LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, Bart.
Chapter IX 1822-23

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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Though Mr Crabbe found it necessary to leave Scotland without seeing Abbotsford, this was not the case with many less celebrated friends from the south, who had flocked to Edinburgh at the time of the Royal Festival. Sir Walter’s house was, in his own phrase, “like a cried fair,” during several weeks after the King’s departure; and as his masons were then in the highest activity upon the addition to the building, the bustle and tumult within doors and without was really perplexing. We shall find him confessing that the excitement of the Edinburgh scenes had thrown him into a fever, and that he never needed repose more. He certainly never had less of it.

Nor was an unusual influx of English pilgrims the only legacy of “the glorious days” of August. A considerable number of persons who had borne a part in the ceremonies of the King’s reception fancied that their exertions had entitled them to some substantial mark of royal approbation; and post after post brought long-winded despatches from these clamorous enthusiasts, to
him who, of all Scotchmen, was supposed to enjoy, as to matters of this description, the readiest access to the fountain of honour. To how many of these applications he accorded more than a civil answer I cannot tell; but I find that the
Duke of York was too good a Jacobite not to grant favourable consideration to his request, that one or two poor half-pay officers who had distinguished themselves in the van of the Celts, might be, as opportunity offered, replaced in Highland regiments, and so reinvested with the untheatrical “Garb of Old Gaul.”

Sir Walter had also a petition of his own. This related to a certain gigantic piece of ordnance, celebrated in the history of the Scottish Jameses under the title of Mons Meg, and not forgotten in Drummond’s Macaronics—
——Sicuti Mons Megga crackasset,——
which had been removed from Edinburgh Castle to the Tower of London, after the campaign of 1745. When
Scott next saw the King, after he had displayed his person on the chief bastion of the old fortress, he lamented the absence of Mons Meg on that occasion in language which his Majesty could not resist. There ensued a correspondence with the official guardians of Meg—among others, with the Duke of Wellington, then Master-General of the Ordnance, and though circumstances deferred her restoration, it was never lost sight of, and took place finally when the Duke was Prime Minister, which I presume smoothed petty obstacles, in 1828.

But the serious petition was one in which Sir Walter expressed feelings in which I believe every class of his fellow-countrymen were disposed to concur with him very cordially—and certainly none more so than the generous King himself. The object which the poet had at heart was the restoration of the Scottish peer-
ages forfeited in consequence of the insurrections of 1715 and 1745; and the honourable families, in whose favour this liberal measure was soon afterwards adopted, appear to have vied with each other in the expression of their gratefulness for his exertions on their behalf. The following paper seems to be his sketch of the grounds on which the representatives of the forfeited Peers ought to approach the Ministry; and the view of their ease thus suggested, was, it will be allowed, dexterously selected, and persuasively enforced.

“Hints Respecting an Application for a Reversal of the Attainders in 1715 and 1745.
“Sept. 1822.

“A good many years ago Mr Erskine of Mar, and other representatives of those noble persons who were attainted for their accession to the Rebellions of 1715 and 1745, drew up a humble petition to the King, praying that his Majesty, taking into his royal consideration the long time which had since elapsed, and the services and loyalty of the posterity of the attainted Peers, would be graciously pleased to recommend to Parliament an Act for reversing all attainders passed against those who were engaged in 1715 and 1745, so as to place their descendants in the same situation, as to rank, which they would have held, had such attainders never taken place. This petition, it is believed, was proposed about the time that an Act was passed for restoring the forfeited estates, still in possession of the Crown; and it was imagined that this gracious act afforded a better opportunity for requesting a reversal of the attainders than had hitherto occurred, especially as it was supposed
that the late
Lord Melville, the great adviser of the one measure, was equally friendly to the other. The petition in question, however, it is believed, never was presented to the King—it having been understood that the Chancellor, Lord Thurlow, was hostile to it, and that, therefore, it would be more prudent not to press it then. It is thought by some, that looking to his Majesty’s late paternal and most gracious visit to his ancient kingdom of Scotland, in which he seemed anxious to revive and encourage all the proud recollections of its former renown, and to cherish all associations connected with the events of the olden times, as by the display of the Regalia, by the most distinguished attention to the Royal Archers, and by other similar observances, a fit time has now arrived for most humbly soliciting the royal attention to the state of those individuals, who, but for the conscientious, though mistaken loyalty of their ancestors, would now have been in the enjoyment of ancient and illustrious honours.

“Two objections might, perhaps, occur; but it is hoped that a short statement may be sufficient to remove them. It may be thought, that if the attainders of 1715 and 1745 were reversed, it would be unjust not to reverse all attainders which had ever passed in any period of the English history—a measure which might give birth to such a multiplicity of claims for ancient English Peerages, forfeited at different times, as might affect seriously the House of Lords, so as both to render that assembly improperly numerous, and to lower the precedency of many Peers who now sit there. To this it is submitted, as a sufficient answer, that there is no occasion for reversing any attainders previous to the accession of the present royal family, and that the proposed Act might be founded on a gracious declaration of the King, expressive simply of his
wish to have all attainders reversed, for offences against his own royal house of Hanover. This limitation would at once give ample room for the display of the greatest magnanimity on the part of the King, and avoid the bad consequences indicated in the objection; for, with the exception of Lords
Derwentwater and Widdrington, who joined in the Rebellion of 1715, the only Peers who ever joined in any insurrection against the Hanover family were Peers of Scotland, who, by their restoration, in so far as the families are not extinct, could not add to the number of the House of Lords, but would only occasion a small addition to the number of those already entitled to vote at the election of the Sixteen Representative Peers. And it seems plain, that in such a limitation, there would be no more injustice than might have been alleged against the Act by which the forfeited estates, still in the hands of Government, were restored; while no compensation was given for such estates as had been already sold by Government. The same argument might have been stated, with equal force, against the late reversal of the attainder of Lord Edward Fitzgerald; it might have been asked, with what sort of justice can you reverse this attainder, and refuse to reverse all attainders that ever took place either in England or Ireland? But no such objection was made, and the recommendation of the King to Parliament was received almost with acclamation. And now that the family of Lord E. Fitzgerald have been restored to the rights which he had forfeited, the petition in the present case will, it is hoped, naturally strike his Majesty with greater force, when he is pleased to recollect that his lordship’s attainder took place on account of accession to a rebellion, of which the object was to introduce a foreign force into Ireland, to overturn the Constitution, and to produce universal misery; while the elder attainders
now in question were the results of rebellions, undertaken from views of conscientious, though mistaken loyalty in many individuals, who were much attached to their country, and to those principles of hereditary succession to the Throne in which they had been educated, and which, in almost every instance, ought to be held sacred.

