LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, Bart.
Chapter VIII 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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It had been Scott’s purpose to spend the Easter vacation in London, and receive his baronetcy; but this was prevented by the serious recurrence of the malady which so much alarmed his friends in the early part of the year 1817, and which had continued ever since to torment him at intervals. The subsequent correspondence will show that afflictions of various sorts were accumulated on his head at the same period:

To the Lord Montagu, Ditton Park, Windsor.
“Edinburgh, 4th March, 1819.
“My dear Lord,

“The Lord President tells me he has a letter from his son, Captain Charles Hope, R.N., who had just
taken leave of our
High Chief, upon the deck of the Liffey. He had not seen the Duke for a fortnight, and was pleasingly surprised to find his health and general appearance so very much improved. For my part, having watched him with such unremitting attention, I feel very confident in the effect of a change of air and of climate. It is with great pleasure that I find the Duke has received an answer from me respecting a matter about which he was anxious, and on which I could make his mind quite easy. His Grace wished Adam Ferguson to assist him as his confidential secretary; and with all the scrupulous delicacy that belongs to his character, he did not like to propose this, except through my medium as a common friend. Now, I can answer for Adam, as I can for myself, that he will have the highest pleasure in giving assistance in every possible way the Duke can desire; and if forty years’ intimacy can entitle one man to speak for another, I believe the Duke can find no where a person so highly qualified for such a confidential situation. He was educated for business, understands it well, and was long a military secretary his temper and manners your Lordship can judge as well as I can, and his worth and honour are of the very first water. I confess I should not be surprised if the Duke should wish to continue the connexion even afterwards, for I have often thought that two hours’ letter-writing, which is his Grace’s daily allowance, is rather worse than the duty of a Clerk of Session, because there is no vacation. Much of this might surely be saved by an intelligent friend on whose style of expression, prudence, and secrecy his Grace could put perfect reliance. Two words marked on any letter by his own hand, would enable such a person to refuse more or less positively—to grant directly or conditionally—or, in short, to main-
MARCH, 1819.233
tain the exterior forms of the very troublesome and extensive correspondence which his Grace’s high situation entails upon him. I think it is
Mons. Le Duc de Saint Simon who tells us of one of Louis XIV.’s ministers qui’l avoit la plume—which he explains, by saying, it was his duty to imitate the King’s handwriting so closely, as to be almost undistinguishable, and make him on all occasions parler très noblement. I wonder how the Duke gets on without such a friend. In the mean time, however, I am glad I can assure him of Ferguson’s willing and ready assistance while abroad; and I am happy to find still farther that he had got that assurance before they sailed, for tedious hours occur on board of ship, when it will serve as a relief to talk over any of the private affairs which the Duke wishes to intrust to him.

“I have been very unwell from a visitation of my old enemy the cramp in my stomach, which much resembles, as I conceive, the process by which the diel would make one’s king’s-hood into a spleuchan,* according t’o the anathema of Burns. Unfortunately, the opiates which the medical people think indispensable to relieve spasms, bring on a habit of body which has to be counteracted by medicines of a different tendency, so as to produce a most disagreeable see-saw—a kind of pull-devil, pull-baker contention, the field of battle being my unfortunate præcordia. Or, to say truth, it reminds me of a certain Indian king I have read of in an old voyage, to whom the captain of an European ship generously presented a lock and key, with which the sable potentate was so much delighted, that to the great neglect, both of his household duties and his affairs of state, he spent a whole month in the re-

* Kings-hood—“The second of the four stomachs of ruminating animals.” Jamieson.—Spleuchan—The Gaelic name of the Highlander’s tobacco-pouch.

peated operation of locking and unlocking his back-door. I am better to-day, and I trust shall be able to dispense with these alternations, which are much less agreeable in my case than in that of the Sachem aforesaid; and I still hope to be in London in April.

“I will write to the Duke regularly, for distance of place acts in a contrary ratio on the mind and on the eye: trifles, instead of being diminished, as in prospect, become important and interesting, and therefore he shall have a budget of them. Hogg is here busy with his Jacobite songs. I wish he may get handsomely through, for he is profoundly ignorant of history, and it is an awkward thing to read in order that you may write.* I give him all the help I can, but he sometimes poses me. For instance he came yesterday, open mouth, enquiring what great dignified clergyman had distinguished himself at Killiecrankie—not exactly the scene where one would have expected a churchman to shine—and I found with some difficulty, that he had mistaken Major-General Canon, called, in Kennedy’s Latin song, Canonicus Gallovidiensis, for the canon of a cathedral. Ex ungue leonem. Ever, my dear Lord, your truly obliged and faithful

Walter Scott.”

Before this letter reached Lord Montagu, his brother

* “I am sure I produced two volumes of Jacobite Relics, such as no man in Scotland or England could have produced but myself.” So says Hogg,—ipse—see his Autobiography, 1832, p. 88. I never saw the Shepherd so elated as he was on the appearance of a very severe article on this book in the Edinburgh Review; for, to his exquisite delight, the hostile critic selected tor exceptive encomium one “old Jacobite strain,” viz. “Donald M’Gillavry,” which Hogg had fabricated the year before. Scott, too, enjoyed this joke almost as much as the Shepherd.

APRIL, 1819.235
had sailed for Lisbon. The
Duke of Wellington had placed his house in that capital (the Palace das Necessidades) at the Duke of Buccleuch’s disposal; and in the affectionate care and cheerful society of Captain Ferguson, the invalid had every additional source of comfort that his friends could have wished for him. But the malady had gone too far to be arrested by a change of climate; and the letter which he had addressed to Scott, when about to embark at Portsmouth, is endorsed with these words “The last I ever received from my dear friend the Duke of Buccleuch. Alas! alas!” The principal object of this letter was to remind Scott of his promise to sit to Raeburn for a portrait, to be hung up in that favourite residence where the Duke had enjoyed most of his society. “My prodigious undertaking,” writes his Grace, “of a west wing at Bowhill, is begun. A library of forty-one feet by twenty-one, is to be added to the present drawing-room. A space for one picture is reserved over the fire-place, and in this warm situation I intend to place the Guardian of Literature. I should be happy to have my friend Maida appear. It is now almost proverbial, ‘Walter Scott and his Dog.’ Raeburn should be warned that I am as well acquainted with my friend’s hands and arms as with his nose—and Vandyke was of my opinion. Many of R.’s works are shamefully finished—the face studied, but every thing else neglected. This is a fair opportunity of producing something really worthy of his skill.”

