—so much attention to one’s naturals and non-naturals? Lord Mackenzie* called, and we had much chat about parish business. The late regulations for preparing cases in the Outer-House do not work well. One effect of running causes faster through the Courts below is, that they go by scores to appeal, and Lord Gifford has hitherto decided them with such judgment, and so much rapidity, as to give great satisfaction. The consequence will in time be, that the Scottish Supreme Court will be in effect situated in London. Then down fall, as national objects of respect and veneration, the Scottish Bench, the Scottish Bar, the Scottish Law herself, and—and——‘Here is an end of an auld sang.’† Were I as I have been, I would fight knee-deep in blood ere it came to that. I shall always be proud

* The eldest son of the Man of Feeling.

— Speech of Lord Chancellor Seafield on the ratification of the Scotch Union. See Miscellaneous Prose Works, vol. xxv. p. 93.

Malachi as having headed back the Southron, or helped to do so in one instance at least.

June 11.—Bad dreams. Woke, thinking my old and inseparable friend beside me; and it was only when I was fully awake that I could persuade myself that she was dark, low, and distant, and that my bed was widowed. I believe the phenomena of dreaming are in a great measure occasioned by the double touch which takes place when one hand is crossed in sleep upon another. Each gives and receives the impression of touch to and from the other, and this complicated sensation our sleeping fancy ascribes to the agency of another being, when it is in fact produced by our own limbs rolling on each other. Well, here goes—incumbite remis.

June 12.—Finished volume third of Napoleon. I resumed it on the 1st of June, the earliest period that I could bend my mind to it after my great loss. Since that time I have lived, to be sure, the life of a hermit, except attending the Court five days in the week for about three hours on an average. Except at that time I have been reading or writing on the subject of Boney, and have finished last night, and sent to printer this morning the last sheet of fifty-two written since 1st June. It is an awful screed; but grief makes me a housekeeper, and to labour is my only resource.

June 14.—To-day I began with a page and a half before breakfast. This is always the best way. You stand like a child going to be bathed, shivering and shaking till the first pitcherful is flung about your ears, and then are as blythe as a water-wagtail. I am just come home from Court; and now, my friend Nap, have at you with a downright blow! Methinks I would fain
DIARY—JUNE, 1826.321
make peace with my conscience by doing six pages tonight. Bought a little bit of Gruyere cheese, instead of our dame’s choke-dog concern. When did I ever purchase any thing for my own eating? But I will say no more of that. And now to the bread-mill—

June 16.—Yesterday safe in the Court till nearly four. I had, of course, only time for my task. I fear I shall have little more to-day, for I have accepted to dine at Hector’s. I got, yesterday, a present of two engravings from Sir Henry Raeburn’s portrait of me, which (poor fellow!) was the last he ever painted, and certainly not the worst.* I had the pleasure to give one to young Davidoff for his uncle, the celebrated Black Captain of the campaign of 1812. Curious that he should be interested in getting the resemblance of a person whose mode of attaining some distinction has been very different. But I am sensible, that if there be any thing good about my poetry or prose either, it is a hurried frankness of composition which pleases soldiers, sailors, and young people of bold and active disposition. I have been no signer in shades no writer of
‘Songs and sonnets and rustical roundelays,
Framed on fancies, and whistled on reeds.’

Abbotsford, Saturday, June 17.—Left Edinburgh to-day, after Parliament-House. My two girls met me at Torsonce, which was a pleasant surprise, and we returned in the sociable all together. Found every thing right and well at Abbotsford under the new regime. I again took possession of the family bedroom and my widowed couch. This was a sore trial, but it was necessary not to blink such a resolution. Indeed, I do not like

See ante, vol. v. p. 164.

to have it thought that there is any way in which I can be beaten.*

June 19.—This morning wrote till half twelve—good day’s work—at Canongate Chronicles. Methinks I can make this answer. Then drove to Huntly-Burn, and called at Chiefswood. Walked home. The country crying for rain; yet, on the whole, the weather delicious, dry, and warm, with a fine air of wind. The young woods are rising in a kind of profusion I never saw elsewhere. Let me once clear off these encumbrances, and they shall wave broader and deeper yet.

June 21.—For a party of pleasure I have attended to business well. Twenty pages of Croftangry, five printed pages each, attest my diligence, and I have had a delightful variation by the company of the two Annes. Regulated my little expenses here.

Edinburgh, June 22.—Returned to my Patmos. Heard good news from Lockhart. Wife well, and John Hugh better. He mentions poor Southey testifying much interest for me, even to tears. It is odd—am I so hardhearted a man? I could not have wept for him, though in distress I would have gone any length to serve him. I sometimes think I do not deserve people’s good opinion, for certainly my feelings are rather guided by reflection than impulse. But every body has his own mode of expressing interest, and mine is stoical even in bitterest grief. I hope I am not the worse for wanting the tender-

* This entry reminds me of Hannah More’s account of Mrs Garrick’s conduct after her husband’s funeral. “She told me,” says Mrs More, “that she prayed with great composure, then went and kissed the dear bed, and got into it with a sad pleasure.”—See Memoirs of Mrs More, vol. i. p. 135.

DIARY—JUNE, 1826.323
ness that I see others possess, and which is so amiable. I think it does not cool my wish to be of use when I can. But the truth is, I am better at enduring or acting, than at consoling. From childhood’s earliest hour, my heart rebelled against the influence of external circumstances in myself and others—non est tanti! To-day, I was detained in the Court from half-past ten till near four, yet I finished and sent off a packet to
Cadell, which will finish one third of the Chronicles, vol. 1st. Henry Scott came in while I was at dinner, and sat while I eat my beef-steak. A gourmand would think me much at a loss, coming back to my ploughman’s meal of boiled beef and Scotch broth, from the rather récherché table at Abbotsford, but I have no philosophy in my carelessness on that score. It is natural, though I am no ascetic, as my father was.

