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Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, Bart.
Chapter IX 1798-99

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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Scott carried his bride to a lodging in George Street, Edinburgh; a house which he had taken in South Castle Street not being quite prepared for her reception. The first fortnight, to which she had looked with such anxiety, was, I believe, more than sufficient to convince her husband’s family that, however rashly he had formed the connexion, she had the sterling qualities of a good wife. Notwithstanding the little leaning to the pomps and vanities of the world, which her letters have not concealed, she had made up her mind to find her happiness in better things; and so long as their circumstances continued narrow, no woman could have conformed herself to them with more of good feeling and good sense. Some habits, new in the quiet domestic circles of Edinburgh citizens, did not escape criticism; and in particular, I have heard herself, in her most prosperous days, laugh heartily at the remonstrances of her George Street landlady, when it was discovered that the southron lodger chose to sit usually, and not on high occasions merely, in her drawing-room,—on which subject the mother-in-law was disposed to take the thrifty old-fashioned dame’s side.


I cannot fancy that Lady Scott’s manners or ideas could ever have amalgamated very well with those of her husband’s parents; but the feeble state of the old gentleman’s health prevented her from seeing them constantly; and without any affectation of strict intimacy, they soon were, and always continued to be, very good friends. Anne Scott, the delicate sister to whom the Ashestiel Memoir alludes so tenderly, speedily formed a warm and sincere attachment for the stranger; but death, in a short time, carried off that interesting creature, who seems to have had much of her brother’s imaginative and romantic temperament, without his power of controlling it.

Mrs Scott’s arrival was welcomed with unmingled delight by the brothers of the Mountain. The two ladies who had formerly given life and grace to their society were both recently married. We have seen Miss Erskine’s letter of farewell; and I have before me another not less affectionate, written when Miss Cranstoun gave her hand (a few months later) to Godfrey Wenceslaus, Count of Purgstall, a nobleman of large possessions in Styria, who had been spending some time in Edinburgh. Scott’s house in South Castle Street,—(soon after exchanged for one of the same sort in North Castle Street, which he purchased, and inhabited down to 1826)—became now to the Mountain what Cranstoun’s and Erskine’s had been while their accomplished sisters remained with them. The officers of the Light Horse, too, established a club among themselves, supping once a-week at each other’s houses in rotation. The young lady thus found two somewhat different, but both highly agreeable, circles ready to receive her with cordial kindness; and the evening hours passed in a round of innocent gaiety, all the arrangements being conducted in a simple and in ex-
pensive fashion suitable to young people whose days were mostly laborious, and very few of their purses heavy.
Scott and Erskine had always been fond of the theatre; the pretty bride was passionately so—and I doubt if they ever spent a week in Edinburgh without indulging themselves in this amusement. But regular dinners and crowded assemblies were in those years quite unthought of. Perhaps nowhere could have been found a society on so small a scale including more of vigorous intellect, varied information, elegant tastes, and real virtue, affection, and mutual confidence. How often have I heard its members, in the midst of the wealth and honours which most of them in due season attained, sigh over the recollection of those humbler days, when love and ambition were young and buoyant—and no difference of opinion was able to bring even a momentary chill over the warmth of friendship.

“You will imagine,” writes the Countess Purgstall to Scott, from one of her Styrian castles, “how my heart burnt within me, my dear, dear friend, while I read your thrice welcome letter. Had all the gods and goddesses, from Saturn to La Liberté, laid their heads together, they could not have presented me with any thing that so accorded with my fondest wishes. To have a conviction that those I love are happy, and don’t forget me—I have no way to express my feelings—they come in a flood and destroy me. Could my George but light on another Charlotte, there would be but one crook left in my lot—to wit, that Reggersburg does not serve as a vista for the Parliament Square.* Would some earthquake engulf the vile

* The ancient castle of Reggersburg (if engravings may be trusted, one of the most magnificent in Germany) was the chief seat of the Purgstalls. In situation and extent it seems to resemble the castle of Stirling. The Countess writes thus, about the same time, to another of the Mountain:—“As for Scott and his sweet little

tract between, or the spirit of our rock introduce me to Jack the Giant Queller’s shoemaker; Lord, Lord, how delightful! Could I choose, I should just for the present patronise the shoemaker, and then the moment I got you ail snug in this old hall, steal the shoes and lock them away till the indignation of the Lord passes by poor Old England! Earl Walter would play the devil with me, but his Charlotte’s smiles would speak thanks ineffable, and the angry clouds pass as before the sun in his strength. How divinely your spectre scenes would come in here. Surely there is no vanity in saying that earth has no mountains like ours. O, how delightful to see the lady that is blessed with Earl Walter’s love, and that had mind enough to discover the blessing. Some kind post, I hope, will soon tell me that your happiness is enlarged, in the only way it can be enlarged, for you have no chance now I think of taking
Buonaparte prisoner. What sort of a genius will he be is a very anxious speculation indeed; whether the philosopher, the lawyer, the antiquary, the poet, or the hero will prevail—the spirit whispers unto me a happy melange of the two last—he will lisp in numbers and kick at la Nourrice. On his arrival present my fondest wishes to his honour, and don’t, pray, give him a name out of your list of round-table knights, but some simple Christian appellation from the House of Harden. And is it then true, my God, that Earl Walter is a Benedick, and that I am in Styria? Well, bless us all, prays the separated from her brethren.

J. A. P.”
“Hainfeld, July 20, 1798.”

wife, I consider them as a sort of papa and mamma to you all, and am happy the gods have ordered it so.”

LASSWADE—1798. 289

Another extract from the Family Bible may close this letter—“M. C. Scott puerum edidit 18to die Octobris 1778, qui postero die obiit apud Edinam.”