I shall insert by and by Scott’s answer—which never reached the Duke’s hand—with another letter of the same date to Captain Ferguson; but I must first introduce one, addressed a fortnight earlier to Mr Southey, who had been distressed by the accounts he received of Scott’s health from an American traveller, Mr George Ticknor
of Boston—a friend, and worthy to be such, of
Mr Washington Irving. The Poet Laureate, by the way, had adverted also to an impudent trick of a London bookseller, who shortly before this time announced certain volumes of Grub Street manufacture, as “A New Series of the Tales of my Landlord,” and who, when John Ballantyne, as the “agent for the Author of Waverley,” published a declaration that the volumes thus advertised were not from that writer’s pen, met John’s declaration by an audacious rejoinder—impeaching his authority, and asserting that nothing, but the personal appearance in the field of the gentleman for whom Ballantyne pretended to act, could shake his belief that he was himself in the confidence of the true Simon Pure. This affair gave considerable uneasiness at the time, and for a moment the dropping of Scott’s mask seems to have been pronounced advisable by both Ballantyne and Constable. But he was not to be worked upon by such means as these. He calmly replied, “The author who lends himself to such a trick must be a blockhead—let them publish, and that will serve our purpose better than any thing we ourselves could do.” I have forgotten the names of the “tales,” which, being published accordingly, fell stillborn from the press. Mr Southey had likewise dropped some allusions to another newspaper story of Scott’s being seriously engaged in a dramatic work; a rumour which probably originated in the assistance he had lent to Terry in some of the recent highly popular adaptations of his novels to the purposes of the stage; though it is not impossible that some hint of the Devorgoil matter may have transpired. “It is reported,” said the Laureate, “that you are about to bring forth a play, and I am greatly in hopes it may be true; for I am verily persuaded that in this course you might run
as brilliant a career as you have already done in narrative—both in prose and rhyme;—for as for believing that you have a double in the field—not I! Those same powers would be equally certain of success in the drama, and were you to give them a dramatic direction, and reign for a third seven years upon the stage, you would stand alone in literary history. Indeed already I believe that no man ever afforded so much delight to so great a number of his contemporaries in this or in any other country. God bless you, my dear Scott, and believe me ever yours affectionately, R. S.” Mr Southey’s letter had further announced his wife’s safe delivery of a
son; the approach of the conclusion of his History of Brazil; and his undertaking of the Life of Wesley.

To Robert Southey, Esq. Keswick, Cumberland.
“Abbotsford, 4th April, 1819.
“My dear Southey,

“Tidings, from you must be always acceptable, even were the bowl in the act of breaking at the fountain—and my health is at present very totterish. I have gone through a cruel succession of spasms and sickness, which have terminated in a special fit of the jaundice, so that I might sit for the image of Plutus, the god of specie, so far as complexion goes. I shall like our American acquaintance the better that he has sharpened your remembrance of me, but he is also a wondrous fellow for romantic lore and antiquarian research, considering his country. I have now seen four or five well-lettered Americans, ardent in pursuit of knowledge, and free from the ignorance and forward presumption which distinguish many of their countrymen. I hope they will inoculate their country with a love of letters, so nearly allied to a
desire of peace and a sense of public justice, virtues to which the great Transatlantic community is more strange than could be wished. Accept my best and most sincere wishes for the health and strength of your latest pledge of affection. When I think what you have already suffered, I can imagine with what mixture of feelings this event must necessarily affect you; but you need not to be told that we are in better guidance than our own. I trust in God this late blessing will be permanent, and inherit your talents and virtues. When I look around me, and see how many men seem to make it their pride to misuse high qualifications, can I be less interested than I truly am, in the fate of one who has uniformly dedicated his splendid powers to maintaining the best interests of humanity? I am very angry at the time you are to be in London, as I must be there in about a fortnight, or so soon as I can shake off this depressing complaint, and it would add not a little, that I should meet you there. My chief purpose is to put my eldest son into the army. I could have wished he had chosen another profession, but have no title to combat a choice which would have been my own had my lameness permitted.
Walter has apparently the dispositions and habits fitted for the military profession, a very quiet and steady temper, an attachment to mathematics and their application, good sense and uncommon personal strength and activity, with address in most exercises, particularly horsemanship.

“—I had written thus far last week when I was interrupted, first by the arrival of our friend Ticknor with Mr Cogswell, another well-accomplished Yankee (by the by, we have them of all sorts, e.g. one Mr **********, rather a fine man, whom the girls have christened, with some humour, the Yankee Doodle Dandie.) They have had Tom Drum’s entertainment, for I have been seized with
one or two successive crises of my cruel malady, lasting in the utmost anguish from eight to ten hours. If I had not the strength of a team of horses I could never have fought through it, and through the heavy fire of medical artillery, scarce less exhausting—for bleeding, blistering, calomel, and ipecacuanha have gone on without intermission—while, during the agony of the spasms, laudanum became necessary in the most liberal doses, though inconsistent with the general treatment. I did not lose my senses, because I resolved to keep them, but I thought once or twice they would have gone overboard, top and top-gallant. I should be a great fool, and a most ungrateful wretch, to complain of such inflictions as these. My life has been, in all its private and public relations, as fortunate perhaps as was ever lived, up to this period; and whether pain or misfortune may lie behind the dark curtain of futurity, I am already a sufficient debtor to the bounty of Providence to be resigned to it. Fear is an evil that has never mixed with my nature, nor has even unwonted good fortune rendered my love of life tenacious; and so I can look forward to the possible conclusion of these scenes of agony with reasonable equanimity, and suffer chiefly through the sympathetic distress of my family.

——“Other ten days have passed away, for I would not send this Jeremiad to teaze you, while its termination seemed doubtful. For the present,
‘The game is done—I’ve won, I’ve won,
Quoth she, and whistles thrice.’*
I am this day, for the first time, free from the relics of my disorder, and, except in point of weakness, perfectly well. But no broken-down hunter had ever so many

* These lines are from Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner.

sprung sinews, whelks, and bruises. I am like Sancho after the doughty affair of the Yanguesian Carriers, and all through the unnatural twisting of the muscles under the influence of that Goule the cramp. I must be swathed in Goulard and Rosemary spirits—probatum est.

“I shall not fine and renew a lease of popularity upon the theatre. To write for low, ill-informed, and conceited actors, whom you must please, for your success is necessarily at their mercy, I cannot away with. How would you, or how do you think I should, relish being the object of such a letter as Kean* wrote t’other day to a poor author, who, though a pedantic blockhead, had at least the right to be treated like a gentleman by a copper-laced, twopenny tear-mouth, rendered mad by conceit and success? Besides, if this objection were out of the way, I do not think the character of the audience in London is such that one could have the least pleasure in pleasing them. One half come to prosecute their debaucheries so openly, that it would degrade a bagnio. Another set to snooze off their beef-steaks and port wine; a third are critics of the fourth column of the newspaper; fashion, wit, or literature there is not; and, on the whole, I would far rather write verses for mine honest friend Punch and his audience. The only thing that could tempt me to be so silly, would be to assist a friend in such a degrading task who was to have the whole profit and shame of it.

“Have you seen decidedly the most full and methodized collection of Spanish romances (ballads) published by the industry of Depping (Altenburgh, and Leipsic), 1817? It is quite delightful. Ticknor had set me agog to see it, without affording me any hope it could be had in

* The reader will find something about this actor’s quarrel with Mr Bucke, author of “The Italians,” in Barry Cornwall’s Life of Kean, vol. ii., p. 178.

APRIL, 1819.241
London, when by one of these fortunate chances which have often marked my life, a friend, who had been lately on the Continent, came unexpectedly to enquire for me, and plucked it forth par maniere de cadeau. God prosper you, my dear
Southey, in your labours; but do not work too hard—experto crede. This conclusion, as well as the confusion of my letter, like the Bishop of Grenada’s sermon, savours of the apoplexy. My most respectful compliments attend Mrs S. Yours truly,

Walter Scott.

“P.S. I shall long to see the conclusion of the Brazil history, which, as the interest comes nearer, must rise even above the last noble volume. Wesley you alone can touch; but will you not have the hive about you? When I was about twelve years old, I heard him preach more than once, standing on a chair, in Kelso churchyard. He was a most venerable figure, but his sermons were vastly too colloquial for the taste of Saunders. He told many excellent stories. One I remember, which he said had happened to him at Edinburgh. ‘A drunken dragoon (said Wesley) was commencing an assertion in military fashion, G—d eternally d——n me, just as I was passing. I touched the poor man on the shoulder, and when he turned round fiercely, said calmly, you mean God bless you.’ In the mode of telling the story he failed not to make us sensible how much his patriarchal appearance, and mild yet bold rebuke, overawed the soldier, who touched his hat, thanked him, and, I think, came to chapel that evening.”