June 23.—I received to-day L.10 from Blackwood for the article on The Omen. Time was I would not have taken these small tithes of mint and cummin, but scornful dogs will eat dirty puddings, and I, with many depending on me, must do the best I can with my time; God help me.

Blair-Adam, June 24.—Left Edinburgh yesterday after the Court, and came over here with the Lord Chief Baron and William Clerk, to spend as usual a day or two at the Chief-Commissioner’s. His Lordship’s family misfortunes and my own make our holiday this year of a more quiet description than usual, and a sensible degree of melancholy hangs on the re-union of our party. It was wise, however, not to omit it, for to slacken your hold on life in any agreeable point of connexion, is the sooner to reduce yourself to the indifference and passive vegetation of old age.


June 25.—Another melting day; we have lounged away the morning creeping about the place, sitting a great deal, and walking as little as might be on account of the heat. Blair-Adam has been successively in possession of three generations of persons attached to and skilled in the art of embellishment, and may be fairly taken as a place where art and taste have done a great deal to improve nature. A long ridge of varied ground sloping to the foot of Benarty, and which originally was of a bare mossy boggy character, has been clothed by the son, father, and grandfather; while the undulations and hollows, which seventy or eighty years since must have looked only like wrinkles in the black morasses, being now drained and limed, are skirted with deep woods, particularly of spruce, which thrives wonderfully, and covered with excellent grass. We drove in the droskie, and walked in the evening.

June 26.—Another day of unmitigated heat; thermometer 82; must be higher in Edinburgh, where I return to-night, when the decline of the sun makes travelling practicable. It will be well for my works to be there—not quite so well for me; there is a difference between the clever nice arrangement of Blair-Adam and Mrs Brown’s accommodations, though he who is ensured against worse has no right to complain of them. But the studious neatness of poor Charlotte has perhaps made me fastidious. She loved to see things clean, even to Oriental scrupulosity. So oddly do our deep recollections of other kinds correspond with the most petty occurrences of our life. Lord Chief Baron told us a story of the ruling passion strong in death. A Mr * * *, a Master in Chancery, was on his deathbed—a very wealthy man. Some occasion of great urgency occurred in which it was necessary to make an affidavit, and the
DIARY—JUNE, 1826.325
attorney, missing one or two other Masters whom he enquired after, ventured to ask if Mr * * * would be able to receive the deposition. The proposal seemed to give him momentary strength; his clerk was sent for, and the oath taken in due form. The Master was lifted up in bed, and with difficulty subscribed the paper; as he sank down again, he made a signal to his clerk—‘Wallace.’—‘Sir?’—‘Your ear—lower—lower. Have you got the half-crown?’ He was dead before morning.

Edinburgh, June 27.—Returned to Edinburgh late last night, and had a most sweltering night of it. This day also cruel hot. However, I made a task, or nearly so, and read a good deal about the Egyptian expedition. I have also corrected proofs, and prepared for a groat start, by filling myself with facts and ideas.

“June 29.—I walked out for an hour last night, and made one or two calls the evening was delightful—
‘Day its sultry fires had wasted,
Calm and cool the moonbeam rose,
Even a captive’s bosom tasted
Half oblivion of his woes.’
I wonder often how
Tom Campbell, with so much real genius, has not maintained a greater figure in the public eye than he has done of late. The Magazine* seems to have paralyzed him. The author, not only of the Pleasures of Hope, but of Hohenlinden, Lochiel, &c., should have been at the very top of the tree. Somehow he wants audacity, fears the public, and what is worse, fears the shadow of his own reputation. He is a great corrector too, which succeeds as ill in composition as in education. Many a clever boy is flogged into a

* Mr Campbell was then Editor of the New Monthly Magazine, but he soon gave it up.

dunce, and many an original composition corrected into mediocrity. Tom ought to have done a great deal more. His youthful promise was great.
John Leyden introduced me to him. They afterwards quarrelled. When I repeated Hohenlinden to Leyden, he said, ‘Dash it, man, tell the fellow that I hate him, but, dash him, he has written the finest verses that have been published these fifty years.’ I did mine errand as faithfully as one of Homer’s messengers, and had for answer, ‘Tell Leyden that I detest him, but I know the value of his critical approbation.’ This feud was therefore in the way of being taken up. ‘When Leyden comes back from India,’ said Tom Campbell, ‘what cannibals he will have eaten, and what tigers he will have torn to pieces!’

“Gave a poor poetess L.1. Gibson writes me that L.2300 is offered for the poor house; it is worth L.300 more, but I will not oppose my own opinion and convenience to good and well-meant counsel: so farewell, poor No. 39. What a portion of my life has been spent there! It has sheltered me from the prime of life to its decline; and now I must bid good-by to it. I have bid good-by to my poor wife, so long its courteous and kind mistress. And I need not care about the empty rooms; yet it gives me a turn. Never mind; all in the day’s work.

June 30.—Here is another dreadful warm day, fit for nobody but the flies. I was detained in Court till four; dreadfully close, and obliged to drink water for refreshment, which formerly I used to scorn, even in the moors, with a burning August sun, the heat of exercise, and a hundred springs gushing around me. Corrected proofs, &c. on my return.

DIARY—JULY, 1826. 327

Abbotsford, July 2.—I worked a little this morning, then had a long and warm walk. Captain and Mrs Hamilton, from Chiefswood, the present inhabitants of Lockhart’s cottage, dined with us, which made the evening pleasant. He is a fine soldierly-looking man*—his wife a sweet good-humoured little woman. Since we were to lose the Lockharts, we could scarce have had more agreeable neighbours.

“Edinburgh, July 6.—Returned last night, and suffered, as usual, from the incursions of the black horse. Mr B—— C—— writes to condole with me. I think our acquaintance scarce warranted this; but it is well meant, and modestly done. I cannot conceive the idea of forcing myself on strangers in distress, and I have half a mind to turn sharp round on some of my consolers.