“A second objection, perhaps, might be raised, on the ground that the reversal of the attainders in question would imply a censure against the conduct of that Government by which they were passed, and consequently an approval, in some measure, of those persons who were so attainted. But it might as well be said that the reversal of Lord E. Fitzgerald’s attainder implied a censure on the Parliament of Ireland, and on the King, by whom that act had been passed; or that the restoration of an officer to the rank from which he had been dismissed by the sentence of a court-martial, approved of by the King, would imply a censure on that court, or on that King. Such implication might, at all events, be completely guarded against by the preamble of the proposed Act—which might condemn the Rebellion in strong terms—but reverse the attainders, from the magnanimous wish of the King to obliterate the memory of all former discord, so far as his own house had been the object of attack, and from a just sense of the meritorious conduct and undoubted loyalty of the descendants of those unfortunate, though criminal individuals. And it is humbly submitted, that as there is no longer any Pretender to his Majesty’s Crown, and as all classes of his subjects now regard him as both de jure and de facto the only true representative of our ancient race of Princes—now is the time for such an act of royal magnanimity, and of Parliamentary munificence, by which the honour of so many noble houses would be
fully restored; while, at the same time, the station of the representatives of certain other noble houses, who have assumed titles, their right to which is, under the present law, much more than doubtful, would be fully confirmed, and placed beyond the reach of objection.”

In Scott’s collection of miscellaneous MSS. the article that stands next to this draft of “Hints,” is one that I must indulge myself with placing in similar juxtaposition here. I have already said something of his friendly relations with the people of the only manufacturing village in his neighbourhood. Among other circumstances highly grateful to them was his regular attendance on the day when their Deacon and Convener for the year entered on his office—which solemnity occurred early in October. On the approach of these occasions he usually received an invitation in verse, penned by a worthy weaver named Thomson, but known and honoured all over Teviotdale as “the Galashiels Poet.” At the first of these celebrations that ensued the forthcoming of Rob Roy, this bard delighted his compeers, and not less their guest, by chanting a clever parody on the excellent song of “Donald Caird,” i. e. Tinker, the chorus being—in place of Scott’s
“Dinna let the Sherra ken
Donald Caird’s come again;”—
Think ye does the Sherra ken
Rob Mac Gregor’s come again:
and that was thenceforth a standing ditty on the day of the Deacon. The Sheriff’s presence at the installation of 1822 was requested by the following epistle:—

To Sir Walter Scott, Bart., Abbotsford.
“Murray’s Inn, Galashiels,
1st Oct. 1822.
“This year we rather ’gin to falter
If an epistle we should send ye.
Say some, ‘Ye only plague Sir Walter,
He canna ilka year attend ye:
Last year, nae doubt, he condescended,
Just to be quit o’ your palaver;
But he could ne’er ha’e apprehended
That ilka year ye’d ask the favour.
He’s dined but lately wi’ the King,
And round him there is sic a splendour,
He winna stoop to such a thing,
For a’ the reasons ye can render:
Content yourselves wi’ John o’ Skye;
Your impudence deserves a wiper:
Ye’ll never rest till he grow shy,
And e’en refuse to send his piper.’
“These reasons a’ may be withstood,
Wi’ nae pretensions for a talker;—
Ye mauna lightly Deacon Wood,
But dine wi’ him like Deacon Walker.
Your fav’rite dish is not forgot:
Imprimis for your bill of fare,
We’ll put a sheep’s-head i’ the pot,—
Ye’se get the cantle for your share:
And we’ve the best o’ “Mountain dew,”
Was gather’d whare ye mauna list,
In spite o’ a’ the gauger crew,
By Scotland’s ‘children o’ the mist.’
Last year your presence made us canty,
For which we hae ye yet to thank;
This year, in faith, we canna want ye,
Ye’re absence wad mak sic a blank.
As a’ our neibors are our friends,
The company is not selected;
But for to mak ye some amends,
There’s not a social soul neglected.
“We wish you luck o’ your new biggin’;
There’s no the like o’t on the Tweed;
Ye’ll no mistak it by its riggin’,—*
It is an oddity indeed.
To Lady Scott our kind respect—
To her and to Miss Ann our thanks;
We hope this year they’ll no neglect
Again to smile upon our ranks.
Upon our other kind regards
At present we will no be treating,
For some discourse we maun hae spared
To raise the friendly crack at meeting.
So ye maun come, if ye can win
Gie’s nae excuse, like common gentry;—
If we suspect, as sure’s a gun,
On Abbotsford we’ll place a sentry.”

It was a pleasant thing to see the annual procession of these weavers of Galashiels—or (for they were proud enough to adopt the name) of Ganders-cleuch—as they advanced from their village with John of Skye at their head, and the banners of their craft all displayed, to meet Sir Walter and his family at the ford, and escort them in splendour to the scene of the great festivity. And well pleased was he to “share the triumph and partake the gale” of Deacon Wood or Deacon Walker—and a proud man was Laureate Thomson when his health was proposed by the “brother bard” of Abbotsford. At this Galashiels festival the Ettrick Shepherd also was a regular attendant. He used to come down the night before, and accompany Sir Walter in the only carriage that graced the march; and many of Hogg’s best

* The old song says,—

“This is no mine ain house,
I ken by the riggin o’t, &c.”—See Collection.
OCTOBER, 1822.229
ballads were produced for the first time amidst the cheers of the men of Ganders-cleuch. Meeting Poet Thomson not long since in a different part of the country, he ran up to me, with the tears in his eyes, and exclaimed, “Eh, sir, it does me good to see you—for it puts me in mind of the grand days in our town, when Scott and Hogg were in their glory—and we were a’ leal Tories!” Galashiels is now a nest of Radicalism—but I doubt if it be a happier place than in the times of Deacon Wood and Deacon Walker.

