LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, Bart.
Sir Walter Scott, Journal, 20 November-24 December 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
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Edinburgh—November 20, 1825.—I have all my life regretted that I did not keep a regular Journal. I have myself lost recollection of much that was interesting; and I have deprived my family of some curious information by not carrying this resolution into effect. I have bethought me, on seeing lately some volumes of Byron’s notes, that he probably had hit upon the right way of keeping such a memorandum-book, by throwing out all pretence to regularity and order, and marking down events just as they occurred to recollection. I will try this plan; and behold I have a handsome locked volume, such as might serve for a lady’s Album. Nota bene, John Lockhart, and Anne, and I are to raise
a Society for the Suppression of Albums. It is a most troublesome shape of mendicity. Sir, your autograph—a line of poetry—or a prose sentence!—Among all the sprawling sonnets, and blotted trumpery that dishonours these miscellanies, a man must have a good stomach that can swallow this botheration as a compliment.

“I was in Ireland last summer, and had a most delightful tour.—There is much less of exaggeration about the Irish than might have been suspected. Their poverty is not exaggerated; it is on the extreme verge of human misery; their cottages would scarce serve for pig-sties, even in Scotland—and their rags seem the very refuse of a rag-shop, and are disposed on their bodies with such ingenious variety of wretchedness that you would think nothing but some sort of perverted taste could have assembled so many shreds together. You are constantly fearful that some knot or loop will give, and place the individual before you in all the primitive simplicity of Paradise. Then for their food, they have only potatoes, and too few of them. Yet the men look stout and healthy, the women buxom, and well-coloured.

“Dined with us, being Sunday, Will. Clerk and C. Sharpe. William Clerk is the second son of the celebrated author of ‘Naval Tactics.’ I have known him intimately since our college days; and to my thinking, never met a man of greater powers, or more complete information on all desirable subjects. In youth he had strongly the Edinburgh pruritus disputandi; but habits of society have greatly mellowed it, and though still anxious to gain your suffrage to his views, he endeavours rather to conciliate your opinion than conquer it by force. Still there is enough of tenacity of sentiment to prevent, in London society, where all must go slack and easy, W. C. from rising to the very top of the tree as a conversation man; who must not only
wind the thread of his argument gracefully, but also know when to let go. But I like the Scotch taste better; there is more matter, more information, above all, more spirit in it. Clerk will, I am afraid, leave the world little more than the report of his powers. He is too indolent to finish any considerable work. Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe is another very remarkable man. He was bred for a clergyman, but never took orders. He has infinite wit and a great turn for antiquarian lore, as the publications of
Kirkton, &c., bear witness. His drawings are the most fanciful and droll imaginable—a mixture between Hogarth and some of those foreign masters who painted temptations of St Anthony, and such grotesque subjects. As a poet he has not a very strong touch. Strange that his finger-ends can describe so well what he cannot bring out clearly and firmly in words. If he were to make drawing a resource, it might raise him a large income. But though a lover of antiquities, and, therefore, of expensive trifles, C. K. S. is too aristocratic to use his art to assist his purse. He is a very complete genealogist, and has made many detections in Douglas and other books on pedigree, which our nobles would do well to suppress if they had an opportunity. Strange that a man should be curious after scandal of centuries old! Not but Charles loves it fresh and fresh also, for being very much a fashionable man, he is always master of the reigning report, and he tells the anecdote with such gusto that there is no helping sympathizing with him—a peculiarity of voice adding not a little to the general effect. My idea is, that C. K. S., with his oddities, tastes, satire, and high aristocratic feelings, resembles Horace Walpole—perhaps in his person also, in a general way.—See Miss Aikin’s Anecdotes for a description of the author of the Castle of Otranto.—No other company at dinner except my cheer-
ful and good-humoured friend
Macdonald,* so called in fondness. One bottle of champagne, with the ladies’ assistance, two of claret.—I observe that both these great connoisseurs were very nearly, if not quite agreed, that there are no absolutely undoubted originals of Queen Mary. But how, then, should we be so very distinctly informed as to her features? What has become of all the originals which suggested these innumerable copies? Surely Mary must have been as unfortunate in this as in other particulars of her life.

November 21, 1825.—I am enamoured of my journal. I wish the zeal may but last. Once more of Ireland. I said their poverty was not exaggerated—neither is their wit—nor their good-humour—nor their whimsical absurdity—nor their courage. Wit.—I gave a fellow a shilling on some occasion when sixpence was the fee. ‘Remember you owe me sixpence, Pat.’ ‘May your honour live till I pay you.’ There was courtesy as well as art in this, and all the clothes on Pat’s back would have been dearly bought by the sum in question.

Good-humour.—There is perpetual kindness in the Irish cabin—butter-milk, potatoes—a stool is offered, or a stone is rolled that your honour may sit down and be out of the smoke, and those who beg every where else seem desirous to exercise free hospitality in their own houses. Their natural disposition is turned to gaiety and happiness; while a Scotchman is thinking about the term-day, or, if easy on that subject, about hell in the next world—while an Englishman is making a little hell in the present, because his muffin is not well roasted—Pat’s mind is always turned to fun and ridicule. They are terribly excitable, to be sure, and will murder you on

* Miss Macdonald Buchanan of Drummakill.

DIARY—NOVEMBER 21, 1825.127
slight suspicion, and find out next day that it was all a mistake, and that it was not yourself they meant to kill at all, at all.

Absurdity.—They were widening the road near Lord Claremont’s seat as we passed. A number of cars were drawn up together at a particular point, where we also halted, as we understood they were blowing a rock, and the shot was expected presently to go off. After waiting two minutes or so, a fellow called out something, and our carriage as a planet, and the cars for satellites, started all forward at once, the Irishmen whooping and the horses galloping. Unable to learn the meaning of this, I was only left to suppose that they had delayed firing the intended shot till we should pass, and that we were passing quickly to make the delay as short as possible. No such thing. By dint of making great haste, we got within ten yards of the rock just when the blast took place, throwing dust and gravel on our carriage, and had our postilion brought us a little nearer (it was not for want of hallooing and flogging that he did not), we should have had a still more serious share of the explosion. The explanation I received from the drivers was, that they had been told by the overseer that as the mine had been so long in going off, he dared say we would have time to pass it—so we just waited long enough to make the danger imminent. I have only to add, that two or three people got behind the carriage, just for nothing but to see how our honours got past.

“Went to the Oil Gas Committee this morning, of which concern I am President, or Chairman. This brings me into company with a body of active, business-beings, money-making citizens of Edinburgh, chiefly Whigs, by the way, whose sentiments and proceedings amuse me. The stock is rather low in the market.

“Dined with Sir Robert Dundas, where we met
Lord and Lady Melville. My little nieces (ex officio) gave us some pretty music. I do not know and cannot utter a note of music; and complicated harmonies seem to me a babble of confused though pleasing sounds. Yet simple melodies, especially if connected with words and ideas, have as much effect on me as on most people. But then I hate to hear a young person sing without feeling and expression suited to the song. I cannot bear a voice that has no more life in it than a piano-forte or a bugle-horn. There is about all the fine arts a something of soul and spirit, which, like the vital principle in man, defies the research of the most critical anatomist. You feel where it is not, yet you cannot describe what it is you want. Sir Joshua, or some other great painter, was looking at a picture on which much pains had been bestowed ‘Why, yes,’ he said, in a hesitating manner, ‘it is very clever—very well done—can’t find fault; but it wants something; it wants—it wants—d—n me—it wants that’—throwing his hand over his head, and snapping his fingers. Tom Moore’s is the most exquisite warbling I ever heard. Next to him, David Macculloch for Scotch songs. The last, when a boy at Dumfries, was much admired by Burns, who used to get him to try over the words which he composed to new melodies. He is brother to Macculloch of Ardwell.

November 22.—Moore.—I saw Moore (for the first time, I may say) this season. We had indeed met in public twenty years ago. There is a manly frankness, with perfect ease and good-breeding, about him which is delightful. Not the least touch of the poet or the pedant. A little—very little man. Less, I think, than Lewis, and somewhat like him in person; God knows, not in conversation, for Matt, though a clever fellow, was a bore of the first description. Moreover, he looked
always like a schoolboy. Now Moore has none of this insignificance. His countenance is plain, but the expression so very animated, especially in speaking or singing, that it is far more interesting than the finest features could have rendered it.

“I was aware that Byron had often spoken, both in private society and in his Journal, of Moore and myself, in the same breath, and with the same sort of regard; so I was curious to see what there could be in common betwixt us, Moore having lived so much in the gay world, I in the country, and with people of business, and sometimes with politicians; Moore a scholar, I none; he a musician and artist, I without knowledge of a note; he a democrat, I an aristocrat—with many other points of difference; besides his being an Irishman, I a Scotchman, and both tolerably national. Yet there is a point of resemblance, and a strong one. We are both good-humoured fellows, who rather seek to enjoy what is going forward than to maintain our dignity as Lions; and we have both seen the world too widely and too well not to contemn in our souls the imaginary consequence of literary people, who walk with their noses in the air, and remind me always of the fellow whom Johnson met in an alehouse, and who called himself ‘the great Twalmly—inventor of the flood-gate iron for smoothing linen.’ He also enjoys the Mot pour rire, and so do I. It was a pity that nothing save the total destruction of Byron’s Memoirs would satisfy his executors. But there was a reason—Premat Nox alta. It would be a delightful addition to life, if T. M. had a cottage within two miles of one. We went to the theatre together, and the house being luckily a good one, received T. M. with rapture. I could have hugged them, for it paid back the debt of the kind reception I met with in Ireland.

