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applied and not suffered to run to waste. I was always
received in his house like a brother, and he visited me
on the same familiar footing. I never went into the
inner house of Parliament, where he sat, on which he
did not rise and come to me, and conduct me to a seat
in some corner of the outer house, where he would sit
with me two or three minutes. I am sorry to think
that any of his relations should entertain an idea that
Sir Walter undervalued me, for of all men I ever met
with, not excepting the noblemen and gentlemen in
London, there never was a gentleman paid more
deference to me than Sir Walter; and though many of
my anecdotes are homely and commonplace ones, I am
sure there is not a man in Scotland who appreciates his
value more highly or reveres his memory more.

With regard to his family, I have not much to say,
for I know but little. Sophia was a baby when I first
visited him, about two or three months old, and I have
watched her progress ever since. By the time she had
passed beyond the years of infancy, I perceived that she
was formed to be the darling of such a father's heart,
and so it proved. She was a pure child of nature, with-
out the smallest particle of sophistication in her whole
composition. And then she loved her father so ! O !
how dearly she loved him ! I shall never forget the
looks of affection that she would throw up to him as he
stood leaning on his crutch, and hanging over her at the

Sir Walter Scott. 105

harp, as she chaunted to him his favourite old Border
Ballads, or his own wild Highland gatherings. When-
ever he came into a room where she was, her counten-
ance altered, and she often could not refrain from
involuntary laughter. She is long ago a wife and
mother herself, but I am certain she will always cherish
the memory of the most affectionate of fathers.

Walter is a fine manly, gentlemanly fellow, without
pride or affectation, but without the least spark of his
father's genius that I ever could discern, and for all the
literary company that he mixed with daily in his youth,
he seemed always to hold literature, and poetry in
particular, in very low estimation. He was terribly
cast down at his father's death. I never saw a face of
such misery and dejection, and though I liked to see it,
yet I could not help shedding tears on contemplating
his features, thinking of the jewel that had fallen from
his crown.

I always considered Anne as the cleverest of the
family; shrewd, sensible, and discerning, but I believe a
little of a satirist, for I know that, when a mere girl, her
associates were terrified for her. Charles is a queer
chap, and will either make a spoon or spoil a good horn.

Of Lockhart's genius and capabilities, Sir Walter
always spoke with the greatest enthusiasm, more than
I thought he deserved, for I knew him a great deal
better than Sir Walter did, and whatever Lockhart may
pretend, I knew Sir Walter a thousand times better
than he did. There is no man now living who knew
Scott's character so thoroughly in all its bearings as


106 Domestic Manners of

William Laidlaw did. He was his land steward, his
amanuensis, and managed the whole of his rural con-
cerns and improvements for the period of twenty years,
and sorry am I that the present Sir Walter did not find
it meet to keep Laidlaw on the estate, for, without him,
that dear-bought and classical property will be like a
carcase without a head. Laidlaw's head made it. He
knows the value of every acre of land on it to a tithe,
and of every tree in the forest, with the characters of
all the neighbours and retainers. He was, to be sure, a
subordinate, but Sir Walter always treated him as a
friend, inviting Mrs. Laidlaw and him down to every
party where there was anybody he thought Laidlaw
would like to meet, and Sir Walter called on Mrs. Laid-
law once or twice every day when he was in the
country. I have seen him often pop in to his breakfast
and take his salt herring and tea with us there with as
much ease and good humour as if he had come into his
brother's house. He once said to me as we were walk-
ing out about Abbotslee, and I was so much interested
in the speech that I am sure I can indite it word by
word, for Laidlaw was one of my earliest and dearest

" Was it not an extraordinary chance for me that
threw Laidlaw into my hands ? Without Laidlaw's head
I could have done nothing, and to him alone I am in-
debted for all these improvements. I never found a mind
so inexhaustible as Laidlaw's. I have met with many
of the greatest men of our country, but uniformly found
that, after sounding them on one or two subjects, there

Sir Walter Scott. 107

their information terminated. But with the worst of all
manners of expression, Laidlaw's mind is inexhaustible.
Its resources seem to be without end. Every day,
every hour, he has something new, either of theory or
experiment, and he sometimes abuses me like a tinker
because I refuse to follow up his insinuations."