To Robert Shortreed, Esq., Sheriff Substitute, &c., Jedburgh.
“Abbotsford, 13th April, 1819.
“Dear Bob,

“I am very desirous to procure, and as soon as
possible, Mrs Shortreed’s excellent receipt for making yeast. The
Duke of Buccleuch complains extremely of the sour yeast at Lisbon as disagreeing with his stomach, and I never tasted half such good bread as Mrs Shortreed has baked at home. I am sure you will be as anxious as I am that the receipt should be forwarded to his Grace as soon as possible. I remember Mrs Shortreed giving a most distinct account of the whole affair. It should be copied over in a very distinct hand, lest Mons. Florence makes blunders.

“I am recovering from my late indisposition, but as weak as water. To write these lines is a fatigue. I scarce think I can be at the circuit at all—certainly only for an hour or two. So on this occasion I will give Mrs Shortreed’s kind hospitality a little breathing time. I am tired even with writing these few lines. Yours ever,

Walter Scott.”*
To His Grace the Duke of Buccleuch, &c., Lisbon.
“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.”
To Captain Adam Ferguson, &c. &c. &c.
“Abbotsford, April 16, 1819.
“My dear Adam,

“Having only been able last night to finish a long letter to the Chief, I now add a few lines for the Aide-de-Camp. I have had the pleasure to hear of you regularly from Jack,† who is very regular in steering this way

* See ante, vol. i., p. 248.

Captain John Ferguson, R.N.

when packets arrive; and I observe with great satisfaction that you think our good Duke’s health is on the mending hand. Climate must operate as an alterative, and much cannot perhaps be expected from it at first.—Besides, the great heat must be a serious drawback. But I hope you will try by and by to get away to Cintra, or some of those sequestered retreats where there are shades and cascades to cool the air. I have an idea the country there is eminently beautiful. I am afraid the Duke has not yet been able to visit Torres Vedras, but you must be meeting with things every where to put you in mind of former scenes. As for the Senhoras, I have little doubt that the difference betwixt your military hard fare and Florence’s high sauces and jellies will make them think that time has rather improved an old friend than otherwise. Apropos of these ticklish subjects. I am a suitor to the Duke, with little expectation of success (for I know his engagements) for the kirk of Middlebie to
George Thomson, the very Abraham Adams of Presbytery. If the Duke mentions him to you (not otherwise) pray lend him a lift. With a kirk and a manse the poor fellow might get a good farmer’s daughter, and beget grenadiers for his Majesty’s service. But as I said before, I daresay all St Hubert’s black pack are in full cry upon the living, and that he has little or no chance. It is something, however, to have tabled him, as better may come of it another day.

“All at Huntly Burn well and hearty, and most kind in their attentions during our late turmoils. Bauby* came over to offer her services as sick-nurse, and I have drunk scarce any thing but delicious ginger beer of Miss Bell’s brewing, since my troubles commenced. They

* Bauby—i.e. Barbara, was a kind old housekeeper of the Miss Fergusons.

have been, to say the least, damnable; and I think you would hardly know me. When I crawl out on Sybil Grey, I am the very image of Death on the pale horse, lanthorn-jawed, decayed in flesh, stooping as if I meant to eat the poney’s ears, and unable to go above a footpace. But although I have had, and must expect, frequent relapses, yet the attacks are more slight, and I trust I shall mend with the good weather. Spring sets in very pleasantly and in a settled fashion. I have planted a number of shrubs, &c. at Huntly Burn, and am snodding up the drive of the old farm house, enclosing the Toftfield, and making a good road from the parish road to your gate. This I tell you to animate you to pick up a few seeds both of forest trees, shrubs, and vegetables; we will rear them in the hot-house, and divide honourably. Avis au lecteur. I have been a good deal intrusted to the care of
Sophia, who is an admirable sick-nurse. Mamma has been called to town by two important avocations, to get a cook—no joking matter—and to see Charles, who was but indifferent, but has recovered. You must have heard of the death of Joseph Hume, David’s only son. Christ! what a calamity—just entering life—with the fairest prospects—full of talent, and the heir of an old and considerable family—a fine career before him. All this he was one day, or rather one hour—or rather in the course of five minutes—so sudden was the death—and then a heap of earth. His disease is unknown; something about the heart, I believe; but it had no alarming appearance, nothing worse than a cold and sore throat, when convulsions came, and death ensued. It is a complete smash to poor David, who had just begun to hold his head up after his wife’s death. But he bears it stoutly, and goes about his business as usual. A woful case. London is now out of the question with me; I have no
prospect of being now able to stand the journey by sea or land; but the best is, I have no pressing business there. The
Commie* takes charge of Walter’s matters—cannot, you know, be in better hands; and Lord Melville talks of gazetting quam primum. I will write a long letter very soon, but my back, fingers, and eyes ache with these three pages. All here send love and fraternity. Yours ever most truly,

Walter Scott.

“P.S.—By the by, old Kennedy, the tinker, swam for his life at Jedburgh, and was only, by the sophisticated and timid evidence of a seceding doctor, who differed from all his brethren, saved from a well-deserved gibbet. He goes to botanize for fourteen years. Pray tell this to the Duke, for he was
‘An old soldier of the Duke’s,
And the Duke’s old soldier.’
Six of his brethren, I am told, were in court, and kith and kin without end. I am sorry so many of the clan are left. The cause of quarrel with the murdered man was an old feud between two gipsey clans, the Kennedies and Irvings, which, about forty years since, gave rise to a desperate quarrel and battle on Hawick Green, in which the grandfathers of both Kennedy, and Irving whom he murdered, were engaged.”

In the next of these letters there is allusion to a drama on the story of the Heart of Mid-Lothian, of which Mr Terry had transmitted the MS. to Abbotsford and which ultimately proved very successful. Terry had, shortly before this time, become the acting manager of the Haymarket theatre.

* The Lord Chief Commissioner Adam.

To D. Terry, Esq. Haymarket, London.
“Abbotsford, 18th April, 1819.
“Dear Terry,

“I am able (though very weak) to answer your kind enquiries. I have thought of you often, and been on the point of writing or dictating a letter, but till very lately I could have had little to tell you of but distress and agony, with constant relapses into my unhappy malady, so that for weeks I seemed to lose rather than gain ground, all food nauseating on my stomach, and my clothes hanging about me like a potato-bogle,* with from five or six to ten hours of mortal pain every third day; latterly the fits have been much milder, and have at last given way to the hot bath without any use of opiates; an immense point gained, as they hurt my general health extremely. Conceive my having taken, in the course of six or seven hours, six grains of opium, three of hyoscyamus, near 200 drops of laudanum, and all without any sensible relief of the agony under which I laboured. My stomach is now getting confirmed, and I have great hopes the bout is over; it has been a dreadful set-to. I am sorry to hear Mrs Terry is complaining; you ought not to let her labour, neither at Abbotsford sketches nor at any thing else, but study to keep her mind amused as much as possible. As for Walter, he is a shoot of an Aik,† and I have no fear of him; I hope he remembers Abbotsford and his soldier namesake.