In the summer of this year Scott had hired a pretty cottage at Lasswade, on the Esk, about six miles from Edinburgh, and there, as the back of Madame de P.’s letter shows, he received it from the hands of Professor Stewart. It is a small house, but with one room of good dimensions, which Mrs Scott’s taste set off to advantage at very humble cost a paddock or two and a garden (commanding a most beautiful view) in which Scott delighted to train his flowers and creepers. Never, I have heard him say, was he prouder of his handywork than when he had completed the fashioning of a rustic archway, now overgrown with hoary ivy, by way of ornament to the entrance from the Edinburgh road. In this retreat they spent some happy summers, receiving the visits of their few chosen friends from the neighbouring city, and wandering at will amidst some of the most romantic scenery that Scotland can boast—Scott’s dearest haunt in the days of his boyish ramblings. They had neighbours, too, who were not slow to cultivate their acquaintance. With the Clerks of Pennycuick, with Mackenzie, the Man of Feeling, who then occupied the charming villa of Auchendinny, and with Lord Woodhouselee, Scott had from an earlier date been familiar; and it was while at Lasswade that he formed intimacies, even more important in their results, with the noble families of Melville and Buccleuch, both of whom have castles in the same valley.

“Sweet are the paths, O passing sweet,
By Esk’s fair streams that run,
O’er airy steep, thro’ copsewood deep
Impervious to the sun;
“From that fair dome where suit is paid
By blast of bugle free,*
To Auchendinny’s hazel shade,
And haunted Woodhouslee.
“Who knows not Melville’s beechy grove,
And Roslin’s rocky glen;
Dalkeith, which all the virtues love,
And classic Hawthornden?”

Another verse reminds us that
“There the rapt poet’s step may rove;”—
and it was amidst these delicious solitudes that he did produce the pieces which laid the imperishable foundations of all his fame. It was here that when his warm heart was beating with young and happy love, and his whole mind and spirit were nerved by new motives for exertion; it was here, that in the ripened glow of manhood he seems to have first felt something of his real strength, and poured himself out in those splendid original ballads which were at once to fix his name.

I must, however, approach these more leisurely. When William Erskine was in London in the spring of this year, he happened to meet in society with Matthew Gregory Lewis, M.P. for Hindon, whose romance of “The Monk,” with the ballads which it included, had made for him, in those barren days, a brilliant reputation. This good-natured fopling, the pet and plaything of certain fashionable circles, was then busy with that miscellany which at length came out in 1801, under the name of “Tales of Wonder,” and was beating up in all quarters for contributions. Erskine showed Lewis Scott’s versions of “Lenore” and the “Wild Huntsman;” and when he mentioned that his friend had other specimens of the German diablerie in his portfolio, the collector anxiously requested that Scott might be en-

* Pennycuick.

MONK LEWIS—1798.291
listed in his cause. The brushwood splendour of “The Monk’s” fame,
“The false and foolish fire that’s whiskt about
By popular air, and glares, and then goes out,”*
had a dazzling influence among the unknown aspirants of Edinburgh; and Scott, who was perhaps at all times rather disposed to hold popular favour as the surest test of literary merit, and who certainly continued through life to over-estimate all talents except his own, considered this invitation as a very flattering compliment. He immediately wrote to Lewis, placing whatever pieces he had translated and imitated from the German “Volkslieder” at his disposal. The following is the first of Lewis’s letters to him that has been preserved—it is without date, but marked by Scott “1798.”

To Walter Scott, Esq., Advocate, Edinburgh.

“I cannot delay expressing to you how much I feel obliged to you, both for the permission to publish the ballads I requested, and for the handsome manner in which that permission was granted. The plan I have proposed to myself, is to collect all the marvellous ballads which I can lay hands upon. Ancient as well as modern will be comprised in my design; and I shall even allow a place to Sir Gawaine’s Foul Ladye, and the Ghost that came to Margaret’s door and tirled at the pin. But as a ghost or a witch is a sine qua non ingredient in all the dishes of which I mean to compose my hobgoblin repast, I am afraid the ‘Lied von Treue’ does not come within the plan. With regard to the romance in ‘Claudina von Villa Bella,’ if I am not mistaken, it is only a fragment in the original; but,

* Oldham.

should you have finished it, you will oblige me much by letting me have a copy of it, as well as of the other marvellous traditionary ballads you were so good as to offer me.

“Should you be in Edinburgh when I arrive there, I shall request Erskine to contrive an opportunity for my returning my personal thanks. Mean while I beg you to believe me your most obedient and obliged

M. G. Lewis.”

When Lewis reached Edinburgh he met Scott accordingly, and the latter told Allan Cunningham, thirty years afterwards, that he thought he had never felt such elation as when the “Monk” invited him to dine with him for the first time at his hotel. Since he gazed on Burns in his seventeenth year, he had seen no one enjoying, by general consent, the fame of a poet; and Lewis, whatever Scott might, on maturer consideration, think of his title to such fame, had certainly done him no small service; for the ballads of “Alonzo the Brave and the Fair Imogine,” and “Durandarte,” had rekindled effectually in his breast the spark of poetical ambition. Lady Charlotte Campbell (now Bury), always distinguished by her passion for elegant letters, was ready, “in pride of rank, in beauty’s bloom,” to do the honours of Scotland to the “Lion of Mayfair;” and I believe Scott’s first introduction to Lewis took place at one of her Ladyship’s parties. But they met frequently, and, among other places, at Dalkeith—as witness one of Scott’s marginal notes, written in 1825, on Lord Byron’s Diary.—“Poor fellow,” says Byron, “he died a martyr to his new riches—of a second visit to Jamaica.
“I’d give the lands of Deloraine
Dark Musgrave were alive again;”
MONK LEWIS—1798.293
that is,
“I would give many a sugar-cane,
Monk Lewis were alive again.”
To which Scott adds: “I would pay my share! how few friends one has whose faults are only ridiculous. His visit was one of humanity to ameliorate the condition of his slaves. He did much good by stealth, and was a most generous creature . . . . Lewis was fonder of great people than he ought to have been, either as a man of talent or as a man of fashion. He had always dukes and duchesses in his mouth, and was pathetically fond of any one that had a title. You would have sworn he had been a parvenu of yesterday, yet he had lived all his life in good society . . . . Mat had queerish eyes—they projected like those of some insects, and were flattish on the orbit. His person was extremely small and boyish—he was indeed the least man I ever saw, to be strictly well and neatly made. I remember a picture of him by
Saunders being handed round at Dalkeith House. The artist had ingeniously flung a dark folding-mantle around the form, under which was half-hid a dagger, a dark lantern, or some such cut-throat appurtenance; with all this the features were preserved and ennobled. It passed from hand to hand into that of Henry, Duke of Buccleuch, who, hearing the general voice affirm that it was very like, said aloud, ‘Like Mat Lewis! Why that picture’s like A Man!’ He looked, and lo, Mat Lewis’s head was at his elbow. This boyishness went through life with him. He was a child, and a spoiled child, but a child of high imagination; and so he wasted himself on ghost-stories and German romances. He had the finest ear for rhythm I ever met with—finer than Byron’s.”