Another day he said to me, "You know that I
recommended your friend Laidlaw last year to Lord
Mansfield as his factor, but was obliged to withdraw my
recommendation, and give his lordship a hint to relin-
quish his choice. For, in the first place, I was afraid
that Laidlaw's precarious health might unfit him for
such a responsible situation; and, more than that, I
found that I could not live without him, and was
obliged, maugre all misfortunes, to replace him in his
old situation." I therefore wish, from my heart and
soul, that matters could have been so arranged that
Laidlaw should not have been separated from Abbots-
ford ; for though my own brother has long had and still
has a high responsibility as shepherd and superintendent
of the enclosures, I cannot see how the management of
the estate can go on without Laidlaw. Under the law
agents it will both cost more and go to ruin, and I say
again, without Laidlaw, that grand classical estate is a
carcase without a head.

Whenever Sir Walter spoke of either of his two sons,
which he frequently did, it was always in a jocular way,
to raise a laugh at their expense. His description of
Walter, when he led in Mrs. Lockhart a bride, with his
false mustachios and whiskers, was a source of endless

108 Domestic Manners of

amusement to him. He was likewise wont often to
quote some of Charles's wise sayings, which, in the way
that he told them, never failed to set the table in a roar
of laughter.

Sir Walter had his caprices like other men, and when
in poor health was particularly cross, but I always found
his heart in the right place, and that he had all the
native feelings and generosity of a man of true genius.
I am ashamed to confess that his feelings for individual
misfortune were far more intense than my own. There
was one day that I went in to breakfast with him as
usual, when he said to me, with eyes perfectly staring,
" Good heaven ! Hogg, have you heard what has
happened ? "

" Na, no that I ken o'. What is it that ye allude to,
Mr. Scott ? "

" That our poor friend Irving has cut his throat last
night or this morning, and is dead."

" O, ay ! I heard o' that," said I, with a coldness that
displeased him. " But I never heedit it, for the truth
is that Irving was joost like the Englishman's fiddle ;
the warst fault that he had he was useless. Irving
could never have done any good either for himself, his
family, or any other leevin' creature."

" I don't know, Mr. Hogg, what that poor fellow
might have done, with encouragement. This you must
at least acknowledge, that if he did not write genuine
poetry, he came the nearest to it of any man that ever
failed." These were Sir Walter's very words, and I
record them in memory of the hapless victim of despair

Sir Walter Scott. 109

and disappointed literary ambition. He farther added,
" For me, his melancholy fate has impressed me so
deeply, and deranged me so much, that it will be long
before I can attend to anything again."

He abhorred all sorts of low vices and blackguardism
with a perfect detestation. There was one Sunday,
when he was riding down Yarrow in his carriage,
attended by several gentlemen on horseback, and I
being among them went up to the carriage door, and he
being our Sheriff I stated to him with the deepest con-
cern that there was at that moment a cry of murder
from the Broadmeadows Wood, and that Will Wather-
ston was murdering Davie Brunton. " Never you
regard that, Hogg," said he, with rather a stern air, and
without a smile on his countenance. " If Will Watherston
murders David Brunton, and be hanged for his crime, it
is the best thing that can befall to the parish drive on,

He was no great favourer of sects, and seldom or
never went to church. He was a complete and finished
aristocrat, and the prosperity of the state was his great
concern, which prosperity he deemed lost unless both
example and precept flowed by regular gradation from
the highest to the lowest. He dreaded religion as a
machine by which the good government of the country
might be deranged, if not uprooted. There was one
evening when he and Marrit of Rokeby, some of the
Fergusons, and I, were sitting over our wine, that he
said, " There is nothing that I dread so much as a very
religious woman ; she is not only a dangerous person,

110 Domestic Manners of

but a perfect shower-bath on all social conviviality. The
enthusiasm of our Scottish ladies has now grown to such
a height that I am almost certain it will lead to some
dangerous revolution in the state. And then, to try
to check it would only make the evil worse. If you ever
choose a wife, Hogg, for goodness' sake, as you value
your own happiness, don't choose a very religious one."

He had a settled impression on his mind that a revo-
lution was impending over this country, even worse than
we have experienced, and he was always keeping a
sharp look-out on the progress of enthusiasm in religion
as a dangerous neighbour. There was one day that he
and Laidlaw were walking in the garden at Abbotsford,
during the time that the western portion of the mansion-
house was building. The architect's name, I think, was
Mr. Paterson.