“I send the MS.—I wish you had written for it earlier. My touching or even thinking of it was out of the question; my corrections would have smelled as cruelly of the cramp, as the Bishop of Grenada’s homily‡ did of the apoplexy. Indeed I hold myself inadequate to estimate those criticisms which rest on stage effect, having

* Anglice—Scarecrow. † Ditto—an Oak. ‡ Sermon—p. 241.

been of late very little of a play-going person. Would to Heaven these sheets could do for you what
Rob Roy has done for Murray; he has absolutely netted upwards of L.3000: to be sure the man who played the Bailie made a piece of acting equal to whatever has been seen in the profession. For my own part, I was actually electrified by the truth, spirit, and humour which he threw into the part. It was the living Nicol Jarvie: conceited, pragmatical, cautious, generous, proud of his connexion with Rob Roy, frightened for him at the same time, and yet extremely desirous to interfere with him as an adviser: The tone in which he seemed to give him up for a lost man after having provoked him into some burst of Highland violence—‘Ah Rab, Rab!’ was quite inimitable. I do assure you I never saw a thing better played. It is like it may be his only part, for no doubt the Patavinity and knowledge of the provincial character may have aided him much; but still he must be a wonderful fellow; and the houses he drew were tremendous.

“I am truly glad you are settled in London—a ‘rolling stone’ the proverb is something musty: it is always difficult to begin a new profession; I could have wished you quartered nearer us, but we shall always hear of you. The becoming stage-manager at the Haymarket, I look upon as a great step; well executed, it cannot but lead to something of the same kind elsewhere. You must be aware of stumbling over a propensity which easily besets you from the habit of not having your time fully employed—I mean what the women very expressively call dawdling. Your motto must be Hoc age. Do instantly whatever is to be done, and take the hours of reflection or recreation after business, and never before it. When a regiment is under march, the rear is often thrown into confusion because the front do not move
steadily and without interruption. It is the same thing with business. If that which is first in hand is not instantly, steadily, and regularly despatched, other things accumulate behind till affairs begin to press all at once, and no human brain can stand the confusion; pray mind this—it is one of your few weak points—ask
Mrs Terry else. A habit of the mind it is which is very apt to beset men of intellect and talent, especially when their time is not regularly filled up, but left at their own arrangement. But it is like the ivy round the oak, and ends by limiting, if it does not destroy, the power of manly and necessary exertion. I must love a man so well to whom I offer such a word of advice, that I will not apologize for it, but expect to hear you are become as regular as a Dutch clock—hours, quarters, minutes, all marked and appropriated. This is a great cast in life, and must be played with all skill and caution.

“We wish much to have a plan of the great bed, that we may hang up the tester. Mr Atkinson offered to have it altered or exchanged; but with the expense of land-carriage and risk of damage, it is not to be thought of. I enclose a letter to thank him for all his kindness. I should like to have the invoice when the things are shipped. I hope they will send them to Leith and not to Berwick. The plasterer has broke a pane in the armoury. I enclose a sheet with the size, the black lines being traced within the lead, and I add a rough drawing of the arms, which are those of my mother. I should like it replaced as soon as possible, for I will set the expense against the careless rascal’s account.

“I have got a beautiful scarlet paper inlaid with gold (rather crimson than scarlet) in a present from India, which will hang the parlour to a T: But we shall want some articles from town to enable us to take possession of the parlour—namely, a carpet—you mentioned
a wainscot pattern, which would be delightful—item grates for said parlour and armoury—a plain and unexpensive pattern, resembling that in my room (which vents most admirably), and suited by half-dogs for burning wood. The sideboard and chairs you have mentioned. I see
Mr Bullock (George’s brother) advertises his museum for sale. I wonder if a good set of real tilting armour could be got cheap there. James Ballantyne got me one very handsome bright steel cuirassier of Queen Elizabeth’s time, and two less perfect for L.20—dog cheap; they make a great figure in the armoury. Hangings, curtains, &c. I believe we shall get as well in Edinburgh as in London; it is in your joiner and cabinet work that your infinite superiority lies.

“Write to me if I can do aught about the play—though I fear not: much will depend on Dumbiedykes, in whom Liston will be strong. Sophia has been chiefly my nurse, as an indisposition of little Charles called Charlotte to town. She returned yesterday with him. All beg kind compliments to you and Mrs Terry and little Walter. I remain your very feeble but convalescent to command,

Walter Scott.

“P.S.—We must not forget the case for the leaves of the table while out of use; without something of the kind I am afraid they will be liable to injury, which is a pity, as they are so very beautiful.”*

The accounts of Scott’s condition circulated in Edinburgh in the course of this April were so alarming that I should not have thought of accepting his invitation to

* The Duke of Buccleuch had given Scott some old oak-roots from Drumlanrig, out of which a very beautiful set of dinner-tables had been manufactured by Messrs Bullock.

revisit Abbotsford, unless
John Ballantyne had given me better tidings, about the end of the month. He informed me that his “illustrious friend” (for so both the Ballantynes usually spoke of him) was so much recovered as to have resumed his usual literary tasks, though with this difference, that he now, for the first time in his life, found it necessary to employ the hand of another. I have now before me a letter of the 8th April, in which Scott says to Constable, “Yesterday I began to dictate, and did it easily and with comfort. This is a great point—but I must proceed by little and little; last night I had a slight return of the enemy—but baffled him;” and he again writes to the bookseller on the 11th,—“John Ballantyne is here, and returns with copy, which my increasing strength permits me to hope I may now furnish regularly.”

The copy (as MS. for the press is technically called) which Scott was thus dictating, was that of the Bride of Lammermoor; and his amanuenses were William Laidlaw and John Ballantyne; of whom he preferred the latter, when he could be at Abbotsford, on account of the superior rapidity of his pen; and also because John kept his pen to the paper without interruption, and though with many an arch twinkle in his eyes, and now and then an audible smack of his lips, had resolution to work on like a well-trained clerk; whereas good Laidlaw entered with such keen zest into the interest of the story as it flowed from the author’s lips, that he could not suppress exclamations of surprise and delight—“Gude keep us a?!—the like o’ that! eh sirs! eh sirs!”—and so forth—which did not promote despatch. I have often, however, in the sequel, heard both these secretaries describe the astonishment with which they were equally affected when Scott began this experiment. The affectionate Laidlaw beseeching him to stop dictating, when his audible suffering filled
every pause, “Nay, Willie,” he answered, “only see that the doors are fast. I would fain keep all the cry as well as all the wool to ourselves; but as to giving over work, that can only be when I am in woollen.” John Ballantyne told me that after the first day he always took care to have a dozen of pens made before he seated himself opposite to the sofa on which Scott lay, and that though he often turned himself on his pillow with a groan of torment, he usually continued the sentence in the same breath. But when dialogue of peculiar animation was in progress, spirit seemed to triumph altogether over matter—he arose from his couch and walked up and down the room, raising and lowering his voice, and as it were acting the parts. It was in this fashion that Scott produced the far greater portion of The Bride of Lammermoor—the whole of the
Legend of Montrose and almost the whole of Ivanhoe. Yet, when his health was fairly re-established, he disdained to avail himself of the power of dictation, which he had thus put to the sharpest test, but resumed, and for many years resolutely adhered to, the old plan of writing every thing with his own hand. When I once, some time afterwards, expressed my surprise that he did not consult his ease, and spare his eyesight at all events, by occasionally dictating, he answered, “I should as soon think of getting into a sedan chair while I can use my legs.”