During Lewis’s stay in Scotland this year, he spent a day or two with Scott at Musselburgh, where the
yeomanry corps were in quarters. Scott received him in his lodgings, under the roof of an ancient dame, who afforded him much amusement by her daily colloquies with the fishwomen—the Mucklebackets of the place. His delight in studying the dialect of these people is well remembered by the survivors of the cavalry, and must have astonished the stranger dandy. While walking about before dinner on one of these days,
Mr Skene’s recitation of the German Kriegslied, “Der Abschied’s Tag ist da” (the day of departure is come), delighted both Lewis and Scott; and the latter produced next morning that spirited little piece in the same measure, which, embodying the volunteer ardour of the time, was forthwith adopted as the troop-song of the Edinburgh Light Horse.

In January, 1799, Mr Lewis appears negotiating with a bookseller, named Bell, for the publication of Scott’s version of Goethe’s Tragedy, “Goetz von Berlichingen of the Iron Hand.” Bell seems finally to have purchased the copyright for twenty-five guineas, and twenty-five more to be paid in case of a second edition—which was never called for until long after the copyright had expired. Lewis writes, “I have made him distinctly understand, that, if you accept so small a sum, it will be only because this is your first publication.” The edition of “Lenore” and the “Yager,” in 1796, had been completely forgotten; and Lewis thought of those ballads exactly as if they had been MS. contributions to his own “Tales of Wonder,” still lingering on the threshold of the press. The Goetz appeared accordingly, with Scott’s name on the titlepage, in the following February.

In March, 1799, he carried his wife to London, this being the first time that he had seen the metropolis since the days of his infancy. The acquaintance of Lewis served
to introduce him to some literary and fashionable society, with which he was much amused; but his great anxiety was to examine the antiquities of the Tower and Westminster Abbey, and to make some researches among the MSS. of the British Museum. He found his
Goetz spoken of favourably, on the whole, by the critics of the time; but it does not appear to have attracted general attention. The truth is, that, to have given Goethe any thing like a fair chance with the English public, his first drama ought to have been translated at least ten years before. The imitators had been more fortunate than the master, and this work, which constitutes one of the most important landmarks in the history of German literature, had not come even into Scott’s hands, until he had familiarized himself with the ideas which it first opened, in the feeble and puny mimicries of writers already forgotten. He readily discovered the vast gulf which separated Goethe from the German dramatists on whom he had heretofore been employing himself; but the public in general drew no such distinctions, and the English Goetz was soon afterwards condemned to oblivion through the unsparing ridicule showered on whatever bore the name of German play, by the inimitable caricature of The Rovers.

The tragedy of Goethe, however, has in truth nothing in common with the wild absurdities against which Canning and Ellis had levelled the arrows of their wit. It is a broad, bold, free, and most picturesque delineation of real characters, manners, and events; the first fruits, in a word, of that passionate admiration for Shakspeare, to which all that is excellent in the recent imaginative literature of Germany must be traced. With what delight must Scott have found the scope and manner of our Elizabethan drama revived on a foreign stage at the call of a real master: with what double
delight must he have seen Goethe seizing for the noblest purposes of art, men and modes of life, scenes, incidents, and transactions, all claiming near kindred with those that had from boyhood formed the chosen theme of his own sympathy and reflection. In the baronial robbers of the Rhine, stern, bloody, and rapacious, but frank, generous, and, after their fashion, courteous; in their forays upon each other’s domains, the besieged castles, the plundered herds, the captive knights, the browbeaten bishop, and the baffled liege-lord, who vainly strove to quell all these turbulences, Scott had before him a vivid image of the life of his own and the rival Border clans, familiarized to him by a hundred nameless minstrels. If it be doubtful whether, but for “
Percy’s Reliques,” he would ever have thought of editing their ballads, I think it not less so whether, but for the Ironhanded Goetz, it would ever have flashed upon his mind, that in the wild traditions which these recorded, he had been unconsciously assembling materials for more works of high art than the longest life could serve him to elaborate.

As the version of the Goetz has at length been included in Scott’s poetical works, I need not make it the subject of more detailed observation here. The reader who turns to it for the first time will be no less struck than I was under similar circumstances a dozen years ago, with the many points of resemblance between the tone and spirit of Goethe’s delineation, and that afterwards adopted by the translator in some of the most remarkable of his original works. One example, however, may be forgiven.