"Well, do you know, Laidlaw," said Scott, "that I
think Paterson one of the best natured, shrewd, sensible
fellows that I ever met with. I am quite delighted
with him, for he is a fund of continual amusement to
me. If you heard but how I torment him ! I attack
him every day on the fundamental principles of his own
art. I take a position which I know to be false, and
persist in maintaining it, and it is truly amazing with
what good sense and good nature he supports his prin-
ciples. I really like Paterson exceedingly."

"O he's a verra fine fellow," said Laidlaw. "An
extraordinar fine fellow, an' has a great deal o' comings
an' gangings in him. But dinna ye think, Mr. Scott,
that it's a great pity he should hae been a preacher ? "

Sir Walter Scott. Ill

"A preacher?" said Scott, staring at him, "Good
Lord ! what do you mean ? "

"Aha! it's a' ye ken about it!" said Laidlaw, "I
assure you he's a preacher, an' a capital preacher too.
He's reckoned the best Baptist preacher in a' Galashiels,
an' preaches every Sunday to a great community o' low
kind o' folks."

On hearing this, Sir Walter (then Mr. Scott), wheeled
about and halted off with a swiftness Laidlaw had never
seen him exercise before, exclaiming vehemently to

himself, " Preaches ! D him ! " From that time

forth his delightful colloquies with Mr. Paterson

There was another time at Abbotsford, when some of
the Sutherland family (for I don't remember the
English title) and many others were there, that we were
talking of the Earl of Buchan's ornamental improve-
ments at Dryburgh, and, among other things, of the
colossal statue of Wallace, which I rather liked and
admired, but which Sir Walter perfectly abhorred, he
said these very words. " If I live to see the day when
the men of Scotland, like the children of Israel, shall
every one do that which is right in his own eyes, which
I am certain either I or my immediate successors
will see, I have settled in my own mind long ago what
I shall do first. I'll go down and blow up the statue of
Wallace with gunpowder. Yes, I shall blow it up in
such a style that there shall not be one fragment of it
left ! The horrible monster ! " He had a great veneration
for the character of Sir William Wallace, and I have

112 Domestic Manners of

often heard him eulogise it. He said to me one morn-
ing long ago, when Miss Porter's work, " The Scottish
Chiefs," first appeared, "I am grieved about this work of
Miss Porter ! I cannot describe to you how much I am
disappointed, I wished to think so well of it ; and I do
think highly of it as a work of genius. But, Lord help
her ! her Wallace is no more our Wallace than Lord
Peter is, or King Henry's messenger to Percy Hotspur.
It is not safe meddling with the hero of a country; and,
of all others, I cannot bear to see the character of
Wallace frittered away to that of a fine gentleman."

Sir Walter was the best formed man I ever saw, and,
laying his weak limb out of the question, a perfect
model of a man for gigantic strength. The muscles of
his arms were prodigious. I remember of one day long
ago, I think it was at some national dinner in Oman's
Hotel, that at a certain time of the night a number of
the young heroes differed prodigiously with regard to
their various degrees of muscular strength. A general
measurement took place around the shoulders and
chest, and I, as a particular judge in these matters, was
fixed on as the measurer and umpire. Scott, who never
threw cold water on any fun, submitted to be measured
with the rest. He measured most round the chest, and,
to their great chargin, I was next to him, and very little
short. But when I came to examine the arms, Sir
Walter's had double the muscular power of mine, and
very nearly so of every man's who was there. I declare,
that from the elbow to the shoulder, they felt as if he
had the strength of an ox.

Sir Walter Scott. 113

There was a gentleman once told me that he walked
into Sir Walter's house, in Castle Street, just as the
footman was showing another gentleman out, and that,
being an intimate acquaintance, he walked straight into
Sir Walter's study, where he found him stripped, with
his shirt sleeves rolled up to his shoulders, and his face
very red. " Good heaven, Scott, what is the matter ?" said
the intruder. " Pray, may I ask an explanation of this ? "
"Why, the truth is, that I have just been giving your
friend, Mr. Martin, a complete drubbing," said Scott
laughing. " The scoundrel dared me to touch him but
with one of my fingers ; but if I have not given him a
thorough basting, he knows himself. He is the most
impudent and arrant knave I ever knew. But I think
it will be a while before he attempts to impose again
upon me/' This Mr. Martin, the gentleman said, was
some great picture dealer. But as I never heard Sir
Walter mention the feat in his hours of hilarity, I am
rather disposed to discredit the story. He was always
so reasonable, so prudent, that I hardly think he would
fall on and baste even a knavish picture dealer black
and blue, and in his own study. The gentleman who
told me this is alive, and will, and may, answer for
himself in this matter.

