LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, Bart.
Chapter VII 1830-31

Vol I Preface
Vol. I Contents.
Chapter I
Chapter II 1771-78
Chapter III 1778-83
Chapter IV 1783-86
Chapter V 1786-90
Chapter VI 1790-92
Chapter VII 1792-96
Chapter VIII 1796-97
Chapter IX 1798-99
Chapter X 1800-02
Chapter XI 1802-03
Chapter XII 1803-04
Vol. II Contents.
Chapter I 1804-05
Chapter II 1805
Chapter III 1806
Chapter IV 1806-08
Chapter V 1808
Chapter VI 1808-09
Chapter VII 1809-10
Chapter VIII 1810
Chapter IX 1810
Chapter X 1810-11
Chapter XI 1811
Chapter XII 1811-12
Vol. III Contents.
Chapter I 1812-13
Chapter II 1813
Chapter III 1814
Chapter IV 1814
Chapter V 1814
Chapter VI 1814
Chapter VII 1814
Chapter VIII 1814
Chapter IX 1814
Chapter X 1814-15
Chapter XI 1815
Chapter XII 1815
Vol III Appendix
Vol. IV Contents.
Chapter I 1816
Chapter II 1817
Chapter III 1817
Chapter IV 1818
Chapter V 1818
Chapter VI 1818
Chapter VII 1818-19
Chapter VIII 1819
Chapter IX 1819
Chapter X 1819
Chapter XI 1820
Chapter XII 1820
Vol. V Contents.
Chapter I 1820
Chapter II 1820-21
Chapter III 1821
Chapter IV 1821
Chapter V 1821
Chapter VI 1821
Chapter VII 1822
Chapter VIII 1822
Chapter IX 1822-23
Chapter X 1823
Chapter XI 1823
Chapter XII 1824
Chapter XIII 1824-25
Vol. VI Contents.
Chapter I 1825
Chapter II 1825
Chapter III 1825
Chapter IV 1825
Chapter V 1826
Chapter VI 1826
Chapter VII 1826
Chapter VIII 1826
Chapter IX 1826
Chapter X 1826
Chapter XI 1826
Vol. VII Contents.
Vol VII Preface
Chapter I 1826-27
Chapter II 1827
Chapter III 1828
Chapter IV 1828
Chapter V 1829
Chapter VI 1830
‣ Chapter VII 1830-31
Chapter VIII 1831
Chapter IX 1831
Chapter X 1831-32
Chapter XI 1832
Chapter XII
Vol VII Appendix
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The reader has already seen that Sir Walter had many misgivings in contemplating his final retirement from the situation he had occupied for six-and-twenty years in the Court of Session. Such a breach in old habits is always a serious experiment; but in his case it was very particularly so, because it involved his losing, during the winter months, when men most need society, the intercourse of almost all that remained to him of dear familiar friends. He had besides a love for the very stones of Edinburgh, and the thought that he was never again to sleep under a roof of his own in his native city cost him many a pang. But he never alludes either in his Diary or in his letters (nor do I
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remember that he ever did so in conversation) to the circumstance which, far more than all besides, occasioned care and regret in the bosom of his family. However he might cling to the notion that his recent ailments sprung merely from a disordered stomach, they had dismissed that dream, and the heaviest of their thoughts was that he was fixing himself in the country just when his health, perhaps his life, might depend any given hour on the immediate presence of a surgical hand. They reflected that the only medical practitioner resident within three miles of him might, in case of another seizure, come too late, even although the messenger should find him at home; but that his practice extended over a wide range of thinly peopled country, and that at the hour of need he might as probably be half a day’s journey off as at Melrose. We would fain have persuaded him that his library, catalogues, and other papers had fallen into such confusion that he ought to have some clever young student in the house during the winter to arrange them; and had he taken the suggestion in good part, a medical student would of course have been selected. But, whether or not he suspected our real motive, he would listen to no such plan, and his friendly surgeon (
Mr James Clarkson) then did the best he could for us by instructing a confidential domestic, privately, in the use of the lancet. This was John Nicolson; a name never to be mentioned by any of Scott’s family without respect and gratitude. He had been in the household from his boyhood, and was about this time (poor Dalgleish retiring from weak health) advanced to the chief place in it. Early and continued kindness had made a very deep impression on this fine handsome young man’s warm heart; he possessed intelligence, good sense, and a calm temper; and the courage and dexterity which Sir Walter had
delighted to see him display in sports and pastimes, proved henceforth of inestimable service to the master, whom he regarded, I verily believe, with the love and reverence of a son. Since I have reached the period at which human beings owe so much to ministrations of this class, I may as well name by the side of Nicolson
Miss Scott’s maid, Mrs Celia Street; a young person whose unwearied zeal, coupled with a modest tact that stamped her one of Nature’s gentlewomen, contributed hardly less to the comfort of Sir Walter and his children during the brief remainder of his life.*

Affliction, as it happened, lay heavy at this time on the kind house of Huntly-Burn also. The eldest Miss Ferguson was on her deathbed; and thus, when my wife and I were obliged to move southwards at the beginning of winter, Sir Walter was left almost entirely dependent on his daughter Anne, William Laidlaw, and the worthy domestics whom I have been naming. Mr Laidlaw attended him occasionally as amanuensis when his fingers were chilblained, and often dined as well as breakfasted with him: and Miss Scott well knew that in all circumstances she might lean to Laidlaw with the confidence of a niece or a daughter.

A more difficult and delicate task never devolved upon any man’s friend, than he had about this time to encounter. He could not watch Scott from hour to hour above all, he could not write to his dictation, without gradually, slowly, most reluctantly taking home to his bosom the conviction that the mighty mind, which he had worshipped through more than thirty years of intimacy, had lost something, and was daily losing some-

* On Sir Walter’s death Nicolson passed into the service of Mr Morritt at Rokeby, where he is now butler. Mrs Street remained in my house till 1836, when she married Mr Griffiths, a respectable brewer at Walworth.

WINTER OF 1830.235
thing more of its energy. The faculties were there, and each of them was every now and then displaying itself in its full vigour; but the sagacious judgment, the brilliant fancy, the unrivalled memory, were all subject to occasional eclipse—
“Along the chords the fingers stray’d,
And an uncertain warbling made.”
Ever and anon he paused and looked round him, like one half waking from a dream, mocked with shadows. The sad bewilderment of his gaze showed a momentary consciousness that, like Sampson in the lap of the Philistine, “his strength was passing from him, and he was becoming weak like unto other men.” Then came the strong effort of aroused will—the cloud dispersed as if before an irresistible current of purer air—all was bright and serene as of old. And then it closed again in yet deeper darkness.

During the early part of this winter the situation of Cadell and Ballantyne was hardly less painful, and still more embarrassing. What doubly and trebly perplexed them was that, while the MS. sent for press seemed worse every budget, Sir Walter’s private letters to them, more especially on points of business, continued as clear in thought, and almost so in expression, as formerly; full of the old shrewdness, and firmness, and manly kindness, and even of the old good-humoured pleasantry. About them, except the staggering penmanship, and here and there one word put down obviously for another, there was scarcely any thing to indicate decayed vigour. It is not surprising that poor Ballantyne, in particular, should have shrunk from the notion that any thing was amiss,—except the choice of an unfortunate subject, and the indulgence of more than common carelessness and rapidity in composition. He seems to
have done so as he would from some horrid suggestion of the Devil; and accordingly obeyed his natural sense of duty, by informing Sir Walter, in plain terms, that he considered the opening chapters of
Count Robert as decidedly inferior to any thing that had ever before come from that pen. James appears to have dwelt chiefly on the hopelessness of any Byzantine fable; and he might certainly have appealed to a long train of examples for the fatality which seems to hang over every attempt to awaken any thing like a lively interest about the persons and manners of the generation in question; the childish forms and bigotries, the weak pomps and drivelling pretensions, the miserable plots and treacheries, the tame worn-out civilisation of those European Chinese. The epoch on which Scott had fixed was, however, one that brought these doomed slaves of vanity and superstition into contact with the vigorous barbarism both of western Christendom and the advancing Ottoman. Sir Walter had, years before, been struck with its capabilities; and who dares to say that, had he executed the work when he sketched the outline of its plan, he might not have achieved as signal a triumph over all critical prejudices, as he had done when he rescued Scottish romance from the mawkish degradation in which Waverley found it?

