LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, Bart.
Chapter VII 1818-19

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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I have now to introduce a melancholy subject one of the greatest afflictions that ever Scott encountered. The health of Charles Duke of Buccleuch was by this time beginning to give way, and Scott thought it his duty to intimate his very serious apprehensions to his noble friend’s brother.

To the Right Hon. Lord Montagu, Ditton Park, Windsor.
“Edinburgh, 12th Nov., 1818.
“My dear Lord,

“I am about to write to you with feelings of the deepest anxiety. I have hesitated for two or three days whether I should communicate to your Lordship the sincere alarm which I entertain on account of the Duke’s present state of health, but I have come to persuade myself, that it will be discharging a part of the duty
which I owe to him to mention my own most distressing apprehensions. I was at the cattle-show on the 6th, and executed the delegated task of toastmaster, and so forth. I was told by
* * * that the Duke is under the influence of the muriatic bath, which occasions a good deal of uneasiness when the medicine is in possession of the system. The Duke observed the strictest diet, and remained only a short time at table, leaving me to do the honours, which I did with a sorrowful heart, endeavouring, however, to persuade myself that * * *’s account, and the natural depression of spirits incidental to his finding himself unable for the time to discharge the duty to his guests, which no man could do with so much grace and kindness, were sufficient to account for the alteration of his manner and appearance. I spent Monday with him quietly and alone, and I must say that all I saw and heard was calculated to give me the greatest pain. His strength is much less, his spirits lower, and his general appearance far more unfavourable than when I left him at Drumlanrig a few weeks before. What * * *, and, indeed, what the Duke himself says of the medicine, may be true but * * * is very sanguine, and, like all the personal physicians attached to a person of such consequence, he is too much addicted to the placebo—at least I think so too apt to fear to give offence by contradiction, or by telling that sort of truth which may contravert the wishes or habits of his patient. I feel I am communicating much pain to your Lordship, but I am sure that, excepting yourself, there is not a man in the world whose sorrow and apprehension could exceed mine in having such a task to discharge; for, as your Lordship well knows, the ties which bind me to your excellent brother are of a much stronger kind than usually connect persons so different in rank. But the alteration in voice and person, in features, and in spirits,
all argue the decay of natural strength, and the increase of some internal disorder, which is gradually triumphing over the system. Much has been done in these cases by change of climate. I hinted this to the Duke at Drumlanrig, but I found his mind totally averse to it. But he made some enquiries at
Harden (just returned from Italy), which seemed to imply that at least the idea of a winter in Italy or the south of France was not altogether out of his consideration. Your Lordship will consider whether he can or ought to be pressed upon this point. He is partial to Scotland, and feels the many high duties which bind him to it. But the air of this country, with its alternations of moisture and dry frost, although excellent for a healthy person, is very trying to a valetudinarian.

“I should not have thought of volunteering to communicate such unpleasant news, but that the family do not seem alarmed. I am not surprised at this, because, where the decay of health is very gradual, it is more easily traced by a friend who sees the patient from interval to interval, than by the affectionate eyes which are daily beholding him.

“Adieu, my dear Lord. God knows you will scarce read this letter with more pain than I feel in writing it. But it seems indispensable to me to communicate my sentiments of the Duke’s present situation to his nearest relation and dearest friend. His life is invaluable to his country and to his family, and how dear it is to his friends can only be estimated by those who know the soundness of his understanding, the uprightness and truth of his judgment, and the generosity and warmth of his feelings. I am always, my dear Lord, most truly yours,

Walter Scott.”

Scott’s letters of this and the two following months
are very much occupied with the painful subject of the
Duke of Buccleuch’s health; but those addressed to his Grace himself are, in general, in a more jocose strain than usual. His friend’s spirits were sinking, and he exerted himself in this way, in the hope of amusing the hours of langour at Bowhill. These letters are headed “Edinburgh Gazette Extraordinary,” No. 1, No. 2, and so on; but they deal so much in laughable gossip about persons still living, that I find it difficult to make any extracts from them. The following paragraphs, however, from the Gazette of November the 20th, give a little information as to his own minor literary labours:—

“The article on Gourgaud’s Narrative* is by a certain Vieux Routier of your Grace’s acquaintance, who would willingly have some military hints from you for the continuation of the article, if at any time you should feel disposed to amuse yourself with looking at the General’s most marvellous performance. His lies are certainly like the father who begot them. Do not think that at any time the little trumpery intelligence this place affords can interrupt my labours, while it amuses your Grace. I can scribble as fast in the Court of Session as any where else, without the least loss of time or hinderance of business. At the same time, I cannot help laughing at the miscellaneous trash I have been putting out of my hand and the various motives which made me undertake the jobs. An article for the Edinburgh Review†—this for the love of Jeffrey, the editor—the first for ten years. Do., being the article Drama for the

* Article on General Gourgaud’s Memoirs in Blackwood’s Magazine for November, 1818.