“Here is matter for a May morning, but much fitter
for a November one. The general distress in the city has affected
H. and R., Constable’s great agents. Should they go, it is not likely that Constable can stand, and such an event would lead to great distress and perplexity on the part of J. B. and myself. Thank God I have enough to pay more than 20s. in the pound, taking matters at the very worst. But much inconvenience must be the consequence. I had a lesson in 1814 which should have done good; but success and abundance erased it from my mind. But this is no time for journalizing or moralizing either. Necessity is like a sour-faced cookmaid, and I a turn-spit she has flogged, ere now, till he mounted his wheel. If Woodstock can be out by 25th January it will do much, and it is possible. Could not write to purpose for thick coming fancies.
‘My spinning-wheel is auld and stiff,
The rock o’t winna stand, sir;
To keep the temper-pin in tiff,
Employs aft my hand, sir.’

“Went to dine at the Lord Justice-Clerk’s, as I thought by invitation, but it was for Tuesday se’ennight. Returned very well pleased, not being exactly in the humour for company, and had a beef-steak. My appetite is surely, excepting as to quantity, that of a farmer, for, eating moderately of any thing, my epicurean pleasure is in the most simple diet. Wine I seldom taste when alone, and use instead a little spirits and water. I have of late diminished the quantity, for fear of a weakness inductive to a diabetes—a disease which broke up my father’s health, though one of the most temperate men who ever lived. I smoke a couple of cigars instead, which operates equally as a sedative—
‘Just to drive the cold winter away,
And drown the fatigues of the day.’
I smoked a good deal about twenty years ago when
at Ashestiel; but coming down one morning to the parlour, I found, as the room was small and confined, that the smell was unpleasant, and laid aside the use of the Nicotian weed for many years; but was again led to use it by the example of my
son, a hussar officer, and my son-in-law, an Oxford student. I could lay it aside to-morrow; I laugh at the dominion of custom in this and many things.
‘We make the giants first, and then—do not kill them.’

November 23.—On comparing notes with Moore, I was confirmed in one or two points which I had always laid down in considering poor Byron. One was, that like Rousseau he was apt to be very suspicious, and a plain downright steadiness of manner was the true mode to maintain his good opinion. Will Rose told me that once, while sitting with Byron, he fixed insensibly his eyes on his feet, one of which, it must be remembered, was deformed. Looking up suddenly, he saw Byron regarding him with a look of concentrated and deep displeasure, which wore off when he observed no consciousness or embarrassment in the countenance of Rose. Murray afterwards explained this, by telling Rose that Lord Byron was very jealous of having this personal imperfection noticed or attended to. In another point, Moore confirmed my previous opinion, namely, that Byron loved mischief-making. Moore had written to him, cautioning him against the project of establishing the paper called the Liberal, in communion with men on whom he said the world had set its mark. Byron showed this to the parties. Shelley wrote a modest and rather affecting expostulation to Moore. These two peculiarities of extreme suspicion and love of mischief are both shades of the malady which certainly tinctured some part of the character of this mighty genius; and
without some tendency towards which, genius perhaps cannot exist to great extent. The wheels of a machine to play rapidly must not fit with the utmost exactness, else the attrition diminishes the impetus.

“Another of Byron’s peculiarities was the love of mystifying, which, indeed, may be referred to that of mischief. There was no knowing how much or how little to believe of his narratives. Instance: William Bankes expostulating with him upon a dedication which he had written in extravagant terms of praise to Cam Hobhouse, Byron told him that Cam had bored him about this dedication till he had said, ‘Well, it shall be so, provided you will write it yourself;’ and affirmed that Hobhouse did write the high-coloured dedication accordingly. I mentioned this to Murray, having the report from Will Rose, to whom Bankes had mentioned it. Murray, in reply, assured me that the dedication was written by Lord Byron himself, and showed it me in his own hand. I wrote to Rose to mention the thing to Bankes, as it might have made mischief had the story got into the circle. Byron was disposed to think all men of imagination were addicted to mix fiction (or poetry) in their prose. He used to say he dared believe the celebrated courtezan of Venice, about whom Rousseau makes so piquante a story, was, if one could see her, a draggle-tailed wench enough. I believe that he embellished his own amours considerably, and that he was, in many respects, le fanfaron de vices qu’il n’avoit pas. He loved to be thought woful, mysterious, and gloomy, and sometimes hinted at strange causes. I believe the whole to have been the creation and sport of a wild and powerful fancy. In the same manner he crammed people, as it is termed, about duels and the like, which never existed, or were much exaggerated.

“What I liked about Byron, besides his boundless
genius, was his generosity of spirit as well as purse, and his utter contempt of all the affectations of literature, from the school-magisterial style to the lackadaisical. His example has formed a sort of upper house of poetry; but
‘There will be many peers
Ere such another Byron.’

“ * * * Talking of Abbotsford, it begins to be haunted by too much company of every kind, but especially foreigners. I do not like them. I hate fine waistcoats, and breast-pins upon dirty shirts. I detest the impudence that pays a stranger compliments, and harangues about an author’s works in his own house, which is surely ill-breeding. Moreover, they are seldom long of making it evident that they know nothing about what they are talking of, excepting having seen the Lady of the Lake at the opera.

“Dined at St Catherine’s* with the Lord Advocate, Lord Melville, Lord Justice-Clerk, Sir Archibald Campbell of Succoth, all class companions, and acquainted well for more than forty years. All excepting Lord J. C. were at Fraser’s class, High-School. Boyle joined us at college. There are, besides, Sir Adam Ferguson, Colin Mackenzie, James Hope, Dr James Buchan, Claud Russell, and perhaps two or three more of and about the same period but
‘Apparent rari nantes in gurgite vasto.’

November 24th.—Talking of strangers, London held, some four or five years since, one of those animals who are lions at first, but by transmutation of two seasons become in regular course boresUgo Foscolo by name, a haunter of Murray’s shop and of literary par-

* St Catherine’s, the seat of Sir William Rae, Bart., then Lord Advocate, is about three miles from Edinburgh.

ties. Ugly as a baboon, and intolerably conceited, he spluttered, blustered, and disputed, without even knowing the principles upon which men of sense render a reason, and screamed all the while like a pig with a knife in his throat. Another such animalaccio is a brute of a
Marquis de * * *, who lately inflicted two days on us at Abbotsford. These gentry never know what to make of themselves in the forenoon, but sit tormenting the women to play at proverbs and such trash.

Foreigner of a different caste. There was lately at Abbotsford, and is here for education just now, a young Count Davidoff, with his tutor, Mr Collyer. He is nephew of the famous Orlows. It is quite surprising how much sense and sound thinking this youth has at the early age of sixteen, without the least self-conceit or forwardness. On the contrary, he seems kind, modest, and ingenuous. To questions which I asked about the state of Russia he answered with the precision and accuracy of twice his years. I should be sorry the saying were verified in him—
‘So wise so young, they say, do ne’er live long.’*
I saw also at Abbotsford two Frenchmen whom I liked, friends of
Miss Dumergue. One, called Le Noir, is the author of a tragedy which he had the grace never to quote, and which I, though poked by some malicious persons, had not the grace even to hint at. They were disposed at first to be complimentary, but I convinced them it was not the custom here, and they took it well, and were agreeable.

“A little bilious this morning, for the first time these six months. It cannot be the London matters which stick on my stomach, for that is mending, and may have good effects on myself and others.

* King Richard III. Act III, Scene 1.


“Dined with Robert Cockburn. Company, Lord Melville and family; Sir John and Lady Hope; Lord and Lady R. Kerr, and so forth. Combination of colliers general, and coals up to double price; the men will not work although, or rather because they can make from thirty to forty shillings per week. Lord R. Kerr told us he had a letter from Lord Forbes (son of Earl Granard, Ireland), that he was asleep in his house at Castle Forbes, when awakened by a sense of suffocation which deprived him of the power of stirring a limb, yet left him the consciousness that the house was on fire. At this moment, and while his apartment was in flames, his large dog jumped on the bed, seized his shirt, and dragged him to the stair-case, where the fresh air restored his powers of existence and of escape. This is very different from most cases of preservation of life by the canine race, when the animal generally jumps into the water, in which element he has force and skill. That of fire is as hostile to him as to mankind.