In the following letters we have, as many readers may think, rather too much of the “new biggin” and “the riggin o’t” but I cannot consent to curtail such curiously characteristic records of the days when Scott was finishing Peveril of the Peak, and projecting his inimitable portraitures of Louis XI. and Charles of Burgundy.

To Daniel Terry, Esq,, London.
“Abbotsford, October 5, 1822.
“My dear Terry,

“I have been ‘a vixen and a griffin,’ as Mrs Jenkins says, for many days in plain truth, very much out of heart. I know you will sympathize particularly with me on the loss of our excellent friend W. Erskine, who fell a victim to a hellishly false story which was widely circulated concerning him, or rather I should say to the sensibility of his own nature, which could not endure even the shadow of reproach—like the ermine, which is said to pine to death if its fur is soiled. And now Hay Donaldson* has followed him, an excellent man, who long

* Mr Hay Donaldson drew up an affecting sketch of his friend Lord Kinnedder’s Life and Character, to which Scott made some additions, and which was printed, but not, I think, for public circulation. He died shortly afterwards, on the 30th of September, 1822.

managed my family affairs with the greatest accuracy and kindness. The last three or four years have swept away more than half the friends with whom I lived in habits of great intimacy—the poor
Duke, Jocund Johnnie, Lord Somerville, the Boswells, and now this new deprivation. So it must be with us
“When ance life’s day draws near the gloamin,”*—
and yet we proceed with our plantations and plans as if any tree but the sad cypress would accompany us to the grave, where our friends have gone before us. It is the way of the world, however, and must be so, otherwise life would be spent in unavailing mourning for those whom we have lost. It is better to enjoy the society of those who remain to us. I am heartily glad, my dear
Terry, that you have carried through your engagement so triumphantly, and that your professional talents are at length so far appreciated as to place you in the first rank in point of emolument as in point of reputation. Your talents, too, are of a kind that will wear well, and health permitting, hold out to you a long course of honourable exertion; you should begin to make a little nest-egg as soon as you can; the first little hoard which a man can make of his earnings is the foundation-stone of comfort and independence—so says one who has found it difficult to practise the lesson he offers you. We are getting on here in the old style. The new castle is now roofing, and looks superb; in fact a little too good for the estate, but we must work the harder to make the land suitable. The library is a superb room, but after all I fear the shelves ought not to be less than ten or twelve feet high; I had quite decided for nine feet, but on an exacter measurement this will not accommodate fully the books I

* Burns.

OCTOBER, 1822.231
have now in hand, and leaves no room for future purchases. Pray is there not a tolerable book on upholstery—I mean plans for tables, chairs, commodes, and such like? If so, I would be much obliged to you to get me a copy, and send it under
Freeling’s cover. When you can pick up a few odd books for me, especially dramatic, you will do me a great kindness, and I will remit the blunt immediately. I wish to know what the Montrose sword cost, that I may send the gratility. I must look about for a mirror for the drawing-room, large enough to look well between the windows. Beneath, I mean to place the antique mosaic slab which Constable has given me, about four feet and a half in length. I am puzzled about framing it. Another anxious subject with me is fitting up the little oratory—I have three thick planks of West Indian cedar, which, exchanged with black oak, would, I think, make a fine thing. I wish you had seen the King’s visit here; it was very grand; in fact, in moral grandeur it was beyond any thing I ever witnessed, for the hearts of the poorest as well as the greatest were completely merged in the business. William Murray behaved excellently, and was most useful. I worked like a horse, and had almost paid dear for it, for it was only a sudden and violent eruption that saved me from a dangerous illness. I believe it was distress of mind, suppressed as much as I could, and mingling with the fatigue: certainly I was miserably ill, and am now only got quite better. I wish to know how Mrs Terry, and you, and my little Walter are; also little Miss. I hope, if I live so long, I may be of use to the former; little misses are not so easily accommodated.—Pray remember me to Mrs Terry. Write to me soon, and believe me, always most truly yours,

Walter Scott.”
To Lieutenant Waiter Scott, 15th Hussars, Berlin.
“Abbotsford, 7th October, 1822.
“My dearest Walter,

“I wrote you a full account of the King’s visit, which went off à merveille. I suffered a good deal in consequence of excessive fatigue and constant anxiety, but was much relieved by a very inconvenient and nasty eruption which physicians call the prickly heat. Ross says if it had not broke out I would have had a bad fever—in the mean-time, though the complaint has gone off, my arms and legs are spotted like a leopard’s. The King has expressed himself most graciously to me, both at leaving Edinburgh and since he returned. I know from sure authority he has scarce ever ceased to speak about the Scotch and the fine taste and spirit of their reception.

“Some small accompts of yours have come in. This is wrong—you ought never to leave a country without clearing every penny of debt; and you have no apology for doing so, as you are never refused what I can afford. When you can get a troop I shall expect you to maintain yourself without further recourse on me, except in the case of extraordinary accident, so that, without pinching yourself, you must learn to keep all your expenses within your income; it is a lesson which if not learned in youth lays up much bitter regret for age.

“I am pleased with your account of Dresden, and could have wished you had gone on to Töplitz, Leipsic, &c. At Töplitz Buonaparte had his fatal check, losing Vandamme, and about 10,000 men, who had pressed too unwarily on the allies after raising the siege of Dresden. These are marked events in your profession, and when you are on the ground you ought to compare the scene
NOVEMBER, 1822.233
of action with such accounts as you can get of the motives and motions of the contending powers.

