LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, Bart.
Chapter VIII 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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Sir Walter’s Diary begins to be clouded with a darker species of distress than mere loss of wealth could bring to his spirit. His darling grandson is sinking apace at Brighton. The misfortunes against which his manhood struggled with stern energy were encountered by his affectionate wife under the disadvantages of enfeebled health; and it seems but too evident that mental pain and mortification had a great share in hurrying her ailments to a fatal end.

Nevertheless, all his afflictions do not seem to have interrupted for more than a day or two his usual course of labour. With rare exceptions he appears, all through this trying period, to have finished his daily task thirty printed pages of Woodstock, until that novel was completed; or, if he paused in it, he gave a similar space of time to some minor production; such as his paper on Galt’s Omen for Blackwood’s Magazine—or his very valuable one on the Life of Kemble for the Quarterly Review. And hardly had Woodstock been finished before he began the Chronicles of the Canongate. He also corresponded much as usual (notwithstanding all he
says about indolence on that score) with his absent friends; and I need scarcely add that his duties as Sheriff claimed many hours every week. The picture of resolution and industry which this portion of his Journal presents is certainly as remarkable as the boldest imagination could have conceived.

Before I open the Diary again, however, I may as well place in what an ingenious contemporary novelist calls an “Inter-Chapter” three letters connected with the affair of Malachi Malagrowther. The first was addressed to the late Sir Robert Dundas (his colleague at the Clerk’s Table), on receiving through him the assurance that Lord Melville, however strong in his dissent from Malachi’s views on the Currency Question, had not allowed that matter to interrupt his affectionate regard for the author. The others will speak for themselves.

To Sir Robert Dundas of Dunira, Bart., Heriot Row, Edinburgh.
“My dear Sir Robert,

“I had your letter to-day, and am much interested and affected by its contents. Whatever Lord Melville’s sentiments had been towards me, I could never have lost remembrance of the very early friend with whom I carried my satchel to school, and whose regard I had always considered as one of the happiest circumstances of my life. I remain of the same opinion respecting the Letters which have occasioned so much more notice than they would have deserved, had there not been a very general feeling in this country, and among Lord Melville’s best friends too, authorizing some public remonstrances of the kind from some one like myself, who had nothing to win or to lose—or rather who hazarded losing a great deal in the good opinion of
friends whom he was accustomed not to value only, but to reverence. As to my friend
Croker, an adventurer like myself, I would throw my hat into the ring for love, and give him a bellyful. But I do not feel there is any call on me to do so, as I could not do it without entering into particulars, which I have avoided. If I had said, which I might have done, that, in a recent case, a gentleman, holding an office under the Great Seal of Scotland, was referred to the English Crown Counsel—who gave their opinion—on which opinion the Secretary was prepared to act—that he was forcibly to be pushed from his situation, because he was, from age and malady, not adequate to its duties; and that by a process of English law, the very name of which was unknown to us, I would I think have made a strong case. But I care not to enter into statements to the public, the indirect consequence of which might be painful to some of our friends. I only venture to hope on that subject, that, suffering Malachi to go as a misrepresenter, or calumniator, or what they will, some attention may be paid that such grounds for calumny and misrepresentation shall not exist in future—I am contented to be the scape-goat. I remember the late Lord Melville defending, in a manner that defied refutation, the Scots laws against sedition, and I have lived to see these repealed, by what our friend Baron Hume calls ‘a bill for the better encouragement of sedition and treason.’ It will last my day probably; at least I shall be too old to be shot, and have only the honourable chance of being hanged for incivisme. The whole burgher class of Scotland are gradually preparing for radical reform—I mean the middling and respectable classes; and when a burgh reform comes, which perhaps cannot long be delayed, Ministers will not return a member for Scotland from the towns. The gentry will abide longer by sound
principles; for they are needy, and desire advancement for their sons, and appointments, and so on. But this is a very hollow dependence, and those who sincerely hold ancient opinions are waxing old.

