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Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, Bart.
Chapter XII 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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Immediately on the conclusion of St Ronan’s Well, Sir Walter began the novel of Redgauntlet;—but it had made considerable progress at press before Constable and Ballantyne could persuade him to substitute that title for Herries. The book was published in June 1824, and was received at the time somewhat coldly, though it has since, I believe, found more justice. The reintroduction of the adventurous hero of 1745, in the dulness and dimness of advancing age, and fortunes hopelessly blighted—and the presenting him—with whose romantic portraiture at an earlier period historical truth had been so admirably blended—as the moving principle of events, not only entirely, but notoriously imaginary—this was a rash experiment, and could not fail to suggest many disagreeable and disadvantageous comparisons; yet, had there been no Waverley, I am persuaded the fallen and faded Ascanius of Redgauntlet would have been universally pronounced a masterpiece. About the secondary personages there could be little ground for controversy. What novel or drama has surpassed the
grotesquely ludicrous, dashed with the profound pathos, of Peter Peebles—the most tragic of farces?—or the still sadder merriment of that human shipwreck, Nantie Ewart?—or Wandering Willie and his Tale?—the wildest and most rueful of dreams told by such a person, and in such a dialect! Of the young correspondents Darsie Latimer and Allan Fairford, and the Quakers of Mount Sharon, and indeed of numberless minor features in Redgauntlet, no one who has read the first volume of these memoirs will expect me to speak at length here. With posterity assuredly this novel will yield in interest to none of the series—for it contains perhaps more of the author’s personal experiences than any other of them, or even than all the rest put together.

This year, mirabile dictu! produced but one novel; and it is not impossible that the author had taken deeply into his mind, though he would not immediately act upon them, certain hints about the danger of “overcropping,” which have been alluded to as dropping from his publishers in 1823. He had, however, a labour of some weight to go through in preparing for the press a Second Edition of his voluminous Swift. The additions to this reprint were numerous, and he corrected his notes, and the Life of the Dean throughout, with considerable care. He also threw off several reviews and other petty miscellanies—among which last occurs his memorable tribute to the memory of Lord Byron, written for Ballantyne’s newspaper immediately after the news of the catastrophe at Missolonghi reached Abbotsford.*

The arrangement of his library and museum was, however, the main care of the summer months of this year; and his woods were now in such a state of progress that his most usual exercise out of doors was thinning

* See Miscellaneous Prose Works, vol. iv. p. 343.

them. He was an expert as well as powerful wielder of the axe, and competed with his ablest subalterns as to the paucity of blows by which a tree could be brought down. The wood rang ever and anon with laughter while he shared their labours; and if he had taken, as he every now and then did, a whole day with them, they were sure to be invited home to Abbotsford to sup gaily at
Tom Purdie’s. One of Sir Walter’s Transatlantic admirers, by the way, sent him a complete assortment of the tools employed in clearing the Backwoods, and both he and Tom made strenuous efforts to attain some dexterity in using them; but neither succeeded. The American axe, in particular, having a longer shaft than ours, and a much smaller and narrower cutting- piece, was, in Tom’s opinion, only fit for paring a kebbuck (i. e. a cheese of skimmed milk). The old-fashioned large and broad axe was soon resumed; and the belt that bore it had accommodation also for a chissel, a hammer, and a small saw. Among all the numberless portraits, why was there not one representing the “Belted Knight,” accoutred with these appurtenances of his forest-craft, jogging over the heather on a breezy morning, with Thomas Purdie at his stirrup, and Maida stalking in advance?

Notwithstanding the numberless letters to Terry about his upholstery, the far greater part of it was manufactured at home. The most of the articles from London were only models for the use of two or three neat-handed carpenters whom he had discovered in the villages near him: and he watched and directed their operations as carefully as a George Bullock could have done, and the results were such as even Bullock might have admired. The great table in the library, for example (a most complex and beautiful one), was done
entirely in the room where it now stands, by Joseph Shillinglaw of Darnick—the Sheriff planning and studying every turn as zealously as ever an old lady pondered the developement of an embroidered cushion. The hangings and curtains, too, were chiefly the work of a little hunchbacked tailor, byname William Goodfellow—(save at Abbotsford, where he answered to Robin)—who occupied a cottage on
Scott’s farm of the Broomielees—one of the race that creep from homestead to homestead, welcomed wherever they appear by housewife and handmaiden, the great gossips and newsmen of the parish, in Scottish nomenclature cardooers. Proudly and earnestly did all these vassals toil in his service; and I think it was one of them that, when some stranger asked a question about his personal demeanour, answered in these simple words “Sir Walter speaks to every man as if they were blood-relations.” Not long after he had completed his work at Abbotsford, little Goodfellow fell sick, and as his cabin was near Chiefswood, I had many opportunities of observing the Sheriff’s kind attention to him in his affliction. I can never forget, in particular, the evening on which the poor tailor died. When Scott entered the hovel he found every thing silent, and inferred from the looks of the good women in attendance that their patient had fallen asleep, and that they feared his sleep was the final one. He murmured some syllables of kind regret;—at the sound of his voice the dying tailor unclosed his eyes, and eagerly and wistfully sat up, clasping his hands with an expression of rapturous gratefulness and devotion, that, in the midst of deformity, disease, pain, and wretchedness, was at once beautiful and sublime. He cried with a loud voice “the Lord bless and reward you,” and expired with the effort.

ABBOTSFORD—1824. 323

In the painting of his interior, too, Sir Walter personally directed every thing. He abominated the commonplace daubing of walls, panels, doors, and window-boards with coats of white, blue, or grey, and thought that sparklings and edgings of gilding only made their baldness and poverty more noticeable. He desired to have about him, wherever he could manage it, rich, though not gaudy, hangings, or substantial, old-fashioned wainscot-work, with no ornament but that of carving; and where the wood was to be painted at all, it was done in strict imitation of oak or cedar. Except in the drawing-room, which he abandoned to Lady Scott’s taste, all the roofs were in appearance of antique carved oak, relieved by coats of arms duly blazoned at the intersections of beams, and resting on cornices, to the eye of the same material, but really composed of casts in plaster of Paris after the foliage, the flowers, the grotesque monsters and dwarfs, and sometimes the beautiful heads of nuns and confessors, on which he had doated from infancy among the cloisters of Melrose and Roslin. In the painting of these things, also, he had instruments who considered it as a labour of love. The master-limner, in particular, had a devoted attachment to his person; and this was not wonderful, for he, in fact, owed a prosperous fortune to Scott’s kind and sagacious counsel, tendered at the very outset of his career. A printer’s apprentice attracted notice by his attempts with the pencil, and Sir Walter was called upon, after often admiring his skill in representing dogs and horses and the like, to assist him with his advice, as ambition had been stirred, and the youth would fain give himself to the regular training of an artist. Scott took him into his room, and conversed with him at some length. He explained
the difficulties and perils, the almost certain distresses, the few and narrow chances of this aspiring walk. He described the hundreds of ardent spirits that pine out their lives in solitary garrets, lamenting over the rash eagerness with which they had obeyed the suggestions of young ambition, and chosen a career in which success of any sort is rare, and no success but the highest is worth attaining. “You have talents and energy,” said he, “but who can say whether you have genius? These boyish drawings can never be relied on as proofs of that. If you feel within you such a glow of ambition, that you would rather run a hundred chances of obscurity and penury than miss one of being a
Wilkie,—make up your mind, and take the bold plunge; but if your object is merely to raise yourself to a station of worldly comfort and independence,—if you would fain look forward with tolerable assurance to the prospect of being a respectable citizen, with your own snug roof over your head, and the happy faces of a wife and children about you,—pause and reflect well. It appears to me that there is little demand for fine works of the pencil in this country. Not a few artists, who have even obtained high and merited reputation, find employment scarce, and starve under their laurels. I think profit in Britain is, with very rare exceptions, annexed to departments of obvious and direct utility, in which the mass of the people are concerned; and it has often struck me, that some clever fellow might make a good hit if, in place of enrolling himself among the future Raphaels and Vandykes of the Royal Academy, he should resolutely set himself to introducing something of a more elegant style of house-painting.” The young man thus addressed (Mr D. R. Hay) was modest and wise enough to accept the advice with thankfulness,
and to act upon it with patience and steadiness. After a few years he had qualified himself to take charge of all this delicate limning and blazoning at Abbotsford. He is now, I understand, at the head of a great and flourishing establishment in Edinburgh; and a treatise on the science of colour, which has proceeded from his pen, is talked of as reflecting high credit on his taste and understanding. Nor should I omit what seems a particularly honourable trait in Mr Hay:—he is said to be one of the most liberal patrons of native art now in existence; in fact, to possess an unrivalled collection of the works of contemporary Scottish painters.

