LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, Bart.
Chapter IX 1831

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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Early on the 23d of September Sir Walter left Abbotsford, attended by his daughter Anne, and myself, and we reached London by easy stages on the 28th, having spent one day at Rokeby. I have nothing to mention of this journey except that, notwithstanding all his infirmities, he would not pass any object to which he had ever attached special interest, without getting out of the carriage to revisit it. His anxiety (for example) about the gigantic British or Danish effigy in the churchyard at Penrith, which we had all seen dozens of times before, seemed as great as if not a year had fled since 1797. It may be supposed that his parting with Mr Morritt was a grave one. Finding that he had left the ring he then usually wore behind him at one of the inns on the road, he wrote to his friend to make enquiries after it, as it had been dug out of the ruins of Hermitage Castle, and probably belonged of yore to one of the “Dark Knights of Liddesdale,” and if recovered, to keep it until he should come back to reclaim it, but, in the mean time, to wear it for his sake. The ring, which is a broad belt of silver, with an angel holding the Heart of Douglas, was found, and is now worn by Mr Morritt.


Sir Walter arrived in London in the midst of the Lords’ debates on the second Reform bill, and the ferocious demonstrations of the populace on its rejection were in part witnessed by him. He saw the houses of several of the chief Tories, and above all, that of the Duke of Wellington, shattered and almost sacked. He heard of violence offered to the persons of some of his own noble friends; and having been invited to attend the christening of the infant heir of Buccleuch, whose godfather the King had proposed to be, on a day appointed by his Majesty, he had the pain to understand that the ceremony must be adjourned, because it was not considered safe for his Majesty to visit, for such a purpose, the palace of one of his most amiable, as well as illustrious peers.

The following is part of a letter which I lately received from Sir Walter’s dear friend and kinsman, Mr Scott of Gala: “The last time I saw Sir W. Scott was in Sussex Place, the day after he arrived from Scotland, on his way to Italy. I was prepared for a change in his appearance, but was not struck with so great a one as I had expected. He evidently had lost strength since I saw him at Abbotsford the previous autumn, but his eye was good. In his articulation, however, there was too manifest an imperfection. We conversed shortly, as may be supposed, on his health. ‘Weakness,’ he observed, ‘was his principal complaint.’ I said that I supposed he had been rather too fatigued with his journey to leave the house since his arrival. ‘Oh no,’ he replied, ‘I felt quite able for a drive to-day, and have just come from the city. I paid a visit to my friend Whittaker to ask him for some book of travels likely to be of use to me on my expedition to the Mediterranean. Here’s old Brydone accordingly, still as good a companion as any he could recommend.’ ‘A very agreeable one certainly,’
I replied.—‘Brydone’ (said he) ‘was sadly failed during his latter years. Did you ever hear of his remark on his own works?’—‘Never.’—‘Why, his family usually read a little for his amusement of an evening, and on one occasion he was asked if he would like to hear some of his travels to Sicily. He assented, and seemed to listen with much pleasure for some time, but he was too far gone to continue his attention long, and starting up from a doze exclaimed, “that’s really a very amusing book, and contains many curious anecdotes.—I wonder if they are all true.”’ Sir Walter then spoke of as strange a tale as any traveller could imagine, a new volcanic island, viz., which had appeared very lately, and seemed anxious to see it, ‘if it would wait for him,’ he said. The offer of a King’s ship had gratified him, and he ascribed this very much to the exertions of
Basil Hall—‘that curious fellow’ (said he), ‘who takes charge of every one’s business without neglecting his own, has done a great deal for me in this matter.’ I observed that Malta would interest him much. The history of the knights, their library, &c., he immediately entered on keenly. ‘I fear I shall not be able to appreciate Italy as it deserves,’ continued he, ‘as I understand little of painting, and nothing of music.’ ‘But there are many other subjects of interest,’ I replied, ‘and to you particularly—Naples, St Elmo, Pæstum, La Montagna, Pompeii—in fact, I am only afraid you may have too much excitement, the bad effects of which, I as an invalid, am too well aware of.’ I had before this, from my own experience, ventured several hints on the necessity of caution with regard to over-exertion, but to these he always lent an unwilling ear.

Sir Walter often digressed during our conversation to the state of the country, about which he seemed to have much anxiety. I said we had no Napoleon to frighten
us into good fellowship, and from want of something to do, began fighting with each other—‘Aye’ (said he), ‘after conquering that Jupiter Scapin, and being at the height of glory, one would think the people might be content to sit down and eat the pudding; but no such thing.’ ‘When we’ve paid more of the cash it has cost, they will be more content.’ ‘I doubt it—They are so flattered and courted by Government that their appetite for power (pampered as it is) won’t be easily satisfied now.’ When talking of Italy, by the way, I mentioned that at Naples he would probably find a sister of
Mat. Lewis’s, Lady Lushington, wife of the English consul, a pleasant family, to whom Lewis introduced me when there in 1817 very kindly:—‘Ah poor Mat.!’—said he—‘he never wrote any thing so good as the Monk—he had certainly talents, but they would not stand much creaming.’