November 25.—Read Jeffrey’s neat and well-intended address to the mechanics upon their combinations. Will it do good? Umph. It takes only the hand of a Lilliputian to light a fire, but would require the diuretic powers of Gulliver to extinguish it. The Whigs will live and die in the heresy that the world is ruled by little pamphlets and speeches, and that if you can sufficiently demonstrate that a line of conduct is most consistent with men’s interest, you have therefore and thereby demonstrated that they will at length, after a few speeches on the subject, adopt it of course. In this case we should have no need of laws or churches, for I am sure there is no difficulty in proving that moral, regular, and steady habits conduce to men’s best
interest, and that vice is not sin merely but folly. But of these men each has passions and prejudices, the gratification of which he prefers, not only to the general weal, but to that of himself as an individual. Under the action of these wayward impulses a man drinks to-day though he is sure of starving to-morrow. He murders to-morrow, though he is sure to be hanged on Wednesday; and people are so slow to believe that which makes against their own predominant passions, that mechanics will combine to raise the price for one week, though they destroy the manufacture for ever. The best remedy seems to be the probable supply of labourers from other trades. Jeffrey proposes each mechanic shall learn some other trade than his own, and so have two strings to his bow. He does not consider the length of a double apprenticeship. To make a man a good weaver and a good tailor would require as much time as the patriarch served for his two wives. Each mechanic has, indeed, a second trade, for he can dig and do rustic work. Perhaps the best reason for breaking up the association will prove to be the expenditure of the money which they have been simple enough to levy from the industrious for the support of the idle. How much provision for the sick and the aged, the widow and the orphan, has been expended in the attempt to get wages which the manufacturer cannot afford them, at any possible chance of selling his commodity!

N.B. Within eight weeks after recording this graceful act of submission, I found I was unable to keep a carriage at all.

“I had a bad fall last night coming home. There were unfinished houses at the east end of Atholl Crescent, and as I was on foot, I crossed the street to avoid the materials which lay about; but, deceived by the moonlight, I slipped ankle-deep into a sea of mud (honest earth and water, thank God), and fell on my hands.
Never was there such a representative of Wall in Pyramus and Thisbe—I was absolutely rough-cast. Luckily
Lady S. had retired when I came home; so I enjoyed my tub of water without either remonstrance or condolences. Cockburn’s hospitality will get the benefit and renown of my downfall, and yet has no claim to it. In future, though, I must take my coach at night—a control on one’s freedom, but it must be submitted to. I found a letter from Cadell, giving a cheering account of things in London. Their correspondent is getting into his strength. Three days ago I would have been contented to buy this consola, as Judy says,* dearer than by a dozen falls in the mud.

Mrs Coutts, with the Duke of St Albans and Lady Charlotte Beauclerk, called to take leave of us. When at Abbotsford, his suit throve but coldly. She made me, I believe, her confidant in sincerity. She had refused him twice, and decidedly: he was merely on the footing of friendship. I urged it was akin to love. She allowed she might marry the Duke, only she had at present not the least intention that way. Is this frank admission more favourable for the Duke than an absolute protestation against the possibility of such a marriage? I think not. It is the fashion to attend Mrs Coutts’s parties, and to abuse her. I have always found her a kind, friendly woman, without either affectation or insolence in the display of her wealth; most willing to do good, if the means be shown to her. She can be very enter-

* This alludes to a strange old woman, keeper of a public-house among the Wicklow mountains, who, among a world of oddities, cut short every word ending in tion, by the omission of the termination. Consola for consolation—bothera for botheration, &c. &c. Lord Plunkett had taken care to parade Judy and all her peculiarities.

taining, too, as she speaks without scruple of her stage life. So much wealth can hardly be enjoyed without some ostentation. But what then? If the Duke marries her, he ensures an immense fortune: if she marries him, she has the first rank. If he marries a woman older than himself by twenty years, she marries a man younger in wit by twenty degrees. I do not think he will dilapidate her fortune—he seems good and gentle: I do not think that she will abuse his softness—of disposition, shall I say, or of head? The disparity of ages concerns no one but themselves; so they have my consent to marry, if they can get each other’s. Just as this is written, enter my Lord of St Albans and Lady Charlotte, to beg I would recommend a book of sermons to Mrs Coutts. Much obliged for her good opinion: recommended
Logan’s—one poet should always speak for another. The mission, I suppose, was a little display on the part of good Mrs Coutts of authority over her high aristocratic suitor. I did not suspect her of turning devotee, and retract my consent as given above, unless she remains ‘burly, brisk, and jolly.’ Dined quiet with wife and daughter. Robert Cadell looked in in the evening on business.

“I here register my purpose to practise economics. I have little temptation to do otherwise. Abbotsford is all that I can make it, and too large for the property; so I resolve—

“No more building;

“No purchases of land, till times are quite safe;

“No buying books or expensive trifles—I mean to any extent; and

“Clearing off encumbrances, with the returns of this year’s labour;

“Which resolutions, with health and my habits of industry, will make me ‘sleep in spite of thunder.’


“After all, it is hard that the vagabond stock-jobbing Jews should, for their own purposes, make such a shake of credit as now exists in London, and menace the credit of men trading on sure funds like Hurst and Robinson. It is just like a set of pickpockets, who raise a mob, in which honest folks are knocked down and plundered, that they may pillage safely in the midst of the confusion they have excited.

I was obliged to give this up in consequence of my own misfortunes.

November 26.—The Court met late, and sat till one; detained from that hour till four o’clock, being engaged in the perplexed affairs of Mr James Stewart of Brugh. This young gentleman is heir to a property of better than L.1000 a-year in Orkney. His mother married very young, and was wife, mother, and widow, in the course of the first year. Being unfortunately under the direction of a careless agent, she was unlucky enough to embarrass her affairs. I was asked to accept the situation of one of the son’s curators; and trust to clear out his affairs and hers—at least I will not fail for want of application. I have lent her L.300 on a second (and therefore doubtful) security over her house in Newington, bought for L.1000, and on which L.600 is already secured. I have no connexion with the family except that of compassion, and may not be rewarded even by thanks when the young man comes of age. I have known my father often so treated by those whom he had laboured to serve. But if we do not run some hazard in our attempts to do good, where is the merit of them? So I will bring through my Orkney laird if I can. Dined at home quiet with Lady S. and Anne.

November 28.—People make me the oddest requests.
It is not unusual for an Oxonian or Cantab, who has outrun his allowance, and of whom I know nothing, to apply to me for the loan of L.20, L.50, or L.100. A captain of the Danish naval service writes to me, that being in distress for a sum of money by which he might transport himself to Columbia to offer his services in assisting to free that province, he had dreamed I generously made him a present of it. I can tell him his dream by contraries. I begin to find, like Joseph Surface, that too good a character is inconvenient. I don’t know what I have done to gain so much credit for generosity, but I suspect I owe it to being supposed, as Puff says, one of ‘those whom Heaven has blessed with affluence.’ Not too much of that neither, my dear petitioners, though I may thank myself that your ideas are not correct.

“Dined at Melville Castle, whither I went through a snow-storm, I was glad to find myself once more in a place connected with many happy days. Met Sir R. Dundas and my old friend George, now Lord Abercromby, with his lady and a beautiful girl his daughter. He is what he always was, the best-humoured man living; and our meetings, now more rare than formerly, are seasoned with many a recollection of old frolics and old friends.—I am entertained to see him just the same he has always been, never yielding up his own opinion in fact, and yet in words acquiescing in all that could be said against it. George was always like a willow—he never offered resistance to the breath of argument, but never moved from his rooted opinion, blow as it listed.—Exaggeration might make these peculiarities highly dramatic: Conceive a man who always seems to be acquiescing in your sentiments, yet never changes his own, and this with a sort of bonhommie which shows there is not a particle of deceit intended. He is only desirous to spare you the trouble of contradiction.


November 29.—Dined at Justice-Clerk’sthe PresidentCaptain Smollett of Bonhill,—our new Commander-in-Chief, Hon. Sir Robert O’Callaghan, brother to Earl of Lismore, a fine soldierlike man, with orders and badges;—also his younger brother, an agreeable man, whom I met at Lowther Castle this season. He composes his own music and sings his own poetry—has much humour, enhanced by a strong touch of national dialect, which is always a rich sauce to an Irishman’s good things. Dandyish, but not offensively; and seems to have a warm feeling for the credit of his country—rather inconsistent with the trifling and selfish quietude of a mere man of society.

November 30.—I am come to the time when ‘those that look out of the windows shall be darkened.’ I must now wear spectacles constantly in reading and writing, though till this winter I have made a shift by using only their occasional assistance. Although my health cannot be better, I feel my lameness becomes sometimes painful, and often inconvenient. Walking on the pavement or causeway gives me trouble, and I am glad when I have accomplished my return on foot from the Parliament House to Castle Street, though I can (taking a competent time, as old Braxie said on another occasion) walk five or six miles in the country with pleasure. Well, such things must come, and be received with cheerful submission. My early lameness considered, it was impossible for a man to have been stronger or more active than I have been, and that for twenty or thirty years. Seams will slit, and elbows will out, quoth the tailor; and as I was fifty-four 15th August last, my mental vestments are none of the newest. Then Walter, Charles, and Lockhart are as active and handsome young fellows as you
can see; and while they enjoy strength and activity I can hardly be said to want it. I have perhaps all my life set an undue value on these gifts. Yet it does appear to me that high and independent feelings are naturally, though not uniformly or inseparably, connected with bodily advantages. Strong men are usually good-humoured, and active men often display the same elasticity of mind as of body. These superiorities, indeed, are often misused. But, even for these things, God shall call us to judgment.

