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Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, Bart.
Walter Scott to the Duke of Buccleugh, 15 April 1819

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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“Abbotsford, 15th April, 1819.
“My dear Lord Duke,

“How very strange it seems that this should be the first letter I address your Grace, and you so long absent from Scotland, and looking for all the news and nonsense of which I am in general such a faithful reporter. Alas! I have been ill—very—very—ill—only Dr Baillie says there is nothing of consequence about my malady except the pain—a pretty exception—said pain being intense enough to keep me roaring as loud as

* “Sir Walter got not only the recipe for making bread from us—but likewise learnt the best mode of cutting it ‘in a family way.’ The bread-board and large knife used at Abbotsford at breakfasttime, were adopted by Sir Walter, after seeing them ‘work well’ in our family.”—Note by Mr Andrew Shortrede.

APRIL, 1819.243
your Grace’s ci-devant John of Lorn, and of, generally speaking, from six to eight hours’ incessant duration, only varied by intervals of deadly sickness. Poor
Sophia was alone with me for some time, and managed a half distracted pack of servants with spirit, and sense, and presence of mind, far beyond her years, never suffering her terror at seeing me in a state so new to her and so alarming to divert her mind an instant from what was fit and proper to be done. Pardon this side compliment to your Grace’s little Jacobite, to whom you have always been so kind. If sympathy could have cured me, I should not have been long ill. Gentle and simple were all equally kind, and even old Tom Watson crept down from Falshope to see how I was coming on, and to ejaculate ‘if any thing ailed the Shirra, it would be sair on the Duke.’ The only unwelcome resurrection was that of old * * *, whose feud with me (or rather dryness) I had well hoped was immortal; but he came jinking over the moor with daughters and ponies, and God knows what, to look after my precious health. I cannot tolerate that man; it seems to me as if I hated him for things not only past and present, but for some future offence which is as yet in the womb of fate.

“I have had as many remedies sent me for cramp and jaundice as would set up a quack doctor—three from Mrs Plummer, each better than the other one—at least from every gardener in the neighbourhood—besides all sort of recommendations to go to Cheltenham, to Harrowgate, to Jericho for aught I know. Now if there is one thing I detest more than another, it is a watering-place, unless a very pleasant party be previously formed, when, as Tony Lumpkin says, ‘a gentleman may be in a concatenation.’ The most extraordinary recipe was that of my Highland piper, John
Bruce, who spent a whole Sunday in selecting twelve stones from twelve south-running streams, with the purpose that I should sleep upon them, and be whole. I caused him to be told that the recipe was infallible, but that it was absolutely necessary to success that the stones should be wrapt up in the petticoat of a widow who had never wished to marry again, upon which the piper renounced all hope of completing the charm. I had need of a softer couch than Bruce had destined me, for so general was the tension of the nerves all over the body, although the pain of the spasms in the stomach did not suffer the others to be felt, that my whole left leg was covered with swelling and inflammation, arising from the unnatural action of the muscles, and I had to be carried about like a child. My right leg escaped better, the muscles there having less irritability, owing to its lame state. Your grace may imagine the energy of pain in the nobler parts, when cramps in the extremities, sufficient to produce such effects, were unnoticed by me during their existence. But enough of so disagreeable a subject.

“Respecting the portrait, I shall be equally proud and happy to sit for it, and hope it may be so executed as to be in some degree worthy of the preferment to which it is destined.* But neither my late golden hue, for I was covered with jaundice, nor my present silver complexion (looking much more like a spectre than a man) will present any idea of my quondam beef-eating physiognomy. I must wait till the age of brass, the true juridical bronze of my profession, shall again appear on my frontal. I hesitate a little about Rae-

* The position in the Library at Bowhill, originally destined by the late Duke of Buccleuch for a portrait that never was executed, is now filled by that which Raeburn painted in 1808 for Constable, and which has been engraved for the first volume of this work.

APRIL, 1819.245
burn, unless your Grace is quite determined. He has very much to do; works just now chiefly for cash, poor fellow, as he can have but a few years to make money; and has twice already made a very chowder-headed person of me. I should like much (always with your approbation) to try
Allan, who is a man of real genius, and has made one or two glorious portraits, though his predilection is to the historical branch of the art. We did rather a handsome thing for him, considering that in Edinburgh we are neither very wealthy nor great amateurs. A hundred persons subscribed ten guineas a-piece to raffle* for his fine picture of the Circassian Chief

* Three pictures were ultimately raffled for; and the following note, dated April the 1st, 1819, shows how keenly and practically Scott, almost in the crisis of his malady, could attend to the details of such a business:

To J. G. Lockhart, Esq., Advocate, Edinburgh.

“I have been dreadfully ill since I wrote to you, but I think I have now got the turn fairly. It was quite time, for though the doctors say the disease is not dangerous, yet I could not have endured six days more agony. I have a summons from the ingenious Mr David Bridges to attend to my interests at his shop next Saturday, or send some qualified person to act on my behalf. I suppose this mysterious missive alludes to the plan about Allan’s pictures, and at any rate I hope you will act for me. I should think a raffle with dice would give more general satisfaction than a lottery. You would be astonished what unhandsome suspicions well educated and sensible persons will take into their heads, when a selfish competition awakens the mean and evil passions of our nature. Let each subscriber throw the dice in person or by proxy, leaving out all who throw under a certain number, and let this be repeated till the number is so far reduced that the three who throw highest may hold the prizes. I have much to say to you, and should you spare me a day about the end of next week, I trust you will find me pretty bobbish. Always yours affectionately,