In himself and his own affairs there was enough to alarm and perplex him and all who watched him; but the aspect of the political horizon also pressed more heavily upon his spirit than it had ever done before. All the evils which he had apprehended from the rupture among the Tory leaders in the beginning of 1827 were now, in his opinion, about to be consummated. The high Protestant party, blinded by their resentment of the abolition of the Test Act and the Roman Catholic disabilities, seemed willing to run any risk for the pur-
WINTER OF 1830.237
pose of driving the
Duke of Wellington from the helm. The general election, occasioned by the demise of the crown, was held while the successful revolts in France and Belgium were fresh and uppermost in every mind, and furnished the Liberal candidates with captivating topics, of which they eagerly availed themselves. The result had considerably strengthened the old opposition in the House of Commons; and a single vote, in which the ultra-Tories joined the Whigs, was considered by the Ministry as so ominous, that they immediately retired from office. The succeeding cabinet of Earl Grey included names identified, in Scott’s view, with the wildest rage of innovation. Their first step was to announce a bill of Parliamentary Reform on a large scale, for which it was soon known they had secured the warm personal support of King William IV.; a circumstance, the probability of which had, as we have seen, been contemplated by Sir Walter during the last illness of the Duke of York. Great discontent prevailed, meanwhile, throughout the labouring classes of many districts, both commercial and rural. Every newspaper teemed with details of riot and incendiarism; and the selection of such an epoch of impatience and turbulence for a legislative experiment of the extremest difficulty and delicacy—one, in fact, infinitely more important than had ever before been agitated within the forms of the constitution—was perhaps regarded by most grave and retired men with feelings near akin to those of the anxious and melancholy invalid at Abbotsford. To annoy him additionally, he found many eminent persons, who had hitherto avowed politics of his own colour, renouncing all their old tenets, and joining the cry of Reform, which to him sounded Revolution, as keenly as the keenest of those who had been through life considered apostles of Republicanism. And I must
also observe that, as, notwithstanding his own steady Toryism, he had never allowed political differences to affect his private feelings towards friends and companions, so it now happened that among the few with whom he had daily intercourse there was hardly one he could look to for sympathy in his present reflections and anticipations. The affectionate
Laidlaw had always been a stout Whig; he now hailed the coming changes as the beginning of a political millennium. Ballantyne, influenced probably by his new ghostly counsellors, was by degrees leaning to a similar view of things. Cadell, his bookseller, and now the principal confidant and assistant from week to week in all his plans and speculations, was a cool, inflexible specimen of the national character, and had always, I presume, considered the Tory creed as a piece of weakness, to be pardoned, indeed, in a poet and an antiquary, but at best pitied in men of any other class.

Towards the end of November Sir Walter had another slight touch of apoplexy. He recovered himself without assistance; but again consulted his physicians in Edinburgh, and by their advice adopted a still greater severity of regimen.

The reader will now understand what his frame and condition of health and spirits were, at the time when he received from Ballantyne a decided protest against the novel on which he was struggling to fix the shattered energies of his memory and fancy.

To Mr James Ballantyne, Printer, Edinburgh.
“Abbotsford, 8th Dec. 1830.
“My dear James,

“If I were like other authors, as I flatter myself I am not, I should send you ‘an order on my treasurer for a hundred ducats, wishing you all prosperity and a little
WINTER OF 1830.239
more taste;’* but having never supposed that any abilities I ever had were of a perpetual texture, I am glad when friends tell me what I might be long in finding out myself.
Mr Cadell will show you what I have written to him. My present idea is to go abroad for a few months, if I hold together as long. So ended the Fathers of the Novel—Fielding and Smollett—and it would be no unprofessional finish for yours,

Walter Scott.”
To R. Cadell, Esq., Bookseller, Edinburgh.
“Abbotsford, 8th Dec. 1830.
“My dear Sir,

“Although we are come near to a point to which every man knows he must come, yet I acknowledge I thought I might have put it off for two or three years; for it is hard to lose one’s power of working when you have perfect leisure for it. I do not view James Ballantyne’s criticism, although his kindness may not make him sensible of it, so much as an objection to the particular topic, which is merely fastidious, as to my having failed to please him, an anxious and favourable judge, and certainly a very good one. It would be losing words to say that the names are really no objection, or that they might be in some degree smoothed off by adopting more modern Grecian. This is odd. I have seen when a play or novel would have been damned by introduction of Macgregors or Macgrouthers, or others, which you used to read as a preface to Fairntosh whisky, on every spirit shop—yet these have been wrought into heroes. James is, with many other kindly critics, perhaps in the predicament of an honest drunkard when crop-sick the next morning, who does not ascribe the malady to the

* Archbishop of Grenada in Gil Blas.

wine he has drunk, but to having tasted some particular dish at dinner which disagreed with his stomach. The fact is, I have not only written a great deal, but, as Bobadil teaches his companions to fence, I have taught a hundred gentlemen to write nearly as well, if not altogether so, as myself.

“Now, such being my belief, I have lost, it is plain, the power of interesting the country, and ought, in justice to all parties, to retire, while I have some credit. But this is an important step, and I will not be obstinate about it, if necessary. I would not act hastily, and still think it right to set up at least half a volume. The subject is essentially an excellent one. If it brings to my friend J. B. certain prejudices not unconnected, perhaps, with his old preceptor Mr Whale, we may find ways of obviating this; but frankly, I cannot think of flinging aside the half finished volume, as if it were a corked bottle of wine. If there is a decisive resolution for laying aside Count Robert (which I almost wish I had named Anna Comnena), I shall not easily prevail on myself to begin another.

“I may perhaps take a trip to the Continent for a year or two, if I find Othello’s occupation gone, or rather Othello’s reputation. James seems to have taken his bed upon it—yet has seen Pharsalia. I hope your cold is getting better. I am tempted to say as Hotspur says of his father—
‘Zounds! how hath he the leisure to be sick?’*
There is a very material consideration how a failure of
Count Robert might affect the Magnum, which is a main object. So this is all at present from, dear sir, yours, very faithfully,

Walter Scott.”

* 1 King Henry IV. Act IV. Sc. 1 .

WINTER OF 1830. 241
To the Same.
“Abbotsford, 9th Dec. 1830.
“My dear Cadell,

“I send you sheet B of the unlucky Count—it will do little harm to correct it, whether we ultimately use it or no; for the rest we must do as we dow, as my mother used to say. I could reduce many expenses in a foreign country, especially equipage and living, which in this country I could not do so well. But it is matter of serious consideration, and we have time before us to think. I write to you rather than Ballantyne, because he is not well, and I look on you as hardened against wind and weather, whereas
‘Man but a rush against Othello’s breast,
And he retires.’*
But we must brave bad weather as well as bear it.

“I send a volume of the interleaved Magnum. I know not whether you will carry on that scheme or not at present. I am yours sincerely,

Walter Scott.

“P.S.—I expect Marshal Bourmont and a French Minister, Baron d’Haussez, here to-day, to my no small discomfort, as you may believe; for I would rather be alone.”