Article on Maturin’s Women, or Pour et Contre. (Misc. Prose Works, Vol. xviii.)

Encyclopedia—this for the sake of Mr Constable, the publisher. Do. for the Blackwoodian Magazinethis for love of the cause I espoused. Do. for the Quarterly Review*—this for the love of myself, I believe, or, which is the same thing, for the love of L.100, which I wanted for some odd purpose. As all these folks fight like dog and cat among themselves, my situation is much like the Suave mare magno, and so forth. . . .

“I hope your Grace will never think of answering the Gazettes at all, or even replying to letters of business, until you find it quite convenient and easy. The Gazette will continue to appear as materials occur. Indeed I expect, in the end of next week, to look in upon Bowhill, per the Selkirk mail, about eight at night, with the hope of spending a day there, which will be more comfortable than at Abbotsford, where I should feel like a mouse below a firlot. If I find the Court can spare so important a person for one day, I shall order my pony up to meet me at Bowhill, and, supposing me to come on Friday night, I can easily return by the Blucher on Monday, dining and sleeping at Huntly Burn on the Sunday. So I shall receive all necessary reply in person.”

Good Queen Charlotte died on the 17th of this month; and in writing to Mr Morritt on the 21st, Scott thus expresses what was, I believe, the universal feeling at the moment:—

“So we have lost the old Queen. She has only had the sad prerogative of being kept alive by nursing for some painful weeks, whereas perhaps a subject might have closed the scene earlier. I fear the effect of this event

* Article on Childe Harold, Canto IV. (Misc. Prose Works, Vol. xvii.)

on public manners—were there but a weight at the back of the drawingroom door, which would slam it in the face of w——s, its fall ought to be lamented; and I believe that poor
Charlotte really adopted her rules of etiquette upon a feeling of duty. If we should suppose the Princess of Wales to have been at the head of the matronage of the land for these last ten years, what would have been the difference on public opinion! No man of experience will ever expect the breath of a court to be favourable to correct morals—sed si non caste caute tamen. One half of the mischief is done by the publicity of the evil, which corrupts those which are near its influence, and fills with disgust and apprehension those to whom it does not directly extend. Honest old Evelyn’s account of Charles the Second’s court presses on one’s recollection, and prepares the mind for anxious apprehensions.”

Towards the end of this month Scott received from his kind friend Lord Sidmouth, then Secretary of State for the Home Department, the formal announcement of the Prince Regent’s desire (which had been privately communicated some months earlier through the Lord Chief Commissioner Adam) to confer on him the rank of Baronet. When Scott first heard of the Regent’s gracious intention, he had signified considerable hesitation about the prudence of his accepting any such accession of rank; for it had not escaped his observation, that such airy sounds, however modestly people may be disposed to estimate them, are apt to entail in the upshot additional cost upon their way of living, and to affect accordingly the plastic fancies, feelings, and habits of their children. But Lord Sidmouth’s letter happened to reach him a few days after he had heard of the sudden death of his wife’s brother, Charles Carpenter, who had bequeathed the reversion of his fortune to his sister’s family;
and this circumstance disposed Scott to wave his scruples, chiefly with a view to the professional advantage of his eldest son, who had by this time fixed on the life of a soldier. As is usually the case, the estimate of Mr Carpenter’s property transmitted at the time to England proved to have been an exaggerated one; as nearly as my present information goes, the amount was doubled. But as to the only question of any interest, to wit, how Scott himself felt on all these matters at the moment, the following letter to one whom he had long leaned to as a brother, will be more satisfactory than any thing else it is in my power to quote:—

To J. B. S. Morritt, Esq. M.P., Rokeby.
“Edinburgh, 7th December, 1818.
“My dear Morritt,

“I know you are indifferent to nothing that concerns us, and therefore I take an early opportunity to acquaint you with the mixture of evil and good which has very lately befallen us. On Saturday last we had the advice of the death of my wife’s brother Charles Carpenter, commercial resident at Salem, in the Madras Establishment. This event has given her great distress. She has not, that we know of, a single blood-relation left in the world, for her uncle, the Chevalier de la Volere, colonel of a Russian regiment, is believed to have been killed in the campaign of 1813.* My wife has been very unwell for two days, and is only now sitting up and mixing with us. She has that sympathy which we are all bound to pay, but feels she wants that personal interest in her sorrow which could only be grounded on a personal acquaintance with the deceased.