“Some months since, I joined with other literary folks in subscribing a petition for a pension to Mrs Grant of Laggan, which we thought was a tribute merited by her as an authoress; and, in my opinion, much more by the firmness and elasticity of mind with which she had borne a succession of great domestic calamities. Unhappily there was only about L.100 open on the pension list, and this the ministers assigned in equal portions to Mrs G—— and a distressed lady, grand-daughter of a forfeited Scottish nobleman. Mrs G. ——, proud as a Highlandwoman, vain as a poetess, and absurd as a blue-stocking, has taken this partition in malam partem, and written to Lord Melville about her merits, and that her friends do not consider her claims as being fairly canvassed, with something like a demand that her petition be submitted to the King. This is not the way to make her plack a bawbee, and Lord M., a little miffed in turn, sends the whole correspondence to me to know whether Mrs G—— will accept the L.50 or not. Now, hating to deal with ladies when they are in an unreasonable humour, I have got the good-humoured Man of Feeling to find out the lady’s mind, and I take on myself the task of making her peace with Lord M. There is no great doubt how it will end, for your scornful dog will always
eat your dirty pudding. After all, the poor lady is greatly to be pitied;—her sole remaining daughter deep and far gone in a decline.

“Dined with my cousin, Robert Rutherford, being the first invitation since my uncle’s death, and our cousin Lieutenant-Colonel Russell* of Ashestiel, with his sister Anne—the former newly returned from India a fine gallant fellow, and distinguished as a cavalry officer. He came over land from India and has observed a good deal. Knight Marischal not well, so unable to attend the convocation of kith and kin.

December 1st.—Colonel Russell told me that the European Government had discovered an ingenious mode of diminishing the number of burnings of widows. It seems the Shaster positively enjoins that the pile shall be so constructed that, if the victim should repent even at the moment when it is set on fire, she may still have the means of saving herself. The Brahmins soon found it was necessary to assist the resolution of the sufferers, by means of a little pit into which they contrive to let the poor widow sink, so as to prevent her reaping any benefit from a late repentance. But the Government has brought them back to the regard of this law, and only permit the burning to go on when the pile is constructed with full opportunity of a locus penitentiæ. Yet the widow is so degraded if she dare to survive, that the number of burnings is still great. The quantity of female children destroyed by the Rajapout tribes, Colonel R. describes as very great indeed. They are strangled by the mother. The principle is the aristocratic pride of these high castes, who breed up no more daughters than they can reasonably hope to find

* Now Major-General Sir James Russell, K.C.B.

matches for in their own rank. Singular how artificial systems of feeling can be made to overcome that love of offspring which seems instinctive in the females, not of the human race only, but of the lower animals. This is the reverse of our system of increasing game by shooting the old cock birds. It is a system would aid
Malthus rarely.

“I think this journal will suit me well; if I can wax myself into an idea that it is purely voluntary, it may go on—nulla dies sine lineâ. But never a being hated task-work as I hate it, from my infancy upwards, and yet I have done a great deal in my day. It is not that I am idle in my nature neither. But propose to me to do one thing, and it is inconceivable the desire I have to do something else—not that it is more easy or more pleasant, but just because it is escaping from an imposed task. I cannot trace this love of contradiction to any distinct source, but it has haunted me all my life. I could almost suppose it was mechanical, and that the imposition of a piece of duty-labour operated on me like the mace of a bad billiard-player, which gives an impulse to the ball indeed, but sends it off at a tangent different from the course designed. Now, if I expend such eccentric movements on this journal, it will be turning a wretched propensity to some tolerable account. If I had thus employed the hours and half hours which I have whiled away in putting off something that must needs be done at last, my conscience! I should have had a journal with a witness. Sophia and Lockhart came to Edinburgh to-day and dined with us, meeting Hector Macdonald Buchanan, his Lady, and Missie, James Skene and his Lady, Lockhart’s friend Cay, &c. They are lucky to be able to assemble so many real friends, whose good wishes I am sure will follow them in their new undertaking.


December 2.—Rather a blank day for the Gurnal. Sophia dined with us alone, Lockhart being gone to the west to bid farewell to his father and brothers. Evening spent in talking with Sophia on their future prospects. God bless her, poor girl, she never gave me a moment’s reason to complain of her. But, O my God, that poor delicate child, so clever, so animated, yet holding by this earth with so fearfully slight a tenure. Never out of his mother’s thoughts, almost never out of his father’s arms when he has but a single moment to give to any thing. Deus providebit.

December 3.—T. S. called last night to excuse himself from dining with Lockhart’s friends to-day. I really fear he is near an actual stand-still. He has been extremely improvident. When I first knew him he had an excellent estate, and now he is deprived, I fear, of the whole reversion of the price, and this from no vice or extreme, except a wasteful mode of buying pictures and other costly trifles at high prices, and selling them again for nothing, besides extravagant housekeeping and profuse hospitality. An excellent disposition, with a considerable fund of acquired knowledge, would have rendered him an agreeable companion, had he not affected singularity, and rendered himself accordingly singularly affected. He was very near being a poet, but a miss is as good as a mile. I knew him first, many years ago, when he was desirous of my acquaintance, but he was too poetical for me, or I was not poetical enough for him, so that we continued only ordinary acquaintance, with good-will on either side, which T. S. really deserves, as a more friendly generous creature never lived. Lockhart hopes to get something done for him, being sincerely attached to him, but says he has no hopes till he is utterly ruined. That point I fear is
not far distant, but what Lockhart can do for him then I cannot guess. His last effort failed, owing to a curious reason. T. S. had made some translations, which he does extremely well, for give him ideas, and he never wants choice of good words, and Lockhart had got
Constable to offer some sort of terms for them. T. S. has always, though possessing a beautiful power of handwriting, had some whim or other about imitating that of some other person, and has written for months in the imitation of one or other of his friends. At present he has renounced this amusement, and chooses to write with a brush upon large cartridge paper, somewhat in the Chinese fashion, so when his work, which was only to extend to one or two volumes, arrived on the shoulders of two porters, in immense bales, our jolly bibliopole backed out of the treaty, and would have nothing more to do with T. S. He is a creature that is, or would be thought, of imagination all compact, and is influenced by strange whims. But he is a kind, harmless, friendly soul, and I fear has been cruelly plundered of money, which he now wants sadly.

“Dined with Lockhart’s friends, about fifty in number, who gave him a parting entertainment. John Hope, Solicitor-General, in the chair, and Robert Dundas, croupier. The company most highly respectable, and any man might be proud of such an indication of the interest they take in his progress in life. Tory principles rather too violently upheld by some speakers. I came home about ten; the party sat late.

December 5th.—This morning Lockhart and Sophia left us early, and without leave-taking; when I rose at eight o’clock, they were gone. This was very right. I hate red eyes and blowing of noses. Agere et pati Romanum est. Of all schools commend me to the
Stoics. We cannot indeed overcome our affections, nor ought we if we could, but we may repress them within due bounds, and avoid coaxing them to make fools of those who should be their masters. I have lost some of the comforts to which I chiefly looked for enjoyment. Well, I must make the more of such as remain—God bless them. And so ‘I will unto my holy work again,’* which at present is the description of that worshipful triumvirate,
Danton, Robespierre, and Marat.

“I cannot conceive what possesses me, over every person besides, to mislay papers. I received a letter Saturday at e’en, inclosing a bill for L.750; no deaf nuts. Well, I read it, and note the contents; and this day, as if it had been a wind bill in the literal sense of the words, I search every where, and lose three hours of my morning—turn over all my confusion in the writing-desk—break open one or two letters, lest I should have enclosed the sweet and quickly convertible document in them,—send for a joiner, and disorganize my scrutoire, lest it should have fallen aside by mistake. I find it at last—the place where is of little consequence; but this trick must be amended.

“Dined at the Royal Society Club, where, as usual, was a pleasant meeting from twenty to twenty-five. It is a very good institution; we pay two guineas only for six dinners in the year, present or absent. Dine at five, or rather half-past five, at the Royal Hotel, where we have an excellent dinner, with soups, fish, &c., and all in good order; port and sherry till half-past seven, then coffee, and we go to the Society. This preface of a good dinner, to be paid for whether you partake or not, brings out many a philosopher who might not other have attended. Harry Mackenzie, now in his eighty-second or third year, read part of an Essay on Dreams.

* King Richard III. Act III. Sc. 7.

Supped at
Dr Russell’s usual party, which shall serve for one while.

December 6th.—A rare thing this literature, or love of fame or notoriety which accompanies it. Here is Mr Henry Mackenzie on the very brink of human dissolution, as actively anxious about it as if the curtain must not soon be closed on that and every thing else.* He calls me his literary confessor; and I am sure I am glad to return the kindnesses which he showed me long since in George Square. No man is less known from his writings; you would suppose a retired, modest, somewhat affected man, with a white handkerchief, and a sigh ready for every sentiment. No such thing; H. M. is alert as a contracting tailor’s needle in every sort of business—a politician and a sportsman—shoots and fishes in a sort even to this day—and is the life of company with anecdotes and fun. Sometimes his daughter tells me he is in low spirits at home, but really I never see any thing of it in society.

