LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, Bart.
Chapter V 1829

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 having expressed a wish to consult me about some of his affairs, I went down to Abbotsford at Christmas, and found him apparently well in health (except that he suffered from rheumatism), and enjoying the society as usual of the Fergusons, with the welcome addition of Mr Morritt and Sir James Stuart of Allanbank—a gentleman whose masterly pencil had often been employed on subjects from his poetry and novels, and whose conversation on art (like that of Sir George Beaumont and Mr Scrope), being devoid of professional pedantries and jealousies, was always particularly delightful to him. One snowy morning, he gave us sheets of Anne of Geierstein, extending to, I think, about a volume and a half; and we read
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them together in the library, while he worked in the adjoining room, and occasionally dropt in upon us to hear how we were pleased. All were highly gratified with those vivid and picturesque pages, and both Morritt and Stuart, being familiar with the scenery of Switzerland, could not sufficiently express their astonishment at the felicity with which he had divined its peculiar character, and outdone, by the force of imagination, all the efforts of a thousand actual tourists. Such approbation was of course very acceptable. I had seldom seen him more gently and tranquilly happy.

Among other topics connected with his favourite studies, Sir James Stuart had much to say on the merits and prospects of a remarkable man (well known to myself), who had recently occupied general attention in the North. I allude to the late John Greenshields, a stonemason, who at the age of twenty-eight began to attempt the art of sculpture, and after a few years of solitary devotion to this new pursuit, had produced a statue of the Duke of York, which formed at this time a popular exhibition in Edinburgh. Greenshields was the son of a small farmer, who managed also a ferryboat, on my elder brother’s estate in Lanarkshire; and I could increase the interest with which both Sir James and Sir Walter had examined the statue, by bearing testimony to the purity and modesty of his character and manners. Another eminent lover of art, who had been especially gratified by Greenshields’ work, was the Earl of Elgin. Just at this time, as it happened, the sculptor had been invited to spend a day or two at his Lordship’s seat in Fife; but learning, through a letter of Sir James Stuart’s, that Sir Walter was about to visit Clydesdale, Greenshields would not lose the chance of being presented to him on his native spot, and left Broomhall without having finished the inspection of Lord Elgin’s
marbles. His Lordship addressed a long and interesting letter to Sir Walter, in which he mentioned this circumstance, and besought him, after having talked with the aspirant, and ascertained his own private views and feelings, to communicate his opinion as to the course which might most advantageously be pursued for the encouragement and developement of his abilities.

Sir Walter went in the middle of January to Milton-Lockhart; there saw the sculptor in the paternal cottage, and was delighted with him and some of the works he had on hand—particularly a statue of George IV. Greenshields then walked with us for several hours by the river side, and among the woods. His conversation was easy and manly, and many sagacious remarks on life, as well as art, lost nothing to the poet’s ear by being delivered in an accent almost as broad and unsophisticated as Tom Purdie’s. John had a keen sense of humour, and his enjoyment of Sir Walter’s lectures on planting, and jokes on every thing, was rich. He had exactly that way of drawing his lips into a grim involuntary whistle, when a sly thing occurred, which the author of Rob Roy assigns to Andrew Fairservice. After he left us Scott said, “There is much about that man that reminds me of Burns.” On reaching Edinburgh he wrote as follows:—

To the Right Honourable the Earl of Elgin, &c. &c., Broomhall, Fife.
“Edinburgh, 20th January, 1829.
“My dear Lord,

“I wish I were able to pay in better value the debt which I have contracted with your Lordship, by being the unconscious means of depriving you of Mr Greenshields sooner than had been meant. It is a complicated obligation, since I owe a much greater debt to Greenshields for depriving him of an invaluable op-
portunity of receiving the advice, and profiting by the opinions of one whose taste for the arts is strong by nature, and has been so highly cultivated. If it were not that he may again have an opportunity to make up for that which he has lost, I would call the loss irreparable.

“My own acquaintance with art is so very small, that I almost hesitate to obey your Lordship in giving an opinion. But I think I never saw a more successful exertion of a young artist than the King’s statue, which, though the sculptor had only an indifferent print to work by, seems to me a very happy likeness. The position (as if in act of receiving some person whom his majesty delighted to honour) has equal ease and felicity, and conveys an idea of grace and courtesy, and even kindness, mixed with dignity, which, as he never saw the original, I was surprised to find mingled in such judicious proportions. The difficulties of a modern military or court dress, are manfully combated; and I think the whole thing purely conceived. In a word, it is a work of great promise.

“I may speak with more confidence of the artist than of the figure. Mr Greenshields seems to me to be one of those remarkable men who must be distinguished in one way or other. He showed during my conversation with him sound sense on all subjects, and considerable information on such as occupied his mind. His habits, I understand, are perfectly steady and regular. His manners are modest and plain, without being clownish or rude, and he has all the good-breeding which nature can teach. Above all, I had occasion to remark that he had a generous and manly disposition above feeling little slights, or acts of illiberality. Having to mention some very reasonable request of his which had been refused by an individual, he immediately, as if to obliterate the unfavourable impression, hastened to mention
several previous instances of kindness which the same individual had shown to him. His mind seems to be too much bent upon fame to have room for love of money, and his passion for the arts seems to be unfeignedly sincere.

“The important question of how he is to direct his efforts, must depend on the advice of his friends, and I know no one so capable of directing him as your Lordship. At the same time, I obey your commands, by throwing together in haste the observations which follow.

“Like all heaven-born geniuses, he is ignorant of the rules which have been adopted by artists before him, and has never seen the chefs-d’œuvre of classical time. Such men having done so much without education, are sometimes apt either to despise it, or to feel so much mortification at seeing how far short their efforts fall of excellence, that they resign their art in despair. I do think and hope, however, that the sanguine and the modest are so well mixed in this man’s temper, that he will study the best models with the hope of improvement, and will be bold, as Spencer says, without being too bold. But opportunity of such study is wanting, and that can only be had in London. To London, therefore, he should be sent if possible. In addition to the above, I must remark, that Mr G. is not master of the art of tempering his clay, and other mechanical matters relating to his profession. These he should apply to without delay, and it would probably be best, having little time to lose, that he should for a while lay the chisel aside, and employ himself in making models almost exclusively. The transference of the figure from the clay to the marble is, I am informed by Chantrey, a mere mechanical art, excepting that some finishing touches are required. Now it follows that
Greenshields may model, I dare say, six figures while he could only cut one in stone, and in the former practice must make a proportional progress in the principles of his art. The knowledge of his art is only to be gained in the studio of some sculptor of eminence. The task which Mr G. is full of at present seems to be chosen on a false principle, chiefly adopted from a want of acquaintance with the genuine and proper object of art. The public of Edinburgh have been deservedly amused and delighted with two figures in the character of Tam O’Shanter and his drunken companion Souter Johnny. The figures were much and justly applauded, and the exhibition being of a kind adapted to every taste, is daily filled. I rather think it is the success of this piece by a man much in his own circumstances, which has inclined Mr Greenshields to propose cutting a group of grotesque figures from the Beggars’ Cantata of the same poet. Now, in the first place, I suspect six figures will form too many for a sculptor to group to advantage. But besides, I deprecate the attempt at such a subject. I do not consider caricature as a proper style for sculpture at all. We have Pan and his Satyrs in ancient sculpture, but the place of these characters in the classic mythology gives them a certain degree of dignity. Besides this, “the gambol has been shown.” Mr Thom has produced a group of this particular kind, and instead of comparing what Greenshields might do in this way with higher models, the public would certainly regard him as the rival of Mr Thom, and give Mr Thom the preference, on the same principle that the Spaniard says when one man walks first, all the rest must be his followers. At the same time I highly approved of one figure in the group, I mean that of Burns himself. Burns (taking his more contemplative moments) would indeed be a noble study,
and I am convinced Mr G. would do it nobly as, for example, when Coila describes him as gazing on a snowstorm,—
‘I saw grim Nature’s visage hoar,
Strike thy young eye.’
I suppose it possible to represent rocks with icicles in sculpture.