July 8.—Wrote a good task this morning. I may be mistaken; but I do think the tale of Elspat M’Tavish† in my bettermost manner—but J. B. roars for chivalry. He does not quite understand that every thing may be overdone in this world, or sufficiently estimate the necessity of novelty. The Highlanders have been off the field now for some time. Returning from the Court, looked into a fine show of wild beasts, and saw Nero the great lion, whom they had the brutal cruelty to bait with bull-dogs, against whom the noble creature disdained to exert his strength. He was lying like a prince in a large cage, where you might be admitted if you wish. I had a month’s mind—but was afraid of the newspapers. I could be afraid of nothing else, for never did a creature

* Thomas Hamilton, Esq.—the author of Cyril ThorntonMen and Manners in AmericaAnnals of the Peninsular Campaigns, &c. &c.

The Highland Widow.

seem more gentle and yet majestic. I longed to caress him. Wallace, the other Lion, born in Scotland, seemed much less trustworthy. He handled the dogs as his namesake did the southron.

July 10.—Dined with John Swinton en famille: He told me an odd circumstance. Coming from Berwickshire in the mail-coach, he met with a passenger who seemed more like a military man than any thing else. They talked on all sorts of subjects, at length on politics. Malachi’s letters were mentioned, when the stranger observed they were much more seditious than some expressions for which he had three or four years ago been nearly sent to Botany Bay. And perceiving John Swinton’s surprise at this avowal, he added, I am Kinloch of Kinloch. This gentleman had got engaged in the Radical business (the only real gentleman by the way who did), and harangued the weavers of Dundee with such emphasis, that he would have been tried and sent to Botany Bay, had he not fled abroad. He was outlawed, and only restored to his estates on a composition with Government. It seems to have escaped Mr Kinloch, that the man who places a lighted coal in the middle of combustibles and upon the floor, acts a little differently from him who places the same quantity of burning fuel in a fire grate.

July 13.—Dined yesterday with Lord Abercromby at a party he gave to Lord Melville and some old friends, who formed the Contemporary Club. Lord M. and I met with considerable feeling on both sides, and all our feuds were forgotten and forgiven; I conclude so at least, because one or two people, whom I know to be sharp observers of the weather-glass on occasion of such squalls, have been earnest with me to meet him at parties
DIARY—JULY, 1826.329
—which I am well assured they would not have been (had I been
Horace come to life again) were they not sure the breeze was over. For myself, I am happy that our usual state of friendship should be restored, though I could not have come down proud stomach to make advances, which is, among friends, always the duty of the richer and more powerful of the two. To-day I leave Mrs Brown’s lodgings. I have done a monstrous sight of work here notwithstanding the indolence of this last week, which must and shall be amended.

‘So good-by, Mrs Brown,
I am going out of town,
Over dale, over down,
Where bugs bite not,
Where lodgers fight not,
Where below you chairmen drink not,
Where beside you gutters stink not;
But all is fresh, and clear, and gay,
And merry lambkins sport and play;
And they toss with rakes uncommonly short hay,
Which looks as if it had been sown only the other day,
And where oats are at twenty-five shillings a-boll, they say,
But all’s one for that, since I must and will away.

July 14.—Abbotsford. Any body would think, from the fal-de-ral conclusion of my journal of yesterday, that I left town in a very gay humour—cujus contrarium verum est. But nature has given me a kind of buoyancy, I know not what to call it, that mingled even with my deepest afflictions and most gloomy hours. I have a secret pride—I fancy it will be so most truly termed, which impels me to mix with my distresses strange snatches of mirth ‘which have no mirth in them.’

July 16.—Sleepy, stupid, indolent—finished arranging the books, and after that was totally useless—unless it can be called study that I slumbered for three or four
hours over a variorum edition of the Gill’s Hill tragedy.* Admirable escape for low spirits—for, not to mention the brutality of so extraordinary a murder, it led John Bull into one of his most uncommon fits of gambols, until at last he became so maudlin as to weep for the pitiless assassin,
Thurtell, and treasure up the leaves and twigs of the hedge and shrubs in the fatal garden as valuable relics, nay, thronged the minor theatres to see the roan horse and yellow gig in which his victim was transported from one house to the other. I have not stept over the threshold to-day, so very stupid have I been.

July 17.—Desidiæ tandem valedixi.—Our time is like our money. When we change a guinea, the shillings escape as things of small account; when we break a day by idleness in the morning, the rest of the hours lose their importance in our eye. I set stoutly about seven this morning to Boney
And long ere dinner time, I have
Full eight close pages wrote;
What, Duty, hast thou now to crave?
Well done Sir Walter Scott!

July 21.—To Mertoun. Lord and Lady Minto and several other guests were there, besides their own large family. So my lodging was a little room which I had not occupied since I was a bachelor, but often before in my frequent intercourse with this kind and

* The murder of Weare by Thurtell and Co. at Gill’s-Hill, in Hertfordshire. Sir Walter collected printed trials with great assiduity, and took care always to have the contemporary ballads and prints bound up with them. He admired particularly this verse of Mr Hook’s broadside—
“They cut his throat from ear to ear,
His brains they battered in;
His name was Mr William Weare,
He dwelt in Lyon’s Inn.”