“There is a maxim almost universal in Scotland, which I should like much to see controlled. Every youth, of every temper and almost every description of character, is sent either to study for the bar, or to a writer’s office as an apprentice. The Scottish seem to conceive Themis the most powerful of goddesses. Is a lad stupid, the law will sharpen him;—is he mercurial, the law will make him sedate;—has he an estate, he may get a sheriffdom;—is he poor, the richest lawyers have emerged from poverty;—is he a Tory, he may become a depute-advocate;—is he a Whig, he may with far better hope expect to become, in reputation at least,

* Mr Mackenzie had been consulting Sir Walter about collecting his own juvenile poetry.

that rising counsel Mr ——, when in fact he only rises at tavern dinners. Upon some such wild views, advocates and writers multiply till there is no life for them, and men give up the chase, hopeless and exhausted, and go into the army at five-and-twenty, instead of eighteen, with a turn for expense perhaps—almost certainly for profligacy, and with a heart embittered against the loving parents or friends who compelled them to lose six or seven years in dusting the rails of the stair with their black gowns, or scribbling nonsense for twopence a page all day, and laying out twice their earnings at night in whisky-punch. Here is
T. L. now. Four or five years ago, from certain indications, I assured his friends he would never be a writer. Good-natured lad, too, when Bacchus is out of the question; but at other times so pugnacious, that it was wished he could only be properly placed where fighting was to be a part of his duty, regulated by time and place, and paid for accordingly. Well, time and instruction have been thrown away, and now, after fighting two regular boxing-matches and a duel with pistols in the course of one week, he tells them roundly he will be no writer, which common-sense might have told them before. He has now perhaps acquired habits of insubordination, unfitting him for the army, where he might have been tamed at an earlier period. He is too old for the navy, and so he must go to India, a guinea-pig on board a China-man, with what hope or view it is melancholy to guess. His elder brother did all man could to get his friends to consent to his going into the army in time. The lad has good-humour, courage, and most gentlemanlike feelings, but he is incurably dissipated I fear; so goes to die in a foreign land. Thank God, I let Walter take his own way; and I trust he will be a useful, honoured soldier,
being, for his time, high in the service; whereas at home he would probably have been a wine-bibbing, moor-fowl shooting, fox-hunting Fife squire—living at Lochore without either aim or end—and well if he were no worse. Dined at home with
Lady S. and Anne. Wrote in the evening.

December 7th.—Teind day—at home of course. Wrote answers to one or two letters which have been lying on my desk like snakes, hissing at me for my dilatoriness. Received a letter from Sir W. Knighton, mentioning that the King acquiesced in my proposal that Constable’s Miscellany should be dedicated to him. Enjoined, however, not to make this public, till the draft of dedication shall be approved. This letter tarried so long, I thought some one had insinuated the proposal was infra dig. I don’t think so. The purpose is to bring all the standard works, both in sciences and the liberal arts, within the reach of the lower classes, and enable them thus to use with advantage the education which is given them at every hand. To make boys learn to read, and then place no good books within their reach, is to give men an appetite, and leave nothing in the pantry save unwholesome and poisonous food, which, depend upon it, they will eat rather than starve. Sir William, it seems, has been in Germany.

“Mighty dark this morning: it is past ten, and I am using my lamp. The vast number of houses built beneath us to the north certainly renders our street darker during the days in which frost or haze prevents the smoke from rising. After all, it may be my older eyes. I remember two years ago, when Lord Hermand began to fail somewhat in his limbs, he observed that Lord Succoth came to Court at a more early hour than usual, whereas
it was he himself who took longer time to walk the usual distance betwixt his house and the Parliament Square. I suspect old gentlemen often make these mistakes.

“Dined quiet with Lady S—— and Anne. Anne is practising Scots songs, which I take as a kind compliment to my own taste, as hers leads her chiefly to foreign music. I think the good girl sees that I want and must miss her sister’s peculiar talent in singing the airs of our native country, which, imperfect as my musical ear is, make, and always have made the most pleasing impression on me. And so if she puts a constraint on herself for my sake, I can only say, in requital, God bless her.

“I have much to comfort me in the present aspect of my family. My eldest son, independent in fortune, united to an affectionate wife—and of good hopes in his profession;—my second, with a good deal of talent, and in the way, I trust, of cultivating it to good purpose. Anne, an honest, downright, good Scots lass, in whom I could only wish to correct a spirit of satire; and Lockhart is Lockhart, to whom I can most willingly confide the happiness of the daughter who chose him, and whom he has chosen. But my dear wife, the partner of early cares and successes is, I fear, frail in health—though I trust and pray she may see me out. Indeed, if this troublesome complaint goes on—it bodes no long existence. My brother was affected with the same weakness, which, before he was fifty, brought on mortal symptoms. The poor Major had been rather a free liver. But my father, the most abstemious of men, save when the duties of hospitality required him to be very moderately free with his bottle, and that was very seldom, had the same weakness of the powers of retention which now annoys me, and he, I think, was not above seventy when cut off. Square the odds, and good-night Sir Walter
about sixty.—I care not, if I leave my name unstained, and my family properly settled—Sat est vixisse.

December 8.—Talking of the vixisse, it may not be impertinent to notice that Knox, a young poet of considerable talent, died here a week or two since. His father was a respectable yeoman, and he himself, succeeding to good farms under the Duke of Buccleuch, became too soon his own master, and plunged into dissipation and ruin. His talent then showed itself in a fine strain of pensive poetry, called, I think, ‘The Lonely Hearth,’ ‘far superior to that of Michael Bruce, whose consumption, by the way, has been the life of his verses. But poetry, nay good poetry, is a drug in the present day. I am a wretched patron—I cannot go about with a subscription-paper, like a pocket-pistol, and draw unawares on some honest country-gentleman, who has as much alarm as if I had used the phrase ‘stand and deliver,’ and parts with his money with a grimace, indicating some suspicion that the crown-piece thus levied goes ultimately into the collector’s own pocket. This I see daily done; and I have seen such collectors, when they have exhausted papa and mamma, continue their trade among the misses, and conjure out of their pockets their little funds which should carry them to a play or an assembly. It is well people will go through this—it does some good, I suppose, and they have great merit who can sacrifice their pride so far as to attempt it in this way. For my part I am a bad promoter of subscriptions; but I wished to do what I could for this lad, whose talent I really admired; and I am not addicted to

* William Knox died 12th November. He had published “Songs of Israel, 1824;” “A Visit to Dublin, 1824;” “The Harp of Zion, 1825,” &c.; besides the “Lonely Hearth.” His publisher (Mr Anderson, junior, of Edinburgh) remembers that Sir Walter occasionally wrote to Knox, and sent him money; L.10 at a time.

DIARY—KNOX, &c.153
admire heaven-born poets, or poetry that is reckoned very good considering. I had him, Knox, at Abbotsford, about ten years ago, but found him unfit for that sort of society. I tried to help him, but there were temptations he could never resist. He scrambled on writing for the booksellers and magazines, and living like the
Otways, and Savages, and Chattertons of former days, though I do not know that he was in extreme want. His connexion with me terminated in begging a subscription, or a guinea, now and then. His last works were spiritual hymns, and which he wrote very well. In his own line of society he was said to exhibit infinite humour; but all his works are grave and pensive, a style, perhaps, like Master Stephen’s melancholy, affected for the nonce.

Mrs Grant intimates that she will take her pudding—her pension, I mean (see 30th November), and is contrite, as Henry Mackenzie vouches. I am glad the stout old girl is not foreclosed, faith. Cabbing a pension in these times is like hunting a pig with a soap’d tail, monstrous apt to slip through your fingers,

December 9.—Yesterday I read and wrote the whole day and evening. To-day I shall not be so happy. Having Gas-Light Company to attend at two, I must be brief in journalizing.

“The gay world has been kept in hot water lately by the impudent publication of the celebrated Harriet Wilson—who, punk from earliest possibility, I suppose, has lived with half the gay world at hack and manger, and now obliges such as will not pay hush-money with a history of whatever she knows or can invent about them. She must have been assisted in the style, spelling, and diction, though the attempt at wit is very poor, that at pathos sickening. But there is some good retailing of conversations, in which the style of the
speakers, so far as known to me, is exactly imitated, and some things told, as said by individuals of each other, which will sound unpleasantly in each other’s ears. I admire the address of
Lord A——, himself very sorrily handled from time to time. Some one asked him if H. W. had been pretty correct on the whole. ‘Why, faith,’ he replied, ‘I believe so’—when, raising his eyes, he saw Q—— D——, whom the little jilt had treated atrociously—‘what concerns the present company always excepted, you know,’ added Lord A——, with infinite presence of mind. As he was in pari casu with Q. D., no more could be said. After all, H. W. beats Con Philips, Anne Bellamy, and all former demireps, out and out. I think I supped once in her company, more than twenty years since, at Mat Lewis’s in Argyle Street, where the company, as the Duke says to Lucio, chanced to be ‘fairer than honest.’* She was far from beautiful, if it be the same chiffonne, but a smart saucy girl, with good eyes and dark hair, and the manners of a wild schoolboy. I am glad this accidental meeting has escaped her memory—or, perhaps, is not accurately recorded in mine—for, being a sort of French falconer, who hawk at all they see, I might have had a distinction which I am far from desiring.