“Upon the moment I did not like to mention to Mr G. my objections against a scheme which was obviously a favourite one, but I felt as I did when my poor friend John Kemble threatened to play Falstaff. In short, the perdurable character of sculpture, the grimly and stern severity of its productions, their size too, and their consequence, confine the art to what is either dignified and noble, or beautiful and graceful: it is, I think, inapplicable to situations of broad humour. A painting of Teniers is very well it is of a moderate size, and only looked at when we choose; but a group of his drunken boors dancing in stone, as large as life, to a grinning fiddler at the bottom of a drawing-room would, I think, be soon found intolerable bad company.

“I think, therefore, since Mr Greenshields has a decided call to the higher and nobler department of his art, he should not be desirous of procuring immediate attention by attempting a less legitimate object. I desired Mr Lockhart of Milton to state to Mr G. what I felt on the above subject, and I repeat it to you, that, if I am so fortunate as to agree in opinion with your Lordship, you may exert your powerful influence on the occasion.

“I have only to add that I am quite willing to contribute my mite to put Mr Greenshields in the way of the best instruction, which seems to me the best thing which can be done for him. I think your Lordship will
hardly claim another epistolary debt from me, since I have given it like a tether, which, Heaven knows, is no usual error of mine. I am always, with respect, my dear Lord, your Lordship’s most faithful and obedient servant,

Walter Scott.

“P. S.—I ought to mention, that I saw a good deal of Mr Greenshields, for he walked with us, while we went over the grounds at Milton to look out a situation for a new house.”

Mr Greenshields saw Sir Walter again in Clydesdale in 1831, and profited so well by these scanty opportunities, as to produce a statue of the poet, in a sitting posture, which, all the circumstances considered, must be allowed to be a very wonderful performance.* He subsequently executed various other works, each surpassing the promise of the other; but I fear his enthusiastic zeal had led him to unwise exertions. His health gave way, and he died in April 1835, at the early age of forty, in the humble cottage where he was born. Celebrity had in no degree changed his manners or his virtues. The most flattering compliment he ever received was a message from Sir Francis Chantrey, inviting him to come to London, and offering to take him into his house, and give him all the benefits of his advice, instruction, and example. This kindness filled his eyes with tears but the hand of fate was already upon him.

Scott’s Diary for the day on which he wrote to Lord Elgin says:—“We strolled about Milton on as fine a day as could consist with snow on the ground, in company with John Greenshields, the new sculptor, a sensible,

* This statue is now in the possession of Sir Walter’s publisher, Mr Cadell, 31, St Andrew’s Square, Edinburgh.

strong-minded man. The situation is eminently beautiful; a fine promontory round which the Clyde makes a magnificent bend. We fixed on a situation for
William’s new house where the sitting rooms will command the upper valley; and, with an ornamental garden, I think it may be made the prettiest place in Scotland. Next day, on our way to Edinburgh, we stopped at Allanton to see a tree transplanted, which was performed with great ease. Sir Henry Stewart is lifted beyond the solid earth by the effect of his book’s success; but the book well deserves it.* He is in practice particularly anxious to keep the roots of the trees near the surface, and only covers them with about a foot of earth. Note.—Lime rubbish dug in among the roots of ivy encourages it much.—The operation delayed us three hours, so it was seven before we reached our dinner and a good fire in Shandwick Place, and we were well-nigh frozen to death. During the excursion I walked very ill—with more pain in fact than I ever remember to have felt—and, even leaning on John Lockhart, could hardly get on.—Well, the day of return to Edinburgh is come. I don’t know why, but I am more happy at the change than usual. I am not working hard, and it is what I ought to do and must do. Every hour of laziness cries fie upon me. But there is a perplexing sinking of the heart which one cannot always overcome. At such times I have wished myself a clerk, quill-driving for two-pence per page. You have at least application, and that is all that is necessary, whereas, unless your lively faculties are awake and propitious, your application will do you as little good as if you strained your sinews to lift Arthur’s Seat.”

* See Sir Walter’s article on Ornamental GardeningMiscellaneous Prose Works, Vol. xxi.

JANUARY, 1829. 169

On the 23d he says:—“The Solicitor* came to dine with me—we drank a bottle of Champagne, and two bottles of claret, which, in former days, I should have thought a very sober allowance, since, Lockhart included, there were three persons to drink it. But I felt I had drunk too much, and was uncomfortable. The young men stood it like young men. Skene and his wife and daughter looked in in the evening. I suppose I am turning to my second childhood, for not only am I filled drunk, or made stupid at least, with one bottle of wine, but I am disabled from writing by chilblains on my fingers—a most babyish complaint.”

At this time the chief topic of discourse in Edinburgh was the atrocious series of murders perpetrated by a gang of Irish desperadoes, Burke, Hare, &c., in a house or cellar of the West Port, to which they seduced poor old wayfaring people, beggar women, idiots, and so forth, and then filled them drunk, and smothered or strangled them, for the mere purpose of having bodies to sell to the anatomists. Sir Walter writes on the 28th:—“Burke the murderer, hanged this morning. The mob, which was immense, demanded Knox and Hare, but though greedy for more victims, received with shouts the solitary wretch who found his way to the gallows out of five or six who seem not less guilty than he. But the story begins to be stale, insomuch that I believe a doggrel ballad upon it would be popular, how brutal soever the wit. This is the progress of human passion. We ejaculate, exclaim, hold up to heaven our hand, like the rustic Phœbe next morning the mood changes, and we dance a jig to the tune which moved us to tears.”

* John Hope, Esq., Solicitor-General—now Dean of the Faculty of Advocates.


A few days later, he discusses the West Port tragedy in this striking letter. It was written in answer to one announcing Miss Fanny Edgeworth’s marriage with Mr Lestock Wilson:—

To Miss Edgeworth, Edgeworthstown.
“Edinburgh, Feb. 4, 1829.
“My dear Miss Edgeworth,

“I have had your letter several days, and only answer just now, not, you may believe, from want of interest in the contents, but from the odd circumstance of being so much afflicted with chilblains in the fingers, that my pen scrambles every way but the right one. Assuredly I should receive the character of the most crabbed fellow from those modern sages who judge of a man from his handwriting. But as an old man becomes a child, I must expect, I suppose, measles and smallpox. I only wish I could get a fresh set of teeth. To tell you the truth, I feel the advance of age more than I like, though my general health is excellent; but I am not able to walk as I did, and I fear I could not now visit St Kevin’s Bed. This is a great affliction to one who has been so active as I have been, in spite of all disadvantages. I must now have a friendly arm, instead of relying on my own exertions; and it is sad to think I shall be worse before I am better. However, the mild weather may help me in some degree, and the worst is a quiet pony (I used to detest a quiet pony), or perhaps a garden-chair. All this does not prevent my sincere sympathy in the increase of happiness, which I hope Miss Fanny’s marriage will afford to herself, and you, and all who love her. I have not had the same opportunity to know her merits as those of my friends Mrs Butler and Mrs Fox; but I saw enough of her (being your sister) when at Dublin, to feel most sincerely interested in a young person whose exterior is so amiable.
Mr Wilson you describe the national character of John Bull, who is not the worst of the three nations, though he has not the quick feeling and rich humour of your countrymen, nor the shrewd sagacity, or the romantic spirit of thinking and adventuring which the Scotch often conceal under their apparent coldness, and which you have so well painted in the M’Leod of your Ennui. Depend upon it, I shall find Russell Square when I go to London, were I to have a voyage of discovery to make it out; and it will be Mr Wilson’s fault if we do not make an intimate acquaintance.