A loud alarm, with shouts and firing—Selbiss is borne in wounded by two Troopers.
Selbiss. Leave me here, and hasten to Goetz.
1st Trooper. Let us stay—you need our aid.
Sel. Get one of you on the watch-tower, and tell mo how it goes.
1st Troop. How shall I get up?
2d Troop. Get upon my shoulder; you can then reach the ruined part.
1st Troop. (On the lower). Alas! Alas!
Sel. What seest thou?
Troop. Your cavaliers fly to the hill.
Sel. Hellish cowards! I would that they stood, and that I had a ball through my head! Ride one of you at full speed Curse and thunder them back to the field! See’st thou Goetz?
Troop. I see the three black feathers in the midst of the tumult.
Sel. Swim, brave swimmer—I lie here.
Troop. A white plume! Whose is that?
Sel. The Captain.
Troop. Goetz gallops upon him—Crash—down he goes.
Sel. The Captain?
Troop. Yes.
Sel. Bravo!—bravo!
Troop. Alas! alas! I see Goetz no more.
Sel. Then die, Selbiss!
Troop. A dreadful tumult where he stood. George’s blue plume vanishes too.
Sel. Climb higher See’st thou Lerse?
Troop. No—every thing is in confusion.
Sel. No further—come down—tell me no more.
Troop. I cannot—bravo! I see Goetz.
Sel. On horseback?
Troop. Ay, ay—high on horseback—victory!—they fly!
Sel. The Imperialists?
Troop. Standard and all—Goetz behind them—he has it—he has it!”

The first hint of this (as of what not in poetry?) may be found in the Iliad—where Helen points out the persons of the Greek heroes in the fight raging below, to old Priam seated on the walls of Troy; and Shakspeare makes some use of the same idea in his Julius Cæsar. But who does not recognise in Goethe’s drama the true original of the death-scene of Marmion, and the storm in Ivanhoe?


Scott executed about the same time his “House of Aspen,” rather a rifacimento than a translation from one of the minor dramatists that had crowded to partake the popularity of Goetz of the Ironhand. It also was sent to Lewis in London, where having first been read and much recommended by the celebrated actress, Mrs Easton, it was taken up by Kemble, and I believe actually put in rehearsal for the stage. If so, the trial did not encourage further preparation, and the notion was abandoned. Discovering the play thirty years after among his papers, Scott sent it to one of the literary almanacks (the Keepsake of 1829). In the advertisement, he says “he had lately chanced to look over these scenes with feelings very different from those of the adventurous period of his literary life during which they were written, and yet with such, perhaps, as a reformed libertine might regard the illegitimate production of an early amour.” He adds, “there is something to be ashamed of certainly; but after all, paternal vanity whispers that the child has some resemblance to the father.” This piece being also now included in the general edition of his works, I shall not dwell upon it here. It owes its most effective scenes to the Secret Tribunal, which fountain of terror had first been disclosed by Goethe, and had by this time lost much of its effect through the “clumsy alacrity” of a hundred followers. Scott’s scenes are interspersed with some lyrics, the numbers of which, at least, are worthy of attention. One has the metre—and not a little of the spirit, of the boat-song of Roderick Dhu and Clan Alpin.
“Joy to the victors, the sons of old Aspen,
Joy to the race of the battle and scar;
Glory’s proud garland triumphantly grasping,
Generous in peace, and victorious in war.
Honour acquiring,
Valour inspiring,
Bursting resistless through foemen they go,
War axes wielding,
Broken ranks yielding,
Till from the battle proud Roderick retiring,
Yields in wild rout the fair palm to his foe.”
Another is the first draft of “
the Maid of Toro;” and perhaps he had forgotten the more perfect copy of that song when he sent the original to the Keepsake.

I incline to believe that the “House of Aspen” was written after Scott’s return from London; but it has been mentioned in the same page with the “Goetz,” to avoid any recurrence to either the German or the Germanized dramas. His return was accelerated by the domestic calamity which forms the subject of the following letter:

To Mrs Scott, George’s Square, Edinburgh.
“London, 19th April, 1799.
“My dear Mother,

“I cannot express the feelings with which I sit down to the discharge of my present melancholy duty, nor how much I regret the accident which has removed me from Edinburgh, at a time, of all others, when I should have wished to administer to your distress all the consolation which sympathy and affection could have afforded. Your own principles of virtue and religion will, however, I well know, be your best support in this heaviest of human afflictions. The removal of my regretted parent from this earthly scene, is to him, doubtless, the happiest change, if the firmest integrity and the best spent life can entitle us to judge of the state of our departed friends. When we reflect upon this we ought almost to suppress the selfish feelings of regret that he was not spared to us a little longer, especially when we consider that it was not the will of Heaven that he
should share the most inestimable of its earthly blessings, such a portion of health as might have enabled him to enjoy his family. To my dear father, then, the putting off this mortal mask was happiness, and to us who remain, a lesson so to live that we also may have hope in our latter end; and with you, my dearest
Mother, remain many blessings and some duties, a grateful recollection of which will, I am sure, contribute to calm the current of your affliction. The affection and attention which you have a right to expect from your children, and which I consider as the best tribute we can pay to the memory of the parent we have lost, will also, I am sure, contribute its full share to the alleviation of your distress. The situation of Charlotte’s health, in its present delicate state, prevented me from setting off directly for Scotland, when I heard that immediate danger was apprehended. I am now glad I did not do so, as I could not with the utmost expedition have reached Edinburgh before the lamented event had taken place. The situation of my affairs must detain me here for a few days more; the instant I can I will set off for Scotland. I need not tell you not even to attempt to answer this letter such an exertion would be both unnecessary and improper. John or Tom will let me know how my sister and you do. I am, ever, dear Mother, your dutiful and affectionate son,

W. S.”

“P.S.—Permit me, my dear Madam, to add a line to Scott’s letter, to express to you how sincerely I feel for your loss, and how much I regret that I am not near you to try by the most tender care to soften the pain that so great a misfortune must inflict on you, and on all those who had the happiness of being connected with him. I hope soon to have the pleasure of returning to
you, and to convince you of the sincere affection of your daughter,

M. C. S.

The death of this worthy man, in his 70th year, after a long series of feeble health and suffering, was an event which could only be regarded as a great deliverance to himself. He had had a succession of paralytic attacks, under which, mind as well as body had by degrees been laid quite prostrate. When the first Chronicles of the Canongate appeared, a near relation of the family said to me “I had been out of Scotland for some time, and did not know of my good friend’s illness, until I reached Edinburgh, a few months before his death. Walter carried me to visit him, and warned me that I should see a great change. I saw the very scene that is here painted of the elder Croftangry’s sickroom—not a feature different—poor Anne Scott, the gentlest of creatures, was treated by the fretful patient precisely like this niece.”*

I have lived to see the curtain rise and fall once more on a like scene.

