LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, Bart.
Chapter X 1823

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 was, perhaps, some inward misgiving towards the completion of Peveril, that determined Scott to break new ground in his next novel; and as he had before awakened a fresh interest by venturing on English scenery and history, try the still bolder experiment of a continental excursion. However this may have been, he was encouraged and strengthened by the return of his friend, Mr Skene, about this time, from a tour in France; in the course of which he had kept an accurate and lively journal, and executed a vast variety of clever drawings, representing landscapes and ancient buildings, such as would have been most sure to interest Scott had he been the companion of his wanderings. Mr Skene’s MS. collections were placed at his disposal, and he took from one of their chapters the substance of the original Introduction to Quentin Durward. Yet still his difficulties in this new undertaking were frequent, and of a sort to which he had hitherto been a stranger. I remember observing him many times in the Advocates’ Library poring over maps and gazetteers with care and
anxiety; and the following is one of many similar notes which his bookseller and printer received during the progress of the novel:—

To Archibald Constable, Esq.
“Castle Street, 23d Jan. 1823.
“My dear Constable,

“It is a vile place this village of Plessis les Tours that can baffle both you and me. It is a place famous in history; and, moreover, is, as your Gazetteer assures us, a village of 1000 inhabitants, yet I have not found it in any map, provincial or general, which I have consulted. I think something must be found in Malte Brun’s Geographical Works. I have also suggested to Mr Cadell that Wraxall’s History of France, or his Travels, may probably help us. In the mean time I am getting on; and instead of description holding the place of sense, I must try to make such sense as I can find hold the place of description.

“I know Hawkwood’s story;* he was originally, I believe, a tailor in London, and became a noted leader of Condottieri in Italy.

“I shall be obliged to Mr David† to get from the

* Hawkwood from whose adventures Constable had thought the author of Quentin Durward might take some hints—began life as apprentice to a London tailor. But, as Fuller says, “he soon turned his needle into a sword, and his thimble into a shield,” and raised himself to knighthood in the service of Edward III. After accumulating great wealth and fame in the predatory wars of Italy, he died in 1393, at Florence, where his funeral was celebrated with magnificence amidst the general lamentations of the people.—See “The Honourable Prentice, or the Life and Death of Sir John Hawkwood,” &c. London: 4to. 1615.

Mr David Constable, eldest son of the great bookseller, had been called to the bar at Edinburgh.

Advocates’ Library, and send me, the large copy of
Philip de Commines, in 4to. I returned it, intending to bring mine from Abbotsford, but left it in my hurry; and the author is the very key to my period.—Yours ever,

Walter Scott.”

He was much amused with a mark of French admiration which reached him (opportunely enough) about the same time—one of the few such that his novels seem to have brought him prior to the publication of Quentin Durward. I regret that I cannot produce the letter to which he alludes in the next of these notes; but I have by no means forgotten the excellent flavour of the Champagne which soon afterwards arrived at Abbotsford, in a quantity greatly more liberal than had been stipulated for.

To A. Constable, Esq.
“Castle Street, 16th February, 1823.
“My dear Constable,

“I send you a letter which will amuse you. It is a funny Frenchman who wants me to accept some Champagne for a set of my works. I have written, in answer, that as my works cost me nothing I could not think of putting a value on them, but that I should apply to you. Send him by the mediation of Hurst & Robinson a set of my children and god-children (poems and novels), and if he found, on seeing them, that they were worth a dozen flasks of Champagne, he might address the case to Hurst and Robinson, and they would clear it at the custom-house and send it down.

“Pray return the enclosed as a sort of curiosity.—Yours, &c.

Walter Scott.”

A compliment not less flattering than this French-
man’s tender of Champagne was paid to
Scott within a few weeks of the appearance of Peveril. In the epistle introductory of that novel, Captain Clutterbuck amuses Dr Jonas Dryasdust with an account of a recent visit from their common parent “the Author of Waverley,” whose outward man, as it was in those days, is humorously caricatured, with a suggestion that he had probably sat to Geoffrey Crayon for his “Stout Gentleman of No. II.;” and who is made to apologize for the heartiness with which he pays his duty to the viands set before him, by alleging that he was in training for the approaching anniversary of the Roxburghe Club, whose gastronomical zeal had always been on a scale worthy of their bibliomaniacal renown. “He was preparing himself,” said the gracious and portly Eidolon, “to hob-nob with the lords of the literary treasures of Althorpe and Hodnet in Madeira negus, brewed by the classical Dibdin”—[why negus?]—“to share those profound debates which stamp accurately on each ‘small volume, dark with tarnished gold,’ its collar, not of S.S., but of R.R.—to toast the immortal memory of Caxton, Valdarfer, Pynson, and the other fathers of that great art which has made all and each of us what we are.” This drollery in fact alluded, not to the Roxburghe Club, but to an institution of the same class which was just at this time springing into life, under Sir Walter’s own auspices, in Edinburgh—the Bannatyne Club, of which he was the founder and first president. The heroes of the Roxburghe, however, were not to penetrate the mystification of Captain Clutterbuck’s report, and from their jovial and erudite board, when they next congregated around its “generous flasks of Burgundy, each flanked by an uncut fifteener”—(so I think their reverend chronicler has somewhere de-
picted the apparatus) the following despatch was forwarded