“Differing so much as we do on this head, and holding my own opinion as I would do a point of religious faith, I am sure I ought to feel the more indebted to Lord Melville’s kindness and generosity for suffering our difference to be no breach in our ancient friendship. I shall always feel his sentiments in this respect as the deepest obligation I owe him; for, perhaps, there are some passages in Malachi’s epistles that I ought to have moderated. But I desired to make a strong impression, and speak out, not on the Currency Question alone, but on the treatment of Scotland generally, the opinion which, I venture to say, has been long entertained by Lord Melville’s best friends, though who that had any thing to hope or fear would have hesitated to state it? So much for my Scottish feelings—prejudices, if you will; but which were born, and will die with me. For those I entertain towards Lord Melville personally, I can only say that I have lost much in my life; but the esteem of an old friend is that I should regret the most; and I repeat I feel most sensibly the generosity and kindness so much belonging to his nature, which can forgive that which has probably been most offensive to him. People may say I have been rash and inconsiderate; they cannot say I have been either selfish or malevolent—I have shunned all the sort of popularity attending the discussion; nay, have refused to distribute the obnoxious letters in a popular form, though urged from various quarters.

“Adieu, God bless you, my dear Sir Robert. You may send the whole or any part of this letter if you think proper; I should not wish him to think that I was
sulky about the continuance of his friendship. I am yours most truly,

Walter Scott.”
To Sir Walter Scott, Bart.
[Private and confidential.]
“Admiralty, March 16, 1826.
“My dear Scott,

“I have seen Lord Melville’s and your letters to Sir R. Dundas, and the tone of both of them makes me feel very anxious to say a confidential word or two to you on the subject. I am not going to meddle with the politics, which are bad enough in printed letters, but to endeavour, in the cordiality of a sincere private friendship, to satisfy you that these differences on speculative points of public policy do not, in this region, and ought not in yours, to cause any diminution of private intercourse and regard. Lord Melville certainly felt that his administration of Scottish affairs was sweepingly attacked, and the rest of the Government were astonished to see the one-pound note question made a kind of war-cry which might excite serious practical consequences, and, no doubt, these feelings were expressed pretty strongly, but it was in the spirit of et tu, Brute! The regard, the admiration, the love, which we all bear towards you, made the stroke so much more painful to those who thought it directed at them, but that feeling was local and temporary; by local I mean that the pain was felt on the spot where the blow was given—and I hope and believe it was so temporary as to be already forgotten. I can venture to assure you that it did not at all interfere with the deep sympathy with which we all heard of the losses you had sustained, nor would it, I firmly believe, have caused a moment’s hesitation in doing any thing which
might be useful or agreeable to you if such an opportunity had occurred. However Lord Melville may have expressed his soreness on what, it must be admitted, was an attack on him, as being for the last twenty years the minister for Scotland, there is not a man in the world who would be more glad to have an opportunity of giving you any mark of his regard; and from the moment we heard of the inconvenience you suffered, even down to this hour, I do not believe he has had another feeling towards you privately, than that which you might have expected from his general good-nature and his particular friendship for you.

“As to myself (if I may venture to name myself to you), I am so ignorant of Scottish affairs and so remote from Scottish interest, that you will easily believe that I felt no personal discomposure from Mr Malagrowther. What little I know of Scotland you have taught me, and my chief feeling on this subject was wonder that so clever a fellow as M. M. could entertain opinions so different from those which I fancied that I had learned from you; but this has nothing to do with our private feelings. If I differed from M. M. as widely as I do from Mr M’Culloch, that need not affect my private feelings towards Sir Walter Scott nor his towards me. He may feel the matter very warmly as a Scotchman; I can only have a very general, and therefore proportionably faint interest in the subject; but in either case you and I are not, like Sir Archy and Sir Callaghan, to quarrel about Sir Archy’s great grandmother; but I find that I am dwelling too long on so insignificant a part of the subject as myself. I took up my pen with the intention of satisfying you as to the feelings of more important persons, and I shall now quit the topic altogether, with a single remark, that this letter is strictly confidential, that even Lord Melville knows nothing of it, and à plus forte raison, no-
body else.—Believe me to be, my dear Scott, most sincerely and affectionately yours,