“We are all quite well here; my new house is quite finished as to masonry, and we are now getting on the roof just in time to face the bad weather. Charles is well at last writing—the Lockharts speak for themselves. Game is very plenty, and two or three pair of pheasants are among the young wood at Abbotslee. I have given strict orders there shall be no shooting of any kind on that side of the hill. Our house has been a little disturbed by a false report that puss had eat up the favourite robin-redbreast who comes every morning to sing for crumbs after breakfast, but the reappearance of Robin exculpates old Hinzie. On your birthday this week you become major!—God send you the wit and reflection necessary to conduct yourself as a man; from henceforward, my province will be to advise rather than to command.—Well, we shall have a little jollification, and drink your health on becoming legally major, which, I suppose, you think a much less matter than were you to become so in the military term.

Mamma is quite well, and with Ann and Cousin Walter join in compliments and love.—Always affectionately yours,

Walter Scott.”

In the next letter to Terry, Scott refers to the death of an amiable friend of his, Mr James Wedderburne, Solicitor-General for Scotland, which occurred on the 7th November; and we have an indication that Peveril of the Peak had reached the fourth volume, in his announcement of the subject for Quentin Durward.

To D. Terry, Esq. London.
“Abbotsford, Nov. 10th, 1822.
“My dear Terry,

“I got all the plans safe, and they are delightful. The library ceiling will be superb, and we have plenty of ornaments for it without repeating one of those in the eating-room. The plan of shelves is also excellent, and will, I think, for a long time suffice my collection. The brasses for the shelves I like—but not the price: the notched ones, after all, do very well. I have had three grand hawls since I last wrote to you. The pulpit, repentance-stool, King’s seat, and God knows how much of carved wainscot, from the kirk of Dunfermline,* enough to coat the hall to the height of seven feet:—supposing it boarded above, for hanging guns, old portraits, intermixed with armour, &c.—it will be a superb entrance-gallery: this is hawl the first. Hawl second is twenty-four pieces of the most splendid Chinese paper, twelve feet high by four wide, a present from my cousin Hugh Scott,† enough to finish the drawing-room and two bed-rooms. Hawl third is a quantity of what is called Jamaica cedar-wood, enough for fitting up both the drawing-room and the library, including the presses, shelves, &c.: the wood is finely pencilled and most beautiful, something like the colour of gingerbread; it costs very little more than oak, works much easier, and is never touched by vermin of any kind. I sent Mr Atkinson a specimen, but it was from the plain end of the plank: the interior is finely waved and variegated. Your kind and unremitting exertions in our favour will soon plenish the drawing-

* For this hawl Sir Walter was indebted to the Magistrates of Dunfermline.

Captain Hugh Scott, of the East India Company’s Naval Service (now of Draycote House, near Derby), second son to the late Laird of Raeburn.

NOVEMBER, 1822.235
room. Thus we at present stand. We have a fine old English cabinet, with china, &c.—and two superb elbow-chairs, the gift of
Constable, carved most magnificently, with groups of children, fruit, and flowers, in the Italian taste: they came from Rome, and are much admired. It seems to me that the mirror you mention, being framed in carved box, would answer admirably well with the chairs, which are of the same material. The mirror should, I presume, be placed over the drawing-room chimney-piece; and opposite to it I mean to put an antique table of mosaic marbles, to support Chantrey’s bust. A good sofa would be desirable, and so would the tapestry-screen, if really fresh and beautiful; but as much of our furniture will be a little antiquated, one would not run too much into that taste in so small an apartment. For the library I have the old oak chairs now in the little armoury, eight in number, and we might add one or two pair of the ebony chairs you mention. I should think this enough, for many seats in such a room must impede access to the books; and I don’t mean the library to be on ordinary occasions a public room. Perhaps the tapestry-screen would suit better here than in the drawing-room. I have one library table here, and shall have another made for atlases and prints. For the hall I have four chairs of black oak. In other matters we can make it out well enough. In fact, it is my object rather to keep under my new accommodations at first, both to avoid immediate outlay, and that I may leave room for pretty things which may occur hereafter. I would to Heaven I could take a cruize with you through the brokers, which would be the pleasantest affair possible, only I am afraid I should make a losing voyage of it. Mr Atkinson has missed a little my idea of the oratory, fitting it up entirely as a bookcase, whereas I should like to have had recesses for curiosities—for the
Bruce’s skull*—for a crucifix, &c. &c.—in short, a little cabinet instead of a book-closet. Four sides of books would be perfectly sufficient; the other four, so far as not occupied by door or window, should be arranged tastefully for antiquities, &c., like the inside of an antique cabinet, with drawers, and shottles, and funny little arches. The oak screen dropped as from the clouds: it is most acceptable; I might have guessed there was only one kind friend so ready to supply hay to my hobby-horse. You have my views in these matters and your own taste; and I will send the needful when you apprise me of the amount total. Where things are not quite satisfactory, it is better to wait a while on every account, for the amusement is over when one has room for nothing more. The house is completely roofed, &c., and looks worthy of Mrs Terry’s painting. I never saw any thing handsomer than the grouping of towers, chimneys, &c. upon the roof, when seen at a proper distance.

“Once more, let me wish you joy of your professional success. I can judge, by a thousand minute items, of the advance you make with the public, just as I can of the gradual progress of my trees, because I am interested in both events. You may say, like Burke, you were not ‘coaxed and dandled into eminence,’ but have fought your way gallantly, shown your passport at every barrier, and been always a step in advance, without a single retrograde movement. Every one wishes to advance rapidly, but when the desired position is gained, it is far more easily maintained by him whose ascent has been gradual, and whose favour is founded not on the unreasonable expectations entertained from one or two seasons, but from an habitual experience of the power of pleasing

* A cast of the skull of King Robert the Bruce, made when his tomb was discovered during some repairs of Dunfermline Abbey, in 1819.

DECEMBER, 1822.237
during several years. You say not a word of poor
Wattles. I hope little Miss has not put his nose out of joint entirely.

“I have not been very well—a whoreson thickness of blood, and a depression of spirits arising from the loss of friends (to whom I am now to add poor Wedderburne), have annoyed me much; and Peveril will, I fear, smell of the apoplexy. I propose a good rally, however, and hope it will be a powerful effect. My idea is, entre nous, a Scotch archer in the French King’s guard, tempore Louis XI., the most picturesque of all times.—Always yours very faithfully,

Walter Scott.”