“The Forest and our new road (which had cost both so much consultation) were of course touched on. The foundation of one of the new bridges had been laid by him—and this should be commemorated by an inscription on it. ‘Well,’ said he, ‘how I should like to have a ride with you along our new road, just opposite Abbotsford—I will hope to be able for it some day.’ Most heartily did I join in the wish, and could not help flattering myself it might yet be possible. When we parted, he shook hands with me for some time. He did so once more—but added firmly—‘Well, we’ll have a ride yet, some day.’ I pleased myself with the hope that he augured rightly. But on leaving him many misgivings presented themselves; and the accounts from the continent served but too surely to confirm these apprehensions—never more did I meet with my illustrious friend. There is reason I believe to be thankful that it was so—
nothing could have been more painful than to witness the wreck of a mind like his.”

During his stay, which was till the 23d of October, Sir Walter called on many of his old friends; but he accepted of no hospitalities except breakfasting once with Sir Robert Inglis, on Clapham Common, and once or twice with Lady Gifford at Roehampton. Usually he worked a little in the morning at notes for the Magnum, and he drew up, as already mentioned, the preface for the forthcoming tales of Count Robert and Castle Dangerous.

Dr Robert Ferguson, one of the family with which Sir Walter had lived all his days in such brother-like affection, saw him constantly while he remained in the Regent’s Park; and though neither the invalid nor his children could fancy any other medical advice necessary, it was only due to Ferguson that some of his seniors should be called in occasionally with him. Sir Henry Halford (whom Scott reverenced as the friend of Baillie) and Dr Holland (an esteemed friend of his own), came accordingly; and all the three concurred in recognising certain evidence that there was incipient disease in the brain. There were still, however, such symptoms of remaining vigour, that they flattered themselves, if their patient would submit to a total intermission of all literary labour during some considerable space of time, the malady might yet be arrested. When they left him after the first inspection, they withdrew into an adjoining room, and on soon rejoining him found, that in the interim he had wheeled his chair into a dark corner, so that he might see their faces without their being able to read his. When he was informed of the comparatively favourable views they entertained, he expressed great thankfulness; promised to obey all their directions as
to diet and repose most scrupulously; and he did not conceal from them, that “he had feared insanity and feared them.”

The following are extracts from his Diary.—“London, October 2, 1830.—I have been very ill, and if not quite unable to write, I have been unfit to do it. I have wrought, however, at two Waverley things, but not well. A total prostration of bodily strength is my chief complaint. I cannot walk half a mile. There is, besides, some mental confusion, with the extent of which I am not, perhaps, fully acquainted. I am perhaps setting. I am myself inclined to think so, and like a day that has been admired as a fine one, the light of it sets down amid mists and storms. I neither regret nor fear the approach of death, if it is coming. I would compound for a little pain instead of this heartless muddiness of mind. The expense of this journey, &c. will be considerable, yet these heavy burdens could be easily borne if I were to be the Walter Scott I once was—but the change is great. And the ruin which I fear involves that of my country. Well says Colin Mackenzie
‘Shall this Desolation strike thy towers alone?
No, fair Ellandonan! such ruin ’twill bring,
That the whirl shall have power to unsettle the throne,
And thy fate shall be link’d with the fate of thy king.’*
We arrived in London after a long journey—the weakness of my limbs palpably increasing, and the medicine prescribed making me weaker every day.
Lockhart, poor fellow, is as attentive as possible, and I have, thank God, no pain whatever; could the decay but be so easy at last it would be too happy. But I

* See Ballad of Ellandonan Castle in the Minstrelsy. Poetical Works, Vol. iv. p. 361.

fancy the instances of Euthanasia are not in very serious cases very common. Instances there certainly are among the learned and the unlearned—
Dr Black, Tom Purdie. I should like, if it pleased God, to slip off in such a quiet way, but we must take what fate sends. I have not warm hopes of being myself again.

Oct. 12.—Lord Mahon, a very amiable as well as clever young man, comes to dinner with Mr Croker, Lady Louisa Stuart, and Sir John Malcolm. Sir John told us a story about Garrick and his wife. The lady admired her husband greatly, but blamed him for a taste for low life, and insisted that he loved better to play Scrub to a low-lifed audience than one of his superior characters before an audience of taste. On one particular occasion she was at her box in the theatre. Richard III. was the performance, and Garrick’s acting, particularly in the night-scene, drew down universal applause. After the play was over, Mrs G. proposed going home, which Garrick declined, alleging he had some business in the green-room which must detain him. In short the lady was obliged to acquiesce, and wait the beginning of a new entertainment, in which was introduced a farmer giving his neighbours an account of the wonders seen in a visit to London. This character was received with such peals of applause that Mrs Garrick began to think it exceeded those which had been so lately lavished on Richard the Third. At last she observed her little spaniel dog was making efforts to get towards the balcony which separated him from the facetious farmer and then she became aware of the truth. ‘How strange,’ he said, ‘that a dog should know his master, and a woman, in the same circumstances, should not recognise her husband?’

