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Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, Bart.
Sir Walter Scott to Lord Montagu of Boughton, 14 April 1824

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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“Edinburgh, 14th April, 1824.
“My dear Lord,

“You might justly think me most unmerciful, were you to consider this letter as a provoke requiring an answer. It comes partly to thank you twenty times for your long and most kind letter, and partly, which I think not unnecessary, to tell you that Gala may now, I trust, be considered as quite out of danger. He has swam for his life though, and barely saved it. It is
for the credit of the clan to state that he had no dishonour as a horseman by his fall. He had alighted to put his saddle to rights, and the horse, full of corn and little work, went off with him before he got into his seat, and went headlong down a sort of precipice. He fell at least fifteen feet without stopping, and no one that saw the accident could hope he should be taken up a living man. Yet, after losing a quart of blood, he walked home on foot, and no dangerous symptoms appeared till five or six days after, when they came with a vengeance. He continues to use the ice with wonderful effect, though it seems a violent remedy.

“How fate besets us in our sports and in our most quiet domestic moments! Your lordship’s story of the lamp makes one shudder, and I think it wonderful that Lady Montagu felt no more bad effects from the mere terror of such an accident; but the gentlest characters have often most real firmness. I once saw something of the kind upon a very large scale. You may have seen at Somerset House an immense bronze chandelier with several hundred burners, weighing three or four tons at least. On the day previous to the public exhibition of the paintings, the Royal Academicians are in use, as your Lordship knows, to give an immensely large dinner-party to people of distinction, supposed to be patrons of the art, to literary men, to amateurs in general, and the Lord knows whom besides. I happened to be there the first time this ponderous mass of bronze was suspended. It had been cast for his Majesty, then Prince Regent, and he not much liking it—I am surprised he did not, as it is very ugly indeed—had bestowed it on the Royal Academicians. Beneath it was placed, as at Ditton, a large round table, or rather a tier of tables, rising above each other like the shelves of a dumb-waiter, and furnished with as many glasses, tumblers, decanters, and
APRIL, 1824.347
so forth, as might have set up an entire glass shop—the numbers of the company, upwards of 150 persons, requiring such a supply. Old
West presided, and was supported by Jockey of Norfolk on the one side, and one of the royal Dukes on the other. We had just drunk a preliminary toast or two, when the Lord preserve us! a noise was heard like that which precedes an earthquake, the links of the massive chain, by which this beastly lump of bronze was suspended, began to give way, and the mass descending slowly for several inches encountered the table beneath, which was positively annihilated by the pressure, the whole glass-ware being at once destroyed. What was very odd, the chain, after this manifestation of weakness, continued to hold fast; the skilful inspected it and declared it would yield no farther—and we, I think to the credit of our courage, remained quiet and continued our sitting. Had it really given way, as the architecture of Somerset House has been in general esteemed unsubstantial, it must have broke the floor like a bombshell, and carried us all down to the cellars of that great national edifice. Your Lordship’s letter placed the whole scene in my recollection. A fine paragraph we should have made.*

“I think your Lordship will be much pleased with the fine plantation on Bowden Moor. I have found an excellent legend for the spot. It is close by the grave of an unhappy being, called Wattie Waeman (whether the last appellative was really his name, or has been given him from his melancholy fate, is uncertain), who being all for love and a little for stealing, hung himself there seventy or eighty years since (quere, where did he find a tree?) at once to revenge himself of his mistress

* This story is also told in Scott’s Essay on the Life of Kemble. See his Miscellaneous Prose Works, vol. xx. pp. 195-7.

and to save the gallows a labour. Now, as the place of his grave and of his suicide is just on the verge where the Duke’s land meets with mine and Kippilaw’s—(you are aware that where three lairds’ lands meet is always a charmed spot) the spirit of Wattie Waeman wanders sadly over the adjacent moors, to the great terror of all wandering wights who have occasion to pass from Melrose to Bowden. I begin to think which of his namesakes this omen concerns, for I take Walter Kerr of Kippilaw to be out of the question. I never heard of a Duke actually dying for love, though the Duke in the
Twelfth Night be in an alarming way. On the other hand, Sir John Græme of the West Countrie, who died for cruel Barbara Allan, is a case in point against the Knight. Thus, in extreme cases, your Duke loses his head, whereas your Knight or Esquire is apt to retain it upon a neck a little more elongated than usual. I will pursue the discussion no further, as the cards appear to turn against me. The people begin to call the plantation Waeman’s Wood—rather a good name.