J. W. Croker.”
To J. W. Croker, Esq., M.P., &c. &c. Admiralty.
“Abbotsford, 19th March, 1826.
“My dear Croker,

“I received your very kind letter with the feelings it was calculated to excite, those of great affection mixed with pain, which, indeed, I had already felt and anticipated before taking the step which I knew you must all feel as awkward, coming from one who has been honoured with so much personal regard. I need not, I am sure, say, that I acted from nothing but an honest desire of serving this country. Depend upon it, that if a succession of violent and experimental changes are made from session to session, with bills to amend bills, where no want of legislation had been at all felt, Scotland will, within ten or twenty years, perhaps much sooner, read a more fearful commentary on poor Malachi’s Epistles than any statesman residing out of the country, and stranger to the habits and feelings which are entertained here, can possibly anticipate. My head may be low—I hope it will—before the time comes. But Scotland, completely liberalized, as she is in a fair way of being, will be the most dangerous neighbour to England that she has had since 1639. There is yet time to make a stand, for there is yet a great deal of good and genuine feeling left in the country. But if you unscotch us, you will find us damned mischievous Englishmen. The restless and yet laborious and constantly watchful character of the people, their desire for speculation in politics or any thing else, only restrained by some proud feelings about their own country, now become antiquated, and which late measures will tend much to destroy, will make them,
under a wrong direction, the most formidable revolutionists who ever took the field of innovation. The late
Lord Melville knew them well, and managed them accordingly. Our friend, the present Lord Melville, with the same sagacity, has not the same advantages. His high office has kept him much in the south;—and when he comes down here, it is to mingle with persons who have almost all something to hope or ask for at his hands.

“But I shall say no more on this subject so far as politics are concerned, only you will remember the story of the shield, which was on one side gold, and on the other silver, and which two knights fought about till they were mutually mortally wounded, each avowing the metal to be that which he himself witnessed. You see the shield on the golden, I, God knows, not on the silver side—but in a black, gloomy, and most ominous aspect.

“With respect to your own share in the controversy, it promised me so great an honour that I laboured under a strong temptation to throw my hat into the ring, tie my colours to the ropes, cry, Hollo there, Saint Andrew for Scotland! and try what a good cause might do for a bad, at least an inferior, combatant. But then I must have brought forward my facts; and, as these must have compromised friends individually concerned, I felt myself obliged, with regret for forfeiting some honour, rather to abstain from the contest. Besides, my dear Croker, I must say, that you sported too many and too direct personal allusions to myself, not to authorize and even demand some retaliation dans le meme genre; and however good-humouredly men begin this sort of ‘sharp encounter of their wits,’ their temper gets the better of them at last. When I was a cudgel-player, a sport at which I was once an ugly customer, we used to bar rapping over the knuckles, because it always ended in breaking heads; the matter may be remedied by baskets
in a set-to with oak saplings, but I know no such defence in the rapier and poinard game of wit. So I thought it best not to endanger the loss of an old friend for a bad jest, and sit quietly down with your odd hits, and the discredit which I must count on here for not repaying them, or trying to do so.

“As for my affairs, which you allude to so kindly, I can safely say, that no oak ever quitted its withered leaves more easily than I have done what might be considered as great wealth. I wish to God it were as easy for me to endure impending misfortunes of a very different kind. You may have heard that Lockhart’s only child is very ill, and the delicate habits of the unfortunate boy have ended in a disease of the spine, which is a hopeless calamity, and in my daughter’s present situation, may have consequences on her health terrible for me to anticipate. To add to this, though it needs no addition—for the poor child’s voice is day and night in my ear—I have, from a consultation of physicians, a most melancholy account of my wife’s health, the faithful companion of rough and smooth, weal and wo, for so many years. So if you compare me to Brutus in the harsher points of his character, you must also allow me some of his stoical fortitude ‘no man bears sorrow better.’

“I cannot give you a more absolute assurance of the uninterrupted regard with which I must always think of you, and the confidence I repose in your expressions of cordiality, than by entering on details, which one reluctantly mentions, except to those who are sure to participate in them.

“As for Malachi, I am like poor Jean Gordon, the prototype of Meg Merrilees, who was ducked to death at Carlisle for being a Jacobite, and till she was smothered outright, cried out every time she got her head above water, Charlie yet. But I have said my say, and have
no wish to give my friends a grain more offence than is consistent with the discharge of my own feelings, which, I think, would have choked me if I had not got my breath out. I had better, perhaps, have saved it to cool my porridge; I have only the prospect of being a sort of Highland Cassandra. But even Cassandra tired of her predictions, I suppose, when she had cried herself hoarse, and disturbed all her friends by howling in their ears what they were not willing to listen to.

“And so God bless you—and believe, though circumstances have greatly diminished the chance of our meeting, I have the same warm sense of your kindness as its uniform tendency has well deserved. Yours affectionately,

Walter Scott.”