diffidence in my cause. I hope and trust it will do good.
Maxpopple and two of his boys arrived to take part of my poor
dinner. I fear the little fellows had little more than the needful, but
they had all I had to give them.
I wrote a good deal to-day notwithstanding heavy thoughts.
_March_ 20. - Despatched proofs and copy this morning; and Swanston, the
carpenter, coming in, I made a sort of busy idle day of it with altering
and hanging pictures and prints, to find room for those which came from
Edinburgh, and by dint of being on foot from ten to near five, put all
things into apple-pie order. What strange beings we are! The serious
duties I have on hand cannot divert my mind from the most melancholy
thoughts; and yet the talking with these workmen, and the trifling
occupation which they give me, serves to dissipate my attention. The
truth is, I fancy that a body under the impulse of violent motion cannot
be stopped or forced back, but may indirectly be urged into a different
channel. In the evening I read, and sent off my Sheriff-Court processes.
I have a sort of grudging to give reasons why _Malachi_ does not reply
to the answers which have been sent forth. I don't know - I am strongly
tempted - but I won't. To drop the tone might seem mean, and perhaps to
maintain it would only exasperate the quarrel, without producing any
beneficial results, and might be considered as a fresh insult by my
alienated friends, so on the whole I won't.
The thing has certainly had more effect than it deserves; and I suspect
my Ministerial friends, if they love me less, will not hold me cheaper
for the fight I have made. I am far from saying _oderint dum emerint_,
but there is a great difference betwixt that and being a mere protÃ©gÃ©, a
poor broken-down man, who was to be assisted when existing
circumstances, that most convenient of all apologies and happiest of all
phrases, would permit.
_March_ 21. - Perused an attack on myself, done with as much ability as
truth, by no less a man than Joseph Hume, the night-work man of the
House of Commons, who lives upon petty abuses, and is a very useful man
by so doing. He has had the kindness to say that I am interested in
keeping up the taxes; I wish I had anything else to do with them than to
pay them. But he lies, and is an ass, and not worth a man's thinking
about. Joseph Hume, indeed! - I say Joseph Hum, - and could add a Swiftian
rhyme, but forbear.
Busy in unpacking and repacking. I wrote five pages of _Woodstock_,
which work begins
"To appropinque an end."
_March_ 22. - A letter from Lord Downshire's man of business about funds
supposed to belong to my wife, or to the estate of my late
brother-in-law. The possessor of the secret wants some reward. If any is
granted, it should be a percentage on the net sum received, with the
condition no cure - no pay. I expect Lady S., and from Anne's last letter
hope to find her better than the first anticipation led me to dread.
Sent off proofs and copy, and shall indulge a little leisure to-day to
collect my ideas and stretch my limbs. I am again far before the press.
_March_ 23. - Lady Scott arrived yesterday to dinner. She was better than
I expected, but Anne, poor soul, looked very poorly, and had been much
worried with the fatigue and discomfort of the last week. Lady S. takes
the digitalis, and, as she thinks, with advantage, though the medicine
makes her very sick. Yet, on the whole, things are better than my gloomy
apprehensions had anticipated.
I wrote to Lockhart and to Lord Downshire's Agent, - G. Handley, Esq.,
Took a good brushing walk, but not till I had done a good task.
_March_ 24. - Sent off copy, proofs, etc. J.B. clamorous for a motto.
It is foolish to encourage people to expect mottoes and such-like
decoraments. You have no credit for success in finding them, and there
is a disgrace in wanting them. It is like being in the habit of showing
feats of strength, which you at length gain praise by accomplishing,
while some shame occurs in failure.
_March_ 25. - The end winds out well enough. I have almost finished
to-night; indeed I might have done so had I been inclined, but I had a
walk in a hurricane of snow for two hours and feel a little tired. Miss
Margaret Ferguson came to dinner with us.
_March_ 26. - Here is a disagreeable morning, snowing and hailing, with
gleams of bright sunshine between, and all the ground white, and all the
air frozen. I don't like this jumbling of weather. It is ungenial, and
gives chilblains. Besides, with its whiteness, and its coldness, and its
glister, and its discomfort, it resembles that most disagreeable of all
things, a vain, cold, empty, beautiful woman, who has neither mind nor
heart, but only features like a doll. I do not know what is so like this
disagreeable day, when the sun is so bright, and yet so uninfluential,
"One may gaze upon its beams
Till he is starved with cold."
No matter, it will serve as well as another day to finish _Woodstock_.