To Sir Walter Scott, Bart., Edinburgh.
“Feb. 22, 1823.
“My dear Sir,

“The death of Sir M. M. Sykes, Bart, having occasioned a vacancy in our Roxburghe Club, I am desired to request that you will have the goodness to make that fact known to the Author of Waverley, who, from the Proheme to Peveril of the Peak, seems disposed to become one of the members thereof; and I am further desired to express the wishes of the said Club that the said Author may succeed to the said Baronet. I am ever most sincerely yours,

T. F. Dibdin, V.P.”

Sir Walter’s answers to this, and to a subsequent letter of the Vice-President, announcing his formal election, were as follows:

To the Rev. Thomas Frognall Dibdin, &c. &c. Kensington.
“Edin. Feb. 25, 1823.
“My dear Sir,

“I was duly favoured with your letter, which proves one point against the unknown Author of Waverley; namely, that he is certainly a Scotsman, since no other nation pretends to the advantage of second sight. Be he who or where he may, he must certainly feel the very high honour which has selected him, nominis umbra, to a situation so worthy of envy.

“As his personal appearance in the fraternity is not like to be a speedy event, one may presume he may be desirous of offering some token of his gratitude in the shape of a reprint, or such-like kickshaw, and for this
purpose you had better send me the statutes of your learned body, which I will engage to send him in safety.

“It will follow as a characteristic circumstance, that the table of the Roxburghe, like that of King Arthur, will have a vacant chair, like that of Banquo at Macbeth’s banquet. But if this author, who ‘hath fernseed and walketh invisible,’ should not appear to claim it before I come to London (should I ever be there again), with permission of the Club, I, who have something of adventure in me, although a knight like Sir Andrew Aguecheek, ‘dubbed with unhacked rapier, and on carpet consideration,’ would, rather than lose the chance of a dinner with the Roxburghe Club, take upon me the adventure of the siege perilous, and reap some amends for perils and scandals into which the invisible champion has drawn me, by being his locum tenens on so distinguished an occasion.

“It will be not uninteresting to you to know, that a fraternity is about to be established here something on the plan of the Roxburghe Club; but, having Scottish antiquities chiefly in view, it is to be called the Bannatyne Club, from the celebrated antiquary, George Bannatyne, who compiled by far the greatest record of old Scottish poetry. The first meeting is to be held on Thursday, when the health of the Roxburghe Club will be drunk.—I am always, my dear sir, your most faithful humble servant,

Walter Scott.”
To the Same.
“Abbotsford, May 1, 1823.
“My dear Sir,

“I am duly honoured with your very interesting and flattering communication. Our Highlanders have
a proverbial saying, founded on the traditional renown of Fingal’s dog; ‘If it is not Bran,’ they say, ‘it is Bran’s brother.’ Now, this is always taken as a compliment of the first class, whether applied to an actual cur, or parabolically to a biped: and, upon the same principle, it is with no small pride and gratification that I hear the Roxburghe Club have been so very flatteringly disposed to accept me as a locum tenens for the unknown author whom they have made the child of their adoption. As sponsor, I will play my part until the real Simon Pure make his appearance.

“Besides, I hope the devil does not owe me such a shame. Mad Tom tells us, that ‘the Prince of Darkness is a gentleman;’ and this mysterious personage will, I hope, partake as much of his honourable feelings as of his invisibility, and, retaining his incognito, permit me to enjoy, in his stead, an honour which I value more than I do that which has been bestowed on me by the credit of having written any of his novels.