Mean-time the progress of Abbotsford stimulated largely both friends and strangers to contribute articles of curiosity towards its final adornment. I have already alluded with regret to the non-completion of the Poet’s own catalogue of his literary and antiquarian rarities, begun under the title of “Reliquiæ Trottcosianæ,” and mentioned Mr Train, the affectionate supervisor of excise, as the most unwearied and bountiful of all the contributors to the Museum. Now, he would fain have his part in the substantial “plenishing” also; and I transcribe, as a specimen of his zeal, the account which I have received from himself of the preparation and transmission of one piece of furniture, to which his friend allotted a distinguished place, for it was one of the two chairs that ultimately stood in his own sanctum sanctorum. In those days Mr Train’s official residence was at Kirkintilloch, in Stirlingshire; and he says, in his Memoranda,—

“Rarbiston, or, as it is now called, Robroyston, where the valiant Wallace was betrayed by Monteith of Ruskie, is only a few miles distant from Kirkintilloch. The walls of the house where the first scene of
that disgraceful tragedy was acted were standing, on my arrival in that quarter. The roof was entirely gone; but I observed that some butts of the rafters, built into the wall, were still remaining. As the ruin was about being taken down to make way for the ploughshare, I easily succeeded in purchasing these old stumps from the farmer upon whose ground it stood. When taken out of the building, these pieces of wood were seemingly so much decayed as to be fit only for fuel; but after planing off about an inch from the surface, I found that the remainder of the wood was as hard as a bone, and susceptible of a fine polish. I then resolved upon having a chair of the most antique description made out of these wasted blocks as a memorial of our most patriotic hero, with a feeling somewhat similar to theirs who remember their Saviour in the crucifix.

“In the execution of this undertaking workmen of various denominations were employed. It was modelled from an old chair in the Palace of Hamilton, and is nearly covered with carved work, representing rocks, heather, and thistles, emblematic of Scotland, and indented with brass, representing the Harp of the North, surrounded with laurels, and supported by targets, claymores, Lochaber axes, war horns, &c. The seat is covered with silk velvet, beneath which is a drawer, containing a book bound in the most primitive form in Robroyston Wood, with large clasps. In this book are detailed at length some of the particulars here briefly alluded to, with the affirmations of several persons to whose care the chair was entrusted in the course of making.

“On the (inside) back of the chair is a brass plate, bearing the following inscription:—

ABBOTSFORD—1824. 327

“Exaggerated reports of this chair spread over the adjacent country with a fiery-cross-like speed, and raised public curiosity to such a height, that persons in their own carriages came many miles to see it. I happened to be in a distant part of my district at the time; but I dare say many persons in Kirkintilloch yet remember how triumphantly the symbolic chair was borne from my lodgings to the bank of the Great Canal, to be there shipped for Abbotsford, in the midst of the town-band playing—‘Scots wha hae wi’ Wallace bled,’ and surrounded by thousands, who made the welkin resound with bursts of national enthusiasm, justifying the couplet of Pope
‘All this may be, the people’s voice is odd;
The Scots will fight for Wallace as for God.’”—

Such arrivals as that of “the Wallace Chair” were frequent throughout 1824. It was a happy, and therefore it need hardly be added an ineventful year—his last year of undisturbed prosperity. The little incidents that diversified his domestic interior, and the zeal which he always kept up for all the concerns of his friends, together with a few indications of his opinions on subjects of liter-
ary and political interest, will be found in his correspondence, which will hardly require any editorial explanations. Within, I think, the same week in January, arrived a copy of
Montfauçon’s Antiquities, in fifteen volumes folio, richly bound in scarlet, the gift of King George IV., and a set of the Variorum Classics, in about a hundred volumes octavo, from Mr Constable. Sir Walter says—

To Archibald Constable, Esq.
“Abbotsford, 6th January, 1824.
“My dear Sir,

“Yesterday I had the great pleasure of placing in my provisional library the most splendid present, as I in sincerity believe, which ever an author received from a bookseller. In the shape of these inimitable Variorums, who knows what new ideas the Classics may suggest? for I am determined to shake off the rust which years have contracted, and to read at least some of the most capital of the ancients before I die. Believe me, my dear and old friend, I set a more especial value on this work as coming from you, and as being a pledge that the long and confidential intercourse betwixt us has been agreeable and advantageous to both.—Yours truly,

Walter Scott.”

Miss Edgeworth had written to him to enquire about the health of his eldest daughter, and told him some anecdotes of an American dame, whose head had been turned by the Waverley Novels, and who had, among other demonstrations of enthusiasm, called her farm in Massachussetts, Charlie’s Hope. This lady had, it seems, corresponded with Mrs Grant of Laggan, herself for a time one of the “Authors of Waverley,” and Mrs Grant, in disclaiming such honours, had spoken of the real
source in terms of such perfect assurance, that the honest American almost fancied she must have heard
Scott confess; yet still she was in doubts and tribulations, and unhappy till she could hear more. The theory prevalent in her own neighbourhood was, it seems, that the authorship was a joint-stock business—Sir Walter being one of the partners, and the other an unfortunate lunatic, of whose papers he had got possession during a lucid interval. Scott answers thus:—

To Miss Edgeworth, Edgeworths’town, Ireland.
“Parliament House, 3d Feb., 1824.
“My dear Miss Edgeworth,

“I answer your kind letter immediately, because I am sure your sisters and you will interest yourselves in Sophia’s state of health. My news are not of the best—
‘Yet not so ill, but may be well reported.’
On Saturday, 31st January, she had a daughter, but the poor little stranger left us on the Monday following; and though Sophia is very patient in her temper, yet her recovery is naturally retarded, and I am sorry to say she has been attacked in her weak state by those spasms which seem a hereditary disorder in my family,—slightly, however, in comparison of the former occasion; and for the last two days she has been so much recovered as to take a grain or two of calomel, which is specific in the complaint. I have no doubt now, humanly speaking, that her recovery will proceed favourably. I saw her for a quarter of an hour yesterday, which was the first permanent visit I have been permitted to make her. So you may conceive we have been anxious enough, living, as is our clannish fashion, very much for, and with each other.

“Your American friend, the good-wife of Charlie’s
Hope, seems disposed, as we say, ‘to sin her mercies.’ She quarrels with books that amuse her, because she does not know the author; and she gives up chicken-pie for the opposite reason, that she knows too much about the birds’ pedigree. On the last point I share her prejudices, and never could eat the flesh of any creature I had known while alive. I had once a noble yoke of oxen, which, with the usual agricultural gratitude, we killed for the table; they said it was the finest beef in the four counties, but I could never taste Gog and Magog, whom I used to admire in the plough. Moreover, when I was an officer of yeomanry, and used to dress my own charger, I formed an acquaintance with a flock of white turkeys, by throwing them a handful of oats now and then when I came from the stable:—I saw their numbers diminish with real pain, and never attempted to eat any of them without being sick. And yet I have as much of the rugged and tough about me as is necessary to carry me through all sorts of duty without much sentimental compunction.

“As to the ingenious system of double authorship, which the Americans have devised for the Waverley novels, I think it in one point of view extremely likely; since the unhappy man, whom they have thought fit to bring on the carpet, has been shut up in a madhouse for many years; and it seems probable that no brain but a madman’s could have invented so much stuff, and no leisure but that of a prisoner could have afforded time to write it all. But, if this poor man be the author of these works, I can assure your kind friend that I neither could, would, nor durst have the slightest communication with him on that or any other subject. In fact, I have never heard of him twice for these twenty years or more. As for honest Mrs Grant, I cannot conceive why the deuce I should have selected her for a mother-confessor; if it had been yourself or
Joanna, there might have been some probability in the report; but good Mrs Grant is so very cerulean, and surrounded by so many fetch-and-carry mistresses and missesses, and the maintainer of such an unmerciful correspondence, that though I would do her any kindness in my power, yet I should be afraid to be very intimate with a woman whose tongue and pen are rather overpowering. She is an excellent person notwithstanding. Pray, make my respects to your correspondent, and tell her I am very sorry I cannot tell her who the author of Waverley is; but I hope she will do me the justice not to ascribe any dishonourable transactions to me, either in that matter or any other, until she hears that they are likely to correspond with any part of my known character which, having been now a lion of good reputation on my own deserts for twenty years and upwards, ought to be indifferently well known in Scotland. She seems to be a very amiable person; and though I shall never see Charlie’s Hope, or eat her chicken-pies, I am sure I wish health to wait on the one, and good digestion on the other. They are funny people the Americans; I saw a paper in which they said my father was a tailor. If he had been an honest tailor I should not have been ashamed of the circumstance; but he was what may be thought as great a phenomenon, for he was an honest lawyer, a cadet of a good family, whose predecessors only dealt in pinking and slashing doublets, not in making them.