On one of the envelopes in which a chapter of the Bride of Lammermoor reached the printer in the Canongate about this time (May 2, 1819) there is this note in the author’s own handwriting:—

“Dear James,—These matters will need more than your usual carefulness. Look sharp—double sharp—my trust is constant in thee:—

‘Tarry woo, tarry woo,
Tarry woo is ill to spin;
Card it weel, card it weel,
Card it weel ere ye begin.
When ’tis carded, row’d, and spun.
Then the work is hafflins done;
But when woven, drest, and clean,
It may be cleading for a queen.’
So be it.—W. S.”

But to return—I rode out to Abbotsford with John Ballantyne towards the end of the spring vacation, and though he had warned me of a sad change in Scott’s appearance, it was far beyond what I had been led to anticipate. He had lost a great deal of flesh—his clothes hung loose about him—his countenance was meagre, haggard, and of the deadliest yellow of the jaundice—and his hair, which a few weeks before had been but slightly sprinkled with grey, was now almost literally snow-white. His eye, however, retained its fire unquenched; indeed it seemed to have gained in brilliancy from the new langour of the other features; and he received us with all the usual cordiality, and even with little perceptible diminishment in the sprightliness of his manner. He sat at table while we dined, but partook only of some rice pudding; and after the cloth was drawn, while sipping his toast and water, pushed round the bottles in his old style, and talked with easy cheerfulness of the stout battle he had fought, and which he now seemed to consider as won.

“One day there was,” he said, “when I certainly began to have great doubts whether the mischief was not getting at my mind—and I’ll tell you how I tried to reassure myself on that score. I was quite unfit for any thing like original composition; but I thought if I could turn an old German ballad I had been reading into decent rhymes, I might dismiss my worst apprehensions—and you shall see what came of the experiment.”
He then desired his daughter
Sophia to fetch the MS. of The Noble Moringer, as it had been taken down from his dictation, partly by her and partly by Mr Laidlaw, during one long and painful day while he lay in bed. He read it to us as it stood, and seeing that both Ballantyne and I were much pleased with the verses, he said he should copy them over, make them a little “tighter about the joints,” and give me them to be printed in the Edinburgh Annual Register for 1816, to consult him about which volume had partly been the object of my visit; and this promise he redeemed before I left him.

The reading of this long ballad, however (it consists of forty-three stanzas)* seemed to have exhausted him: he retired to his bed-room; and an hour or two after, when we were about to follow his example, his family were distressed by the well-known symptoms of another sharp recurrence of his affliction. A large dose of opium and the hot bath were immediately put in requisition. His good neighbour, Dr Scott of Darnlee, was sent for, and soon attended; and in the course of three or four hours we learned that he was once more at ease. But I can never forget the groans which, during that space, his agony extorted from him. Well knowing the iron strength of his resolution, to find him confessing its extremity, by cries audible not only all over the house, but even to a considerable distance from it (for Ballantyne and I, after he was put into his bath, walked forth to be out of the way, and heard him distinctly at the bowling-green)—it may be supposed that this was sufficiently alarming, even to my companion; how much more to me, who had never before listened to that voice, except in the gentle accents of kindness and merriment.

I told Ballantyne that I saw this was no time for my

* See Scott’s Poetical Works (Edition, 1834), Vol. vi. p. 343.

visit, and that I should start for Edinburgh again at an early hour and begged he would make my apologies in the propriety of which he acquiesced. But as I was dressing, about seven next morning,
Scott himself tapped at my door, and entered, looking better I thought than at my arrival the day before. “Don’t think of going,” said he, “I feel hearty this morning, and if my devil does come back again, it won’t be for three days at any rate. For the present, I want nothing to set me up except a good trot in the open air, to drive away the accursed vapours of the laudanum I was obliged to swallow last night. You have never seen Yarrow, and when I have finished a little job I have with Jocund Johnny, we shall all take horse and make a day of it.” When I said something about a ride of twenty miles being rather a bold experiment after such a night, he answered, that he had ridden more than forty, a week before, under similar circumstances, and felt nothing the worse. He added that there was an election on foot, in consequence of the death of Sir John Riddell of Riddell, Member of Parliament for the Selkirk district of Burghs, and that the bad health and absence of the Duke of Buccleuch rendered it quite necessary that he should make exertions on this occasion. “In short,” said he, laughing, “I have an errand which I shall perform—and as I must pass Newark, you had better not miss the opportunity of seeing it under so excellent a Cicerone as the old minstrel,
‘Whose withered cheek and tresses grey
Shall yet see many a better day.’”

About eleven o’clock, accordingly, he was mounted, by the help of Tom Purdie, upon a staunch, active cob yclept Sybil Grey, exactly such a creature as is described in Mr Dinmont’s Dumple—while Ballantyne sprung into the saddle of noble Old Mortality, and we
proceeded to the town of Selkirk, where
Scott halted to do business at the Sheriff-Clerk’s, and begged us to move onward at a gentle pace until he should overtake us. He came up by and by at a canter, and seemed in high glee with the tidings he had heard about the canvass. And so we rode by Philiphaugh, Carterhaugh, Bowhill, and Newark, he pouring out all the way his picturesque anecdotes of former times—more especially of the fatal field where Montrose was finally overthrown by Leslie. He described the battle as vividly as if he had witnessed it; the passing of the Ettrick at daybreak by the Covenanting General’s heavy cuirassiers, many of them old soldiers of Gustavus Adolphus, and the wild confusion of the Highland host when exposed to their charge on an extensive haugh as flat as a bowling-green. He drew us aside at Slain-men’s-lee, to observe the green mound that marks the resting-place of the slaughtered royalists; and pointing to the apparently precipitous mountain, Minchmoor, over which Montrose and his few cavaliers escaped, mentioned that, rough as it seemed, his mother remembered passing it in her early days in a coach and six, on her way to a ball at Peebles—several footmen marching on either side of the carriage to prop it up, or drag it through bogs, as the case might require. He also gave us, with all the dramatic effect of one of his best chapters, the history of a worthy family who, inhabiting at the time of the battle a cottage on his own estate, had treated with particular kindness a young officer of Leslie’s army quartered on them for a night or two before. When parting from them to join the troops, he took out a purse of gold, and told the good woman that he had a presentiment he should not see another sun set, and in that case would wish his money to remain in her kind hands; but, if he should survive, he had no doubt
RIDDELL—MAY, 1819.263
she would restore it honestly. The young man returned mortally wounded, but lingered awhile under her roof, and finally bequeathed to her and hers his purse and his blessing. “Such,” he said, “was the origin of the respectable lairds of ——, now my good neighbours.”