Oct. 18.—A pleasant breakfast at Roehampton, where I met my good friend Lord Sidmouth. On my
way back, I called to see the repairs at Lambeth, which are proceeding under the able direction of
Blore, who met me there. They are in the best Gothic taste, and executed at the expense of a large sum, to be secured by way of mortgage payable in fifty years, each incumbent within the time paying a proportion of about L.4000 a-year. I was pleased to see this splendour of church architecture returning again.

Oct. 18.—Sophia had a small but lively party last night, as indeed she has had every night since we were here—Lady Stafford, Lady Louisa Stuart, Lady Montagu, Miss Montagu, Lady Davy, Mrs M’Leod, and her girls—Lord Montagu, Macleod, Lord Dudley, Rogers, Mackintosh. A good deal of singing.”

Sir Walter seemed to enjoy having one or two friends to meet him at dinner and a few more in the evenings. Those named in the last entries, came all of them frequently—and so did Lord Melville, the Bishop of Exeter, Lord Ashley, Sir David Wilkie, Mr Thomas Moore, Mr Milman, and Mr Washington Irving. At this time the Reform Bill for Scotland was in discussion in the House of Commons. Mr Croker made a very brilliant speech in opposition to it, and was not sorry to have it said, that he had owed his inspiration, in no small degree, to having risen from the table at which Scott sat by his side. But the most regular of the evening visiters was, I think, Sir James Mackintosh. He was himself in very feeble health, and whatever might have been the auguries of others, it struck me that there was uppermost with him at every parting the anticipation that they might never meet again. Sir James’s kind assiduity was the more welcome, that his appearance banished the politics of the hour, on which his old friend’s thoughts were too apt to brood. Their conversation, wherever it might begin, was sure to fasten ere long on Lochaber.


When last in Edinburgh Scott had given his friend William Burn, architect, directions to prepare at his expense a modest monument, for the grave of Helen Walker, the original of Jeanie Deans, in the churchyard of Irongrey. Mr Burn now informed him that the little pillar was in readiness, and on the 18th October Sir Walter sent him this beautiful inscription for it;—


Next morning the Honourable Captain Henry Duncan, R.N., who was at this time store-keeper of the Ordnance, and who had taken a great deal of trouble in arranging matters for the voyage, called on Sir Walter to introduce to him Captain, now Sir Hugh Pigot, the commanding-officer of the Barham. The Diary says:—


October 19.—Captain H. Duncan called with Captain Pigot, a smart-looking gentlemanlike man, who announces his purpose of sailing on Monday. I have made my preparations for being on board on Sunday, which is the day appointed.

Captain Duncan told me jocularly never to take a naval captain’s word on shore, and quoted Sir William Scott, who used to say waggishly, that there was nothing so accommodating on shore, but when on board, he became a peremptory lion. Henry Duncan has behaved very kindly, and says he only discharges the wishes of his service in making me as easy as possible, which is very handsome—too high a compliment for me. No danger of feud, except about politics, which would be impolitic on my part, and though it bars out one great subject of discussion, it leaves enough besides. Walter arrives ready to sail. So what little remains must be done without loss of time.

“I leave this country uncertain if it has got a total pardon or only a reprieve. I won’t think of it, as I can do no good. It seems to be in one of those crises by which Providence reduces nations to their original elements. If I had my health, I should take no worldly fee, not to be in the bustle; but I am as weak as water, and I shall be glad when I have put the Mediterranean between the island and me.

October 23.—Misty morning looks like a yellow fog, which is the curse of London. I would hardly take my share of it for a share of its wealth and its curiosity—a vile double-distilled fog, of the most intolerable kind. Children scarce stirring yet, but Baby and Macao beginning their Macao notes—”

Dr Ferguson found Sir Walter with this page of his Diary before him, when he called to pay his farewell
visit. “As he was still working at his MSS.,” says the Doctor, “I offered to retire, but was not permitted. On my saying I had come to take leave of him before he quitted England, he exclaimed, with much excitement—‘England is no longer a place for an honest man. I shall not live to find it so; you may.’ He then broke out into the details of a very favourite superstition of his, that the middle of every century had always been marked by some great convulsion or calamity in this island. Already the state of politics preyed much on his mind and indeed that continued to form a part of the delirious dreams of his last illness. On the whole, the alterations which had taken place in his mind and person since I had seen him, three years before, were very apparent. The expression of the countenance and the play of features were changed by slight palsy of one cheek. His utterance was so thick and indistinct as to make it very difficult for any but those accustomed to hear it, to gather his meaning. His gait was less firm and assured than ever; but his power of self-command, his social tact, and his benevolent courtesy, the habits of a life, remained untouched by a malady which had obscured the higher powers of his intellect.”

After breakfast, Sir Walter, accompanied by his son and both his daughters, set off for Portsmouth; and Captain Basil Hall had the kindness to precede them by an early coach, and prepare every thing for their reception at the hotel. They expected that the embarkation would take place next day, and the Captain had considered that his professional tact and experience might be serviceable, which they were eminently. In changing horses at Guilford, Sir Walter got out of his carriage, and very narrowly escaped being run over by a stagecoach. Of all “the habits of a life,” none clung longer
OCTOBER, 1831.323
to him than his extreme repugnance to being helped in any thing. It was late before he came to lean, as a matter of course, when walking, upon any one but
Tom Purdie; and the reader will see, in the sequel, that this proud feeling, coupled with increasing tendency to abstraction of mind, often exposed him to imminent hazard.