To the Same.
“Abbotsford, 12th Dec., 1830.
“My dear Sir,

“I am much obliged for your kind letter, and have taken a more full review of the whole affair than I was

* Othello, Act V. Sc. 2.

able to do at first. There were many circumstances in the matter which you and
J. B. could not be aware of, and which, if you were aware of, might have influenced your judgment, which had, and yet have a most powerful effect upon mine. The deaths of both my father and mother have been preceded by a paralytic shock. My father survived it for nearly two years, a melancholy respite, and not to be desired. I was alarmed with Miss Young’s morning visit, when, as you know, I lost my speech. The medical people said it was from the stomach, which might be; but while there is a doubt on a point so alarming, you will not wonder that the subject, or, to use Hare’s lingo, the shot, should be a little anxious. I restricted all my creature comforts, which were never excessive, within a single cigar and a small wine-glass of spirits per day. But one night last month, when I had a friend with me, I had a slight vertigo when going to bed, and fell down in my dressing-room, though but for one instant. Upon this I wrote to Dr Abercromby, and in consequence of his advice, I have restricted myself yet farther, and have cut off the cigar, and almost half of the mountain-dew. Now, in the midst of all this, I began my work with as much attention as I could; and having taken pains with my story, I find it is not relished, nor indeed tolerated by those who have no interest in condemning it, but a strong interest in putting even a face upon their consciences. Was not this, in the circumstances, a damper to an invalid, already afraid that the sharp edge might be taken off his intellect, though he was not himself sensible of that? and did it not seem, of course, that nature was rather calling for repose than for further efforts in a very exciting and feverish style of composition? It would have been the height of injustice and cruelty to impute want
WINTER OF 1830.243
of friendship or sympathy to J. B.’s discharge of a doubtful, and I am sensible, a perilous task. True
——‘The first bringer of unwelcome news,
Hath but a losing office’—*
and it is a failing in the temper of the most equal-minded men, that we find them liable to be less pleased with the tidings that they have fallen short of their aim than if they had been told they had hit the mark; but I never had the least thought of blaming him, and indeed my confidence in his judgment is the most forcible part of the whole affair. It is the consciousness of his sincerity which makes me doubt whether I can proceed with the
County Paris. I am most anxious to do justice to all concerned, and yet, for the soul of me, I cannot see what is likely to turn out for the best. I might attempt the Perilous Castle of Douglas, but I fear the subject is too much used, and that I might again fail in it. Then being idle will never do, for a thousand reasons; all this I am thinking of till I am half sick. I wish James, who gives such stout advice when he thinks we are wrong, would tell us how to put things right. One is tempted to cry, ‘Wo worth thee! is there no help in thee?’ Perhaps it may be better to take no resolution till we all meet together.

“I certainly am quite decided to fulfil all my engagements, and, so far as I can, discharge the part of an honest man, and if any thing can be done mean-time for the Magnum, I shall be glad to do it.

“I trust James and you will get afloat next Saturday. You will think me like Murray in the farce ‘I eat well, drink well, and sleep well, but that’s all, Tom, that’s all.’† We will wear the thing through one way

* 2 King Henry IV. Act I. Sc. 1.

† Sir Mark Chace in the farce of “A Roland for an Oliver.”

or other if we were once afloat, but you see all this is a scrape. Yours truly,

W. Scott.”

This letter, Mr Cadell says, “struck both James B. and myself with dismay.” They resolved to go out to Abbotsford, but not for a few days, because a general meeting of the creditors was at hand, and there was reason to hope that its results would enable them to appear as the bearers of sundry pieces of good news. Mean-time, Sir Walter himself rallied considerably, and resolved, by way of testing his powers, while the novel hung suspended, to write a fourth epistle of Malachi Malagrowther on the public affairs of the period. The announcement of a political dissertation, at such a moment of universal excitement, and from a hand already trembling under the misgivings of a fatal malady, might well have filled Cadell and Ballantyne with new “dismay,” even had they both been prepared to adopt, in the fullest extent, such views of the dangers of our state, and the remedies for them, as their friend was likely to dwell upon. They agreed that whatever they could safely do to avert this experiment must be done. Indeed they were both equally anxious to find, if it could be found, the means of withdrawing him from all literary labour, save only that of annotating his former novels. But they were not the only persons who had been, and then were, exerting all their art for that same purpose. His kind and skilful physicians, Doctors Abercromby and Ross of Edinburgh, had over and over preached the same doctrine, and assured him, that if he persisted in working his brain, nothing could prevent his malady from recurring, ere long, in redoubled severity. He answered—“As for bidding me not work, Molly might as well put the kettle on the fire, and say,
WINTER OF 1830.245
now, don’t boil.” To myself, when I ventured to address him in a similar strain, he replied, “I understand you, and I thank you from my heart, but I must tell you at once how it is with me. I am not sure that I am quite myself in all things; but I am sure that in one point there is no change. I mean that I foresee distinctly, that if I were to be idle I should go mad. In comparison to this, death is no risk to shrink from.”

The meeting of trustees and creditors took place on the 17th—Mr George Forbes (brother to the late Sir William) in the chair. There was then announced another dividend on the Ballantyne estate of three shillings in the pound—thus reducing the original amount of the debt to about L.54,000. It had been not unnaturally apprehended that the convulsed state of politics might have checked the sale of the Magnum Opus; but this does not seem to have been the case to any extent worth notice. The meeting was numerous, and not contented with a renewed vote of thanks to their debtor, they passed unanimously the following resolution, which was moved by Mr (now Sir James) Gibson Craig, and seconded by the late Mr Thomas Allan—both, by the way, leading Whigs:—“That Sir Walter Scott be requested to accept of his furniture, plate, linens, paintings, library, and curiosities of every description, as the best means the creditors have of expressing their very high sense of his most honourable conduct, and in grateful acknowledgment for the unparalleled and most successful exertions he has made, and continues to make for them.”

Sir Walter’s letter, in answer to the chairman’s communication, was as follows:—

To George Forbes, Esq., Edinburgh.
“Abbotsford, December 18, 1830,
“My dear Sir,

“I was greatly delighted with the contents of your letter, which not only enables me to eat with my own spoons, and study my own books, but gives me the still higher gratification of knowing that my conduct has been approved by those who were concerned.

“The best thanks which I can return is by continuing my earnest and unceasing attention—which, with a moderate degree of the good fortune which has hitherto attended my efforts, may enable me to bring these affairs to a fortunate conclusion. This will be the best way in which I can show my sense of the kind and gentlemanlike manner in which the meeting have acted.

“To yourself, my dear sir, I can only say, that good news become doubly acceptable when transmitted through a friendly channel; and considering my long and intimate acquaintance with your excellent brother and father, as well as yourself and other members of your family, your letter must be valuable in reference to the hand from which it comes, as well as to the information which it contains.

“I am sensible of your uniform kindness, and the present instance of it. Very much, my dear sir, your obliged humble servant,

Walter Scott.”

On the 18th, Cadell and Ballantyne proceeded to Abbotsford, and found Sir Walter in a placid state—having evidently been much soothed and gratified with the tidings from Edinburgh. His whole appearance was greatly better than they had ventured to anticipate; and deferring literary questions till the morning, he
WINTER OF 1830.247
made this gift from his creditors the chief subject of his conversation. He said it had taken a heavy load off his mind: he apprehended that, even if his future works should produce little money, the profits of the Magnum, during a limited number of years, with the sum which had been insured on his life, would be sufficient to obliterate the remaining moiety of the Ballantyne debt: he considered the library and museum now conveyed to him as worth at the least L.10,000, and this would enable him to make some provision for his younger children. He said that he designed to execute his last will without delay, and detailed to his friends all the particulars which the document ultimately embraced. He mentioned to them that he had recently received, through the
Lord Chief Commissioner Adam, a message from the new King, intimating his Majesty’s disposition to keep in mind his late brother’s kind intentions with regard to Charles Scott; and altogether his talk, though grave, and on grave topics, was the reverse of melancholy.

Next morning, in Sir Walter’s study, Ballantyne read aloud the political essay which had (after the old fashion) grown to an extent far beyond what the author contemplated when he began his task. To print it in the Weekly Journal, as originally proposed, would now be hardly compatible with the limits of that paper: Sir Walter had resolved on a separate publication.

I believe no one ever saw this performance but the bookseller, the printer, and William Laidlaw; and I cannot pretend to have gathered any clear notion of its contents, except that the panacea was the re-imposition of the income-tax; and that after much reasoning in support of this measure, Sir Walter attacked the principle of Parliamentary Reform in toto. We need hardly suppose that he advanced any objections which would seem new to the students of the de-
bates in both Houses during 1831 and 1832; his logic carried no conviction to the breast of his faithful amanuensis; but Mr Laidlaw assures me, nevertheless, that in his opinion no composition of Sir Walter’s happiest day contained any thing more admirable than the bursts of indignant and pathetic eloquence which here and there “set off a halting argument.”

