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ed from that poet seemed to be listened to as if it made
part of some new volume published while he was in Italy.
He attended with this sense of novelty, even to the tale of
Phoebe Dawson, which, not many months before, he could
have repeated every line of, and which I chose for one of
these readings, because, as is known to every one, it had
formed the last solace of Mr. Fox's death-bed. On the con-
trary, his recollection of whatever I read from the Bible
appeared to be lively ; and in the afternoon, when we made
his grandson, a child of six years, repeat some of Dr.
Watts's hymns by his chair, he seemed also to remember
them perfectly. That evening he heard the Church ser-
vice, and when I was about to close the book, said, " Why
do you omit the visitation for the sick ? " which I added

On Monday he remained in bed and seemed extremely
feeble; but after breakfast on Tuesday, the 17th, he ap-
peared revived somewhat, and was again wheeled about
on the turf. Presently he fell asleep in his chair, and after
dozing for perhaps half an hour, started awake, and shak-
ing the plaids we had put about him from off his shoul-
ders, said : " This is sad idleness. I shall forget what I have
been thinking of, if I don't set it down now. Take me into
my own room, and fetch the keys of my desk." He re-
peated this so earnestly that we could not refuse; his
daughters went into his study, opened his writing-desk, and
laid paper and pens in the usual order, and I then moved
him through the hall and into the spot where he had al
ways been accustomed to work. When the chair was
placed at the desk, and he found himself in the old posi-


tion, he Brniled and thanked us, and said, " Now give me
my pen, and leave me for a little to myself." Sophia put
the pen into his hand, and he endeavored to close his fin-
gers upon it, but they refused their office, it dropped on
the paper. He sank back among his pillows, silent tears
rolling down his cheeks ; but composing himself by and by,
motioned to me to wheel him out of doors again. Laidlaw
met us at the porch, and took his turn of the chair. Sir
Walter, after a little while, again dropped into slumber.
When he awakened, Laidlaw said to me, " Sir Walter
has had a little repose." "No, Willie," said he, "no
repose for Sir Walter but in the grave." The tears again
rushed from his eyes. " Friends," said he, " don't let me
expose myself get me to bed, that 's the only place."

With this scene ended our glimpse of daylight Sir
Walter never, I think, left his room afterwards, and hardly
his bed, except for an hour or two in the middle of the
day ; and after another week he was unable even for this.
During a few days he was in a state of painful irritation,
and I saw realized all that he had himself prefigured in
his description of the meeting between Crystal Croftangry
and his paralytic friend. Dr. Ross came out from Edin-
burgh, bringing with him his wife, one of the dearest nieces
of the Clerk's Table. Sir Walter with some difficulty rec-
ognized the Doctor, but, on hearing Mrs. Ross's voice,
exclaimed at once, " Is n't that Kate Hume ? " These kind
friends remained for two or three days with us. Clarkson's
lancet was pronounced necessary, and the relief it afforded
was, I am happy to say, very effectual.

After this he declined daily, but still there was great
strength to be wasted, and the process was long. He
seemed, however, to suffer no bodily pain, and his mind,
though hopelessly obscured, appeared, when there was any
symptom of consciousness, to be dwelling, with rare excep-
tions, on serious and solemn things ; the accent of the voice


grave, sometimes awful, but never querulous, an! very
seldom indicative of any angry or resentful thoughts. Now
and then he imagined himself to be administering justice
as Sheriff; and once or twice he seemed to be ordering
Tom Purdie about trees. A few times also, I am sorry to
say, we could perceive that his fancy was at Jedburgh,
and Burk Sir Walter escaped him in a melancholy tone.
But commonly whatever we could follow him in was a
fragment of the Bible (especially the Prophecies of Isaiah
and the Book of Job) of some petition in the litany
or a verse of some psalm (in the old Scotch metrical ver-
sion) or of some of the magnificent hymns of the Rom-
ish ritual in which he had always delighted, but which
probably hung on his memory now in connection with the
church services he had attended while in Italy. We very
often heard distinctly the cadence of the Dies Irce ; and I
think that the very last stanza that we could make out was
the first of a still greater favorite :
" Stabat Mater dolorosa,

Juxta crucem lachrymosa,

Dam pendebat Filius."