The Barham could not sail for a week. During this interval, Sir Walter scarcely stirred from his hotel, being unwilling to display his infirmities to the crowd of gazers who besieged him whenever he appeared. He received, however, deputations of the literary and scientific societies of the town, and all other visiters, with his usual ease and courtesy: and he might well be gratified with the extraordinary marks of deference paid him by the official persons who could in any way contribute to his ease and comfort. The First Lord of the Admiralty, Sir James Graham, and the Secretary, Sir John Barrow, both appeared in person, to ascertain that nothing had been neglected for his accommodation on board the frigate. The Admiral, Sir Thomas Foley, placed his barge at his disposal; the Governor, Sir Colin Campbell, and all the chief officers, naval and military, seemed to compete with each other in attention to him and his companions. In Captain Hall’s Third Series of Fragments of Voyages and Travels (vol. iii. p. 280), some interesting details have long since been made public. But it may be sufficient to say here, that had Captain Pigot and his gallant shipmates been appointed to convey a Prince of the Blood and his suite, more generous, anxious, and delicate exertions could not have been made, either in altering the interior of the vessel, so as to meet the wants of the passengers, or afterwards, throughout the voyage, in rendering it easy, comfortable, and as far as might be, interesting and amusing.

I subjoin an extract or two from the Diary at Ports-
mouth, which show how justly
Dr Ferguson has been describing Sir Walter as in complete possession of all the qualities that endeared him to society:—

October 24.—The girls break loose—mad with the craze of seeing sights—and run the risk of deranging the naval officers, who offer their services with their natural gallantry. I wish they would be moderate in their demands on people’s complaisance. They little know how inconvenient are such seizures. A sailor in particular is a bad refuser, and before he can turn three times round, he is bound by a triple knot to all sorts of nonsense.

October 27.—The girls, I regret to see, have got a senseless custom of talking politics in all weathers, and in all sorts of company. This can do no good, and may give much offence. Silence can offend no one, and there are pleasanter or less irritating subjects to talk of. I gave them both a hint of this, and bid them remember they were among ordinary strangers. How little young people reflect what they may win or lose by a smart reflection imprudently fired off at a venture!”

On the morning of the 29th, the wind at last changed, and the Barham got under weigh.

After a few days, when they had passed the Bay of Biscay, Sir Walter ceased to be annoyed with seasickness, and sat most of his time on deck, enjoying apparently the air, the scenery, and above all the ship itself, the beautiful discipline practised in all things, and the martial exercises of the men. In Captain Pigot, Lieutenant Walker, the physician Dr Liddell, and I believe in many others of the officers, he had highly intelligent, as well as polished companions. The course was often altered, for the express purpose of giving him a glimpse of some famous place; and it was only the
H.M.S. BARHAM—1831.325
temptation of a singularly propitious breeze that prevented a halt at Algiers.

On the 20th November they came upon that remarkable phenomenon, the sudden creation of a submarine volcano, which bore, during its very brief date, the name of Graham’s Island. Four months had elapsed since it “arose from out the azure main” and in a few days more it disappeared. “Already,” as Dr Davy says, “its crumbling masses were falling to pieces from the pressure of the hand or foot.”* Yet nothing could prevent Sir Walter from landing on it and in a letter of the following week he thus describes his adventure; the Barham had reached Malta on the 22d.

To James Skene, Esq. of Rubislaw, Edinburgh.
“Malta, Nov. 25, 1831.
“My dear Skene,

“Our habits of non-correspondence are so firmly established, that it must be a matter of some importance that sets either of us a writing to the other. As it has been my lot to see the new volcano, called Graham’s Island, either employed in establishing itself, or more likely in decomposing itself and as it must be an object of much curiosity to many of our brethren of the Royal Society, I have taken it into my head that even the very imperfect account which I can give of a matter of this extraordinary kind may be in some degree valued. Not being able to borrow your fingers, those of the Captain’s clerk have been put in requisition for the inclosed sketch, and the notes adjoined are as accurate as can be expected from a hurried visit. You have a view of the island, very much

* Philosophical Transactions, May, 1834, p. 552.

