LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, Bart.
Chapter V 1826

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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It was not till nearly three weeks after Sir Walter penned the last-quoted paragraph of his Diary, that Mr Constable made his appearance in London. I saw him immediately. Having deferred his journey imprudently, he had performed it very rapidly; and this exertion, with mental excitement, had brought on a sharp access of gout, which confined him for a couple of days to his hotel in the Adelphi—reluctantem draconem. A more impatient spirit never boiled in a feverish frame. It was then that I, for the first time, saw full swing given to the tyrannical temper of the Czar. He looked, spoke, and gesticulated like some hoary despot, accustomed to nothing but the complete indulgence of every wish and whim, against whose sovereign authority his most trusted satraps and tributaries had suddenly revolted—open rebellion, in twenty provinces—confusion in the capital—treason in the palace. I will not repeat his haughty ravings of scorn and wrath. I listened to these with wonder and commiseration; nor were such feelings mitigated when,
having exhausted his violence of vituperation against many persons of whom I had never before heard him speak but as able and trusted friends, he cooled down sufficiently to answer my question as to the practical business on which the note announcing his arrival in town had signified his urgent desire to take my advice. Constable told me that he had already seen one of the
Hurst and Robinson firm, and that the storm which had seemed to be “blown over” had, he was satisfied, only been lulled for a moment to burst out in redoubled fury. If they went, however, he must follow. He had determined to support them through the coming gale as he had done through the last; and he had the means to do so effectually, provided Sir Walter Scott would stand by him heartily and boldly.

The first and most obvious step was to make large sales of copyrights; and it was not surprising that Constable should have formed most extravagant notions of the marketable value of the property of this nature in his possession. Every bookseller is very apt to do so. A manuscript is submitted to him; he inspects it with coldness and suspicion; with hesitation offers a sum for it; obtains it, and sends it to be printed. He has hardly courage to look at the sheets as they are thrown off; but the book is at last laid on his counter, and he from that moment regards it with an eye of parental fondness. It is his; he considers it in that light quite as much as does the author, and is likely to be at least as sorely provoked by any thing in the shape of hostile criticism. If this be the usual working of self-love or self-interest in such cases, what wonder that the man*

* On seeing the passage in the text, Mr Constable’s surviving partner writes as follows: “No better illustration of this buoyant idea of the value of literary property is to be found than in the now well ascertained fact of Constable himself, in 1811, over-estimating

who had at his disposal (to say nothing of innumerable minor properties) the copyrights of the
Encyclopæedia Britannica, with its Supplement, a moiety of the Edinburgh Review, nearly all Scott’s Poetry, the Waverley Novels, and the advancing Life of Napoleon—who had made, besides, sundry contracts for novels by Scott, as yet unwritten—and who seriously viewed his plan of the new Miscellany as in itself the sure foundation of a gigantic fortune—what wonder that the sanguine Constable should have laid to his soul the flattering unction that he had only to display such resources in some quarter totally above the momentary pressure of the trade, and command an advance of capital adequate to relieve him and all his allies from these unfortunate difficulties about a few paltry “sheafs” of stamped paper? To be brief, he requested me to accompany him, as soon as he could get into his carriage, to the Bank of England, and support him (as a confidential friend of the Author of Waverley) in his application for a loan of from L.100,000 to L.200,000 on the security of the copyrights in his possession. It is needless to say that, without distinct instructions from Sir Walter, I could not take upon me to interfere in such a business as this. Constable, when I refused, became livid with rage. After a long silence, he stamped on the ground, and swore that he could and would do alone. I left him in stern indignation.

There was another scene of the same kind a day or two afterwards, when his object was to get me to back his application to Sir Walter to borrow L.20,000 in Edinburgh, and transmit it to him in London. I promised nothing but to acquaint Scott immediately with

his partner, Mr Hunter, out of the concern at the Cross to the tune of some L.10,000 or L.12,000—a blow from which the firm never recovered. R. C.”

his request, and him with Scott’s answer. Sir Walter had, ere the message reached him, been made aware that his advances had already been continued in the absence of all ground for rational hope.

It is no business of mine to detail Constable’s subsequent proceedings on this his last visit to London. Every where he found distrust. The metropolitan bankers had enough on their hands at a time when, as Mr Huskisson afterwards confessed in Parliament, the Bank of England itself had been on the verge of a stoppage, without embarrassing themselves with new securities of the uncertain and precarious nature of literary property. The great bookselling houses were all either labouring themselves, or watching with fear and trembling the daily aggravated symptoms of distress among their friends and connexions. Constable lingered on, fluctuating between wild hope and savage despair, until, I seriously believe, he at last hovered on the brink of insanity. When he returned to Edinburgh, it was to confront creditors whom he knew he could not pay.

Before that day came, I had necessarily been informed of the nature of Scott’s connexion with commercial speculations; but I had not been prepared for the amount to which Constable’s ruin must involve him, until the final blow was struck.

I believe I have now said enough by way of preface to Sir Walter’s Diary from Christmas 1825, to the latter part of January 1826, when my darkest anticipations were more than realized. But before I return to this Diary, it may be well to transcribe the very short passage of James Ballantyne’s deathbed memorandum which refers to this painful period. Mr Ballantyne says, in that most candid paper:—

“I need not here enlarge upon the unfortunate facility which, at the period of universal confidence and in-
dulgence, our and other houses received from the banks. Suffice it to say that all our appearances of prosperity, as well as those of
Constable, and Hurst and Robinson, were merely shadows, and that from the moment the bankers exhibited symptoms of doubt, it might have been easy to discover what must be the ultimate result. During weeks, and even months, however, our house was kept in a state of very painful suspense. The other two, I have no doubt, saw the coming events more clearly. I must here say, that it was one of Sir Walter’s weaknesses to shrink too much from looking evil in the face, and that he was apt to carry a great deal too far—‘sufficient for the day is the evil thereof.’ I do not think it was more than three weeks before the catastrophe that he became fully convinced it was impending—if indeed his feelings ever reached the length of conviction at all. Thus, at the last, his fortitude was very severely tried indeed.”


Abbotsford, December 26, 1825.—My God! what poor creatures we are! After all my fair proposals yesterday, I was seized with a most violent pain in the right kidney and parts adjacent, which forced me instantly to go to bed and send for Clarkson.* He came, enquired, and pronounced the complaint to be gravel augmented by bile. I was in great agony till about two o’clock, but awoke with the pain gone. I got up, had a fire in my dressing-closet, and had Dalgliesh to shave me two trifles, which I only mention, because they are contrary to my hardy and independent personal habits. But

* James Clarkson, Esq., Surgeon, Melrose. son to Scott’s old friend Dr Clarkson of Selkirk.

although a man cannot be a hero to his valet, his valet in sickness becomes of great use to him. I cannot expect that the first will be the last visit of this cruel complaint; but shall we receive good at the hand of God, and not receive evil?