The prime object of this expedition was to talk over the politics of Selkirk with one of the Duke of Buccleuch’s great store-farmers, who, as the Sheriff had learned, possessed private influence with a doubtful bailie or deacon among the Souters. I forget the result, if ever I heard it. But next morning, having, as he assured us, enjoyed a good night in consequence of this ride, he invited us to accompany him on a similar errand across Bowden Moor, and up the Valley of the Ayle; and when we reached a particularly bleak and dreary point of that journey, he informed us that he perceived in the waste below a wreath of smoke, which was the appointed signal that a wavering Souter of some consequence had agreed to give him a personal interview where no Whiggish eyes were likely to observe them;—and so, leaving us on the road, he proceeded to thread his way westwards, across moor and bog, until we lost view of him. I think a couple of hours might have passed before he joined us again, which was, as had been arranged, not far from the village of Lilliesleaf. In that place, too, he had some negotiation of the same sort to look after; and when he had finished it, he rode with us all round the ancient woods of Riddell, but would not go near the house; I suppose lest any of the afflicted family might still be there. Many were his lamentations over the catastrophe which had just befallen them. “They are,” he said, “one of the most venerable races in the south of Scotland—they were here long before these glens had ever heard the name of Soulis or of Douglas—to say nothing of Buccleuch: they can show a Pope’s bull of the tenth cen-
tury, authorizing the then Riddell to marry a relation within the forbidden degrees. Here they have been for a thousand years at least; and now all the inheritance is to pass away, merely because one good worthy gentleman would not be contented to enjoy his horses, his hounds, and his bottle of claret, like thirty or forty predecessors, but must needs turn scientific agriculturist, take almost all his fair estate into his own hand, superintend for himself perhaps a hundred ploughs, and try every new nostrum that has been tabled by the quackish improvers of the time. And what makes the thing ten times more wonderful is, that he kept day-book and ledger, and all the rest of it, as accurately as if he had been a cheesemonger in the Grassmarket.” Some of the most remarkable circumstances in Scott’s own subsequent life have made me often recall this conversation—with more wonder than he expressed about the ruin of the Riddells.

I remember he told us a world of stories, some tragical, some comical, about the old lairds of this time-honoured lineage; and among others, that of the seven Bibles and the seven bottles of ale, which he afterwards inserted in a note to The Bride of Lammermoor.* He was also full of

* “It was once the universal custom to place ale, wine, or some strong liquor, in the chamber of an honoured guest, to assuage his thirst should he feel any on awakening in the night, which, considering that the hospitality of that period often reached excess, was by no means unlikely. The author has met some instances of it in former days, and in old-fashioned families. It was, perhaps, no poetic fiction that records how

‘My cummer and I lay down to sleep
With two pint stoups at our bed feet;
And aye when we waken’d we drank them dry:
What think you o’ my cummer and I?’

“It is a current story in Teviotdale, that in the house of an ancient

MAY, 1819.265
anecdotes about a friend of his father’s, a minister of Lilliesleaf, who reigned for two generations the most popular preacher in Teviotdale; but I forget the orator’s name. When the original of Saunders Fairford congratulated him in his latter days on the undiminished authority he still maintained—every kirk in the neighbourhood being left empty when it was known he was to mount the tent at any country sacrament—the shrewd divine answered, “Indeed, Mr Walter, I sometimes think it’s vera surprising. There’s aye a talk of this or that wonderfully gifted young man frae the college; but whenever I’m to be at the same occasion with ony o’ them, I e’en mount the white horse in the Revelations, and he dings them a’.”

Thus Scott amused himself and us as we jogged homewards: and it was the same the following day, when (no

family of distinction, much addicted to the Presbyterian cause, a Bible was always put into the sleeping apartment of the guests, along with a bottle of strong ale. On some occasion there was a meeting of clergymen in the vicinity of the castle, all of whom were invited to dinner by the worthy Baronet, and several abode all night. According to the fashion of the times, seven of the reverend guests were allotted to one large barrack-room, which was used on such occasions of extended hospitality. The butler took care that the divines were presented, according to custom, each with a Bible and a bottle of ale. But after a little consultation among themselves, they are said to have recalled the domestic as he was leaving the apartment. ‘My friend,’ said one of the venerable guests, ‘you must know, when we meet together as brethren, the youngest minister reads aloud a portion of Scripture to the rest; only one Bible, therefore, is necessary; take away the other six, and in their place bring six more bottles of ale.’

“This synod would have suited the ‘hermit sage’ of Johnson, who answered a pupil who enquired for the real road to happiness, with the celebrated line,
‘Come, my lad, and drink some beer!’
Waverley Novels, Edit. 1834, Vol. xiv. p. 91.

election matters pressing) he rode with us to the western peak of the Eildon hills, that he might show me the whole panorama of his Teviotdale, and expound the direction of the various passes by which the ancient forayers made their way into England, and tell the names and the histories of many a monastic chapel and baronial peel, now mouldering in glens and dingles that escape the eye of the traveller on the highways. Among other objects on which he descanted with particular interest were the ruins of the earliest residence of the Kerrs of Cessford, so often opposed in arms to his own chieftains of Branksome, and a desolate little kirk on the adjoining moor, where the Dukes of Roxburghe are still buried in the same vault with the hero who fell at Turnagain. Turning to the northward, he showed us the crags and tower of Smailholme, and behind it the shattered fragment of Erceldoune—and repeated some pretty stanzas ascribed to the last of the real wandering minstrels of this district, by name Burn:—

“Sing Erceldoune, and Cowdenknowes,
Where Homes had ance commanding,
And Drygrange, wi’ the milk-white ewes,
’Twixt Tweed and Leader standing.
The bird that flees through Redpath trees
And Giedswood banks each morrow,
May chaunt and sing—sweet Leader’s houghs
And Bonny howms of Yarrow.
“But Minstrel Burn cannot assuage
His grief, while life endureth,
To see the changes of this age
Which fleeting time procureth;
For mony a place stands in hard case,
Where blythe folks kent nae sorrow,
With Homes that dwelt on Leader side,
And Scotts that dwelt on Yarrow.”

That night he had again an attack of his cramp,
but not so serious as the former. Next morning he was again at work with
Ballantyne at an early hour; and when I parted from him after breakfast, he spoke cheerfully of being soon in Edinburgh for the usual business of his Court. I left him, however, with dark prognostications; and the circumstances of this little visit to Abbotsford have no doubt dwelt on my mind the more distinctly, from my having observed and listened to him throughout under the painful feeling that it might very probably be my last.

On the 5th of May he received the intelligence of the death of the Duke of Buccleuch, which had occurred at Lisbon on the 20th April; and next morning he wrote as follows to his Grace’s brother:

To the Lord Montagu, &c. &c. &c., Ditton Park, Windsor.
“Abbotsford, 6th May, 1819.
“My dear Lord,

“I heard from Lord Melville, by yesterday’s post, the calamitous news which your Lordship’s very kind letter this moment confirmed, had it required confirmation. For this fortnight past my hopes have been very faint indeed, and on Wednesday, when I had occasion to go to Yarrow, and my horse turned from habit to go up the avenue at Bowhill, I felt deeply impressed that it was a road I should seldom travel for a long time at least. To your Lordship, let me add to myself, this is an irreparable loss, for such a fund of excellent sense, high principle, and perfect honour, have been rarely combined in the same individual. To the country the inestimable loss will be soon felt, even by those who were insensible to his merits, or wished to detract from them, when he was amongst us. In my opinion he never recovered his domestic calamity. He wrote to me a few days after that cruel event, a most affectionate and re-
markable letter, explaining his own feelings, and while he begged that I would come to him, assuring me that I should find him the same he would be for the future years of his life. He kept his word; but I could see a grief of that calm and concentrated kind which claims the hours of solitude and of night for its empire, and gradually wastes the springs of life.