All this time he continued to recognize his daughters,
Laidlaw, and myself, whenever we spoke to him, and
received every attention with a most touching thankfulness.
Mr. Clarkson, too, was always saluted with the old cour-
tesy, though the cloud opened but a moment for him to
do so. Most truly might it be said that the gentleman sur-
vived the genius.

After two or three weeks had passed in this way, I was
obliged to leave Sir Walter for a single day, and go into
Edinburgh, to transact business on his account, with Mr.
Henry Cockburn (now Lord Cockburn), then Solicitor-
General for Scotland. The Scotch Reform Bill threw a
great burden of new duties and responsibilities upon the
Sheriffs; and Scott's Sheriff-substitute, the Laird of .Rae-


burn, not having been regularly educated for the law, found
himself incompetent to encounter these novelties, especially
as regarded the registration of voters, and other details
connected with the recent enlargement of .the electoral
franchise. Under such circumstances, as no one but the
Sheriff could appoint another Substitute, it became neces-
sary for Sir Walter's family to communicate the state he
was in in a formal manner to the Law Officers of the
Crown ; and the Lord Advocate (Mr. Jeffrey), in conse-
quence, introduced and carried through Parliament a short
bill (2 and 3 William IV. cap. 101), authorizing the gov-
ernment to appoint a new Sheriff of Selkirkshire, " during
the incapacity or non-resignation of Sir Walter Scott." It
was on t^iis bill that the Solicitor- General had expressed a
wish to converse with me ; but there was little to be said,
as the temporary nature of the new appointment gave no
occasion for any pecuniary question ; and, if that had been
otherwise, the circumstances of the case would have ren-
dered Sir Walter's family entirely indifferent upon such a
subject There can be no doubt that, if he had recovered
in so far as to be capable of executing a resignation, the
government would have considered it just to reward thirty-
two years' faithful services by a retired allowance equiva-
lent to his salary, and as little that the government
would have had sincere satisfaction in settling that matter
in the shape most acceptable to himself. And perhaps
(though I feel that it is scarcely worth while) I may as
well here express my regret that a statement highly unjust
and injurious should have found its way into the pages of
some of Sir Walter's preceding biographers. These writ-
ers have thought fit to insinuate that there was a want of
courtesy and respect on the part of the Lord Advocate,
and the other official persons connected with this arrange-
ment. On the contrary, nothing could be more handsome
and delicate than the whole of their conduct in it; Mr


Cockburn could not have entered into the case with greater
feeling and tenderness, had it concerned a brother of his
own ; and when Mr. Jeffrey introduced his bill in the House
of Commons, he used language so graceful and touching,
that both Sir Robert Peel and Mr. Croker went across the
House to thank him cordially for it.

Perceiving, towards the close of August, that the end was
near, and thinking it very likely that Abbotsford might soon
undergo many changes, and myself, at all events, never see
it again, I felt a desire to have some image preserved of
the interior apartments as occupied by their founder, and
invited from Edinburgh for that purpose Sir Walter's dear
friend, William Allan, whose presence, I well knew,
would, even under the circumstances of that time, be nowise
troublesome to any of the family, but the contrary in all
respects. Mr. Allan willingly complied, and executed a
series of beautiful drawings, which may probably be en-
graved hereafter. He also shared our watchings, and wit-
nessed all but the last moments. Sir Walter's cousins, the
ladies of Ashestiel, came down frequently, for a day or
two at a time, and did whatever sisterly affection could
prompt, both for the sufferer and his daughters. Miss
Barbara Scott (daughter of his Uncle Thomas) and Mrs.
Scott of Harden did the like.

As I was dressing on the morning of Monday the 17th
of September, Nicolson came into my room, and told me
that his master had awoke in a state of composure and con-
sciousness, and wished to see me immediately. I found
him entirely himself, though in the last extreme of feeble-
ness. His eye was clear and calm every trace of the
wild fire of delirium extinguished. " Lockhart," he said,
" I may have but a minute to speak to you. My dear, be
a good man be virtuous be religious be a good
man. Nothing else will give you any comfort when you
come to lie here." He paused, and I said, " Shall I send


for Sophia and Anne?" "No," said he, "dont disturb
them. Poor souls ! I know they were up all night God
bless you all." With this he sunk into a very tranquil
sleep, and, indeed, he scarcely afterwards gave any sign
of consciousness, except for an instant on the arrival of his
sons. They, on learning that the scene was about to close,
obtained a new leave of absence from their posts, and both
reached Abbotsford on the 19th. About half past one
1*. M., on the 21st of September, Sir Walter breathed his
last, in the presence of all his children. It was a beautiful
day, so warm that every window was wide open, and
so perfectly still that the sound of all others most delicious
to his ear, the gentle ripple of the Tweed over its pebbles,
was distinctly audible as we knelt around the bed, and his
eldest son kissed and closed his eyes.