* I know nothing of the history or fate of this gentleman, except that he was an ardent royalist, and emigrated from France early in the Revolution.


Mr Carpenter has, with great propriety, left his property in life-rent to his wife—the capital to my children. It seems to amount to about L.40,000. Upwards of L.30,000 is in the British funds, the rest, to an uncertain value, in India. I hope this prospect of independence will not make my children different from that which they have usually been docile, dutiful, and affectionate. I trust it will not. At least, the first expression of their feelings was honourable, for it was a unanimous wish to give up all to their mother. This I explained to them was out of the question; but that if they should be in possession at any time of this property, they ought, among them, to settle an income of L.400 or L.500 on their mother for her life, to supply her with a fund at her own uncontrolled disposal, for any indulgence or useful purpose that might be required. Mrs Scott will stand in no need of this, but it is a pity to let kind affections run to waste; and if they never have it in their power to pay such a debt, their willingness to have done so will be a pleasant reflection. I am Scotchman enough to hate the breaking up of family ties, and the too close adherence to personal property. For myself, this event makes me neither richer nor poorer directly, but indirectly it will permit me to do something for my poor brother Tom’s family, besides pleasing myself in ‘plantings, and policies, and biggings,’* with a safe conscience.

“There is another thing I have to whisper to your faithful ear. Our fat friend being desirous to honour Literature in my unworthy person, has intimated to me, by his organ the Doctor, that, with consent ample and unanimous of all the potential voices of all his ministers, each more happy than another of course on so joyful an

* I believe this is a quotation from some old Scotch chronicler on the character of King James V.

occasion, he proposes to club me Baronet. It would be easy saying a parcel of fine things about my contempt of rank, and so forth; but although I would not have gone a step out of my way to have asked, or bought, or begged, or borrowed a distinction, which to me personally will rather be inconvenient than otherwise, yet, coming as it does directly from the source of feudal honours, and as an honour, I am really gratified with it;—especially as it is intimated, that it is his Royal Highness’s pleasure to heat the oven for me expressly, without waiting till he has some new batch of Baronets ready in dough. In plain English, I am to be gazetted per se. My poor friend
Carpenter’s bequest to my family has taken away a certain degree of impecuniosity, a necessity of saving cheese-parings and candle-ends, which always looks inconsistent with any little pretension to rank. But as things now stand, Advance banners in the name of God and Saint Andrew. Remember, I anticipate the jest, ‘I like not such grinning honours, as Sir Walter hath.’* ‘After all, if one must speak for themselves, I have my quarters and emblazonments, free of all stain but Border theft and High Treason, which I hope are gentlemanlike crimes; and I hope Sir Walter Scott will not sound worse than Sir Humphry Davy, though my merits are as much under his, in point of utility, as can well be imagined. But a name is something, and mine is the better of the two. Set down this flourish to the account of national and provincial pride, for you must know we have more Messieurs de Sotenville† in our Border counties than any where else in the Lowlands—I cannot say for the Highlands. The Duke of Buccleuch, greatly to my joy, resolves to France for a season. Adam Ferguson goes with him, to glad him by the way. Charlotte and the

“Sir Walter Blunt—1 King Henry IV.,” Act V. Scene 3.

† See Moliere’sGeorge Dandin.”

young folks join in kind compliments. Most truly yours,

Walter Scott.”