as it shows at present, but nothing is more certain than that it is on the eve of a very important change, though in what respect is doubtful. I saw a portion of about five or six feet in height give way under the feet of one of our companions on the very ridge of the southern corner, and become completely annihilated, giving us some anxiety for the fate of our friend, till the dust and confusion of the dispersed pinnacle had subsided. You know my old talents for horsemanship. Finding the earth, or what seemed a substitute for it, sink at every step up to the knee, so as to make walking for an infirm and heavy man nearly impossible, I mounted the shoulders of an able and willing seaman, and by dint of his exertions rode nearly to the top of the island. I would have given a great deal for you, my friend, the frequent and willing supplier of my defects; but on this journey, though undertaken late in life, I have found, from the benevolence of my companions, that when one man’s strength was insufficient to supply my deficiencies, I had the willing aid of twenty if it could be useful. I have sent you one of the largest blocks of lava which I could find on the islet, though small pieces are innumerable. We found two dolphins, killed apparently by the hot temperature, and the body of a robin redbreast, which seemingly had come off from the nearest land, and starved to death on the islet, where it had neither found food nor water. Such had been the fate of the first attempt to stock the island with fish and fowl. On the south side the volcanic principle was still apparently active. The perpetual bubbling up from the bottom produces a quantity of steam, which rises all around the base of the island, and surrounds it as with a cloak when seen from a distance. Most of these appearances struck the other gentlemen, I believe, as well as myself; but a gentleman who has visited the rock repeatedly, is of
opinion that it is certainly increasing in magnitude. Its decrease in height may be consistent with the increase of its more level parts, and even its general appearance above water; for the ruins which crumble down from the top, are like to remain at the bottom of the ridge of the rock, add to the general size of the islet, and tend to give the ground firmness.

“The gales of this new-born island are any thing but odoriferous. Brimstone, and such like, are the prevailing savours, to a degree almost suffocating. Every hole dug in the sand is filled with boiling water, or what was nearly such. I cannot help thinking that the great ebullition in the bay, is the remains of the original crater, now almost filled up, yet still showing that some extraordinary operations are going on in the subterranean regions.

“If you think, my dear Skene, that any of these trifling particulars concerning this islet can interest our friends, you are free to communicate them either to the Society or to the Club, as you judge most proper. I have just seen James* in full health, but he vanished like a guilty thing, when, forgetting that I was a contraband commodity, I went to shake him by the hand, which would have cost him ten days’ imprisonment, I being at present in quarantine.

“We saw an instance of the strictness with which this law is observed: In entering the harbour, a seaman was pushed from our yard-arm. He swam strongly, notwithstanding the fall, but the Maltese boats, of whom there were several, tacked from him, to avoid picking him up, and an English Boat, which did take the poor man in, was condemned to ten days’ imprisonment, to reward

* James Henry Skene, Esq., a son of Sir W.’s correspondent, was then a young officer on duty at Malta.

the benevolence of the action. It is in the capacity of quarantine prisoners that we now inhabit the decayed chambers of a magnificent old Spanish palace, which resembles the pantaloons of the Don in his youth, a world too wide for his shrunk shanks. But you know Malta, where there is more magnificence than comfort, though we have met already many friends, and much kindness.

“My best compliments to Mrs Skene, to whom I am bringing a fairy cup made out of a Nautilus shell—the only one which I found entire on Graham’s Island; the original owner had suffered shipwreck. I beg to be respectfully remembered to all friends of the Club.—Yours ever, with love to your fireside,

Walter Scott.”

At Malta Sir Walter found several friends of former days, besides young Skene. Mr John Hookham Frere had been resident there for several years, as he still continues, the captive of the enchanting climate, and the romantic monuments of the old chivalry.* Sir John Stoddart, the Chief Judge of the island, had known the Poet ever since the early days of Lasswade and Glenfinlas; and the Lieutenant-governor, Colonel Seymour Bathurst, had often met him under the roof of his father, the late Earl Bathurst. Mrs Bathurst’s distinguished uncle, Sir William Alexander, some time Lord Chief-Baron of England, happened also to be then visiting her. Captain Dawson, husband to Lord Kinnedder’s eldest daughter, was of the garrison, and Sir Walter felt as if he were about to meet a daughter of his own in the Euphemia Erskine who had so often sat upon his knee.

* See the charming “Epistle in Rhyme, from William Stewart Rose at Brighton, to John Hookham Frere at Malta,” published with some other pieces in 1835.

She immediately joined him, and insisted on being allowed to partake his quarantine. Lastly,
Dr John Davy, the brother of his illustrious friend, was at the head of the medical staff; and this gentleman’s presence was welcome indeed to the Major and Miss Scott, as well as to their father, for he had already begun to be more negligent as to his diet, and they dreaded his removal from the skilful watch of Dr Liddell. Various letters, and Sir Walter’s Diary, (though hardly legible), show that he inspected with curiosity the knightly antiquities of La Valetta, the church and monuments of St John, the deserted palaces and libraries of the heroic brotherhood; and the reader will find that, when he imprudently resumed the pen of romance, the subject he selected was from their annals. He enjoyed also the society of the accomplished persons I have been naming, and the marks of honour lavished on him by the inhabitants, both native and English.