W. S.

The Mr David Bridges here mentioned has occurred already.—

selling slaves to the Turkish Pacha a beautiful and highly poetical picture. There was another small picture added by way of second prize, and, what is curious enough, the only two peers on the list,
Lord Wemyss and Lord Fife, both got prizes. Allan has made a sketch which I shall take to town with me when I can go, in hopes Lord Stafford, or some other picture-buyer, may fancy it, and order a picture. The subject is the murder of Archbishop Sharp on Magus Moor, prodigiously well treated. The savage ferocity of the assassins, crowding one on another to strike at the old prelate on his knees—contrasted with the old man’s figure—and that of his daughter endeavouring to interpose for his protection, and withheld by a ruffian of milder mood than his fellows:—the dogged fanatical severity of Rathillet’s countenance, who remained on horseback witnessing, with stern fanaticism, the murder he did not choose to be active in, lest it should be said that he struck out of private revenge—are all amazingly well combined in the sketch. I question if the artist can bring them out with equal spirit in the painting which he meditates. Sketches give a sort of fire to the imagination of the spectator, who is apt to fancy a great deal more for himself than the pencil, in the finished picture, can possibly present to his eye afterwards. Constable has offered Allan three hundred pounds to make sketches for an edition of the Tales of My Landlord, and other novels of that cycle, and says he will give him the same sum next year, so, from being pinched enough, this very deserving artist suddenly finds himself at his ease. He was long at Odessa with the Duke of Richelieu, and is a very entertaining person.

“I saw with great pleasure Wilkie’s sketch of your

See ante, p. 172. The jokers in Blackwood made him happy, by dubbing him “The Director-General of the Fine Arts for Scotland.”

Grace, and I think when I get to town I shall coax him out of a copy, to me invaluable. I hope, however, when you return, you will sit to
Lawrence. We should have at least one picture of your Grace from the real good hand. Sooth to speak, I cannot say much for the juvenile representations at Bowhill and in the library at Dalkeith. Return, however, with the original features in good health, and we shall not worry you about portraits. The library at Bowhill will be a delightful room, and will be some consolation to me who must, I fear, lose for some time the comforts of the eating-room, and substitute panada and toast and water for the bonny haunch and buxom bottle of claret. Truth is, I must make great restrictions on my creature-comforts, at least till my stomach recovers its tone and ostrich-like capacity of digestion. Our spring here is slow, but not unfavourable: the country looking very well, and my plantings for the season quite completed. I have planted quite up two little glens, leading from the Aid-de-Camp’s habitation up to the little loch, and expect the blessings of posterity for the shade and shelter I shall leave where, God knows, I found none.

“It is doomed this letter is not to close without a request. I conclude your Grace has already heard from fifty applicants that the kirk of Middlebie is vacant, and I come forward as the fifty-first (always barring prior engagements and better claims) in behalf of George Thomson, a son of the minister of Melrose, being the grinder of my boys, and therefore deeply entitled to my gratitude and my good offices, as far as they can go. He is nearer Parson Abraham Adams than any living creature I ever saw—very learned, very religious, very simple, and extremely absent. His father, till very lately, had but a sort of half stipend, during the incumbency of a certain notorious Mr MacLagan, to
whom he acted only as assistant. The poor devil was brought to the grindstone (having had the want of precaution to beget a large family), and became the very figure of a fellow who used to come upon the stage to sing, ‘Let us all be unhappy together.’ This poor lad George was his saving angel, not only educating himself, but taking on him the education of two of his brothers, and maintaining them out of his own scanty pittance. He is a sensible lad, and by no means a bad preacher, a staunch Anti-Gallican, and orthodox in his principles. Should your Grace find yourself at liberty to give countenance to this very innocent and deserving creature, I need not say it will add to the many favours you have conferred on me, but I hope the parishioners will have also occasion to say, ‘Weel bobbit, George of Middlebie.’ Your Grace’s Aide-de-camp, who knows young Thomson well, will give you a better idea of him than I can do. He lost a leg by an accident in his boyhood, which spoiled as bold and fine looking a grenadier as ever charged bayonet against a Frenchman’s throat. I think your Grace will not like him the worse for having a spice of military and loyal spirit about him. If you knew the poor fellow, your Grace would take uncommon interest in him, were it but for the odd mixture of sense and simplicity, and spirit and good morals. Somewhat too much of him.

“I conclude you will go to Mafra, Cintra, or some of these places, which Baretti describes so delightfully, to avoid the great heats, when the Palace de las Necessidades must become rather oppressive. By the by, though it were only for the credit of the name, I am happy to learn it has that useful English comfort, a water closet. I suppose the armourer of the Liffey has already put it in complete repair. Your Grace sees the most secret passages respecting great men cannot be
APRIL 16, 1819.249
hidden from their friends. There is but little news here but death in the clan.
Harden’s sister is dead—a cruel blow to Lady Die,* who is upwards of eighty-five, and accustomed to no other society. Again, Mrs Frank Scott, his uncle’s widow, is dead, unable to survive the loss of two fine young men in India, her sons, whose death closely followed each other. All this is sad work; but it is a wicked and melancholy world we live in. God bless you, my dear, dear Lord. Take great care of your health, for the sake of all of us. You are the breath of our nostrils, useful to thousands, and to many of these thousands indispensable. I will write again very soon, when I can keep my breast longer to the desk without pain, for I am not yet without frequent relapses, when they souse me into scalding water without a moment’s delay, where I lie, as my old grieve Tom Purdie said last night, being called to assist at the operation, ‘like a haulded saumon’ I write a few lines to the Aide-de-Camp, but I am afraid of putting this letter beyond the bounds of Lord Montagu’s frank. When I can do any thing for your Grace here, you know I am most pleased and happy. Ever respectfully and affectionately your Grace’s

Walter Scott.”