A few additional circumstances are given in a letter of the same week to Joanna Baillie. To her, after mentioning the testamentary provisions of Mr Carpenter, Scott says,—

“My dear Friend, I am going to tell you a little secret. I have changed my mind, or rather existing circumstances have led to my altering my opinions in a case of sublunary honour. I have now before me Lord Sidmouth’s letter, containing the Prince’s gracious and unsolicited intention to give me a Baronetcy. It will neither make me better nor worse than I feel myself—in fact, it will be an incumbrance rather than otherwise; but it may be of consequence to Walter, for the title is worth something in the army, although not in a learned profession. The Duke of Buccleuch and Scott of Harden, who, as the heads of my clan and the sources of my gentry, are good judges of what I ought to do, have both given me their earnest opinion to accept of an honour directly derived from the source of honour, and neither begged nor bought, as is the usual fashion. Several of my ancestors bore the title in the 17th century; and were it of consequence, I have no reason to be ashamed of the decent and respectable persons who connect me with that period when they carried into the field, like Madoc—
‘The crescent, at whose gleam the Cambrian oft,
Cursing his perilous tenure, wound his horn’—
so that, as a gentleman, I may stand on as good a footing as other new creations. Respecting the reasons peculiar to myself which have made the Prince show his respect for general literature in my person, I cannot be a good judge, and your friendly zeal will make you a
partial one: the purpose is fair, honourable, and creditable to the Sovereign, even though it should number him among the monarchs who made blunders in literary patronage. You know
Pope says
‘The Hero William, and the Martyr Charles,
One knighted Blackmore, and one pension’d Quarles.’*
So let the intention sanctify the error, if there should be one, on this great occasion. The time of this grand affair is uncertain; it is coupled with an invitation to London, which it would be inconvenient to me to accept, unless it should happen that I am called to come up by the affairs of poor
Carpenter’s estate. Indeed, the prospects of my children form the principal reason for a change of sentiments upon this flattering offer, joined to my belief that, though I may still be a scribbler from inveterate habit, I shall hardly engage again in any work of consequence.

“We had a delightful visit from the Richardsons, only rather too short; he will give you a picture of Abbotsford, but not as it exists in my mind’s eye, waving with all its future honours. The pinasters are thriving very well, and in a year or two more Joanna’s Bower will be worthy of the name. At present it is like Sir Roger de Coverley’s portrait, which hovered between its resemblance to the good knight and to a Saracen. Now the said bower has still such a resemblance to its original character of a gravel pit, that it is not fit to be shown to ‘bairns and fools,’ who, according to our old canny proverb, should never see half done work; but Nature, if she works slowly, works surely, and your laurels at Abbotsford will soon flourish as fair as those you have won on Parnassus. I rather fear that a quantity of game which was shipped awhile ago at Inverness for the Doctor, never reached him: it is rather a tran-

* Imitations of Horace, B. ii. Ep. 1. v. 386.

sitory commodity in London; there were ptarmigan, grouse, and black game. I shall be grieved if they have miscarried. My health, thank God, continues as strong as at any period in my life; only I think of rule and diet more than I used to do, and observe as much as in me lies the advice of my friendly physician, who took such kind care of me; my best respects attend him,
Mrs Baillie, and Mrs Agnes. Ever, my dear friend, most faithfully yours,

W. S.”

In the next of these letters Scott alludes, among other things, to a scene of innocent pleasure which I often witnessed afterwards. The whole of the ancient ceremonial of the daft days, as they are called in Scotland, obtained respect at Abbotsford. He said it was uncanny, and would certainly have felt it very uncomfortable, not to welcome the new year in the midst of his family and a few old friends, with the immemorial libation of a het pint; but of all the consecrated ceremonies of the time none gave him such delight as the visit which he received as Laird from all the children on his estate, on the last morning of every December when, in the words of an obscure poet often quoted by him,
“The cottage bairns sing blythe and gay,
At the ha’ door for hogmanay.”

To Miss Joanna Baillie, Hampstead.
“Abbotsford, 1st January, 1819.
“My dear Friend,