DIARY—JULY, 1826.331
hospitable family. Feeling myself returned to that celibacy which renders many accommodations indifferent which but lately were indispensable, my imagination drew a melancholy contrast between the young man entering the world on fire for fame, and busied in imagining means of coming by it, and the aged widower, blazé on the point of literary reputation, deprived of the social comforts of a married state, and looking back to regret instead of looking forward to hope. This brought bad sleep and unpleasing dreams. But if I cannot hope to be what I have been, I will not, if I can help it, suffer vain repining to make me worse than I may be. We left Mertoun after breakfast, and the two Annes and I visited
Lady Raeburn at Lessudden. My aunt is now in her ninetieth year so clean, so nice, so well arranged in every respect, that it makes old age lovely. She talks both of late and former events with perfect possession of her faculties, and has only failed in her limbs. A great deal of kind feeling has survived, in spite of the frost of years. Home to dinner and worked all the afternoon among the Moniteurs to little purpose, for my principal acquisition was a headach.

“July 24.—At dinner-time to-day came Dr Jamieson* of the Scottish Dictionary, an excellent good man, and full of auld Scottish cracks, which amuse me well enough, but are caviare to the young people.

July 26.—This day went to Selkirk, to hold a court. The Doctor chose to go with me. Action and reaction—Scots proverb—‘The unrest (i.e. pendulum) of a clock gangs aye as far the ae gait as the t’other.’

* The venerable lexicographer often had lodgings near Abbotsford in the angling season, being still very fond of that sport.


July 27.—Up and at it this morning, and finished four pages. An unpleasant letter from London, as if I might be troubled by some of the creditors there, if I should go up to get materials for Nap. I have no wish to go—none at all. I would even like to put off my visit, so far as John Lockhart and my daughter are concerned, and see them when the meeting could be more pleasant. But then, having an offer to see the correspondence from St Helena, I can make no doubt that I ought to go. However, if it is to infer any danger to my personal freedom, English wind shall not blow on me. It is monstrous hard to prevent me doing what is certainly the best for all parties.

July 28.—I am wellnigh choked with the sulphurous heat of the weather—and my hand is as nervous as a paralytic’s. Read through and corrected Saint Ronan’s Well. I am no judge, but I think the language of this piece rather good. Then I must allow the fashionable portraits are not the true thing. I am too much out of the way. The story is horribly contorted and unnatural, and the catastrophe is melancholy, which should always be avoided. No matter, I have corrected it for the press.* Walter’s account of his various quarters per last despatch. Query if original.

‘Loughrin is a blackguard place,
To Gort I give my curse;
Athlone itself is bad enough,
But Ballinrobe is worse.”
I cannot tell which is the worst,
They’re all so very bad,
But of all towns I ever saw,
Bad luck to Kinnegad.’

* This Novel, was passing through the press in 8vo, 12mo, and 18mo, to complete collective editions in these sizes.

DIARY—AUGUST, 1826. 333

August 1.—Yesterday evening I took to arranging old plays, and scrambled through two. One, called Michaelmas Term, full of traits of manners; and another a sort of bouncing tragedy, called the Hector of Germany, or the Palsgrave. The last, worthless in the extreme, is like many of the plays in the beginning of the 17th century, written to a good tune. The dramatic poets of that time seem to have possessed as joint-stock a highly poetical and abstract tone of language, so that the worst of them remind you of the very best. The audience must have had a much stronger sense of poetry in those days than in ours, since language was received and applauded at the Fortune or the Red Bull, which could not now be understood by any general audience in Great Britain. Now to work.

August 2.—I finished before dinner five leaves, and I would crow a little about it, but here comes Duty like an old housekeeper to an idle chambermaid. Hear her very words.

Duty. Oh! you crow, do you? Pray, can you deny that your sitting so quiet at work was owing to its raining heavily all the forenoon, and indeed till dinner-time, so that nothing would have stirred out that could help it save a duck or a goose? I trow, if it had been a fine day, by noon there would have been aching of the head, throbbing, shaking, and so forth, to make an apology for going out.

Egomet Ipse. And whose head ever throbbed to go out when it rained, Mrs Duty?

Duty. Answer not to me with a fool-born jest, as your friend Erskine used to say to you when you escaped from his good advice under the fire of some silly pun. You smoke a cigar after dinner, and I never check you—drink tea, too, which is loss of time; and then, in-
stead of writing me one other page, or correcting those you have written out, you rollock into the woods till you have not a dry thread about you; and here you sit writing down my words in your foolish journal instead of minding my advice.

Ego. Why, Mrs Duty, I would as gladly be friends with you as Crabbe’s tradesman fellow with his conscience;* but you should have some consideration with human frailty.

Duty. Reckon not on that. But, however, good night for the present. I would recommend to you to think no thoughts in which I am not mingled—to read no books in which I have no concern—to write three sheets of botheration all the six days of the week per diem, and on the seventh to send them to the printer. Thus advising, I heartily bid you farewell.

Ego. Farewell, madam (exit Duty)———and be d—d to ye for an unreasonable bitch! ‘The devil must be in this greedy gled!’ as the Earl of Angus said to his hawk; ‘will she never be satisfied?’†

August 3.—Wrote half a task in the morning. From eleven till half-past eight in Selkirk taking precognitions about a row, and came home famished and tired. Now, Mrs Duty, do you think there is no other Duty of the family but yourself? Or can the Sheriff-depute neglect his Duty, that the author may mind his? The thing cannot be; the people of Selkirk must have justice as well as the people of England books. So the two Duties may go pull caps about it. My conscience is clear.

* See Crabbe’s Tale of “The Struggles of Conscience.”

† See Tales of a Grandfather, Miscellaneous Prose Works, vol. xiii. p. 72.

DIARY—AUGUST, 1826. 335

August 6.—Wrote to-day a very good day’s work. Walked to Chiefswood, and saw old Mrs Tytler, a friend when life was young. Her husband, Lord Woodhouselee, was a kind, amiable, and accomplished man; and when we lived at Lasswade Cottage, soon after my marriage, we saw a great deal of the family, who were very kind to us as newly entered on the world. How many early stories did the old lady’s presence recall. She might almost be my mother; yet there we sat, like two people of another generation, talking of things and people the rest knew nothing of. When a certain period of life is over, the difference of years, even when considerable, becomes of much less consequence.

