LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, Bart.
Chapter IX 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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Before Scott left Edinburgh, on the 12th of July, he had not only concluded his bargain with Constable for another novel, but, as will appear from some of his letters, made considerable progress in the dictation of Ivanhoe.

That he already felt great confidence on the score of his health, may be inferred from his allowing his son Walter, about the middle of the month, to join the 18th Regiment of Hussars, in which he had, shortly before, received his commission as Cornet.

Scott’s letters to his son, the first of his family that left the house, will merit henceforth a good deal of the reader’s attention. Walter was, when he thus quitted Abbotsford to try his chances in the active world, only in the eighteenth year of his age; and the fashion of education in Scotland is such, that he had scarcely ever slept a night under a different roof from his parents, until this separation occurred. He had been treated from his cradle with all the indulgence that a man of sense can
ever permit himself to show to any of his children; and for several years he had now been his father’s daily companion in all his out of doors occupations and amusements. The parting was a painful one; but Scott’s ambition centered in the heir of his name, and instead of fruitless pinings and lamentings, he henceforth made it his constant business to keep up such a frank correspondence with the young man as might enable himself to exert over him, when at a distance, the gentle influence of kindness, experience, and wisdom. The series of his letters to his son is, in my opinion, by far the most interesting and valuable, as respects the personal character and temper of the writer. It will easily be supposed that, as the young officer entered fully into his father’s generous views of what their correspondence ought to be, and detailed every little incident of his new career with the same easy confidence as if he had been writing to a friend or elder brother not very widely differing from himself in standing, the answers abound with opinions on subjects with which I have no right to occupy or entertain my readers; but I shall introduce, in the prosecution of this work, as many specimens of Scott’s paternal advice as I can hope to render generally intelligible without indelicate explanations and more especially such as may prove serviceable to other young persons when first embarking under their own pilotage upon the sea of life. Scott’s manly kindness to his boy, whether he is expressing approbation or censure of his conduct, can require no pointing out; and his practical wisdom was of that liberal order, based on such comprehensive views of man and the world, that I am persuaded it will often be found available to the circumstances of their own various cases, by young men of whatever station or profession.

I shall, nevertheless, adhere as usual to the chronologi-
JULY, 1819.281
cal order; and one or two miscellaneous letters must accordingly precede the first article of his correspondence with the Cornet. He alludes, however, to the youth’s departure in the following

To Mrs Maclean Clephane of Torloisk.
“Abbotsford, July 15th, 1819.
“Dear Mrs Clephane,

“Nothing could give me more pleasure than to hear you are well, and thinking of looking this way. You will find all my things in very different order from when you were here last, and plenty of room for matron and miss, man and maid. We have no engagements, except to Newton Don about the 20th August—if we be alive—no unreasonable proviso in so long an engagement. My health, however, seems in a fair way of being perfectly restored. It is a joke to talk of any other remedy than that forceful but most unpleasant one—calomel. I cannot say I ever felt advantage from any thing else; and I am perfectly satisfied that, used as an alterative, and taken in very small quantities for a long time, it must correct all the inaccuracies of the biliary organs. At least it has done so in my case more radically than I could have believed possible. I have intermitted the regime for some days, but begin a new course next week for precaution. Dr Dick, of the East India Company’s service, has put me on this course of cure, and says he never knew it fail unless when the liver was irreparably injured. I believe I shall go to Carlsbad next year. If I must go to a watering-place, I should like one where I might hope to see and learn something new myself, instead of being hunted down by some of the confounded lion-catchers who haunt English spas. I have not the art of being savage to those people, though few are more annoyed by them. I always think of Snug the Joiner—

‘——If I should as lion come in strife
Into such place, ’twere pity on my life.’

“I have been delayed in answering your kind letter by Walter’s departure from us to join his regiment, the 18th Dragoons. He has chosen a profession for which he is well suited, being of a calm but remarkably firm temper—fond of mathematics, engineering, and all sorts of calculation—clear-headed, and good-natured. When you add to this a good person and good manners, with great dexterity in horsemanship and all athletic exercises, and a strong constitution, one hopes you have the grounds of a good soldier. My own selfish wish would have been that he should have followed the law; but he really had no vocation that way, wanting the acuteness and liveliness of intellect indispensable to making a figure in that profession. So I am satisfied all is for the best, only I shall miss my gamekeeper and companion in my rides and walks. But so it was, is, and must be—the young must part from the nest, and learn to wing their own way against the storm.

“I beg my best and kindest compliments to Lady Compton. Stooping to write hurts me, or I would have sent her a few lines. As I shall be stationary here for all this season, I shall not see her, perhaps, for long enough. Mrs Scott and the girls join in best love, and I am ever, dear Mrs Clephane, your faithful and most obedient servant,

Walter Scott.”

I have had some hesitation about introducing the next letter—which refers to the then recent publication of a sort of mock-tour in Scotland, entitled “Peter’s Letters to his Kinsfolk.” Nobody but a very young and a very thoughtless person could have dreamt of putting forth such a book; yet the Epistles of the imaginary
JULY, 1819.283
Dr Morris have been so often denounced as a mere string of libels, that I think it fair to show how much more leniently
Scott judged of them at the time. Moreover, his letter is a good specimen of the liberal courtesy with which, on all occasions, he treated the humblest aspirants in literature. Since I have alluded to Peter’s Letters at all, I may as well take the opportunity of adding that they were not wholly the work of one hand.

To J. G. Lockhart, Esq. Carnbroe House, Hollytown.
“Abbotsford, July 19th, 1819.
“My dear Sir,

Distinguendum est. When I receive a book ex dono of the author, in the general case I offer my thanks with all haste before I cut a leaf, lest peradventure I should feel more awkward in doing so afterwards, when they must not only be tendered for the well printed volumes themselves, and the attention which sent them my way, but moreover for the supposed pleasure I have received from the contents. But with respect to the learned Dr Morris, the case is totally different, and I formed the immediate resolution not to say a word about that gentleman’s labours without having read them at least twice over a pleasant task, which has been interrupted partly by my being obliged to go down the country, partly by an invasion of the Southron, in the persons of Sir John Shelley, famous on the turf, and his lady. I wish Dr Morris had been of the party, chiefly for the benefit of a little Newmarket man, called Cousins, whose whole ideas, similes, illustrations, &c. were derived from the course and training stable. He was perfectly good-humoured, and I have not laughed more this many a day.

“I think the Doctor has got over his ground admirably;—only the general turn of the book is perhaps too
favourable, both to the state of our public society, and of individual character:
‘His fools have their follies so lost in a crowd
Of virtues and feelings, that folly grows proud.’*
But it was, in every point of view, right to take this more favourable tone, and to throw a
Claude Lorraine tint over our northern landscape. We cannot bear the actual bare truth, either in conversation, or that which approaches nearest to conversation, in a work like the Doctor’s, published within the circle to which it refers.

