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Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, Bart.
Sir William Gell, “Sir Walter Scott in Naples,” [1832]

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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“Every record of the latter days of those who, by their actions or their talents, have excited the admira-
tion and occupied the attention of their contemporaries, has been thought worthy of preservation, and I feel, on that account, a melancholy pleasure in complying with the request that I would furnish such anecdotes of
Sir Walter Scott as my short intimacy with that illustrious personage may have afforded. The reason assigned in the letter, which I received from one of the family on the subject, was, that I was his ‘latest friend,’ and this appeared to me as strong a motive as if I could have been called his earliest acquaintance.

“I had met Sir Walter at Stanmore Priory many years ago, when on a visit to the late Marquis of Abercorn, where he read one of the earliest of his poetical productions; but I had no farther personal communication with him till his arrival at Naples. I was induced to call on him at the Palazzo Caramanico, at the desire of a mutual friend, on the 5th of January, 1832, and it is probable that our mutual infirmities, which made us suitable companions in excursions, contributed in a great degree to the intimacy which immediately took place between us. On the following evening I presented to him Mr Keppel Craven, whose Tour in the South of Italy he had just read with pleasure. From this time I was constantly in the habit of receiving, or calling for Sir Walter in the morning, and usually accompanied him to see any of the remarkable objects in the neighbourhood of Naples. The Lago d’Agnano was among the first places visited, and he was evidently quite delighted with the tranquil beauty of the spot, and struck particularly by the sight of the leaves yet lingering on the trees at so advanced a period of the winter, and the appearance of summer yet maintained by the meadows and copses surrounding the lake. It quickly recalled to his mind a lake in Scotland, which he immediately began to describe. I afterwards found that his only pleasure
in seeing new places arose from the poetical ideas they inspired, as applicable to other scenes with which his mind was more familiar.

Mr Craven accompanied us on horseback in this excursion, and Sir Walter learning that he was writing a second volume, giving an account of a journey in the Abbruzzi, kindly observed, that he thought he could be of use to him in the publication of it, adding, ‘I think I may, perhaps, be able to give his pancake a toss.’

“On the 10th of January, I accompanied him to Pozzuoli, and the late Mr Laing Meason was of the party. Here we succeeded in getting Sir Walter placed upon a heap of ruins, whence he might see the remains of the Thermae, commonly called the Temple of Serapis. His observation was, that we might tell him any thing, and he would believe it all, for many of his friends, and particularly Mr Morritt, had frequently tried to drive classical antiquities, as they were called, into his head, but they had had always found his ‘skull too thick.’

“It was with great risk that he could be brought to any point of difficult access, for though he was so lame, and saw how easily I arrived by submitting to be assisted or carried, it was generally impossible to persuade him to commit himself to the care of the attendants.

“When Sir Walter was presented at Court, the King received him with marked attention, and insisted on his being seated, on account of his infirmity. They both spoke, and the by-standers observed, that His Majesty mentioned the pleasure he had received from reading the works of his visiter. Sir Walter answered in French, but not in a clear tone of voice; and he afterwards observed, that he and the King parted mutually pleased
with the interview, considering that neither had heard one word of what was uttered by the other.

“On the 17th of January I took Sir Walter to dine with the venerable Archbishop of Tarentum, a prelate in his 90th year, but yet retaining his faculties unimpaired, and the warmer feelings of youth, with well-known hospitality. The two elders seemed mutually pleased with the interview, but the difficulties of language were opposed to any very agreeable conversation.

“On the 26th of January I attended Sir Walter in a boat, with several friends, to the ruins of a Roman villa, supposed by Mr Hamilton and others, to have been that of Pollio, and situated upon a rock in the sea at the extremity of the promontory of Posilipo. It was by no means the recollection of Pollio that induced Sir Walter to make this excursion. A story existed that out of an opening in the floor of one of the rooms in this villa, a spectre robed in white occasionally appeared, whence the place had acquired the name of La Casa degli Spiriti, and none had presumed to inhabit it. The fact was, that a third story had been built upon the Roman ruins, and this being only inhabited by paupers, had fallen into decay, so as to endanger one angle of the fabric, and the police, for fear of accident, had ordered that it should remain untenanted. The house is situated upon a rock projecting into the sea, but attached on one side to the mainland. An entrance for a boat has been left in the basement story, and it is probable that a sort of open court, into which the sea enters at the back of the house, and in which is the staircase, was constructed for the purpose of cooling the apartments in the heat of summer, by means of the perpetual heaving and sinking of the ocean which takes place even in the calmest weather. The staircase was too much ruined
for Sir Walter to ascend with safety, but he appeared satisfied with what he saw, and took some interest in the proofs which the appearance of the opus reticulatum, high up in the external walls, afforded of the antiquity of the place.*