December 27th.—Slept twelve hours at a stretch, being much exhausted. Totally without pain to day, but uncomfortable from the effects of calomel, which, with me at least, is like the assistance of an auxiliary army, just one degree more tolerable than the enemy it chases away. Calomel contemplations are not worth recording. I wrote an introduction and a few notes to the Memoirs of Madame La Rochejacquelin,* being all that I was equal to. Sir Adam Ferguson came over and tried to marry my verses to the tune of Bonnie Dundee. They seem well adapted to each other. Dined with Lady S—— and Anne. Worked at Pepys in the evening, with the purpose of review for Quarterly.† Notwithstanding the depressing effects of the calomel, I feel the pleasure of being alone and uninterrupted. Few men, leading a quiet life, and without any strong or highly varied change of circumstances, have seen more variety of society than I—few have enjoyed it more, or been bored, as it is called, less by the company of tiresome people. I have rarely, if ever, found any one, out of whom I could not extract amusement or edification; and were I obliged to account for hints afforded on such occasions, I should make an ample deduction from my narrative powers. Still, however, from the earliest time I can remember, I preferred the pleasure of being alone to wishing for visiters, and have often taken

* See Constable’s Miscellany, vol. v.

† See the Quarterly Review for January 1826, or Scott’s Miscellaneous Prose, vol. xx.

a bannock and a bit of cheese to the wood or hill, to avoid dining with company. As I grew from boyhood to manhood I saw this would not do; and that to gain a place in men’s esteem I must mix and bustle with them. Pride, and an exaltation of spirits often supplied the real pleasure which others seem to feel in society; yet mine certainly upon many occasions was real. Still, if the question was, eternal company, without the power of retiring within yourself, or solitary confinement for life, I should say, ‘Turnkey, Lock the cell!’ My life, though not without its fits of waking and strong exertion, has been a sort of dream, spent in
‘Chewing the cud of sweet and bitter fancy.’
I have worn a wishing-cap, the power of which has been to divert present griefs by a touch of the wand of imagination, and gild over the future by prospects more fair than can be realized. Somewhere it is said that this castle-building—this wielding of the unreal trowel, is fatal to exertions in actual life. I cannot tell, I have not found it so. I cannot, indeed, say like
Madame Genlis, that in the imaginary scenes in which I have acted a part I ever prepared myself for any thing which actually befell me; but I have certainly fashioned out much that made the present hour pass pleasantly away, and much that has enabled me to contribute to the amusement of the public. Since I was five years old I cannot remember the time when I had not some ideal part to play for my own solitary amusement.

December 28.—Somehow I think the attack on Christmas-Day has been of a critical kind; and having gone off so well, may be productive rather of health than continued indisposition. If one is to get a renewal of health in his fifty-fourth year, he must look to pay
fine for it. Last night
George Thomson came to see how I was, poor fellow. He has talent, is well informed, and has an excellent heart; but there is great eccentricity about him. I wish to God I saw him provided in a country kirk. That, with a rational wife, would, I think, bring him to a steady temper; at present he is between the tyning and the winning. If I could get him to set to any hard study, he would do something clever.

How to make a critic.—A sly rogue, sheltering himself under the generic name of Mr Campbell, requested of me, through the penny-post, the loan of L.50 for two years, having an impulse, as he said, to make this demand. As I felt no corresponding impulse, I begged to decline a demand which might have been as reasonably made by any Campbell on earth; and another impulse has determined the man of fifty pounds to send me anonymous abuse of my works, and temper, and selfish disposition. The severity of the joke lies in 14d. for postage, to avoid which, his next epistle shall go back to the clerks of the Post-Office, as not for Sir W— S—. How the severe rogue would be disappointed, if he knew I never looked at more than the first and last lines of his satirical effusion! When I first saw that a literary profession was to be my fate, I endeavoured by all efforts of stoicism to divest myself of that irritable degree of sensibility or, to speak plainly, of vanity which makes the poetical race miserable and ridiculous. The anxiety of a poet for praise and for compliments I have always endeavoured to keep down.

December 29.—Base feelings this same calomel gives one—mean, poor, and abject—a wretch, as Will Rose says.
‘Fie fie on silly coward man,
That he should be the slave o’t.’ *
Then it makes one “wofully dogged and snappish,” as
Dr Rutt the Quaker says in his Gurnal.—Must go to Woodstock, yet am vexed by that humour of contradiction which makes me incline to do any thing else in preference. Commenced preface for the new edition of my Novels. The City of Cork send my freedom in a silver box.

December 31.—Took a good sharp walk the first time since my illness, and found myself the better in health and spirits. Being Hogmanay, there dined with us Colonel Russell and his sisters, Sir Adam Ferguson and Lady, Colonel Ferguson, with Mary and Margaret: an auld-world party, who made themselves happy in the auld fashion. I felt so tired about eleven that I was forced to steal to bed.

January 1, 1826.—A year has passed, another has commenced. These divisions of time influence our feelings as they recur. Yet there is nothing in it; for every day in the year closes a twelvemonth as well as the 31st December. The latter is only the solemn pause, as when a guide, showing a wild and mountainous road, calls on a party to look back at the scenes which they have just passed. To me this new year opens sadly. There are these troublesome pecuniary difficulties, which, however, I think this week should end. There is the absence of all my children, Anne excepted, from our little family festival. There is, besides, that ugly report of the 15th Hussars going to India. Walter, I suppose, will have some step in view, and will go, and I fear Jane will not dissuade

* Burns.

DIARY—JANUARY 1, 1826.183
him. A hard frosty day—cold, but dry and pleasant under foot. Walked into the plantations with Anne and
Anne Russell. A thought strikes me, alluding to this period of the year. People say that the whole human frame in all its parts and divisions is gradually in the act of decaying and renewing. What a curious time-piece it would be that could indicate to us the moment this gradual and insensible change had so completely taken place, that no atom was left of the original person who had existed at a certain period, but there existed in his stead another person having the same thewes and sinews; the same face and lineaments; the same consciousness; a new ship built on an old plank; a pair of transmigrated stockings like those of Sir John Cutler, all green, without one thread of the original black silk left! Singular to be at once another and the same!

January 2.—Weather clearing up in Edinburgh once more, and all will, I believe, do well. I am pressed to get on with Woodstock, and must try. I wish I could open a good vein of interest which would breathe freely. I must take my old way and write myself into good-humour with my task. It is only when I dally with what I am about, look back, and aside, instead of keeping my eyes straight forward, that I feel those cold sinkings of the heart. All men, I suppose, do so less or more. They are like the sensation of a sailor when the ship is cleared for action, and all are at their places gloomy enough; but the first broadside puts all to rights. Dined at Huntly Burn with the Fergusons en masse.

January 3.—Promises a fair day, and I think the progress of my labours will afford me a little exercise.
Walked with
Colonel Russell from eleven till two, the first good day’s exercise I have had since coming here. We went through all the Terrace, the Roman Planting,* over by the Stiel and Haxellcleuch, and so by the Rhymer’s Glen to Chiefswood, which gave my heart a twinge, so disconsolate it seemed. Yet all is for the best. When I returned, signed a bond for L.10,000, which will disencumber me of all pressing claims;† when I get forwards Woodstock and Nap. there will be L.12,000 and upwards, and I hope to add L.3000 against this time next year, or the devil must hold the dice. J. B. writes me seriously on the carelessness of my style. I did not think I had been more careless than usual; but I daresay he is right. I will be more cautious.