Sir Walter in his study, and in his seat in the Par-
liament-house, had rather a dull, heavy appearance, but
in company his countenance was always lighted up,
and Chantrey has given the likeness of him there
precisely. In his family he was kind, condescending,
and attentive, but highly imperative. No one of them

114 Domestic Manners of

durst for a moment disobey his orders, and if he began
to hang down his eyebrows, a single hint was enough.
In every feature of his face decision was strongly marked.
He was exactly what I conceive an old Border Baron to
have been, with his green jacket, his blue bonnet, his
snow-white locks, muscular frame, and shaggy eye-

He was said to be a very careless composer, yet I
have seen a great number of his manuscripts corrected
and enlarged on the white page which he alternately
left, a plan which I never tried in my life. He once
undertook to correct the press for a work of mine, "The
Three Perils of Women," when I was living in the
country, and when I gave the manuscript to Ballantyne,
I said, "Now you must send the proofs to Sir Walter,
he is to correct them for me."

"He correct them for you!" exclaimed Ballantyne,
"Lord help you and him both ! I assure you if he had
nobody to correct after him, there would be a bonny
song through the country. He is the most careless and
incorrect writer that ever was born, for a voluminous
and popular writer, and as for sending a proof sheet to
him, we may as well keep it in the office. He never
heeds it. No, no, you must trust the correction of the
press to my men and me, I shall answer for them, and
if I am in a difficulty at any time, I'll apply to Lock-
hart. He is a very different man, and has the best eye
for a corrector of any gentleman corrector I ever
saw. He often sends me an article written off-hand
like your own, without the interlineation of a

Sir Walter Scott. 115

word, or the necessity of correcting one afterwards.
But as for Sir Walter, he will never look at either your
proofs or his own, unless it be for a minute's amuse-

The Whig ascendency in the British Cabinet killed
Sir Walter. Yes, I say and aver, it was that which
broke his heart, deranged his whole constitution, and
murdered him. As I have shown before, a dread of
revolution had long preyed on his mind ; he withstood it
to the last ; he fled from it, but it affected his brain,
and killed him. From the moment he perceived the
veto of a democracy prevailing, he lost all hope of the
prosperity and ascendency of the British Empire. He
not only lost hope of the realm, but of every individual
pertaining to it, as my last anecdote of him will show,
for though I could multiply these anecdotes and remarks
to volumes, yet I must draw them to a conclusion.
They are trivial in the last degree, did they not relate
to so great and so good a man. I have depicted him
exactly as he was, as he always appeared to me, and was
reported by others, and I revere his memory as that of
an elder brother.

The last time that I saw his loved and honoured face
was at the little inn on my own farm, in the autumn of
1830. He sent me word that he was to pass on such a
day, on his way from Dumlanrig Castle to Abbotsford,
but he was sorry he could not call at Altrive to see
Mrs. Hogg and the bairns, it being so far off the way.

* This must have been "leein 5 Johnnie." See ante p. 98.

116 Domestic Marnier s of

I accordingly waited at the inn, and handed him out of
the carriage. His daughter was with him, but we left
her at the inn, and walked slowly down the way as far
as Mountbenger-Burn. He then walked very ill indeed,
for the weak limb had become almost completely useless,
but he leaned on my shoulder all the way, and did me
the honour of saying that he never leaned on a firmer or
a surer.