“Here is a long letter, and all about trash, but what can you expect? Judges are mumbling and grumbling above me—lawyers are squabbling and babbling around me, The minutes I give to my letter are stolen from Themis. I hope to get to Abbotsford very soon, though only for two or three days, until 12th March, when we go there for some time. Mrs Spicie
seems to be recovering from her asthmatics, which makes a curious case, providing the recovery be completed.
Walter came down at Christmas, and speedily assembled three more terriers. One day the whole got off after a hare, and made me remember the basket beagles that Lord Morton used to keep in my youth; for the whole pack opened like hounds, and would have stuck to the chase till they had killed the hare, which would have been like being pricked to death with pins, if we had not licked them off so soon as we could for laughing. This is a dull joke on paper; but imagine the presumption of so many long-backed, short-legged creatures pursuing an animal so very fleet. You will allow it is something ridiculous. I am sure Count O’Halloran would have laughed, and Colonel Heathcock would have been scandalized.* Lady S. sends her best and kindest remembrances, in which she is joined by Anne and Sophia (poor body). My fair friends, Harriet and Sophia, have a large interest in this greeting, and Lockhart throws himself in with tidings that Sophia continues to mend.—Always, my dear Miss E., most faithfully yours,

Walter Scott.”

This is the answer to a request concerning some MS. tragedy, by the late Mrs Hemans, which seems to have been damned at one of the London theatres, and then to have been tried over again (I know not with what result) at Edinburgh:

To Miss Joanna Baillie, Hampstead.
“Edinburgh, February 9, 1824.
“My dear Miss Baillie,

“To hear is to obey, and the enclosed line will show that the Siddonses are agreeable to act Mrs Hemans’s

* See “The Absentee,” in Miss Edgeworth’s Tales of Fashionable Life.

drama. When you tell the tale say nothing about me, for on no earthly consideration would I like it to be known that I interfered in theatrical matters; it brings such a torrent of applications which it is impossible to grant, and often very painful to refuse. Every body thinks they can write blank verse—and a word of yours to Mrs Siddons, &c. &c. I had one rogue (to be sure he went mad afterwards, poor fellow) who came to bully me in my own house, until he had almost made the mist of twenty years, as Ossian says, roll backwards from my spirit, in which case he might have come by an excellent good beating. I have great pleasure, however, in serving Mrs Hemans, both on account of her own merit, and because of your patronage. I trust the piece will succeed; but there is no promising, for Saunders is meanly jealous of being thought less critical than John Bull, and may, perhaps, despise to be pleased with what was less fortunate in London. I wish Mrs H. had been on the spot to make any alterations, &c. which the players are always demanding. I will read the drama over more carefully than I have yet done, and tell you if any thing occurs. I need hardly apologize for being late in letting you hear all this—for the terror of the cramp attacking poor Sophia in her weak state kept us very feverish; but thank God it did little more than menace her, and the symptoms having now given way, her husband talks of going to town, in which case I intend to take Sophia to Abbotsford, and
‘Till she be fat as a Norroway seal,
I’ll feed her on bannocks of barleymeal.’

“Betwixt indolence of her own, and Lockhart’s extreme anxiety and indulgence, she has foregone the custom of her exercise, to which, please God, we will bring her back by degrees. Little Charles is come down,
just entered at Brazen Nose, where, however, he does not go to reside till October. We must see that he fills up the space between to good advantage; he had always quickness enough to learn, and seems now really to have caught the
——‘fever of renown,
Sprung from the strong contagion of the gown.’

“I am sorry for Mr Crabbe’s complaint, under which he suffered, I recollect, when he was here in 1822. Did you ever make out how he liked his Scottish tour?—he is not, you know, very outspoken, and I was often afraid that he was a little tired by the bustle around him. At another time I would have made a point of attending more to his comforts—but what was to be done amid piping, and drumming, and pageants, and provosts, and bailies, and wild Highlandmen by the score? The time would have been more propitious to a younger poet. The fertility you mention is wonderful, but surely he must correct a great deal to bring his verses into the terse and pointed state in which he gives them to the public. To come back to Mrs Hemans. I am afraid that I cannot flatter myself with much interest that can avail her. I go so little out, and mix so seldom either with the gay or the literary world here, that I am reduced, like Gil Blas, much to the company of my brother clerks and men of business, a seclusion which I cannot say I regret greatly; but any thing within my power shall not be left undone. I hope you will make my apology to Mrs Hemans for the delay which has taken place; if any thing should occur essential to be known to the authoress, I will write immediately.

“Always yours, my dear friend,
Walter Scott.”

In the next letter Scott mentions an application from
Mr James Montgomery for some contribution to a miscellaneous volume compiled by that ever benevolent poet for the benefit of the little chimney-sweeps.

To Miss Baillie, Hampstead.
“Edinburgh, Feb. 12, 1824.
“My dearest Friend,

“I hasten to answer your kind enquiries about Sophia. You would learn from my last that she was in a fair way of recovery, and I am happy to say she continues so well that we have no longer any apprehensions on her account. She will soon get into her sitting-room again, and of course have good rest at night, and gather strength gradually. I have been telling her that her face, which was last week the size of a sixpence, has, in three or four days attained the diameter of a shilling, and will soon attain its natural and most extensive circumference of half-a-crown. If we live till 12th of next month we shall all go to Abbotsford, and between the black doctor and the red nurse (pony and cow, videlicet) I trust she will be soon well again. As for little Johnnie I have no serious apprehensions, being quite of your mind that his knowingness is only a proof that he is much with grown-up people; the child is active enough, and I hope will do well—yet an only child is like a blot at backgammon, and fate is apt to hit it. I am particularly entertained with your answer to Montgomery, because it happened to be precisely the same with mine; he applied to me for a sonnet or an elegy, instead of which I sent him an account of a manner of constructing chimneys so as scarcely to contract soot; and 2dly, of a very simple and effectual machine for sweeping away what soot does adhere. In all the new part of Abbotsford I have lined the chimney-vents with a succession of cones made of the same stuff with common flower-pots,
about one and a half inch thick, and eighteen inches or two feet high, placed one above another, and the vent built round them, so that the smoke passing up these round earthen tubes, finds neither corner nor roughness on which to deposit the soot, and in fact there is very little collected. What sweeping is required is most easily performed by a brush like what housemaids call a pope’s head, the handle of which consists of a succession of pipes, one slipping on the top of another like the joints of a fishing-rod, so that the maid first sweeps the lower part of the vent, then adds another pipe and sweeps a little higher, and so on. I have found this quite effectual, but the lining of the chimneys makes the accumulations of soot very trifling in comparison with the common case. Montgomery thanked me, but I think he would rather have had a sonnet; which puts me in mind of Mr Puff’s intended comedy of The Reformed Housebreaker, in which he was to put burglary in so ridiculous a point of view, that bolts and bars were likely to become useless by the end of the season. Verily I have no idea of writing verse on a grave subject of utility, any more than of going to church in a cinque pace. Lottery tickets and Japan blacking may indeed be exceptions to the general rule. I am quite delighted at us two cool Scots answering in exactly the same manner, but I am afraid your sooty men (who are still in regular discharge of their duty) and my pope’s head and lined vents will not suit the committee, who seem more anxious for poetry than for common sense. For my part, when I write on such subjects, I intend it shall be a grand historico-philosophico poem upon oil-gas, having been made president of the Oil-gas Company of this city; the whale fishery might be introduced, and something pretty said about palm oil, which we think is apt to be popular among our lawyers. I am very sorry for poor
Richardson, so much
FEBRUARY, 1824.337
attached to his wife, and suffering so much in her suffering. I hope
Tom Campbell gets on pretty well, and wish he would do something to sustain his deserved reputation. I wrote with Mrs Siddons’s consent to give Mrs Hemans’s tragedy a trial. I hope that her expectations are not very high, for I do not think our ordinary theatrical audience is either more judicious or less fastidious than those of England. They care little about poetry on the stage—it is situation, passion, and rapidity of action, which seem to be the principal requisites for ensuring the success of a modern drama; but I trust, by dint of a special jury, the piece may have a decent success—certainly I should not hope for much more. I must see they bring it out before 12th March, if possible, as we go to the country that day. I have not seen Mrs Siddons and her brother William Murray since their obliging answer, for one of my colleagues is laid up with gout, and this gives me long seats in the Court, of which you have reaped the fruits in this long epistle from the Clerk’s table, done amid the bustle of pleaders, attorneys, and so forth. I will get a frank, however, if possible, for the matter is assuredly not worth a shilling postage. My kindest remembrances attend Mrs Baillie and Mrs Agnes.—Always yours, with sincere respect and affection,

Walter Scott.”
To D. Terry, Esq., London.
“Abbotsford, Feb. 18, 1824.
“My dear Terry,

“Your very kind letter reached me here, so that I was enabled to send you immediately an accurate sketch of the windows and chimney-sides of the drawing-room to measurement. I should like the mirrors handsome and the frames plain; the colour of the hangings is green, with rich Chinese figures. On the side of the window
I intend to have exactly beneath the glass a plain white side-table of the purest marble, on which to place
Chantrey’s bust. A truncated pillar of the same marble will be its support; and I think that besides the mirror above there will be a plate of mirror below the table; these memoranda will enable Baldock to say at what price these points can be handsomely accomplished. I have not yet spoken about the marble table; perhaps they may be all got in London. I shall be willing to give a handsome but not an extravagant price. I am much obliged to Mr Baldock for his confidence about the screen. But what says Poor Richard?* ‘Those who want money when they come to buy, are apt to want money when they come to pay.’ Again Poor Dick observes,
‘That in many you find the true gentleman’s fate,
Ere his house is complete he has sold his estate.’
So we will adjourn consideration of the screen till other times; let us first have the needful got and paid for. The stuff for the windows in the drawing-room is the crimson damask silk we bought last year. I enclose a scrap of it that the fringe may be made to match. I propose they should be hung with large handsome brass rings upon a brass cylinder, and I believe it would be best to have these articles from London—I mean the rings and cylinders; but I dislike much complication in the mode of drawing them separate, as it is eternally going wrong; those which divide in the middle, drawing back on each side like the curtains of an old-fashioned bed, and when drawn back are secured by a loop and tassel are, I think, the handsomest, and can easily be made on the spot; the fringe should be silk, of course. I think the curtains of the library, considering the purpose of the

* See the works of Dr Franklin.