“I regret deeply I cannot soon avail myself of my new privileges; but courts, which I am under the necessity of attending officially, sit down in a few days, and, hei mihi! do not arise for vacation until July. But I hope to be in town next spring; and certainly I have one strong additional reason, for a London journey, furnished by the pleasure of meeting the Roxburghe Club. Make my most respectful compliments to the members at their next merry-meeting; and express, in the warmest manner, my sense of obligation.—I am always, my dear sir, very much your most obedient servant,

Walter Scott.”

In his way of taking both the Frenchman’s civilities and those of the Roxburghers, we see evident symptoms
that the mask had begun to be worn rather carelessly. He would not have written this last letter, I fancy, previous to the publication of
Mr Adolphus’s Essays on the Authorship of Waverley.

Sir Walter, it may be worth mentioning, was also about this time elected a member of “The Club”—that famous one established by Johnson, Burke, and Reynolds, at the Turk’s Head, but which has now for a long series of years held its meetings at the Thatched House, in St James’s Street. Moreover, he had been chosen, on the death of the antiquary Lysons, Professor of Ancient History to the Royal Academy—a chair originally founded at Dr Johnson’s suggestion, “in order that Goldy might have a right to be at their dinners,” and in which Goldsmith has had several illustrious successors besides Sir Walter. I believe he was present at more than one of the festivals of each of these fraternities. A particular dinner of the Royal Academy, at all events, is recorded with some picturesque details in his essay on the life of his friend John Kemble, who sat next to him upon that occasion.

The Bannatyne Club was a child of his own, and from first to last he took a most fatherly concern in all its proceedings. His practical sense dictated a direction of their funds widely different from what had been adopted by the Roxburghe. Their Club Books already constitute a very curious and valuable library of Scottish history and antiquities: their example has been followed with not inferior success by the Maitland Club of Glasgow—which was soon afterwards instituted on a similar model, and of which also Sir Walter was a zealous associate; and since his death a third Club of this class, founded at Edinburgh in his honour, and styled The Abbotsford Club, has taken a still wider range—not confining their printing to works connected
with Scotland, but admitting all materials that can throw light on the ancient history or literature of any country, any where described or discussed by the Author of Waverley.

At the meetings of the Bannatyne he regularly presided from 1823 to 1831; and in the chair on their anniversary dinners, surrounded by some of his oldest and dearest friends—Thomas Thomson (the Vice-President), John Clerk (Lord Eldin), the Chief Commissioner Adam, the Chief Baron Shepherd, Lord Jeffrey, Mr Constable—and let me not forget his kind, intelligent, and industrious ally, Mr David Laing, bookseller, the Secretary of the Club—he from this time forward was the unfailing source and centre of all sorts of merriment “within the limits of becoming mirth.” Of the origin and early progress of their institution, the reader has a full account in his reviewal of Pitcairn’s Ancient Criminal Trials of Scotland, the most important work as yet edited for the Bannatyne press;* and the last edition of his Poems includes his excellent song composed for their first dinner—that of March 9, 1823—and then sung by James Ballantyne, and heartily chorused by all the aforesaid dignitaries:—
“Assist me, ye friends of old books and old wine,
To sing in the praises of Sage Bannatyne,
Who left such a treasure of old Scottish lore,
As enables each age to print one volume more.
One volume more, my friends—one volume more,
We’ll ransack old Banny for one volume more.”—&c.

On the morning after that first Bannatyne Club dinner, Scott sent such of the Waverley MSS. as he had in Castle Street to Mr Constable, with this note:—

* See Miscellaneous Prose Works, vol. xxi., p. 199.

Edinburgh, 10th March, 1823.
“Dear Constable,

“You, who have so richly endowed my little collection, cannot refuse me the pleasure of adding to yours. I beg your acceptance of a parcel of MSS., which I know your partialities will give more value to than they deserve; and only annex the condition, that they shall be scrupulously concealed during the author’s life, and only made forthcoming when it may be necessary to assert his right to be accounted the writer of these novels.

“I enclose a note to Mr Guthrie Wright, who will deliver to you some others of those MSS. which were in poor Lord Kinnedder’s possession; and a few more now at Abbotsford, which I can send in a day or two, will, I think, nearly complete the whole, though there may be some leaves missing.

“I hope you are not the worse of our very merry party yesterday.—Ever yours truly,

Walter Scott.”