“For the rest, the Dr has fully maintained his high character for force of expression, both serious and comic, and for acuteness of observation—rem acu tetigit—and his scalpel has not been idle, though his lenient hand has cut sharp and clean, and poured balm into the wound. What an acquisition it would have been to our general information to have had such a work written, I do not say fifty, but even five-and-twenty years ago; and how much of grave and gay might then have been preserved, as it were, in amber, which have now mouldered away. When I think that at an age not much younger than yours I knew Black, Ferguson, Robertson, Erskine, Adam Smith, John Home, &c. &c., and at least saw Burns, I can appreciate better than any one the value of a work which, like this, would have handed them down to posterity in their living colours. Dr Morris ought, like Nourjahad, to revive every half century, to record the fleeting manners of the age, and the interesting features of those who will be only known to posterity by their works. If I am very partial to the Doctor, which I am not inclined to deny, remember I have been bribed by his kind and delicate account of his visit to Abbotsford. Like old Cumberland, or like my own grey cat, I will e’en

* Goldsmith’s Retaliation.

JULY, 1819.285
purr, and put up my back, and enjoy his kind flattery, even when I know it goes beyond my merits.

“I wish you would come and spend a few days here, while this delightful weather lasts. I am now so well as quite to enjoy the society of my friends, instead of the woful pickle in which I was in spring, when you last favoured me. It was, however, dignus vindice nodus, for no less a deity descended to my aid than the potent Mercury himself, in the shape of calomel, which I have been obliged to take daily, though in small quantities, for these two months past. Notwithstanding the inconveniences of this remedy, I thrive upon it most marvellously, having recovered both sleep and appetite; so when you incline to come this way, you will find me looking pretty bobbishly.—Yours very truly,

Walter Scott.”

On the same day, Scott wrote as follows, to John Ballantyne, who had started for London, on his route to Paris in quest of articles for next winter’s auction-room and whose good offices he was anxious to engage on behalf of the Cornet, in case they should happen to be in the metropolis at the same time.

To Mr John Ballantyne, care of Messrs Longman and Co., London.
“Abbotsford, July 19th, 1819.
“Dear John,

“I have only to say, respecting matters here, that they are all going on quietly. The first volume is very nearly finished, and the whole will be out in the first or second week of September. It will be well if you can report yourself in Britain by that time at farthest, as something must be done on the back of this same Ivanhoe.

Walter left us on Wednesday night, and will be in
town by the time this reaches you. looking, I fancy, very like a cow in a fremd loaning.* He will be heard of at
Miss Dumergue’s. Pray look after him, and help him about his purchases.

“I hope you will be so successful in your foreign journey as to diddle the Edinburgh folk out of some cash this winter. But don’t forget September, if you wish to partake the advantages thereof.

“I wish you would see what good reprints of old books are come out this year at Triphook’s, and send me a note of them.—Yours very truly,

W. Scott.”

John Ballantyne found the Cornet in London, and did for him what his father had requested.

To Mr John Ballantyne.
Abbotsford, July 26, 1819.
“Dear John,

“I have yours with the news of Walter’s rattle-traps, which are abominably extravagant. But there is no help for it but submission. The things seem all such as cannot well be wanted. How the devil they mount them to such a price the tailors best know. They say it takes nine tailors to make a man—apparently one is sufficient to ruin him. We shall rub through here well enough, though James is rather glumpy and dumpy—chiefly, I believe, because his child is unwell. If you can make any more money for me in London, good and well. I have no spare cash till Ivanhoe comes forth.—Yours truly,

W. Scott.

—P.S. Enclosed are sundry letters of introduction for the ci-devant Laird of Gilnockie.”

* Anglice—a strange lane.

To Miss Edgeworth of Edgeworthstown.
“Abbotsford, July 21, 1819.
“My Dear Miss Edgeworth,

“When this shall happen to reach your hands, it will be accompanied by a second edition of Walter Scott, a tall copy, as collectors say, and bound in Turkey leather, garnished with all sorts of fur and frippery—not quite so well lettered, however, as the old and vamped original edition. In other, and more intelligible phrase, the tall cornet of Hussars, whom this will introduce to you, is my eldest son, who is now just leaving me to join his regiment in Ireland. I have charged him, and he is himself sufficiently anxious, to avoid no opportunity of making your acquaintance, as to be known to the good and the wise is by far the best privilege he can derive from my connexion with literature. I have always felt the value of having access to persons of talent and genius to be the best part of a literary man’s prerogative, and you will not wonder, I am sure, that I should be desirous this youngster should have a share of the same benefit.

“I have had dreadful bad health for many months past, and have endured more pain than I thought was consistent with life. But the thread, though frail in some respects, is tough in others; and here am I with renewed health, and a fair prospect of regaining my strength much exhausted by such a train of suffering.

“I do not know when this will reach you, my son’s motions being uncertain. But, find you where or when it will, it comes, dear Miss Edgworth, from the sincere admirer of your genius, and of the patriotic and excellent manner in which it has always been exerted. In which character I subscribe myself ever yours truly,

Walter Scott.”

I believe at the time when the foregoing letter was written, Scott and Miss Edgworth had never met. The next was addressed to a gentleman, whose acquaintance the poet had formed when collecting materials for his edition of Swift. On that occasion Mr Hartstonge was of great service to Scott—and he appears to have paid him soon afterwards a visit at Abbotsford. Mr Hartstonge was an amiable and kind hearted man, and enthusiastically devoted to literature; but his own poetical talents were undoubtedly of the sort that finds little favour either with gods or columns. He seems to have written shortly before this time to enquire about his old acquaintance’s health.

To Matthew Weld Hartstonge, Esq., Molesworth Street, Dublin.
“Abbotsford, July 21, 1819.
“My Dear Sir,

. . . . . . . . . “Fortunately God Mercury descended in the shape of calomel to relieve me in this dignis vindice nodus, and at present my system is pretty strong. In the mean while my family are beginning to get forwards. Walter—(you remember my wading into Cauldshiels loch to save his little frigate from wreck)—is now a Cornet of six feet two inches in your Irish 18th Hussars; the regiment is now at Cork, and will probably be next removed to Dublin, so you will see your old friend with a new face; be-furred, be-feathered, and be-whiskered in the highest military ton. I have desired him to call upon you, should he get to Dublin on leave, or come there upon duty. I miss him here very much, for he was my companion, gamekeeper, &c. &c., and when one loses one’s own health and strength, there are few things so pleasant as to see a son enjoying both in the vigour of hope and promise. Think of this, my good friend, and as you have kind affections to make some
good girl happy, settle yourself in life while you are young, and lay up by so doing, a stock of domestic happiness, against age or bodily decay. There are many good things in life, whatever satirists and misanthropes may say to the contrary, but probably the best of all, next to a conscience void of offence (without which, by the by, they can hardly exist), are the quiet exercise and enjoyment of the social feelings, in which we are at once happy ourselves, and the cause of happiness to them who are dearest to us. I have no news to send you from hence. The addition to my house is completed with battlement and bartisan, but the old cottage remains hidden among creepers, until I shall have leisure, i. e. time, and money—to build the rest of my mansion—which I will not do hastily, as the present is amply sufficient for accommodation. Adieu, my dear sir, never reckon the degree of my regard by the regularity of my correspondence, for besides the vile diseases of laziness and procrastination, which have always beset me, I have had of late both pain and languor sufficient to justify my silence. Believe me, however, always most truly yours,

Walter Scott.”