“On the 9th of February Sir Walter went to Pompeii, where, with several ladies and gentlemen at that time resident in Naples, I accompanied him. I did not go in the same carriage, but arriving at the street of the Tombs, found him already almost tired before he had advanced 100 yards. With great difficulty I forced him to accept the chair in which I was carried, supplying its place with another for myself, tied together with cords and handkerchiefs. He thus was enabled to pass through the city without more fatigue, and I was sometimes enabled to call his attention to such objects as were the most worthy of remark. To these observations, however, he seemed generally nearly insensible, viewing the whole and not the parts, with the eye, not of an antiquary, but a poet, and exclaiming frequently ‘The city of the Dead,’ without any other remark. An excavation had been ordered for him, but it produced nothing more than a few bells, hinges, and other objects of brass, which are found every day. Sir Walter seemed to view, however, the splendid mosaic, representing a combat of the Greeks and Persians, with more interest, and, seated upon a table whence he could look down upon it, he remained some time to examine it. We dined at a large table spread in the Forum, and Sir Walter was cheerful and pleased. In the evening he was a little tired, but felt no bad effects from the excursion to the City of the Dead.

“In our morning drives, Sir Walter always noticed

* There is an interesting Essay on this Roman Villa, by Mr Hamilton, in the Transactions of the Royal Society of Literature for 1837.

a favourite dog of mine, which was usually in the carriage, and generally patted the animal’s head for some time, saying, ‘poor boy—poor boy.’ ‘I have got at home,’ said he, ‘two very fine favourite dogs, so large that I am always afraid they look too handsome and too feudal for my diminished income. I am very fond of them, but they are so large it was impossible to take them with me.’ My dog was in the habit of howling when loud music was performing, and Sir Walter laughed till his eyes were full of tears, at the idea of the dog singing ‘My Mother bids me bind my hair,’ by the tune of which the animal seemed most excited, and which the kind-hearted baronet sometimes asked to have repeated.

“I do not remember on what day, during his residence at Naples, he came one morning rather early to my house, to tell me he was sure I should be pleased at some good luck which had befallen him, and of which he had just received notice. This was, as he said, an account from his friends in England, that his last works, Robert of Paris and Castle Dangerous, had gone on to a second edition. He told me in the carriage that he felt quite relieved by his letters, ‘for,’ said he, ‘I could have never slept straight in my coffin till I had satisfied every claim against me.’ ‘And now,’ added he to the dog, ‘my poor boy, I shall have my house, and my estate round it, free, and I may keep my dogs as big and as many as I choose, without fear of reproach.’

“I do not recollect the date of a certain morning’s drive, on which he first communicated to me that he had already written, or at least advanced far in a romance, on the subject of Malta, a part of which, he said, laughingly, he had put into the fire by mistake for other papers, but which he thought he had rewritten better than before. He asked me about the island of Rhodes, and told me,
that, being relieved from debt, and no longer forced to write for money, he longed to turn to poetry again, and to see, whether in his old age, he was not capable of equalling the rhymes of his youthful days. I encouraged him in this project, and asked why he had ever relinquished poetry. ‘Because
Byron bet me,’ said he, pronouncing the word, beat, short.* I rejoined, that I thought I could remember by heart about as many passages of his poetry as of Lord Byron’s; and to this he replied, ‘that may be, but he bet me out of the field in the description of the strong passions, and in deep-seated knowledge of the human heart; so I gave up poetry for the time.’ He became from that moment extremely curious about Rhodes, and having chosen for his poetical subject the chivalrous story of the slaying of the dragon by De Gozon and the stratagems and valour with which he conceived and executed his purpose, he was quite delighted to hear that I had seen the skeleton of this real or reported dragon, which yet remains secured by large iron staples to the vaulted roof of one of the gates of the city.

“Rhodes became at this time an object of great importance and curiosity to him, and as he had indulged in the idea of visiting it, he was somewhat displeased to learn how very far distant it lay from Corfu, where he had proposed to pass some time with Sir Frederick Adam, then Lord High Commissioner in the Ionian Islands.