The critical arbiters, however, concurred in condemning the production. Cadell spoke out; he assured Sir Walter, that from not being in the habit of reading the newspapers and periodical works of the day, he had fallen behind the common rate of information on questions of practical policy; that the views he was enforcing had been already expounded by many Tories, and triumphantly answered by organs of the Liberal party; but that, be the intrinsic value and merit of these political doctrines what they might, he was quite certain that to put them forth at that season would be a measure of extreme danger for the author’s personal interest: that it would throw a cloud over his general popularity, array a hundred active pens against any new work of another class that might soon follow, and perhaps even interrupt the hitherto splendid success of the Collection on which so much depended. On all these points Ballantyne, though with hesitation and diffidence, professed himself to be of Cadell’s opinion. There ensued a scene of a very unpleasant sort; but by and by a kind of compromise was agreed to—the plan of a separate pamphlet, with the well-known nom de guerre of Malachi, was dropt; and Ballantyne was to stretch his columns so as to find room for the lucubration, adopting all possible means to mystify the public as to its parentage. This was the understanding when the conference broke up; but the unfortunate manuscript was soon afterwards committed to the flames.
WINTER OF 1830.249
James Ballantyne accompanied the proof-sheet with many minute criticisms on the conduct as well as expression of the argument: the author’s temper gave way—and the commentary shared the fate of the text.

Mr Cadell opens a very brief account of this affair with expressing his opinion, that “Sir Walter never recovered it;” and he ends with an altogether needless apology for his own part in it. He did only what was his duty by his venerated friend; and he did it, I doubt not, as kindly in manner as in spirit. Even if the fourth Epistle of Malachi had been more like its precursors than I can well suppose it to have been, nothing could have been more unfortunate for Sir Walter than to come forward at that moment as a prominent antagonist of Reform. Such an appearance might very possibly have had the consequences to which the bookseller pointed in his remonstrance; but at all events it must have involved him in a maze of replies and rejoinders; and I think it too probable that some of the fiery disputants of the periodical press, if not of St Stephen’s Chapel, might have been ingenious enough to connect any real or fancied flaws in his argument with those circumstances in his personal condition which had for some time been darkening his own reflections with dim auguries of the fate of Swift and Marlborough. His reception of Ballantyne’s affectionate candour may suggest what the effect of really hostile criticism would have been. The end was, that seeing how much he stood in need of some comfort, the printer and bookseller concurred in urging him not to despair of Count Robert. They assured him that he had attached too much importance to what had formerly been said about the defects of its opening chapters; and he agreed to resume the novel, which neither of them ever expected he would live to finish. “If we did wrong,” says
Cadell, “we did it for the best: we felt that to have spoken out as fairly on this as we had done on the other subject, would have been to make ourselves the bearers of a death-warrant.” I hope there are not many men who would have acted otherwise in their painful situation.

On the 20th, after a long interval, Sir Walter once more took up his Journal: but the entries are few and short:—e. g.

December 20, 1830.—Vacation and session are now the same to me. The long remove must then be looked to for the final signal to break up, and that is a serious thought.

“A circumstance of great consequence to my habits and comforts was my being released from the Court of Session. My salary, which was L.1300, was reduced to L.800. My friends, before leaving office, were desirous to patch up the deficiency with a pension. I did not see well how they could do this without being charged with obloquy, which they shall not be on my account. Besides, though L.500 a-year is a round sum, yet I would rather be independent than I would have it.

“I had also a kind communication about interfering to have me named a P. Counsellor. But besides that, when one is old and poor, one should avoid taking rank, I would be much happier if I thought any act of kindness was done to help forward Charles; and having said so much, I made my bow, and declared my purpose of remaining satisfied with my knighthood. All this is rather pleasing. Yet much of it looks like winding up my bottom for the rest of my life. But there is a worse symptom of settling accompts, of which I have felt some signs. Ever since my fall in February, it is very certain that I have seemed to speak with an impediment.
JANUARY 1831.251
To add to this, I have the constant increase of my lameness the thigh-joint, knee-joint, and ankle-joint. I move with great pain in the whole limb, and am at every minute, during an hour’s walk, reminded of my mortality. I should not care for all this, if I were sure of dying handsomely; and
Cadell’s calculations might be sufficiently firm, though the author of Waverley had pulled on his last nightcap. Nay, they might be even more trust-worthy, if remains and memoirs, and such like, were to give a zest to the posthumous. But the fear is, lest the blow be not sufficient to destroy life, and that I should linger on ‘a driveller and a show.’

December 24.—This morning died my old acquaintance and good friend, Miss Bell Ferguson, a woman of the most excellent conditions. The last two, or almost three years, were very sickly. A bitter cold day. Anne drove me over to Huntly-Burn. I found Colonel Ferguson, and Captain John, R. N., in deep affliction, expecting Sir Adam hourly. I wrote to Walter about the project of my Will.

December 29.—Attended poor Miss Bell Ferguson’s funeral. I sat by the Reverend Mr Thomson. Though ten years younger than him, I found the barrier between him and me much broken down. The difference of ten years is little after sixty has passed. In a cold day I saw poor Bell laid in her cold bed. Life never parted with a less effort.

January 1, 1831.—I cannot say the world opens pleasantly for me this new year. There are many things for which I have reason to be thankful; especially that Cadell’s plans seem to have succeeded and he augurs that the next two years will well-nigh clear me. But
I feel myself decidedly wrecked in point of health, and am now confirmed I have had a paralytic touch. I speak and read with embarrassment, and even my handwriting seems to stammer. This general failure
‘With mortal crisis doth portend,
My days to appropinque an end.’*
I am not solicitous about this, only if I were worthy I would pray God for a sudden death, and no interregnum between I cease to exercise reason and I cease to exist.

January 5.—Very indifferent, with more awkward feelings than I can well bear up against. My voice sunk and my head strangely confused. When I begin to form my ideas for conversation expressions fail me, yet in solitude they are sufficiently arranged. I incline to hold that these ugly symptoms are the work of imagination; but, as Dr Adam Ferguson, a firm man, if ever there was one in the world, said on such an occasion, what is worse than imagination? As Anne was vexed and frightened, I allowed her to send for young Clarkson. Of course he could tell but little save what I knew before.

January 7.—A fine frosty day, and my spirits lighter. I have a letter of great comfort from Walter, who, in a manly, handsome, and dutiful manner, expresses his desire to possess the library and moveables of every kind at Abbotsford, with such a valuation laid upon them as I shall choose to impose. This removes the only delay to making my Will.

Jan. 8.—Spent much time in writing instructions

* Hudibras.

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for my last will and testament. Have up two boys for shop-lifting—remained at Galashiels till four o’clock and returned starved. Could work none, and was idle all evening—try to-morrow. Jan. 9.—Went over to Galashiels, and was busied the whole time till three o’clock about a petty thieving affair, and had before me a pair of gallows’-birds, to whom I could say nothing for total want of proof, except, like the sapient Elbow, ‘thou shalt continue there, know thou, thou shalt continue.’ A little gallows-brood they were, and their fate will catch it. Sleepy, idle, and exhausted on this. Wrought little or none in the evening. Jan. 10.—Wrote a long letter to
Henry Scott, who is a fine fellow, and what I call a Heart of Gold. He has sound parts, good sense, and is a true man. O, that I could see a strong party banded together for the King and country, and if I see I can do any thing, or have a chance of it, I will not fear for the skin-cutting. It is the selfishness of this generation that drives me mad.
‘A hundred pounds?
Ha! thou hast touch’d me nearly.’

The letter here alluded to contains some striking sentences.

