LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, Bart.
Sir Walter Scott to Jane Scott, 20 March 1825

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
Creative Commons License

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
“Abbotsford, March 20, 1825.
“My dearest Child,

“I had the great pleasure of receiving your kind and attentive letter from London a few days later than I ought to have done, because it was lying here while I was absent on a little excursion, of which I have to give a most interesting account. Believe me, my love, I am very grateful for the time you bestow on me, and that you cannot give so great happiness to any one as to me by saying you are well and happy. My daughters, who deserve all the affection a father can bestow, are both near me, and in safe guardianship, the one under the charge of a most affectionate husband, and the other under the eye of her parents. For my sons, I have taught them, and what was more difficult, I have taught myself the philosophy, that for their own sake and their necessary advancement in life, their absences from my house must be long, and their visits short; and as they are both, I hope, able to conduct themselves wisely and honourably, I have learned to be contented to hope the best, without making myself or them uneasy by fruitless anxiety. But for you, my dear Jane, who have come among us with such generous and confiding affection, my stoicism
must excuse me if I am more anxious than becomes either a philosopher or a hackneyed man of the world, who uses in common cases to take that world as it goes. I cannot help worrying myself with the question, whether the object of such constant and affectionate care may not feel less happy than I could wish her in scenes which must be so new, and under privations which must be felt by you the more that your earlier life has been an entire stranger to them. I know
Walter’s care and affection will soften and avert these as much as possible, and if there be any thing in the power of old papa to assist him in the matter, you will make him most happy by tasking that power to the utmost. I wrote to him yesterday that he might proceed in bargain for the troop, and send me the terms that I might provide the needful, as mercantile folks call it, in time and place suitable. The rank of Captain gives, I am aware, a degree of consideration which is worth paying for; and what is still more, my little Jane, as a Captain’s lady, takes better accommodation every way than is given to a subaltern’s. So we must get the troop by all means, coute qui coute.

“Now I will plague you with no more business; but give you an account of myself in the manner of Mr Jonathan Oldbuck, if ever you heard of such a person. You must suppose that you are busy with your work, and that I am telling you some long story or other, and that you now and then look round and say eh, as you do when you are startled by a question or an assertion—it is not quite eh neither, but just a little quiet interjection, which shows you are attending. You see what a close observer papa is of his child.

“Well then, when, as I calculate (as a Yankee would say), you were tossing on the waves of the Irish Channel, I was also tossing on the Vadum Scotticum of
Ptolemy, on my return from the celebrated Urbs Orrea of Tacitus. ‘Eh,’ says Jane; ‘Lord, Walter, what can the old gentleman mean?’—‘Weiss nichts davon,’ says the hussar, taking his cigar from under his moustaches (no, I beg pardon, he does not take out the cigar, because, from the last advices, he has used none in his London journey). He says weiss nichts, however, which is, in Italian, No so—in French, Je nen scais rien—in broad Scotch, I neither ken nor care—Well you ask Mr Edgeworth, or the chaplain of the regiment, or the first scholar you come by—that is to say, you don’t attempt to pronounce the hieroglyphical word, but you fold down the letter just at the place, show the talismanic Urbs Orrea and no more, and ask him in which corner of the earth Sir Walter can have been wandering? So, after a moment’s recollection, he tells you that the great Roman general, Agricola, was strangely put to his trumps at the Urbs Orrea during his campaign in Caledonia, and that the ninth legion was surprised there by the British and nearly destroyed; then he gets a county history and a Tacitus, and Sir Robert Sibbald’s Tracts, and begins to fish about, and finds at length that the Urbs Orrea is situated in the kingdom of Fife*—that it is now called Lochore—that it belonged to the Lochores—the De Vallences—the Wardlaws—the Malcolms—and Lord knows whom in succession and then, in a sheet wet from the press, he finds it is now the property of a pretty and accomplished young lady, who, in an unthrift generosity, has given it with a much more valuable present, namely, her own self—to a lieutenant of hussars. So there the scholar shuts his book, and observes that as there are many cairns and tumuli and other memo-

* According to the general creed (out of the “Kingdom of Fife,” that is to say)—Mr Oldbuck was quite wrong as to the identification of this prætorium.

rials upon the scene of action, he wonders whether Sir Walter had not the curiosity to open some of them. ‘Now heaven forbid,’ says Jane; ‘I think the old knight has stock enough for boring one with his old Border ballads and battles, without raising the bones of men who have slept 1000 years quietly on my own estate to assist him.’ Then I can keep silence no longer, but speak in my own proper person. ‘Pray do you not bore me, Mrs Jane, and have not I a right to retaliate?’—‘Eh,’ says the Lady of Lochore, ‘how is it possible I should bore you, and so many hundred miles between us?’—‘That’s the very reason,’ says the Laird of Abbotsford, ‘for if you were near me the thing would be impossible—but being, as you say, at so many hundred miles distant, I am always thinking about you, and asking myself an hundred questions which I cannot answer; for instance, I cannot go about my little improvements without teasing myself with thinking whether Jane would like the green-house larger or less—and whether Jane would like such line of walk, or such another—and whether that stile is not too high for Jane to step over.’ ‘Dear papa,’ says Jane, ‘your own style is really too high for my comprehension.’