“Among the thousand painful feelings which this melancholy event had excited, I have sometimes thought of his distance from home. Yet this was done with the best intention, and upon the best advice, and was perhaps the sole chance which remained for re-establishment. It has pleased God that it has failed, but the best means were used under the best direction, and mere mortality can do no more. I am very anxious about the dear young ladies, whose lives were so much devoted to their father, and shall be extremely desirous of knowing how they are. The Duchess has so much firmness of mind, and Lady M. so much affectionate prudence, that they will want no support that example and kindness can afford. To me the world seems a sort of waste without him. We had many joint objects, constant intercourse, and unreserved communication, so that through him and by him I took interest in many things altogether out of my own sphere, and it seems to me as if the horizon were narrowed and lowered around me. But God’s will be done: it is all that brother or friend can or dare say. I have reluctance to mention the trash which is going on here. Indeed, I think little is altered since I wrote to your Lordship fully, excepting that last night late, Chisholm* arrived at Abbotsford from Lithgow, recalled by the news which had somehow reached Edinburgh—as I suspect by some officiousness of . . . . . . He

* Mr Chisholm was the Tory Candidate for the Selkirk burghs.

left Lithgow in such a state that there is no doubt he will carry that burgh, unless
Pringle* gets Selkirk. He is gone off this morning to try the possible and impossible to get the single vote which he wants, or to prevail on one person to stand neuter. It is possible he may succeed, though this event, when it becomes generally known, will be greatly against his efforts. I should care little more about the matter, were it not for young Walter,† and for the despite I feel at the success of speculations which were formed on the probability of the event which has happened. Two sons of ******** came here yesterday, and with their father’s philosophical spirit of self-accommodation, established themselves for the night. Betwixt them and Chisholm’s noise, my head and my stomach suffered so much (under the necessity of drowning feelings which I could not express), that I had a return of the spasms, and I felt as if a phantasmagoria was going on around me. Quiet, and some indulgence of natural and solitary sorrow, have made me well. To-day I will ride up to Selkirk and see the magistrates, or the chief of them. It is necessary they should not think the cause deserted. If it is thought proper to suspend the works at Bowhill, perhaps the measure may be delayed till the decision of this matter.

“I am sure, my dear Lord, you will command me in all I can do. I have only to regret it is so little. But to show that my gratitude has survived my benefactor, would be the pride and delight of my life. I never thought it possible that a man could have loved another so much where the distance of rank was so very great. But why recur to things so painful? I pity poor Adam Ferguson, whose affections were so much engaged by

* Mr Pringle of Clifton, the Whig candidate.

Walter Francis, the present Duke of Buccleuch.

Duke’s kindness, and who has with his gay temper a generous and feeling heart. The election we may lose, but not our own credit, and that of the family—that you may rest assured of. My best respects and warmest sympathy attend the dear young ladies, and Lady Montagu. I shall be anxious to know how the Duchess-Dowager does under this great calamity. The poor boy—what a slippery world is before him, and how early a dangerous, because a splendid, lot, is presented to him! But he has your personal protection. Believe me, with a deep participation in your present distress, your Lordship’s most faithfully,

Walter Scott.”

Scott drew up for Ballantyne’s newspaper of that week the brief character of Charles, Duke of Buccleuch, which has since been included in his Prose Miscellanies (Vol. iv.); and the following letter accompanied a copy of it to Ditton Park.

To the Lord Montagu, &c. &c. &c.
“My dear Lord,

“I send you the newspaper article under a different cover. I have studied so much to suppress my own feelings, and so to give a just, calm, and temperate view of the excellent subject of our present sorrow, such as I conceive might be drawn by one less partially devoted to him, that it has to my own eye a cold and lifeless resemblance of an original so dear to me. But I was writing to the public, and to a public less acquainted with him than a few years’ experience would have made them. Even his own tenantry were but just arrived at the true estimation of his character. I wrote, therefore, to insure credit and belief, in a tone greatly under my own feelings. I have ordered twenty-five copies to be put in a
MAY, 1819.271
different shape, of which I will send your Lordship twenty. It has been a painful task, but I feel it was due from me. I am just favoured with your letter. I beg your Lordship will not write more frequently than you find quite convenient, for you must have now more than enough upon you. The arrangement respecting Boughton* is what I expected—the lifeless remains will be laid where the living thoughts had long been. I grieve that I shall not see the last honours, yet I hardly know how I could have gone through the scene.

“Nothing in the circumstances could have given me the satisfaction which I receive from your Lordship’s purpose of visiting Scotland, and bringing down the dear young ladies, who unite so many and such affecting ties upon the regard and affection of every friend of the family. It will be a measure of the highest necessity for the political interest of the family, and your Lordship will have an opportunity of hearing much information of importance, which really could not be made subject of writing. The extinction of fire on the hearths of this great house would be putting out a public light, and a public beacon in the time of darkness and storms. Ever your most faithful

W. S.”

On the 11th of May Scott returned to Edinburgh, and was present next day at the opening of the Court of Session; when all who saw him were as much struck as I had been at Abbotsford with the lamentable change his illness had produced in his appearance. He was un-

* Boughton, in Northamptonshire. This seat came into the possession of Henry, Duke of Buccleuch, by his marriage with the daughter and heiress of John, the last Duke of Montagu, who survived for many years her son Duke Charles. At Boughton, as the reader will see, Scott’s early friend, the Duchess Harriet of Buccleuch had been buried in 1814.

able to persist in attendance at the Clerk’s table for several weeks afterwards I think he seldom if ever attempted it; and I well remember that, when the Third Series of the
Tales of My Landlord at length came out (which was on the 10th of June), he was known to be confined to bed, and the book was received amidst the deep general impression that we should see no more of that parentage. On the 13th he wrote thus to Captain Ferguson, who had arrived in London with the remains of the Duke of Buccleuch:—

To Captain Adam Ferguson, &c. &c. Montagu House, Whitehall.

“My dear Adam, I am sorry to say I have had another eight days’ visit of my disorder, which has confined me chiefly to my bed. It is not attended with so much acute pain as in spring, but with much sickness and weakness. It will perhaps shade off into a mild chronic complaint—if it returns frequently with the same violence I shall break up by degrees, and follow my dear Chief. I do not mean that there is the least cause for immediate apprehension, but only that the constitution must be injured at last, as well by the modes of cure, or rather of relief, as by the pain. My digestion as well as my appetite are for the present quite gone—a change from former days of Leith and Newhaven parties. I thank God I can look at this possibility without much anxiety, and without a shadow of fear.

“Will you, if your time serves, undertake two little commissions for me? One respects a kind promise of Lord Montagu to put George Thomson’s name on a list for kirk preferment. I don’t like to trouble him with letters—he must be overwhelmed with business, and has his dear brother’s punctuality in replying even to those which require none. I would fain have that Scottish Abr. Adams pro-
vided for if possible. My other request is, that you will, if you can, see
Terry, and ask him what is doing about my diningroom chairs, and especially about the carpet, for I shall not without them have the use of what Slender calls ‘mine own great parlour’ this season. I should write to him, but am really unable. I hope you will soon come down—a sight of you would do me good at the worst turn I have yet had. The Baronet* is very kind, and comes and sits by me. Every body likes the Regalia, and I have heard of no one grudging their hog†—but you must get something better. I have been writing to the Commie‡ about this. He has been inexpressibly kind in Walter’s matter, and the Duke of York has promised an early commission. When you see our friend, you can talk over this, and may perhaps save him the trouble of writing particular directions what further is to be done. Iago’s rule, I suppose—‘put money in thy purse.’ I wish in passing you would ask how the ladies are in Piccadilly. Yours ever,

W. Scott.”

The Bride of Lammermoor, and the Legend of Montrose, would hare been read with indulgence, had they needed it; for the painful circumstances under which they must have been produced were known wherever an English newspaper made its way; but I believe that, except in numerous typical errors, which sprung of necessity from the author’s inability to correct any proof-sheets, no one ever affected to perceive in either tale the slightest symptom of his malady. Dugald Dalgetty was placed by acclamation in the same rank with Bailie Jarvie—a conception equally new, just, and humorous, and worked out in all the

* Mr William Clerk. † A shilling.