January 4.—Despatched the deed executed yesterday. Mr and Mrs Skene, my excellent friends, came to us from Edinburgh. Skene, distinguished for his attainments as a draughtsman and for his highly gentlemanlike feelings and character, is Laird of Rubislaw, near Aberdeen. Having had an elder brother, his education was somewhat neglected in early life, against which disadvantage he made a most gallant fight, exerting himself much to obtain those accomplishments which he has since possessed. Admirable in all exercises, there entered a good deal of the cavalier into his early character. Of late he has given himself much to the study of antiquities. His wife, a most excellent

* This plantation now covers the remains of an old Roman road from the Great Camp on the Eildon hills (the Trimontium of the annalists) to the ford below Scott’s house.

† When settling his estate on his eldest son, Sir Walter had retained the power of burdening it with L.10,000 for behoof of his younger children: he now raised the sum for the assistance of the struggling firms.

person, was tenderly fond of
Sophia. They bring so much old-fashioned kindness and good-humour with them, besides the recollections of other times, that they must be always welcome guests. Letter from Mr Scrope,* announcing a visit.

January 5.—Got the desired accommodation which will put J. B. quite straight, but am a little anxious still about Constable. He has immense stock, to be sure, and most valuable, but he may have sacrifices to make to convert a large proportion of it into ready money. The accounts from London are most disastrous. Many wealthy persons totally ruined, and many, many more have been obliged to purchase their safety at a price they will feel all their lives. I do not hear things have been so bad in Edinburgh; and J. B.’s business has been transacted by the banks with liberality.

Colonel Russell told us last night that the last of the Moguls, a descendant of Kubla-Khan, though having no more power than his effigies at the back of a set of playing-cards, refused to meet Lord Hastings, because the Governor-General would not agree to remain standing in his presence. Pretty well for the blood of Timur in these degenerate days!

“Much alarmed. I had walked till twelve with Skene and Russell, and then sat down to my work. To my horror and surprise I could neither write nor spell, but put down one word for another, and wrote nonsense. I was much overpowered at the same time, and could

* William Scrope, Esq. of Lincolnshire—the representative of the Lords Scrope of Bolton (to whose peerage he is, I believe, entitled), was at this period much in Scotland, being a zealous angler and deerstalker. He had a lease of Lord Somerville’s pavilion opposite Melrose, and lived on terms of affectionate intimacy with Sir Walter Scott. There occurs in a subsequent entry an allusion to Mr Scrope’s eminence as an amateur artist.

not conceive the reason. I fell asleep, however, in my chair, and slept for two hours. On my waking my head was clearer, and I began to recollect that last night I had taken the anodyne left for the purpose by
Clarkson, and, being disturbed in the course of the night, I had not slept it off. Obliged to give up writing to-day—read Pepys instead.

January 6.—This seems to be a feeding storm, coming on by little and little. Wrought all day, and dined quiet. My disorder is wearing off, and the quiet society of the Skenes suits my present humour. I really thought I was in for some very bad illness. Curious expression of an Indian-born boy just come from Bengal, a son of my cousin George Swinton. The child saw a hare run across the fields, and exclaimed, ‘See, there is a little tiger!’

January 7.—Sunday.—Knight, a young artist, son of the performer, came to do a picture of me at the request of Terry. This is very far from being agreeable, as I submitted to that state of constraint last year to Newton, at request of Lockhart; to Leslie, at request of my American friend;* to Wilkie, for his picture of the King’s arrival at Holyrood House; and some one besides. I am as tired of the operation as old Maida, who had been so often sketched that he got up and walked off with signs of loathing whenever he saw an artist unfurl his paper and handle his brushes. But this young man is civil and modest; and I have agreed he shall be in the room while I work, and take the best likeness he can, without compelling me into the fixed attitude and yawning fatigues of an actual sitting. I think, if he has

* Sir Walter omits the name of his friend, Mr Ticknor of Boston, who possesses Mr Leslie’s portrait.

talent, he may do more my way than in the customary mode; at least I can’t have the hang-dog look which the unfortunate Theseus has who is doomed to sit for what seems an eternity.*

“I wrought till two o’clock—indeed till I was almost nervous with correcting and scribbling. I then walked, or rather was dragged through the snow by Tom Purdie, while Skene accompanied. What a blessing there is in a fellow like Tom, whom no familiarity can spoil, whom you may scold and praise and joke with, knowing the quality of the man is unalterable in his love and reverence to his master. Use an ordinary servant in the same way, and he will be your master in a month. We should thank God for the snow as well as summer flowers. This brushing exercise has put all my nerves into tone again, which were really jarred with fatigue until my very back-bone seemed breaking. This comes of trying to do too much. J. B.’s news are as good as possible.—Prudence, prudence, and all will do excellently.

January 8.—Frost and snow still. Write to excuse myself from attending the funeral of my aunt Mrs Curle, which takes place to-morrow at Kelso. She was a woman of the old Sandy-Knowe breed, with the strong sense, high principle, and indifferent temper which belonged to my father’s family. She lived with great credit on a moderate income, and I believe gave away a great deal of it.†

* ——scdet, æternumque sedebit
Infelix Theseus—— Virgil.

† In a letter of this date, to his sister-in-law, Mrs Thomas Scott, Sir Walter says—“Poor aunt Curle died like a Roman, or rather like one of the Sandy-Knowe bairns, the most stoical race I ever knew. She turned every one out of the room, and drew her last breath alone. So did my uncle Captain Robert Scott, and several others of that family.”


January 9.—Mathews the comedian and his son come to spend a day at Abbotsford.—Mr Scrope also comes out.

January 10.—Bodily health, the mainspring of the microcosm, seems quite restored. No more flushing or nervous fits, but the sound mind in the sound body. What poor things does a fever-fit or an overflowing of bile make of the master of creation. The snow begins to fall thick this morning—
‘The loud did say,
As how he wished they would go away.’
To have our friends shut up here would be rather too much of a good thing.—The day cleared up and was very pleasant. Had a good walk and looked at the curling.
Mr Mathews made himself very amusing in the evening. He has the good-nature to show his accomplishments without pressing and without the appearance of feeling pain. On the contrary, I dare say he enjoys the pleasure he communicates.

January 11.—I got proof-sheets, in which it seems I have repeated a whole passage of history which had been told before. James is in an awful stew, and I cannot blame him; but then he should consider the hyoscyamus which I was taking, and the anxious botheration about the money-market. However, as Chaucer says—
‘There is na workeman
That can bothe worken wel and hastilie,
This must be done at leasure parfaitly.’