“Well then, I am the most indulgent papa in the world, and so you see I have turned over a new leaf. The plain sense of all this rambling stuff, which escapes from my pen as it would from my tongue, is that I have visited for a day, with Isaac Bayley,* your dominions of Lochore, and was excellently entertained and as happy as I could be, where every thing was putting me in mind that she was absent whom I could most have wished present. It felt, somehow, like an intrusion; and as if it was not quite right that I should be in Jane’s house,

* A cousin of the young lady, and the legal manager of her affairs.

while Jane herself was amongst strangers; this is the sort of false colouring which imagination gives to events and circumstances. Well, but I was much pleased with all I saw, and particularly with the high order Mr Bayley has put every thing into; and I climbed Bennarty like a wild goat, and scrambled through the old crags like a wild-cat, and pranced through your pastures like a wild-buck (fat enough to be in season though), and squattered through your drains like a wild-duck, and had nearly lost myself in your morasses like the ninth legion, and visited the old castle, which is not a stupit place, and in short, wandered from Dan to Beersheba, and tired myself as effectually in your dominions as I did you in mine upon a certain walk to the Rhymer’s Glen. I had the offer of your pony, but the weather being too cold, I preferred walking; a cheerful little old gentleman, Mr Burrell, and
Mr Gray the clergyman, dined with us, and your health was not forgotten. On my retreat (Border fashion) I brought away your pony and the little chaise, believing that both will be better under Peter Mathieson’s charge than at Lochore, in case of its being let to strangers. Don’t you think Jane’s pony will be taken care of?

“The day we arrived the weather was gloomy and rainy, the climate sorrowful for your absence I suppose; the next, a fine sunny frost; the third, when I came off, so checkered with hail showers as to prevent a visit I had meditated to two very interesting persons in the neighbourhood. ‘The Chief Commissioner and Charles Adam, I suppose?’—‘Not a bit, guess again.’ O, Mr Beaton of Contal, or Mr Sym of Blair?’—‘Not a bit, guess again.’—‘I won’t guess any more.’—Well then, it was two honest gentlemen hewn in stone—some of the old knights of Lochore, who were described to me as lying under your gallery in the kirk;
but as I had no reason to expect a warm reception from them, I put off my visit till some more genial season.

“This puts me in mind of Warwick unvisited, and of my stupidity in not letting you know that the church is as well worth seeing as the castle, and you might have seen that, notwithstanding the badness of the morning. All the tombs of the mighty Beauchamps and Nevilles are to be seen there, in the most magnificent style of Gothic display, and in high preservation. However, this will be for another day, and you must comfort yourself that life has something still to show.

“I trust you will soon find yourself at Edgeworthstown, where I know you will be received with open arms, for Miss Edgeworth’s kindness is equal to her distinguished talents.

“I am glad you like my old acquaintance, Mathews. Some day I will make him show his talent for your amusement in private; for I know him well. It is very odd, he is often subject to fits of deep melancholy.

“This is a letter of formidable length, but our bargain is, long or short, just as the humour chances to be, and you are never to mend a pen or think upon a sentence, but write whatever comes readiest. My love to Walter. I am rather anxious to know if he has got his horses well over, and whether all his luggage has come safe. I am glad you have got a carriage to your mind; it is the best economy to get a good one at once. Above all, I shall be anxious to hear how you like the society of the ladies of the 15th. I know my Jane’s quiet prudence and good sense will save her from the risk of making sudden intimacies, and induce her to consider for a little while which of her new companions may suit her best; in the mean-while being civil to all.

“You see that I make no apology for writing silly letters; and why should you think that I can think yours
stupid? There is not a stupit bit about them, nor any word, or so much as a comma, that is not interesting to me.
Lady Scott and Anne send their kindest love to you, and grateful compliments to Mrs Edgeworth, Miss Edgeworth, our friend Miss Harriet, and all the family at Edgeworthstown. Buona notte, amata bene. Goodnight, darling, and take good care of yourself. I always remain your affectionate father,

Walter Scott.

“P.S.—They say a man’s fortune depends on a wife’s pleasure. I do not know how that may be; but I believe a lady’s comfort depends much on her fille-de-chambre, and therefore beg to know how Rebecca discharges her office.”