FEBRUARY, 1824.339
room, require no fringe at all. We have, I believe, settled that they shall not be drawn in a line across the recess, as in the drawing-room, but shall circle along the inside of the windows. I refer myself to
Mr Atkinson about the fringe, but I think a little mixture of gold would look handsome with the crimson silk. As for the library a yellow fringe, if any. I send a draught of the windows enclosed; the architraves are not yet up in the library, but they are accurately computed from the drawings of my kind friend Mr Atkinson. There is plenty of time to think about these matters, for of course the rooms must be painted before they are put up. I saw the presses yesterday; they are very handsome, and remind me of the awful job of arranging my books. About July Abbotsford will, I think, be finished, when I shall, like the old Duke of Queensberry who built Drumlanrig, fold up the accounts in a sealed parcel, with a label bidding ‘the deil pike out the een of any of my successors that shall open it.’ I beg kind love to Mrs Terry, Walter the Great, and Missy; delicious weather here, and birds singing St Valentine’s matins as if it were April.—Yours ever,

Walter Scott.”

“P.S.—Pride will have a fall—I have a whelp of one of Dandle Dinmont’s Pepper and Mustard terriers, which no sooner began to follow me into the house than Ourisque fell foul. The Liddisdale devil cocked its nose, and went up to the scratch like a tigress, downed Ourie, and served her out completely—since which Ourie has been so low that it seems going into an atrophy, and Ginger takes all manner of precedence, as the best place by the fire, and so on, to Lady Scott’s great discomfiture.—Single letters by post: double to Croker with a card enclosed, asking a frank to me.”


About this time Miss Edgeworth announced the approaching marriage of her sister Sophia to Mr Fox.

To Miss Edgeworth, Edgeworths’town.
“Edinburgh, February 24, 1824,
“My dear Miss Edgeworth,

“I do not delay a moment to send my warmest and best congratulations upon the very happy event which is about to take place in your family, and to assure that you do me but common justice in supposing that I take the warmest interest in whatever concerns my young friend. All Abbotsford to an acre of Poyais* that she will make an excellent wife; and most truly happy am I to think that she has such an admirable prospect of matrimonial happiness, although at the expense of thwarting the maxim, and showing that
‘The course of true love sometimes may run smooth.’
It will make a pretty vista, as I hope and trust, for you, my good friend, to look forwards with an increase of interest to futurity.
Lady Scott, Ann, and Sophia send their sincere and hearty congratulations upon this joyful occasion. I hope to hear her sing the petticoat of red some day in her own house. I should be apt to pity you a little amid all your happiness, if you had not my friend Miss Harriet, besides other young companions whose merits are only known to me by report, to prevent your feeling so much as you would otherwise the blank which this event must occasion in your domestic society. Sophia, I hope, will be soon able to make her own gratulations; she is recovering very well, and overjoyed to hear such good news from your quar-

* One of the bubbles of this bubble period, was a scheme of colonization at Poyais.

ter. I have been on a short trip to Abbotsford, to set painters to work to complete what Slender would call, ‘Mine own great chamber;’ and on my return I was quite delighted to see the change on my daughter. Little
John Hugh is likewise much better, but will require nursing and care for some years at least. Yet I have often known such hothouse plants bear the open air as well as those that were reared on the open moor.

“I am not at all surprised at what you say of the Yankees. They are a people possessed of very considerable energy, quickened and brought into eager action by an honourable love of their country and pride in their institutions; but they are as yet rude in their ideas of social intercourse, and totally ignorant, speaking generally, of all the art of good-breeding, which consists chiefly in a postponement of one’s own petty wishes or comforts to those of others. By rude questions and observations, an absolute disrespect to other people’s feelings, and a ready indulgence of their own, they make one feverish in their company, though perhaps you may be ashamed to confess the reason. But this will wear off, and is already wearing away. Men, when they have once got benches, will soon fall into the use of cushions. They are advancing in the lists of our literature, and they will not be long deficient in the petite morale, especially as they have, like ourselves, the rage for travelling. I have seen a new work, the Pilot, by the author of the Spy and Pioneer. The hero is the celebrated Paul Jones, whom I well remember advancing above the island of Inchkeith with three small vessels to lay Leith under contribution. I remember my mother being alarmed with the drum, which she had heard all her life at eight o’clock, conceiving it to be the pirates who had landed. I never saw such a change as betwixt that time, 1779, in the military state of a city. Then Edin-
burgh had scarce three companies of men under arms; and latterly she furnished 5000, with complete appointments, of cavalry, artillery, and infantry—enough to have eaten Paul Jones and his whole equipage. Nay, the very square in which my father’s house stands could even then have furnished a body of armed men sufficient to have headed back as large a party as he could well have landed. However, the novel is a very clever one, and the sea-scenes and characters in particular are admirably drawn; and I advise you to read it as soon as possible. I have little news to send from Abbotsford; Spice is much better, though still asthmatic; she is extremely active, and in high spirits, though the most miserable, thin, long-backed creature I ever saw. She is extremely like the shadow of a dog on the wall; such a sketch as a child makes in its first attempts at drawing a monster—with a large head, four feet, and a most portentous longitude of back. There was great propriety in
Miss Harriet’s dream after all, for if ever a dog needed six legs, poor Spice certainly requires a pair of additional supporters. She is now following me a little, though the duty of body-guard has devolved for the present on a cousin of hers, a fierce game devil, that goes at every thing, and has cowed Ourisque’s courage in a most extraordinary degree, to Lady Scott’s great vexation. Here is a tale of dogs, and dreams, and former days, but the only pleasure in writing is to write whatever comes readiest to the pen. My wife and Anne send kindest compliments of congratulation, as also Charles, who has come down to spend four or five months with us; he is just entered at Brazennose—on fire to be a scholar of classical renown, and studying (I hope the humour will last) like a very dragon.—Always, my dear Miss Edgeworth, with best love to the bride and to dear Harriet, very much yours,

Walter Scott.”
MARCH, 1824. 343
To Daniel Terry, Esq., London.
“Abbotsford, March 13, 1824.
“My dear Terry,

“We are now arrived here, and in great bustle with painters, which obliges me to press you about the mirrors. If we cannot have them soon, there is now an excellent assortment at Trotter’s, where I can be supplied, for I will hardly again endure to have the house turned upside down by upholsterers—and wish the whole business ended, and the house rid of that sort of cattle once for all. I am only ambitious to have one fine mirror over the chimney-piece; a smaller one will do for the other side of the room. Lady Scott has seen some Bannockburn carpets, which will answer very well, unless there are any bespoken. They are putting up my presses, which look very handsome. In the drawing-room the cedar doors and windows, being well varnished, assume a most rich and beautiful appearance. The Chinese paper in the drawing-room is most beautiful, saving the two ugly blanks left for these mirrors of d——n, which I dare say you curse as heartily as I do. I wish you could secure a parcel of old caricatures, which can be bought cheap, for the purpose of papering two cabinets de l’eau. John Ballantyne used to make great hawls in this way. The Tory side of the question would of course be most acceptable; but I don’t care about this, so the prints have some spirit. Excuse this hasty and pressing letter; if you saw the plight we are in you would pity and forgive. At Baldock, as I have had at you. My mother whips me, and I whip the top. Best compliments to Mrs Terry.—Believe me always yours,

Walter Scott.”
To Archibald Constable, Esq., Polton House, Lasswade.
“Abbotsford, 29th March, 1824.
“My dear Constable,

“Since I received your letter I have been on the look-out for a companion for you, and have now the pleasure to send one bred at Abbotsford of a famous race. His name has hitherto been Cribb, but you may change it if you please. I will undertake for his doing execution upon the rats, which Polton was well stocked with when I knew it some seventeen or eighteen years ago. You must take some trouble to attach Mr Cribb, otherwise he will form low connexions in the kitchen, which are not easily broken off. The best and most effectual way is to feed him yourself for a few days.