January 12.—Mathews last night gave us a very perfect imitation of old Cumberland, who carried the poetic jealousy and irritability farther than any man I ever saw. He was a great flatterer, too, the old rogue. Will
Erskine used to admire him. I think he wanted originality. A very high-bred man in point of manners in society. Upon the whole, the days pass pleasantly enough—work till one or two, then an hour or two hours’ walk in the snow, then lighter work, or reading. Late dinner, and singing, or chat, in the evening. Mathews has really all the will, as well as the talent, to be amusing. He confirms my idea of ventriloquism (which is an absurd word), as being merely the art of imitating sounds at a greater or less distance, assisted by some little points of trick to influence the imagination of the audience—the vulgar idea of a peculiar organization (beyond fineness of ear and of utterance) is nonsense.

January 13.—Our party are about to disperse
‘Like youthful steers unyoked, east, north, and south.’
I am not sorry, being one of those whom too much mirth always inclines to sadness. The missing so many of my own family, together with the serious inconveniencies to which I have been exposed, give me at present a desire to be alone. The
Skenes return to Edinburgh, so does Mr. Scropeitem, the little artist; Mathews to Newcastle; his son to Liverpool. So exeunt omnes.

Mathews assures me that Sheridan was generally very dull in society, and sate sullen and silent, swallowing glass after glass, rather a hinderance than a help. But there was a time when he broke out with a resumption of what had been going on, done with great force, and generally attacking some person in the company, or some opinion which he had expressed. I never saw Sheridan but in large parties. He had a Bardolph countenance, with heavy features, but his eye possessed the most distinguished brilliancy. Mathews says it is very simple in Tom Moore to admire how Sheridan came
by the means of paying the price of Drury-Lane Theatre, when all the world knows he never paid it at all; and that
Lacy, who sold it, was reduced to want by his breach of faith.

January 14.—An odd mysterious letter from Constable, who has gone post to London. It strikes me to be that sort of letter which I have seen men write when they are desirous that their disagreeable intelligence should be rather apprehended than expressed. I thought he had been in London a fortnight ago, disposing of property to meet this exigence, and so I think he should. Well, I must have patience. But these terrors and frights are truly annoying. Luckily the funny people are gone, and I shall not have the task of grinning when I am serious enough.

“A letter from J. B., mentioning Constable’s journey, but without expressing much apprehension. He knows C. well, and saw him before his departure, and makes no doubt of his being able easily to extricate whatever may be entangled. I will not therefore make myself uneasy. I can help doing so surely, if I will. At least, I have given up cigars since the year began, and have now no wish to return to the habit, as it is called. I see no reason why one should not, with God’s assistance, shun noxious thoughts, which foretell evil and cannot remedy it.

January 15.—Like yesterday, a hard frost. Thermometer at 10; water in my dressing-room frozen to flint; yet I had a fine walk yesterday, the sun dancing delightfully on “grim Nature’s visage hoar.”* Were it not the plague of being dragged along by another person, I should like such weather as well as summer, but having Tom

* Burns’s Vision.

Purdie to do this office reconciles me to it. I cannot cleik with John, as old Mrs Mure used to say. I mean, that an ordinary menial servant thus hooked to your side reminds me of the twin bodies mentioned by Pitscottie, being two trunks on the same waist and legs. One died before the other, and remained a dead burden on the back of its companion. Such is the close union with a person whom you cannot well converse with, and whose presence is yet indispensable to your getting on. An actual companion, whether humble or your equal, is still worse. But Tom Purdie is just the thing, kneaded up between the friend and servant, as well as Uncle Toby’s bowling=green between sand and clay. You are certain he is proud as well as patient under his burden, and you are under no more constraint than with a pony. I must ride him to-day if the weather holds up. Mean-time, I will correct that curious fellow Pepys’ Diary. I mean the article I have made of it for the Quarterly.

“Edinburgh, January 16.—Came through cold roads to as cold news. Hurst and Robinson have suffered a bill to come back upon Constable, which I suppose infers the ruin of both houses. We shall soon see. Dined with the Skenes.

January 17.—James Ballantyne this morning, good honest fellow, with a visage as black as the crook. He hopes no salvation; has indeed taken measures to stop. It is hard, after having fought such a battle. Have apologized for not attending the Royal Society Club, who have a gaudeamus on this day, and seemed to count much on my being the preses. My old acquaintance, Miss Elizabeth Clerk, sister of Willie, died suddenly. I cannot choose but wish it had been Sir W. S., and yet the feeling is unmanly. I have Anne, my wife, and
Charles to look after. I felt rather sneaking as I came home from the Parliament-House—felt as if I were liable monstrari digito in no very pleasant way. But this must be borne cum cæteris; and, thank God, however uncomfortable, I do not feel despondent. I have seen
Cadell, Ballantyne, and Hogarth; all advise me to execute a trust of my property for payment of my obligations; so does John Gibson,* and so I resolve to do. My wife and daughter are gloomy, but yet patient.

January 18.—He that sleeps too long in the morning, let him borrow the pillow of a debtor. So says the Spaniard, and so say I. I had of course an indifferent night of it. I wish these two days were over; but the worst is over. The Bank of Scotland has behaved very well; expressing a resolution to serve Constable’s house and me to the uttermost; but as no one can say to what extent Hurst and Robinson’s failure may go, borrowing would but linger it out.

January 19.—During yesterday I received formal visits from my friends Skene and Colin Mackenzie (who, I am glad to see, looks well), with every offer of service. The Royal Bank also sent Sir John Hope and Sir Henry Jardine to offer to comply with my wishes. The Advocate came on the same errand. But I gave all the same answer—that my intention was to put the whole into the hands of a trustee, and to be contented with the event, and that all I had to ask was time to do so, and to extricate my affairs. I was assured of every accommodation

* Mr John Gibson, junior, W.S.,—Mr James Jollie, W.S.,—and Mr Alexander Monypenny, W.S., were the three gentlemen who ultimately agreed to take charge, as trustees, of Sir Walter Scott’s affairs; and certainly no gentlemen ever acquitted themselves of such an office in a manner more honourable to themselves or more satisfactory to a client and his creditors.

in this way. From all quarters I have had the same kindness.—Letters from
Constable and Robinson have arrived. The last persist in saying they will pay all and every body. They say, moreover, in a postscript, that had Constable been in town ten days sooner, all would have been well. I feel quite composed and determined to labour. There is no remedy. I guess (as Mathews makes his Yankees say) that we shall not be troubled with visiters, and I calculate that I will not go out at all; so what can I do better than labour? Even yesterday I went about making notes on Waverley, according to Constable’s plan. It will do good one day. To-day, when I lock this volume, I go to Woodstock. Heigho!—Knight came to stare at me to complete his portrait. He must have read a tragic page comparative to what he saw at Abbotsford.—We dined of course at home, and before and after dinner I finished about twenty printed pages of Woodstock, but to what effect others must judge. A painful scene after dinner, and another after supper, endeavouring to convince these poor dear creatures that they must not look for miracles, but consider the misfortune as certain, and only to be lessened by patience and labour.