The first letter the young Cornet received from his father after mounting his “rattle-traps” was the following:

To Cornet Walter Scott, 18th Hussars, Cork.
“Abbotsford, Aug. 1, 1819.
“Dear Walter,

“I was glad to find you got safe to the hospitable quarters of Piccadilly, and were put on the way of achieving your business well and expeditiously. You would receive a packet of introductory letters by John Ballantyne, to whom I addressed them.


“I had a very kind letter two days ago from your Colonel.* Had I got it sooner it would have saved some expense in London, but there is no help for it now. As you are very fully provided with all these appointments, you must be particular in taking care of them, otherwise the expense of replacing them will be a great burden, Colonel Murray seems disposed to show you much attention. He is, I am told, rather a reserved man, which indeed is the manner of his family. You will, therefore, be the more attentive to what he says, as well as to answer all advances he may make to you with cordiality and frankness; for if you be shy on the one hand, and he reserved on the other, you cannot have the benefit of his advice, which I hope and wish you may gain, I shall be guided by his opinion respecting your allowance: he stipulates that you shall have only two horses (not to be changed without his consent), and on no account keep a gig. You know of old how I detest that mania of driving wheel-barrows up and down, when a man has a handsome horse and can ride him. They are both foolish and expensive things, and, in my opinion, are only fit for English bagmen—therefore gig it not, I pray you.

“In buying your horses you will be very cautious. I see Colonel Murray has delicacy about assisting you directly in the matter—for he says very truly that some gentlemen make a sort of traffic in horse-flesh—from which his duty and inclination equally lead him to steer clear. But he will take care that you don’t buy any that are unfit for service, as in the common course they must be approved by the commandant as chargers. Besides which, he will probably give you some private hints, of which avail yourself, as there is every chance of your needing much advice in this business. Two

* The then commandant of the 18th Hussars was Lieut.-Colonel the Hon. Henry Murray, brother to the Earl of Mansfield.

things I preach on my own experience. 1st, Never to buy an aged horse, however showy. He must have done work, and, at any rate, will be unserviceable in a few years. 2dly, To buy rather when the horse is something low in condition, that you may the better see all his points. Six years is the oldest at which I would purchase. You will run risk of being jockeyed by knowing gentlemen of your own corps parting with their experienced chargers to oblige you. Take care of this. Any good tempered horse learns the dragoon duty in wonderfully short time, and you are rider enough not to want one quite broke in. Look well about you, and out into the country. Excellent horses are bred all through Munster, and better have a clever young one than an old regimental brute foundered by repeated charges and bolts. If you see a brother officer’s horse that pleases you much, and seems reasonable, look particularly how he stands on his forelegs, and for that purpose see him in the stable. If he shifts and shakes a little, have nothing to say to him. This is the best I can advise, not doubting you will be handsomely excised after all. The officer who leaves his corps may be disposing of good horses, and perhaps selling reasonable. One who continues will not, at least should not, part with a good horse without some great advantage.

“You will remain at Cork till you have learned your regimental duty, and then probably be despatched to some outquarter. I need not say how anxious I am that you should keep up your languages, mathematics, and other studies. To have lost that which you already in some degree possess—and that which we don’t practise we soon forget—would be a subject of unceasing regret to you hereafter. You have good introductions, and don’t neglect to avail yourself of them. Something in this respect your name may do for you—
a fair advantage, if used with discretion and propriety. By the way, I suspect you did not call on
John Richardson.

“The girls were very dull after you left us; indeed the night you went away, Anne had hysterics, which lasted some time. Charles also was down in the mouth, and papa and mamma a little grave and dejected. I would not have you think yourself of too great importance neither, for the greatest personages are not always long missed, and to make a bit of a parody,
‘Down falls the rain, up gets the sun,
Just as if Walter were not gone.’
We comfort ourselves with the hopes that you are to be happy in the occupation you have chosen, and in your new society. Let me know if there are any well-informed men among them, though I don’t expect you to find out that for some time. Be civil to all till you can by degrees find out who are really best deserving.

“I enclose a letter from Sophia, which doubtless contains all the news. St Boswell’s Fair rained miserably, and disappointed the misses. The weather has since been delightful, and harvest advances fast. All here goes its old round—the habits of age do not greatly change, though those of youth do. Mamma has been quite well, and so have I—but I still take calomel. I was obliged to drink some claret with Sir A. Don, Sir John Shelley, and a funny little Newmarket quizzy, called Cousins, whom they brought here with them the other day, but I was not the worse. I wish you had Sir J. S. at your elbow when you are buying your horses—he is a very knowing man on the turf. I like his lady very much. She is perfectly feminine in her manners, has good sense, and plays divinely on the harp; besides all which, she shoots
wild boars, and is the boldest horsewoman I ever saw. I saw her at Paris ride like a lapwing in the midst of all the aide-de-camps and suite of the
Duke of Wellington.

“Write what your horses come to, &c. Your outfit will be an expensive matter; but once settled it will be fairly launching you into life in the way you wished, and I trust you will see the necessity of prudence and a gentlemanlike economy, which consists chiefly in refusing oneself trifling indulgences until we can easily pay for them. Once more, I beg you to be attentive to Colonel Murray and to his lady. I hear of a disease among the moorfowl. I suppose they are dying for grief at your departure. Ever, my dear boy, your affectionate father,

Walter Scott.”
To the same.
“7th August, 1819.
“Dear Walter,

“. . . . I shall be curious to know how you like your brother officers, and how you dispose of your time. The drills and riding-school will, of course, occupy much of your mornings for some time. I trust, however, you will keep in view drawing, languages, &c. It is astonishing how far even half an hour a-day, regularly bestowed on one object, will carry a man in making himself master of it. The habit of dawdling away time is easily acquired, and so is that of putting every moment either to use or to amusement.

“You will not be hasty in forming intimacies with any of your brother officers, until you observe which of them are most generally respected, and likely to prove most creditable friends. It is seldom that the people who put themselves hastily forward to please, are those
most worthy of being known. At the same time you will take care to return all civility which is offered, with readiness and frankness. The Italians have a proverb, which I hope you have not forgot poor Pierrotti’s lessons so far as not to comprehend—‘Volto sciolto e pensieri stretti.’ There is no occasion to let any one see what you exactly think of him; and it is the less prudent, as you will find reason, in all probability, to change your opinion more than once.