We talked of many things, past, present, and to come,
but both his memory and onward calculation appeared
to me then to be considerably decayed. I cannot tell
what it was, but there was something in his manner
that distressed me. He often changed his subject very
abruptly, and never laughed. He expressed the deepest
concern for my welfare and success in life, more than I
had ever heard him do before, and all mixed with
sorrow for my worldly misfortunes. There is little doubt
that his own were then preying on his vitals. He told
me that which I never knew nor suspected before; that
a certain gamekeeper, on whom he bestowed his male-
dictions without reserve, had prejudiced my best friend,
the young Duke of Buccleuch, against me, by a story,
and though he himself knew it to be a malicious and
invidious lie, yet seeing his Grace so much irritated he
durst not open his lips on the subject, farther than by
saying, "But, my lord Duke, you must always remember
that Hogg is no ordinary man, although he may have
shot a stray moorcock." And then, turning to me, he
said, "Before you had ventured to give any saucy
language to a low scoundrel of an English gamekeeper,

Sir Walter Scott. 117

you should have thought of Fielding's tale of Black

" I never saw that tale," said I, " an' dinna ken ought
about it. But never trouble your head about the
matter, Sir Walter, for it is awethegither out o' nature
for our young chief to entertain ony animosity against
me. The thing will never mair be heard of, an' the
chap that tauld the lees on me will gang to hell, that's
aye some comfort."

I wanted to make him laugh, but I could not even
make him smile. "You are still the same old man,
Hogg, careless and improvident as ever," said he, with a
countenance as gruff and demure as could be.

Before we parted I mentioned to him my plan of
trusting an edition of my prose tales, in twenty volumes,
to Lockhart's editing. He disapproved of the plan
decidedly, and said, " I would not for anything in the
world that Lockhart should enter on such a responsi-
bility, for, taking your random way of writing into
account, the responsibility would be a very heavy one
ay, and a dangerous one too!" Then, turning half
round, leaning on his crutch, and fixing his eyes
on the ground for a long space, he said, "You have
written a great deal that might be made available,
Hogg, with proper attention, and I am sure that
one day or other, it will be made available to you

* And yet Scott could bow down and worship this boy idiot the
plaything of a rascally gamekeeper who valued a moorfowl more than
a poet because he was a Duke !

118 Domestic Manners of

or your family, but, in my opinion, this is not the
proper season. I wish you could drive off the
experiment until the affairs of the nation are in
better keeping, for at present all things, and literature
in particular, are going straight down-hill to destruction
and ruin." And then he mumbled something to him-
self, which I book to be an inward curse. I say again,
and I am certain of it, that the democratic ascendency,
and the grevious and shameful insults he received from
the populous of his own country, broke the heart of
and killed the greatest man that ever that country con-

When I handed him into the coach that day, he said
something to me which, in the confusion of parting, I
forgot; and though I tried to recollect the words the
next minute, I could not, and never could again. It
was something to the purport that it was likely it would
be long ere he leaned as far on my shoulder again, but
there was an expression in it, conveying his affection for
me, or his interest in me, which has escaped my memory
for ever.

This is my last anecdote of my most sincere and
esteemed friend. After this I never saw him again. I
called twice at Abbotsford during his last illness, but
they would not let me see him, and I did not at all
regret it, for he was then reduced to the very lowest
state of weakness to which poor, prostrate humanity
could be subjected. He was described to me, by one

* Bravo, Hogg !

Sir Walter Scott. 119

who saw him often, as exactly in the same state with a
man mortally drunk, who could in nowise own or assist
himself; the pressure of the abscess on the brain having
apparently the same effect as the fumes of drunkenness.
He could, at short intervals, distinguish individuals, and
pronounce a few intelligible words; but these lucid
glimpses were of short duration, the sunken eye soon
ceased again from distinguishing objects, and the power-
less tongue became unable to utter a syllable, though
constantly attempting it, which made the sound the
most revolting that can be conceived.

I am sure heaven will bless Lockhart for his attention
to the illustrious sufferer. The toil and the watching
that he patiently endured, one would have thought was
beyond human nature to have stood, and yet I never
saw him look better or healthier all the while. He will
not miss his reward. I followed my friend's sacred
remains to his last narrow house, remained the last man
at the grave, and, even then, left it with reluctance.

Omnes eodem cogimur : omnium
Versatur urna, serius, ocyus
Sors exitura.*

* Saul among the prophets ! Hogg quoting Latin !



"Adam Blair," 39
Aikman, 27
Alexandrine, 34
Altrive, 34, 35
Annandale, 43
"Annuals," 43

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Online LibraryJames HoggDomestic manners of Sir Walter Scott → online text (page 7 of 8)