“I had the pleasure of receiving, last autumn, your American friend Miss Douglas, who seems a most ingenious person; and I hope I succeeded in making her happy during her short visit at Abbotsford; for I was compelled to leave her to pay suit and service at the Circuit. The mention of the Circuit brings me to the horrors which you have so well described, and which resemble nothing so much as a wild dream. Certainly I thought, like you, that the public alarm was but an exaggeration of vulgar rumour; but the tragedy is too true, and I look in vain for a remedy of the evils, in which it is easy to see this black and unnatural business has found its origin. The principal source certainly lies in the feelings of attachment which the Scotch have for their deceased friends. They are curious in the choice of their sepulchre, and a common shepherd is often, at whatever ruinous expense to his family, transported many miles to some favourite place of burial which has been occupied by his fathers. It follows, of course, that any interference with these remains is considered with most utter horror and indignation. To such of their superiors as they love from clanship or habits of dependance, they attach the same feeling. I experienced it when I had a great domestic loss; for I
learned afterwards that the cemetery was guarded, out of good will, by the servants and dependants who had been attached to her during life; and were I to be laid beside my lost companion just now, I have no doubt it would be long before my humble friends would discontinue the same watch over my remains, and that it would incur mortal risk to approach them with the purpose of violation. This is a kind and virtuous principle, in which every one so far partakes, that, although an unprejudiced person would have no objection to the idea of his own remains undergoing dissection, if their being exposed to scientific research could be of the least service to humanity, yet we all shudder at the notion of any who had been dear to us, especially a wife or sister, being subjected to a scalpel among a gazing and unfeeling crowd of students. One would fight and die to prevent it. This current of feeling is encouraged by the law which, as distinguishing murderers and other atrocious criminals, orders that their bodies shall be given for public dissection. This makes it almost impossible to consign the bodies of those who die in the public hospitals to the same fate; for it would be inflicting on poverty the penalty which, wisely or unwisely, the law of the country has denounced against guilt of the highest degree; and it would assuredly deprive all who have a remaining spark of feeling or shame, of the benefit of those consolations of charity of which they are the best objects. If the prejudice be not very liberal, it is surely natural, and so deeply-seated, that many of the best feelings must be destroyed ere it can be eradicated. What then remains? The only chance I see is to permit importation from other countries. If a subject can be had in Paris for ten or twenty francs, it will surely pay the importer who brings it to Scotland. Something must be
done, for there is an end of the Cantabit vacuus,* the last prerogative of beggary, which entitled him to laugh at the risk of robbery. The veriest wretch in the highway may be better booty than a person of consideration, since the last may have but a few shillings in his pocket, and the beggar, being once dead, is worth ten pounds to his murderer.

“The great number of the lower Irish which have come over here since the peace, is, like all important occurrences, attended with its own share of good and evil. It must relieve Ireland in part of the excess of population, which is one of its greatest evils, and it accommodates Scotland with a race of hardy and indefatigable labourers, without which it would be impossible to carry on the very expensive improvements which have been executed. Our canals, our railroads, and our various public works are all wrought by Irish. I have often employed them myself at burning clay, and similar operations, and have found them as labourers quiet and tractable, light-spirited, too, and happy to a degree beyond belief, and in no degree quarrelsome, keep whisky from them and them from whisky. But most unhappily for all parties they work at far too low a rate; at a rate, in short, which can but just procure salt and potatoes; they become reckless, of course, of all the comforts and decencies of life, which they have no means of procuring. Extreme poverty brings ignorance and vice, and these are the mothers of crime. If Ireland were to submit to some kind of poor-rate—I do not mean that of England—but something that should secure to the indigent their natural share of the fruits of the earth, and enable them at least to feed while others are feasting—it would, I cannot doubt, raise the character of the lower orders, and deprive them of that recklessness of

* Cantabit vacuus coram latrone viator.—Juvenal.

futurity which leads them to think only of the present. Indeed, where intoxication of the lower ranks is mentioned as a vice, we must allow the temptation is well-nigh inevitable; meat, clothes, fire, all that men can and do want are supplied by a drop of whisky, and no one should be surprised that the relief (too often the only one within the wretches’ power) is eagerly grasped at.

“We pay back, I suspect, the inconveniencies we receive from the character of our Irish importation, by sending you a set of half-educated, cold-hearted Scotchmen to be agents and middle-men. Among them, too, there are good and excellent characters, yet I can conceive they often mislead their employers. I am no great believer in the extreme degree of improvement to be derived from the advancement of science; for every study of that nature tends, when pushed to a certain extent, to harden the heart, and render the philosopher reckless of every thing save the objects of his own pursuit; all equilibrium in the character is destroyed, and the visual force of the understanding is perverted by being fixed on one object exclusively. Thus we see theological sects (although inculcating the moral doctrines) are eternally placing man’s zeal in opposition to them; and even in the practice of the bar, it is astonishing how we become callous to right and wrong, when the question is to gain or lose a cause. I have myself often wondered how I became so indifferent to the horrors of a criminal trial, if it involved a point of law. In like manner, the pursuit of physiology inflicts tortures on the lower animals of creation, and at length comes to rub shoulders against the West Port. The state of high civilisation to which we have arrived, is perhaps scarcely a national blessing, since, while the few are improved to the highest point, the many are in proportion tantalized
and degraded, and the same nation displays at the same time the very highest and the very lowest state in which the human race can exist in point of intellect. Here is a doctor who is able to take down the whole clock-work of the human frame, and may in time find some way of repairing and putting it together again; and there is
Burke with the body of his murdered countrywoman on his back, and her blood on his hands, asking his price from the learned carcass-butcher. After all, the golden age was the period for general happiness, when the earth gave its stores without labour, and the people existed only in the numbers which it could easily subsist; but this was too good to last. As our numbers grew our wants multiplied, and here we are contending with increasing difficulties by the force of repeated inventions. Whether we shall at last eat each other, as of yore, or whether the earth will get a flap with a comet’s tail first, who but the reverend Mr Irving will venture to pronounce?

“Now here is a fearful long letter, and the next thing is to send it under Lord Francis Gower’s omnipotent frank.* Anne sends best compliments; she says she had the honour to despatch her congratulations to you already. Walter and his little wife are at Nice; he is now major of his regiment, which is rapid advancement, and so has gone abroad to see the world. Lockhart has been here for a week or two, but is now gone for England. I suspect he is at this moment stopped by the snow-storm, and solacing himself with a cigar somewhere in Northumberland; that is all the news that can interest you. Dr and Mrs Brewster are rather getting over their heavy loss, but it is still too visible on their brows, and that broad river lying daily before them is a

* Lord F. G. was Secretary for Ireland, under the Duke of Wellington’s Ministry.

sad remembrancer. I saw a brother of yours on a visit at Allerley;* he dined with us one day and promised to come and see us next summer, which I hope he will make good.—My pen has been declaring itself independent this last half hour, which is the more unnatural, as it is engaged in writing to its former mistress.†—Ever yours affectionately.