“I shall be glad to hear of your being fitted with a good servant. Most of the Irish of that class are scapegraces—drink, steal, and lie like the devil. If you could pick up a canny Scot it would be well. Let me know about your mess. To drink hard is none of your habits, but even drinking what is called a certain quantity every day hurts the stomach, and by hereditary descent yours is delicate. I believe the poor Duke of Buccleuch laid the foundation of that disease which occasioned his premature death in the excesses of Villar’s regiment, and I am sorry and ashamed to say, for your warning, that the habit of drinking wine, so much practised when I was a young man, occasioned, I am convinced, many of my cruel stomach complaints. You had better drink a bottle of wine on any particular occasion, than sit and soak and sipple at an English pint every day.

“All our bipeds are well. Hamlet had an inflammatory attack, and I began to think he was going mad, after the example of his great namesake, but Willie Laidlaw bled him, and he has recovered. Pussy is very well. Mamma, the girls, and Charlie join in love. Yours affectionately,

W. S.

“P.S.—Always mention what letters of mine you have received, and write to me whatever comes into
your head. It is the privilege of great boys when distant that they cannot tire papas by any length of detail upon any subject.”

To the Same.
“Abbotsford, 13th August, 1819.
“My dearest Walter,

“I am very much obliged to Colonel Murray for the trouble he has taken on your behalf. I hope he has received the letter which I wrote to him a fortnight since under Mr Freeling’s cover. It enclosed a parcel of letters to you. I took the liberty of asking his advice what allowance you should have to assist you. You know pretty well my circumstances and your own, and that I wish you to be comfortable, but not in any respect extravagant; and this for your own sake, and not for that of money, which I never valued very much, perhaps not so much as I ought to have done. I think by speaking to Colonel Murray you may get at his opinion, and I have so much trust in your honour and affection as to confide in your naming your own allowance. Mean time, lest the horse should starve while the grass grows, I enclose a cheque upon Messrs Coutts for L.50, to accompt of your first year’s allowance. Your paymaster will give you the money for it I dare say. You have to indorse the bill, i. e. write your name on the back of it.

“All concerned are pleased with your kind tokens of remembrance from London. Mamma and I like the caricatures very much. I think, however, scarce any of them shows the fancy and talent of old Gilray: he became insane, I suppose by racking his brain in search of extravagant ideas, and was supported in his helpless condition by the woman who keeps the great print shop in St James’ Street, who had the generosity to remember that she had made thousands by his labour.


“Every thing here goes on in the old fashion, and we are all as well as possible, saving that Charles rode to Lawrence fair yesterday in a private excursion, and made himself sick with eating gingerbread, whereby he came to disgrace.

Sophia has your letter of the 4th, which she received yesterday. The enclosed will help you to set up shop and to get and pay whatever is necessary. I wish we had a touch of your hand to make the parties rise in the morning, at which they show as little alertness as usual.

“I beg you will keep an account of money received and paid. Buy a little book ruled for the purpose, for pounds, shillings, and pence, and keep an account of cash received and expended. The balance ought to be cash in purse, if the book is regularly kept. But any very small expenses you can enter as “sundries, L.0: 3: 6.” which saves trouble.

“You will find this most satisfactory and useful. But, indeed, arithmetic is indispensable to a soldier who means to rise in his profession. All military movements depend upon calculation of time, numbers, and distance.

“Dogs all well—cat sick—supposed with eating birds in their feathers. Sisters, brother, and mamma join in love to the “poor wounded hussa-a-r”—I dare say you have heard the song, if not, we shall send it for the benefit of the mess. Yours affectionately,

Walter Scott.

“P.S.—Yesterday the 12th would, I suppose, produce some longings after the Peel heights.”

In the following letter to Mr Richardson, we see Scott busied about certain little matters of heraldic importance which had to be settled before his patent of baronetcy could be properly made out. He also alludes
AUGUST, 1819.297
to two little volumes, which he edited during this autumn—the
Memorials of the Haliburtons, a thin quarto (never published)—and the poems of Patrick Carey, of which he had given specimens some years before in the Annual Register.

To John Richardson, Esq. Fludyer Street, Westminster.
“Abbotsford, 22d August, 1819.
“My dear Richardson,

“I am sorry Walter did not get to your kind domicile. But he staid but about five or six days in London, and great was his haste, as you may well suppose. He had a world of trinkums to get, for you know there goes as much to the man-millinery of a young officer of hussars as to that of an heiress on her bridal day. His complete equipage, horses not included, cost about L.360, and if you add a couple of blood horses, it will be L.200 more, besides the price of his commission, for the privilege of getting the hardness of his skull tried by a brickbat at the next meeting of Radical Reformers. I am not much afraid of these folks, however, because I remember 1793 and 1794, when the same ideas possessed a much more formidable class of the people, being received by a large proportion of farmers, shopkeepers, and others, possessed of substance. A mere mob will always be a fire of loose straw; but it is melancholy to think of the individual mischief that may be done. I did not find it quite advisable to take so long a journey as London this summer. I am quite recovered; but my last attack was of so dreadful a nature, that I wish to be quite insured against another—i. e. as much as one can be insured against such a circumstance—before leaving home for any length of time.

“To return to the vanities of this world from what
threatened to hurry me to the next, I enclose a drawing of my arms with the supporters which the heralds here assign me. Our friend
Harden seems to wish I would adopt one of his Mer-maidens, otherwise they should be both Moors, as on the left side. I have also added an impression of my seal. You can furnish Sir George Naylor with as much of my genealogy as will serve the present purpose. I shall lose no time in connecting myself by a general service with my granduncle, the last Haliburton of Dryburgh Abbey, or Newmains, as they call it. I spoke to the Lyon-office people in Edinburgh. I find my entry there will be an easy matter, the proofs being very pregnant and accessible. I would not stop for a trifling expense to register my pedigree in England, as for as you think may be necessary, to show that it is a decent one. My ancestors were brave and honest men, and I have no reason to be ashamed of them, though they were neither wealthy nor great.