No sculptor ever modelled a more majestic image of

His funeral was conducted in an unostentatious manner,
but the attendance was very great. Few of his old friends
then in Scotland were absent, and many, both friends and
strangers, came . from a great distance. His old domestics
and foresters made it their petition that no hireling hand
might assist in carrying his remains. They themselves
bore the coffin to the hearse, and from the hearse to the
grave. The pall-bearers were his sons, his son-in-law, and
his little grandson ; his cousins, Charles Scott of Nesbitt,
James Scott of Jedburgh, (sons to his Uncle Thomas,) Wil-
liam Scott of Raeburn, Robert Rutherford, Gerk to the
Signet, Colonel (now Sir James) Russell of Ashestiel, Wil-
liam Keith (brother to Sir Alexander Keith of Ravelstone),
and the chief of his family, Hugh Scott of Harden, now
Lord Polwarth.

When the company were assembled, according to the
usual Scotch fashion, prayers were offered up by the very
Reverend Dr. Baird, Principal of the University of Edin


burgh, and by the Rev. Dr. David Dickson, minister of St
Cuthbert's, who both expatiated in a very striking manner
on the virtuous example of the deceased.

The court-yard and all the precincts of Abbotsford were
crowded with uncovered spectators as the procession was
arranged ; and as it advanced through Darnick and Mel-
rose, and the adjacent villages, the whole population ap-
peared at their doors in like manner, almost all in black.
The train of carriages extended, I understand, over more
than a mile, the Yeomanry followed in great numbers
on horseback and it was late in the day ere we reached
Dryburgh. Some accident, it was observed, had caused
the hearse to halt for several minutes on the summit of the
hill at Bemerside exactly where a prospect of remarka-
ble richness opens, and where Sir Walter always had been
accustomed to rein up his horse. The day was dark and
lowering, and the wind high.

The wide enclosure at the abbey of Dryburgh was
thronged with old and young ; and when the coffin was
taken from the hearse, and again laid on the shoulders of
the afflicted serving-men, one deep sob burst from a thousand
lips. Mr. Archdeacon Williams read the Burial Service of
the Church of England ; and thus, about half past five
o'clock, in the evening of Wednesday, the 26th September,
1832, the remains of Sir Walter Scott were laid by the
side of his wife, in the sepulchre of his ancestors, "in
sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life,
through our Lord Jesus Christ ; who shall change our vile
body that it may be like unto his glorious body, according to
the mighty working, whereby he is able to subdue all things
to himself" '




SCARCE could the parting ocean close,
* Seamed by the Mayflower's cleaving bow,
When o'er the rugged desert rose

The waves that tracked the Pilgrim's plough

Then sprang from many a rock-strewn field
The rippling grass, the nodding grain,

Such growths as English meadows yield
To scanty sun and frequent rain.

But when the fiery days were done,
And Autumn brought his purple haze,

Then, kindling in the slanted sun,

The hillsides gleamed with golden maize.

Nor treat his homely gift with scorn
Whose fading memory scarce can save

The hillocks where he sowed his corn,

The mounds that mark his nameless grave.

The food was scant, the fruits were few :
A red-streak glistened here and there ;

Perchance in statelier precincts grew
Some stern old Puritanic pear.


Austere in taste, and tough at core
Its unrelenting bulk was shed,

To ripen in the Pilgrim's store

When all the summer sweets were fled.

Such was his lot, to front the storm
With iron heart and marble brow,

Nor ripen till his earthly form

Was cast from life's autumnal bough.

But ever on the bleakest rock

We bid the brightest beacon glow,

And still upon the thorniest stock
The sweetest roses love to blow.

So on our rude and wintry soil
We feed the kindling flame of art,

And steal the tropic's blushing spoil
To bloom on Nature's icy heart.

