He has saved her throat and taken a quinsey in his own. Adam Ferguson
has had a fall with his horse.
_February_ 22. - Was at Court till two, then lounged till Will
Murray came to speak about a dinner for the Theatrical Fund, in
order to make some arrangements. There are 300 tickets given out. I
fear it will be uncomfortable; and whatever the stoics may say, a bad
dinner throws cold water on the charity. I have agreed to preside, a
situation in which I have been rather felicitous, not by much
superiority of wit or wisdom, far less of eloquence; but by two or three
simple rules which I put down here for the benefit of posterity.
1st. Always hurry the bottle round for five or six rounds without
prosing yourself or permitting others to prose. A slight fillip of wine
inclines people to be pleased, and removes the nervousness which
prevents men from speaking - disposes them, in short, to be amusing and
to be amused.
2d. Push on, keep moving, as Punch says. Do not think of saying fine
things - nobody cares for them any more than for fine music, which is
often too liberally bestowed on such occasions. Speak at all ventures,
and attempt the _mot pour rire._ You will find people satisfied with
wonderfully indifferent jokes if you can but hit the taste of the
company, which depends much on its character. Even a very high party,
primed with all the cold irony and _non est tanti_ feelings, or no
feelings, of fashionable folks, may be stormed by a jovial, rough,
round, and ready preses. Choose your texts with discretion, the sermon
may be as you like. If a drunkard or an ass breaks in with anything out
of joint, if you can parry it with a jest, good and well - if not, do not
exert your serious authority, unless it is something very bad. The
authority even of a chairman ought to be very cautiously exercised. With
patience you will have the support of every one.
When you have drunk a few glasses to play the good fellow, and banish
modesty if you are unlucky enough, to have such a troublesome companion,
then beware of the cup too much. Nothing is so ridiculous as a drunken
Lastly. Always speak short, and _Skeoch doch na skiel_ - cut a tale with
"This is the purpose and intent
Of gude Schir Walter's testament."
We dined to-day at Mrs. Dundas of Arniston, Dowager.
_February_ 24. - I carried my own instructions into effect the best I
could, and if our jests were not good, our laugh was abundant. I think I
will hardly take the chair again when the company is so miscellaneous;
though they all behaved perfectly well. Meadowbank taxed me with the
novels, and to end that farce at once I pleaded guilty, so that splore
is ended. As to the collection, it was much cry and little woo', as the
deil said when he shore the sow. Only Â£280 from 300 people, but many
were to send money to-morrow. They did not open books, which was
impolitic, but circulated a box, where people might put in what they
pleased - and some gave shillings, which gives but a poor idea of the
company. Yet there were many respectable people and handsome donations.
But this fashion of not letting your right hand see what your left hand
doeth is no good mode of raising a round sum. Your penny-pig collections
don't succeed. I got away at ten at night. The performers performed very
like gentlemen, especially Will Murray. They attended as stewards with
white rods, and never thought of sitting down till after dinner, taking
care that the company was attended to.
_February_ 25. - Very bad report of the speeches in the papers. We dined
at Jeffrey's with Sydney Smith - funny and good-natured as usual. One of
his daughters is very pretty indeed; both are well-mannered, agreeable,
and sing well. The party was pleasant.
_February_ 26. - At home, and settled to work; but I know not why I was
out of spirits - quite Laird of Humdudgeon, and did all I could to shake
it off, and could not. James Ballantyne dined with me.
_February_ 27. - Humdudgeonish still; hang it, what fools we are! I
worked, but coldly and ill. Yet something is done. I wonder if other
people have these strange alternations of industry and incapacity. I am
sure I do not indulge myself in fancies, but it is accompanied with
great drowsiness - bile, I suppose, and terribly jaded spirits. I
received to-day Dr. Shortt and Major Crocket, who was orderly-officer on
Boney at the time of his death.
_February_ 28. - Sir Adam breakfasted. One of the few old friends left
out of the number of my youthful companions. In youth we have many
companions, few friends perhaps; in age companionship is ended, except
rarely, and by appointment. Old men, by a kind of instinct, seek younger
companions who listen to their stories, honour their grey hairs while
present, and mimic and laugh at them when their backs are turned. At
least that was the way in our day, and I warrant our chicks of the
present day crow to the same tune. Of all the friends that I have left I
have none who has any decided attachment to literature. So either I must
talk on that subject to young people - in other words, turn proser, or I
must turn tea-table talker and converse with ladies. I am too old and
too proud for either character, so I'll live alone and be contented.