W. Scott.”

Sir Walter’s operations appear to have been interrupted ever and anon, during January and February, 1829, in consequence of severe distress in the household of his printer; whose warm affections were not, as in his own case, subjected to the authority of a stoical will. On the 14th of February the Diary says:—“The letters I received were numerous, and craved answers, yet the 3d vol. is getting on hooly and fairly. I am twenty leaves before the printer, but Ballantyne’s wife is ill, and it is his nature to indulge apprehensions of the worst, which incapacitates him for labour. I cannot help regarding this amiable weakness of the mind with something too nearly allied to contempt.” On the 17th:—“I received the melancholy news that James Ballantyne has lost his wife. With his domestic habits the blow is irretrievable. What can he do, poor fellow, at the head of such a family of children? I should not be surprised if he were to give way to despair.” James was not able to appear at his wife’s funeral; and this Scott viewed with something more than pity. Next morning, however, says the Diary:—“Ballantyne came in, to my

* Allerley is the seat of Sir David Brewster, opposite Melrose. A fine boy, one of Sir David’s sons, had been drowned a year before in the Tweed.

Miss Edgeworth had given Sir Walter a bronze inkstand (said to have belonged to Ariosto), with appurtenances.

FEBRUARY, 1829.177
surprise, about twelve o’clock. He was very serious, and spoke as if he had some idea of sudden and speedy death. He mentioned that he had named
Cadell, Cowan, young Hughes, and his brother to be his trustees with myself. He has settled to go to the country, poor fellow!”

Ballantyne retired accordingly to some sequestered place near Jedburgh, and there, indulging his grief in solitude, fell into a condition of religious melancholy, from which I think he never wholly recovered. Scott regarded this as weakness, and in part at least as wilful weakness, and addressed to him several letters of strong remonstrance and rebuke. I have read them, but do not possess them; nor perhaps would it have been proper for me to print them. In writing of the case to myself, he says, “I have a sore grievance in poor Ballantyne’s increasing lowness of heart, and I fear he is sinking rapidly into the condition of a religious dreamer. His retirement from Edinburgh was the worst advised scheme in the world. I in vain reminded him, that when our Saviour himself was to be led into temptation, the first thing the Devil thought of was to get him into the wilderness.” Ballantyne, after a few weeks, resumed his place in the printing office; but he addicted himself more and more to what his friend considered as erroneous and extravagant notions of religious doctrine; and I regret to say that in this difference originated a certain alienation, not of affection, but of confidence, which was visible to every near observer of their subsequent intercourse. Towards the last, indeed, they saw but little of each other. I suppose, however, it is needless to add that, down to the very last, Scott watched over Ballantyne’s interests with undiminished attention.

I must give a few more extracts from the Diary, for the Spring Session, during which Anne of Geierstein was
finished, and the Prospectus of the Opus Magnum issued.—Several entries refer to the final carrying of the Roman Catholic Question. When the
Duke of Wellington and Sir Robert Peel announced their intention of conceding those claims, on which the reader has already seen Scott’s opinion, there were meetings and petitions enough in Edinburgh as elsewhere; and though he felt considerable repugnance to acting in any such matter with Whigs and Radicals, in opposition to a great section of the Tories, he ultimately resolved not to shrink from doing his part in support of the Duke’s government on that critical experiment. He wrote, I believe, several articles in favour of the measure for the Weekly Journal; he spoke, though shortly, at the principal meeting, and proposed one of its resolutions; and when the consequent petition was read in the House of Commons, his name among the subscribers was received with such enthusiasm, that Sir Robert Peel thought fit to address to him a special and very cordial letter of thanks on that occasion.

Diary, “Feb. 23.—Anne and I dined at Skene’s, where we met Mr and Mrs George Forbes, Colonel and Mrs Blair, George Bell, &c. The party was a pleasant one. Colonel Blair told us that at the commencement of the battle of Waterloo, there was some trouble to prevent the men from breaking their ranks. He expostulated with one man—‘Why, my good fellow, you cannot propose to beat the French alone? You had better keep your ranks.’ The man, who was one of the 71st, returned to his place, saying, ‘I believe you are right, sir, but I am a man of a very hot temper.’ There was much bonhommie in the reply.

February 24.‘Snowy miserable morning. I corrected my proofs, and then went to breakfast with Mr
Drummond Hay, where we again met Colonel and Mrs Blair, with Thomas Thomson. We looked over some most beautiful drawings which Mrs Blair had made in different parts of India, exhibiting a species of architecture so gorgeous, and on a scale so extensive, as to put to shame the magnificence of Europe; and yet, in most cases, as little is known of the people who wrought these wonders as of the kings who built the Pyramids. Fame depends on literature, not on architecture. We are more eager to see a broken column of Cicero’s villa, than all these mighty labours of barbaric power. Mrs Blair is full of enthusiasm. She told me, that when she worked with her pencil she was glad to have some one to read to her as a sort of sedative, otherwise her excitement made her tremble, and burst out a-crying. I can understand this very well. On returning home, I wrought, but not much—rather dawdled and took to reading Chambers’s Beauties of Scotland, which would be admirable if they were accurate. He is a clever young fellow, but hurts himself by too much haste. I am not making too much myself I know—and I know, too, it is time I were making it—unhappily there is such a thing as more haste and less speed. I can very seldom think to purpose by lying perfectly idle, but when I take an idle book, or a walk, my mind strays back to its task, out of contradiction as it were; the things I read become mingled with those I have been writing, and something is concocted. I cannot compare this process of the mind to any thing save that of a woman to whom the mechanical operation of spinning serves as a running bass to the songs she sings, or the course of ideas she pursues. The phrase Hoc age, so often quoted by my father, does not jump with my humour. I cannot nail my mind to one subject of contemplation, and it is by nourishing two trains of ideas that I can bring one into order.


February 28.—Finished my proofs this morning; and read part of a curious work, called Memoirs of Vidocq; a fellow who was at the head of Buonaparte’s police. It is a picaresque tale; in other words, a romance of roguery. The whole seems much exaggerated, and got up; but I suppose there is truth au fond. I came home about two o’clock, and wrought hard and fast till now—night. I cannot get myself to feel at all anxious about the Catholic question. I cannot see the use of fighting about the platter, when you have let them snatch the meat off it. I hold Popery to be such a mean and depraving superstition, that I am not sure I could have found myself liberal enough for voting the repeal of the penal laws as they existed before 1780. They must, and would, in course of time, have smothered Popery; and, I confess, I should have seen the old lady of Babylon’s mouth stopped with pleasure. But now, that you have taken the plaster off her mouth, and given her free respiration, I cannot see the sense of keeping up the irritation about the claim to sit in Parliament. Unopposed, the Catholic superstition may sink into dust, with all its absurd ritual and solemnities. Still it is an awful risk. The world is, in fact, as silly as ever, and a good competence of nonsense will always find believers. Animal magnetism, phrenology, &c. &c., have all had their believers, and why not Popery? Ecod! if they should begin to make Smithfield broils, I do not know where many an honest Protestant could find courage enough to be carbonadoed? I should shrink from the thoughts of tar-barrels and gibbets, I am afraid, and make a very pusillanimous martyr. So I hope the Duke of Wellington will keep the horned beast well in hand, and not let her get her leg over the harrows.