See how the softening Mother's breast
Warms to her children's patient wiles,

Her lips by loving Labor pressed
Break in a thousand dimpling smiles,

From when the flushing bud of June
Dawns with its first auroral hue,

Till shines the rounded harvest-moon,
And velvet dahlias drink the dew.

Nor these the only gifts she brings ;

Look where the laboring orchard groans,
And yields its beryl-threaded strings

For chestnut burs and hemlock cones.


Dear though the shadowy maple be,

And dearer still the whispering pine,
Dearest yon russet-laden tree

Browned by the heavy rubbing kine !

There childhood flung its venturous stone,

And boyhood tried its daring climb,
And though our summer birds have flown

It blooms as in the olden time.

Nor be the Fleming's pride forgot,

With swinging drops and drooping bells,

Freckled and splashed with streak and spot,
On the warm-breasted, sloping swells ;

Nor Persia's painted garden-queen,

Frail Houri of the trellised wall,
Her deep-cleft bosom scarfed with green,

Fairest to see, and first to fall.

When man provoked his mortal doom,

And Eden trembled as he fell,
When blossoms sighed their last perfume,

And branches waved their long farewell.

One sucker crept beneath the gate,

One seed was wafted o'er the wall,
One bough sustained his trembling weight ;

These left the garden, these were all.

And far o'er many a distant zone

These wrecks of Eden still are flung ;

The fruits that Paradise hath known
Are still in earthly gardens hung.


Yes, by our own unstoried stream
The pink-white apple-blossoms burst

That saw the young Euphrates gleam,
That Gihon's circling waters nursed.

For us the ambrosial pear displays
The wealth its arching branches hold,

Bathed by a hundred summery days
In floods of mingling fire and gold.

And here, where beauty's cheek of flame
With morning's earliest beam is fed,

The sunset-painted peach may claim
To rival its celestial red.

What though in some unmoistened vale
The summer leaf grow brown and sere,

Say, shall our star of promise fail
That circles half the rolling sphere,

From beaches salt with bitter spray,
O'er prairies green with softest rain,

And ridges bright with evening's ray,
To rocks that shade the stormless main ?

If by our slender-threaded streams
The blade and leaf and blossom die,

If, drained by noontide's parching beams,
The milky veins of Nature dry,

See, with her swelling bosom bare,
Yon wild-eyed Sister in the West,

The ring of Empire round her hair,
The Indian's wampum on her breast !


We saw the August sun descend,

Day after day, with blood-red stain,
And the blue mountains dimly blend

With smoke-wreaths from the burning plain ;

Beneath the hot Sirocco's wings

We sat and told the withering hours,
Till Heaven unsealed its azure springs,

And bade them leap in flashing showers.

Yet in our Ishmael's thirst we knew

The mercy of the Sovereign hand
Would pour the fountain's quickening dew

3\> feed some harvest of the land.

No flaming swords of wrath surround

Our second Garden of the Blest j
It spreads beyond its rocky bound,

It climbs Nevada's glittering crest.

God keep the tempter from its gate !

God shield the children, lest they fall
From their stern fathers' free estate,

Till Ocean is its only wall I



AMBRIDGE has long had its port, but the greater
part of its maritime trade was, thirty years ago, in-
trusted to a single Argo, the sloop Harvard, which belonged
to the College, and made annual voyages to that vague
Orient, known as Down East, bringing back the wood that
in those days gave to winter life at Harvard a crackle and
a cheerfulness, for the loss of which the greater warmth
of anthracite hardly compensates. New England life, to
be genuine, must have in it some sentiment of the sea,
it was this instinct that printed the device of the pine-tree
on the old money and the old flag, and these periodic ven-
tures of the sloop Harvard made the old Viking fibre
vibrate in the hearts of all the village boys. What a vista
of mystery and adventure did her sailing open to us !
With what pride did we hail her return ! She was our
scholiast upon Robinson Crusoe and the Mutiny of the
Bounty. Her captain still lords it over our memories,
the greatest sailor that ever sailed the seas, and we should
not look at Sir John Franklin himself with such admiring
interest as that with which we enhaloed some larger boy
who had made a voyage in her, and had come back with-
out braces to his trousers (gallowses we called them) and
squirting ostentatiously the juice of that weed which still
gave him little private returns of something very like sea


sickness. All our -shingle vessels were shaped and rigged
by her, who was our glass of naval fashion and our mould
of aquatic form. We had a secret and wild delight in
believing that she carried a gun, and imagined her sending
grape and canister among the treacherous savages of Old-
town. Inspired by her were those first essays at navigation
on the Winthrop duck-pond of the plucky boy who was
afterward to serve two famous years before the ma<?t