“As something of an antiquary and genealogist, I should not like there were any mistakes in this matter, so I send you a small note of my descent by my father and my paternal grandmother, with a memorandum of the proofs by which they may be supported, to which I might add a whole cloud of oral witnesses. I hate the being suspected of fishing for a pedigree, or bolstering one up with false statements. How people can bring themselves to this I cannot conceive. I send you a copy of the Haliburton MS., of which I have printed twenty for the satisfaction of a few friends. You can have any part of them copied in London which ought to be registered. I should like if Sir George Naylor would take the trouble of looking at the proofs, which are chiefly extracts from the public records. I take this opportunity to send you also a copy of a little amateur-book—
AUG—SEPT. 1819.299
Carey’s Poems a thorough bred Cavalier, and, I think, no bad versifier. Kind compliments to Mrs Richardson. Yours, my dear Richardson, most truly,

Walter Scott.”
To Cornet W. Scott, 18th Hussars, Cork.
“Abbotsford, 4th Sept, 1819.
“Dear Walter,

“Your very acceptable letter of the 26th reached me to-day. I had begun to be apprehensive that the draft had fallen into the hands of the Philistines, but the very long calm must have made the packets slow in their progress, which I suppose was the occasion of the delay. Respecting the allowance, Colonel Murray informs me that from L.200 to L.250, in addition to the pay of a Cornet, ought to make a young man very comfortable. He adds, which I am much pleased to hear, that your officers are, many of them, men of moderate fortune and disposed to be economical. I had thought of L.200 as what would suit us both, but when I see the account which you very properly keep, I shall be better able to determine. It must be considered that any uncommon expense, as the loss of a horse or the like, may occasion an extra draught over and above the allowance. I like very much your methodical arrangement as to expenses; it is rather a tiresome thing at first to keep an accompt of pounds, shillings, and pence, but it is highly necessary, and enables one to see how the money actually goes. It is, besides, a good practical way of keeping up acquaintance with arithmetic, and you will soon find that the principles on which all military movements turn are arithmetical, and that though one may no doubt learn to do them by rote, yet to understand them, you must have recourse to numbers. Your adjutant will explain this to you. By the way, as he is a foreigner, you will
have an opportunity to keep up a little of your French and German. Both are highly necessary to you; the knowledge of the last, with few other qualifications, made several officers’ fortunes last war.

“I observe with pleasure you are making acquaintances among the gentry, which I hope you will not drop for want of calling, &c. I trust you have delivered all your recommendations, for it is an affront to omit doing so, both to the person who writes them, and those for whom they are designed. On the other hand, one always holds their head a little better up in the world when they keep good society. Lord and Lady Melville are to give you recommendations when you go to Dublin. I was at Melville Castle for two days and found them both well. I was also one day at Langholm lodge to meet Lord Montagu. Possibly, among your Irish friends, you may get some shooting. I shall be glad you avail yourself of any such opportunities, and also that, when you get your own horses, you hunt in the winter, if you be within the reach of hounds. Nothing confirms a man in horsemanship so well as hunting, though I do not recommend it to beginners, who are apt to learn to ride like grooms. Besides the exercise, field-sports make a young soldier acquainted with the country, and habituate him to have a good eye for distance and for taking up the carte du pays in general, which is essential to all, but especially to officers of light troops, who are expected to display both alertness and intelligence in reporting the nature of the country, being in fact the eyes of the army. In every point of view, field-sports are preferable to the in-doors’ amusement of a billiard-table, which is too often the lounging-place for idle young officers, where there is nothing to be got but a habit of throwing away time, and an acquaintance with the very worst society—I mean at public billiard-rooms
—for unquestionably the game itself is a pretty one, when practised among gentlemen and not made a constant habit of. But public billiard-tables are almost always the resort of black-legs and sharpers, and all that numerous class whom the French call Chevaliers d’ Industrie, and we knights of the whipping-post.

“I am glad you go to the anatomical lectures. An acquaintance with our own very extraordinary frame is a useful branch of general knowledge, and as you have some turn for drawing, it will also enable you to judge of the proper mode of disposing the limbs and muscles of your figures, should you prosecute the art so far. In fact, there is no branch of study can come much amiss to a young man, providing he does study, and very often the precise occupation of the time must be trusted to taste and opportunity.

“The White Boys made a great noise when I was a boy. But Ireland (the more is the pity) has never been without White Boys, or Right Boys, or Defenders, or Peep-of-day Boys, or some wild association or another for disturbing the peace of the country. We shall not be many degrees better if the Radical reformers be not checked. The Manchester Yeomen behaved very well, upsetting the most immense crowd ever was seen, and notwithstanding the lies in the papers, without any unnecessary violence. Mr Hunt pretends to have had several blows on his head with sabres, but has no wound to show for it. I am disposed to wish he had got such a one as once on a day I could have treated him to. I am apt to think his politic pate would have broached no more sedition.

Miss Rutherford and Eliza Russell are now with us. We were also favoured with a visit of the Miss ——s, who are rather empty canisters, though I dare say very good girls. Anne tired of them most in-
Mrs MacLean Clephane and her two unmarried daughters are now here; being, as we say, pears of another tree. Your sisters seem very fond of the young ladies, and I am glad of it, for they will see that a great deal of accomplishment and information may be completely reconciled with liveliness, fun, good-humour, and good-breeding.

“All here send love. Dogs and cat are well. I dare say you have heard from some other correspondent that poor Lady Wallace died of an inflammation, after two days’ illness. Trout* has returned here several times, poor fellow, and seems to look for you; but Henry Scott is very kind to him, and he is a great favourite.

“As you Hussars smoke, I will give you one of my pipes, but you must let me know how I can send it safely. It is a very handsome one, though not my best. I will keep my Meer-schaum until I make my continental tour, and then you shall have that also. I hope you will get leave for a few months, and go with me. Yours very affectionately,

Walter Scott.”

About this time, as the succeeding letters will show, Abbotsford had the honour of a short visit from Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, now King of the Belgians. Immediately afterwards Scott heard of the death of Mrs William Erskine, and repaired to Edinburgh, to condole with his afflicted friend. His allusions mean while, to views of buying more land on Tweedside, are numerous. These speculations are explained in a most characteristic style to the Cornet; and we see that one of them was cut short by the tragical death of a bonnet-laird already

* Lady Wallace was a pony; Trout a favourite pointer which the Cornet had given, at leaving home, to the young Laird of Harden, now the Master of Polwarth.

SEPT. 1819.303
introduced to the reader’s notice namely,
Lauchie Longlegs, the admired of Geoffrey Crayon.

To Cornet Walter Scott, 18th Hussars, Cork.
“Abbotsford, 27th Sept. 1819.
“My dear Walter,

“Your letter of the 10th gave me the pleasant assurance that you are well and happy, and attending to your profession. We have been jogging on here in the old fashion, somewhat varied by an unexpected visit, on Friday last, from no less a person than Prince Leopold. I conclude you will have all the particulars of this important event from the other members of the family, so I shall only say that when I mentioned the number of your regiment, the Prince said he had several friends in the 18th, and should now think he had one more, which was very polite. By the way, I hear an excellent character of your officers for regularity and gentlemanlike manners. This report gives me great pleasure, for to live in bad society will deprave the best manners, and to live in good will improve the worst.