March 4.—At four o’clock arrives Mr Cadell, with his horn charged with good news. The prospectus of
DIARY—MARCH, 1829.181
the Magnum, although issued only a week, has produced such a demand among the trade, that he thinks he must add a large number of copies, that the present edition of 7000 may be increased to meet the demand; he talks of raising it to 10,000 or 12,000. If so, I shall have a powerful and constant income to bear on my unfortunate debts for several years to come, and may fairly hope to put every claim in a secure way of payment.
Laidlaw dined with me, and, poor fellow, was as much elated with the news as I am, for it is not of a nature to be kept secret. I hope I shall have him once more at Kaeside to debate, as we used to do, on religion and politics.

March 5.—I am admitted a member of the Maitland Club of Glasgow, a Society on the principle of the Roxburgh and Bannatyne. What a tail of the alphabet I should draw after me were I to sign with the indications of the different societies I belong to, beginning with President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and ending with umpire of the Six-feet-high Club.

March 6.—Made some considerable additions to the Appendix to General Preface. I am in the sentiments towards the public that the buffoon player expresses towards his patron—
“Go tell my good Lord, said this modest young man,
If he will but invite me to dinner,
I’ll be as diverting as ever I can—
I will, on the faith of a sinner.’
I will multiply the notes, therefore, when there is a chance of giving pleasure and variety. There is a stronger gleam of hope on my affairs than has yet touched on them; it is not steady or certain, but it is bright and conspicuous. Ten years may last with me, though I have but little chance of it.

March 7.—Sent away proofs. This extrication of my affairs, though only a Pisgah prospect, occupies my
mind more than is fitting; but without some such hopes I must have felt like one of the victims of the wretch
Burke, struggling against a smothering weight on my bosom, till nature could endure it no longer.

March 8.—Ballantyne, by a letter of this morning, totally condemns Anne of Geierstein. Third volume nearly finished—a pretty thing, truly, for I shall be expected to do all over again. Great dishonour in this, as Trinculo says, besides an infinite loss. Sent for Cadell to attend me to-morrow morning, that we may consult about this business.—Peel has made his motion on the Catholic question with a speech of three hours. It is almost a complete surrender to the Catholics, and so it should be, for half measures do but linger out the feud. This will, or rather ought to satisfy all men who sincerely love peace, and, therefore, all men of property. But will this satisfy Pat, who, with all his virtues, is certainly not the most sensible person in the world? Perhaps not; and if not, it is but fighting them at last. I smoked away, and thought of ticklish politics and bad novels.

March 9.—Cadell came to breakfast. We resolved in privy council to refer the question whether Anne of G—n be sea-worthy or not to further consideration, which, as the book cannot be published, at any rate, during the full rage of the Catholic question, may be easily managed. After breakfast I went to Sir William Arbuthnot’s,* and met there a select party of Tories, to decide whether we should act with the Whigs, by adopting their petition in favour of the Catholics. I was not free from apprehension that the petition might be put

* This gentleman was a favourite with Sir Walter—a special point of communion being the Antiquities of the British Drama. He was Provost of Edinburgh in 1816-17, and again in 1822, and the King gracefully surprised him by proposing his health, at the Banquet in the Parliament House, as “Sir William Arbuthnot, Baronet.”

DIARY—MARCH, 1829.183
into such language as I, at least, should be unwilling to homologate by my subscription. The Solicitor was voucher that they would keep the terms quite general; whereupon we subscribed the requisition for a meeting, with a slight alteration, affirming that it was our desire not to have intermeddled, had not the anti-Catholics pursued that course; and so the Whigs and we are embarked in the same boat—vogue la galère.

“Went about one o’clock to the Castle, where we saw the auld murderess Mons Meg* brought up in solemn procession to reoccupy her ancient place on the Argyle battery. The day was cold, but serene, and I think the ladies must have been cold enough, not to mention the Celts, who turned out upon the occasion, under the leading of Cluny Macpherson, a fine spirited lad. Mons Meg is a monument of our pride and poverty. The size is enormous, but six smaller guns would have been made at the same expense, and done six times as much execution as she could have done. There was immense interest taken in the show by the people of the town, and the numbers who crowded the Castle-hill had a magnificent appearance. About thirty of our Celts attended in costume: and as there was a Highland regiment for duty, with dragoons and artillerymen, the whole made a splendid show. The style in which the last manned and wrought the windlass which raised Old Meg, weighing seven or eight tons, from her temporary carriage to that which has been her basis for many years, was singularly beautiful as a combined exhibition of skill and strength. My daughter had what might have proved a frightful accident. Some rockets were let off, one of which lighted upon her head, and set her bonnet on fire. She neither screamed nor ran, but quietly per-

* See ante, Vol. v. p. 221.

Charles Sharpe to extinguish the fire, which he did with great coolness and dexterity. All who saw her, especially the friendly Celts, gave her merit for her steadiness, and said she came of good blood. My own courage was not tried, for being at some distance escorting the beautiful and lively Countess of Hopetoun, I did not hear of the accident till it was over.

“We lunched with the regiment (73d) now in the castle. The little entertainment gave me an opportunity of observing what I have often before remarked the improvement in the character of the young and subaltern officers in the army, which in the course of a long and bloody war had been, in point of rank and manners, something deteriorated. The number of persons applying for commissions (3000 being now on the lists) gives an opportunity of selection; and officers should certainly be gentlemen, with a complete opening to all who can rise by merit. The style in which duty and the knowledge of their profession are now enforced, prevents faineants from remaining long in the profession.

“In the evening I presided at the annual festival of the Celtic Club. I like this Society, and willingly give myself to be excited by the sight of handsome young men with plaids and claymores, and all the alertness and spirit of Highlanders in their native garb. There was the usual degree of excitation excellent dancing, capital songs, a general inclination to please and to be pleased. A severe cold caught on the battlements of the Castle prevented me from playing first fiddle so well as on former occasions, but what I could do was received with the usual partiality of the Celts. I got home fatigued and vino gravatus about eleven o’clock. We had many guests, some of whom, English officers, seemed both amused and surprised at our wild ways, especially at the dancing without ladies, and the mode
DIARY—MARCH, 1829.185
of drinking favourite toasts, by springing up with one foot on the bench and one on the table, and the peculiar shriek of applause, so unlike English cheering.

Abbotsford, March 18.—I like the hermit life indifferent well, nor would, I sometimes think, break my heart, were I to be in that magic mountain where food was regularly supplied by ministering genii, and plenty of books were accessible without the least interruption of human society. But this is thinking like a fool. Solitude is only agreeable when the power of having society is removed to a short space, and can be commanded at pleasure. ‘It is not good for man to be alone.’* It blunts our faculties and freezes our active virtues. And now, my watch pointing to noon, I think after four hours’ work I may indulge myself with a walk. The dogs see me about to shut my desk, and intimate their happiness by caresses and whining. By your leave, Messrs Genii of the Mountain, if I come to your retreat I’ll bring my dogs with me.

“The day was showery, but not unpleasant—soft dropping rains, attended by a mild atmosphere, that spoke of flowers in their seasons, and a chirping of birds, that had a touch of spring in it. I had the patience to get fully wet, and the grace to be thankful for it.

“Come, a little flourish on the trumpet. Let us rouse the Genius of this same red mountain—so called, because it is all the year covered with roses. There can be no difficulty in finding it, for it lies towards the Caspian, and is quoted in the Persian Tales. Well, I open my ephemerides, form my scheme under the suitable planet, and the Genius obeys the invitation and appears. The Gnome is a misshapen dwarf, with a huge jolter-head like that of Boerhaave on the Bridge,† his limbs and body

* Genesis, chap. ii. v. 18.