“Many thanks for your kind letter: ten brace of ptarmigan sailed from Inverness about the 24th, directed for Dr Baillie; if they should have reached, I hope you would seize some for yourself and friends, as I learn the Doctor is on duty at Windsor. I do not know the name
of the vessel, but they were addressed to Dr Baillie, London, which I trust was enough, for there are not two. The Doctor has been exercising his skill upon my dear friend and chief, the
Duke of Buccleuch, to whom I am more attached than to any person beyond the reach of my own family, and has advised him to do what, by my earnest advice, he ought to have done three years ago namely,—to go to Lisbon: he left this vicinity with much reluctance to go to Thoulouse, but if he will be advised, should not stop save in Portugal or the south of Spain. The Duke is one of those retired and high-spirited men who will never be known until the world asks what became of the huge oak that grew on the brow of the hill, and sheltered such an extent of ground. During the late distress, though his own immense rents remained in arrears, and though I know he was pinched for money, as all men were, but more especially the possessors of entailed estates, he absented himself from London in order to pay with ease to himself the labourers employed on his various estates. These amounted (for I have often seen the roll and helped to check it) to nine hundred and fifty men, working at day wages, each of whom on a moderate average might maintain three persons, since the single men have mothers, sisters, and aged or very young relations to protect and assist. Indeed it is wonderful how much even a small sum, comparatively, will do in supporting the Scottish labourer, who is in his natural state perhaps one of the best, most intelligent, and kind-hearted of human beings; and in truth I have limited my other habits of expense very much since I fell into the habit of employing mine honest people. I wish you could have seen about a hundred children, being almost entirely supported by their fathers’ or brothers’ labour, come down yesterday to dance to the pipes, and get a piece of cake
and bannock, and pence a-piece (no very deadly largess) in honour of hogmanay. I declare to you, my dear friend, that when I thought the poor fellows who kept these children so neat, and well taught, and well behaved, were slaving the whole day for eighteenpence or twenty-pence at the most, I was ashamed of their gratitude, and of their becks and bows. But after all, one does what one can, and it is better twenty families should be comfortable according to their wishes and habits, than half that number should be raised above their situation. Besides, like Fortunio in the fairy tale, I have my gifted men—the best wrestler and cudgel-player—the best runner and leaper—the best shot in the little district; and as I am partial to all manly and athletic exercises, these are great favourites, being otherwise decent persons, and bearing their faculties meekly. All this smells of sad egotism, but what can I write to you about save what is uppermost in my own thoughts; and here am I, thinning old plantations and planting new ones; now undoing what has been done, and now doing what I suppose no one would do but myself, and accomplishing all my magical transformations by the arms and legs of the aforesaid genii, conjured up to my aid at eighteen-pence a-day. There is no one with me but my wife, to whom the change of scene and air, with the facility of easy and uninterrupted exercise, is of service. The young people remain in Edinburgh to look after their lessons, and
Walter, though passionately fond of shooting, only staid three days with us, his mind running entirely on mathematics and fortification, French and German. One of the excellencies of Abbotsford is very bad pens and ink; and besides, this being New Year’s Day, and my writing-room above the servants’ hall, the progress of my correspondence is a little interrupted by the Piper singing Gaelic songs to the
servants, and their applause in consequence. Adieu, my good and indulgent friend: the best influences of the New Year attend you and yours, who so well deserve all that they can bring. Most affectionately yours,

Walter Scott.”

Before quitting the year 1818, I ought to have mentioned that among Scott’s miscellaneous occupations in its autumn, he found time to contribute some curious materials toward a new edition of Burt’s Letters from the North of Scotland, which had been undertaken by his old acquaintance, Mr Robert Jameson. During the winter session he appears to have made little progress with his novel; his painful seizures of cramp were again recurring frequently, and he probably thought it better to allow the story of Lammermoor to lie over until his health should be re-established. In the mean time he drew up a set of topographical and historical essays, which originally appeared in the successive numbers of the splendidly illustrated work, entitled Provincial Antiquities of Scotland.* But he did this merely to gratify his own love of the subject, and because, well or ill, he must be doing something. He declined all pecuniary recompense; but afterwards, when the success of the publication was secure, accepted from the proprietors some of the beautiful drawings by Turner, Thomson, and other artists, which had been prepared to accompany his text. These drawings are now in the little breakfast room at Abbotsford—the same which had been constructed for his own den, and which I found him occupying as such in the spring of 1819.

In the course of December, 1818, he also opened an important negotiation with Messrs Constable, which

* These charming essays are now reprinted in his Miscellaneous Prose Works (Edit. 1834), Vol. vii.

was completed early in the ensuing year. The cost of his building had, as is usual, exceeded his calculation; and he had both a large addition to it, and some new purchases of land in view. Moreover, his eldest son had now fixed on the cavalry, in which service every step infers very considerable expense. The details of this negotiation are remarkable;
Scott considered himself as a very fortunate man when Constable, who at first offered L.10,000 for all his then existing copyrights, agreed to give for them L.12,000. Meeting a friend in the street, just after the deed had been executed, he said he wagered no man could guess at how large a price Constable had estimated his “eild kye” (cows barren from age). The copyrights thus transferred were, as specified in the instrument—

“The said Walter Scott, Esq.’s present share, being the entire copyright, of Waverley.