The greater part of what is now Cambridgeport was then
(in the native dialect) a hucUeberry pastur. Woods were
not wanting on its outskirts, of pine, and oak, and maple,
and the rarer tupelo with downward limbs. Its veins did
not draw their blood from the quiet old heart of the village,
but it h^d a distinct being of its own, and was rather a
great caravansary than a suburb. The chief feature of
the place was its inns, of which there were five, with vast
barns and court-yards, which the railroad was to make as
silent and deserted as the palaces of Nimroud. Great
white-topped wagons, each drawn by double files of six
or eight horses, with its dusty bucket swinging from the
hinder axle, and its grim bull-dog trotting silent underneath,
or in midsummer panting on the lofty perch beside the
driver (how elevated thither baffled conjecture), brought
all the wares and products of the country to their mart
and seaport in Boston. Those filled the inn-yards, or
were ranged side by side under broad-roofed sheds, and far
into the night the mirth of their lusty drivers clamored
from the red-curtained bar-room, while the single lantern
swaying to and fro in the black cavern of the stables made
a Rembrandt of the group of hostlers and horses below.
There were, beside the taverns, some huge square stores
where groceries were sold, some houses, by whom or why
inhabited was to us boys a problem, and, on the edge of the
marsh, a currier's shop, where, at high tide, on a floating
platform, men were always beating skins in a way to remind


one of Don Quixote's fulling-mills. ISTor did thes*s make
all the Port. As there is always a Coming Man who never
comes, so there is a man who always comes (it may be
only a quarter of an hour) too early. This man, as far as
the Port is concerned, was Rufus Davenport. Looking at
the marshy flats of Cambridge, and considering their near-
ness to Boston, he resolved that there should grow up a
suburban Venice. Accordingly, the marshes were bought,
canals were dug, ample for the commerce of both Indies,
and four or five rows of brick houses were built to meet
the first wants of the wading settlers who were expected
to rush in WHENCE ? This singular question had never
occurred to the enthusiastic projector. There are laws
which govern human migrations quite beyond the control
of the speculator, as many a man with desirable building-
lots has discovered to his cost. Why mortal men will pay
more for a chess-board square in that swamp than for an
acre on the breezy upland close by, who shall say ? And
again, why, having shown such a passion for your swamp,
they are so coy of mine, who shall say ? Not certainly any
one who, like Davenport, had got up too early for his gen-
eration. If we could only carry that slow, imperturbable
old clock of Opportunity, that never strikes a second too
soon or too late, in our fobs, and push the hands forward
as we can those of our watches ! With a foreseeing econ-
omy of space which now seems ludicrous, the roofs of this
forlorn hope of houses were made flat that the swarming
population might have where to dry their clothes. But
A. U. C. 30 showed the same view as A. U. C. 1, only
that the brick blocks looked as if they had been struck by a
malaria. The dull weed upholstered the decaying wharves,
and the only freight that heaped them was the kelp and
eelgrass left by higher floods. Instead of a Venice, behold
a Torzelo! The unfortunate projector took to the last
refuge of the unhappy, bookmaking, and bored the


reluctant public with what he called a Rightaim Testament,
prefaced by a recommendation from General Jackson, who
perhaps, from its title, took it for some treatise on ball-

But even Cambridgeport, my dear Storg, did not want
associations poetic and venerable. The stranger who took
the " Hourly " at Old Cambridge, if he were a physiog-
nomist and student of character might perhaps have had
his curiosity excited by a person who mounted the coach
at the Port. So refined was his whole appearance, so
fastidiously neat his apparel, but with a neatness that
seemed less the result of care and plan than a something
as proper to the man as whiteness to the lily, that you
would have at once classed him with those individuals,
rarer than great captains and almost as rare as great poets,
whom nature sends into the world to fill the arduous office
of Gentleman. Were you ever emperor of that Barataria
which under your peaceful sceptre would present, of course,
a model of government, this remarkable person should be
Duke of Bienseance and Master of Ceremonies. There

Online Libraryi00bostFavorite authors in prose and poetry → online text (page 19 of 66)