“I congratulate you heartily, my good old friend, on your look-forward to domestic walks and a companion of this sort; and I have no doubt your health will gradually be confirmed by it. I will take an early opportunity to see you when we return to Edinburgh. I like the banks of the Esk, which to me are full of many remembrances, among which those relating to poor Leyden must come home to you as well as to me. I am ranging in my improvements painting my baronial hall with all the scutcheons of the Border clans, and many similar devices. For the roof-tree I tried to blazon my own quarterings, and succeeded easily with eight on my father’s side; but on my mother’s side I stuck fast at the mother of my great-great-grandfather. The ancestor himself was John Rutherford of Grundisnock, which is an appanage of the Hunthill estate, and he was married to Isabel Ker of Bloodylaws. I think I have heard that either this John of Grundisnock or his father was one of the nine sons of the celebrated Cock of Hunthill, who seems to have had a reasonable brood of chickens. Do you know any thing of the pedigree of the Hunt-
APRIL, 1824.345
hills? The Earl of Teviot was of a younger branch, Rutherford of Quarrelholes, but of the same family. If I could find out these Rutherfords, and who they married, I could complete my tree, which is otherwise correct; but if not, I will paint clouds on these three shields, with the motto Vixerunt fortes ante. These things are trifles when correct, but very absurd and contemptible if otherwise.
Edgerstane cannot help me; he only knows that my grandfather was a cousin of his—and you know he represents Hunthill. My poor mother has often told me about it, but it was to regardless ears. Would to God I had old Mrs Kedie of Leith, who screeded off all the alliances between the Andersons of Ettrick House and the Andersons of Ettrick Hall, though Michael was the name of every second man, and, to complete the mess, they intermarried with each other.—Yours truly,

Walter Scott.”

A bad accident in a fox-chase occurred at this time to Sir Walter’s dear friend Mr Scott of Gala. The ice-house at Abbotsford was the only one in the neighbourhood that had been filled during the preceding winter, and to Tom Purdie’s care in that particular Mr Scott’s numerous friends owed the preservation of his valuable life.

To the Lord Montagu, &c., Ditton Park.
“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.”

The estate of Gattonside was purchased about this time by Mr George Bainbridge of Liverpool—and Sir Adam and Lady Ferguson, to Scott’s great regret, went a year or two afterwards to another part of Scotland. The “cursed banker,” however, had only to be known to be liked and esteemed. Mr Bainbridge had, among other merits, great skill in sports—especially in that which he has illustrated by the excellent manual entitled “The Fly-fisher’s Guide;” and Gattonside-house speedily resumed its friendly relations with Abbotsford.

The next letter was in answer to one in which Lord Montagu had communicated his difficulties about fixing to which of the English Universities he should send the young Duke of Buccleuch.

To the Lord Montagu, &c. &c.
“Edinburgh, 15th June, 1824.
“My dear Lord,

“I was much interested by your Lordship’s last letter. For some certain reasons I rather prefer Oxford to Cambridge, chiefly because the last great University was infected long ago with liberalism in politics, and at present shows some symptoms of a very different heresy, which is yet sometimes blended with the first—I mean enthusiasm in religion—not that sincere zeal for religion, in which mortals cannot be too fervid, but the far more doubtful enthusiasm which makes religion a motive and a pretext for particular lines of thinking
in politics and in temporal affairs. This is a spirit which, while it has abandoned the lower classes, where perhaps it did some good, for it is a guard against gross and scandalous vice—has transferred itself to the upper classes, where, I think, it can do little but evil—disuniting families, setting children in opposition to parents, and teaching, as I think, a new way of going to the Devil for God’s sake. On the other hand, this is a species of doctrine not likely to carry off our young friend; and I am sure
Mr Blakeney’s good sense will equally guard him against political mistakes, for I should think my friend Professor Smyth’s historical course of lectures likely to be somewhat Whiggish, though I dare say not improperly so. Upon the whole, I think the reasons your Lordship’s letter contains in favour of Cambridge are decisive, although I may have a private wish in favour of Christ Church, which I dare say will rear its head once more under the new Dean. The neighbourhood of Newmarket is certainly in some sort a snare for so young persons as attend college at Cambridge: but, alas! where is it that there be not snares of one kind or other? Parents, and those who have the more delicate task of standing in the room of parents, must weigh objections and advantages, and without expecting to find any that are without risk, must be content to choose those where the chances seem most favourable. The turf is no doubt a very forceful temptation, especially to a youth of high rank and fortune. There is something very flattering in winning, when good fortune depends so much on shrewdness of observation, and, as it is called, knowingness; the very sight is of an agitating character; and perhaps there are few things more fascinating to young men, whose large fortune excludes the ordinary causes of solicitude, than the pleasures and risks of the race
course; and though, when indulged to excess, it leads to very evil consequences, yet, if the Duke hereafter should like to have a stud of racers, he might very harmlessly amuse himself in that way, provided he did not suffer it to take too eager possession of his mind, or to engross his time. Certainly one would rather he had not the turn at all, but I am far more afraid of sedentary games of chance, for wasting time and fortune, than I am of any active out-of-door’s sport whatsoever.

“Old Paradise did not number a neighbourhood among its pleasures; but Gattonside has that advantage, and great will be the regret of the said neighbours, if Sir Adam and Lady Eve are turned out. I parted with them at Blair-Adam on this day—for, taking a fit of what waiting-maids call the clevers, I started at six this morning, and got here to breakfast. As it blew hard all night, there was a great swell on the ferry, so that I came through
‘Like Chieftain to the Highlands bound,
Crying, boatman, “do not tarry—”’*
or rather,
‘Like Clerk unto the Session bound.’

“I could have borne a worse toss, and even a little danger, since the wind brought rain, which is so much wanted. One set of insects is eating the larch—another the spruce. Many of the latter will not, I think, recover the stripping they are receiving. Crops are looking well, except the hay, which is not looking at all. The sheep are eating roasted grass, but will not be the worse mutton, as I hope soon to prove to your Lordship at Abbotsford.—I am, always, my dear Lord,

Yours faithful to command,
Walter Scott.

* Campbell’sLord Ullin’s Daughter.”


“P.S.—I am here, according to the old saying, bird-alane; for my son Charles is fishing at Lochleven, and my wife and daughter (happy persons!) are at Abbotsford. I took the opportunity to spend two days at Tyninghame. Lord Haddington complains of want of memory, while his conversation is as witty as a comedy, and his anecdote as correct as a parish register.

“I will be a suitor for a few acorns this year, if they ripen well at Ditton, or your other forests. Those I had before from you (raised in the nursery, not planted out) are now fine oak plants.”

Among Scott’s visiters of the next month, first in Edinburgh, and afterwards on Tweedside, were the late amiable and venerable Dr Hughes, one of the Canons-residentiary of St Paul’s, and his warm-hearted lady. The latter had been numbered among his friends from an early period of life, and a more zealously affectionate friend he never possessed. On her way to Scotland she had halted at Keswick to visit Mr Southey, whom also she had long known well, and corresponded with frequently. Hence the following letters.

To Robert Southey, Esq., Keswick, Cumberland.
“My dear Southey,

“Do you remember Richardson’s metaphor of two bashful lovers running opposite to each other in parallel lines, without the least chance of union, until some good-natured body gives a shove to the one, and a shove to the other, and so leads them to form a junction? Two lazy correspondents may, I think, form an equally apt subject for the simile, for here have you and I been silent for I know not how many years, for no other reason than the uncertainty which wrote last, or, which was in duty bound to write first. And here comes
my clever, active, bustling friend,
Mrs Hughes, and tells me that you regret a silence which I have not the least power of accounting for, except upon the general belief that I wrote you a long epistle after your kind present of the Lay of the Laureate, and that I have once every week proposed to write you a still longer, till shame of my own indolence confirmed me in my evil habits of procrastination—when here comes good Mrs Hughes, gives me a shake by the collar, and assures me, that you are in pretty nearly the same case with myself—and, as a very slight external impulse will sometimes drive us into action when a long succession of internal resolutions have been made and broke, I take my pen to assure my dear Southey, that I love him as well as if our correspondence had been weekly or daily. The years which have gone by have found me dallying with the time, and you improving it as usual—I tossing my ball and driving my hoop, a greyheaded schoolboy, and you plying your task unremittingly for the instruction of our own and future ages. Yet I have not been wholly idle or useless—witness five hundred acres of moor and moss, now converted into hopeful woodland of various sizes, to the great refreshment, even already, of the eyes of the pilgrims who still journey to Melrose. I wish you could take a step over the Border this season with Mrs Southey, and let us have the pleasure of showing you what I have been doing. I twice intended an invasion of this sort upon your solitude at Keswick, one in spring 1821, and then again in the summer of the same year when the coronation took place. But the convenience of going to London by the steam-packet, which carries you on whether you wake or sleep, is so much preferable to a long land journey, that I took it on both occasions. The extreme
rapidity of communication, which places an inhabitant of Edinburgh in the metropolis sooner than a letter can reach it by the post, is like to be attended with a mass of most important consequences, some, or rather most of them good, but some also which are not to be viewed without apprehension. It must make the public feeling and sentiment of London, whatever that may chance to be, much more readily and emphatically influential upon the rest of the kingdom, and I am by no means sure that it will be on the whole desirable that the whole country should be as subject to be moved by its example as the inhabitants of its suburbs. Admitting the metropolis to be the heart of the system, it is no sign of health when the blood flows too rapidly through the system at every pulsation. Formerly in Edinburgh and other towns the impulse received from any strong popular feeling in London was comparatively slow and gradual, and had to contend with opposite feelings and prejudices of a national or provincial character; the matter underwent a reconsideration, and the cry which was raised in the great mart of halloo and humbug was not instantly echoed back, as it may be in the present day and present circumstances, when our opinion, like a small drop of water brought into immediate contiguity with a bigger, is most likely to be absorbed in and united with that of the larger mass. However, you and I have outlived so many real perils, that it is not perhaps wise to dread those that are only contingent, especially where the cause out of which they arise brings with it so much absolute and indisputable advantage. What is
Wordsworth doing? I was unlucky in being absent when he crossed the Border. I heartily wish I could induce him to make a foray this season, and that you and Mrs Southey, and Miss Wordsworth, my very good
and well remembered friend, could be of the party. Pray think of this, for the distance is nothing to well resolved minds, and you in particular owe me a visit. I have never quite forgiven your tour in Scotland without looking in upon my poor premises. Well, as I have re-appeared like your floating island, which I see the newspapers aver hath again, after seven years’ soaking, become visible to mortal ken, it would not be fair in me to make my visit too long a one—so, with kindest respects to Mrs Southey, in which my wife sincerely joins, I am always most truly yours,