‡ The Lord Chief-Commissioner Adam.

details, as if it had formed the luxurious entertainment of a chair as easy as was ever shaken by
Rabelais; and though the character of Montrose himself seemed hardly to have been treated so fully as the subject merited, the accustomed rapidity of the novelist’s execution would have been enough to account for any such defect. Of Caleb Balderstone—(the hero of one of the many ludicrous delineations which he owed to the late Lord Haddington, a man of rare pleasantry, and one of the best tellers of old Scotch stories that I ever heard)—I cannot say that the general opinion was then, nor do believe it ever since has been, very favourable. It was pronounced at the time, by more than one critic, a mere caricature; and, though Scott himself would never in after days admit this censure to be just, he allowed that “he might have sprinkled rather too much parsley over his chicken.” But even that blemish, for I grant that I think it a serious one, could not disturb the profound interest and pathos of the Bride of Lammermoor—to my fancy the most pure and powerful of all the tragedies that Scott ever penned. The reader will be well pleased, however, to have, in place of any critical observations on this work, the following particulars of its composition from the notes which its printer dictated when stretched on the bed from which he well knew he was never to rise.

“The book” (says James Ballantyne), “was not only written, but published, before Mr Scott was able to rise from his bed; and he assured me, that when it was first put into his hands in a complete shape, he did not recollect one single incident, character, or conversation it contained! He did not desire me to understand, nor did I understand, that his illness had erased from his memory the original incidents of the story, with which he had been acquainted from his boyhood. These remained rooted where they had ever been; or, to speak more ex-
plicitly, he remembered the general facts of the existence of the father and mother, of the son and daughter, of the rival lovers, of the compulsory marriage, and the attack made by the bride upon the hapless bridegroom, with the general catastrophe of the whole. All these things he recollected, just as he did before he took to his bed; but he literally recollected nothing else: not a single character woven by the romancer, not one of the many scenes and points of humour, nor any thing with which he was connected as the writer of the work. ‘For a long time,’ he said, ‘I felt myself very uneasy in the course of my reading, lest I should be startled by meeting something altogether glaring and fantastic. However, I recollected that you had been the printer, and I felt sure that you would not have permitted any thing of this sort to pass.’ ‘Well,’ I said, ‘upon the whole, how did you like it?’ ‘Why,’ he said, ‘as a whole, I felt it monstrous gross and grotesque; but still the worst of it made me laugh, and I trusted the good-natured public would not be less indulgent.’ I do not think I ever ventured to lead to the discussion of this singular phenomenon again; but you may depend upon it, that what I have now said is as distinctly reported as if it had been taken down in short-hand at the moment; I should not otherwise have ventured to allude to the matter at all. I believe you will agree with me in thinking that the history of the human mind contains nothing more wonderful.”

Soon after Scott re-appeared in the Parliament-house, he came down one Saturday to the vaulted chambers below, where the Advocates’ Library was then kept, to attend a meeting of the Faculty, and as the assembly was breaking up he asked me to walk home with him, taking Ballantyne’s printing office in our way. He moved languidly, and said, if he were to stay in town
many days, he must send for Sybil Grey; but his conversation was heart-whole; and, in particular, he laughed till, despite his weakness, the stick was flourishing in his hand, over the following almost incredible specimen of that most absurd personage the late
Earl of Buchan.

Hearing one morning shortly before this time, that Scott was actually in extremis, the Earl proceeded to Castle Street, and found the knocker tied up. He then descended to the door in the area, and was there received by honest Peter Mathieson, whose face seemed to confirm the woful tidings, for in truth his master was ill enough. Peter told his Lordship that he had the strictest orders to admit no visiter; but the Earl would take no denial, pushed the bashful coachman aside, and elbowed his way up stairs to the door of Scott’s bed-chamber. He had his fingers upon the handle before Peter could give warning to Miss Scott; and when she appeared to remonstrate against such an intrusion, he patted her on the head like a child, and persisted in his purpose of entering the sick-room so strenuously, that the young lady found it necessary to bid Peter see the Earl down stairs again, at whatever damage to his dignity. Peter accordingly, after trying all his eloquence in vain, gave the tottering, bustling, old, meddlesome coxcomb a single shove,—as respectful, doubt not, as a shove can ever be,—and he accepted that hint, and made a rapid exit. Scott, mean while, had heard the confusion, and at length it was explained to him; when, fearing that Peter’s gripe might have injured Lord Buchan’s feeble person, he desired James Ballantyne, who had been sitting by his bed, to follow the old man home—make him comprehend, if he could, that the family were in such bewilderment of alarm, that the ordinary rules of civility were out of the question—and, in fine, enquire what had been the object of his lordship’s intended visit. James proceeded
forthwith to the Earl’s house in George Street, and found him strutting about his library in a towering indignation. Ballantyne’s elaborate demonstrations of respect, however, by degrees softened him, and he condescended to explain himself. “I wished,” said he, “to embrace Walter Scott before he died, and inform him that I had long considered it as a satisfactory circumstance that he and I were destined to rest together in the same place of sepulture. The principal thing, however, was to relieve his mind as to the arrangements of his funeral—to show him a plan which I had prepared for the procession—and, in a word, to assure him that I took upon myself the whole conduct of the ceremonial at Dryburgh.” He then exhibited to Ballantyne a formal programme, in which, as may be supposed, the predominant feature was not Walter Scott, but David Earl of Buchan. It had been settled, inter alia, that the said Earl was to pronounce an eulogium over the grave, after the fashion of French Academicians in the Père la Chaise.

And this silliest and vainest of busy-bodies was the elder brother of Thomas and Henry Erskine! But the story is well known of his boasting one day to the late Duchess of Gordon of the extraordinary talents of his family—when her unscrupulous grace asked him, very coolly, whether the wit had not come by the mother, and been all settled on the younger branches?

Scott, as his letters to be quoted presently will show, had several more attacks of his disorder, and some very severe ones, during the autumn of 1819; nor, indeed, had it quite disappeared until about Christmas. But from the time of his return to Abbotsford in July, when he adopted the system of treatment recommended by a skilful physician (Dr Dick), who had had large experience in maladies of this kind during his Indian life, the seizures gradually became less violent, and his confidence
that he was ultimately to baffle the enemy remained unshaken.

As I had no opportunity of seeing him again until he was almost entirely re-established, I shall leave the progress of his restoration to be collected from his correspondence. But I must not forget to set down what his daughter Sophia afterwards told me of his conduct upon one night, in June, when he really did despair of himself. He then called his children about his bed, and took leave of them with solemn tenderness. After giving them, one by one, such advice as suited their years and characters, he added, “For myself, my dears, I am unconscious of ever having done any man an injury, or omitted any fair opportunity of doing any man a benefit. I well know that no human life can appear otherwise than weak and filthy in the eyes of God; but I rely on the merits and intercession of our Redeemer.” He then laid his hand on their heads, and said, “God bless you! Live so that you may all hope to meet each other in a better place hereafter. And now leave me that I may turn my face to the wall.” They obeyed him: but he presently fell into a deep sleep; and when he awoke from it after many hours, the crisis of extreme danger was felt by himself, and pronounced by his physician, to have been overcome.