“I am trying a sort of bargain with neighbour Nicol Milne at present. He is very desirous of parting with his estate of Faldonside, and if he will be contented with a reasonable price, I am equally desirous to be the purchaser. I conceive it will come to about L.30,000 at least. I will not agree to give a penny more; and I think that sum is probably L.2000 and more above its actual marketable value. But then it lies extremely convenient for us, and would, joined to Abbotsford, make a very gentlemanlike property, worth at least L.1800 or L.2000 a-year. I can command about L.10,000 of my own, and if I be spared life and health, I should not fear rubbing off the rest of the price, as
Nicol is in no hurry for payment. As you will succeed me in my landed property, I think it right to communicate my views to you. I am much moved by the prospect of getting at about L.2000 or L.3000 worth of marle, which lies on Milne’s side of the loch, but which can only be drained on my side, so that he can make no use of it. This would make the lands of Abbotsford worth 40s. an acre over-head, excepting the sheep farm. I am sensible I might dispose of my money to more advantage, but probably to none which, in the long run, would be better for you—certainly to none which would be productive of so much pleasure to myself. The woods are thriving, and it would be easy, at a trifling expense, to restore Faldonside loch, and stock it with fish. In fact, it would require but a small dam-head. By means of a little judicious planting, added to what is already there, the estate might be rendered one of the most beautiful in this part of Scotland. Such are my present plans, my dear boy, having as much your future welfare and profit in view as the immediate gratification of my own wishes.

“I am very sorry to tell you that poor Mrs William Erskine is no more. She was sent by the medical people on a tour to the lakes of Cumberland, and was taken ill at Lowood, on Windermere. Nature, much exhausted by her previous indisposition, sunk under four days’ illness. Her husband was with her and two of her daughters—he is much to be pitied.

Mr Rees, the bookseller, told me he had met you in the streets of Cork, and reported well of the growth of your Schnurr-bart. I hope you know what that means. Pray write often, as the post comes so slow. I keep all your letters, and am much pleased with the frankness of the style. No word of your horses yet? but it is better
SEPT. 1819.305
not to be impatient, and to wait for good ones. I have been three times on Newark, and killed six hares each time. The two young dogs are capital good.

“I must not omit to tell you our old, and, I may add, our kind neighbour Lauchie, has departed, or, as Tom expresses it, has been fairly ftytten out o’ the warld. You know the old quarrel betwixt his brother and him about the wife—in an ill-fated hour Jock the brother came down to Lochbreist with a sister from Edinburgh, who was determined to have her share of the scolding-match; they attacked poor old Lauchie like mad folks, and reviled his wife in all sort of evil language. At length his passion was wrought up to a great pitch, and he answered, with much emotion, that if she were the greatest —— in Edinburgh, it was not their business, and as he uttered this speech, he fell down on his back, and lay a dead man before them. There is little doubt the violence of the agitation had broke a blood-vessel in the heart or brain. A very few days since he was running up and down calling for a coffin, and wishing to God he was in one; to which Swanston,* who was present, answered, he could not apply to a better hand, and he would make him one if he had a mind. He has left a will of his own making, but from some informality I think it will be set aside. His land cannot come into the market until his girl comes of age, which, by the way, makes me more able for the other bargain. His death took place at his own door, and shocking enough it is that an inoffensive creature should have been murdered (for in foro conscientiæ it is little better) in such a way. I went to the funeral. Very few people would take notice of Jock, whom they look on as a second

* John Swanston had then the care of the saw mill at Toftfield; he was one of Scott’s most valued dependants, and in the sequel succeeded Tom Purdie as his henchman.

Cain. The blackcocks are very plenty. I put up fourteen cocks and hens in walking up the Clappercleuch to look at the wood. Do you not wish you had been on the outside with your gun? Tom has kept us well supplied with game; he boasts that he shot fifteen times without a miss. I shall be glad to hear that you do the same on
Mr Newenham’s grounds. Mamma, the girls, and Charles all join in love and affection. Believe me ever, dear Walter,

Your affectionate father,
Walter Scott.”
To the Lord Montagu, &c. &c. &c.
“Abbotsford, 3d October, 1819.
“My dear Lord,

“I am honoured with your Buxton letter. . . . . . Anent Prince Leopold, I only heard of his approach at eight o’clock in the morning, and he was to be at Selkirk by eleven. The magistrates sent to ask me to help them to receive him. It occurred to me he might be coming to Melrose to see the Abbey, in which case I could not avoid asking him to Abbotsford, as he must pass my very door. I mentioned this to Mrs Scott, who was lying quietly in bed, and I wish you had heard the scream she gave on the occasion. ‘What have we to offer him?’ ‘Wine and cake,’ said I, thinking to make all things easy; but she ejaculated, in a tone of utter despair, ‘Cake!! where am I to get cake?’ However, being partly consoled with the recollection that his visit was a very improbable incident, and curiosity, as usual, proving too strong for alarm, she set out with me in order not to miss a peep of the great man. James Skene and his lady were with us, and we gave our carriages such additional dignity as a pair of leaders could add, and went to meet him in full puff. The
Prince very civilly told me, that, though he could not see Melrose on this occasion, he wished to come to Abbotsford for an hour. New despair on the part of Mrs Scott, who began to institute a domiciliary search for cold meat through the whole city of Selkirk, which produced one shoulder of cold lamb. In the mean while, his Royal Highness received the civic honours of the birse* very graciously. I had hinted to
Bailie Lang,† that it ought only to be licked symbolically on the present occasion; so he flourished it three times before his mouth, but without touching it with his lips, and the Prince followed his example as directed. Lang made an excellent speech, sensible, and feeling, and well delivered. The Prince seemed much surprised at this great propriety of expression and behaviour in a magistrate, whose people seemed such a rabble, and whose whole band of music consisted in a drum and fife. He noticed to Bailie Anderson, that Selkirk seemed very populous in proportion to its extent. ‘On an occasion like this it seems so,’ answered the Bailie, neatly enough I thought. I question if any magistrates in the kingdom, lord mayors and aldermen not excepted, could have behaved with more decent and quiet good-breeding. Prince Leopold repeatedly alluded to this during the time he was at Abbotsford. I do not know how Mrs Scott ultimately managed; but with broiled salmon, and black-cock, and partridges, she gave him a very decent lunch; and I chanced to have some very fine old hock, which was mighty germain to the matter.

“The Prince seems melancholy, whether naturally or from habit, I do not pretend to say; but I do not remember thinking him so at Paris, where I saw him

* See ante, vol. iii. p. 399.