To Henry Francis Scott, Esq. Younger of Harden, M. P.
“Abbotsford, 10th January, 1831.
“My dear Henry,

“ * * * Unassisted by any intercourse with the existing world, but thinking over the present state of matters with all the attention in my power, I see but one line which can be taken by public men, that is really open, manly, and consistent. In the medical people’s
phrase, Principiis obsta: Oppose any thing that can in principle innovate on the Constitution, which has placed Great Britain at the head of the world, and will keep her there, unless she chooses to descend of her own accord from that eminence. There may, for aught I know, be with many people reasons for deranging it; but I take it on the broad basis that nothing will be ultimately gained by any one who is not prepared to go full republican lengths. To place elections on a more popular foot, would produce advantage in no view whatever. Increasing the numbers of the electors would not distinguish them with more judgment for selecting a candidate, nor render them less venal, though it might make their price cheaper. But it would expose them to a worse species of corruption than that of money—the same that has been and is practised more or less in all republics—I mean that the intellects of the people will be liable to be besotted by oratory ad captandum, more dangerous than the worst intoxicating liquors. As for the chance of a beneficial alteration in the representatives, we need only point to Preston, and other such like places, for examples of the sense, modesty, and merit which would be added to our legislation by a democratic extension of the franchise. To answer these doubts, I find one general reply among those not actually calling themselves Whigs who are now too deeply pledged to acknowledge their own rashness. All others reply by a reference to the spirit of the people—intimating a passive, though apparently unwilling resignation to the will of the multitude. When you bring them to the point, they grant all the dangers you state, and then comes their melancholy—What can we do? The fact is, these timid men see they are likely to be called on for a pecuniary sacrifice, in the way of income-tax or otherwise, perhaps for military service in some con-
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stitutional fashion, certainly to exert themselves in various ways, and rather than do so they will let the public take a risk. An able young man, not too much afraid of his own voice, nor over-modest, but who remembers that any one who can speak intelligibly is always taken current at the price at which he estimates himself, might at this crisis do much by tearing off the liniments with which they are daubing the wounds of the country, and crying peace, peace, when we are steering full sail towards civil war.

“I am old enough to remember well a similar crisis. About 1792, when I was entering life, the admiration of the godlike system of the French Revolution was so rife, that only a few old-fashioned Jacobites and the like ventured to hint a preference for the land they lived in; or pretended to doubt that the new principles must be infused into our worn-out constitution. Burke appeared, and all the gibberish about the superior legislation of the French dissolved like an enchanted castle when the destined knight blows his horn before it. The talents, the almost prophetic powers of Burke are not needed on this occasion, for men can now argue from the past. We can point to the old British ensign floating from the British citadel; while the tricolor has been to gather up from the mire and blood—the shambles of a thousand defeats—a prosperous standard to rally under. Still, however, this is a moment of dulness and universal apathy, and I fear that, unless an Orlando should blow the horn, it might fail to awaken the sleepers. But though we cannot do all, we should at least do each of us whatever we can.

“I would fain have a society formed for extending mutual understanding. Place yourselves at the head, and call yourselves sons of St Andrew, any thing or nothing—but let there be a mutual understanding. Unite and combine. You will be surprised to see how soon you
will become fashionable. It was by something of this kind that the stand was made in 1791-2; vis unita fortior. I earnestly recommend to
Charles Baillie, Johnstone of Alva, and yourself, to lose no opportunity to gather together the opinions of your friends; especially of your companions, for it is only among the young, I am sorry to say, that energy and real patriotism are now to be found. If it should be thought fit to admit peers, which will depend on the plans and objects adopted, our Chief ought naturally to be at the head. As for myself, no personal interests shall prevent my doing my best in the cause which I have always conceived to be that of my country. But I suspect there is little of me left to make my services worth the having. Why should not old Scotland have a party among her own children? Yours very sincerely, my dear Henry,

Walter Scott.”

Diary, January 11.—Wrote and sent off about three of my own pages in the morning, then walked with Swanston. I tried to write before dinner, but with drowsiness and pain in my head, made little way. A man carries no scales about him to ascertain his own value. I always remember the prayer of Virgil’s sailor in extremity.
‘Non jam prima peto Mnestheus, nee vincere certo,
Quanquam O!—Sed superent quibus hoc, Neptune, dedisti!
Extremes pudeat rediisse: hoc vincite, cives,
Et prohibete nefas!’*
We must to our oar; but I think this and another are all that even success would tempt me to write.

January 17.—I had written two hours, when various

* Æneid. V,

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visiters began to drop in. I was sick of these interruptions, and dismissed
Mr Laidlaw, having no hope of resuming my theme with spirit. God send me more leisure and fewer friends to peck it away by tea-spoonfuls.—Another fool sends to entreat an autograph, which he should be ashamed in civility to ask, as I am to deny. I got notice of poor Henry Mackenzie’s death. He has long maintained a niche in Scottish literature, gayest of the gay, though most sensitive of the sentimental.

January 18.—Dictated to Laidlaw till about one o’clock, during which time it was rainy. Afterwards I walked, sliding about in the mud, and very uncomfortable. In fact, there is no mistaking the three sufficients,* and Fate is now straitening its circumvallations around me.
‘Come what come may,
Time and the hour run through the roughest day.’†

January 19.—Mr Laidlaw came down at ten, and we wrote till one. This is an important help to me, as it saves both my eyesight and nerves, which last are cruelly affected by finding those who look out of the windows grow gradually darker and darker. Rode out, or, more properly, was carried out into the woods to see the course of a new road, which may serve to carry off the thinnings of the trees, and for rides. It is very well lined, and will serve both for beauty and convenience. Mr Laidlaw engages to come back to dinner, and finish two or three more pages. Met my agreeable and ladylike neighbour, Mrs Brewster, on my pony, and I was actually ashamed to be seen by her.

* Sir W. alludes to Mrs Piozzi’s Tale of the Three Sufficient Warnings.

Macbeth, Act I. Sc. 3.

‘Sir Denis Brand, and on so poor a steed!’*

“I believe detestable folly of this kind is the very last that leaves us. One would have thought I ought to have little vanity at this time o’ day; but it is an abiding appurtenance of the old Adam, and I write for penance what, like a fool, I actually felt. I think the peep, real or imaginary, at the gates of death should have given me firmness not to mind little afflictions.”

On the 31st of January, Miss Scott being too unwell for a journey, Sir Walter went alone to Edinburgh, for the purpose of executing his last will. He (for the first time in his native town) took up his quarters at a hotel; but the noise of the street disturbed him during the night (another evidence how much his nervous system had been shattered), and next day he was persuaded to remove to his bookseller’s house in Athol Crescent. In the apartment allotted to him there he found several little pieces of furniture, which some kind person had purchased for him at the sale in Castle Street, and which he presented to Mrs Cadell. “Here,” says his letter to Mrs Lockhart, “I saw various things that belonged to poor No. 39. I had many sad thoughts on seeing and handling them—but they are in kind keeping, and I was glad they had not gone to strangers.”

There came on next day a storm of such severity that he had to remain under this friendly roof until the 9th of February. His host perceived that he was unfit for any company but the quietest, and had sometimes one old friend, Mr Thomson, Mr Clerk, or Mr Skene to dinner—but no more. He seemed glad to

* Crabbe’s Borough, Letter xiii.

see them—but they all observed him with pain. He never took the lead in conversation, and often remained altogether silent. In the mornings he wrote usually for several hours at
Count Robert; and Mr Cadell remembers in particular, that on Ballantyne’s reminding him that a motto was wanted for one of the chapters already finished, he looked out for a moment at the gloomy weather, and penned these lines—
“The storm increases—’tis no sunny shower,
Foster’d in the moist breast of March or April,
Or such as parched summer cools his lips with.
Heaven’s windows are flung wide; the inmost deeps
Call in hoarse greeting one upon another;
On comes the flood in all its foaming horrors,
And where’s the dike shall stop it!”
(The Deluge: a Poem.)

On the 4th February, the will was signed, and attested by Nicolson, to whom Sir Walter explained the nature of the document, adding, “I deposit it for safety in Mr Cadell’s hands, and I still hope it may be long before he has occasion to produce it.” Poor Nicolson was much agitated, but stammered out a deep amen.