Walter Scott.
“8th July, 1824, Edinburgh.
“Address Abbotsford, Melrose.

“You may have heard that about four years since I was brought to death’s door by a violent, and at the same time most obstinate complaint, a sort of spasms in the stomach or diaphragm, which for a long time defied medicine. It gave way at length to a terrific course of calomel, such as made the cure almost as bad as the disease. Since that time, I have recovered even a better portion of health than I generally had before, and that was excellent. I do not indeed possess the activity of former days either on foot or horseback, but while I can ride a pony, and walk five or six miles with pleasure, I have no reason to complain. The rogue Radicals had nearly set me on horseback again, but I would have had a good following to help out my own deficiencies, as all my poor neighbours were willing to fight for Kirk and King.”

Mr Southey’s next letter enclosed a MS. copy of his Ode on the King’s Northern Progress of 1822. Sir Walter, in his reply, adverts to the death of Louis XVIII., which occurred on the 17th of September, 1824—and prophesies the fate of his successor.

To Robert Southey, Esq., Keswick, Cumberland.
“Bowhill, 26th Sept., 1824.
“My dear Southey,

“I did not immediately thank you for your beautiful poem on the King’s Visit, because I was afraid you might think that I was trespassing too much on time which is always well employed; but I must not let the ice settle again on the stream of our correspondence, and therefore, while I have a quiet morning, I employ part of it to thank you for the kindness you have done me as a friend, and still more for the honour you have bestowed on my country. I hope these verses are one day to see the light, and am too much personally interested not to expect that period with impatience.

“I had a letter from Gifford some time since, by which I perceive with regret he renounces further management of the Quarterly. I scarce guess what can be done by Murray in that matter, unless he could prevail on you to take the charge. No work of the kind can make progress (though it may be kept afloat) under a mere bookselling management. And the difficulty of getting a person with sufficient independence of spirit, accuracy of judgment, and extent of knowledge, to exercise the profession of Aristarch, seems very great. Yet I have been so long out of the London circles that new stars may have arisen, and set for aught I know, since I was occasionally within the hemisphere.

“The King of France’s death, with which one would think I had wondrous little to do, has produced to me the great disappointment of preventing Canning’s visit. He had promised to spend two or three days at Abbotsford on his road to Edinburgh,* and it is the more pro-

* Mr Canning spent some part of the summer of 1824 in a visit to the Marquess Wellesley, then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland; and

oking, as I dare say, after all, there is no farther occasion for his being at his post than arises from matter of mere form, since I suppose there is no reason to think that
Charles X. will change the line of policy adopted by his brother. I remember him in Edinburgh about 1794, one of the most elegant men in address and exterior whom I ever saw. Strange times we have lived in! I am speaking of Charles X. as a Frenchman of 1661 might have spoken of Charles II. By the way, did you ever observe how easy it would be for a good historian to run a parallel betwixt the great Rebellion and the French Revolution, just substituting the spirit of fanaticism, for that of soi-disant philosophy. But then how the character of the English would rise whether you considered the talents and views of the great leaders on either side, or the comparative moderation and humanity with which they waged their warfare! I sometimes think an instructive comparative view might be made out, and it would afford a comfortable augury that the Restoration in either case was followed by many amendments in the Constitution. I hope Louis Baboon will not carry the matter so far as to require completing the parallel by a second Revolution—but it would be very singular if the devotion of this King to the Catholic priests and forms should occasion such a catastrophe. Heber has promised to come down here, and if so, I will perhaps return with him as far as Rokeby, and, if we can, take Keswick on our way, were it but to see you for an hour. All this, however, is speculation. I am just sending off my younger son to Oxford. My eldest is an officer in the 15th hussars, and I believe will soon get that object

had proposed to return from Dublin by the way of Scotland. I think there was to have been a public dinner in his honour at Edinburgh.

of every young officer’s ambition, a troop, which would be great luck. Believe me, dear
Southey, most truly yours,

Walter Scott.”

In October of this year, Sir Walter’s son Charles began his residence at Brazen-nose College, Oxford. The adoption of this plan implied finally dropping the appointment in the civil service of the East India Company, which had been placed at his disposal by Lord Bathurst in the spring of 1820; a step, I need not observe, which, were there any doubt on that subject, would alone be sufficient to prove, to the conviction of the most envious sceptic, that the young gentleman’s father at this time considered his own worldly fortunes as in a highly prosperous situation. A writership in India is early independence; in the case of a son of Scott, so conducting himself as not to discredit the name he inherited, it could hardly have failed to be early wealth. And Sir Walter was the last man to deprive his boy of such safe and easy prospects of worldly advantage, turning him over to the precarious chances of a learned profession in Great Britain, unless in the confidence that his own resources were so great as to render ultimate failure in such a career a matter of no primary importance.

The Vicar of Lampeter, mean-while, had become a candidate for the rectorship of a new classical academy, founded this year at Edinburgh; and Sir Walter Scott’s influence was zealously exerted in behalf of his son’s learned and estimable tutor. Mr Williams was successful in his object; and at the opening of the institution (1st October) the Poet appeared in Edinburgh to preside over the ceremonial in which this
excellent friend was so deeply concerned. I transcribe what follows from a report prepared at the time (but never until now published) by the honorary secretary of the academy,
Mr John Russell, W. S.:—

“The Rev. Sir Henry Moncreiff Wellwood, Bart, (minister of the parish), at the request of Sir Walter Scott, opened the business of the meeting, by an eloquent and impressive prayer, in which he invoked the blessing of the Almighty on the institution.

Sir Walter Scott then rose, and observed, that it had been determined by the directors, that some account should be given on this occasion of the nature and meaning of the institution. He wished that some one better qualified had been appointed for this purpose; but as the duty had been imposed upon him, he should endeavour to discharge it as briefly as possible. In Scotland, and before such an assembly, it was unnecessary for him to enlarge on the general advantages of education. It was that which distinguished man from the lower animals in the creation—which recorded every fact of history, and transmitted them in perfect order from one generation to another. Our forefathers had shown their sense of its importance by their conduct; but they could little have conceived the length to which discoveries in science and literature had gone in this age; and those now present could as little anticipate to what extent posterity might carry them. Future ages might probably speak of the knowledge of the 18th and 19th centuries, as we now do of that of the 15th and 16th. But let them remember that the progress of knowledge was gradual; and as their ancestors had been anxious to secure to them the benefits of education, so let it be said of the present age, that it paved the way for the improvement of the generations which were to follow. He need not repeat to Scotsmen, that at an early period the most anxious solicitude had been shown on this subject. While Scotland was torn with convulsions, and the battle-brand was yet red, our forefathers had sat down to devise the means of spreading the blessings of knowledge among their posterity, as the most effectual means of preventing those dark and bloody times from recurring. We had but lately sheathed a triumphant sword, and lived now in a period of profound peace; and long, long might it be before the sword was again unsheathed! This was therefore a proper time for improving the institutions of the country, and endeavouring to cause its literature to keep pace with its high martial achievements. In
forming an institution like the present, there was something generous and disinterested. The founders of a library might enjoy the benefit of reading in that library. The founder of an hospital had had sometimes the melancholy gratification, in the decline of his fortunes, of reposing under the roof of the asylum which his charity had erected for others: but such could not be the case with those who subscribed for this institution. It was like a torch held out in the hand of a dead man, which imparted light to others, but to the bearer it gave none. He therefore called on the young to attend to the instructions that would be addressed to them in this academy, erected exclusively for their benefit, and not for that of those by whom it had been founded.