Here he saw much of a Scotch lady, with many of whose friends and connexions he had been intimate—Mrs John Davy, the daughter of a brother advocate, the late Mr Archibald Fletcher, whose residence in Edinburgh used to be in North Castle Street, within a few doors of “poor 39.” This lady has been so good as to intrust me with a few pages of her Family Journal;” and I am sure the reader will value a copy of them more than any thing else I could produce with respect to Sir Walter’s brief residence at Malta:—

“Before the end of November,” says Mrs Davy, “a great sensation was produced in Malta, as well it might, by the arrival of Sir Walter Scott. He came here in the Barham, a frigate considered the very beauty of the fleet, ‘a perfect ship,’ as Sir Pulteney Malcolm used to say, and in the highest discipline. In her annals it may now be told that she carried the most gifted, certainly
the most popular author of Europe into the Mediterranean; but it was amusing to see that the officers of the ship thought the great minstrel and romancer must gain more addition to his fame from having been a passenger on board the Barham, than they or she could possibly receive even from having taken on board such a guest. Our Governor,
Sir F. Ponsonby, had not returned from a visit to England when this arrival took place, but orders had been received that all manner of attention should be paid; that a house, carriage, horses, &c. should be placed at Sir Walter’s disposal; and all who thought they had the smallest right to come forward on the occasion, or even a decent pretence for doing so, were eager to do him honour according to their notions and means.

“On account of cholera then prevailing in England, a quarantine was at this time enforced here on all who came from thence; but instead of driving Sir Walter to the ordinary lazaretto, some good apartments were prepared at Fort Manuel for him and his family to occupy for the appointed time, I believe nine days. He there held a daily levee to receive the numerous visiters who waited on him; and I well remember, on accompanying Colonel and Mrs Bathurst and Sir William Alexander to pay their first visit, how the sombre landing-place of the Marsa Muscet (the quarantine harbour), under the heavy bastion that shelters it on the Valetta side, gave even then tokens of an illustrious arrival, in the unusual number of boats and bustle of parties setting forth to, or returning from Fort Manuel, on the great business of the day. But even in the case of one whom all ‘delighted to honour,’ a quarantine visit is a notably uncomfortable thing; and when our little procession had marched up several broad flights of steps, and we found ourselves on a landing-place ha-
ving a wide door-way opposite to us, in which sat Sir Walter—his
daughter, Major Scott, and Mrs Dawson standing behind and a stout bar placed across some feet in front of them, to keep us at the legal distance—I could not but repent having gone to take part in a ceremony so formal and wearisome to all concerned. Sir Walter rose, but seemed to do it with difficulty, and the paralytic fixed look of his face was most distressing. We all walked up to the bar, but there stood very like culprits, and no one seemed to know who was to speak first. Sir W. Alexander, however, accustomed of old to discourse from the bar, or charge from the bench, was beyond question the proper person,—so, after a very little hesitation, he began and made a neat speech, expressing our hopes that Sir Walter would sojourn at Malta as long as possible. Sir Walter replied very simply and courteously in his natural manner, but his articulation was manifestly affected, though not I think quite so much so as his expression of face. He wore trousers of the Lowland small-checked plaid, and sitting with his hands crossed over the top of a shepherd’s-looking staff, he was very like the picture painted by Leslie, and engraved for one of the Annuals,—but when he spoke, the varied expression, that used quite to redeem all heaviness of features, was no longer to be seen. Our visit was short, and we left Mr Frere with him at the bar on our departure. He came daily to see his friend, and passed more of his quarantine-time with him than any one else. We were told that between Mr Frere’s habitual absence of mind, and Sir Walter’s natural Scotch desire to shake hands with him at every meeting, it required all the vigilance of the attendant genii of the place, to prevent Mr F. from being put into quarantine along with him.

“Sir Walter did not accept the house provided for him
by the Governor’s order, nor any of the various private houses which, to
Miss Scott’s great amusement, were urgently proffered for his use by their owners—but established himself, during his stay, at Beverley’s Hotel, in Strada Fonente. Our house was immediately opposite to this one, divided by a very narrow street; and I well remember, when watching his arrival on the day he took Pratique, hearing the sound of his voice as he chatted sociably to Mr Greig (the inspector of quarantine), on whose arm he leaned while walking from the carriage to the door of his hotel—it seemed to me that I had hardly heard so home-like a sound in this strange land, or one that so took me back to Edinburgh and our own North Castle Street, where, in passing him as he walked up or down with a friend, I had heard it before so often. Nobody was at hand at the moment for me to show him to but an English maid, who not having my Scotch interest in the matter, only said, when I tried to enlighten her as to the event of his arrival—‘Poor old gentleman, how ill he looks.’ It showed how sadly a little while must have changed him, for when I had seen him last in Edinburgh, perhaps five or six years before, no one would have thought of calling him ‘an old gentleman.’ At one or two dinner-parties, at which we saw him within the week of his arrival, he did not seem at all animated in conversation, and retired soon; for he seemed resolutely prudent as to keeping early hours; though he was unfortunately careless as to what he ate or drank, especially the latter—and, I fear, obstinate when his daughter attempted to regulate his diet.

“A few days after his arrival in Malta he accepted an invitation from the garrison to a ball—an odd kind of honour to bestow on a man of letters suffering from paralytic illness, but extremely charac-
teristic of the taste of this place. It was, I believe, well got up, under the direction of the usual master of Malta ceremonies, Mr Walker, an officer of artillery; and every thing was done that the said officer and his colleagues could do to give it a sentimental, if not a literary cast. The decorations were laboriously appropriate.
Sir Walter entered (having been received at the door by a deputation of the dignitaries of the island) to the sound of Scotch music; and as it was held in the great room of the Auberge de Provence,formerly one of the festal halls of the Knights of Malta, it was not a bad scene—if such a gaiety was to be inflicted at all.