August 10.—Rose early, and wrote hard till two, when I went with Anne to Minto. I must not let her quite forego the custom of good society. We found the Scotts of Harden, &c., and had a very pleasant party. I like Lady M. particularly, but missed my facetious and lively friend, Lady Anna Maria. It is the fashion of some silly women and silly men to abuse her as a bluestocking. If to have good sense and good-humour, mixed with a strong power of observing, and an equally strong one of expressing—if of this the result must be blue, she shall be as blue as they will. Such cant is the refuge of fools who fear those who can turn them into ridicule: it is a common trick to revenge supposed raillery with good substantial calumny. Slept at Minto.

August 11.—I was up as usual, and wrote about two leaves, meaning to finish my task at home; but found my Sheriff-substitute here on my return, which took up the evening. But I shall finish the volume in less than a month after beginning it. The same exer-
tion would bring the book out at Martinmas, but December is a better time.

August 14.—Finished Vol. IV. yesterday evening—Deo gratias. This morning I was seized with a fit of the clevers and finished my task by twelve o’clock, and hope to add something in the evening. I was guilty, however, of some waywardness, for I began Vol. V. of Boney instead of carrying on the Canongate as I proposed. The reason, however, was that I might not forget the information I had acquired about the treaty of Amiens.

August 16.—Walter and Jane arrived last night. God be praised for restoring to me my dear children in good health, which has made me happier than any thing that has happened these several months. If we had Lockhart and Sophia there would be a meeting of the beings dearest to me in life. Walked to —— ——, where I find a certain lady on a visit—so youthy, so beautiful, so strong in voice—with sense and learning—above all, so fond of good conversation, that, in compassion to my eyes, ears, and understanding, off I bolted in the middle of a tremendous shower of rain, and rather chose to be wet to the skin than to be bethumped with words at that rate. In the evening we had music from the girls, and the voice of the harp and viol were heard in my halls once more, which have been so long deprived of mirth. It is with a mixed sensation I hear these sounds. I look on my children and am happy; and yet every now and then a pang shoots across my heart.

August 19.—This morning wrote none excepting extracts, &c., being under the necessity of reading and collating a great deal, which lasted till one o’clock or
DIARY—AUGUST, 1826.337
thereabouts, when
Dr and Mrs Brewster and their young people came to spend a day of happiness at the Lake. We were met there by Captain and Mrs Hamilton, and a full party. Since the days of Seged, Emperor of Ethiopia, these days of appointed sport and happiness have seldom answered; but we came off indifferently well. We did not indeed catch much fish; but we lounged about in a delightful day, eat and drank—and the children, who are very fine infantry, were clamorously enjoying themselves. We sounded the loch in two or three different places—the deepest may be sixty feet. I was accustomed to think it much more, but your deepest pools, like your deepest politicians and philosophers, often turn out more shallow than was expected.

August 23, Bittock’s-bridge.—Set off early with Walter, Charles, and ladies, in the sociable, to make a trip to Drumlanrig. We breakfasted at Mr Boyd’s, Broadmeadows, and were received with Yarrow hospitality. From thence climbed the Yarrow, and skirted Saint Mary’s Lake, and ascended the Birkhill path, under the moist and misty influence of the genius loci. Never mind, my companions were merry and I cheerful. When old people can be with the young without fatiguing them or themselves, their tempers derive the same benefits which some fantastic physicians of old supposed accrued to their constitutions from the breath of the young and healthy. You have not cannot again have their gaiety or pleasure in seeing sights, but still it reflects itself upon you, and you are cheered and comforted. Our luncheon eaten in the herd’s cottage; but the poor woman saddened me unawares, by asking for poor Charlotte, whom she had often seen there with me. She put me in mind that I had come twice over those hills and bogs with a wheel-carriage, before the road, now
an excellent one, was made. I knew it was true, but, on my soul, looking where we must have gone, I could hardly believe I had been such a fool. For riding, pass if you will; but to put one’s neck in such a venture with a wheel-carriage was too silly.

Drumlanrig, August 24.—What visions does not this magnificent old house bring back to me! The exterior is much improved since I first knew it. It was then in the state of dilapidation to which it had been abandoned by the celebrated old Q——, and was indeed scarce wind and water tight. Then the whole wood had been felled, and the outraged castle stood in the midst of waste and desolation, excepting a few scattered old stumps, not judged worth the cutting. Now, the whole has been, ten or twelve years since, completely replanted, and the scattered seniors look as graceful as fathers surrounded by their children. The face of this immense estate has been scarcely less wonderfully changed. The scrambling tenants, who held a precarious tenure of lease under the Duke of Queensberry, at the risk (as actually took place) of losing their possession at his death, have given room to skilful men, working their farms regularly, and enjoying comfortable houses, at a rent which is enough to forbid idleness, but not to overpower industry.

August 25.—The Duke has grown up into a graceful and apparently strong young man, and received us most kindly. I think he will be well qualified to sustain his difficult and important task. The heart is excellent, so are the talents, good sense and knowledge of the world, picked up at one of the great English schools (and it is one of their most important results), will prevent him from being deceived; and with perfect good-nature, he has a natural sense of his own
DIARY—AUGUST, 1826.339
situation which will keep him from associating with unworthy companions. God bless him! his
father and I loved each other well, and his beautiful mother had as much of the angel as is permitted to walk this earth. I see the balcony from which they welcomed poor Charlotte and me, long ere the ascent was surmounted, streaming out their white handkerchiefs from the battlements. There were four merry people that day—now one sad individual is all that remains. Singula præduntur anni. I had a long walk to-day through the new plantations, the Duchess’s Walk by the Nith, &c. (formed by Prior’sKitty young and gay’); fell in with the ladies, but their donkies outwalked me—a flock of sheep afterwards outwalked me, and I began to think, on my conscience, that a snail put in training might soon outwalk me. I must lay the old salve to the old sore, and be thankful for being able to walk at all. Nothing was written to-day, my writing-desk having been forgot at Parkgate, but Tom Crichton fetched it up to-day, so something more or less may be done to-morrow morning and now to dress.