Another object of this journey was to consult, on the advice of Dr Ebenezer Clarkson, a skilful mechanist, by name Fortune, about a contrivance for the support of the lame limb, which had of late given him much pain, as well as inconvenience. Mr Fortune produced a clever piece of handiwork, and Sir Walter felt at first great relief from the use of it: insomuch that his spirits rose to quite the old pitch, and his letter to me upon the occasion overflows with merry applications of sundry maxims and verses about Fortune. “Fortes Fortuna adjuvat”—he says—“never more sing I
‘Fortune, my Foe, why dost thou frown on me?
And will my Fortune never better be?
Wilt thou, I say, for ever breed my pain?
And wilt thou ne’er return my joys again?’*
No—let my ditty be henceforth—
‘Fortune, my Friend, how well thou favourest me!
A kinder Fortune man did never see!
Thou propp’st my thigh, thou ridd’st my knee of pain,
I’ll walk, I’ll mount—I’ll be a man again.’”—

This expedient was undoubtedly of considerable service; but the use of it was not, after a short interval, so easy as at first: it often needed some little repair, too, and then in its absence he felt himself more helpless than before. Even then, however, the name was sure to tempt some ludicrous twisting of words. A little after this time he dictated a reviewal (never published) of a book called Robson’s British Herald; and in mentioning it to me, he says, “I have given Laidlaw a long spell to-day at the saltires and fesses. No thanks to me, for my machine is away to be tightened in one bit, and loosened in another. I was telling Willie Laidlaw that I might adopt, with a slight difference, the motto of the noble Tullibardine:—‘Furth Fortune and file the Fetters.’”†

Of this excursion to Edinburgh, the Diary says:—“Abbotsford, February 9.—The snow became impassable, and in Edinburgh I remained immovably fixed for ten days, never getting out of doors, save once or twice to dinner, when I went and returned in a sedan-chair. Cadell made a point of my coming to his excellent house, where I had no less excellent an apartment and the

* I believe this is the only verse of the old song (often alluded to by Shakspeare and his contemporaries) that has as yet been recovered.

† “Fill the fetters,” in the original. No. bad motto for the Duke of Athole’s ancestors—great predatory chiefs of the Highland frontier.

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most kind treatment; that is, no making a show of me, for which I was in but bad tune.
Abercromby and Ross had me bled with cupping-glasses, reduced me confoundedly, and restricted me of all creature comforts. But they did me good, as I am sure they sincerely meant to do; I got rid of a giddy feeling, which I had been plagued with, and have certainly returned much better. I did not neglect my testamentary affairs. I executed my last will, leaving Walter burdened with L.1000 to Sophia, L.2000 to Anne, and the same to Charles. He is to advance them this money if they want it; if not, to pay them interest. All this is his own choice, otherwise I would have sold the books and rattletraps. I have made provisions for clearing my estate by my publications, should it be possible; and should that prove possible, from the time of such clearance being effected, to be a fund available to all my children who shall be alive or leave representatives. My bequests must many of them seem hypothetical.

“During this unexpected stay in town I dined with the Lord Chief Commissioner, with the Skenes twice, with Lord Medwyn, and was as happy as anxiety about my daughter would permit me. The appearance of the streets was most desolate; the hackney-coaches strolling about like ghosts with four horses; the foot passengers few, except the lowest of the people. I wrote a good deal of Count Robert, yet, I cannot tell why, my pen stammers egregiously, and I write horridly incorrect. I longed to have friend Laidlaw’s assistance.

“A heavy and most effective thaw coming on, I got home about five at night, and found the haugh covered with water; dogs, pigs, cows, to say nothing of human beings, all that slept at the offices in danger of being drowned. They came up to the mansion-house about midnight, with such an infernal clamour, that Anne
thought we were attacked by Captain Swing and all the Radicals.”

After this the Diary offers but a few unimportant entries during several weeks. He continued working at the Novel, and when discouraged about it, gave a day to his article on Heraldry: but he never omitted to spend many hours, either in writing or in dictating something; and Laidlaw, when he came down a few minutes beyond the appointed time, was sure to be rebuked. At the beginning of March, he was anew roused about political affairs; and bestowed four days on drawing up an address against the Reform Bill, which he designed to be adopted by the Freeholders of the Forest. They, however, preferred a shorter one from the pen of a plain practical country gentleman (the late Mr Elliott Lockhart of Borthwickbrae), who had often represented them in Parliament: and Sir Walter, it is probable, felt this disappointment more acutely than he has chosen to indicate in his Journal.

February 10.—I set to work with Mr Laidlaw, and had after that a capital ride; my pony, little used, was somewhat frisky, but I rode on to Huntly-Burn. Began my diet on my new regime, and like it well, especially porridge to supper. It is wonderful how old tastes rise.—Feb. 23, 24, 25.—These three days I can hardly be said to have varied from my ordinary. Rose at seven, dressed before eight—wrote letters, or did any little business till a quarter past nine. Then breakfasted. Mr Laidlaw comes from ten till one. Then take the pony, and ride—quantum mutatus—two or three miles, John Swanston walking by my bridle-rein lest I fall off. Come home about three or four. Then to dinner on a single plain dish and half a tumbler, or, by’r Lady, three fourths of a tumbler of whisky and
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water. Then sit till six o’clock, when enter Mr Laidlaw again, who works commonly till eight. After this, work usually alone till half-past ten; sup on porridge and milk, and so to bed. The work is half done. If any one asks what time I take to think on the composition, I might say, in one point of view, it was seldom five minutes out of my head the whole day—in another light, it was never the serious subject of consideration at all, for it never occupied my thoughts for five minutes together, except when I was dictating.—Feb. 27.—Being Saturday, no Mr Laidlaw came yesterday evening, nor to-day, being Sunday.—Feb. 28.—Past ten, and Mr Laidlaw, the model of clerks in other respects, is not come yet. He has never known the value of time, so is not quite accurate in punctuality; but that, I hope, will come, if I can drill him into it without hurting him. I think I hear him coming. I am like the poor wizard, who is first puzzled how to raise the devil, and then how to employ him. Worked till one, then walked with great difficulty and pain.—March 5.—I have a letter from our member
Whytebank, adjuring me to assist the gentlemen of the county with an address against the Reform Bill, which menaces them with being blended with Peebles-shire, and losing, of consequence, one-half of their functions. Sandie Pringle conjures me not to be very nice in choosing my epithets. Torwoodlee comes over and speaks to the same purpose, adding, it will be the greatest service I can do the country, &c. This, in a manner, drives me out of a resolution to keep myself clear of politics, and let them ‘fight dog, fight bear.’ But I am too easy to be persuaded to bear a hand. The young Duke of Buccleuch comes to visit me also; so I promised to shake my duds, and give them a cast of my calling—fall back, fall edge.


March 7, 8, 9, 10.—In these four days I drew up, with much anxiety, an address in reprobation of the Bill, both with respect to Selkirkshire, and in its general purport. Mr Laidlaw, though he is on t’other side on the subject, thinks it the best thing I ever wrote; and I myself am happy to find that it cannot be said to smell of the apoplexy. But it was too declamatory, too much like a pamphlet, and went far too generally into opposition, to please the county gentlemen, who are timidly inclined to dwell on their own grievances, rather than the public wrongs. Must try to get something for Mr Laidlaw, for I am afraid I am twaddling. I do not think my head is weakened—yet a strange vacillation makes me suspect. Is it not thus that men begin to fail, becoming, as it were, infirm of purpose?—
——‘That way madness lies—let me shun that.
No more of that.’——
Yet why be a child about it? What must be, will be.

March 11.—This day we had our meeting at Selkirk. I found Borthwickbrae (late member) had sent the frame of an address, which was tabled by Mr Andrew Lang. It was the reverse of mine in every respect. It was short, and to the point. It only contained a remonstrance against the incorporation with Selkirkshire, and left it to be inferred that they opposed the bill in other respects. As I saw that it met the ideas of the meeting (six in number) better by far than mine, I instantly put that in my pocket. But I endeavoured to add to their complaint of a private wrong a general clause, stating their sense of the hazard of passing at once a bill full of such violent innovations. But though Harden, Alva, and Torwoodlee voted for this measure, it was refused by the rest of the meeting, to my disap-
MARCH, 1831.265
pointment. I was a fool to ‘stir such a dish of skimmed milk with so honourable an action.’* If some of the gentlemen of the press, whose livelihood is lying, were to get hold of this story, what would they make of it? It gives me a right to decline future interference, and let the world wag—‘Transeat cum cæteris erroribus.’ I only gave way to one jest. A rat-catcher was desirous to come and complete his labours in my house, and I, who thought he only talked and laughed with the servants, recommended him to go to the head-courts and meetings of freeholders, where he would find rats in plenty.