Various passages in Scott’s correspondence have recalled to my recollection the wonder with which the friends best acquainted with the extent of his usual engagements observed, about this period, his readiness in mixing himself up with the business of associations far different from the Bannatyne Club. I cannot doubt that his conduct as President of the Royal Society, and as manager of the preparations for the King’s visit, had a main influence in this matter. In both of these capacities he had been thrown into contact with many of the most eminent of his fellow-citizens, who had previously seen little of him personally—including several, and those of especial consequence, who had been accustomed to flavour all their notions of him with some-
thing of the gall of local partisanship in politics. The inimitable mixture of sagacity, discretion, and gentleness which characterised all his intercourse with mankind, was soon appreciated by the gentlemen to whom I allude; for not a few of them had had abundant opportunities of observing and lamenting the ease with which ill humours are engendered, to the disturbance of all really useful discussion, wherever social equals assemble in conclave, without having some official preses, uniting the weight of strong and quick intellect, with the calmness and moderation of a brave spirit, and the conciliating grace of habitual courtesy. No man was ever more admirably qualified to contend with the difficulties of such a situation. Presumption, dogmatism, and arrogance shrunk from the overawing contrast of his modest greatness: the poison of every little passion was shamed and neutralized beneath the charitable dignity of his penetration: and jealousy, fretfulness, and spleen felt themselves transmuted in the placid atmosphere of good sense, good humour, and good manners. And whoever might be apt to plead off on the score of harassing and engrossing personal duty of any sort, Scott had always leisure as well as temper at command, when invited to take part in any business connected with any rational hope of public advantage. These things opened, like the discovery of some new and precious element of wealth, upon certain eager spirits who considered the Royal Society as the great local parent and minister of practical inventions and mechanical improvements; and they found it no hard matter to inspire their genial chief with a warm sympathy in not a few of their then predominant speculations. He was invited, for example, to place himself at the head of a new company for improving the manufacture of oil gas, and in the spring of this year began to officiate regularly in that capacity. Other
associations of a like kind called for his countenance, and received it. The fame of his ready zeal and happy demeanour grew and spread; and from this time, until bodily infirmities disabled him, Sir Walter occupied, as the most usual, acceptable, and successful, chairman of public meetings of almost every conceivable sort, apart from politics, a very prominent place among the active citizens of his native town. Any foreign student of statistics who should have happened to peruse the files of an Edinburgh newspaper for the period to which I allude, would, I think, have concluded that there must be at least two Sir Walter Scotts in the place—one the miraculously fertile author whose works occupied two-thirds of its literary advertisements and critical columns—another some retired magistrate or senator of easy fortune and indefatigable philanthropy, who devoted the rather oppressive leisure of an honoured old age to the promotion of patriotic ameliorations, the watchful guardian of charities, and the ardent patronage of educational institutions.

The reader will perceive in the correspondence to which I must return, hints about various little matters connected with Scott’s own advancing edifice on Tweedside, in which he may trace the President of the Royal Society, and the Chairman of the Gas Company.

Thus, on the 14th of February, he recurs to the plan of heating interiors by steam and proceeds with other topics of a similar class:—

To D. Terry, Esq., London.
“Dear Terry,

“I will not fail to send Mr Atkinson, so soon as I can get it, a full account of Mr Holdsworth of Glasgow’s improved use of steam, which is in great acceptation. Being now necessarily sometimes with men of science,
AIR-BELLS, &c.265
I hear a great deal of these matters; and, like Don Diego Snapshorto with respect to Greek, though I do not understand them, I like the sound of them. I have got a capital stove (proved and exercised by
Mr Robison,* who is such a mechanical genius as his father, the celebrated professor,) for the lower part of the house, with a communication for ventilating in the summer. Moreover, I have got for one or two of the rooms a new sort of bell, which I think would divert you. There is neither wire nor crank of any kind; the whole consisting of a tube of tin, such as is used for gas, having at one extremity a cylinder of wider dimensions, and in the other a piece of light wood. The larger cylinder—suppose an inch and a half in diameter—terminates in the apartment, and, ornamented as you please, is the handle, as it were, of the bell. By pressing a piston down into this upper and wider cylinder, the air through the tube, to a distance of a hundred feet if necessary, is suddenly compressed, which compression throws out the light piece of wood, which strikes the bell. The power of compression is exactly like that of the Bramah patent—the acting element being air instead of water. The bell may act as a telegraph by sinking once, twice, thrice, or so forth. The great advantage, however, is, that it never can go out of order—needs no cranks, or pullies, or wires—and can be contorted into any sort of twining or turning, which convenience of communication may require, being simply an air-tight tube. It might be used to communicate with the stable, and I think of something of that kind with the porter’s lodge with the gardener’s house. I have a model now in the room

* Mr John Robison, son of the author of “Elements of Mechanical Philosophy,” &c. is now Secretary of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

with me. The only thing I have not explained is, that a small spring raises the piston B when pressed down. I wish you would show this to Mr Atkinson: if he has not seen it, he will be delighted. I have it tried on a tube of fifty feet, and it never fails, indeed cannot. It may be called the ne plus ultra of bell-ringing—the pea-gun principle, as one may say. As the bell is stationary, it might be necessary (were more than one used) that a little medallion should be suspended in such a manner as to be put in vibration, so as to show the servant which bell has been struck.—I think we have spoke of wellnigh all the commodities wanted at Conundrum Castle worth mentioning. Still there are the carpets.