† This head may still be seen over a laboratory at No. 100 of

monstrously shrunk and disproportioned. ‘Sir Dwarf,’ said I, undauntedly, thy head is very large, and thy feet and limbs somewhat small in proportion.’ ‘I have crammed my head, even to the overflowing, with knowledge; and I have starved my limbs by disuse of exercise and denial of sustenance!’ ‘Can I acquire wisdom in thy solitary library?’ ‘Thou mayest!’ ‘On what condition?’ ‘Renounce all gross and fleshly pleasures, eat pulse and drink water, converse with none but the wise and learned, alive and dead.’ ‘Why, this were to die in the cause of wisdom!’ ‘If you desire to draw from our library only the advantage of seeming wise, you may have it consistent with all your favourite enjoyments.’ ‘How much sleep?’ ‘A Lapland night—eight months out of the twelve.’ ‘Enough for a dormouse, most generous Genius—a bottle of wine?’ ‘Two, if you please; but you must not seem to care for them—cigars in loads, whisky in lushings—only they must be taken with an air of contempt, a flocci-pauci-nihili-pili-fication of all that can gratify the outward man.’ ‘I am about to ask you a serious question—when one has stuffed his stomach, drunk his bottle, and smoked his cigar, how is he to keep himself awake?’ ‘Either by cephalic snuff or castle-building.’ ‘Do you approve of castle-building as a frequent exercise?’ ‘Genius—Life were not life without it—
‘Give me the joy that sickens not the heart,
Give me the wealth that has no wings to fly.’
Author.—I reckon myself one of the best aerial architects now living, and Nil me pœnitet.’ Genius.—‘Nec est cur te pœniteat. Most of your novels had previously been

the South Bridge, Edinburgh.—N.B. There is a tradition that the venerable busto in question was once dislodged by “Colonel Grogg” and some of his companions, and waggishly planted in a very inappropriate position.

DIARY—MARCH 19, 1829.187
subjects for airy castles.’ Author.—‘You have me—and moreover a man derives experience from such fanciful visions. There are few situations I have not in fancy figured, and there are few, of course, which I am not previously prepared to take some part in.’ Genius.—‘True, but I am afraid your having fancied yourself victorious in many a fight, would be of little use were you suddenly called to the field, and your personal infirmities and nervous agitations both rushing upon you and incapacitating you.’ Author.—‘My nervous agitations! down with them!—
“Down down to Limbo and the burning lake!
False fiend avoid!—
So there ends the tale, with a hoy, with a hoy,
So there ends the tale with a ho.
There’s a moral—if you fail
To seize it by the tail,
Its import will exhale, you must know.

March 19.—The above was written yesterday before dinner, though appearances are to the contrary. I only meant that the studious solitude I have sometimes dreamed of, unless practised with rare stoicism, might perchance degenerate into secret indulgences of coarser appetites, which, when the cares and restraints of social life are removed, are apt to make us think, with Dr Johnson, our dinner the most important event of the day. So much in the way of explanation, a humour which I love not. Go to. I fagged at my Review on Ancient Scottish History, both before and after breakfast. I walked from one o’clock till near three. I make it out rather better than of late I have been able to do in the streets of Edinburgh, where I am ashamed to walk so slow as would suit me. Indeed nothing but a certain suspicion, that once drawn up on the beach, I would soon break up, prevents my renouncing pedestrian exer-
cises altogether, for it is positive suffering, and of an acute kind too.

May 26.—Sent off ten pages of the Maid of the Mist this morning with a murrain:—But how to get my catastrophe packed into the compass allotted for it?
‘It sticks like a pistol half out of its holster,
Or rather indeed like an obstinate bolster,
Which I think I have seen you attempting, my dear,
In vain to cram into a small pillow-beer.’
There is no help for it—I must make a tour de force, and annihilate both time and space.

March 28.—In spite of the temptation of a fine morning, I toiled manfully at the Review till two o’clock, commencing at seven. I fear it will be uninteresting, but I like the muddling work of antiquities, and, besides, wish to record my sentiments with regard to the Gothic question. No one that has not laboured as I have done on imaginary topics can judge of the comfort afforded by walking on all fours, and being grave and dull. I dare say, when the clown of the pantomime escapes from his nightly task of vivacity, it is his especially to smoke a pipe and be prosy with some good-natured fellow, the dullest of his acquaintance. I have seen such a tendency in Sir Adam Ferguson, the gayest man I ever knew; and poor Tom Sheridan has complained to me on the fatigue of supporting the character of an agreeable companion.

April 3.—Both Sir James Mackintosh and Lord Haddington have spoken very handsomely in Parliament of my accession to the Catholic petition, and I think it has done some good; yet I am not confident that the measure will disarm the Catholic spleen nor am I entirely easy at finding myself allied to the Whigs even in the instance where I agree with them This is witless prejudice, however.

DIARY—APRIL, 1829. 189

April 8.—We have the news of the Catholic question being carried in the House of Lords, by a majority of 105 upon the second reading. This is decisive, and the balsam of Fierabras must be swallowed.

April 9.—I have bad news of James Ballantyne. Hypochondria, I am afraid, and religiously distressed in mind.

April 18.—Corrected proofs. I find J. B. has not returned to his business, though I wrote to say how necessary it was. My pity begins to give way to anger. Must he sit there and squander his thoughts and senses upon dowdy metaphysics and abstruse theology, till he addles his brains entirely, and ruins his business?—I have written to him again, letter third, and, I am determined, last.

April 20.—Lord Buchan is dead, a person whose immense vanity, bordering upon insanity, obscured, or rather eclipsed, very considerable talents. His imagination was so fertile, that he seemed really to believe the extraordinary fictions which he delighted in telling. His economy, most laudable in the early part of his life, when it enabled him, from a small income, to pay his father’s debts, became a miserable habit, and led him to do mean things. He had a desire to be a great man and a Mæsenasa bon marché. The two celebrated lawyers, his brothers, were not more gifted by nature than I think he was, but the restraints of a profession kept the eccentricity of the family in order. Henry Erskine was the best-natured man I ever knew, thoroughly a gentleman, and with but one fault. He could not say no, and thus sometimes misled those who trusted him. Tom Erskine was positively mad. I have heard him tell a cock-and-a-bull story of having seen the ghost of his father’s servant, John Burnet, with as much gravity as if he believed every word he was saying. Both Henry and Thomas were saving
men, yet both died very poor. The latter at one time possessed L.200,000; the other had a considerable fortune. The Earl alone has died wealthy. It is saving, not getting, that is the mother of riches. They all had wit. The Earl’s was crack-brained, and sometimes caustic; Henry’s was of the very kindest, best-humoured, and gayest sort that ever cheered society; that of Lord Erskine was moody and muddish. But I never saw him in his best days.