Do. do. Guy Mannering.
Do. do. Antiquary.
Do. do. Rob Roy.
Do. do. Tales of my Landlord, 1st series.
Do. do. do. 2d series.
Do. do. do. 3d series.
Do. do. Bridal of Triermain.
Do. do. Harold the Dauntless.
Do. do. Sir Tristrem.
Do. do. Roderick Collection.
Do. do. Paul’s Letters.
Do. being one eighth of the Lay of the Last Minstrel.
Do. being one half of the Lady of the Lake.
Do. being one half of Rokeby.
Do. being one half of the Lord of the Isles.”

The instrument contained a clause binding Messrs Constable never to divulge the name of the Author of Waverley during his life under a penalty of L.2000.

I may observe, that had these booksellers fulfilled
their part of this agreement, by paying off prior to their insolvency in 1826, the whole bonds for L.12,000, which they signed on the 2d of February, 1819, no interest in the copyrights above specified could have been expected to revert to the
Author of Waverley; but more of this in due season.

He alludes to the progress of the treaty in the following letter to Captain Adam Ferguson, who had, as has already appeared, left Scotland with the Duke of Buccleuch. His Grace hearing, when in London, that one of the Barons of Exchequer at Edinburgh meant speedily to resign, the Captain had, by his desire, written to urge on Scott the propriety of renewing his application for a seat on that bench; which, however, Scott at once refused to do. There were several reasons for this abstinence; among others, he thought such a promotion at this time would interfere with a project which he had formed of joining “the Chief and the Aid-de-camp” in the course of the spring, and accomplishing in their society the tour of Portugal and Spain—perhaps of Italy also. Some such excursion had been strongly recommended to him by his own physicians, as the likeliest means of interrupting those habits of sedulous exertion at the desk, which they all regarded as the true source of his recent ailments, and the only serious obstacle to his cure; and his standing as a Clerk of Session, considering how largely he had laboured in that capacity for infirm brethren, would have easily secured him a twelvemonth’s leave of absence from the Judges of his Court. But the principal motive was, as we shall see, his reluctance to interfere with the claims of the then Sheriff of MidLothian, his own and Ferguson’s old friend and schoolfellow, Sir William Rae who, however, accepted the more ambitious post of Lord Advocate, in the course of the ensuing summer.

To Captain Adam Ferguson, Ditton Park; Windsor.
“15th January, 1819.
“Dear Adam,

“Many thanks for your kind letter, this moment received. I would not for the world stand in Jackie (I beg his pardon, Sir John) Peartree’s way.* He has merited the cushion en haut, and besides he needs it. To me it would make little difference in point of income. The otium cum dignitate, if it ever come, will come as well years after this as now. Besides, I am afraid the opening will be soon made, through the death of our dear friend the Chief Baron, of whose health the accounts are unfavourable. Immediate promotion would be inconvenient to me, rather than otherwise, because I have the desire, like an old fool as I am, courir un peu le monde. I am beginning to draw out from my literary commerce. Constable has offered me L.10,000 for the copyrights of published works which have already produced more than twice the sum. I stand out for L.12,000. Tell this to the Duke; he knows how I managed to keep the hen till the rainy day was past. I will write two lines to Lord Melville, just to make my bow for the present, resigning any claims I have through the patronage of my kindest and best friend, for I have no other, till the next opportunity. I should have been truly vexed if the Duke had thought of writing about this. I don’t wish to hear from him till I can have his account of the lines of Torres Vedras. I care so little how or where I travel, that I am not sure at all whether I shall not come to Lisbon and surprise you, instead of going to Italy by Switzerland; that is, providing the state of Spain would allow me, without any unreason-

* Jackie Peartree had, it seems, been Sir William Rae’s nickname at the High School. He probably owed it to some exploit in an orchard.