“A day or two afterwards, we gladly accepted an invitation brought to us by Miss Scott, to dine quietly with him and two or three officers of the Barham at his hotel; and I thought the day of this dining so white a one as to mark it especially in a little note-book the same evening. I see it stands dated December the 4th, and the little book says. ‘Dined and spent the evening of this day with Sir Walter Scott. We had only met him before at large dinner-parties. At home he was very much more happy, and more inclined to talk. Even now his conversation has many characteristics of his writings. There is the same rich felicitous quotation from favourite writers—the same happy introduction of old traditionary stories,—Scotch ones especially,—in a manner as easy, and evidently quite unprepared. The coming in of a young midshipman, cousin of his (Scott by name), to join the party, gave occasion to his telling the story of ‘Muckle Mouthed Meg,’* and to his describing the tragicomical picture drawn from that story by Mr C. K. Sharpe, which I remem-

* See ante, vol. I. p. 350.

bered to have seen at Abbotsford. At dinner he spoke a good deal of
Tom Sheridan, after telling a bon mot of his in illustration of something that was said; and seemed amused at a saying of Mr Smyth (of Cambridge), respecting that witty and volatile pupil of his, ‘that it was impossible to put knowledge into him, try it as you might.’ ‘Just,’ said Sir Walter, ‘like a trunk that you are trying to over-pack, but it won’t do, the things start out in your face.’ On joining us in the drawing-room after dinner Sir Walter was very animated, spoke much of Mr Frere, and of his remarkable success, when quite a boy, in the translation of a Saxon ballad.* This led him to ballads in general, and he gravely lamented his friend Mr Frere’s heresy in not esteeming highly enough that of ‘Hardyknute.’ He admitted that it was not a veritable old ballad, but ‘just old enough,’ and a noble imitation of the best style. In speaking of Mr Frere’s translations, he repeated a pretty long passage from his version of one of the Romances of the Cid (published in the Appendix to Southey’s quarto), and seemed to enjoy a spirited charge of the knights therein described as much as he could have done in his best days, placing his walking-stick in rest like a lance, to ‘suit the action to the word.’ Miss Scott says, she has not seen him so animated, so like himself, since he came to Malta, as on this evening.

Sunday Morning, December 5, (as my said little note book proceeds to record)—Sir Walter spent chiefly in St John’s Church, the beautiful temple and burying-place of the knights, and there he was much pleased and interested. On Monday the 6th he dined at the

* See ante, vol. ii. p. 21.

Sir John Stoddart’s, when I believe he partook too freely of porter and champagne for one in his invalid state. On Tuesday morning (the 7th), on looking from one of our windows across the street, I observed him sitting in an easy-chair in the parlour of his hotel, a book in his hand, and apparently reading attentively: his window was wide open, and I remember wishing much for the power of making a picture of him just as he sat. But about 11 o’clock Miss Scott came over to me, looking much frightened, and saying that she feared he was about to have another paralytic attack. He had, she said, been rather confused in mind the day before, and the dinner-party had been too much for him. She had observed that on trying to answer a note from the Admiral that morning, he had not been able to form a letter on the paper, and she thought he was now sitting in a sort of stupor. She begged that Dr Davy would visit him as soon as possible, and that I would accompany him, so that he might not suppose it a medical visit, for to all such he had an utter objection. I sent for Dr D. instantly, and the moment he returned we went together to the hotel. We found Sir Walter sitting near a fire, dressed, as I had seen him just before, in a large silk dressing-gown, his face a good deal flushed, and his eyes heavy. He rose, however, as I went up to him, and, addressing me by my mother’s name, “Mrs Fletcher,” asked kindly whether I was quite recovered from a little illness I had complained of the day before, and then walked to a table on the other side of the room, to look at some views of the new Volcano in the Mediterranean, which, by way of apology for our early visit, we had carried with us. With these he seemed pleased; but there was great indistinctness in his manner of speaking. He soon after sat down, and began, of his own accord, to converse
with Dr Davy on the work he was then engaged in—the
Life of Sir Humphry—saying that he was truly glad he was thus engaged, as he did not think justice had been done to the character of his friend by Dr Paris. In speaking of the scientific distinction attained by Sir Humphry, he said, ‘I hope, Dr Davy, your mother lived to see it. There must have been such great pleasure in that to her.’ We both remember with much interest this kindly little observation; and it was but one of many that dropt from him as naturally at the different times we met, showing that, ‘fallen’ as ‘the mighty’ was, and ‘his weapons of war perished,’ the springs of fancy dried up, and memory on most subjects much impaired, his sense of the value of home-bred worth and affection was in full force. His way of mentioning ‘my son Charles, poor fellow,’ whom he was longing to meet at Naples or ‘my own Tweed-side,’ which in truth he seemed to lament ever having quitted was often really affecting. Our visit together on this morning was of course short, but Dr Davy saw him repeatedly in the course of the same day. Leeches were applied to his head, and though they did not give immediate relief to his uncomfortable sensations, he was evidently much better next morning, and disposed to try a drive into the country. Some lameness having befallen one of the horses provided for his use, I, at his request, ordered a little open carriage of ours to the door about 12 o’clock, and prepared to accompany him to St Antonio, a garden residence of the Governor’s, about two miles from Valetta, then occupied by Mr Frere, whose own house at the Pieta was under repair. It was not without fear and trembling I undertook this little drive—not on account of the greatness of my companion, for assuredly he was the most humane of lions, but I feared he might have some new seizure of illness, and that I should be very
helpless to him in such a case. I proposed that Dr D. should go instead; but, like most men when they are ill or unhappy, he preferred having womankind about him,—said he would ‘like Mrs Davy better;’ so I went. The notices of his ‘carriage talk,’ I give exactly as I find them noted down the day after—omitting only the story of Sir H. Davy and the Tyrolese rifle, which I put on record separately for my husband, for insertion in his book.*