January 20.—Indifferent night—very bilious, which may be want of exercise. Mais, pourtant, cullivons notre jardin. The public favour is my only lottery. I have long enjoyed the foremost prize, and something in my breast tells me my evil genius will not overwhelm me if I stand by myself. Why should I not? I have no enemies—many attached friends. The popular ascendency which I have maintained is of the kind which is rather improved by frequent appearances. In fact, critics may
say what they will, but ‘hain your reputation, and tyne* your reputation,’ is a true proverb.

Sir William Forbes† called, the same kind, honest, friend as ever, with all offers of assistance, &c. &c. &c. All anxious to serve me, and careless about their own risk of loss. And these are the cold, hard, money-making men whose questions and control I apprehended. Lord Chief Commissioner Adam also came to see me, and the meeting, though pleasing, was melancholy. It was the first time we had met since the break up of his hopes in the death of his eldest son on his return from India, where he was Chief in Council and highly esteemed,‡ The Commissioner is not a very early friend of mine, for I scarce knew him till his settlement in Scotland with his present office. But I have since lived much with him, and taken kindly to him as one of the most pleasant, kind-hearted, benevolent men I have ever known. It is high treason among the Tories to express regard for him, or respect for the Jury Court in which he presides. I was against that experiment as much as any one. But it is an experiment, and the establishment (which the fools will not perceive) is the only thing which I see likely to give some prospects of ambition to our bar, which has been otherwise so much diminished. As for the Chief Commissioner, I dare say he does what all other people of consequence do in elections and so forth. But he is the personal friend of

* To hain any thing is, Anglice, to deal very carefully, penuriously about it—tyne, to lose. Scott often used to say, “hain a pen and tyne a pen;” which is nearer the proverb alluded to.

† The late Sir William Forbes, Bart., succeeded his father (the biographer of Beattie) as chief of the head private banking-house in Edinburgh. Scott’s amiable friend died 24th October, 1828.

John Adam, Esq. died on shipboard, on his passage homewards from Calcutta, 4th June, 1825.

the King, and the decided enemy of whatever strikes at the constitutional rights of the Monarch; besides I love him for the various changes which he has endured through life, and which have been so great as to make him entitled to be regarded in one point of view as the most fortunate—in the other, the most unfortunate man in the world. He has gained and lost two fortunes by the same good luck and the same rash confidence, of which one raised, and the other now threatens, my peculium. And his quiet, honourable, and generous submission under circumstances more painful than mine,—for the loss of world’s wealth was to him aggravated by the death of his youngest and darling son in the West Indies, furnished me at the time and now with a noble example. So Tory and Whig may go be d——d together, as names that have disturbed old Scotland, and torn asunder the most kindly feelings since the first day they were invented. Yes, d—n them, they are spells to rouse all our angry passions, and I dare say, notwithstanding the opinion of my private and calm moments, I will open on the cry again so soon as something occurs to claim my words. Even yet, God knows, I would fight in honourable contest with word or blow for my political opinions; but I cannot permit that strife to mix its waters with my daily meal, those waters of bitterness which poison all mutual love and confidence betwixt the well-disposed on either side, and prevent them, if need were, from making mutual concessions and balancing the constitution against the ultras of both parties. The good man seems something broken by these afflictions.

January 21.—Susannah in Tristram Shandy thinks death is best met in bed. I am sure trouble and vexation are not. The watches of the night press wearily when disturbed by fruitless regrets and disagreeable anticipations. But let it pass.

‘Well, Goodman Time, or blunt, or keen,
Move thou quick, or take thy leisure,
Longest day will have its e’en,
Weariest life but treads a measure.’

I have seen Cadell, who is very much downcast for the risk of their copy-rights being thrown away by a hasty sale. I suggested that if they went very cheap, some means might be fallen on to purchase them in. I fear the split betwixt Constable and Cadell will render impossible what might otherwise be hopeful enough. It is the Italian race-horses, I think, which, instead of riders, have spurs tied to their sides, so as to prick them into a constant gallop. Cadell tells me their gross profit was sometimes L.10,000 a-year, but much swallowed up with expenses, and his partner’s draughts which came to L.4000 yearly. What there is to show for this, God knows. Constable’s apparent expenses were very much within bounds.

Colin Mackenzie entered, and with his usual kindness engages to use his influence to recommend some moderate proceeding to Constable’s creditors, such as may permit him to go on and turn that species of property to account which no man alive can manage so well as he.

“Followed Mr Gibson with a most melancholy tale. Things are much worse with Constable than I apprehended. Naked we entered the world, and naked we leave it—blessed be the name of the Lord!

January 22.—I feel neither dishonoured nor broken down by the bad—now really bad news I have received. I have walked my last on the domains I have planted—sate the last time in the halls I have built. But death would have taken them from me if misfortune had spared them. My poor people whom I loved so well!—There is just another die to turn up against me in this run of
DIARY—JANUARY 22, 1826.197
ill-luck; i. e.—If I should break my magic wand in the fall from this elephant, and lose my popularity with my fortune. Then
Woodstock and Bony may both go to the paper-maker, and I may take to smoking cigars and drinking grog, or turn devotee, and intoxicate the brain another way. In prospect of absolute ruin, I wonder if they would let me leave the Court of Session. I would like methinks to go abroad,
‘And lay my bones far from the Tweed.’
But I find my eyes moistening, and that will not do. I will not yield without a fight for it. It is odd, when I set myself to work doggedly, as
Dr Johnson would say, I am exactly the same man that I ever was—neither low-spirited nor distrait. In prosperous times I have sometimes felt my fancy and powers of language flag, but adversity is to me at least a tonic and bracer; the fountain is awakened from its inmost recesses, as if the spirit of affliction had troubled it in his passage.

“Poor Mr Pole the harper sent to ofter me L.500 or L.600, probably his all.* There is much good in the world, after all. But I will involve no friend, either rich or poor. My own right hand shall do it—else will I be done in the slang language, and undone in common parlance.

“I am glad that, beyond my own family, who are, excepting Lady S., young and able to bear sorrow, of which this is the first taste to some of them, most of the hearts are past aching which would have once been inconsolable on this occasion. I do not mean that many will not seriously regret, and some perhaps lament my misfortunes. But my dear mother, my almost sister,

* Mr Pole had long attended Sir Walter Scott’s daughters as teacher of the harp. To the end, Scott always spoke of his conduct on this occasion as the most affecting circumstance that accompanied his disasters.

Christy Rutherford, poor Will Erskine; those would have been mourners indeed.

“Well—exertion—exertion. O, Invention, rouse thyself! May man be kind! May God be propitious! The worst is, I never quite know when I am right or wrong; and Ballantyne, who does know in some degree, will fear to tell me. Lockhart would be worth gold just now, but he too might be too diffident to speak broad out. All my hope is in the continued indulgence of the public. I have a funeral-letter to the burial of the Chevalier Yelin, a foreigner of learning and talent, who has died at the Royal Hotel. He wished to be introduced to me, and was to have read a paper before the Royal Society when this introduction was to have taken place. I was not at the Society that evening, and the poor gentleman was taken ill at the meeting and unable to proceed. He went to his bed and never rose again; and now his funeral will be the first public place I shall appear at. He dead, and I ruined. This is what you call a meeting.