April 25.—After writing a heap of letters, it was time to set out for Lord Buchan’s funeral at Dryburgh Abbey. The letters were signed by Mr David Erskine, his Lordship’s natural son; and his nephew, the young Earl, was present; but neither of them took the head of the coffin. His Lordship’s burial took place in a chapel amongst the ruins. His body was in the grave with its feet pointing westward. My cousin, Maxpopple,* was for taking notice of it, but I assured him that a man who had been wrong in the head all his life would scarce become right-headed after death. I felt something at parting with this old man, though but a trumpery body. He gave me the first approbation I ever obtained from a stranger. His caprice had led him to examine Dr Adam’s class when I, a boy of twelve years old, and then in disgrace for some aggravated case of negligence, was called up from a low bench, and recited my lesson with some spirit and appearance of feeling the poetry—(it was the apparition of Hector’s ghost in the Æneid)—which called forth the noble Earl’s applause. I was very proud of this at the time. I was sad from

* William Scott, Esq.—the present Laird of Raeburn—was commonly thus designated from a minor possession, during his father’s lifetime. Whatever, in things of this sort, used to be practised among the French noblesse might be traced, till very lately, in the customs of the Scottish provincial gentry.

another account—it was the first time I had been among those ruins since I left a very valued pledge there. My next visit may be involuntary. Even God’s will be done—at least I have not the mortification of thinking what a deal of patronage and fuss Lord Buchan would bestow on my funeral.* Maxpopple dined and slept here with four of his family, much amused with what they heard and saw. By good fortune, a ventriloquist and parcel juggler came in, and we had him in the library after dinner. He was a half-starved wretched looking creature, who seemed to have eat more fire than bread. So I caused him to be well-stuffed, and gave him a guinea—rather to his poverty than to his skill—and now to finish
Anne of Geierstein.”

Anne of Geierstein was finished before breakfast on the 29th of April; and his Diary mentions that immediately after breakfast he began his Compendium of Scottish History for Dr Lardner’s Cyclopædia. We have seen that when the Proprietors of that work, in July 1828, offered him L.500 for an abstract of Scottish History in one volume, he declined the proposal. They subsequently offered L.700, and this was accepted; but though he began the task under the impression that he should find it a heavy one, he soon warmed to the subject, and pursued it with cordial zeal and satisfaction. One volume, it by and by appeared, would never do—in his own phrase “he must have elbow room”—and I believe it was finally settled that he should have L.1500 for the book in two volumes; of which the first was published before the end of this year.

Anne of Geierstein came out about the middle of May; and this, which may be almost called the last work of his imaginative genius, was received at least as well—

* See ante, vol. iv,, p. 276.

(out of Scotland, that is)—as the
Fair Maid of Perth had been, or indeed as any novel of his after the Crusaders. I partake very strongly, I am aware, in the feeling which most of my own countrymen have little shame in avowing, that no novel of his, where neither scenery nor character is Scottish, belongs to the same pre-eminent class with those in which he paints and peoples his native landscape. I have confessed that I cannot rank even his best English romances with such creations as Waverley and Old Mortality; far less can I believe that posterity will attach similar value to this Maid of the Mist. Its pages, however, display in undiminished perfection all the skill and grace of the mere artist, with occasional outbreaks of the old poetic spirit, more than sufficient to remove the work to an immeasurable distance from any of its order produced in this country in our own age. Indeed, the various play of fancy in the combination of persons and events, and the airy liveliness of both imagery and diction, may well justify us in applying to the author what he beautifully says of his King René—
“A mirthful man he was; the snows of age
Fell, but they did not chill him. Gaiety,
Even in life’s closing, touch’d his teeming brain
With such wild visions as the setting sun
Raises in front of some hoar glacier,
Painting the bleak ice with a thousand hues.”

It is a common saying, that there is nothing so distinctive of genius as the retention, in advanced years, of the capacity to depict the feelings of youth with all their original glow and purity. But I apprehend this blessed distinction belongs to, and is the just reward of, virtuous genius only. In the case of extraordinary force of imagination, combined with the habitual indulgence of a selfish mood;—not combined, that is to say, with the
JUNE—JULY, 1829.193
genial temper of mind and thought which God and Nature design to be kept alive in man by those domestic charities, out of which the other social virtues so easily spring, and with which they find such endless links of interdependence;—in this unhappy case, which none who has studied the biography of genius can pronounce to be a rare one, the very power which heaven bestowed seems to become, as old age darkens, the sternest avenger of its own misapplication. The retrospect of life is converted by its energy into one wide blackness of desolate regret; and whether this breaks out in the shape of a rueful contemptuousness, or a sarcastic mockery of tone, the least drop of the poison is enough to paralyze all attempts at awakening sympathy by fanciful delineations of love and friendship. Perhaps
Scott has nowhere painted such feelings more deliciously than in those very scenes of Anne of Geierstein, which offer every now and then, in some incidental circumstance or reflection, the best evidence that they are drawn by a grey-headed man. The whole of his own life was too present to his wonderful memory to permit of his brooding with exclusive partiality, whether painfully or pleasurably, on any one portion or phasis of it; and besides, he was always living over again in his children, young at heart whenever he looked on them, and the world that was opening on them and their friends. But above all, he had a firm belief in the future re-union of those whom death has parted.

He lost two more of his old intimates about this time;—Mr Terry in June, and Mr Shortreed in the beginning of July. The Diary says:—“July 9.—Heard of the death of poor Bob Shortreed, the companion of many a long ride among the hills in quest of old ballads. He was a merry companion, a good singer and mimic, and full of Scottish drollery. In his company, and under
his guidance, I was able to see much of rural society in the mountains, which I could not otherwise have attained, and which I have made my use of. He was, in addition, a man of worth and character. I always burdened his hospitality while at Jedburgh on the circuit, and have been useful to some of his family. Poor fellow! So glide our friends from us.* Many recollections die with him and with poor Terry.”

His Diary has few more entries for this twelvemonth. Besides the volume of History for Dr Lardner’s collection, he had ready for publication by December the last of the Scottish Series of Tales of a Grandfather; and had made great progress in the prefaces and notes for Cadell’s Opus Magnum. He had also overcome various difficulties which for a time interrupted the twin scheme of an illustrated edition of his Poems: and one of these in a manner so agreeable to him, and honourable to the other party, that I must make room for the two following letters:—

To J. G. Lockhart, Esq. Regents Park.
“Shandwick Place, 4th June, 1829.
“My dear Lockhart,

“I have a commission for you to execute for me, which I shall deliver in a few words. I am now in possession of my own copyrights of every kind, excepting a few things in Longman’s hands, and which I am offered

* Some little time before his death, the worthy Sheriff-substitute of Jedburgh received a complete set of his friend’s works, with this inscription:—“To Robert Shortreed, Esq., the friend of the author from youth to age, and his guide and companion upon many an expedition among the Border hills, in quest of the materials of legendary lore which have at length filled so many volumes, this collection of the results of their former rambles is presented by his sincere friend, Walter Scott.”

THE OPUS MAGNUM, &c.—1829.195
on very fair terms—and a fourth share of
Marmion, which is in the possession of our friend Murray. Now, I should consider it a great favour if Mr Murray would part with it at what he may consider as a fair rate, and would be most happy to show my sense of obligation by assisting his views and speculations as far as lies in my power. I wish you could learn as soon as you can Mr Murray’s sentiments on this subject, as they would weigh with me in what I am about to arrange as to the collected edition. The Waverley Novels are doing very well indeed.

“I put you to a shilling’s expense, as I wish a speedy answer to the above query. I am always, with love to Sophia, affectionately yours,

Walter Scott.”
To Sir Walter Scott, Bart., Edinburgh.
“Albemarle Street, June 8, 1829.
“My dear Sir,

Mr Lockhart has this moment communicated your letter respecting my fourth share of the copyright of Marmion. I have already been applied to by Messrs Constable, and by Messrs Longman, to know what sum I would sell this share for—but so highly do I estimate the honour of being even in so small a degree the publisher of the author of the poem—that no pecuniary consideration whatever can induce me to part with it.