“Dined at Sir John Hay’s—a large party. In the morning a meeting of Oil Gas Committee. The concern hangs a little;
‘It may do weel, for ought it’s done yet,
But only—it’s no just begun yet.’†

December 10.—A stormy and rainy day. Walk it from the Court through the rain. I don’t dislike this. Egad, I rather like it; for no man that ever stepped on

* Measure for Measure, Act IV., Scene 3.

Burns’s Dedication to Gavin Hamilton.

heather has less dread than I of the catch cold; and I seem to regain, in buffeting with the wind, a little of the high spirit with which, in younger days, I used to enjoy a
Tam-o’-Shanter ride through darkness, wind, and rain, the boughs groaning and cracking over my head, the good horse free to the road and impatient for home, and feeling the weather as little as I did.
‘The storm around might roar and rustle,
We did na mind the storm a whistle.’

“Answered two letters—one answer to a schoolboy, who writes himself Captain of Giggleswick School (a most imposing title), entreating the youngster not to commence editor of a magazine to be entitled the Yorkshire Muffin, I think, at seventeen years old—second, to a soldier of the 79th, showing why I cannot oblige him by getting his discharge, and exhorting him rather to bear with the wickedness and profanity of the service, than take the very precarious step of desertion. This is the old receipt of Durandarte—Patience, cousin, and shuffle the cards; and I suppose the correspondents will think I have been too busy in offering my counsel where I was asked for assistance.

“A third rogue writes to tell me—rather of the latest, if the matter was of consequence—that he approves of the first three volumes of the Heart of Mid-Lothian, but totally condemns the fourth. Doubtless he thinks his opinion worth the sevenpence sterling which his letter costs. However, an author should be reasonably well pleased when three-fourths of his work are acceptable to the reader. The knave demands of me, in a postscript, to get back the sword of Sir William Wallace from England, where it was carried from Dumbarton Castle. I am not Master-General of the Ordnance, that I know. It was wrong, however, to take away that and Mons Meg. If I go to London this spring, I will renew my
negotiation with the
Great Duke for recovery of Mons Meg.

“There is nothing more awful than to attempt to cast a glance among the clouds and mists which hide the broken extremity of the. celebrated bridge of Mirza.* Yet, when every day brings us nigher that termination, one would almost think our views should become clearer. Alas! it is not so: there is a curtain to be withdrawn, a veil to be rent, before we shall see things as they really are. There are few, I trust, who disbelieve the existence of a God; nay, I doubt if at all times, and in all moods, any single individual ever adopted that hideous creed, though some have professed it. With the belief of a Deity, that of the immortality of the soul and of the state of future rewards and punishments is indissolubly linked. More we are not to know; but neither are we prohibited from all attempts, however vain, to pierce the solemn sacred gloom. The expressions used in Scripture are doubtless metaphorical, for penal fires and heavenly melody are only applicable to beings endowed with corporeal senses; and at least till the period of the resurrection, the spirits of men, whether entering into the perfection of the just, or committed to the regions of punishment, are not connected with bodies. Neither is it to be supposed that the glorified bodies which shall arise in the last day will be capable of the same gross indulgences with which ours are now solaced. That the idea of Mahomet’s paradise is inconsistent with the purity of our heavenly religion will be readily granted; and see Mark xii. 25. Harmony is obviously chosen as the least corporeal of all gratifications of the sense, and as the type of love, unity, and a state of peace and perfect happiness. But they have a poor

* Spectator, No. 159.

idea of the Deity, and the rewards which are destined for the just made perfect, who can only adopt the literal sense of an eternal concert—a never-ending birth-day ode. I rather suppose this should be understood as some commission from the Highest, some duty to discharge with the applause of a satisfied conscience. That the Deity, who himself must be supposed to feel love and affection for the beings he has called into existence, should delegate a portion of those powers, I for one cannot conceive altogether so wrong a conjecture. We would then find reality in
Milton’s sublime machinery of the guardian saints or genii of kingdoms. Nay, we would approach to the Catholic idea of the employment of saints, though without approaching the absurdity of saint-worship, which degrades their religion. There would be, we must suppose, in these employments difficulties to overcome, and exertions to be made, for all which the celestial beings employed would have certain appropriate powers. I cannot help owning that a life of active benevolence is more consistent with my ideas than an eternity of music. But it is all speculation, and it is impossible to guess what we shall do, unless we could ascertain the equally difficult previous question, what we are to be. But there is a God, and a just God—a judgment and a future life—and all who own so much let them act according to the faith that is in them. I would not of course limit the range of my genii to this confined earth. There is the universe with all its endless extent of worlds.

“Company at home—Sir Adam Ferguson and his Lady; Colonel and Miss Russell; Count Davidoff, and Mr Collyer. By the by, I observe that all men whose names are obviously derived from some mechanical trade, endeavour to disguise and antiquate, as it were, their names, by spelling them after some quaint manner
or other. Thus we have Collyer, Smythe, Tailleure; as much as to say, my ancestor was indeed a mechanic, but it was a world of time ago, when the word was spelled very unlike the modern usage.—Then we had
young Whitebank and Will Allan the artist, a very agreeable, simple-mannered, and pleasant man.

December 11.—A touch of the morbus eruditorum, to which I am as little subject as most folks, and have it less now than when young. It is a tremor of the head, the pulsation of which becomes painfully sensible—a disposition to causeless alarm—much lassitude—and decay of vigour and activity of intellect. The reins feel weary and painful, and the mind is apt to receive and encourage gloomy apprehensions. Fighting with this fiend is not always the best way to conquer him. I have found exercise and the open air better than reasoning. But such weather as is now without doors does not encourage la petite guerre, so we must give him battle in form, by letting both mind and body know that, supposing one the House of Commons and the other the House of Peers, my will is sovereign over both. There is a fine description of this species of mental weakness in the fine play of Beaumont and Fletcher, called the Lover’s Progress, where the man, warned that his death is approaching, works himself into an agony of fear, and calls for assistance, though there is no apparent danger. The apparition of the innkeeper’s ghost, in the same play, hovers between the ludicrous and the terrible; and to me the touches of the former quality which it contains, seem to augment the effect of the latter—they seem to give reality to the supernatural, as being a circumstance with which an inventor would hardly have garnished his story.

DIARY—HOGG, &c. 159

December 12.—Hogg came to breakfast this morning, and brought for his companion the Galashiels bard, David Thomson,* as to a meeting of huz Tividale poets. The honest grunter opines with a delightful naïveté that Muir’s verses are far owre sweet—answered by Thomson that Moore’s ear or notes, I forget which, were finely strung. ‘They are far owre finely strung,’ replied he of the Forest, ‘for mine are just right.’ It reminded me of Queen Bess, when questioning Melville sharply and closely whether Mary was taller than her, and extracting an answer in the affirmative, she replied, ‘Then your Queen is too tall, for I am just the proper height.’

“Was engaged the whole day with Sheriff Court processes. There is something sickening in seeing poor devils drawn into great expenses about trifles by interested attorneys. But too cheap access to litigation has its evils on the other hand, for the proneness of the lower class to gratify spite and revenge in this way would be a dreadful evil were they able to endure the expense. Very few cases come before the Sheriff Court of Selkirkshire that ought to come any where. Wretched wranglings about a few pounds, begun in spleen, and carried on from obstinacy, and at length, from fear of the conclusion to the banquet pf ill-humour, ‘D—n—n of expenses.’† I try to check it as well as I can; ‘but so ’twill be when I am gone.’

December 12.—Dined at home, and spent the evening in writing—Anne and Lady Scott at the theatre to see Mathews—a very clever man my friend Mathews; but it is tiresome to be funny for a whole evening, so I was content and stupid at home.

* See ante, vol. v. p. 226.

Burns’s Address to the Unco Guid.


“An odd optical delusion has amused me these two last nights. I have been of late, for the first time, condemned to the constant use of spectacles. Now, when I have laid them aside to step into a room dimly lighted, out of the strong light which I use for writing, I have seen, or seemed to see, through the rims of the same spectacles which I have left behind me. At first the impression was so lively that I put my hands to my eyes, believing I had the actual spectacles on at the moment. But what I saw was only the eidolon or image of said useful servants. This fortifies some of Dr Hibbert’s positions about spectral appearances.

December 13.—Letter from Lady Stafford kind and friendly after the wont of Banzu-Mohr-ar-chat.* This is wrong spelled I know. Her countenance is something for Sophia, whose company should be, as ladies are said to choose their liquor—little and good. To be acquainted with persons of mere ton is a nuisance and a scrape—to be known to persons of real fashion and fortune is in London a very great advantage. In London second-rate fashion is like false jewels.

“Went to the yearly court of the Edinburgh Assurance Company, to which I am one of those graceful and useless appendages, called Directors Extraordinary—an extraordinary director I should prove had they elected me an ordinary one. There were there moneyers and great oneyers,† men of metal—counters and discounters—sharp, grim, prudential faces—eyes weak with ciphering

* Banamhorar-Chat, i. e. the Great Lady of the Cat, is the Gaelic title of the Countess-Duchess of Sutherland. The County of Sutherland itself is in that dialect Cattey, and in the English name of the neighbouring one, Caithness, we have another trace of the early settlement of the Clan Chattan; whose chiefs hear the cognizance of a Wild Cat.