“I must not omit stating that at an early period of his visit to Naples, an old English manuscript of the Romance of Sir Bevis of Hampton, existing in the Royal library, had attracted his attention, and he had resolved on procuring a copy of it, not, I think, for himself, but for a friend in Scotland, who was already possessed of

* The common Scotch pronunciation is not unlike what Sir W. G. gives.

another edition. When
Sir Walter visited the library at the Museum, the literati of Naples crowded round him to catch a sight of so celebrated a person, and they showed him every mark of attention in their power, by creating him Honorary Member of their learned societies. Complimentary speeches were addressed to him in Latin, of which, unfortunately, he did not comprehend one word, on account of the difference of pronunciation, but from the confession of which he was saved by the intervention of Mr Keppel Craven who attended him. The King of Naples, teaming his wish to copy the book, ordered it to be sent to his house, and he employed a person of the name of Sticchini, who, without understanding a word of English, copied the whole in a character as nearly as possible the fac-simile of the original. Sticchini was surprised and charmed with Sir Walter’s kindness and urbanity, for he generally called him to breakfast, and sometimes to dinner, and treated him on all occasions in the most condescending manner. The Secretary was not less surprised than alarmed on seeing his patron not unfrequently trip his foot against a chair and fall down upon the floor, for he was extremely incautious as to where or how he walked. On these occasions, while the frightened Sticchini ran to assist him, Sir Walter laughed very goodhumouredly, refused all help, and only expressed his anxiety lest his spectacles should have been broken by the accident.* Sir Walter wished, during his stay at Naples, to procure several Italian books in his particular department of study. Among other curiosities he thought he had traced Mother Goose, if not to her origin at Naples, at least to a remote period of antiquity in Italy. He succeeded in purchasing a considerable number of

* The spectacles were valued as the gift of a friend and brother poet. See ante, p. 136.

books in addition to his library, and took the fancy to have them all bound in vellum.

Sir Walter had heard too much of Pæstum to quit Naples without seeing it, and we accordingly formed a party in two carriages to go there, intending to sleep at La Cava, at the villa of my much respected friend Miss Whyte, a lady not less esteemed for every good quality, than celebrated for the extraordinary exertions of benevolence on the occasion of the murder of the Hunt family at Pæstum. Hearing of this fatal affair, and being nearer than any other of her compatriots to the scene, this lady immediately endeavoured to engage a surgeon at La Cava to accompany her to the spot. No one, however, could be found to venture into the den of the murderers, so that she resolved to go alone, well provided with lint, medicines, and all that could be useful to the wounded persons. She arrived, however, too late to be of use; but Sir Walter expressed the greatest desire to make the acquaintance of so admirable a person, and it was settled that her hospitable villa should receive and lodge us on our way to Pæstum. La Cava is 25 miles from Naples, and as it was necessary to feed the horses, I was in hopes of showing Sir Walter the amphitheatre of Pompeii while they ate their corn. The day, however, being rainy, we gave up the amphitheatre, and halted at the little tavern immediately below Pompeii. Here being obliged to remain, it was thought advisable to eat, and I had an opportunity of witnessing the hospitality which I had always heard distinguished Sir Walter, for, after we had finished, not only the servants were fed with the provisions he had brought, but the whole remainder was distributed to the poor people who had been driven into the tavern by the rain. This liberality unfortunately oc-
casioned a deficit on the following day, when the party started without provision for the solitudes of Pæstum.

“Near Nocera I pointed out a tower situated upon a high mountain, and guarding a pass by which a very steep and zig-zag road leads toward Amain. I observed that it was possible that if the Saracens were ever really seated at Nocera dai Pagani, this tower might have been at the confines of the Amalfitan Republic, and have been their frontier against the Mahometans. It was surprising how quickly he caught at any romantic circumstance, and I found, in a very short time, he had converted the Torre di Ciunse, or Chiunse, into a feudal residence, and already peopled it with a Christian host. He called it the Knight’s Castle, as long as it remained in sight, and soon after transferred its interest to the curious little towers, used for pigeon-shooting, which abound in the neighbourhood, though they were on the other side of the road.