“But there is a consideration of another kind, which until now I was not aware of, which would make it painful to me if I were to retain it a moment longer. I mean the knowledge of its being required by the author, into whose hands it was spontaneously resigned in the same instant that I read his request.

“This share has been profitable to me fifty-fold beyond what either publisher or author could have anticipated, and, therefore, my returning it on such an occa-
sion you will, I trust, do me the favour to consider in no other light than as a mere act of grateful acknowledgment for benefits already received by, my dear Sir, your obliged and faithful servant,

John Murray.”

The success of the collective novels was far beyond what either Sir Walter or Mr Cadell had ventured to anticipate. Before the close of 1829 eight volumes had been issued; and the monthly sale had reached as high as 35,000. Should this go on, there was, indeed, every reason to hope that, coming in aid of undiminished industry in the preparation of new works, it would wipe off all his load of debt in the course of a very few years. And during the autumn (which I spent near him) it was most agreeable to observe the effects of the prosperous intelligence, which every succeeding month brought, upon his spirits.

This was the more needed, that at this time his eldest son, who had gone to the south of France on account of some unpleasant symptoms in his health, did not at first seem to profit rapidly by the change of climate. He feared that the young man was not quite so attentive to the advice of his physicians as he ought to have been; and in one of many letters on this subject, after mentioning some of Cadell’s good news as to the great affair, he says “I have wrought hard, and so far successfully. But I tell you plainly, my dear boy, that if you permit your health to decline from want of attention, I have not strength of mind enough to exert myself in these matters as I have hitherto been doing.” Happily Major Scott was, ere long, restored to his usual state of health and activity.

Sir Walter himself, too, besides the usual allowance of rheumatism, and other lesser ailments, had an attack
that season of a nature which gave his family great alarm, and which for some days he himself regarded with the darkest prognostications. After some weeks, during which he complained of headach and nervous irritation, certain hæmorrhages indicated the sort of relief required, and he obtained it from copious cupping. He says in his Diary for June 3d:—“The ugly symptom still continues.
Dr Ross does not make much of it; and I think he is apt to look grave. Either way I am firmly resolved. I wrote in the morning. The Court kept me till near two, and then home comes I. Afternoon and evening were spent as usual. In the evening Dr Ross ordered me to be cupped, an operation which I only knew from its being practised by those eminent medical practitioners the barbers of Bagdad. It is not painful; and, I think, resembles a giant twisting about your flesh between his finger and thumb.” After this he felt better, he said, than he had done for years before; but there can be little doubt that the natural evacuation was a very serious symptom. It was, in fact, the precursor of apoplexy. In telling the Major of his recovery, he says “The sale of the Novels is pro—di—gi—ous. If it last but a few years, it will clear my feet of old incumbrances, nay, perhaps, enable me to talk a word to our friend Nicol Milne.
‘But old ships must expect to get out of commission,
Nor again to weigh anchor with yo heave ho!
However that may be, I should be happy to die a free man; and I am sure you will all be kind to poor
Anne, who will miss me most. I don’t intend to die a minute sooner than I can help for all this; but when a man takes to making blood instead of water, he is tempted to think on the possibility of his soon making earth.”

One of the last entries in this year’s Diary gives a sketch of the celebrated Edward Irving, who was about
this time deposed from the ministry of the Church of Scotland on account of his wild heresies.
Sir Walter, describing a large dinner party, says:—“I met today the celebrated divine and soi-disant prophet, Irving. He is a fine-looking man (bating a diabolical squint), with talent on his brow and madness in his eye. His dress, and the arrangement of his hair, indicated that. I could hardly keep my eyes off him while we were at table. He put me in mind of the devil disguised as an angel of light, so ill did that horrible obliquity of vision harmonize with the dark tranquil features of his face, resembling that of our Saviour in Italian pictures, with the hair carefully arranged in the same manner. There was much real or affected simplicity in the manner in which he spoke. He rather made play, spoke much, and seemed to be good-humoured. But he spoke with that kind of unction which is nearly allied to cajolerie. He boasted much of the tens of thousands that attended his ministry at the town of Annan, his native place, till he well-nigh provoked me to say he was a distinguished exception to the rule that a prophet was not esteemed in his own country. But time and place were not fitting.”

Among a few other friends from a distance, Sir Walter received this autumn a short visit from Mr Hallam, and made in his company several of the little excursions which had in former days been of constant recurrence. Mr Hallam had with him his son, Arthur, a young gentleman of extraordinary abilities, and as modest as able, who not long afterwards was cut off in the very bloom of opening life and genius. In a little volume of “Remains,” which his father has since printed for private friends with this motto—
“Vattene in pace alma beata e bella,”—
there occurs a memorial of Abbotsford and Melrose, which I have pleasure in being allowed to quote.

“I lived an hour in fair Melrose;
It was not when “the pale moonlight”
Its magnifying charm bestows;
Yet deem I that I “viewed it right.”
The wind-swept shadows fast careered,
Like living things that joyed or feared,
Adown the sunny Eildon Hill,
And the sweet winding Tweed the distance crowned well.
“I inly laughed to see that scene
Wear such a countenance of youth,
Though many an age those hills were green,
And yonder river glided smooth,
Ere in these now disjointed walls
The Mother Church held festivals,
And full-voiced anthemings the while
Swelled from the choir, and lingered down the echoing aisle.
“I coveted that Abbey’s doom;
For if, I thought, the early flowers
Of our affection may not bloom,
Like those green hills, through countless hours,
Grant me at least a tardy waning,
Some pleasure still in age’s paining;
Though lines and forms must fade away,
Still may old Beauty share the empire of Decay!
“But looking toward the grassy mound
Where calm the Douglas chieftains lie,
Who, living, quiet never found,
I straightway learnt a lesson high:
For there an old man sat serene,
And well I knew that thoughtful mien
Of him whose early lyre had thrown
Over these mouldering walls the magic of its tone.
“Then ceased I from my envying state,
And knew that aweless intellect
Hath power upon the ways of fate,
And works through time and space uncheck’d.
That minstrel of old chivalry,
In the cold grave must come to be,
But his transmitted thoughts have part
In the collective mind, and never shall depart.
“It was a comfort too to see
Those dogs that from him ne’er would rove,
And always eyed him reverently,
With glances of depending love.
They know not of that eminence
Which marks him to my reasoning sense;
They know but that he is a man,
And still to them is kind, and glads them all he can.
“And, hence, their quiet looks confiding,
Hence grateful instincts seated deep,
By whose strong bond, were ill betiding,
They’d risk their own his life to keep.
What joy to watch in lower creature
Such dawning of a moral nature,
And how (the rule all things obey)
They look to a higher mind to be their law and stay!”

The close of the autumn was embittered by a sudden and most unexpected deprivation. Apparently in the fullest enjoyment of health and vigour, Thomas Purdie leaned his head one evening on the table, and dropped asleep. This was nothing uncommon in a hard-working man; and his family went and came about him for several hours, without taking any notice. When supper came they tried to awaken him, and found that life had been for some time extinct. Far different from other years, Sir Walter seemed impatient to get away from Abbotsford to Edinburgh. “I have lost,” he writes (4th November) to Cadell,—“my old and faithful servant—my factotum—and am so much shocked that
I really wish to be quit of the country and safe in town. I have this day laid him in the grave. This has prevented my answering your letters.”

The grave, close to the Abbey at Melrose, is surmounted by a modest monument, having on two sides these inscriptions:—



“Thou hast been faithful
over a few things,
I will make thee ruler
over many things.
Matthew, chap. xxv. v. 21st.