Bittock’s-bridge, August 26.—We took our departure from the friendly halls of Drumlanrig this morning, after breakfast. I trust this young nobleman will be
‘A hedge about his friends,
A hackle to his foes.’
I would have him not quite so soft-natured as his grandfather, whose kindness sometimes mastered his excellent understanding. His father had a temper which better jumped with my humour. Enough of ill-nature to keep your good-nature from being abused, is no bad ingredient in their disposition who have favours to bestow.

“In coming from Parkgate here I intended to accomplish a purpose which I have for some years entertained,
of visiting Lochwood, the ancient seat of the Johnstones, of which
King James said, when he visited it, that the man who built it must have been a thief in his heart. It rained heavily, however, which prevented my making this excursion, and indeed I rather over-walked myself yesterday, and have occasion for rest.
‘So sit down, Robin, and rest thee.’

Abbotsford, August 27.—To-day we journeyed through the hills and amongst the storms; the weather rather bullying than bad. We viewed the Grey Mare’s Tail, and I still felt confident in crawling along the ghastly bank, by which you approach the fall. I will certainly get some road of application to Mr Hope Johnstone to pray him to make the place accessible. We got home before half-past four, having travelled forty miles.

Blair-Adam, August 28.—Set off with Walter and Jane at seven o’clock, and reached this place in the middle of dinner-time. By some of my not unusual blunders we had come a day before we were expected. Luckily, in this ceremonious generation, there are still houses where such blunders only cause a little raillery, and Blair-Adam is one of them. My excellent friend is in high health and spirits, to which the presence of Sir Frederick adds not a little. His lady is here—a beautiful woman, whose countenance realizes all the poetic dreams of Byron. There is certainly something of full maturity of beauty which seems framed to be adoring and adored, and it is to be found in the full dark eye, luxuriant tresses, and rich complexion of Greece, and not among ‘the pale unripened beauties of the north.’ What sort of a mind this exquisite casket may contain, is not so easily known.
DIARY—AUGUST, 1826.341
She is anxious to please, and willing to be pleased, and, with her striking beauty, cannot fail to succeed.

August 29.—Besides Mrs and Admiral Adam, Mrs Loch, and Miss Adam, I find here Mr Impey, son of that Sir Elijah celebrated in Indian history. He has himself been in India, but has, with a great deal of sense and observation, much better address than always falls to the share of the Eastern adventurer. The art of quiet, easy, entertaining conversation is, I think, chiefly known in England. In Scotland we are pedantic and wrangle, or we run away with the harrows on some topic we chance to be discursive upon. In Ireland they have too much vivacity, and are too desirous to make a show, to preserve the golden mean. They are the Gascons of Britain. George Ellis was the first converser I ever knew; his patience and good-breeding made me often ashamed of myself going off at score upon some favourite topic. Richard Sharp is so celebrated for this peculiar gift as to be generally called Conversation Sharp. The worst of this talent is, that it seems to lack sincerity. You never know what are the real sentiments of a good converser, or at least it is very difficult to discover in what extent he entertains them. His politeness is inconsistent with energy. For forming a good converser, good taste and extensive information and accomplishment are the principal requisites, to which must be added an easy and elegant delivery, and a well-toned voice. I think the higher order of genius is not favourable to this talent.

“Thorough decided downfall of rain. Nothing for it but patience and proof-sheets.

August 30.—The weather scarce permitted us more license than yesterday, yet we went down to Lochore, and Walter and I perambulated the property, and dis-
cussed the necessity of a new road from the south-west, also that of planting some willows along the ditches in the low grounds. Returned to Blair-Adam to dinner.

“Abbotsford, August 31.—Left Blair at seven in the morning. Transacted business with Cadell and Ballantyne. Arrived here at eight o’clock at night.

September 6.—Walter being to return to Ireland for three weeks, set off to-day, and has taken Charles with him. I fear this is but a wild plan, but the prospect seemed to make them so happy, that I could not find in my heart to say ‘No.’ So away they went this morning to be as happy as they can. Youth is a fine carver and gilder. I had a letter from Jem Ballantyne, plague on him! full of remonstrance deep and solemn, upon the carelessness of Buonaparte. The rogue is right, too. But, as to correcting my style, to the
‘Jemmy jemmy linkum feedle’
tune of what is called fine writing, I’ll be d——d if I do. Drew L.12 in favour of Charles for his Irish jaunt; same time exhorted him to make himself as expensive to
Walter, in the way of eating and drinking, as he could.

September 8.—Sir Frederick Adam deeply regrets the present Greek war, as prematurely undertaken before knowledge and rational education had extended themselves sufficiently. The neighbourhood of the Ionian Islands was fast producing civilisation; and as knowledge is power, it is clear that example and opportunities of education must soon have given them an immense superiority over the Turk. This premature war has thrown all back into a state of barbarism. It was, I cannot doubt, precipitated by the agents of Russia. Sir Frederick spoke most highly of Byron, the soundness of his views,
the respect in which he was held—his just ideas of the Grecian cause and character, and the practical and rational wishes he formed for them. Singular that a man whose conduct in his own personal affairs had been any thing but practical should be thus able to stand by the helm of a sinking state! Sir Frederick thinks he might have done much for them if he had lived. The rantipole friends of liberty, who go about freeing nations with the same success which Don Quixote had in redressing wrongs, have, of course, blundered every thing which they touched. Task bang-up.