This letter contains the first allusion to the species of malady that ultimately proved fatal to Sir Walter Scott. He, as far as I know, never mentioned to any one of his family the symptoms which he here speaks of; but long before any serious apoplectic seizure occurred, it had been suspected by myself, and by others of his friends, that he had sustained slight attacks of that nature, and concealed them.

The depression of spirits of which he complains, could not, however, have hung over him long; at least it by no means interrupted any of his usual occupations. A grievous interruption had indeed been occasioned by the royal visit, its preparations, and its legacy of visitants and correspondence; but he now laboured to make up his lee-way, and Peveril of the Peak was completed, and some progress had also been achieved with the first volume of Quentin Durward, before the year reached its close. Nor had he ceased to contemplate future labour, and continued popularity, with the same firmness and hopefulness as ever. He had, in the course of October, completed his contract, and received Constable’s bills,
for another unnamed “work of fiction;” and this was the last such work in which the great bookseller of Edinburgh was destined to have any concern. The engagement was in fact that redeemed three years afterwards by

Sir Walter was, as may be supposed, stimulated in all these matters by the music of the hammer and saw at Abbotsford. Witness this letter, written during the Christmas recess—

To Daniel Terry, Esq., London.
“Abbotsford, January 9th, 1823.
“Dear Terry,

“It is close firing to answer letters the day they come to hand, but I am afraid of losing opportunities, as in the case of the mirror, not to be retrieved. I am first to report progress, for your consideration and Mr Atkinson’s, of what I have been doing here. Every thing about the house has gone à rien mieux, and the shell is completely finished; all the upper story and garrets, as well as the basement, have had their first coat of plaster, being first properly fenced from the exterior air. The only things which we now greatly need are the designs for the ceilings of the hall and drawing-room, as the smiths and plasterers are impatient for their working plans, the want of which rather stops them. I have taken actual, real, and corporal possession of my sitting-room, which has been fitted with a temporary floor, door, and window—the oratory, and the door into the library, being bricked up ad interim. This was a stop of necessity, as my books began to suffer in Peter’s garret, so they were brought up to the said room, and are all ranged in their old shelves and presses, so as to be completely comeatable. They have been now there a fortnight without the least appearance of damp, so dry
JANUARY, 1823.239
do the brick facings make the wall; and as we keep good fires in the place (which, by the by, vents like all Mr Atkinson’s chimneys, in a superior style), I intend they shall remain there till they are transferred to the Library, so that this room will be fitted up last of all. I shall be then able to judge of a point on which I have at present some doubt—namely, the capacity of my library to accommodate my books. Should it appear limited (I mean making allowance for future additions) I can perhaps, by Mr Atkinson’s assistance, fit up this private room with a gallery, which might enter by carrying the stair up the oratory, and renouncing the idea of fitting it up. The cedar, I assure you, is quite beautiful. I have had it sawn out into planks, and every one who looks at it agrees it will be more beautiful than oak. Indeed, what I have seen of it put to that use, bears no comparison unless with such heart of oak as
Bullock employed, and that you know is veneered. I do not go on the cry in this, but practical knowledge, for Mr Waugh, my neighbour, a West Indian planter (but himself bred a joiner), has finished the prettiest apartment with it that I ever saw. I should be apt to prefer the brass notches, were the difference only what you mention, namely, L.20; but I cannot make out how that should be, unless by supposing the joiners’ wages much higher than with us. But indeed, in such a library as mine, when the books are once catalogued, I could perhaps in many instances make fixed shelves answer the turn, by adopting a proper arrangement from the beginning. I give up the Roslin drop in the oratory—indeed I have long seen it would not do. I think the termination of it may be employed as the central part of Mr Atkinson’s beautiful plan for the recess in the library; by the by, the whole of that ceiling, with the heads we have got, will be the prettiest thing ever seen in these parts.


“The plan preferred for the door between the entrance-hall and ante-room, was that which was marked B. To make this plain, I reinclose A and C—which mode of explaining myself puts me in mind of the evidence of an Irish officer—‘We met three rebels, one we shot, hanged another, the third we flogged and made a guide of.’—‘Which of the three did you flog and make a guide of?’—‘Him whom we neither shot nor hanged.’ Understand, therefore, that the plan not returned is that fixed upon. I think there is nothing left to say about the house excepting the chimney-pieces. I have selected for the hall chimney-piece one of the cloister arches of Melrose, of which I enclose an accurate drawing. I can get it finished here very beautifully, at days’ wages, in our dark red freestone. The chimneys of drawing-room, library, and my own room, with grates conforming, will be got much better in London than any where else; by the by, for the hall I have got an old massive chimney-grate which belonged to the old persecutor Bishop Sharp, who was murdered on Magus Muir. All our grates must be contrived to use wood as well as coal, with what are called half-dogs.

“I am completely Lady Wishfort as to the escritoire. In fact, my determination would very much depend on the possibility of showing it to advantage; for if it be such as is set up against a wall, like what is called, par excellence, a writing-desk, you know we have no space in the library that is not occupied by book-presses. If, on the contrary, it stands quite free, why, I do not know—I must e’en leave it to you to decide between taste and prudence. The silk damask, I fancy, we must have for the drawing-room curtains; those in the library we shall have of superfine crimson cloth from Galashiels, made of mine own wool. I should like the silk to be sent down in the bales, as I wish these curtains to be made
JANUARY, 1823.241
up on a simple useful pattern, without that paltry trash of drapery, &c. &c. I would take the armoury curtains for my pattern, and set my own tailor, Robin Goodfellow, to make them up; and I think I may save on the charge of such an upholsterer as my friend Mr Trotter much of the difference in the value of materials. The chairs will be most welcome. Packing is a most important article, and I must be indebted to your continued goodness for putting that into proper hands. The mirror, for instance—O Lord, sir!