Mr Thomas Scott continued to manage his father’s business. He married early; he was in his circle of society extremely popular; and his prospects seemed fair in all things. The property left by the old gentleman was less than had been expected, but sufficient to make ample provision for his widow, and a not inconsiderable addition to the resources of those among whom the remainder was divided.

Scott’s mother and sister, both much exhausted with their attendance on a protracted sickbed, and the latter already in the first stage of the malady which in two years more carried her also to her grave, spent the

* See Chronicles, Waverley Novels, vol. xli., p. 19.

greater part of the following summer and autumn in his cottage at Lasswade.

There he was now again labouring assiduously in the service of Lewis’s “hobgoblin repast,” and the specimens of his friend’s letters on his contributions, as they were successively forwarded to London, which were printed by way of appendix to his Essay on Popular Poetry, in 1830, may perhaps be sufficient for the reader’s curiosity. The versions from Bürger were, in consequence of Lewis’s remarks, somewhat corrected; and, indeed, although Scott speaks of himself as having paid no attention, “at the time” to the lectures of his martinet in rhymes and numbers”—(“lectures which were,” he adds, “severe enough, but useful eventually,” as “forcing on a young and careless versifier criticisms absolutely necessary to his future success”) it is certain that his memory had in some degree deceived him when he used this language, for, of all the false rhymes and Scotticisms which Lewis had pointed out in these “lectures,” hardly one appears in the printed copies of the ballads contributed by Scott to the Tales of Wonder.

As to his imperfect rhymes of this period, I have no doubt he owed them to his recent zeal about collecting the ballads of the Border. He had, in his familiarity with compositions so remarkable for merits of a higher order, ceased to be offended, as in the days of his devotion to Langhorne and Meikle he would probably have been, with their loose and vague assonances, which are often, in fact, not rhymes at all; a license pardonable enough in real minstrelsy, meant to be chanted to moss-troopers with the accompanying tones of the war pipe, but certainly not worthy of imitation in verses written for the eye of a polished age. Of this carelessness as to rhyme, we see little or nothing in our few
specimens of his boyish verse, and it does not occur, to any extent that has ever been thought worth notice, in his great works.

But Lewis’s collection did not engross the leisure of this summer. It produced also what Scott justly calls his “first serious attempts in verse;” and of these the earliest appears to have been the Glenfinlas. Here the scene is laid in the most favourite district of his favourite Perthshire Highlands; and the Gaelic tradition on which it is founded was far more likely to draw out the secret strength of his genius, as well as to arrest the feelings of his countrymen, than any subject with which the stores of German diablerie could have supplied him. It has been alleged, however, that the poet makes a German use of his Scottish materials; that the legend, as briefly told in the simple prose of his preface, is more affecting than the lofty and sonorous stanzas themselves, that the vague terror of the original dream loses, instead of gaining, by the expanded elaboration of the detail. There may be something in these objections: but no man can pretend to be an impartial critic of the piece which first awoke his own childish ear to the power of poetry and the melody of verse.

The next of these compositions was, I believe, the Eve of St John, in which Scott repeoples the tower of Smailholm, the awe-inspiring haunt of his infancy; and here he touches, for the first time, the one superstition which can still be appealed to with full and perfect effect; the only one which lingers in minds long since weaned from all sympathy with the machinery of witches and goblins. And surely this mystery was never touched with more thrilling skill than in that noble ballad. It is the first of his original pieces, too, in which he uses the measure of his own favourite Minstrels; a measure which the monotony of mediocrity
had long and successfully been labouring to degrade, but in itself adequate to the expression of the highest thoughts as well as the gentlest emotions, and capable, in fit hands, of as rich a variety of music as any other of modern times. This was written at Mertoun-house in the autumn of 1799. Some dilapidations had taken place in the tower of Smailholm, and
Harden, being informed of the fact, and entreated with needless earnestness by his kinsman to arrest the hand of the spoiler, requested playfully a ballad, of which Smailholm should be the scene, as the price of his assent. The stanza in which the groves of Mertoun are alluded to, has been quoted in a preceding page.

Then came The Grey Brother, founded on another superstition, which seems to have been almost as ancient as the belief in ghosts; namely, that the holiest service of the altar cannot go on in the presence of an unclean person—a heinous sinner unconfessed and unabsolved. The fragmentary form of this poem greatly heightens the awfulness of its impression; and in construction and metre, the verses which really belong to the story appear to me the happiest that have ever been produced expressly in imitation of the ballad of the middle age. In the stanzas, previously quoted, on the scenery of the Esk, however beautiful in themselves, and however interesting now as marking the locality of the composition, he must be allowed to have lapsed into another strain, and produced a pannus purpureus which interferes with and mars the general texture.

He wrote at the same period the fine chivalrous ballad, entitled The Fire-King, in which there is more than enough to make us forgive the machinery. It was also in the course of this autumn that he first visited Bothwell Castle, the seat of Archibald Lord Douglas, who had
married the
Lady Frances Scott, sister to Henry, Duke of Buccleuch; a woman whose many amiable virtues were combined with extraordinary strength of mind, and who had, from the first introduction of the young poet at Dalkeith, formed high anticipations of his future career. Lady Douglas was one of his dearest friends through life; and now, under her roof, he met with one whose abilities and accomplishments not less qualified her to estimate him, and who still survives to lament the only event that could have interrupted their cordial confidence—the Lady Louisa Stuart, daughter of the celebrated John, Earl of Bute. These ladies, who were sisters in mind, feeling, and affection, he visited among scenes the noblest and most interesting that all Scotland can show—alike famous in history and romance; and he was not unwilling to make Bothwell and Blantyre the subject of another ballad. His purpose was never completed. I think, however, the reader will not complain of my introducing the fragment which I have found among his papers.