“I have no idea my present labours will be dramatic in situation: as to character, that of Louis XI., the sagacious, perfidious, superstitious, jocular, and politic tyrant, would be, for a historical chronicle, containing his life and death, one of the most powerful ever brought on the stage.—Yours truly,

W. Scott.”

A few weeks later, he says to the same correspondent—“I must not omit to tell you that my gas establishment is in great splendour, and working, now that the expense of the apparatus is in a great measure paid, very easily and very cheaply. In point of economy, however, it is not so effective; for the facility of procuring it encourages to a great profusion of light: but then a gallon of the basest train oil, which is used for preference, makes a hundred feet of gas, and treble that quantity lights the house in the state of an illumination for the expense of about 3s. 6d. In our new mansion we should have been ruined with spermaceti oil and wax-candles, yet had not one-tenth part of the light.
Besides, we are entirely freed from the great plague of cleaning lamps, &c. There is no smell whatever, unless a valve is left open, and the gas escapes unconsumed, in which case the scent occasions its being instantly discovered. About twice a-week the gas is made by an ordinary labourer, under occasional inspection of the gardener. It takes about five hours to fill the reservoir gasometer. I never saw an invention more completely satisfactory in the results.”

I cannot say that Sir Walter’s “century of inventions” at Abbotsford turned out very happily. His new philosophical ne plus ultra of bells was found in the sequel a poor succedaneum for the old-fashioned mechanism of the simple wire; and his application of gaslight to the interior of a dwelling-house was in fact attended with so many inconveniences, that erelong all his family heartily wished it had never been thought of. Moreover, Sir Walter had deceived himself as to the expense of such an apparatus when maintained for the uses of a single domestic establishment. He easily made out that his gas per se cost him less than the wax, oil, and tallow requisite to produce an equal quantity of light would have done; but though he admitted that no such quantity of artificial light was necessary either for comfort or splendour, nor would ever have been dreamt of had its supply been to come from the chandler’s store, “the state of an illumination” was almost constantly kept up. Above all, he seems to have, by some trickery of the imagination, got rid in his estimate of all memory of the very considerable sum expended on the original fabric and furnishing of his gasometer, and lining wall upon wall with so many hundreds, perhaps thousands, of feet of delicate pipe work,—and, in like manner, to have counted for nothing the fact that he had a workman of superior cha-
racter employed during no slender portion of every year in the manufacture. He himself, as has been mentioned before, delighted at all times in a strong light, and was not liable to much annoyance from the delicacy of his olfactory nerves. To the extremes of heat and cold, too, he was nearly indifferent. But the blaze and glow, and occasional odour of gas, when spread over every part of a private house, will ever constitute a serious annoyance for the majority of men—still more so of women—and in a country place where skilful repair, in case of accident, cannot be immediately procured, the result is often a misery. The effect of the new apparatus in the dining-room at Abbotsford was at first superb. In sitting down to table, in Autumn, no one observed that in each of three chandeliers (one of them being of very great dimensions) there lurked a little tiny bead of red light. Dinner passed off, and the sun went down, and suddenly, at the turning of a screw, the room was filled with a gush of splendour worthy of the palace of Aladdin; but, as in the case of Aladdin, the old lamp would have been better in the upshot. Jewelry sparkled, but cheeks and lips looked cold and wan in this fierce illumination; and the eye was wearied, and the brow ached, if the sitting was at all protracted, I confess, however, that my chief enmity to the whole affair arises from my conviction that Sir Walter’s own health was damaged, in his latter years, in consequence of his habitually working at night under the intense and burning glare of a broad star of gas, which hung, as it were, in the air, immediately over his writing table.

These philosophical novelties were combined with curiously heterogeneous features of decoration.—e.g.