“Another and most important service would be to procure me, from any person whom Mr Atkinson may recommend, the execution of the enclosed commission for fruit-trees. We dare not trust Edinburgh; for though the trade never makes a pause in furnishing you with the most rare plants, insomuch that an old friend of mine, the original Jonathan Oldbuck, having asked one of them to supply him with a dozen of anchovies, he answered ‘he had plenty of them, but, being a delicate plant, they were still in the hothouse’ yet, when the said plants come to bear fruit, the owner may adopt the classical line—
‘Miratur novas frondes et non sua poma.’
My new gardener is a particularly clever fellow in his way, and thinks the enclosed kinds like to answer best. Our new garden-wall will be up in spring, time enough to have the plants set. By the way, has Mr Atkinson seen the way of heating hot-houses, &c., adapted by Mr Somebody at Glasgow, who has got a patent? It is by a new application of steam, which is poured into a vaulted roof, made completely air-tight, except where it communicates with an iron box, so to speak, a receptacle of the heated air. This vaulted recess is filled with bricks, stones, or such like substances, capable of
receiving and retaining an extreme degree of heat from the steam with which they are surrounded. The steam itself is condensed and carried off; but the air, which for many hours continues to arise from these heated bricks, ascends into the iron receptacle, and is let off by ventilators into the space to be heated in such quantities as may be desired. The excellence of this plan is not only the saving of fuel, but also and particularly the certainty that the air cannot be overheated, for the temperature at hottest does not exceed 95 degrees—nor overchilled, for it continues to retain, and of course to transmit, the same degree of heated air, or but with little variation, for ten or twelve hours, so as to render the process of forcing much more certain and simple than it has been from any means hitherto devised. I dare say that this is a very lame explanation, but I will get a perfect one for Mr Atkinson if he wishes it. The Botanical Garden at Glasgow has adopted the plan, and they are now changing that of Edinburgh for the same purpose. I have not heard whether it has been applied to houses; but, from the principle, I should conceive it practicable.

Peveril has been stopped ten days, having been driven back to Leith Roads by stress of weather. I have not a copy here, but will write to Ballantyne to send you one forthwith. I am sick of thinking of it myself. We hear of you often, and always of your advancing favour with the public. It is one of many cases in which the dearly beloved public has come round to my decided opinion, after seeming to waver for a time. Washington Irving’s success is another instance of the same. Little Walter will, I hope, turn out all we can wish him; and Mrs Terry’s health, I would fain hope, will be completely re-established. The steam-boats make a jaunt to Scotland comparatively so speedy and easy, that I hope you will sometimes cast both of yourselves this way. Abbotsford, I am sure, will please you, when
JANUARY, 1823.243
you see all your dreams realized, so far as concerns elevation, &c.

John Thomson, Duddingstone, has given me his most splendid picture, painted, he says, on purpose for me a true Scottish scene. It seems to me that many of our painters shun the sublime of our country, by labouring to introduce trees where doubtless by search they might be found, but where most certainly they make no conspicuous part of the landscape, being like some little folks who fill up a company, and put you to the proof before you own to have seen them. Now this is Fast Castle, famous both in history and legend, situated near St Abb’s Head, which you most certainly must have seen, as you have cruized along the coast of Berwickshire. The view looks from the land down on the ragged ruins, a black sky and a foaming ocean beyond them. There is more imagination in the picture than in any I have seen of a long time a sort of Salvator Rosa’s doings.—Revenons à nos moutons. I find that the plans for the window-shutters of the entrance-hall are much wanted. My wainscot will not be altogether seven feet—about six. Higher it cannot be, because of the pattern of the Dunfermline part; and lower I would not have it, because the armour, &c. must be suspended beyond the reach of busy and rude fingers, to which a hall is exposed. You understand I mean to keep lighter, smaller, and more ornate objects of curiosity in the present little room, and have only the massive and large specimens, with my fine collection of horns, &c., in the hall. Above the wainscot, I propose the wall to be planked and covered with cartridge paper, and then properly painted in wainscot, to match the arrangement beneath.

“I have now, as your own Dogberry says, bestowed all my tediousness upon you;—yet I have still a question
of yours to answer on a certain bookseller’s part. Unquestionably I know many interesting works of the kind he mentions which might be translated from the German:—almost all those of
Musæus, of which Beddoes made two volumes, and which are admirably written; many of La Motte Fouque; several from the collection bearing the assumed name of Beit Weber. But there is a point more essential to their success with the British public than even the selection. There is in the German mode of narration, an affectation of deep metaphysical reflection and protracted description and discussion, which the English do not easily tolerate; and whoever translates their narratives with effect should be master of the taste and spirit of both nations. For instance, I lately saw a translation of ‘Sintram und seine Gefahrten,’ or Sintram and his Comrades, the story in the world which, if the plot were insinuated into the boxes, as Bayes says, would be most striking, translated into such English as was far more difficult to me than the original German. I do not know where an interpreter such as I point to could be found; but a literal jog-trotter, such as translated the passages from Goëthe annexed to the beautiful engravings, which you sent me,* would never make a profitable job. The bibliopole must lay his account to seek out a man of fancy, and pay him well. I suppose my friend Cohen† is above superintending such a work, otherwise he is the man to make something of it. Perhaps he might be induced to take it in hand for the love of the task. All who are here—namely, my lovely lady and the Lady Anne—salute you and Mrs Terry with the most sincere good wishes.—Faithfully yours,

W. Scott.

* I presume this alludes to the English edition of Retsch’s Outlines from Faust.

† Mr Cohen is now Sir Francis Palgrave, K.H.


“P.S. Direct to Edinburgh, where I shall be on the 14th. Perhaps the slightest sketch of the escritoire might enable me to decide. If I could swop my own, which cost me L.30, it might diminish my prudential scruples. Poor little Johnnie would have offered the prime cost at once. Your letter shall go to James Ballantyne. I think I have something new likely to be actually dramatical. I will send it you presently; but, on your life, show it no one, for certain reasons. The very name is kept secret, and, strange to tell, it will be printed without one.”

The precaution mentioned in this P.S. was really adopted in the printing of Quentin Durward. It had been suggested by a recent alarm about one of Ballantyne’s workmen playing foul, and transmitting proof-sheets of Peveril while at press to some American pirate.