January 23.—Slept ill, not having been abroad these eight days—splendida bilis. Then a dead sleep in the morning, and when the awakening comes, a strong feeling how well I could dispense with it for once and for ever. This passes away, however, as better and more dutiful thoughts arise in my mind. I know not if my imagination has flagged; probably it has; but at least my powers of labour have not diminished during the last melancholy week. On Monday and Tuesday my exertions were suspended. Since Wednesday inclusive I have written thirty-eight of my close manuscript pages, of which seventy make a volume of the usual Novel size.

“Wrote till twelve a.m., finishing half of what I call a
DIARY—JANUARY 24, 1826.199
good day’s work—ten pages of print or rather twelve. Then walked in the Prince’s Street pleasure-grounds with good Samaritan
James Skene, the only one among my numerous friends who can properly be termed amicus curarum mearum, others being too busy or too gay, and several being estranged by habit.

“The walks have been conducted on the whole with much taste, though Skene has undergone much criticism, the usual reward of public exertions, on account of his plans. It is singular to walk close beneath the grim old castle, and think what scenes it must have seen, and how many generations of threescore and ten have risen and past away. It is a place to cure one of too much sensation over earthly subjects of mutation. My wife and girl’s tongues are chatting in a lively manner in the drawing-room. It does me good to hear them.

January 24.—Constable came yesterday and saw me for half an hour. He seemed irritable, but kept his temper under command. Was a little shocked when I intimated that I was disposed to regard the present works in progress as my own. I think I saw two things:—1. That he is desirous to return into the management of his own affairs without Cadell, if he can. 2. That he relies on my connexion as the way of helping him out of the slough. Indeed he said he was ruined utterly without my countenance. I certainly will befriend him if I can, but Constable without Cadell is like getting the clock without the pendulum: the one having the ingenuity, the other the caution of the business. I will see my way before making any bargain, and I will help them, I am sure, if I can, without endangering my last cast for freedom. Worked out my task yesterday.—My kind friend Mrs Coutts has got the cadetship for Pringle Shortreed, in which I was peculiarly interested.


“I went to the Court for the first time to-day, and, like the man with the large nose, thought every body was thinking of me and my mishaps. Many were, undoubtedly; and all rather regrettingly, some obviously affected. It is singular to see the difference of men’s manner whilst they strive to be kind or civil in their way of addressing me. Some smiled as they wished me good day, as if to say, ‘Think nothing about it, my lad; it is quite out of our thoughts.’ Others greeted me with the affected gravity which one sees and despises at a funeral. The best-bred,—all, I believe, meaning equally well—just shook hands and went on.—A foolish puff in the papers, calling on men and gods to assist a popular author, who having choused the public of many thousands, had not the sense to keep wealth when he had it.—If I am hard pressed, and measures used against me, I must use all means of legal defence, and subscribe myself bankrupt in a petition for sequestration. It is the course one should, at any rate, have advised a client to take. But for this I would, in a Court of Honour, deserve to lose my spurs. No, if they permit me, I will be their vassal for life, and dig in the mine of my imagination to find diamonds (or what may sell for such) to make good my engagements, not to enrich myself. And this from no reluctance to be called the Insolvent, which I probably am, but because I will not put out of the power of my creditors the resources, mental or literary, which yet remain to me. Went to the funeral of Chevalier Yelin, the literary foreigner mentioned on 22d. How many and how various are the ways of affliction. Here is this poor man dying at a distance from home, his proud heart broken, his wife and family anxiously expecting letters, and doomed only to learn they have lost a husband and father for ever. He lies buried on the Calton Hill, near learned
and scientific dust—the graves of
David Hume and John Playfair being side by side.

January 25.—Anne is ill this morning. May God help us! If it should prove serious, as I have known it in such cases, where am I to find courage or comfort? A thought has struck me—Can we do nothing for creditors with the goblin drama, called the Fortunes of Devorgoil? Could it not be added to Woodstock as a fourth volume? Terry refused a gift of it, but he was quite and entirely wrong; it is not good, but it may be made so. Poor Will Erskine liked it much.

January 26.—Spoke to J. B. last night about Devorgoil, who does not seem to relish the proposal, alleging the comparative failure of Halidon Hill. Ay, says Self-Conceit, but he has not read it—and when he does, it is the sort of wild fanciful work betwixt heaven and earth, which men of solid parts do not estimate. Pepys thought Shakspeare’s Midsummer-Night’s Dream the most silly play he had ever seen, and Pepys was probably judging on the same grounds with J. B., though presumptuous enough to form conclusions against a very different work from any of mine. How if I send it to Lockhart by and by?

Gibson comes with a joyful face, announcing all the creditors had unanimously agreed to a private trust. This is handsome and confidential, and must warm my best efforts to get them out of the scrape. I will not doubt—to doubt is to lose. Sir William Forbes took the chair, and behaved, as he has ever done, with the generosity of ancient faith and early friendship. That House is more deeply concerned than most. In what scenes have Sir William and I not borne share together—desperate and almost bloody affrays, rivalries, deep
drinking matches, and finally, with the kindest feelings on both sides, somewhat separated by his retiring much within the bosom of his family, and I moving little beyond mine. It is fated our planets should cross, though, and that at the periods most interesting for me. Down—down—a hundred thoughts.

“I hope to sleep better to-night. If I do not I shall get ill, and then I cannot keep my engagements. Is it not odd? I can command my eyes to be awake when toil and weariness sit on my eyelids, but to draw the curtain of oblivion is beyond my power. I remember some of the wild Buccaneers, in their impiety, succeeded pretty well by shutting hatches and burning brimstone and assafœtida to make a tolerable imitation of hell—but the pirates’ heaven was a wretched affair. It is one of the worst things about this system of ours, that it is a hundred times more easy to inflict pain than to create pleasure.

January 17th.—Slept better and less bilious, owing doubtless to the fatigue of the preceding night, and the more comfortable news. Wrote to Laidlaw, directing him to make all preparations for reduction. The Celtic Society present me with the most splendid broadsword I ever saw; a beautiful piece of art, and a most noble weapon. Honourable Mr Steuart (second son of the Earl of Moray), General Graham Stirling, and MacDougal, attended as a committee to present it. This was very kind of my friends the Celts, with whom I have had so many merry meetings. It will be a rare legacy to Walter—for myself, good lack! it is like Lady Dowager Don’s prize in a lottery of hardware; she—a venerable lady who always wore a haunch-hoop, silk negligé, and triple ruffles at the elbow—having the luck to gain a pair of silver spurs and a whip to correspond.


January 28th.—These last four or five days I have wrought little; to-day I set on the steam and ply my paddles.

January 29.—The proofs came so thick in yesterday that much was not done. But I began to be hard at work to-day. I must not gurnalize much.