“I will make my opinion public at every place where I shall be called upon or expected to appear; but I will not thrust myself forward again. May the Lord have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this vow!”

He kept it in all its parts. Though urged to take up his pen against the ministerial Reform Bill, by several persons of high consequence, who, of course, little knew his real condition of health, he resolutely refused to make any such experiment again. But he was equally resolved to be absent from no meeting at which, as Sheriff or Deputy-Lieutenant, he might naturally be expected to appear in his place, and record his aversion to the Bill. The first of these meetings was one of the freeholders of Roxburgh, held at Jedburgh on the 21st of March, and there, to the distress and alarm of his daughter, he insisted on being present, and proposing one of the Tory resolutions, which he did in a speech of some length, but delivered in a tone so low, and with such hesitation in utterance, that only a few detached passages were intelligible to the bulk of the audience.

* Hotspur in King Henry IV., Act II., Scene 3.


“We are told” (said he) “on high authority, that France is the model for us, that we and all the other nations ought to put ourselves to school there, and endeavour to take out our degrees at the University of Paris.*—The French are a very ingenious people; they have often tried to borrow from us, and now we should repay the obligation by borrowing a leaf from them. But I fear there is an incompatibility between the tastes and habits of France and Britain, and that we may succeed as ill in copying them, as they have hitherto done in copying us. We in this district are proud, and with reason, that the first chain-bridge was the work of a Scotchman. It still hangs where he erected it, a pretty long time ago. The French heard of our invention, and determined to introduce it, but with great improvements and embellishments. A friend of my own saw the thing tried. It was on the Seine, at Marly. The French chain-bridge looked lighter and airier than the prototype. Every Englishman present was disposed to confess that we had been beat at our own trade. But by and by the gates were opened, and the multitude were to pass over. It began to swing rather formidably beneath the pressure of the good company; and by the time the architect, who led the procession in great pomp and glory, reached the middle, the whole gave way, and he, worthy, patriotic artist, was the first who got a ducking. They had forgot the great middle bolt, or rather, this ingenious person had conceived that to be a clumsy looking feature, which might safely be dispensed with, while he put some invisible gimcrack of his own to supply its place.”——Here Sir Walter was interrupted by violent hissing and hooting from the populace of the town, who

* See Edinburgh Review for October, 1830, p. 23.

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had flocked in and occupied the greater part of the Court-House. He stood calmly till the storm subsided, and resumed; but the friend, whose notes are before me, could not catch what he said, until his voice rose with another illustration of the old style. “My friends,” he said, “I am old and failing, and you think me full of very silly prejudices; but I have seen a good deal of public men, and thought a good deal of public affairs in my day, and I can’t help suspecting, that the manufacturers of this new constitution, are like a parcel of schoolboys taking to pieces a watch which used to go tolerably well for all practical purposes, in the conceit that they can put it together again far better than the old watchmaker. I fear they will fail when they come to the reconstruction, and I should not, I confess, be much surprised if it were to turn out that their first step had been to break the main-spring.”—Here he was again stopped by a confused Babel of contemptuous sounds, which seemed likely to render further attempts ineffectual. He, abruptly and unheard, proposed his Resolution, and then turning to the riotous artisans, exclaimed, “I regard your gabble no more than the geese on the green.” His countenance glowed with indignation, as he resumed his seat on the bench. But when, a few moments afterwards, the business being over, he rose to withdraw, every trace of passion was gone. He turned round at the door, and bowed to the assembly. Two or three, not more, renewed their hissing; he bowed again, and took leave in the words of the doomed gladiator, which I hope none who had joined in these insults understood—“Moriturus vos saluto.”

Of this meeting there is but a very slight notice in one of the next extracts from his Diary; another of them refers to that remarkable circumstance in English history, the passing of the first Reform Bill in the
Commons, on the 22d of March, by a majority of one; and a third to the last really good portrait that was painted of himself. This was the work of
Mr Francis Grant (brother of the Laird of Kilgraston), whose subsequent career has justified the Diarist’s prognostications. This excellent picture, in which, from previous familiarity with the subject, he was able to avoid the painful features of recent change, was done for his and Sir Walter’s friend, Lady Ruthven.

March 20.—Little of this day, but that it was so uncommonly windy that I was almost blown off my pony, and was glad to grasp the mane to prevent its actually happening. I began the third volume of Count Robert of Paris, which has been on the anvil during all these vexatious circumstances of politics and health. But the blue heaven bends over all. It may be ended in a fortnight, if I keep my scheme. But I will take time enough. I thought I was done with politics, but it is easy getting into the mess, but difficult, and sometimes disgraceful to get out. I have a letter from Sheriff Oliver, desiring me to go to Jedburgh on Monday, and show countenance by adhering to a set of propositions. Though not well drawn, they are uncompromising enough, so I will not part company.

March 22.—Went yesterday at nine o’clock to the meeting; a great number present, with a mob of Reformers, who showed their sense of propriety by hissing, hooting, and making all sorts of noises. And these unwashed artificers are from henceforth to select our legislators. What can be expected from them except such a thick-headed plebeian as will be ‘a hare-brained Hotspur, guided by a whim?’ There was some speaking, but not good. I said something, for I could not sit
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quiet. I did not get home till past nine, having fasted the whole time.

March 25.—The measure carried by a single vote. In other circumstances one would hope for the interference of the House of Lords, but it is all hab nab at a venture, as Cervantes says. The worst is, that there is a popular party, who want personal power, and are highly unfitted to enjoy it. It has fallen easily, the old constitution; no bullying Mirabeau to assail, no eloquent Maury to defend. It has been thrown away like a child’s broken toy. Well—the good sense of the people is much trusted to; we shall see what it will do for us. The curse of Cromwell on those whose conceit brought us to this pass. Sed transeat. It is vain to mourn what cannot be mended.

March 26.—Frank Grant and his lady came here.* Frank will, I believe, if he attends to his profession, be one of the celebrated men of the age. He has long been well known to me as the companion of my sons and the partner of my daughters. In youth, that is in extreme youth, he was passionately fond of fox-hunting and other sports, but not of any species of gambling. He had also a strong passion for painting, and made a little collection. As he had sense enough to feel that a younger brother’s fortune would not last long under the expenses of a good stud and a rare collection of chefs d’œuvre, he used to avow his intention to spend his patrimony, about L.10,000, and then again to make his fortune by the law. The first he soon accomplished. But the law is not a profession so easily acquired, nor did Frank’s talents lie in that direction. His passion

* Mr Francis Grant had recently married Miss Norman, a niece of the Duke of Rutland’s.

for painting turned out better. Connoisseurs approved of his sketches, both in pencil and oil, but not without the sort of criticisms made on these occasions—that they were admirable for an amateur—but it could not be expected that he should submit to the actual drudgery absolutely necessary for a profession and all that species of criticism which gives way before natural genius and energy of character. In the mean-time Frank saw the necessity of doing something to keep himself independent, having, I think, too much spirit to become a Jock the Laird’s brither drinking out the last glass of the bottle, riding the horses which the laird wishes to sell, and drawing sketches to amuse the lady and the children. He was above all this, and honourably resolved to cultivate his taste for painting, and become a professional artist. I am no judge of painting, but I am conscious that Francis Grant possesses, with much cleverness, a sense of beauty derived from the best source, that is, the observation of really good society, while, in many modern artists, the want of that species of feeling is so great as to be revolting. His former acquaintances render his immediate entrance into business completely secure, and it will rest with himself to carry on his success. He has, I think, that degree of force of character which will make him keep and enlarge any reputation which he may acquire. He has confidence, too, in his own powers, always requisite for a young gentleman trying things of this sort, whose aristocratic pretensions must be envied. March 29.—Frank Grant is still with me, and is well pleased, I think very advisedly so, with a cabinet picture of myself, armour and so forth, together with my two noble stag-hounds. The dogs sat charmingly, but the picture took up some time.”