Walked out to the lake, and coquetted with this disagreeable weather,
whereby I catch chilblains in my fingers and cold in my head. Fed the
Finished _Woodstock_, however, _cum tota sequela_ of title-page,
introduction, etc., and so, as Dame Fortune says in _Quevedo_,
"Go wheel, and may the devil drive thee."
_March_ 27. - Another bright cold day. I answered two modest requests
from widow ladies. One, whom I had already assisted in some law
business, on the footing of her having visited my mother, requested me
to write to Mr. Peel, saying, on her authority, that her second son, a
youth of infinite merit and accomplishment, was fit for any situation in
a public office, and that I requested he might be provided accordingly.
Another widowed dame, whose claim is having read _Marmion_ and the _Lady
of the Lake_, besides a promise to read all my other works - Gad, it is a
rash engagement! - demands that I shall either pay Â£200 to get her cub
into some place or other, or settle him in a seminary of education.
Really this is very much after the fashion of the husbandman of Miguel
Turra's requests of Sancho when Governor. "Have you anything else
to ask, honest man?" quoth Sancho. But what are the demands of an honest
man to those of an honest woman, and she a widow to boot? I do believe
your destitute widow, especially if she hath a charge of children, and
one or two fit for patronage, is one of the most impudent animals
Went to Galashiels and settled the dispute about Sandie's wall.
_March_ 28. - We have now been in solitude for some time - myself nearly
totally so, excepting at meals, or on a call as yesterday from Henry and
William Scott of Harden. One is tempted to ask himself, knocking at the
door of his own heart, Do you love this extreme loneliness? I can answer
conscientiously, _I do_. The love of solitude was with me a passion of
early youth; when in my teens, I used to fly from company to indulge in
visions and airy castles of my own, the disposal of ideal wealth, and
the exercise of imaginary power. This feeling prevailed even till I was
eighteen, when love and ambition awakening with other passions threw me
more into society, from which I have, however, at times withdrawn
myself, and have been always even glad to do so. I have risen from a
feast satiated; and unless it be one or two persons of very strong
intellect, or whose spirits and good-humour amuse me, I wish neither to
see the high, the low, nor the middling class of society. This is a
feeling without the least tinge of misanthropy, which I always consider
as a kind of blasphemy of a shocking description. If God bears with the
very worst of us, we may surely endure each other. If thrown into
society, I always have, and always will endeavour to bring pleasure with
me, at least to show willingness to please. But for all this "I had
rather live alone," and I wish my appointment, so convenient otherwise,
did not require my going to Edinburgh. But this must be, and in my
little lodging I will be lonely enough.
Had a very kind letter from Croker disowning the least idea of personal
attack in his answer to _Malachi_.
Reading at intervals a novel called _Granby_; one of that very difficult
class which aspires to describe the actual current of society, whose
colours are so evanescent that it is difficult to fix them on the
canvas. It is well written, but over-laboured - too much attempt to put
the reader exactly up to the thoughts and sentiments of the parties. The
women do this better: Edgeworth, Ferrier, Austen have all had their
portraits of real society, far superior to anything man, vain man, has
produced of the like nature.
_March_ 29. - Worked in the morning. Had two visits from Colonels Russell
and Ferguson. Walked from one till half-past four. A fine, flashy,
disagreeable day; snow-clouds sweeping past among sunshine, driving down
the valley, and whitening the country behind them.
Mr. Gibson came suddenly in after dinner. Brought very indifferent news
from Constable's house. It is not now hoped that they will pay above
three or four shillings in the pound. Robinson supposed not to be much
Mr. G. goes to London immediately, and is to sell _Woodstock_ to
Robinson if he can, otherwise to those who will, John Murray, etc. This
work may fail, perhaps, though better than some of its predecessors. If
so, we must try some new manner. I think I could catch the dogs yet.
A beautiful and perfect lunar rainbow to-night.
_March_ 30. - Mr. Gibson looks unwell, and complains of cold - bitter bad
weather for his travelling, and he looks but frail.
These indifferent news he brought me affect me but to a little degree.
It is being too confident to hope to ensure success in the long series
of successive struggles which lie before me. But somehow, I do fully
entertain the hope of doing a good deal.
_March_ 31. -
"He walked and wrote poor soul, what then?
Why then, he wrote and walked again."
But I am begun _Nap. Bon._ again, which is always a change, because it
gives a good deal of reading and research, whereas _Woodstock_ and such
like, being extempore from my mother-wit, is a sort of spinning of the
brains, of which a man tires. The weather seems milder to-day.