“When fruitful Clydesdale’s apple-bowers
Are mellowing in the noon;
When sighs round Pembroke’s ruin’d towers
The sultry breath of June;
“When Clyde, despite his sheltering wood,
Must leave his channel dry;
And vainly o’er the limpid flood
The angler guides his fly;
“If, chance, by Bothwell’s lovely braes
A wanderer thou hast been,
Or hid thee from the summer’s blaze
In Blantyre’s bowers of green
“Full where the copse wood opens wild
Thy pilgrim step hath staid
Where Bothwell’s towers in ruin piled
O’erlook the verdant glade;
“And many a tale of love and fear
Hath mingled with the scene—
Of Bothwell’s banks that bloom’d so dear
And Bothwell’s bonny Jean.
“O, if with rugged minstrel lays
Unsated be thy ear,
And thou of deeds of other days
Another tale wilt hear,
“Then all beneath the spreading beech
Flung careless on life lea,
The Gothic muse the tale shall teach
Of Bothwell’s sisters three.
Wight Wallace stood on Deckmont head,
He blew his bugle round,
Till the wild bull in Cadyow wood
Has started at the sound.
“St George’s cross, o’er Bothwell hung,
Was waving far and wide,
And from the lofty turret flung
Its crimson blaze on Clyde;
“And rising at the bugle blast
That mark’d the Scottish foe,
Old England’s yeomen muster’d fast,
And bent the Norman bow.
“Tall in the midst Sir Aylmer rose,
Proud Pembroke’s Earl was he
While”— . . . . . .

One morning, during his visit to Bothwell, was spent on an excursion to the ruins of Craignethan Castle, the seat, in former days, of the great Evandale branch of the house of Hamilton, but now the property of Lord Douglas; and the poet expressed such rap-
ture with the scenery, that his hosts urged him to accept, for his lifetime, the use of a small habitable house, enclosed within the circuit of the ancient walls. This offer was not at once declined; but circumstances occurred before the end of the year, which rendered it impossible for him to establish his summer residence in Lanarkshire. The castle of Craignethan is the original of his “Tillietudlem.”

Another imperfect ballad, in which he had meant to blend together two legends familiar to every reader of Scottish history and romance, has been found in the same portfolio, and the handwriting proves it to be of the same early date. Though long and very unfinished, it contains so many touches of his best manner that I cannot withhold


* * * * * * * *
And ne’er but once, my son, he says,
Was yon sad cavern trod,
In persecution’s iron days,
When the land was left by God
From Bewlie bog, with slaughter red,
A wanderer hither drew,
And oft he stopt and turned his head,
As by fits the night wind blew;
For trampling round by Cheviot edge
Were heard the troopers keen,
And frequent from the Whitelaw ridge
The death-shot flashed between.
The moonbeams through the misty shower
On yon dark cavern fell;
Through the cloudy night, the snow gleamed white,
Which sunbeam ne’er could quell.
“Yon cavern dark is rough and rude,
And cold its jaws of snow;
But more rough and rude are the men of blood,
That hunt my life below;
“Yon spell-bound den, as the aged tell,
Was hewn by demon’s hands;
But I had lourd * melle with the fiends of hell,
Than with Clavers and his band.”
He heard the deep-mouthed bloodhound bark,
He heard the horses neigh,
He plunged him in the cavern dark,
And downward sped his way.
Now faintly down the winding path
Came the cry of the faulting hound,
And the muttered oath of baulked wrath
Was lost in hollow sound.
He threw him on the flinted floor,
And held his breath for fear;
He rose and bitter cursed his foes,
As the sounds died on his ear.
“O bare thine arm, thou battling Lord,
For Scotland’s wandering band,
Dash from the oppressor’s grasp the sword,
And sweep him from the land!
“Forget not thou thy people’s groans
From dark Dunnotter’s tower,
Mix’d with the seafowl’s shrilly moans,
And ocean’s bursting roar!
“O in fell Clavers’ hour of pride,
Even in his mightiest day,
As bold he strides through conquest’s tide,
O stretch him on the clay!
“His widow and his little ones,
O may their tower of trust

* Lourd; i. e., liefer—rather.