able danger of my throat, to get from Lisbon to Madrid, and thence to Gibraltar. I am determined to roll a little about, for I have lost much of my usual views of summer pleasure here. But I trust we shall have one day the Maid of Lorn (recovered of her lameness), and Charlie Stuart (reconciled to bogs), and Sybil Grey (no longer retrograde), and the Duke set up by a southern climate, and his military and civil aides-de-camp, with all the rout of younkers and dogs, and a brown hill side, introductory to a good dinner at Bowhill or Drumlanrig, and a merry evening. Amen, and God send it. As to my mouth being stopped with the froth of the title, that is, as the learned Partridge says, a non sequitur. You know the schoolboy’s expedient of first asking mustard for his beef, and then beef for his mustard. Now, as they put the mustard on my plate, without my asking it, I shall consider myself, time and place serving, as entitled to ask a slice of beef; that is to say, I would do so if I cared much about it; but as it is, I trust it to time and chance, which, as you, dear
Adam, know, have (added to the exertions of kind friends) been wonderful allies of mine. People usually wish their letters to come to hand, but I hope you will not receive this in Britain. I am impatient to hear you have sailed. All here are well and hearty. The Baronet* and I propose to go up to the Castle to-morrow to fix on the most convenient floor of the Crown House for your mansion, in hopes you will stand treat for gin-grog and Cheshire cheese on your return, to reward our labour. The whole expense will fall within the Treasury order, and it is important to see things made convenient. I will write a long letter to the Duke to Lisbon. Yours ever,

Walter Scott.

* Mr William Clerk.


“P.S.—No news here, but that the goodly hulk of conceit and tallow, which was called Macculloch, of the Royal Hotel, Prince’s Street, was put to bed dead-drunk on Wednesday night, and taken out the next morning dead-by-itself-dead. Mair skaith at Sheriffmuir.”

To J. Richardson, Esq., Fludyer Street, Westminster.
“Edinburgh, 18th January, 1819.
“My dear Richardson,

“Many thanks to you for your kind letter. I own I did mystify Mrs ***** a little about the report you mention; and I am glad to hear the finesse succeeded.* She came up to me with a great overflow of gratitude for the delight and pleasure, and so forth, which she owed to me on account of these books. Now, as she knew very well that I had never owned myself the author, this was not polite politeness, and she had no right to force me up into a corner and compel me to tell her a word more than I chose, upon a subject which concerned no one but myself—and I have no notion of being pumped by any old dowager Lady of Session, male or female. So I gave in dilatory defences, under protestation to add and eke; for I trust, in learning a new slang, you have not forgot the old. In plain words, I denied the charge, and as she insisted to know who else could write these novels, I suggested Adam Ferguson as a person having all the information and capacity necessary for that purpose. But the inference that he was the author was of her own deducing; and thus ended her attempt, notwithstanding her having primed the pump with a good dose of flattery. It is remarkable, that among all my real friends to whom I did not

* The wife of one of the Edinburgh Judges is alluded to.

choose to communicate this matter, not one ever thought it proper or delicate to tease me about it. Respecting the knighthood, I can only say, that coming as it does, and I finding myself and my family in circumstances which will not render the petit titre ridiculous, I think there would be more vanity in declining than in accepting what is offered to me by the express wish of the Sovereign as a mark of favour and distinction. Will you be so kind as to enquire and let me know what the fees, &c., of a baronetcy amount to—for I must provide myself accordingly, not knowing exactly when this same title may descend upon me. I am afraid the sauce is rather smart. I should like also to know what is to be done respecting registration of arms, and so forth. Will you make these enquiries for me sotto voce? I should not suppose, from the persons who sometimes receive this honour, that there is any enquiry about descent or genealogy; mine were decent enough folks, and enjoyed the honour in the seventeenth century, so I shall not be first of the title; and it will sound like that of a Christian knight, as
Sir Sidney Smith said. I had a letter from our immortal Joanna some fortnight since, when I was enjoying myself at Abbotsford. Never was there such a season, flowers springing, birds singing, grubs eating the wheat as if it was the end of May. After all, nature had a grotesque and inconsistent appearance, and I could not help thinking she resembled a withered beauty who persists in looking youthy, and dressing conform thereto. I thought the loch should have had its blue frozen surface, and russet all about it, instead of an unnatural gaiety of green. So much are we the children of habit, that we cannot always enjoy thoroughly the alterations which are most for our advantage. They have filled up the historical chair here. I own I wish it had been with our friend
Campbell, whose genius is such an honour to his country. But he has cast anchor I suppose in the south. Your friend, Mrs Scott, was much cast down with her brother’s death. His bequest to my family leaves my own property much at my own disposal, which is pleasant enough. I was foolish enough sometimes to be vexed at the prospect of my library being sold sub hasta, which is now less likely to happen. I always am, most truly yours,

Walter Scott.”