Peveril of the Peak appeared, then, in January, 1823. Its reception was somewhat colder than that of its three immediate predecessors. The post-haste rapidity of the Novelist’s execution was put to a severe trial, from his adoption of so wide a canvass as was presented by a period of twenty busy years, and filled by so very large and multifarious an assemblage of persons, not a few of them, as it were, struggling for prominence. Fenella was an unfortunate conception; what is good in it is not original, and the rest extravagantly absurd and incredible. Even worse was that condescension to the practice of vulgar romancers, in his treatment of the trial scenes—scenes usually the very citadels of his strength—which outraged every feeling of probability with those who had studied the terrible tragedies of the Popish Plot, in the authentic records of, perhaps, the
most disgraceful epoch in our history. The story is clumsy and perplexed; the catastrophe (another signal exception to his rules) foreseen from the beginning, and yet most inartificially brought about. All this is true; and yet might not criticisms of the same sort be applied to half the masterpieces of
Shakspeare? And did any dramatist—to say nothing of any other novelist—ever produce, in spite of all the surrounding bewilderment of the fable, characters more powerfully conceived, or, on the whole, more happily portrayed, than those (I name but a few) of Christian, Bridgenorth, Buckingham, and Chiffinch—sketches more vivid than those of Young Derby, Colonel Blood, and the keeper of Newgate? The severest censor of this novel was Mr Senior; yet he was just as well as severe. He could not dismiss the work without admitting that Peveril, “though entitled to no precedency,” was, on the whole, “not inferior to his brethren, taken as a class;” and upon that class he introduced a general eulogy, which I shall gratify my readers by extracting:*

“It had become a trite remark, long before there was the reason for it which now exists, that the Waverley novels are, even from their mere popularity, the most striking literary phenomena of the age. And that popularity, unequalled as it is in its extent, is perhaps more extraordinary in its permanence. It has resisted the tendency of the public, and perhaps of ourselves, much as we struggle against it, to think every subsequent work of the same author inferior to its predecessors, if it be not manifestly superior. It has resisted the satiety which might have been predicted as the necessary consequence of the frequent repetition of similar characters and situations. Above all, it has withstood pessimum genus inimicorum laudantes. And, in spite of acute enemies, and clumsy friends, and

* I the rather quote this criticism, as it was published in the London Review a journal which stopped at the second or third Number, and must therefore have had a very narrow circulation.

bungling imitators, each successive novel succeeds in obtaining a fortnight of attention as deep and as exclusive as was bestowed upon the ‘
Bride of Lammermoor,’ or the ‘Heart of Mid-Lothian.’ We have heard this popularity accounted for in many various ways. It has been attributed to the picturesque reality of Sir Walter Scott’s descriptions, to the truth and individuality of his characters, to the depth of his pathos and the gaiety of his humour, to the purity and candour of his morality, and to the clear, flexible, and lively, yet unaffected style, which is so delightful a vehicle of his more substantial merits.

“But we do not think that these qualities, even taken together, sufficiently account for such an effect as has been produced. In almost all of them, he has had equals—in some, perhaps, superiors—and though we know of no writer of any age or any nation who has united all these excellences in so high a degree, their deficiencies have been balanced by strength, in what are our author’s weakest points, interest and probability in the fable, and clearness of narration.

“We are inclined to suggest as the additional cause of his success, the manner in which his works unite the most irreconcilable forms, and the most opposite materials. He exhibits, sometimes in succession, and sometimes intermingled, tragedy and the romance, comedy and the novel. Great events, exalted personages, and awful superstitions have, in general, been the exclusive province of the two former. But the dignity which has been supposed to belong to those styles of writing, has in general excluded the representation of the everyday occurrences and familiar emotions, which, though parts of great events, and incident to great people, are not characteristic of either. And as human nature is principally conversant in such occurrences and emotions, it has in general been inadequately or falsely represented in tragedy and romance; inadequately by good writers, and falsely by bad—the former omitting whatever could not be made splendid and majestic, the latter exaggerating what they found really great, and attempting to give importance to what is base and trivial, and sacrificing reason and probability to render freebooters dignified, and make familiar friends converse in heroics. Homer and Euripides are the only exceptions among the ancients; and no modern tragedian, except Shakspeare, has ventured to make a king’s son, ‘remember that poor creature, small-beer.’ Human nature, therefore, fell into the hands of comedians and novelists; but they seem either to have thought that there was something in the feelings and sufferings of ordinary mortality incon-
sistent with those who are made of the porcelain clay of the earth; or not to have formed sufficiently general conceptions, to venture beyond the limits of their own experience. Their characters, therefore, are copied from the originals with whom the writer, and therefore the reader, is familiar: they are placed in situations which derive no interest from their novelty; and the usual catastrophe is an event which every reader has experienced or expected.

“We may compare tragedy to a martyrdom by one of the old masters; which, whatever be its merit, represents persons, emotions, and events so remote from the experience of the spectator, that he feels the grounds of his approbation and blame to be in a great measure conjectural. The romance, such as we generally have seen it, resembles a Gothic window-piece, where monarchs and bishops exhibit the symbols of their dignity, and saints hold out their palm branches, and grotesque monsters in blue and gold pursue one another through the intricacies of a never-ending scroll, splendid in colouring, but childish in composition, and imitating nothing in nature but a mass of drapery and jewels thrown over the commonest outlines of the human figure. The works of the comedian and novelist, in their least interesting forms, are Dutch paintings and caricatures: in their best, they are like Wilkie’s earlier pictures, accurate imitations of pleasing, but familiar objects—admirable as works of art, but addressed rather to the judgment than to the imagination.

“Our author’s principal agents are the mighty of the earth, often mixed, in his earlier works, with beings of more than earthly attributes. He paints the passions which arm sect against sect, party against party, and nation against nation. He relates, either episodically or as the main object of his narrative, the success or failure of those attempts which permanently affect the happiness of states; conspiracies and rebellions, civil war and religious persecution, the overthrow of dynasties and changes of belief—
‘There saw I how the secret felon wrought,
And treason labouring in the traitor’s thought;
On the other side there stood destruction bare,
Unpunish’d rapine, and a waste of war;
Contest, with sharpen’d knives in cloysters drawn,
And all with blood bespread the holy lawn.’