MARCH, 1831. 271

I must insert a couple of letters written about this time. That to the Secretary of the Literary Fund, one of the most useful and best managed charities in London, requires no explanation. The other was addressed to the Rev. Alexander Dyce, on receiving a copy of that gentleman’s edition of Greene’s Plays, with a handsome dedication. Sir Walter, it appears, designed to make Greene and Webster the subject of an article in the Quarterly Review. It is proper to observe that he had never met their editor, though two or three letters had formerly passed between them. The little volume which he sent in return to Mr Dyce, was “the Trial of Duncan Terig and Alexander Macdonald,” one of the Bannatyne Club books.

To B. Nichols, Esq., Registrar of the Literary Fund, London.
“Abbotsford, 29th March, 1831.

I am honoured with your obliging letter of the 25th current, flattering me with the information that you had placed my name on the list of stewards for the Literary Fund, at which I am sorry to say, it will not be in my power to attend, as I do not come to London this season. You, sir, and the other gentlemen who are making such efforts in behalf of literature, have a right to know, why a person, who has been much favoured by the public, should decline joining an institution whose object it is to relieve those who have been less fortunate than himself, or, in plain words, to contribute to the support of the poor of my own guild. If I could justly accuse myself of this species of selfishness, I should think I did a very wrong thing. But the wants of those whose distresses and merits are known to me, are of such a nature, that what I have the means of sparing
for the relief of others, is not nearly equal to what I wish. Any thing which I might contribute to your Fund would, of course, go to the relief of other objects, and the encouragement of excellent persons, doubtless, to whom I am a stranger, and from having some acquaintance with the species of distress to be removed, I believe I shall aid our general purpose best, by doing such service as I can to misery which cannot be so likely to attract your eyes.

“I cannot express myself sufficiently upon the proposal which supposes me willing to do good, and holds out an opportunity to that effect. I am, with great respect to the trustees and other gentlemen of the Fund, Sir, your obliged humble servant,

Walter Scott.”

To the Rev. Alexander Dyce, London.
“Abbotsford, March 31, 1831,
“Dear Sir,

I had the pleasure of receiving Greene’s Plays, with which, as works of great curiosity, I am highly gratified. If the editor of the Quarterly consents, as he probably will, I shall do my endeavour to be useful, though I am not sure when I can get admission. I shall be inclined to include Webster, who, I think, is one of the best of our ancient dramatists; if you will have the kindness to tell the bookseller to send it to Whittaker, under cover to me, care of Mr Cadell, Edinburgh, it will come safe, and be thankfully received. Marlowe and others I have,—and some acquaintance with the subject, though not much.

“I have not been well; threatened with a determination of blood to the head; but by dint of bleeding and regimen, I have recovered. I have lost, however,
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like Hamlet, all habit of my exercise, and, once able to walk thirty miles a day, or ride a hundred, I can hardly walk a mile, or ride a pony four or five.

“I will send you, by Whittaker, a little curious tract of murder, in which a ghost is the principal evidence. The spirit did not carry his point, however; for the apparition, though it should seem the men were guilty, threw so much ridicule on the whole story, that they were acquitted.*

“I wish you had given us more of Greene’s prose works. I am, with regard, dear sir, yours sincerely,

Walter Scott.”

To resume the Diary—“March 30.—Bob Dundas† and his wife (Miss Durham that was) came to spend a day or two. I was heartily glad to see him, being my earliest and best friend’s son. John Swinton, too, came on the part of an Anti-Reform meeting in Edinburgh, who exhorted me to take up the pen, but I declined and pleaded health, which God knows I have a right to urge. I might have urged also the chance of my breaking down, but that would be a cry of wolf, which might very well prove real.—April 2.—Mr Henry Liddell, eldest son of Lord Ravensworth, arrives here. I like him and his brother Tom very much, although they are what may be called fine men. Henry is accomplished, is an artist and musician, and certainly has a fine taste for poetry, though he may never cultivate it.—April 8.—This day I took leave of poor Major John Scott,‡ who, being afflicted with a distressing asthma, has resolved

* See Scott’s Letters on Demonology, p. 371.

Mr Dundas of Arniston.

‡ This gentleman, a brother to the Laird of Raeburn, had made some fortune in the East Indies, and bestowed the name of Ravenswood on a villa which he built near Melrose. He died in 1831.

upon selling his house of Ravenswood, which he had dressed up with much neatness, and going abroad. Without having been intimate friends, we were always affectionate relations, and now we part probably never to meet in this world. He has a good deal of the character said to belong to the family. Our parting with mutual feeling may be easily supposed.”

The next entry relates to the last public appearance that the writer ever made, under circumstances at all pleasant, in his native country. He had taken great interest about a new line of mail-road between Selkirk and Edinburgh, which runs in view of Abbotsford across the Tweed; but he never saw it completed.

April 11.—This day I went with Anne, and Miss Jane Erskine,* to see the laying of the stones of foundation for two bridges in my neighbourhood over Tweed and the Ettrick. There were a great many people assembled. The day was beautiful, the scene was romantic, and the people in good spirits and good-humour. Mr Paterson of Galashiels† made a most excellent prayer: Mr Smith‡ gave a proper repast to the workmen, and we subscribed sovereigns a piece to provide for any casualty. I laid the foundation-stone of the bridge over Tweed, and Mr C. B. Scott of Woll,‖ the foundation-stone of that of Ettrick. The general spirit of good-humour made the scene, though without parade, extremely interesting.

April 12.—We breakfasted with the Fergusons, after which Anne and Miss Erskine walked up the Rhy-

* A daughter of Lord Kinnedder’s.

† The Rev. N. Paterson, now one of the Ministers of Glasgow.

Mr John Smith of Darnick, the builder of Abbotsford, and architect of these bridges.

‖ This gentleman died in Edinburgh on 4th February, 1831.

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mer’s Glen. I could as easily have made a pilgrimage to Rome with peas in my shoes unboiled. I drove home, and began to work about ten o’clock. At one o’clock I rode, and sent off what I had finished.
Mr Laidlaw dined with me. In the afternoon we wrote five or six pages more. I am, I fear, sinking a little from having too much space to fill, and a want of the usual inspiration which makes me, like the chariot-wheels of Pharaoh in the sands of the Red Sea, drive heavily. It is the less matter if this prove, as I suspect, the last of this fruitful family.—April 13.—Corrected proofs in the morning. At ten o’clock began where I had left off at my romance. Laidlaw begins to smite the rock for not giving forth the water in quantity sufficient. I have against me the disadvantage of being called the Just, and every one of course is willing to worry me. But they have been long at it, and even those works which have been worst received at their first appearance, now keep their ground fairly enough. So we’ll try our old luck another voyage. It is a close thick rain, and I cannot ride, and I am too dead lame to walk in the house. So feeling really exhausted, I will try to sleep a little.—My nap was a very short one, and was agreeably replaced by Basil Hall’s Fragments of Voyages. Every thing about the inside of a vessel is interesting, and my friend B. H. has the good sense to know this is the case. I remember when my eldest brother took the humour of going to sea, James Watson used to be invited to George’s Square to tell him such tales of hardships as might disgust him with the service. Such were my poor mother’s instructions. But Captain Watson could not by all this render a sea life disgusting to the young midshipman, or to his brother, who looked on and listened. Hall’s accounts of the assistance given to the Spaniards at Cape Finisterre, and the absurd behaviour of the Junta,
are highly interesting. A more inefficient, yet a more resolved class of men than the Spaniards, were never conceived—April 16.—
Lord Meadowbank and his son. Skene walks with me. Weather enchanting. About one hundred leaves will now complete Robert of Paris. Query, If the last? Answer—Not knowing, can’t say. I think it will.”——

The Captain Watson, R. N., alluded to in one of these, extracts, was distantly related to Sir Walter’s mother. His son, Mr John Watson Gordon, has risen to great eminence as a painter; and his portraits of Scott and Hogg rank among his best pieces. That of the Ettrick Shepherd is indeed perfect; and Sir Walter’s has only the disadvantage of having been done a little too late. These masterly pictures are both in Mr Cadell’s possession.