“From La Cava, the party proceeded the next day to Pæstum, setting out early in the morning; but I did not accompany Sir Walter on that journey, and consequently only know that, by good luck, he found eggs and other rustic fare near the Temples, and returned, after a drive of fifty-four miles, very much fatigued, to a late dinner. He was, however, completely restored by the night’s rest, and we visited on the following day the splendid Benedictine Monastery of La Trinità della Cava, situated about three miles from the great road, and approached through a beautiful forest of chestnuts, spreading over most picturesque mountains. The day was fine, and Sir Walter really enjoyed the drive; and the scenery recalled to his mind something of the kind which he had seen in Scotland, on which he repeated the whole of the ballad of Jock of Hazledean with great emphasis, and in a clear voice. At the Convent we
LA CAVA, &c.355
had taken care to request, that what is termed a Pontifical Mass should be sung in his presence, after which he was taken with much difficulty, and twice falling, through the long and slippery labyrinths of that vast edifice, and up several very tedious staircases to the apartments containing the archives. Here the curious MSS. of the Convent were placed before him, and he seemed delighted with an ancient document in which the names of Saracens as well as Christians appear either as witnesses or principals; but he was chiefly struck with a book containing pictures of the Lombard Kings, of which, through the kindness of
Doctor Hogg, he afterwards possessed copies by a young Neapolitan painter who had chanced to be on the spot. On the whole, Sir Walter was more pleased with the Monastery of La Cava than with any place to which I had the honour to accompany him in Italy; the site, the woods, the organ, the size of the Convent, and, above all, the Lombard Kings, produced a poetical feeling; and the fine weather so raised his spirits, that in the forest he again recited Jock of Hazledean by my desire, after a long repetition from his favourite poem of Hardyknute.

“On the following day we returned to Naples, but Sir Walter went in his own carriage, and complained to me afterwards that he had never been able to discover the ‘Knight’s Tower,’ it being, in fact, only visible by turning back to a person travelling in that direction. He expressed himself at all times much delighted with our amiable hostess, Miss Whyte, remarking very justly that she had nothing cold about her but her house, which being in the mountains, is, in fact, by no means eligible at that season of the year.

“In one of our drives, the subject of Sir Walter’s, perhaps, most popular romance, in which Lady Margaret Bellenden defends the Castle of Tillietudlem, was men-
tioned as having been translated into Italian under the title of ‘The Scottish Puritans,’ of which he highly approved. I told him how strange the names of the places and the personages appeared in their Italian garb, and remarked that the Castle was so well described, and seemed so true a picture, that I had always imagined he must have had some real fortress in view. He said it was very true; for the Castle he had visited, and had fallen so much in love with it, that he wanted to live there. He added a joke with regard to his having taken his hat off when he visited this favourite spot, remarking, that as the Castle had been uncovered for many centuries, he himself might be uncovered for an hour. It had, said Sir Walter, ‘no roof, no windows, and not much wall. I should have had to make three miles of road, so before the affair was settled I got wiser.’*

“On the third of April, I accompanied Sir Walter to Pozzuoli and to Cumae. We had a party of nine or ten ladies and gentlemen, and agreed to dine at the inn at Pozzuoli, on our way back. I explained to Sir Walter the common history of all the objects which occurred on the road; and the account of Monte Nuovo, which rose in one night to its present elevation, destroying the village of Tre Pergole, and part of the Lucrine Lake, seemed particularly to strike his poetical imagination. There is a point in going toward the Arco Felice, whence, at a turn of the road, a very extensive and comprehensive view is obtained of the Lake of Avernus. The Temple of Apollo, the Lucrine Lake, the Monte Nuovo, Baiæ, Misenum, and the sea, are all seen at once; and here I considered it my duty, in quality of Cicerone, to

* See the account of Scott’s early visit to Craignethan Castle, ante Vol. I. p. 306. By the way, the name Tillietudlem is evidently taken from that of the ravine under the old castle of Lanark—which town is near Craignethan. This ravine is called Gillytudlem.

enforce the knowledge of the localities. He attended to the names I repeated; and when I asked whether he thought himself sure of remembering the spot, he replied that he had it perfectly in his mind. I found, however, that something in the place had inspired him with other recollections of his own beloved country, and the Stuarts, for on proceeding, he immediately repeated in a grave tone, and with great emphasis—
‘Up the craggy mountain, and down the mossy glen,
We canna gang a milking, for Charlie and his men.’

“I could not help smiling at this strange commentary on my dissertation upon the Lake of Avernus.”