To the Lord Montagu, &c. Dillon Park, Windsor.
“Edinburgh, February 20, 1823.
“My dear Lord,

“I want a little sketch of your Lordship’s arms, on the following account. You are to know that I have a sort of entrance-gallery, in which I intend to hang up my old armour, at least the heavier parts of it, with sundry skins, horns, and such like affairs. That the two windows may be in unison, I intend to sport a little painted glass, and as I think heraldry is always better than any other subject, I intend that the upper compartment of each window shall have the shield, supporters, &c. of one of the existing dignitaries of the clan of Scott; and, of course, the Duke’s arms and your Lordship’s will occupy two such posts of distinction. The corresponding two will be Harden’s and Thirlestane’s,* the only families now left who have a right to be regarded as chieftains; and the lower compartments of each window will contain eight shields (without accompaniments), of good gentlemen of the name, of whom I can still muster sixteen bearing separate coats of arms. There is a little conceit in all this, but I have long got beyond the terror of
‘Lord, what will all the people say!
Mr Mayor, Mr Mayor?’
and, like an obstinate old-fashioned Scotchman, I buckle my belt my ain gate, and so I will have my Bellendenwindows.—Ever yours faithfully,

Walter Scott.”

* Lord Napier has his peerage, as well as the corresponding surname, from a female ancestor; in the male blood he is Scott, Baronet of Thirlestane—and indeed some antiquaries of no mean authority consider him as now the male representative of Buccleuch. I need not remind the reader that both Harden and Thirlestane make a great figure in the Lay of the Last Minstrel.

Bellenden was the old war-cry of Buccleuch.


The following letter, addressed to the same nobleman at his seat in the New Forest, opens with a rather noticeable paragraph. He is anxious that the guardian of Buccleuch should not omit the opportunity of adding another farm in Dumfriesshire, to an estate which already covered the best part of three or four counties!

To the Lord Montagu, &c. &c. Beaulieu Abbey, Hants.
“June 18th, 1823.
“My dear Lord,

“Your kind letter reached me just when, with my usual meddling humour, I was about to poke your Lordship on the subject of the farm near Drumlanrig. I see officially that the upset price is reduced. Now, surely you will not let it slip you: the other lots have all gone higher than valuation, so, therefore, it is to be supposed the estimation cannot be very much out of the way, and surely, as running absolutely into sight of that fine castle, it should be the Duke’s at all events. Think of a vile four-cornered house, with plantations laid out after the fashion of scollops (as the women call them) and pocket handkerchiefs, cutting and disfiguring the side of the hill, in constant view. The small property has a tendency to fall into the great one, as the small drop of water, as it runs down the pane of a carriage-window, always joins the larger. But this may not happen till we are all dead and gone; and NOW are three important letters of the alphabet, mighty slippery, and apt to escape the grasp.

“I was much interested by your Lordship’s account of Beaulieu; I have seen it from the water, and admired it very much, but I remember being told an evil genius haunted it in the shape of a low fever, to which the inhabitants were said to be subject. The woods were the most noble I ever saw. The disappearance of
the ancient monastic remains may be accounted for on the same principle as elsewhere—a desire of the grantees of the Crown to secularize the appearance of the property, and remove at least the external evidence that it had ever been dedicated to religious uses—pretty much on the principle on which the light-fingered gentry melt plate so soon as it comes into their possession, and give the original metal a form which renders it more difficult to re-assume it—this is a most unsavoury simile. The various mutations in religion, and consequently in property of this kind, recommended such policy. Your Lordship cannot but remember the
Earl of Pembroke, in Edward the Sixth’s time, expelling the nuns from Wilton—then in Queen Mary’s re-inducting them into their nunnery, himself meeting the abbess, barefooted and in sackcloth, in penance for his sacrilege and finally, again turning the said abbess and her vassals adrift in the days of good Queen Bess, with the wholesome admonition—‘Go spin, you jades, go spin.’ Something like the system of demolition which probably went on during these uncertain times was practised by what was called in France La Bande Noire, who bought chateaux and abbeys, and pulling them down, sold the materials for what they would bring—which was sometimes sufficient to help well towards payment of the land, when the assignats were at an immense depreciation.