 The full-length picture of Sir Walter (with, the two dogs, Camp
and the deerhound) by Raeburn, painted in 1809, was at this time given
to Mr. Skene, and remained in his possession till 1831, when it was sent
to Abbotsford, where it now hangs. - See Letter, Scott to Skene, under
January 16th, 1831.
 Spean a wean, _i.e._ wean a child.
 Archibald Skirving (1749-1819), well known as a portrait-painter
in chalk and crayons in Edinburgh in the early part of this century.
 H.W. Williams, a native of Wales, who settled in Edinburgh at the
beginning of this century. His _Travels in Italy and Greece_ were
published in 1820, and the _Views in Greece_ in 1827. This work was
completed in 1829, the year in which he died.
 Vols. i. and ii. were published in 1802.
 _Kain_ in Scotch law means payment in _kind. Carriages_ in the
same phraseology stands for services in driving with horse and cart.
 Ballad of _Hardyknute_, slightly altered. - J.G.L.
 Sir W. Knighton was Physician and Private Secretary to George IV.
Rogers (_Table-Talk_, p. 289) says no one had more influence with the
King. Sir William died in 1836; his _Memoirs_ were published in 1838,
edited by his widow.
 Ossian. - J.G.L.
 Pastoret: _Le Duc de Guise Ã Naples, etc., en_ 1647 _et_ 1648.
8vo, 1825; also _Memoires relating his passage to Naples and heading the
Second Revolt of that people_. Englished, sm. 8vo, 1669.
"The Reviewal then meditated was afterwards published in _Foreign
Quarterly Review_, vol. iv. p 355, but not included in the _Misc. Prose
Works."_ - _Abbotsford Library Catalogue_, p. 36.
 W. Shenstone's _Essays_ (1765), p. 115, or _Works_ (1764-69), vol.
iii. p. 49.
I am indebted to Dr. J.A.H. Murray for this reference, which he kindly
supplied from the materials for his great English Dictionary on
 _King Henry VIII._, Act v. Sc. 2, slightly altered. - J.G.L.
 "Watch the sign to hate." - Johnson's _Vanity of Human Wishes_.
 See _Arniston Memoirs_, 8vo, Edin. 1888, for text of Lord
Melville's letter and Sir Walter's reply, pp. 315-326.
 "Seldom has any political measure called forth so strong and so
universal an expression of public opinion. In every city and in every
county public meetings were held to deprecate the destruction of the one
pound and guinea notes." - _Annual Register_ (1826), p. 24.
 Alex. Young of Harburn, a steady Whig of the old school, and a
steady and esteemed friend of Sir Walter's. - J.G.L.
 See _Life_, vol. iv. pp. 146-148.
 Henry Weber died in 1818.
 See Life of Bonaparte. _Miscellaneous Prose Works_, vol. xi. pp.
346-351. - J.G.L.
 _Plays on the Passions_, 2 vols. 8vo, Lond. 1802, vol. ii. pp.
 He had, however, snatched a moment to write the following playful
note to Mr. Sharpe, little dreaming that the sportive allusion to his
return in May would be so sadly realised: -
"MY DEAR CHARLES, - You promised when I _displenished_ this house that
you would accept of the prints of Roman antiquities, which I now send. I
believe they were once in some esteem, though now so detestably smoked
that they will only suit your suburban villa in the Cowgate when you
remove to that classical residence. I also send a print which is an old
favourite of mine, from the humorous correspondence between Mr.
Mountebank's face and the monkey's. I leave town to-day or to-morrow at
furthest. When I return in May I shall be
Bachelor Bluff, bachelor Bluff,
Hey for a heart that's rugged and tough.
I shall have a beefsteak and a bottle of wine of a Sunday, which I hope
you will often take share of, - Being with warm regard always yours,
WALTER SCOTT." - Sharpe's _Correspondence_, vol. ii. pp. 359-60.
 Apropos of the old Scotch lady who had surreptitiously pocketed a
silver spoon, one of a set of a dozen which were being passed round for
examination in an auction room. Suspicion resting on her, she was asked
to allow her person to be searched, but she indignantly produced the
article, with "Touch my honour," etc.
 The _Attorneys_ of Aberdeen are styled _advocates_. This valuable
privilege is said to have been bestowed at an early period by some
(sportive) monarch. - J.G.L.
 This clever book was published in 1814: at the same time as
_Waverley_. Had it contained nothing else than the sketch of Bran, the
great Irish wolf-hound, it would have commended itself to Scott. The
authoress died in 1859.