September 12.—I begin to fear Nap. will swell to seven volumes. I had a long letter from James B., threatening me with eight; but that is impossible. The event of his becoming Emperor is the central point of his history. Now I have just attained it, and it is the centre of the third volume. Two volumes and a half may be necessary to complete the whole.—As I slept for a few minutes in my chair, to which I am more addicted than I could wish, I heard, as I thought, my poor wife call me by the familiar name of fondness which she gave me. My recollections on waking were melancholy enough. These be
‘The airy tongues that syllabic men’s names.’
All, I believe, have some natural desire to consider these unusual impressions as bodements of good or evil to come. But alas! this is a prejudice of our own conceit. They are the empty echoes of what is past, not the foreboding voice of things to come.

September 13.—Wrote my task in the morning, and thereafter had a letter from that sage Privy-counsellor ——. He proposes to me that I shall propose to the —— of ——, and offers his own right honourable inter-
vention to bring so beautiful a business to bear. I am struck dumb—absolutely mute and speechless—and how to prevent him making me farther a fool is not easy, for he has left me no time to assure him of the absurdity of what he proposes; and if he should ever hint at such a piece of d—d impertinence, what must the lady think of my conceit or of my feelings! I will write to his present quarters, however, that he may, if possible, have warning not to continue this absurdity.*

September 14.—I should not have forgotten, among the memorabilia of yesterday, that two young Frenchmen made their way to our sublime presence, in guerdon of a laudatory copy of French verses sent up the evening before, by way of ‘Open Sesamum,’ I suppose. I have not read them, nor shall I. No man that ever wrote a line despised the pap of praise so heartily as I do. There is nothing I scorn more, except those who think the ordinary sort of praise or censure is matter of the least consequence. People have almost always some private view of distinguishing themselves, or of gratifying their animosity—some point, in short, to carry, with which you have no relation—when they take the trouble to praise you. In general, it is their purpose to get the person praised to puff away in return. To me their rank praises no more make amends for their bad poetry than tainted butter would pass off stale fish.

September 17.—Rather surprised with a letter from

* Lady Scott had not been quite four months dead, and the entry of the preceding day shows how extremely ill-timed was this communication, from a gentleman with whom Sir Walter had never had any intimacy. This was not the only proposition of the kind that reached him during his widowhood. In the present case there was very high rank and an ample fortune.

Lord Melville, informing me he and Mr Peel had put me into the Commission for enquiring into the condition of the Colleges in Scotland. I know little on the subject, but I dare say as much as some of the official persons who are inserted of course. The want of efficient men is the reason alleged. I must of course do my best, though I have little hope of being useful, and the time it will occupy is half ruinous to me, to whom time is every thing. Besides, I suppose the honour is partly meant as an act of grace for Malachi.

Jedburgh, September 19.—Circuit. Went to poor Mr Shortreed’s and regretted bitterly the distress of the family, though they endeavoured to bear it bravely and to make my reception as comfortable and cheerful as possible. My old friend R. S. gave me a ring found in a grave at the Abbey, to be kept in memory of his son. I will certainly preserve it with especial care.*

“Many trifles at circuit, chiefly owing to the cheap whisky, as they were almost all riots. One case of an assault on a deaf and dumb woman. She was herself the chief evidence; but being totally without education, and having, from her situation, very imperfect notions of a Deity and a future state, no oath could be administered. Mr Kinniburgh, teacher of the deaf and dumb, was sworn interpreter, together with another person her neighbour, who knew the accidental or conventional signs which the poor thing had invented for herself, as Mr K. was supposed to understand the more general or natural signs common to people in such a situation. He went through the task with much address, and it was wonderful to see them make themselves

Mr Thomas Shortreed, a young gentleman of elegant taste and attainments, devotedly attached to Sir Walter, and much beloved in return, had recently died.

intelligible to each other by mere pantomime. Still I did not consider such evidence as much to be trusted to on a criminal case. Several previous interviews had been necessary between the interpreter and the witness, and this is very much like getting up a story. Some of the signs, brief in themselves, of which Mr K. gave long interpretations, put me in mind of Lord Burleigh in
the Critic. ‘Did he mean all this by a shake of the head?’ ‘Yes, if he shook his head as I taught him.’ The man was found not guilty. Mr K. told us of a pupil of his whom he restored, as it may be said, to humanity, and who told him that his ideas of another world were that some great person in the skies lighted up the sun in the morning as he saw his mother light a fire, and the stars in the evening as she kindled a lamp. He said the witness had ideas of truth and falsehood, which was, I believe, true; and that she had an idea of punishment in a future state, which I doubt. He confessed she could not give any guess at its duration, whether temporary or eternal. Dined of course with Lord Mackenzie the Judge.

September 20.—Waked after a restless night, in which I dreamed of poor Tom Shortreed. Breakfasted with the Rev. Dr Somerville. This venerable gentleman is one of the oldest of the literary brotherhood,—I suppose about eighty-seven,* and except a little deafness, quite entire. Living all his life in good society as a gentleman born—and having, besides, professional calls to make among the poor—he must know, of course, much that is curious concerning the momentous changes which have

* The Rev. Dr Thomas Sommerville, minister of Jedburgh, author of the “History of Great Britain during the reign of Queen Anne,” and other works, died 14th May, 1830, in the 90th year of his age, and 64th of his ministry.

passed under his eyes. He talked of them accordingly, and has written something on the subject, but has scarce the force necessary to seize on the most striking points. The bowl that rolls easiest along the green goes farthest, and has least clay sticking to it. I have often noticed that a kindly, placid good-humour is the companion of longevity, and, I suspect, frequently the leading cause of it. Quick, keen, sharp observation, with the power of contrast and illustration, disturbs this easy current of thought. My good friend, the venerable Doctor, will not, I think, die of that disease.