† Scott’s good friend, Mr Andrew Lang, Procurator-fiscal for Selkirkshire, was then chief magistrate of the county town.

frequently, then a much poorer man than myself; yet he showed some humour, for, alluding to the crowds that followed him every where, he mentioned some place where he had gone out to shoot, but was afraid to proceed for fear of ‘bagging a boy.’ He said he really thought of getting some shooting-place in Scotland, and promised me a longer visit on his return. If I had had a day’s notice to have warned the waters, we could have met him with a very respectable number of the gentry; but there was no time for this, and probably he liked it better as it was. There was only young
Clifton who could have come, and he was shy and cubbish, and would not, though requested by the Selkirk people. He was perhaps ashamed to march through Coventry with them. It hung often and sadly on my mind that he was wanting who could and would have received him like a Prince indeed; and yet the meeting betwixt them, had they been fated to meet, would have been a very sad one. I think I have now given your lordship a very full, true, and particular account of our royal visit, unmatched even by that of King Charles at the Castle of Tillietudlem. That we did not speak of it for more than a week after it happened, and that that emphatic monosyllable, The Prince, is not heard amongst us more than ten times a-day, is, on the whole, to the credit of my family’s understanding. The piper is the only one whose brain he seems to have endangered; for, as the Prince said he preferred him to any he had heard in the Highlands—(which, by the way, shows his Royal Highness knows nothing of the matter),—the fellow seems to have become incapable of his ordinary occupation as a forester, and has cut stick and stem without remorse to the tune of Phail Phranse, i. e. the Prince’s welcome.

“I am just going to the head-court with Donaldson,
OCTOBER, 1819.309
and go a day sooner to exhume certain old monuments of the Rutherfords at Jedburgh.
Edgerstone* is to meet me at Jedburgh for this research, and then we shall go up with him to dinner. My best respects attend Lady Montagu. I wish this letter may reach you on a more lively day than it is written in, for it requires little to add to its dulness. Tweed is coming down very fast, the first time this summer. Believe me, my dear Lord, most truly yours,

Walter Scott.”
To W. Scott, Esq., 18th Hussars, Cork.
“Abbotsford, 14th October, 1819.
“Dear Walter,

“I had your last letter, and am very glad you find pleasant society. Mrs Dundas of Arniston is so good as to send you some introductions, which you will deliver as soon as possible. You will be now in some degree accustomed to meet with strangers, and to form your estimate of their character and manners. I hope, in the mean time, the French and German are attended to; please to mention in your next letter what you are reading, and in what languages. The hours of youth, my dear Walter, are too precious to be spent all in gaiety. We must lay up in that period when our spirit is active, and our memory strong, the stores of information which are not only to facilitate our progress through life, but to amuse and interest us in our later stage of existence. I very often think what an unhappy person I should have been, if I had not done something more or less

* The late John Rutherford of Edgerstone, long M.P. for Roxburghshire, was a person of high worth and universally esteemed. Scott used to say Edgerstone was his beau ideal of the character of a country gentleman. He was, I believe, the head of the once great and powerful clan of Rutherford.

towards improving my understanding when I was at your age; and I never reflect, without severe self-condemnation, on the opportunities of acquiring knowledge which I either trifled with, or altogether neglected. I hope you will be wiser than I have been, and experience less of that self-reproach.

“My last acquainted you with Mrs Erskine’s death, and I grieve to say we have just received intelligence that our kind neighbour and good friend Lord Somerville is at the very last gasp. His disease is a dysentery, and the symptoms, as his brother writes to Mr Samuel Somerville, are mortal. He is at Vevay, upon his road, I suppose, to Italy, where he had purposed spending the winter. His death, for I understand nothing else can be expected, will be another severe loss to me; for he was a kind, good friend, and at my time of day men do not readily take to new associates. I must own this has been one of the most melancholy years I ever past. The poor Duke, who loved me so well—Mrs Erskine—Lord Somerville not to mention others with whom I was less intimate, make it one year of mourning. I should not forget the Chief Baron, who, though from ill health we met of late seldom, was always my dear friend, and indeed very early benefactor. I must look forwards to seeing in your success and respectability, and in the affection and active improvement of all of you, those pleasures which are narrowed by the death of my contemporaries. Men cannot form new intimacies at my period of life, but must be happy or otherwise according to the good fortune and good conduct of those near relatives who rise around them.

“I wish much to know if you are lucky in a servant. Trust him with as little cash as possible, and keep short accounts. Many a good servant is spoiled by neglecting this simple precaution. The man is tempted to some
expense of his own, gives way to it, and then has to make it up by a system of overcharge and peculation; and thus mischief begins, and the carelessness of the master makes a rogue out of an honest lad, and cheats himself into the bargain.

“I have a letter from your uncle Tom, telling me his eldest daughter is to be forthwith married to a Captain Huxley of his own regiment. As he has had a full opportunity of being acquainted with the young gentleman, and approves of the match, I have to hope that it will be a happy one. I fear there is no great fortune in the case on either side, which is to be regretted.

“Of domestic affairs I have little to tell you. The harvest has been excellent, the weather delightful; but this I must often have repeated. To-day I was thinning out fir-trees in the thicket, and the men were quite exhausted with the heat, and I myself, though only marking the trees, felt the exercise sufficiently warm. The wood is thriving delightfully. On the 28th we are to have a dance in honour of your birthday. I wish you could look in upon us for the day at least—only I am afraid we could not part with you when it was over, and so you would be in the guise of Cinderella, when she outstaid her time at the ball, and all her finery returned into its original base materials. Talking of balls, the girls would tell you the Melrose hop, where mamma presided, went off well.

“I expect poor Erskine and his daughter next week, or the week after. I went into town to see him and found him bearing his great loss with his natural gentleness and patience. But he was sufficiently distressed, as he has great reason to be. I also expect Lord and Lady Melville here very soon. Sir William Rae (now Lord Advocate) and his lady came to us on Saturday. On Sunday Maida walked with us, and in jumping the
paling at the Greentongue park contrived to hang himself up by the hind leg. He howled at first, but seeing us making towards him he stopped crying, and waved his tail by way of signal, it was supposed, for assistance. He sustained no material injury, though his leg was strangely twisted into the bars, and he was nearly hanging by it. He showed great gratitude, in his way, to his deliverers.

“This is a long letter, and little in it; but that is nothing extraordinary. All send best love—and I am ever, dear Walter, your affectionate father,

Walter Scott.”
To Thomas Scott, Esq. Paymaster 18th Regiment, Canada.
“Abbotsford, 16th Oct. 1819.
“Dear Tom,

“I received yesterday your very acceptable letter, containing the news of Jessie’s approaching marriage, in which, as a match agreeable to her mother and you, and relieving your minds from some of the anxious prospects which haunt those of parents, I take the most sincere interest. Before this reaches you, the event will probably have taken place. Mean time, I enclose a letter to the bride or wife, as the case may happen to be. I have sent a small token of good-will to ballast my good wishes, which you will please to value for the young lady, that she may employ it as most convenient or agreeable to her. A little more fortune would perhaps have done the young folks no harm; but Captain Huxley, being such as you describe him, will have every chance of getting forward in his profession; and the happiest marriages are often those in which there is, at first, occasion for prudence and economy. I do certainly feel a little of the surprise which you hint at, for time flies over our heads one scarce marks how, and children
become marriageable ere we consider them as out of the nursery. My eldest son,
Walter, has also wedded himself but it is to a regiment of hussars. He is at present a cornet in the 18th, and quartered in Cork barracks. He is capital at most exercises, but particularly as a horseman. I do not intend he shall remain in the cavalry, however, but shall get him into the line when he is capable of promotion. Since he has chosen this profession, I shall be desirous that he follows it out in good earnest, and that can only be done by getting into the infantry.