 It is worth noting that a quarter of a century after Sir Walter
had written these lines, we find Macaulay stating that, in his opinion,
"there are in the world no compositions which approach nearer
perfection." Scott had already criticised Miss Austen in the 27th No. of
the _Quarterly_. She died in 1817.
 "I return no more," - see _Mackrimmon's Lament_ by
Scott. - _Poetical Works_, vol. xi. p. 332.
 Published as far back as 1792. An appreciative criticism on Mrs.
Smith's works will be found in Scott's _Miscellaneous Prose Works_, vol.
iv. pp. 58-70.
 See this Journal, 2 December last.
 The letters of _Malachi_ were treated by some members of the House
of Commons as incentives to rebellion, and senators gravely averred that
not many years ago they would have subjected the author to condign
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, however, declared that he did not dread
"the flashing of that Highland claymore though evoked from its scabbard
by the incantations of the mightiest magician of the age." - Speech of
Rt. Hon. F.J. Robinson.
 Both letters are quoted in Lockhart's _Life_, vol. viii. pp.
299-305. See also _Croker's Correspondence and Diaries_, edited by Louis
J. Jennings, 3 vols. 8vo, Lond. 1884, vol. i. pp. 315-319.
 W. Scott, Esq., afterwards of Raeburn, Sir Walter's
 Hudibras. - J.G.L.
 One of Sir Walter's kindly "_weird sisters_" and neighbours,
daughters of Professor Ferguson. They had occupied the house at
Toftfield (on which Scott at the ladies' request bestowed the name of
Huntly Burn) from the spring of 1818. Miss Margaret has been described
as extremely like her brother Sir Adam in the turn of thought and of
humour. - See _Life_, vol. vi. p. 322.
 _Fortune in her Wits, and the Hour of all Men_, Quevedo's Works,
Edin. 1798, vol. iii. p. 107.
 _Don Quixote_, Pt. II. cap. 47.
 _Granby_ was written by a young man, Thos. H. Lister, some years
afterwards known as the author of _The Life and Administration of the
First Earl of Clarendon_, 3 vols. 8vo, 1837-38. Mr. Lister died in his
41st year in 1842.
_April_ 1. - _Ex uno die disce omnes._ Rose at seven or sooner, studied,
and wrote till breakfast with Anne, about a quarter before ten. Lady
Scott seldom able to rise till twelve or one. Then I write or study
again till one. At that hour to-day I drove to Huntly Burn, and walked
home by one of the hundred and one pleasing paths which I have made
through the woods I have planted - now chatting with Tom Purdie, who
carries my plaid, and speaks when he pleases, telling long stories of
hits and misses in shooting twenty years back - sometimes chewing the cud
of sweet and bitter fancy - and sometimes attending to the humours of two
curious little terriers of the Dandie Dinmont breed, together with a
noble wolf-hound puppy which Glengarry has given me to replace Maida.
This brings me down to the very moment I do tell - the rest is prophetic.
I will feel sleepy when this book is locked, and perhaps sleep until
Dalgleish brings the dinner summons. Then I will have a chat with Lady
S. and Anne; some broth or soup, a slice of plain meat - and man's chief
business, in Dr. Johnson's estimation, is briefly despatched. Half an
hour with my family, and half an hour's coquetting with a cigar, a
tumbler of weak whisky and water, and a novel perhaps, lead on to tea,
which sometimes consumes another half hour of chat; then write and read
in my own room till ten o'clock at night; a little bread and then a
glass of porter, and to bed.
And this, very rarely varied by a visit from some one, is the tenor of
my daily life - and a very pleasant one indeed, were it not for
apprehensions about Lady S. and poor Johnnie Hugh. The former will, I
think, do well - for the latter - I fear - I fear -
_April_ 2. - I am in a wayward mood this morning. I received yesterday
the last proof-sheets of _Woodstock_, and I ought to correct them. Now,
this _ought_ sounds as like as possible to _must_, and _must_ I cannot
abide. I would go to Prester John's country of free good-will, sooner
than I would _must_ it to Edinburgh. Yet this is all folly, and silly
folly too; and so _must_ shall be for once obeyed after I have thus
written myself out of my aversion to its peremptory sound. Corrected the
said proofs till twelve o'clock - when I think I will treat resolution,
not to a dram, as the drunken fellow said after he had passed the
dram-shop, but to a walk, the rather that my eyesight is somewhat
uncertain and wavering. I think it must be from the stomach. The whole
page waltzes before my eyes. J.B. writes gloomily about _Woodstock_; but
commends the conclusion. I think he is right. Besides, my manner is
nearly caught, and, like Captain Bobadil, I have taught nearly a
hundred gentlemen to fence very nearly, if not altogether, as well as
myself. I will strike out something new.