Remove its strong foundation stones,
And crush them in the dust!”—
“Sweet prayers to me,” a voice replied,
“Thrice welcome, guest of mine!”—
And glimmering on the cavern side
A light was seen to shine.
An aged man, in amice brown,
Stood by the wanderer’s side,
By powerful charm, a dead man’s arm
The torch’s light supplied.
From each stiff finger stretched upright,
Arose a ghastly flame,
That waved not in the blast of night
Which through the cavern came.
O deadly blue was that taper’s hue,
That flamed the cavern o’er,
But more deadly blue was the ghastly hue
Of his eyes who the taper bore.
He laid on his head a hand like lead,
As heavy, pale, and cold:—
“Vengeance be thine, thou guest of mine,
If thy heart be firm and bold.
“But if faint thy heart, and caitiff fear
Thy recreant sinews know,
The mountain erne thy heart shall tear,
Thy nerves the hooded crow.”
The wanderer raised him undismay’d:
“My soul, by dangers steeled,
Is stubborn as my border blade,
Which never knew to yield.
“And if thy power can speed the hour
Of vengeance on my foes,
Theirs be the fate, from bridge and gate
To feed the hooded crows.”
The Brownie looked him in the face,
And his colour fled with speed—
“I fear me,” quoth he, “uneath it will be
To match thy word and deed.
“In ancient days when English bands
Sore ravaged Scotland fair,
The sword and shield of Scottish land
Was valiant Halbert Kerr.
“A warlock loved the warrior well,
And he sought for his sake a spell to make,
Should the Southern foemen tame;
“Look thou,” he said, “from Cessford head,
As the July sun sinks low,
And when glimmering white on Cheviot’s height
Thou shalt spy a wreath of snow,
The spell is complete which shall bring to thy feet
The haughty Saxon foe.”
For many a year wrought the wizard here,
In Cheviot’s bosom low,
Till the spell was complete, and in July’s heat
Appeared December’s snow;
But Cessford’s Halbert never came
The wondrous cause to know.
“For years before in Bowden aisle
The warrior’s bones had lain,
And after short while, by female guile,
Sir Michael Scott was slain.
“But me and my brethren in this cell
His mighty charms retain,
And he that can quell the powerful spell
Shall o’er broad Scotland reign.”
He led him through an iron door
And up a winding stair,
And in wild amaze did the wanderer gaze
On the sight which opened there.
Through the gloomy night flashed ruddy light,—
A thousand torches’ glow;
The cave rose high, like the vaulted sky,
O’er stalls in double row.
In every stall of that endless hall
Stood a steed in barbing bright;
At the foot of each steed, all armed save the head,
Lay stretched a stalwart knight.
In each mailed hand was a naked brand,
As they lay on the black bull’s hide;
Each visage stern did upwards turn,
With eyeballs fixed and wide.
A launcegay strong, full twelve ells long,
By every warrior hung;
At each pommel there, for battle yare,
A Jedwood axe was slung.
The casque hung near each cavalier;
The plumes waved mournfully
At every tread which the wanderer made
Through the hall of Gramarye;
The ruddy beam of the torches’ gleam,
That glared the warriors on,
Reflected light from armour bright,
In noontide splendour shone.
And onward seen in lustre sheen,
Still lengthening on the sight,
Through the boundless hall, stood steeds in stall,
And by each lay a sable knight.
Still as the dead lay each horseman dread,
And moved nor limb nor tongue;
Each steed stood stiff as an earthfast cliff,
Nor hoof nor bridle rung.
No sounds through all the spacious hall
The deadly still divide,
Save where echoes aloof from the vaulted roof
To the wanderer’s step replied.
At length before his wondering eyes,
On an iron column borne,
Of antique shape, and giant size,
Appear’d a sword and horn.
“Now choose thee here,” quoth his leader,
“Thy venturous fortune try;
Thy wo and weal, thy boot and bale,
In yon brand and bugle lie.”
To the fatal brand he mounted his hand,
But his soul did quiver and quail;
The life-blood did start to his shuddering heart
And left him wan and pale.
The brand he forsook, and the horn he took
To ’say a gentle sound;
But so wild a blast from the bugle brast,
That the Cheviot rock’d around.
From Forth to Tees, from seas to seas,
The awful bugle rung;
On Carlisle wall, and Berwick withal,
To arms the warders sprung.
With clank and clang the cavern rang,
The steeds did stamp and neigh;
And loud was the yell as each warrior fell
Sterte up with hoop and cry.
“Wo, wo,” they cried, “thou caitiff coward
That ever thou wert born!
Why drew ye not the knightly sword
Before ye blew the horn?”
The morning on the mountain shone,
And on the bloody ground
Hurled from the cave with shiver’d bone,
The mangled wretch was found.
And still beneath the cavern dread,
Among the glidders gray,
A shapeless stone with lichens spread
Marks where the wanderer lay.’
* * * * * * * * *

The reader may be interested by comparing with this ballad the author’s prose version of part of its legend, as given in one of the last works of his pen. He says, in the Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft, 1830:—“Thomas of Ercildowne, during his retirement, has been supposed, from time to time, to be levying forces to take the field in some crisis of his country’s fate. The story has often been told, of a daring horse-jockey having sold a black horse to a man of venerable and antique appearance, who appointed the remarkable hillock upon Eildon hills, called the Lucken-hare, as the place where, at twelve o’clock at night, he should receive the price. He came, his money was paid in ancient coin, and he was invited by his customer to view his residence. The trader in horses followed his guide in the deepest astonishment through several long ranges of stalls, in each of which a horse stood motionless, while an armed warrior lay equally still at the charger’s feet. ‘All these men,’ said the wizard in a whisper, ‘will awaken at the battle of Sheriffmuir.’ At the extremity of this extraordinary depot hung a sword and a horn, which the prophet pointed out to the horse-dealer as containing the means of dissolving the spell. The man in confusion took the horn and attempted to wind it. The horses instantly started in their stalls, stamped, and shook their bridles, the men arose and clashed their armour, and the mortal, terrified at the tumult he had excited, dropped the horn from his hand. A voice
like that of a giant, louder even than the tumult around, pronounced these words:—
‘Wo to the coward that ever he was born,
That did not draw the sword before he blew the horn.’
A whirlwind expelled the horse-dealer from the cavern, the entrance to which he could never again find. A moral might be perhaps extracted from the legend, namely, that it is best to be armed against danger before bidding it defiance.”

One more fragment, in another style, and I shall have exhausted this budget. I am well aware that the introduction of such things will be considered by many as of questionable propriety; but on the whole, it appears to me the better course to omit nothing by which it is in my power to throw light on this experimental period.

* * * * *
“Go sit old Cheviot’s crest below,
And pensive mark the lingering snow
In all his scaurs abide,
And slow dissolving from the hill
In many a sightless soundless rill,
Feed sparkling Bowmont’s tide.
“Fair shines the stream by bank and lea,
As wimpling to the eastern sea
She seeks Till’s sullen bed,
Indenting deep the fatal plain,
Where Scotland’s noblest, brave in vain,
Around their monarch bled.
“And westward hills on hills you see,
Even as old Ocean’s mightiest sea
Heaves high her waves of foam,
Dark and snow-ridged from Cutsfeld’s wold
To the proud foot of Cheviot roll’d,
Earth’s mountain billows come.”
* * * * *