† See 1st King Henry IV. Act II. Scene 1.

by lamp-light—men who say to gold Be thou paper, and to paper Be thou turned into fine gold. Many a bustling, sharp-faced, keen-eyed writer too—some perhaps speculating with their clients’ property. My reverend seigniors had expected a motion for printing their contract, which I, as a piece of light artillery, was brought down and got into battery to oppose. I should certainly have done this on the general ground, that while each person could at any time obtain sight of the contract at a call on the directors or managers, it would be absurd to print it for the use of the company—and that exposing it to the eyes of the world at large was in all respects unnecessary, and might teach novel companies to avail themselves of our rules and calculations—if false, for the purpose of exposing our errors—if correct, for the purpose of improving their own schemes on our model. But my eloquence was not required, no one renewing the motion under question; so off I came, my ears still ringing with the sounds of thousands and tens of thousands, and my eyes dazzled with the golden gleam offered by so many capitalists.

“Walked home with the Solicitor*—decidedly the most hopeful young man of his time; high connexions, great talent, spirited ambition, a ready elocution, with a good voice and dignified manners, prompt and steady courage, vigilant and constant assiduity, popularity with the young men, and the good opinion of the old, will, if I mistake not, carry him as high as any man who has arisen here since the days of old Hal Dundas.† He is hot though, and rather hasty: this should be amended. They who would play at single-stick must bear

* John Hope, Esq. (now Dean of the Faculty of Advocates) was at this time Solicitor-General for Scotland.

† Henry Dundas, the first Viscount Melville, first appeared in Parliament as Lord Advocate of Scotland.

with pleasure a rap over the knuckles. Dined quietly with
Lady Scott and Anne.

December 14.—Affairs very bad again in the money-market in London. It must come here, and I have far too many engagements not to feel it. To end the matter at once, I intend to borrow L.10,000, with which my son’s marriage-contract allows me to charge my estate. This will enable us to dispense in a great measure with bank assistance, and sleep in spite of thunder. I do not know why it is—this business makes me a little bilious, or rather the want of exercise during the Session, and this late change of the weather to too much heat. But the sun and moon shall dance on the green ere carelessness or hope of gain, or facility of getting cash, shall make me go too deep again, were it but for the disquiet of the thing.

December 15.—Dined at home with family. I am determined not to stand mine host to all Scotland and England as I have done. This shall be a saving, as it must be a borrowing year. We heard from Sophia; they are got safe to town; but as Johnnie had a little bag of meal with him, to make his porridge on the road, the whole inn-yard assembled to see the operation. Junor, his maid, was of opinion that England was an ‘awfu’ country to make parritch in.’ God bless the poor baby, and restore his perfect health!

December 16.—T. S. and his friend Robert Wilson came—the former at four, as usual—the latter at three, as appointed. Robert Wilson frankly said that T. S.’s case was quite desperate, that he was insolvent, and that any attempt to save him at present would be just so much cash thrown away. God knows, at this moment
I have none to throw away uselessly. For poor S., there was a melancholy mixture of pathos and affectation in his statement, which really affected me; while it told me that it would be useless to help him to money on such very empty plans. I endeavoured to persuade him to make a virtue of necessity, resign all to his creditors, and begin the world on a new leaf. I offered him Chiefswood for a temporary retirement.
Lady Scott thinks I was wrong, and nobody could less desire such a neighbour, all his affectations being caviare to me. But then the wife and children! Went again to the Solicitor on a wrong night, being asked for to-morrow. Lady Scott undertakes to keep my engagements recorded in future. ‘Sed quis custodiet ipsam custodem?’

December 17.—Dined with the SolicitorLord Chief-BaronSir William Boothby, nephew of old Sir Brook, the dandy poet, &c. Annoyed with anxious presentiments, which the night’s post must dispel or confirm.

December 18.—Poor T. S. called again yesterday. Through his incoherent, miserable tale, I could see that he had exhausted each access to credit, and yet fondly imagines that, bereft of all his accustomed indulgences, he can work with a literary zeal unknown to his happier days. I hope he may labour enough to gain the mere support of his family. For myself, if things go badly in London, the magic wand of the Unknown will be shivered in his grasp. He must then, faith, be termed the Too-well-known. The feast of fancy will be over with the feeling of independence. He shall no longer have the delight of waking in the morning with bright ideas in his mind, hasten to commit them to paper, and count them monthly, as the means of planting such scaurs,
and purchasing such wastes; replacing dreams of fiction by other prospective visions of walks by
‘Fountain heads, and pathless groves;
Places which pale passion loves.’
This cannot be; but I may work substantial husbandry, i. e. write history, and such concerns. They will not be received with the same enthusiasm; at least I much doubt, the general knowledge that an author must write for his bread, at least for improving his pittance, degrades him and his productions in the public eye. He falls into the second-rate rank of estimation:
‘While the harness sore galls, and the spurs his side goad,
The high-mettled racer’s a hack on the road.’
It is a bitter thought; but if tears start at it, let them flow. My heart clings to the place I have created. There is scarce a tree on it that does not owe its being to me.

“What a life mine has been!—half educated, almost wholly neglected, or left to myself; stuffing my head with most nonsensical trash, and undervalued by most of my companions for a time; getting forward, and held a bold and clever fellow, contrary to the opinion of all who thought me a mere dreamer; broken-hearted for two years; my heart handsomely pieced again; but the crack will remain till my dying day. Rich and poor four or five times; once on the verge of ruin, yet opened a new source of wealth almost overflowing. Now to be broken in my pitch of pride, and nearly winged (unless good news should come), because London chooses to be in an uproar, and in the tumult of bulls and bears, a poor inoffensive lion like myself is pushed to the wall. But what is to be the end of it? God knows; and so ends the catechism.

“Nobody in the end can lose a penny by me—that is one comfort. Men will think pride has had a fall.
Let them indulge their own pride in thinking that my fall will make them higher, or seem so at least. I have the satisfaction to recollect that my prosperity has been of advantage to many, and to hope that some at least will forgive my transient wealth on account of the innocence of my intentions, and my real wish to do good to the poor. Sad hearts, too, at Darnick, and in the cottages of Abbotsford. I have half resolved never to see the place again. How could I tread my hall with such a diminished crest? How live a poor indebted man, where I was once the wealthy—the honoured? I was to have gone there on Saturday in joy and prosperity to receive my friends. My dogs will wait for me in vain. It is foolish—but the thoughts of parting from these dumb creatures have moved me more than any of the painful reflections I have put down. Poor things, I must get them kind masters! There may be yet those who, loving me, may love my dog, because it has been mine. I must end these gloomy forebodings, or I shall lose the tone of mind with which men should meet distress. I feel my dogs’ feet on my knees. I hear them whining and seeking me every where. This is nonsense, but it is what they would do could they know how things may be. An odd thought strikes me—When I die, will the journal of these days be taken out of the ebony cabinet at Abbotsford, and read with wonder, that the well-seeming Baronet should ever have experienced the risk of such a hitch? Or will it be found in some obscure lodging-house, where the decayed son of Chivalry had hung up his scutcheon, and where one or two old friends will look grave and whisper to each other, ‘Poor gentleman’—‘a well-meaning man’—‘nobody’s enemy but his own’—‘thought his parts would never wear out’—‘family poorly left’—‘pity he took that foolish title.’ Who can answer this question?


“Poor Will Laidlaw—poor Tom Purdie—such news will wring your hearts, and many a poor fellow besides to whom my prosperity was daily bread.

Ballantyne behaves like himself, and sinks the prospect of his own ruin in contemplating mine. I tried to enrich him indeed, and now all, all is in the balance. He will have the Journal still, that is a comfort, for sure they cannot find a better editor. They—alas, who will they be—the unbekannten obern* who may have to dispose of my all as they will? Some hard-eyed banker—some of these men of millions whom I described.

“I have endeavoured to give vent to thoughts naturally so painful, by writing these notes—partly to keep them at bay by busying myself with the history of the French Convention. I thank God I can do both with reasonable composure. I wonder how Anne will bear such an affliction. She is passionate, but stout-hearted and courageous in important matters, though irritable in trifles. I am glad Lockhart and his wife are gone. Why? I cannot tell—but I am pleased to be left to my own regrets, without being melted by condolences, though of the most sincere and affectionate kind.

“Oddly enough, it happened mine honest friend Hector Macdonald came in before dinner, to ask a copy of my seal of arms, with a sly kindliness of intimation that it was for some agreeable purpose. Half-past eight. I closed this book under the impression of impending ruin. I open it an hour after (thanks be to God) with the strong hope that matters will be got over safely and honourably, in a mercantile sense. Cadell came at eight to communicate a letter from Hurst and Robinson, intimating that they had stood the storm.

“I shall always think the better of Cadell for this—

* Unbekannten obern—unknown rulers.

not merely because his feet are beautiful on the mountains who brings good tidings, but because he showed feeling—deep feeling, poor fellow. He, who I thought had no more than his numeration-table, and who, if he had had his whole counting-house full of sensibility, had yet his wife and children to bestow it upon—I will not forget this, if all keeps right. I love the virtues of rough-and-round men—the others’ are apt to escape in salt rheum, sal-volatile, and a white pocket-handkerchief.