“So far he has nothing in common with the novelist or the comedian. But he writes for times when the veil of high life is rent or torn away—when all men are disposed to scrutinize, and
competent to judge—when they look through and through kings and statesmen, and see that they are and act as mere men. He has, therefore, treated those lofty subjects with a minuteness of detail, and an unsparing imitation of human nature, in its foibles as well as its energies, which few writers, excepting the three whom we have mentioned, have had the boldness and the philosophy to employ in the representation of exalted characters and national events. ‘His story requires preachers and kings, but he thinks only on men;’ and well aware that independence and flattery must heighten every peculiarity, he has drawn in a royal personage the most laughable picture that perhaps ever was exhibited of human folly and inconsistency. By his intermixture of public and private events, he has shown how they act and re-act on one another; how results which appear, to him who views them from the distance of history, to depend on causes of slow and irresistible operation, are produced, or prevented, or modified, by the passions, the prejudices, the interests, and often the caprice of individuals; and on the other hand, how essential national tranquillity is to individual happiness—what family discord and treachery, what cruelty, what meanness, what insolence, what rapacity, what insecurity—in short, what vice and misery of every kind must be witnessed and felt by those who have drawn the unhappy lot of existence in times of civil war and revolution.

“We have no doubt that his constant introduction of legal proceedings (a subject as carefully avoided by his predecessors) materially assists the plausibility of his narratives. In peaceful times, the law is the lever which sets in motion a great part of our actions, and regulates and controls them all. And if, in times of civil disturbance, its regular and beneficial operation be interrupted (and indeed such an interruption is the criterion, and the great mischief of civil disturbance), yet the forms of law are never in more constant use. Men who would not rob or murder, will sequestrate and condemn. The advantage, the gratification of avarice or hatred, is enjoyed by all the responsibility is divided; since those who framed the iniquitous law have not to execute it, and those who give effect to it did not create it. The recurrence, therefore, in our author’s works, of this mainspring of human affairs, has a double effect. If the story were true, we should expect to meet with it; supposing it fictitious, we should expect it to be absent.

“An example will illustrate much of what we have tediously, and we fear obscurely, attempted to explain. We will take one from Waverley. The principal scenes are laid in a royal palace, on a field of battle, where the kingdom is the stake, and at the head-
quarters of a victorious army. The actors are, an exiled prince, reclaiming the sceptre of his ancestors, and the armed nobility and gentry of his kingdom. So far we are in the lofty regions of romance. And in any other hands than those of
Sir Walter Scott, the language and conduct of these great people would have been as dignified as their situations. We should have heard nothing of the hero in his new costume ‘majoring afore the muckle pier-glass’—of his arrest by the host of the Candlestick—of his examination by the well-powdered Major Melville—or his fears of being informed against by Mrs Nosebag. The Baron would not have claimed to draw off the princely caligæ. Fergus would not have been influenced, in bringing his sister to the camp, by the credit to be obtained through her beauty and accomplishments. We should not have been told of the staff-appointment refused by Waverley, or of the motives which caused him first to march with the M’Ivors, and afterwards with the Baron. In short, we should have had a uniform and imposing representation of a splendid scene, but calculated to leave false recollections with the uninstructed, and none at all with the judicious reader. But when we study the history of the rebellion in Waverley, we feel convinced that, though the details presented to us never existed, yet they must resemble what really happened; and that while the leading persons and events are as remote from those of ordinary life as the inventions of Scuderi, the picture of human nature is as faithful as could have been given by Fielding or Le Sage.”

I fear the reader will hardly pardon me for bringing him down abruptly from this fine criticism to a little joke of the Parliament-House. Among its lounging young barristers of those days, Sir Walter Scott, in the intervals of his duty as clerk, often came forth and mingled much in the style of his own coeval Mountain. Indeed the pleasure he seemed to take in the society of his professional juniors, was one of the most remarkable, and certainly not the least agreeable features of his character at this period of his consummate honour and celebrity; but I should rather have said, perhaps, of young people generally, male or female, law or lay, gentle or simple. I used to think it was near of kin to another feature
in him, his love of a bright light. It was always, I suspect, against the grain with him, when he did not even work at his desk with the sun full upon him. However, one morning soon after
Peveril came out, one of our most famous wags (now famous for better things), namely, Mr Patrick Robertson, commonly called by the endearing Scottish diminutive “Peter,” observed that tall conical white head advancing above the crowd towards the fire-place, where the usual roar of fun was going on among the briefless, and said, “Hush, boys, here comes old Peveril, I see the Peak.” A laugh ensued, and the Great Unknown, as he withdrew from the circle after a few minutes’ gossip, insisted that I should tell him what our joke upon his advent had been. When enlightened, being by that time half way across “the babbling hall,” towards his own Division, he looked round with a sly grin, and said, between his teeth, “Ay, ay, my man, as weel Peveril o’ the Peak ony day as Peter o’ the Painch” (paunch)—which being transmitted to the brethren of the stove school, of course delighted all of them, except their portly Coryphæus. But Peter’s application stuck; to his dying day, Scott was in the Outer House Peveril of the Peak, or Old Peveril—and, by and by, like a good Cavalier, he took to the designation kindly. He was well aware that his own family and younger friends constantly talked of him under this sobriquet. Many a little note have I had from him (and so probably has Peter also), reproving, or perhaps encouraging, Tory mischief, and signed, “Thine, Perevil.”—Specimens enough will occur by and by—but I may as well transcribe one here, doggrel though it be. Calling at my house one forenoon, he had detected me in writing some nonsense for Blackwood’s Noctes Ambrosianæ; and after he went home, finding an apology from some friend who had
been expected to dine with a Whiggish party that day in Castle Street, he despatched this billet:—

To J. G. Lockhart, Esq. Northumberland Street.
“Irrecoverable sinner,
Work what Whigs you please till dinner,
But be here exact at six,
Smooth as oil with mine to mix.
(Sophy may step up to tea,
Our table has no room for she).
Come (your gum within your cheek)
And help sweet