“It is quite impossible your Lordship should be satisfied with the outside view of my castle, for I reckon upon the honour of receiving your whole party, quot quot adestis, as usual, in the interior. We have plenty of room for a considerable number of friends at bed as well as board. Do not be alarmed by the report of the gas, which was quite true, but reflects no dishonour on that mode of illumination. I had calculated that fifteen hundred cubic feet of gas would tire out some five-and-twenty or thirty pair of feet of Scotch dancers, but it lasted only till six in the morning, and then, as a brave soldier does on his post, went out when burned out. Had I kept the man sitting up for an hour or two to make the gas as fast as consumed, I should have spoiled a good story.


“My hall is in the course of having all the heavy parts of my armorial collection bestowed upon it, and really, though fanciful, looks very well, and I am as busy as a bee, disposing suits of armour, battle-axes, broadswords, and all the knick-nacks I have been breaking my shins over in every corner of the house for these seven years past, in laudable order and to the best advantage.

“If Mr Blakeney be the able person that fame reports him, he will have as great a duty to perform as his ancestor at Stirling Castle;* for to keep so young a person as my chief, in his particular situation, from the inroads of follies, and worse than follies, requires as much attention and firmness as to keep Highland claymores and French engineers out of a fortified place. But there is an admirable garrison in the fortress, kind and generous feelings, and a strong sense of honour and duty which Duke Walter has by descent from his father and grandfather. God send him life and health, and I trust he will reward your Lordship’s paternal care, and fulfil my hopes. They are not of the lowest, but such as must be entertained by an old and attached friend of the family who has known him from infancy. My friend Lord John wants the extreme responsibility of his brother’s situation, and may afford to sow a few more wild oats, but I trust he will not make the crop a large one. Lord * * * and his tutor have just left us for the south, after spending three or four days with us. They could not have done worse than sending the young Viscount to Edinburgh, for though he is really an unaffected natural young man, yet it was absurd to expect that he should study hard when he had six invi-

* General Blakeney, grandfather to Lord M.’s friend, was governor of Stirling Castle in 1745.

tations for every hour of every evening. I am more and more convinced of the excellence of the English monastic institutions of Cambridge and Oxford. They cannot do all that may be expected, but there is at least the exclusion of many temptations to dissipation of mind; whereas with us, supposing a young man to have any pretensions to keep good society—and, to say truth, we are not very nice in investigating them—he is almost pulled to pieces by speculating mammas and flirting misses. If a man is poor, plain, and indifferently connected, he may have excellent opportunities of study at Edinburgh; otherwise he should beware of it.

Lady Anne is very naughty not to take care of herself, and I am not sorry she has been a little ill, that it may be a warning. I wish to hear your Lordship’s self is at Bath. I hate unformed complaints. A doctor is like Ajax—give him light and he may make battle with a disease; but, no disparagement to the Esculapian art, they are bad guessers. My kindest compliments, I had almost said love, attend Lady Isabella. We are threatened with a cruel deprivation in the loss of our friend Sir Adam, the first of men. A dog of a banker has bought his house for an investment of capital, and I fear he must trudge. Had I still had the Highland piper* in my service, who would not have refused me such a favour, I would have had him dirked to a certainty—I mean this cursed banker. As it is, I must think of some means of poisoning his hot rolls and butter, or setting his house on fire, by way of revenge. It is a real affliction. I am happy to hear of Lady Margaret’s good looks. I was one of her earliest acquaintance, and at least half her godfather, for I took the vows on me for somebody or other who, I dare say, has never thought

* John of Skye had left Abbotsford—but he soon returned.

half so often of her as I have done. And so I have written out my paper and, I fear, your Lordship’s patience. My respectful compliments attend
Lady Montagu and the young ladies of Ditton.—Always most truly yours,

Walter Scott.”