Mr Jollie, who is to be my trustee, in conjunction with Gibson, came to see me; a pleasant and good-humoured man, and has high reputation as a man of business. I told him, and I will keep my word, that he would at least have no trouble by my interfering and thwarting their management, which is not the unfrequent case of trusters and trustees.

Constable’s business seems unintelligible. No man thought the house worth less than L.150,000. Constable told me, when he was making his will, that he was worth L.80,000. Great profits on almost all the adventures. No bad speculations yet neither stock nor debt to show. Constable might have eaten up his share; but Cadell was very frugal. No doubt trading almost entirely on accommodation is dreadfully expensive.

January 30.—I laboured fairly yesterday. The stream rose fast—if clearly, is another question; but there is bulk for it, at least—about thirty printed pages.
‘And now again, boys, to the oar.’

January 31.—There being nothing in the roll this morning, I stay at home from the Court, and add another day’s perfect labour to Woodstock, which is worth five days of snatched intervals, when the current of thought and invention is broken in upon, and the mind, shaken and diverted from its purpose by a succession of petty interruptions. I have now no pecuniary provisions to embarrass me, and I think, now the shock of the discovery
is past and over, I am much better off on the whole. I feel as if I had shaken off from my shoulders a great mass of garments, rich indeed, but always more a burden than a comfort. I shall be free of an hundred petty public duties imposed on me as a man of consideration—of the expense of a great hospitality—and what is better, of the great waste of time connected with it. I have known in my day all kinds of society, and can pretty well estimate how much or how little one loses by retiring from all but that which is very intimate. I sleep and eat, and work as I was wont; and if I could see those about me as indifferent to the loss of rank as I am, I should be completely happy. As it is, Time must salve that sore, and to Time I trust it.

“Since the 14th of this month no guest has broken bread in my house, save G. H. Gordon* one morning at breakfast. This happened never before since I had a house of my own. But I have played Abou Hassan long enough; and if the Caliph comes I would turn him back again.

February 1—A most generous letter (though not more so than I expected) from Walter and Jane, offering to interpose with their fortune, &c. God Almighty forbid! that were too unnatural in me to accept, though dutiful and affectionate in them to offer. They talk of India still. With my damaged fortune I cannot help them to remain by exchange, and so forth. God send what is for the best. Attended the Court, and saw J. B. and Cadell as I returned. Both very gloomy. Came home to work, &c., about two.

Feb. 2.—An odd visit this morning from Miss ——

* Mr Gordon (of whom more in the sequel) was at this time Scott’s amanuensis: he copied, that is to say, the MS. for press.

——, whose law-suit with a Methodist parson of the name of ——, made some noise. The worthy divine had in the basest manner interfered to prevent this lady’s marriage by two anonymous letters, in which he contrived to refer the lover, to whom they were addressed, for farther corroboration to himself. The whole imposition makes the subject of a little pamphlet. The lady ventured for redress into the thicket of English law—lost one suit—gained another, with L.300 damages, and was ruined. The appearance and person of Miss —— are prepossessing. She is about thirty years old, a brunette, with regular and pleasing features, marked with melancholy—an enthusiast in literature, and probably in religion. She had been at Abbotsford to see me, and made her way to me here, in the vain hope that she could get her story worked up into a novel; and certainly the thing is capable of interesting situations. It throws a curious light upon the aristocratic or rather hieratic influence exercised by the Methodist preachers within the connexion, as it is called. Admirable food this would be for the Quarterly, or any other reviewers, who might desire to feed fat their grudge against these sectarians. But there are two reasons against such a publication. First, it could do the poor sufferer no good. 2dly, It might hurt the Methodistic connexion very much, which I for one would not like to injure. They have their faults, and are peculiarly liable to those of hypocrisy, and spiritual ambition, and priestcraft. On the other hand, they do infinite good, carrying religion into classes in society where it would scarce be found to penetrate, did it rely merely upon proof of its doctrines, upon calm reason, and upon rational argument. The Methodists add a powerful appeal to the feelings and passions; and though I believe this is often exaggerated into absolute enthusiasm, yet I consider
upon the whole they do much to keep alive a sense of religion, and the practice of morality necessarily connected with it. It is much to the discredit of the Methodist clergy, that when this calumniator was actually convicted of guilt morally worse than many men are hanged for, they only degraded him from the first to the second class of their preachers. If they believed him innocent, they did too much—if guilty, far too little.

February 3.—This is the first time since my troubles that I felt at awaking—
‘I had drunken deep
Of all the blessedness of sleep.’
I made not the slightest pause, nor dreamed a single dream, nor even changed my side. This is a blessing to be grateful for. There is to be a meeting of the creditors to-day, but I care not for the issue. If they drag me into the Court, obtorto collo, instead of going into this scheme of arrangement, they will do themselves a great injury, and perhaps eventually do me good, though it would give me much pain. James Ballantyne is severely critical on what he calls imitations of
Mrs Radcliffe in Woodstock. Many will think with him—yet I am of opinion he is quite wrong, or as friend J. F.* says vrong. In the first place, am I to look on the mere fact of another author having treated a subject happily, as a bird looks on a potato-bogle which scares it away from a field, otherwise as free to its depredations as any where else? In 2d place, I have taken a wide difference; my object is not to excite fear of supernatural things in my reader, but to show the effect of such fear upon the agents in the story—

* I believe J. F. stands for James Ferrier, Esq.—one of Sir Walter’s brethren of the Clerk’s table—the father of his esteemed and admired friend the authoress of “Marriage,” “The Inheritance,” &c.

one a man of sense and firmness—one a man unhinged by remorse—one a stupid unenquiring clown—one a learned and worthy, but superstitious divine. In 3d place, the book turns on this hinge, and cannot want it. But I will try to insinuate the refutation of
Aldiboronti’s exception into the prefatory matter.—From the 19th January to the 2d February inclusive, is exactly fifteen days, during which time, with the intervention of some days’ idleness, to let imagination brood on the task a little, I have written a volume. I think, for a bet, I could have done it in ten days. Then I must have had no Court of Session to take me up hours every morning, and dissipate my attention and powers of working for the rest of the day. A volume, at cheapest, is worth L.1000. This is working at the rate of L.24,000 a-year; but then we must not bake buns faster than people have appetite to eat them. They are not essential to the market like potatoes.

John Gibson came to tell me in the evening that a meeting to-day had approved of the proposed trust. I know not why, but the news gives me little concern. I heard it as a party indifferent. I remember hearing that Mandrin* testified some horror when he found himself bound alive on the wheel, and saw the executioner approach with a bar of iron to break his limbs. After the second and third blow, he fell a-laughing, and being asked the reason by his confessor, said he laughed at his own folly, which had anticipated increased agony at every blow, when it was obvious that the first must have

* “Authentic Memoirs of the remarkable Life and surprising Exploits of Mandrin, Captain-General of the French Smugglers, who for the space of nine months resolutely stood in defiance of the whole French Army of France, &c. 8vo. Lond. 1755.” Abbotsford Library.—See Gentleman’s Magazine, vol. xxv.—Note, Waverley Novels, vol. xxxvii. p. 434.

jarred and confounded the system of the nerves so much as to render the succeeding blows of little consequence. I suppose it is so with the moral feeling; at least I could not bring myself to be anxious whether these matters were settled one way or other.