“The establishment of those excellent institutions, the Parochial Schools, had early induced the moral and orderly habits which had so much tended to raise the character of our countrymen. King James, whatever had been his failings in other respects, had attended to the education of the youth, and had founded an institution (the High School), which nourished at this moment, the pride and boast of our City; but, from the great increase of population, its size was now found inadequate to the duty originally intended. Since its establishment, the city had increased to six times the extent it then was; and the great number of subscribers to the present institution, proved the general feeling that something must be done to relieve the Metropolitan school. It was true there were many private seminaries, whose teachers were men of great talent; but schools of that description were not so well calculated to secure the education of children as an institution like the present. It was plain to the most common understanding, that one man could not teach four or five classes of pupils with the same success that one man could teach one class; that was quite plain. A jealousy had been entertained that the design of the present institution was to hurt the more ancient seminary. Look at those who were the leading members of this society; many of them who had received their education at the High School, whose fathers and grandfathers had been instructed there, and who also had their children there: they were not capable of entertaining a thought to the prejudice of that seminary. The effect of the present institution would only be to relieve the High School of superfluous scholars, and thereby leave the hands of its teachers more at liberty to educate those who were left. He trusted he should hear nothing more of such an unworthy motive. He was sure there would be no petty jealousies—no rivalry between the two institutions, but the honourable and fair
rivalry of scholarship. He was convinced Palinurus would not slumber at the helm, while he beheld another vessel striving to gain the port before him.

“In appropriating the funds which had so liberally been placed at their disposal, the directors had observed the strictest economy. By the ingenuity of Mr Burn, the Architect, whose plans for, and superintendence of the buildings had been a labour of love, it would be observed, that not much had been lost. If they had not the beauty of lavish ornament, they had at least taste and proportion to boast of—a more important part of architecture than high finishing. The directors had a more difficult and delicate duty to perform than the rearing of stone walls, in choosing the gentlemen who were to carry into execution their plans; a task important beyond the power of language to describe, from the number of certificates produced by men of talent who were willing to abandon their situations in other seminaries, and to venture the credit of their reputation and prospects in life on this experimental project of ours—a task so delicate, that the directors were greatly at a loss whom to choose among seventy or eighty individuals, of almost equal merit, and equally capable of undertaking the task. The one principle which guided the directors in their selection was—who were most likely to give satisfaction to them and to the public? He trusted they had been successful in the performance of this task. The University of Oxford had given them one of its most learned scholars (the Rector), in the flower of his age, with fifteen years’ experience as a teacher, and of whose acquirements, in that gentleman’s presence, he would not speak in the terms he would employ elsewhere. To him the directors trusted as the main pillar of the establishment: he was sure also he would be well supported by the other gentlemen; and that the whole machine would move easily and smoothly.

“But there was still another selection of no mean difficulty. In the formation of a new, they must lose some of the advantages of an ancient and venerable institution. One could not lay his hands on the head of his son, and say, this is the same bench on which I sat; this is the voice which first instructed me.—They had to identify their children with a new institution. But they had something to counterbalance these disadvantages. If they had not the venerable Gothic temple, the long sounding galleries, and turreted walls—where every association was favourable to learning—they were also free from the prejudices peculiar to such seminaries,—the ‘rich windows which exclude the light, and passages that lead to nothing.’ Something might be gained from novelty. The attention
of the directors had been particularly turned to the fact, that while Scotland was, on the whole, the best informed country in Europe, it had not of late produced many eminent classical scholars. The observation of
Dr Johnson was well known, that in learning Scotland resembled a besieged city, where every man had a mouthful, but no man a bellyful. It might be said, in answer to this, that it was better education should be divided into mouthfuls, than served up at the banquet of some favoured individuals, while the great mass were left to starve. But, sturdy Scotsman as he was, he was not more attached to Scotland than to truth; and it must be admitted that there was some foundation for the Doctor’s remark. The directors were anxious to wipe off this reproach, and for this purpose had made every provision in their power. They had made some additions to the course adopted in the High School, but in no case had they made any innovation from the mere love of change. It was a part of their plan to lay a foundation for a thorough knowledge of the Latin tongue, by the most precise and careful study of its elemental principles. With this they meant to conjoin the study of Greek, to be begun at an earlier period, and prosecuted to a greater extent, than hitherto was customary in Scotland. It was the language of the fathers of history, and of a people whose martial achievements and noble deeds were the ornament of their pages. At no moment was the study of that beautiful language so interesting as at present, when the people among whom it was still in use, were again, as he trusted, about to emancipate themselves from slavery and barbarism, and take their rank among free nations. There would also be instruction in Writing and Arithmetic—and a class for the study of Mathematics, from which the directors hoped great advantage would accrue to the pupils. There would be another class in this institution, which was not to be found in any other similar academy—a class for the study of English Literature. It had been justly remarked, that the study of classics had sometimes led to the neglect of our own language, and that some scholars could express themselves better in Latin than in English. To avoid this error, a teacher was added to the institution, who was to instruct the boys in the principles of English Composition, and to connect with this a knowledge of the history of their own country. He would have the youths taught to venerate the patriots and heroes of our own country, along with those of Greece and Rome; to know the histories of Wallace and Bruce, as well as those of Themistocles and of Cæsar; and that the recollection of the fields of Flodden and Bannockburn, should not be lost in those of Platasa and Marathon.
The masters would open their classes every morning with prayer; and a portion of Scripture would be read by one of the boys every Monday morning, before the commencement of the week’s labours.

“In conclusion, Sir Walter addressed a few words to his young friends around him. He observed, that the public could not have given a more interesting mark of their confidence in the managers of the seminary, than they had done, in placing under their direction these young persons, characterised by the Roman matron as her most precious jewels, for every one of whom he was sensible more than one bosom was at present beating, anxious for their future happiness and prosperity. He exhorted them to give their whole souls and minds to their studies, without which it was little that either their teachers or directors could do. If they were destined for any of the learned professions, he begged them to remember that a physician without learning was a mere quack; a lawyer without learning was a pettifogger; and a clergyman without learning was like a soldier without a sword, who had not the means of enforcing the authority of his Divine Master. Next to a conscience void of offence towards God and man, the greatest possession they could have was a well cultivated mind; it was that alone which distinguished them from the beasts that perish. If they went to India or other distant quarters of the globe, it would sweeten their path, and add to their happiness. He trusted that his words, poor as they were, would sink into their hearts, and remain on their memories, long after they had forgotten the speaker. He hoped they would remember the words of their reverend friend, who had just implored the blessing of God upon their studies, for they were the outpourings of the soul of one not young in years, nor void of experience; and when they were come to manhood, they might say to their children, ‘Thus and thus were we taught, and thus and thus we teach you. By attending to these things we rose to honour and distinction.’ Happy (said Sir Walter) will it be if you can say, ‘I have followed that, which I heard. May you do so and live.’”

The Academy, opened under these auspices, throve from the beginning, and may now be considered as one of the most important among the national establishments of Scotland; nor have Sir Walter’s anticipations
as to the result of honourable rivalry between it and the old High School been disappointed.

As it happens, I have to place in the same page with Sir Walter’s speech, in honour of classical learning, the record of a false quantity which his generosity may almost be said to have made classical. In the course of that same October, died his faithful friend and servant Maida, the noblest and most celebrated of all his dogs—might I not safely say of all dogs that ever shared the fellowship of man? His exit was announced in this letter to the young Oxonian.

To Charles Scott, Esq. Brazen-nose College, Oxford.
“Abbotsford, 22d October, 1824.
“My dear Charles,

“I am glad to hear that you are safely settled at College, I trust with the intention of making your residence there subservient to the purposes of steady study, without which it will be only a waste of expense and of leisure. I believe the matter depends very much on a youth himself, and therefore I hope to hear that you are strenuously exerting yourself to hold an honourable situation among the students of your celebrated university. Your course will not be unmarked, as something is expected from the son of any literary person; and I sincerely hope in this case those expectations will be amply gratified.

“I am obliged to Mr Hughes* for his kind intentions in your favour, as I dare say that any to whom he introduces you will be acquaintance worth cultivating. I

* John Hughes, Esq. of Oriel College—son of Sir Walter’s old friends, Dr and Mrs Hughes—the same whose “Itinerary of the Rhone,” &c., is mentioned with high praise in the Introduction to Quentin Durward.

OCTOBER, 1824.367
shall be glad to hear that you have taken up your ground at College, and who are like to compose your set. I hope you will make your way to the clever fellows and not put up with Doldrums. Every man soon falls behind that does not aspire to keep up with the foremost in the race.