September 23.—Wrought in the morning, but only at reading and proofs. That cursed battle of Jena is like to cost me more time than it did Buonaparte to gain it. I met Colonel Ferguson about one, to see his dogs run. It is a sport I have loved well, but now, I know not why, I find it little interesting. To be sure I used to gallop, and that I cannot now do. We had good sport, however, and killed five hares. I felt excited during the chase, but the feeling was but momentary. My mind was immediately turned to other remembrances, and to pondering upon the change which had taken place in my own feelings. The day was positively heavenly, and the wild hill-side, with our little coursing party, was beautiful to look at. Yet I felt like a man come from the dead looking with indifference on that which interested him while living. We dined at Huntly-Burn. Kind and comfortable as usual.

September 24.—I made a rally to-day and wrote four pages or nearly. Never stirred abroad the whole day, but was made happy after dinner by the return of Charles, full of his Irish jaunt, and happy as young men are with the change of scene. To-morrow I must go to Melville
Castle. I wonder what I can do or say about these Universities. One thing occurs—the distribution of bursaries only ex meritis. That is, I would have the presentations continue in the present patrons, but exact that those presented should be qualified by success in their literary attainments and distinction acquired at school to hold those scholarships. This seems to be following out the idea of the founders, who, doubtless, intended the furthering of good literature. To give education to dull mediocrity is a flinging of the children’s bread to dogs—it is sharping a hatchet on a razor-strop, which renders the strop useless, and does no good to the hatchet. Well, something we will do.

Melville Castle, September 25.—Found Lord and Lady M. in great distress. Their son Robert is taken ill at a Russian town about 350 miles from Moscow—dangerously ill. The distance increases the extreme distress of the parents, who, however, bore it like themselves. I was glad to spend a day upon the old terms with such old friends, and believe my being with them, even in this moment of painful suspense, as it did not diminish the kindness of my reception, might rather tend to divert them from the cruel subject. Dr Nicoll, Principal of St Andrews, dined—a very gentlemanlike sensible man. We spoke of the visitation, of granting degrees, of public examinations, of abolishing the election of professors by the Senatus Academicus (a most pregnant source of jobs), and much beside—but all desultory. I go back to Abbotsford to-morrow morning.

Abbotsford, September 29.—A sort of zeal of working has seized me, which I must avail myself of. No dejection of mind, and no tremor of nerves, for which God be humbly thanked. My spirits are neither low
nor high—grave, I think, and quiet—a complete twilight of the mind. I wrote five pages, nearly a double task, yet wandered for three hours, axe in hand, superintending the thinning of the home planting. That does good too. I feel it give steadiness to my mind. Women, it is said, go mad much seldomer than men. I fancy, if this be true, it is in some degree owing to the little manual works in which they are constantly employed, which regulate in some degree the current of ideas, as the pendulum regulates the motion of the time-piece. I do not know if this is sense or nonsense, but I am sensible that if I were in solitary confinement, without either the power of taking exercise or employing myself in study, six months would make me a madman or an idiot.

October 3.—I wrote my task as usual, but, strange to tell, there is a want of paper. I expect some to-day. In the mean-time, to avoid all quarrel with Dame Duty, I cut up some other leaves into the usual statutory size. They say of a fowl that if you draw a chalk line on a table, and lay chick-a-diddle down with his bill upon it, the poor thing will imagine himself opposed by an insurmountable barrier, which he will not attempt to cross. Such like are one-half of the obstacles which serve to interrupt our best resolves, and such is my pretended want of paper. It is like Sterne’s want of sous, when he went to relieve the Pauvre Honteux.

October 5.—I was thinking this morning that my time glided away in a singularly monotonous manner, like one of those dark grey days which neither promise sunshine nor threaten rain; too melancholy for enjoyment, too tranquil for repining. But this day has brought a change which somewhat shakes my philo-
sophy. I find, by a letter from
J. Gibson, that I may go to London without danger, and if I may, I in a manner must, to examine the papers in the Secretary of State’s office about Buonaparte when at St Helena. The opportunity having been offered must be accepted, and yet I had much rather stay at home. Even the prospect of seeing Sophia and Lockhart must be mingled with pain, yet this is foolish too. Lady Hamilton* writes me that Pozzo di Borgo, the Russian Minister at Paris, is willing to communicate to me some particulars of Buonaparte’s early life. Query might I not go on there? In for a penny, in for a pound. I intend to take Anne with me, and the pleasure will be great to her, who deserves much at my hand.

October 9.—A gracious letter from Messrs Abud and Son, bill-brokers, &c.; assure my trustees that they will institute no legal proceedings against me for four or five weeks. And so I am permitted to spend my money and my time to improve the means of paying them their debts, for that is the only use of this journey. They are Jews; I suppose the devil baits for Jews with a pork griskin. Were I not to exert myself, I wonder where their money is to come from.

October 10.—I must prepare for going to London, and perhaps to Paris. I have great unwillingness to set out on this journey; I almost think it ominous; but
‘They that look to freits, my master dear,
Their freits will follow them.’
I am down-hearted about leaving all my things, after I

* Now Lady Jane Hamilton Dalrymple—the eldest daughter of the illustrious Admiral Lord Duncan. Her Ladyship’s kindness procured several valuable communications to the author of the Life of Buonaparte.

was quietly settled; it is a kind of disrooting that recalls a thousand painful ideas of former happier journeys. And to be at the mercy of these fellows—God help—but rather God bless—man must help himself.

October 11.—We are ingenious self-tormentors. This journey annoys me more than any thing of the kind in my life. My wife’s figure seems to stand before me, and her voice is in my ears—‘Scott, do not go.’ It half frightens me. Strange throbbing at my heart, and a disposition to be very sick. It is just the effect of so many feelings which had been lulled asleep by the uniformity of my life, but which awaken on any new subject of agitation. Poor, poor Charlotte!! I cannot daub it farther. I get incapable of arranging my papers too. I will go out for half an hour. God relieve me!”