“I should like dearly to have your Lordship’s advice about what I am now doing here, knowing you to be one of those
‘Who in trim gardens take their pleasure.’
I am shutting my house in with a court-yard, the interior of which is to be laid out around the drive in flower-plots and shrubbery, besides a trellised walk.
This I intend to connect with my gardens, and obtain, if possible, some thing (parvum componere magnis), like the comfort of Ditton, so preferable to the tame and poor waste of grass and gravel by which modern houses are surrounded. I trust to see you all here in autumn.—Ever yours, faithfully,

W. Scott.”

In answering the foregoing letter, Lord Montagu mentioned to Scott the satisfaction he had recently had in placing his nephew the Duke of Buccleuch under the care of Mr Blakeney, an accomplished gentleman and old friend, who had been his own fellow-student at Cambridge. He also rallied the poet a little on his yearning for acres; and hinted that that craving is apt to draw inconveniently even on a ducal revenue. Scott says in reply

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

“I am delighted that you have got such a tutor for Walter as entirely satisfies a person so well acquainted with mankind as your Lordship; and I am not afraid that a friend of yours should be imbued with any of very dangerous qualities, which are sometimes found in the instructors placed around our noble youths. Betwixt a narrow-minded pedantry, which naturally disgusts a young man, and the far more formidable vices of flattery, assentation, and self-seeking of all kinds, there are very few of the class of men who are likely to adopt the situation of tutor, that one is not afraid to trust near the person of a boy of rank and fortune. I think it is an argument of your friend’s good sense and judgment, that he thinks the knowledge of domestic history essential to his pupil. It is in fact the accomplishment which, of
all others, comes most home to the business and breast of a public man—and the Duke of Buccleuch can never be regarded as a private one. Besides, it has, in a singular degree, the tendency to ripen men’s judgment upon the wild political speculations now current. Any one who will read
Clarendon with attention and patience, may regard veluti in specula the form and pressure of our own times, if you will just place the fanaticism of atheism and irreligion instead of that of enthusiasm, and combine it with the fierce thirst after innovation proper to both ages. Men of very high rank are, I have noticed, in youth peculiarly accessible to the temptations held out to their inexperience by the ingenious arguers upon speculative politics. There is popularity to be obtained by listening to these lecturers—there is also an idea of generosity, and independence, and public spirit, in affecting to hold cheap the privileges which are peculiarly their own—and there may spring in some minds the idea (a very vain one) that the turret would seem higher, and more distinguished, if some parts of the building that overtop it were pulled down. I have no doubt Mr Blakeney is aware of all this, and will take his own time and manner in leading our young friend to draw from history, in his own way, inferences which may apply to his own times. I will consider anxiously what your Lordship mentions about a course of Scottish study. We are still but very indifferently provided with Scotch histories of a general description.* Lord HailesAnnals are the foundation-stone, and an excellent book, though dryly written.

* See some remarks on the Scottish historians in Sir Walter’s reviewal of the first and second volumes of Mr P. F. Tytler’s elaborate work—a work which he had meant to criticize throughout in similar detail, for he considered it as a very important one in itself, and had, moreover, a warm regard for the author—the son of his

Pinkerton, in two very unreadable quartos, which yet abound in information, takes up the thread where Hailes drops it—and then you have Robertson, down to the Union of the crowns. But I would beware of task-work, which Pinkerton at least must always be, and I would relieve him every now and then by looking at the pages of old Pitscottie, where events are told with so much naïveté, and even humour, and such individuality as it were, that it places the actors and scenes before the reader. The whole history of James V. and Queen Mary may be read to great advantage in the elegant Latin of Lesly, Bishop of Ross, and, collated with the account which his opponent, Buchanan, in language still more classical, gives of the same eventful reigns. Laing is but a bad guide through the seventeenth century, yet I hardly know where a combined account of these events is to be had, so far as Scotland is concerned, and still less where we could recommend to the young Duke an account of Scottish jurisprudence that is not too technical. All this I will be happy to talk over with your Lordship, for that our young friend should possess this information in a general way is essential to his own comfort and the welfare of many.

“About the land I have no doubt your Lordship is quite right, but I have something of what is called the yeard hunger.* I dare say you will get the other lots à bon marche, when you wish to have them; and, to be sure, a ducal dignity is a monstrous beast for devouring ready

early friend Lord Woodhouselee. His own Tales of a Grandfather have, however unambitiously undertaken, supplied a more just and clear guide of Scottish history to the general reader, than any one could have pointed out at the time when this letter was addressed to Lord Montagu.

* Earth~hunger.

cash. I do not fear, on the part of
Duke Walter, those ills which might arise to many from a very great command of ready money, which sometimes makes a young man, like a horse too full of spirits, make too much play at starting, and flag afterwards. I think improvident expenditure will not be his fault, though I have no doubt he will have the generous temper of his father and grandfather, with more means to indulge an expense which has others for its object more than mere personal gratification. This I venture to foretell, and hope to see the accomplishment of my prophecy; few things could give me more pleasure.