“My little note-book of December 9 says—The day was very beautiful (like a good English day about the end of May) and the whole way in going to St Antonio he was cheerful, and inclined to talk on any matter that was suggested. He admired the streets of Valetta much as we passed through them, noticing particularly the rich effect of the carved stone balconies, and the images of saints at every corner, saying several times ‘this town is really quite like a dream.’ Something (suggested I believe by the appearances of Romish superstition on all sides of us) brought him to speak of the Irish of whose native character he expressed a high opinion; and spoke most feelingly of the evil fate that seemed constantly to attend them. Some link from this subject (I do not exactly know what for the rattling progress of our little vehicle over ill-paved ways, and his imperfect utterance together, made it difficult to catch all his words) brought to his recollection a few fine lines from ‘O’Connor’s child,’ in the passage
‘And ranged, as to the judgment seat,
My guilty, trembling brothers round’—
which he repeated with his accustomed energy, and then

* See Dr Davy’s Memoirs of his brother, vol. I. p. 506,—for the account of Speckbacker’s rifle now in the Armoury at Abbotsford.

went on to speak of
Campbell, whom, as a poet, he honours. On my saying something of Campbell’s youth at the publication of his first poem, he said, ‘Aye, he was very young—but he came out at once, ye may say, like the Irish rebels, a hundred thousand strong.’

“There was no possibility of admiring the face of the country as we drove along after getting clear of the city gates; but I was pleased to see how refreshing the air seemed to Sir Walter—and perhaps this made him go back, as he did, to his days of long walks, over moss and moor, which he told me he had often traversed at the rate of five-and-twenty miles a-day, with a gun on his shoulder. He snuffed with great delight the perfume of the new oranges, which hung thickly on each side as we drove up the long avenue to the court-yard, or stableyard rather, of St Antonio—and was amused at the Maltese untidiness of two or three pigs running at large under the trees. ‘That’s just like my friend Frere,’ he said, ‘quite content to let pigs run about in his orange-groves.’ We did not find Mr Frere at home, and therefore drove back without waiting. Among some other talk, in returning, he spoke with praise of Miss Ferrier as a novelist, and then with still higher praise of Miss Austen. Of the latter he said, ‘I find myself every now and then with one of her books in my hand. There’s a finishing-off in some of her scenes that is really quite above every body else. And there’s that Irish lady, too—but I forget every body’s name now’—‘Miss Edgeworth,’ I said—‘Ay, Miss Edgeworth, she’s very clever, and best in the little touches, too. I’m sure, in that children’s story’—(he meant ‘Simple Susan,’) ‘where the little girl parts with her lamb, and the little boy brings it back to her again, there’s nothing for it but just to put down the book, and cry.’ A little afterwards, he said, ‘Do you know Moore?—he’s a
charming fellow—a perfect gentleman in society;—to use a sporting phrase, there’s no kick in his gallop.’

“As we drew near home, I thought him somewhat fatigued—he was more confused than at first in his recollection of names—and we drove on without saying any thing. But I shall not forget the kindly good humour with which he said, in getting out at his hotel door ‘Thank ye, for your kindness—your charity, I may say—to an old lame man—farewell!’ He did not seem the worse of his little exertion this day; but, thenceforward, was prudent in refusing all dinner invitations.

“On Friday (December 10th), he went, in company with Mr Frere, to see Citta Vecchia. I drove over with a lady friend to meet them at the church there. Sir Walter seemed pleased with what was shown him, but was not animated. On Saturday the 11th he drove out twice to see various things in Valetta. On Monday morning the 13th, I saw him for the last time, when I called to take leave of Miss Scott. Dr Davy accompanied him, in the course of the following morning, to see Strada Stretta—the part of the city in which he had been told the young Knights of Malta used to fight their duels, when such affairs occurred. In quitting the street, Sir Walter looked round him earnestly, and said, ‘It will be hard if I cannot make something of this.’ On that day, Tuesday morning, December 14th, he and his party went again on board the Barham, and sailed for Naples.”