On the 15th of February, 1819, Scott witnessed the first representation, on the Edinburgh boards, of the most meritorious and successful of all the Terry-fications, though Terry himself was not the manufacturer. The drama of Rob Roy will never again be got up so well, in all its parts, as it then was by William Murray’s company; the manager’s own Captain Thornton was excellent and so was the Dugald Creature of a Mr Duff—there was also a good Mattie—(about whose equipment, by the by, Scott felt such interest that he left his box between the Acts to remind Mr Murray that she “must have a mantle with her lanthorn”);—but the great and unrivalled attraction was the personification of Bailie Jarvie by Charles Mackay, who, being himself a native of Glasgow, entered into the minutest peculiarities of the character with high gusto, and gave the west country dialect in its most racy perfection. It was extremely diverting to watch the play of Scott’s features during this admirable realization of his conception; and I must add, that the behaviour of the Edinburgh audience on all such occasions, while the secret of the novels was preserved, reflected great honour on their good taste and delicacy of feeling. He seldom, in those days, entered his box without receiving some mark of general
respect and admiration; but I never heard of any pretext being laid hold of to connect these demonstrations with the piece he had come to witness, or, in short, to do or say any thing likely to interrupt his quiet enjoyment of the evening in the midst of his family and friends. The Rob Roy had a continued run of forty-one nights, during February and March; and it was played once a week, at least, for many years afterwards.* Mackay, of course, always selected it for his benefit; and I now print from Scott’s MS. a letter, which, no doubt, reached the mimic Bailie in the handwriting of one of the Ballantynes, on the first of these occurrences.

To Mr Charles Mackay, Theatre-Royal, Edinburgh. Private.
“Friend Mackay,

“My lawful occasions having brought me from my residence at Gandercleuch to this great city, it was my lot to fall into company with certain friends, who impetrated from me a consent to behold the stage-play, which hath been framed forth of an history entitled Rob (seu potius Robert) Roy, which history, although it existeth not in mine erudite work, entitled Tales of my Landlord, hath nathless a near relation in style and structure to those pleasant narrations. Wherefore, having surmounted those arguments whilk were founded upon the unseemliness of a personage in my place and profession appearing in an open stage-play house, and having buttoned the terminations of my cravat into my bosom, in order to preserve mine incognito, and indued an outer coat over mine usual garments, so that the hue thereof might not betray my calling, I did place myself (much

“Between February 15th, 1819, and March 14th, 1837, Rob Roy was played in the Theatre-Royal, Edinburgh, 285 times.” Letter from Mr W. Murray.

elbowed by those who little knew whom they did incommode) in that place of the Theatre called the two-shilling gallery, and beheld the show with great delectation, even from the rising of the curtain to the fall thereof.

“Chiefly, my facetious friend, was I enamoured of the very lively representation of Bailie Nicol Jarvie, in so much that I became desirous to communicate to thee my great admiration thereof, nothing doubting that it will give thee satisfaction to be apprised of the same. Yet further, in case thou shouldst be of that numerous class of persons who set less store by good words than good deeds, and understanding that there is assigned unto each stage-player a special night, called a benefit (it will do thee no harm to know that the phrase cometh from two Latin words, bene and facio), on which their friends and patrons show forth their benevolence, I now send thee mine in the form of a five-ell web (hoc jocose, to express a note for L.5), as a meet present for the Bailie, himself a weaver, and the son of a worthy deacon of that craft. The which propine I send thee in token that it is my purpose, business and health permitting, to occupy the central place of the pit on the night of thy said beneficiary or benefit.

“Friend Mackay! from one, whose profession it is to teach others, thou must excuse the freedom of a caution. I trust thou wilt remember that, as excellence in thine art cannot be attained without much labour, so neither can it be extended, or even maintained, without constant and unremitted exertion; and farther, that the decorum of a performer’s private character (and it gladdeth me to hear that thine is respectable) addeth not a little to the value of his public exertions.

“Finally, in respect there is nothing perfect in this world,—at least I have never received a wholly faultless
version from the very best of my pupils—I pray thee not to let
Rob Roy twirl thee around in the ecstacy of thy joy, in regard it oversteps the limits of nature, which otherwise thou so sedulously preservest in thine admirable national portraicture of Bailie Nicol Jarvie. I remain thy sincere friend and well-wisher,

Jedediah Cleishbotham.”