December 19.—Ballantyne here before breakfast. He looks on last night’s news with confidence. Constable came in and sat an hour. The old gentleman is firm as a rock. He talks of going to London next week. But I must go to work.

December 20.—Dined at Lord Chief-Baron’s. Lord Justice-Clerk; Lord-President; Captain Scarlett, a gentlemanlike young man, the son of the great Counsellor,* and a friend of my son Walter; Lady Charlotte Hope and other womankind; R. Dundas of Arniston, and his pleasant and good-humoured little wife, whose quick, intelligent look pleases me more, though her face be plain, than a hundred mechanical beauties. I like Ch. Ba. Shepherd very much—as much, I think, as any man I have learned to know of late years. There is a neatness and precision, a closeness and truth in the tone of his conversation, which shows what a lawyer he must have been. Perfect good-humour and naïveté of manner, with a little warmth of temper on suitable occasions. His great deafness alone prevented him from being Lord Chief-Justice. I never

* Mr Scarlett, now Lord Abinger.

saw a man so patient under such a malady. He loves society, and converses excellently; yet is often obliged, in a mixed company particularly, to lay aside his trumpet, retire into himself, and withdraw from the talk. He does this with an expression of patience in his countenance which touches one much.
Constable’s license for the Dedication is come, which will make him happy.*

December 21st.—Dined with James Ballantyne, and met R. Cadell, and my old friend Mathews, the comedian, with his son, now grown up a clever lad, who makes songs in the style of James Smith or Colman, and sings them with spirit. There have been odd associations attending my two last meetings with Mathews. The last time I saw him before yesterday evening he dined with me in company with poor Sir Alexander Boswell, who was killed within a week.† I never saw Sir Alexander more. The time before was in 1815, when John Scott of Gala and I were returning from France, and passed through London, when we brought Mathews down as far as Leamington. Poor Byron lunched, or rather made an early dinner with us at Long’s, and a most brilliant day we had of it. I never saw Byron so full of fun, frolic, wit, and whim: he was as playful as a kitten. Well, I never saw him again.‡ So this man of mirth, with his merry meetings, has brought me no luck. I like better that

* The Dedication of Constable’s Miscellany was penned by Sir Walter:—“To his Majesty King George IV., the most generous Patron even of the most humble attempts towards the advantage of his subjects: This Miscellany, designed to extend useful knowledge and elegant literature, by placing works of standard merit within the attainment of every class of Readers, is most humbly inscribed by His Majesty’s dutiful and devoted subject—Archibald Constable.”

† See ante vol. v. pp. 153-t.

‡ See ante, vol. iii. pp. 335-9, 373.

he should throw in his talent of mimicry and humour into the present current tone of the company, than that he should be required to give this, that, and t’other bit selected from his public recitations. They are good certainly—excellent; but then you must laugh, and that is always severe to me. When I do laugh in sincerity, the joke must be or seem unpremeditated. I could not help thinking, in the midst of the glee, what gloom had lately been over the minds of three of the company. What a strange scene if the surge of conversation could suddenly ebb like the tide, and show us the state of people’s real minds!
‘No eyes the rocks discover
Which lurk beneath the deep.’
Life could not be endured were it seen in reality. Things keep mending in London.

December 22.—I wrote six of my close pages yesterday, which is about twenty-four pages in print. What is more, I think it comes off twangingly. The story is so very interesting in itself, that there is no fear of the book answering.* Superficial it must be, but I do not care for the charge. Better a superficial book which brings well and strikingly together the known and acknowledged facts, than a dull boring narrative, pausing to see farther into a mill-stone at every moment than the nature of the mill-stone admits. Nothing is so tiresome as walking through some beautiful scene with a minute philosopher, a botanist, or pebble-gatherer, who is eternally calling your attention from the grand features of the natural picture to look at grasses and chucky-stones. Yet in their way, they give useful information;

* Life of Napoleon.

and so does the minute historian. Gad, I think that will look well in the preface. My bile is quite gone; I really believe it arose from mere anxiety. What a wonderful connexion between the mind and body!

“The air of Bonnie Dundee running in my head today, I wrote a few verses to it before dinner, taking the key-note from the story of Clavers leaving the Scottish Convention of Estates in 1688-9.* I wonder if they are good. Ah, poor Will Erskine! thou couldst and wouldst have told me. I must consult J. B., who is as honest as was W. E. But then, though he has good taste too, there is a little of Big Bow-wow about it. Can’t say what made me take a frisk so uncommon of late years as to write verses of free-will. I suppose the same impulse which makes birds sing when the storm has blown over.

“Dined at Lord Minto’s. There were Lord and Lady Ruthven, William Clerk, and Thomas Thomson, a right choice party. There was also my very old friend Mrs Brydone, the relict of the traveller, and daughter of Principal Robertson, and really worthy of such a connexion—Lady Minto, who is also peculiarly agreeable and her sister, Mrs Admiral Adam, in the evening.

December 23.—Lord Minto’s father, the first Earl, was a man among a thousand. I knew him very, very intimately in the beginning of the century, and, which was very agreeable, was much at his house on very easy terms. He loved the Muses, and worshipped them in secret, and used to read some of his poetry, which was but middling. With the mildest manners, he was very tenacious of his opinions, although he changed them twice in the crises of politics. He was the early friend

* See Scott’s Poetical Works, vol. xii. pp. 194-7.

Fox, and made a figure towards the end of the American war, or during the struggles betwixt Fox and Pitt. Then came the Revolution, and he joined the Anti-Gallican party so keenly, that he declared against Addington’s peace with France, and was for a time, I believe, a Wyndhamite. He was reconciled to the Whigs on the Fox and Grenville coalition; but I have heard that Fox, contrary to his wont, retained such personal feelings as made him object to Sir Gilbert Elliot’s having a seat in the Cabinet; so he was sent Governor-General to India.—a better thing, I take it, for his fortune. He died shortly after his return,* on his way down to his native country. He was a most pleasing and amiable man. I was very sorry for his death, though I do not know how we should have met, for a contested election in Roxburghshire had placed some coldness betwixt the present Lord and me. I was certainly anxious for Sir Alexander Don, both as friend of my most kind friend Charles Duke of Buccleuch, and on political accounts; and those thwartings are what men in public life do not like to endure. After a cessation of friendship for some years, we have now come about again. We never had the slightest personal dispute or disagreement. But politics are the blowpipe beneath whose influence the best cemented friendships diffuse; and ours, after all, was only a very familiar acquaintance.

“It is very odd that the common people about Minto and the neighbourhood will not believe at this hour that the first Earl is dead. They think he had done something in India which he could not answer for—that the house was rebuilt on a scale unusually large to give him a suite of secret apartments, and that he often walks

* Gilbert, Earl of Minto, died in June, 1814.

about the woods and crags of Minto at night, with a white nightcap, and long white beard. The circumstance of his having died on the road down to Scotland is the sole foundation of this absurd legend, which shows how willing the public are to gull themselves when they can find no one else to take the trouble. I have seen people who could read, write, and cipher, shrug their shoulders and look mysterious when this subject was mentioned. One very absurd addition was made on occasion of a great ball at Minto House, which it was said was given to draw all people away from the grounds, that the concealed Earl might have leisure for his exercise. This was on the principle in the German play,* where, to hide their conspiracy, the associates join in a chorus song.

“We dined at home; Mr Davidoff and his tutor kept an engagement with us to dinner notwithstanding the death of the Emperor Alexander. They went to the play with the womankind; I staid at home to write.

December 24.—Wrote to Walter and Jane, and gave the former an account of how things had been in the money market. Constable has a new scheme of publishing the works of the Author of Waverley in a superior style, at L.1, 1s. volume. He says he will answer for making L.20,000 of this, and liberally offered me any share of the profits. I have no great claim to any, as I have only to contribute the notes, which are light work; yet a few thousands coming in will be a good thing—besides the Printing Office. Constable, though valetudinary, and cross with his partner, is certainly as good a pilot in these rough seas as ever man

* See Canning’sGerman play,” in the Anti-jacobin.

DIARY—DECEMBER 25, 1825.173
put faith in. His rally has put me in mind of the old song—
‘The tailor raise and shook his duds,
He gar’d the bills flee aff in cluds,
And they that staid gat fearfu’ thuds—
The tailor proved a man, O.’

“We are for Abbotsford to-day, with a light heart.

December 25, Abbotsford.—Arrived here last night at seven. Our halls are silent compared to last year, but let us be thankful—Barbarus has segetes? Nullum numen abest, si sit prudentia. There shall be no lack of wisdom. But come—il faut cultiver notre jardin.* Let us see, I shall write out the Bonnets of Bonnie Dundee. I will sketch a preface to La Rochejacquelin for Constable’s Miscellany, and try about a specimen of notes for the Waverley novels. Together with letters and by-business, it will be a good day’s work.
‘I make a vow,
And keep it true.’
I will accept no invitation for dinner, save one to Newton-Don, and Mertoun to-morrow, instead of Christmas-Day. On this day of general devotion I have a particular call for gratitude!!”

* See Candide.