“My court-yard rises, but masons, of all men but lovers, love the most to linger ere they depart. Two men are now tapping upon the summit of my gate as gently as if they were laying the foundation-stone of a Methodist meeting-house, and one plumber ‘sits, sparrow-like, companionless,’ upon the top of a turret which should have been finished a month since. I must go, and, as Judge Jefferies used to express it, give them a lick with the rough side of my tongue, which will relieve your Lordship sooner than might otherwise have been.

“Melrose is looking excellently well. I begin to think taking off the old roof would have hurt it, at least externally, by diminishing its effect on the eye. The lowering the roofs of the aisles has had a most excellent effect. Sir Adam is well, and his circle augmented by his Indian brother, Major Ferguson, who has much of the family manners an excellent importation, of course, to Tweedside Ever yours truly,

W. Scott.”

In April of this year, Sir Walter heard of the death of his dear brother Thomas Scott, whose son had been for two years domesticated with him at Abbotsford,
and the rest of that family were soon afterwards his guests for a considerable time. Among other visitants of the same season were
Miss Edgeworth and her sisters, Harriet and Sophia. After spending a few weeks in Edinburgh, and making a tour into the Highlands, they gave a fortnight to Abbotsford; and thenceforth the correspondence between Scott and the most distinguished of contemporary novelists, was of that confiding and affectionate character which we have seen largely exemplified in his intercourse with Joanna Baillie. His first impressions of his new friend are given in this letter to Mr Terry.

To D. Terry, Esq., London.
“Castle Street, June 18, 1823.
“My marbles! my marbles! O what must now be done?
My drawing-room is finish’d off, but marbles there are none.
My marbles! my marbles! I fancied them so fine,
The marbles of Lord Elgin were but a joke to mine.*

“In fact we are all on tip-toe now for the marbles and the chimney-grates, which being had and obtained, we will be less clamorous about other matters. I have very little news to send you: Miss Edgeworth is at present the great lioness of Edinburgh, and a very nice lioness; she is full of fun and spirit; a little slight figure, very active in her motions, very good-humoured, and full of enthusiasm. Your descriptions of the chiffonieres made my mouth water: but Abbotsford has cost rather too much for one year, with the absolutely necessary expenses, and I like to leave something to succeeding years, when we may be better able to afford to get our matters made tasty. Besides, the painting of the house should

* Sir Walter is parodying the Spanish Ballad “My ear-rings! my ear-rings are dropt into the well,” &c.

JUNE, 1823.277
be executed before much curious furniture be put in; next spring, perhaps, we may go prowling together through the brokers’ purlieus. I enclose you a plan of my own for a gallery round my own room, which is to combine that advantage with a private staircase at the same time, leaving me possession of my oratory; this will be for next year but I should like to take
Mr Atkinson’s sentiments about it. Somebody told me, I trust inaccurately, that he had not been well. I have not heard of him for some time, and I owe him (besides much kindness which can only be paid with gratitude) the suitable compensation for his very friendly labours in my behalf. I wish you would poke him a little, with all delicacy, on this subject. We are richer than when Abbotsford first began, and have engrossed a great deal of his most valuable time. I think you will understand the plan perfectly. A private staircase comes down from my dressing-room, and opens upon a book gallery; the landing-place forms the top of the oratory, leaving that cabinet seven feet high; then there is a staircase in the closet which corresponds with the oratory, which you attain by walking round the gallery. This staircase might be made to hang on the door and pull out when it is opened, which is the way abroad with an escalier derobé.* I might either put shelves under the gallery, or place some of my cabinets there, or partly both.—Kind compliments to Mrs Terry, in which all join.

“Yours most truly,
W. Scott.

“P.S The quantity of horns that I have for the hall would furnish the whole world of cuckoldom; arrived

* Sir Walter had in his mind a favourite cabinet of Napoleon’s at the Elysée Bourbon, where there are a gallery and concealed staircase such as he here describes.

this instant a new cargo of them, Lord knows from whence. I opened the box, thinking it might be the damask, and found it full of sylvan spoils. Has an old-fashioned consulting desk ever met your eye in your rambles? I mean one of those which have four faces, each forming an inclined plane, like a writing-desk, and made to turn round as well as to rise, and be depressed by a strong iron screw in the centre, something like a one-clawed table; they are old-fashioned, but choicely convenient, as you can keep three or four books, folios if you like, open for reference. If you have not seen one, I can get one made to a model in the Advocates’ library. Some sort of contrivances there are too for displaying prints, all which would be convenient in so large a room, but can be got in time.”