“My late severe illness has prevented my going up to London to receive the honour which the Prince Regent has announced his intention to inflict upon me. My present intention is, if I continue as well as I have been, to go up about Christmas to get this affair over. My health was restored (I trust permanently) by the use of calomel, a very severe and painful remedy, especially in my exhausted state of body, but it has proved a radical one. By the way, Radical is a word in very bad odour here, being used to denote a set of blackguards a hundred times more mischievous and absurd than our old friends in 1794 and 1795. You will learn enough of the doings of the Radical Reformers from the papers. In Scotland we are quiet enough, excepting in the manufacturing districts, and we are in very good hands, as Sir William Rae, our old commander, is Lord Advocate. Rae has been here two or three days, and left me yesterday—he is the old man, sensible, cool-headed, and firm, always thinking of his duty, never of himself. He enquired kindly after you, and I think will be disposed to serve you, should an opportunity offer. Poor William Erskine has lost his excellent wife, after a long and wasting illness. She died at Lowood on Windermere, he having been recommended to take her upon a tour
about three weeks before her death. I own I should scarce forgive a physician who should contrive to give me this addition to family distress. I went to town last week to see him, and found him, upon the whole, much better than I expected. I saw my
mother on the same occasion, admirably well indeed. She is greatly better than this time two years, when she rather quacked herself a little too much. I have sent your letter to our mother, and will not fail to transmit to our other friends the agreeable news of your daughter’s settlement. Our cousin, Sir Harry Macdougal, is marrying his eldest daughter to Sir Thomas Brisbane, a very good match on both sides. I have been paying a visit on the occasion, which suspends my closing this letter. I hope to hear very soon from you. Respecting our silence, I like a ghost only waited to be spoken to, and you may depend on me as a regular correspondent, when you find time to be one yourself. Charlotte and the girls join in kind love to Mrs Scott and all the family. I should like to know what you mean to do with young Walter, and whether I can assist you in that matter. Believe me, dear Tom, ever your affectionate brother,

W. Scott.”
To Daniel Terry, Esq., London.
“Abbotsford, Nov. 10, 1819.
“My dear Terry,

“I should be very sorry if you thought the interest I take in you and yours so slight as not to render your last letter extremely interesting. We have all our various combats to fight in this best of all possible worlds, and, like brave fellow-soldiers, ought to assist one another as much as possible. I have little doubt, that if God spares me till my little namesake be fit to take up his share of the burden, I may have interest enough to be
of great advantage to him in the entrance of life. In the present state of your own profession, you would not willingly, I suppose, choose him to follow it; and, as it is very seductive to young people of a lively temper and good taste for the art, you should, I think, consider early how you mean to dispose of little
Walter, with a view, that is, to the future line of life which you would wish him to adopt. Mrs Terry has not the good health which all who know her amiable disposition and fine accomplishments would anxiously wish her; yet, with impaired health and the caution which it renders necessary, we have very frequently instances of the utmost verge of existence being attained, while robust strength is cut off in the middle career. So you must be of good heart, and hope the best in this as in other cases of a like affecting nature. I go to town on Monday, and will forward under Mr Freeling’s cover as much of Ivanhoe as is finished in print. It is completed, but in the hands of a very slow transcriber; when I can collect it I will send you the MS., which you will please to keep secret from every eye. I think this will give a start, if it be worth taking, of about a month, for the work will be out on the 20th of December. It is certainly possible to adapt it to the stage, but the expense of scenery and decoration would be great, this being a tale of chivalry, not of character. There is a tale in existence, by dramatizing which, I am certain, a most powerful effect might be produced: it is called Undine, and I believe has been translated into French by Mademoiselle Montolieu, and into English from her version: do read it, and tell me your opinion: in German the character of Undine is exquisite. The only objection is that the catastrophe is unhappy, but this might be altered. I hope to be in London for ten days the end of next
month; and so good by for the present, being in great haste, most truly yours,

W. Scott.”

I conclude this chapter with a letter, written two or three days before Scott quitted Abbotsford for the winter session. It is addressed to his friend Hartstonge, who had taken the opportunity of the renewal of Scott’s correspondence to solicit his opinion and assistance touching a MS. drama; and the reader will be diverted with the style in which the amiable tragedian is treated to his quietus:—

To Matthew Weld Hartstonge, Esq., Dublin.
“Abbotsford, 11th Nov., 1819.
“My Dear Sir,

“I was duly favoured with your packet, containing the play, as well as your very kind letter. I will endeavour (though extremely unwilling to offer criticism on most occasions) to meet your confidence with perfect frankness. I do not consider the Tragedy as likely to make that favourable impression on the public which I would wish that the performance of a friend should effect—and I by no means recommend to you to hazard it upon the boards. In other compositions the neglect of the world takes nothing from the merit of the author; but there is something ludicrous in being affiché as the author of an unsuccessful play. Besides, you entail on yourself the great and eternal plague of altering and retrenching to please the humours of performers, who are, speaking generally, extremely ignorant, and capricious in proportion. These are not vexations to be voluntarily undertaken; and the truth is, that in the present day there is only one reason which seems to me adequate for the
encountering the plague of trying to please a set of conceited performers and a very motley audience,—I mean the want of money, from which, fortunately, you are exempted. It is very true that some day or other a great dramatic genius may arise to strike out a new path; but I fear till this happens no great effect will be produced by treading in the old one. The reign of Tragedy seems to be over, and the very considerable poetical abilities which have been lately applied to it have failed to revive it. Should the public ever be indulged with small theatres adapted to the hours of the better ranks in life, the dramatic art may recover; at present it is in abeyance—and I do therefore advise you in all sincerity to keep the Tragedy (which I return under cover) safe under your own charge. Pray think of this as one of the most unpleasant offices of friendship—and be not angry with me for having been very frank, upon an occasion when frankness may be more useful than altogether palatable.

“I am much obliged to you for your kind intentions towards my young Hussar. We have not heard from him for three weeks. I believe he is making out a meditated visit to Killarney. I am just leaving the country for Edinburgh, to attend my duty in the courts; but the badness of the weather in some measure reconciles me to the unpleasant change. I have the pleasure to continue the most satisfactory accounts of my health; it is to external appearance as strong as in my strongest days—indeed, after I took once more to Sancho’s favourite occupations of eating and sleeping, I recovered my losses wonderfully. Very truly yours,

Walter Scott.”