“I have little domestic news to tell you. Old Maida died quietly in his straw last week after a good supper, which, considering his weak state, was rather a deliverance. He is buried below his monument, on which the following epitaph is engraved—though it is great audacity to send Teviotdale Latin to Brazen-nose—
‘Maidæ Marmoreâ dormis sub imagine Maida,
Ad januam domini sit tibi terra levis.’
Thus Englished by an eminent hand,
‘Beneath the sculptured form which late you wore,
Sleep soundly, Maida, at your master’s door.’

“Yesterday we had our solemn hunt and killed fourteen hares, but a dog of Sir Adam’s broke her leg, and was obliged to be put to death in the field. Little Johnnie talks the strangest gibberish I ever heard, by way of repeating his little poems. I wish the child may ever speak plain. Mamma, Sophia, Anne, and I send love. Always your affectionate father,

Walter Scott.”

The monument here mentioned was a leaping-on-stone, to which the skill of Scott’s master-mason had given the shape of Maida recumbent. It had stood by the gate of Abbotsford a year or more before the dog died, and after he was laid under it, his master, dining that evening at Chiefswood, said, over his glass of toddy and cigar, that he had been bothering his brains to make an epitaph for his ancient favourite, but
could not please himself. He said it must be in Latin, because Maida seemed made on purpose to close a hexameter—and begged, as I was fresher off the irons than himself, that I would try to help him. The unfortunate couplet above printed was what suggested itself at the moment and though his own English version of it, extemporized next minute, was so much better, on his way home he gave directions to have it engraved, and engraved it was before many hours had passed.
Mr James Ballantyne was the first person that saw it; believing it to be Scott’s, he admired it, of course and of course, also, he thought fit to print it soon after (as Sir Walter’s) in his newspaper—but his memory had played him a trick before he reached Edinburgh, and as he printed the lines they showed not only their original blunder, but another of his own creation; he had put jaces for dormis. His printing the thing at all was unfortunate; for some friend (I believe it was Lord Minto) had pointed out in the interim the false quantity of januam, and the mason was just about to rectify that by substituting some legitimate dactyl or spondee, suggested by this critic, when the newspaper reached Abbotsford. Sir Walter on seeing it said, “Well, well, since Ballantyne has printed the lines at all, I shan’t have any corrections made here—I shall write and tell him of his blunder, and let the other stand as it is.” But mean-time “Sir Walter Scott’s false quantities” had headed various paragraphs in the newspapers both in Edinburgh and in London; and, strange to say, even the undoubted double blunder of Ballantyne’s edition found gallant defenders. A Mr Lionel Berguer, who, I think, had published some poems, and dedicated them to Scott, was one of these champions: and Sir Walter himself
had twice pleaded guilty in the newspapers, before the matter was allowed to rest. It is sufficient to quote the following:

To the Editor of the Morning Post.
Abbotsford, Nov. 12, 1824.

“Sir, As I am a friend to truth, even in trifles, I cannot consent to shelter myself under the classical mangle which Mr Lionel Berguer and some unknown friend have chosen to extend, in their charity, over my faults in prosody. The two lines were written in mere whim, and without the least intention of their being made public. In the first line, the word jaces is a mistake of the transcriber (whoever took that trouble); the phrase is dormis, which I believe is good prosody. The error in the second line, ad januam, certainly exists, and I bow to the castigation. I must plead the same apology which was used by the great Dr Johnson, when he misinterpreted a veterinary phrase of ordinary occurrence—“ignorance—pure ignorance” was the cause of my blunder. Forty years ago, longs and shorts were little attended to in Scottish education; and I have, it appears, forgot the little I may then have learned. I have only to add, that I am far from undervaluing any branch of scholarship, because I have not the good fortune to possess it, and heartily wish that those who succeed us may have the benefit of a more accurate classical education than was common in my earlier days.

“The inscription cannot now be altered; but if it remains a memorial of my want of learning, it shall not, in addition, convey any imputation on my candour. I should have been ashamed, at a more stirring time, to ask admission for this plea of guilty; but at present you
may think it worth a place in your paper. Pugna est de paupere regno.—I remain your obedient servant,

Walter Scott.”

The culprit whose sin had brought this controversy on Sir Walter, was not in his vicinity when it was going on—nor cognizant of it until he had committed himself; and on the same 12th of November, being the Poet’s last day at Abbotsford for the long vacation, he indited the following rhymes which savour of his recent overhauling of Swift and Sheridan’s doggrel epistles.

To J. G. Lockhart, Esq., Northumberland Street, Edinburgh.
“Dear John,—I some time ago wrote to inform his
Fat worship of jaces, misprinted for dormis;
But that several Southrons assured me the januam,
Was a twitch to both ears of Ass Priscian’s cranium.
You, perhaps, may observe that one Lionel Berguer,
In defence of our blunder appears a stout arguer:
But at length I have settled, I hope, all these clatters,
By a rowt in the papers—fine place for such matters.
I have, therefore, to make it for once my command, sir,
That my gudeson shall leave the whole thing in my hand, sir,
And by no means accomplish what James says you threaten,
Some banter in Blackwood to claim your dog-Latin.
I have various reasons of weight, on my word, sir,
For pronouncing a step of this sort were absurd, sir.
Firstly, erudite sir, ’twas against your advising
I adopted the lines this monstrosity lies in;
For you modestly hinted my English translation
Would become better far such a dignified station.
Second—how, in God’s name, would my bacon be saved,
By not having writ what I clearly engraved?
On the contrary, I, on the whole, think it better
To be whipped as the thief, than his lousy resetter.
Thirdly—don’t you perceive that I don’t care a boddle
Although fifty false metres were flung at my noddle,
For my back is as broad and as hard as Benlomon’s,
And I treat as I please both the Greeks and the Romans;
Whereas the said heathens might look rather serious
At a kick on their drum from the scribe of Valerius.
And, fourthly and lastly it is my good pleasure
To remain the sole source of that murderous measure.
So stet pro ratione voluntas—be tractile,
Invade not, I say, my own dear little dactyl;
If you do, you’ll occasion a breach in our intercourse:
To-morrow will see me in town for the winter-course,
But not at your door, at the usual hour, sir,
My own pye-house daughter’s good prog to devour, sir.
Ergo—peace, on your duty, your squeamishness throttle,
And we’ll soothe Priscian’s spleen with a canny third bottle.
A fig for all dactyls, a fig for all spondees,
A fig for all dunces and Dominie Grundys;
A fig for dry thrapples, south, north, east, and west, sir,
Speates and raxes* ere five for a famishing guest, sir;
And as Fatsman† and I have some topics for haver, he’ll
Be invited, I hope, to meet me and Dame Peveril,
Upon whom, to say nothing of Oury and Anne, you a
Dog shall be deemed if you fasten your Janua.

“P. S.—Hoc jocose—but I am nevertheless in literal earnest. You incur my serious displeasure if you move one inch in this contemptible rumpus. So adieu till to-morrow.—Yours affectionately,

W. S.”

* There is an excellent story (but too long for quotation) in the Memorie of the Somervilles (vol. i. p. 240) about an old Lord of that family, who, when he wished preparations to be made for high feasting at his Castle of Cowthally, used to send on a billet inscribed with this laconic phrase, “Speates and raxes”—i. e. spits and ranges. Upon one occasion, Lady Somerville (being newly married, and not yet skilled in her husband’s hieroglyphics) read the mandate as spears and jacks, and sent forth 200 armed horsemen, whose appearance on the moors greatly alarmed Lord Somerville and his guest, who happened to be no less a person than King James III.

Fatsman was one of Mr James Ballantyne’s many aliases. Another (to which Constable mostly adhered) was “Mr Basketfill”—an allusion to the celebrated printer Baskerville.


In the course of that November several of the huge antique buildings which gave its peculiar character to the Old Town of Edinburgh, perished by fire; and no one, it may be believed, witnessed this demolition with more regret than Sir Walter. He says to Lord Montagu on the 18th,—

“My dear Lord,

“Since I came here I have witnessed a horrible calamity. A fire broke out on Monday night in the High Street, raged all night, and great part of the next day, catching to the steeple of the Tron Church, which being wood was soon in a blaze, and burned like regular fire-works till all was consumed. All this while the flames were spreading down to the Cowgate amongst those closes where the narrowness of the access, and the height of the houses, rendered the approach of engines almost impossible. On Tuesday night a second fire broke out in the Parliament Square, greatly endangering the Courts of Justice, and the Advocates’ more than princely Library. By great exertions it was prevented approaching this public building; and Sir William Forbes’ bank also escaped. But all the other houses in the Parliament Square are totally destroyed; and I can conceive no sight more grand or terrible than to see these lofty buildings on fire from top to bottom, vomiting out flames like a volcano from every aperture, and finally crashing down one after another into an abyss of fire, which resembled nothing but hell; for there were vaults of wine and spirits which sent up huge jets of flame, whenever they were called into activity by the fall of these massive fragments. Between the corner of the Parliament Square and the South Bridge all is destroyed, excepting some new buildings at the lower extremity; and the devastation
has extended down the closes, which I hope will never be rebuilt on their present, I should say their late form. The general distress is, of course, dreadful.—Ever yours,

W. Scott.”