_April_ 3. - I have from Ballantyne and Gibson the extraordinary and
gratifying news that _Woodstock_ is sold for Â£8228 in all, ready
money - a matchless sum for less than three months' work. If
Napoleon does as well, or near it, it will put the trust affairs in high
flourish. Four or five years of leisure and industry would, with [such]
success, amply replace my losses, and put me on a steadier footing than
ever. I have a curious fancy: I will go set two or three acorns, and
judge by their success in growing whether I will succeed in clearing my
way or not. I have a little toothache keeps me from working much
to-day, besides I sent off, per Blucher, copy for _Napoleon_, as well as
the d - d proofs.
A blank forenoon! But how could I help it, Madam Duty? I was not lazy;
on my soul I was not. I did not cry for half holiday for the sale of
_Woodstock_. But in came Colonel Ferguson with Mrs. Stewart of
Blackhill, or hall, or something, and I must show her the garden,
pictures, etc. This lasts till one; and just as they are at their lunch,
and about to go off, guard is relieved by the Laird and Lady Harden, and
Miss Eliza Scott - and my dear Chief, whom I love very much, though a
little obsidional or so, remains till three. That same crown, composed
of the grass which grew on the walls of besieged places, should be
offered to visitors who stay above an hour in any eident person's
house. Wrote letters this evening.
_April_ 4. - Wrote two pages in the morning. Then went to Ashestiel in
the sociable, with Colonel Ferguson. Found my cousin Russell settled
kindly to his gardening and his projects. He seems to have brought home
with him the enviable talent of being interested and happy in his own
place. Ashestiel looks worst, I think, at this period of the year; but
is a beautiful place in summer, where I passed nine happy years. Did I
ever pass unhappy years anywhere? None that I remember, save those at
the High School, which I thoroughly detested on account of the
confinement. I disliked serving in my father's office, too, from the
same hatred to restraint. In other respects, I have had unhappy
days - unhappy weeks - even, on one or two occasions, unhappy months; but
Fortune's finger has never been able to play a dirge on me for a quarter
of a year together.
I am sorry to see the Peel-wood, and other natural coppice, decaying and
abridged about Ashestiel -
'The horrid plough has razed the green,
Where once my children play'd;
The axe has fell'd the hawthorn screen,
The schoolboy's summer shade.'
There was a very romantic pasturage called the Cow-park, which I was
particularly attached to, from its wild and sequestered character.
Having been part of an old wood which had been cut down, it was full of
copse - hazel, and oak, and all sorts of young trees, irregularly
scattered over fine pasturage, and affording a hundred intricacies so
delicious to the eye and the imagination. But some misjudging friend had
cut down and cleared away without mercy, and divided the varied and
sylvan scene, which was divided by a little rivulet, into the two most
formal things in nature - a thriving plantation, many-angled as usual,
and a park laid down in grass; wanting therefore the rich graminivorous
variety which Nature gives its carpet, and having instead a braird of
six days' growth - lean and hungry growth too - of ryegrass and clover. As
for the rill, it stagnates in a deep square ditch, which silences its
prattle, and restrains its meanders with a witness. The original scene
was, of course, imprinted still deeper on Russell's mind than mine, and
I was glad to see he was intensely sorry for the change.
_April_ 5. - Rose late in the morning, past eight, to give the cold and
toothache time to make themselves scarce, which they have obligingly
done. Yesterday every tooth on the right side of my head was absolutely
waltzing. I would have drawn by the half dozen, but country dentists are
not to be lippened to. To-day all is quiet, but a little swelling
and stiffness in the jaw. Went to Chiefswood at one, and marked with
regret forty trees indispensably necessary for paling - much like drawing
a tooth; they _are_ wanted and will never be better, but I am
avaricious of grown trees, having so few.
Worked a fair task; dined, and read Clapperton's journey and Denham's
into Bornou. Very entertaining, and less botheration about mineralogy,
botany, and so forth, than usual. Pity Africa picks up so many brave
men, however. Work in the evening.
_April_ 6. - Wrote in the morning. Went at one to Huntly Burn, where I
had the great pleasure to hear, through a letter from Sir Adam, that
Sophia was in health, and Johnnie gaining strength. It is a fine
exchange from deep and aching uncertainty on so interesting a subject,