February 4.—Wrote to Mr Laidlaw to come to town upon Monday, and see the trustees. To farm or not to farm, that is the question. With our careless habits, it were best, I think, to risk as little as possible. Lady Scott will not exceed with ready money in her hand; but calculating on the produce of a farm is different, and neither she nor I are capable of that minute economy. Two cows should be all we should keep. But I find Lady S. inclines much for the four. If she had her youthful activity, and could manage things, it would be well, and would amuse her. But I fear it is too late for work.

“Wrote only two pages (of manuscript) and a half to-day. As the boatswain said, one can’t dance always nouther. But, were we sure of the quality of the stuff, what opportunities for labour does this same system of retreat afford us! I am convinced that in three years I could do more than in the last ten, but for the mine being, I fear, exhausted. Give me my popularity (an awful postulate!), and all my present difficulties shall be a joke in four years; and it is not lost yet, at least.

February 5.—Rose after a sound sleep, and here am I without bile or any thing to perturb my inward man. It is just about three weeks since so great a change took place in my relations in society, and already I am indifferent to it. But I have been always told my feelings of joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, enjoyment and privation, are much colder than those of other people.

DIARY—FEBRUARY 7, 1826. 209
‘I think the Romans call it stoicism.’

Missie was in the drawing-room, and overheard William Clerk and me laughing excessively at some foolery or other in the back-room, to her no small surprise, which she did not keep to herself. But do people suppose that he was less sorry for his poor sister or I for my lost fortune? If I have a very strong passion in the world, it is pride, and that never hinged upon world’s gear, which was always with me—Light come, light go.

February 6.—Letters received yesterday from Lord Montagu, John Morritt, and Mrs Hughes, kind and dear friends all, with solicitous enquiries. But it is very tiresome to tell my story over again, and I really hope I have few more friends intimate enough to ask me for it. I dread letter-writing, and envy the old hermit of Prague, who never saw pen or ink. What then? one must write; it is a part of the law we live on. Talking of writing, I finished my six pages, neat and handsome, yesterday. N.B. At night I fell asleep, and the oil dropped from the lamp upon my manuscript. Will this extreme unction make it go smoothly down with the public?
‘Thus idly we profane the sacred time
By silly prose, light jest, and lighter rhyme.’
I have a song to write, too, and I am not thinking of it. I trust it will come upon me at once a sort of catch it should be.* I walked out, feeling a little overwrought.

February 7.—My old friend Sir Peter Murray called to offer his own assistance, Lord Justice-Clerk’s, and Abercromby’s, to negotiate for me a seat upon the Bench [of the Court of Session] instead of my sheriffdom and

* See “Glee for King Charles,” Waverley Novels, vol. xl. p. 40.

clerkship. I explained to him the use which I could make of my pen was not, I thought, consistent with that situation; and that, besides, I had neglected the law too long to permit me to think of it: but this was kindly and honourably done. I can see people think me much worse off than I think myself. They may be right; but I will not be beat till I have tried a rally, and a bold one.

February 8.—Slept ill, and rather bilious in the morning. Many of the Bench now are my juniors. I will not seek ex eleemosynâ a place which, had I turned my studies that way, I might have aspired to long ago ex meritis. My pen should do much better for me than the odd L.1000 a-year. If it fails, I will lean on what they leave me. Another chance might be, if it fails, in the patronage which might, after a year or two, place me in Exchequer. But I do not count on this unless, indeed, the Duke of Buccleuch, when he comes of age, should choose to make play. Got to my work again, and wrote easier than the two last days.

Mr Laidlaw came in from Abbotsford, and dined with us. We spent the evening in laying down plans for the farm, and deciding whom we should keep and whom dismiss among the people. This we did on the true negro-driving principle of self-interest—the only principle I know which never swerves from its objects. We chose all the active, young, and powerful men, turning old age and infirmity adrift. I cannot help this, for a guinea cannot do the work of five; but I will contrive to make it easier to the sufferers.

February 9.—A stormy morning, lowering and blustering like our fortunes. Mea virtute me involuo. But I must say to the muse of fiction as the Earl of
DIARY—FEBRUARY 9, 1826.211
Pembroke said to the ejected nuns of Wilton:—‘Go spin, you jades, go spin!’ Perhaps she has no tow on her rock. When I was at Kilkenny last year we went to see a nunnery, but could not converse with the sisters because they were in strict retreat. I was delighted with the red-nosed Padre, who showed us the place with a sort of proud, unctuous humiliation, and apparent dereliction of the world, that had to me the air of a complete Tartuffe; a strong, sanguine, square-shouldered son of the Church, whom a Protestant would be apt to warrant against any sufferings he was like to sustain by privation. My purpose, however, just now was to talk of the strict retreat, which did not prevent the nuns from walking in their little garden, peeping at us, and allowing us to peep at them. Well, now we are in strict retreat; and if we had been so last year, instead of gallivanting to Ireland, this affair might not have befallen—if literary labour could have prevented it. But who could have suspected Constable’s timbers to have been rotten from the beginning?

“Visited the Exhibition on my way home from the Court. The new rooms are most splendid, and several good pictures. The Institution has subsisted but five years, and it is astonishing how much superior the worst of the present collection are to the teaboard-looking things which first appeared. John Thomson, of Duddingstone, has far the finest picture in the Exhibition, of a large size—subject Dunluce, a ruinous castle of the Antrim family, near the Giant’s Causeway, with one of those terrible seas and skies which only Thomson can paint. Found Scrope there, improving a picture of his own, an Italian scene in Calabria. He is, I think, one of the very best amateur painters I ever saw—Sir George Beaumont scarcely excepted.

“I would not write to-day after I came home. I
will not say could not, for it is not true; but I was lazy; felt the desire far niente, which is the sign of one’s mind being at ease. I read
The English in Italy which is a clever book. Byron used to kick and frisk more contemptuously against the literary gravity and slang than any one I ever knew who had climbed so high. Then, it is true, I never knew any one climb so high—and before you despise the eminence, carrying people along with you as convinced that you are not playing the fox and the grapes, you must be at the top. Moore told me some delightful stories of him. * * * * * *† He wrote from impulse, never from effort; and therefore I have always reckoned Burns and Byron the most genuine poetical geniuses of my time, and half a century before me. We have many men of high poetical talent, but none, I think, of that ever-gushing and perennial fountain of natural waters.

Mr Laidlaw dined with us. Says Mr Gibson told him he would dispose of my affairs, were it any but Sir W. S. No doubt, so should I. I am wellnigh doing so at any rate. But fortuna juvante! much may be achieved. At worst, the prospect is not very discouraging to one who wants little. Methinks I have been like Burns’s poor labourer,
‘So constantly in Ruin’s sight,
The view o’t gives me little fright.—”

† Here follow several anecdotes, since published in Moore’s Life of Byron.