Notwithstanding all these varied essays, and the charms of the distinguished society into which his reputation had already introduced him, Scott’s friends do not appear to have as yet entertained the slightest notion that literature was to be the main business of his life. A letter of Kerr of Abbotrule congratulates him on his having had more to do at the autumnal assizes of Jedburgh this year than on any former occasion, which intelligence he seems himself to have communicated with no feeble expressions of satisfaction. “I greatly enjoy this,” says Kerr; “go on; and with your strong sense and hourly ripening knowledge, that you must rise to the top of the tree in the Parliament House in due season, I hold as certain as that Murray died Lord Mansfield. But don’t let many an Ovid,* or rather many a Burns (which is better), be lost in you. I rather think men of business have produced as good poetry in their by-hours as the professed regulars; and I don’t see any sufficient reason why a Lord President Scott should not be a famous poet (in the vacation time), when we have seen a President Montesquieu step so nobly beyond the trammels in the Esprit des Loix. I suspect Dryden would have been a happier man had he had your profession. The reasoning talents visible in his verses, assure me that he would have ruled in Westminster Hall as easily as he did at Button’s, and he might have found time enough besides for every thing that one really honours his memory for.” This friend appears to have entertained, in October, 1799, the very opinion as to the profession of literature on which Scott acted through life.

Having again given a week to Liddisdale, in company with Mr Shortreed, he spent a few days at Rose-

* “How many an Ovid was in Murray lost.”—Pope.

bank, and was preparing to return to Edinburgh for the winter, when
James Ballantyne called on him one morning, and begged him to supply a few paragraphs on some legal question of the day for his newspaper. Scott complied; and carrying his article himself to the printing-office, took with him also some of his recent pieces, designed to appear in. Lewis’s collection. With these, especially, as his Memorandum says, the “Morlachian fragment after Goethe,” Ballantyne was charmed, and he expressed his regret that Lewis’s book was so long in appearing. Scott talked of Lewis with rapture; and, after reciting some of his stanzas, said, “I ought to apologize to you for having troubled you with any thing of my own when I had things like this for your ear.”—“I felt at once,” says Ballantyne, “that his own verses were far above what Lewis could ever do, and though, when I said this, he dissented, yet he seemed pleased with the warmth of my approbation.” At parting, Scott threw out a casual observation, that he wondered his old friend did not try to get some little booksellers’ work, “to keep his types in play during the rest of the week.” Ballantyne answered, that such an idea had not before occurred to him—that he had no acquaintance with the Edinburgh “trade;” but, if he had, his types were good, and he thought he could afford to work more cheaply than town-printers. Scott, “with his good-humoured smile,” said, “You had better try what you can do. You have been praising my little ballads; suppose you print off a dozen copies or so of as many as will make a pamphlet, sufficient to let my Edinburgh acquaintances judge of your skill for themselves.” Ballantyne assented; and I believe exactly twelve copies of William and Ellen, The Fire-King, The Chase, and a few more of those pieces, were thrown off accordingly, with the title (alluding to the long delay of Lewis’s
collection) of “
Apology for Tales of Terror—1799.” This first specimen of a press, afterwards so celebrated, pleased Scott; and he said to Ballantyne, “I have been for years collecting old Border ballads, and I think I could, with little trouble, put together such a selection from them as might make a neat little volume, to sell for four or five shillings. I will talk to some of the booksellers about it when I get to Edinburgh, and if the thing goes on, you shall be the printer.” Ballantyne highly relished the proposal; and the result of this little experiment changed wholly the course of his worldly fortunes, as well as of his friend’s.

Shortly after the commencement of the Winter Session, the office of Sheriff-depute of Selkirkshire became vacant by the death of an early ally of Scott’s, Andrew Plummer of Middlestead, a scholar and antiquary, who had entered with zeal into his ballad-researches, and whose name occurs accordingly more than once in the notes to the Border Minstrelsy. Perhaps the community of their tastes may have had some part in suggesting to the Duke of Buccleuch, that Scott might fitly succeed Mr Plummer in the magistrature. Be that as it might, his Grace’s influence was used with the late Lord Melville, who, in those days, had the general control of the crown patronage in Scotland, and his Lordship was prepared to look favourably on Scott’s pretensions to some office of this description. Though neither the Duke nor this able Minister were at all addicted to literature, they had both seen Scott frequently under their own roofs, and been pleased with his manners and conversation; and he had by this time come to be on terms of affectionate intimacy with some of the younger members of either family. The Earl of Dalkeith (afterwards Duke Charles of Buccleuch), and his brother Lord James Scott (now Lord Montagu), had been par-
ticipating, with kindred ardour, in the military patriotism of the period, and had been thrown into Scott’s society under circumstances well qualified to ripen acquaintance into confidence. The
Honourable Robert Dundas, eldest son of the statesman whose title he has inherited, had been one of Scott’s companions in the High School; and he, too, had been of late a lively partaker in the business of the yeomanry cavalry; and, last not least, Scott always remembered with gratitude the strong intercession on this occasion of Lord Melville’s nephew, the Right Honourable William Dundas, then Secretary to the Board of Control, and now Lord Clerk Register for Scotland.

His appointment to the Sheriffship bears date 16th December, 1799. It secured him an annual salary of £300; an addition to his resources which at once relieved his mind from whatever degree of anxiety he might have felt in considering the prospect of an increasing family, along with the ever precarious chances of a profession, in the daily drudgery of which it is impossible to suppose that he ever could have found much pleasure.* The duties of the office were far from heavy; the district, small, peaceful, and pastoral, was in great part the property of the Duke of Buccleuch; and he turned with redoubled zeal to his project of editing the ballads, many of the best of which belonged to this very district of his favourite Border—those “tales,” which, as the Dedication of the Minstrelsy expresses it, had “in elder times celebrated the prowess and cheered the halls” of his noble patron’s ancestors.

* “My profession and I came to stand nearly upon the footing which honest Slender consoled himself on having established with Mistress Anne Page: ‘There was no great love between us at the beginning, and it pleased heaven to decrease it on farther acquaintance.’”—Introduction to the Lay of the Last Minstrel. 1830.