Lockhart's departure for London was a loss to me in this way. Came home
late from the Court, but worked tightly in the evening. I think
discontinuing smoking, as I have done for these two months past, leaves
me less muzzy after dinner. At any rate, it breaks a custom - I despise
 Foote's Comedy, Act I. Sc. 1.
 Scott, who had accompanied this lady to the Highlands in the
summer of 1808, wrote from Edinburgh on 19th January: - "We have here a
very diverting lion and sundry wild beasts; but the most meritorious is
Miss Lydia White, who is what Oxonians call a lioness of the first
order, with stockings nineteen times dyed blue; very lively, very
good-humoured, and extremely absurd. It is very diverting to see the
sober Scotch ladies staring at this phenomenon." - _Life_, vol. iii. pp.
38, 95, 96.
 Burns's "Twa Dogs." - J.G.L.
 Mount Benger.
 John Archibald Murray, whose capital bachelors' dinner on Dec. 8
Scott so pleasantly describes (on page 320), had married in the interval
Miss Rigby, a Lancashire lady, who was long known in Edinburgh for her
hospitality and fine social qualities as Lady Murray. (See page 378,
April 2, 1827.) Miss Martineau celebrated her parliamentary Tea-Table in
London, when her husband was Lord Advocate, and Lord Cockburn, the
delights of Strachur on Loch Fyne.
 Mr. (afterwards Sir Francis) Grant became a member of the Scottish
Academy in 1830, an associate of Royal Academy in 1842, and Academician
in 1851. His successful career as a painter secured his elevation to the
Presidentship of the Academy in 1866. Sir Francis died at Melton-Mowbray
in October 1878, aged 75.
 Patrick Fraser Tytler, the Scottish historian. He died on
Christmas-day 1849, aged fifty-eight. - See Burgon's _Memoirs_, 8vo,
 Audubon says in his Journal of the same date: - "Captain Hall led
me to a seat immediately opposite to Sir Walter Scott, the President,
where I had a perfect view of the great man, and studied Nature from
Nature's noblest work."
The publication of Audubon's great work, _The Birds of America_,
commenced in 1827, and was completed in 1839, forming 4 vols. in the
largest folio size, and containing 435 plates. It shows the indomitable
courage of the author, that even when the work was completed, he had
only 161 subscribers, 82 of whom were in America. The price of the book
was two guineas for each part with 5 coloured plates. During the last
dozen years its price at auctions runs about Â£250 to Â£300. Audubon died
in New York in 1851. - See _Life_, by Buchanan, 8vo, London, 1866.
 Biographical Notices had been sent to the _Weekly Journal_ in
1826, and are now included in the _Miscell. Prose Works_, vol. iv. pp.
 Afterwards included in _The Pilgrimage and other Poems_, Lond.
 See Craig Brown's _Selkirkshire_, vol. i. pp. 285-86.
 Milton's _Lycidas,_ varied.
"Death's gi'en the Lodge an unco devel, Tam Samson's dead."
_Burns._ - J.G.L.
 For letter and reply see _Life_, vol. ix. pp. 92, 98.
 Sir Walter at this date returned the valuable MSS. lent him by the
Duke of Wellington in Nov. 1826 (see _ante_, p. 306) with the following
"EDINBURGH, 15_th February_ 1827.
"My dear Lord Duke, - The two manuscripts safely packed leave this by
post to-day, as I am informed your Grace's franks carry any weight. * *
* "I have been reading with equal instruction and pleasure the memoir on
the Russian campaign, which demonstrates as plainly as possible that the
French writers have taken advantage of the snow to cover under it all
their General's blunders, and impute to it all their losses. This I
observe is Bonaparte's general practice, and that of his admirers.
Whenever they can charge anything upon the elements or upon accident, he
and they combine in denying all bravery and all wisdom to their enemies.
The conduct of Kutusow on more than one occasion in the retreat seems to
have been singularly cautious, or rather timorous. For it is impossible
to give credit to the immense superiority claimed by SÃ©gur, Beauchamp,
etc., for the French troops over the Russians. Surely they were the same
Russians who had fought so bravely against superior force, and how
should the twentieth part of the French army have been able to clear
their way without cavalry or artillery in a great measure? and it seems
natural to suppose that we must impute to tardy and inactive conduct on
the part of their General what we cannot account for on the idea of the
extremely superior valour or discipline claimed for the French soldiers
by their country. The snow seems to have become serious on the 6th
November, when Napoleon was within two marches of Smolensk, which he
soon after reached, and by that time it appears to me that his army was
already mouldered away from 100,000 men who left Moscow, to about 35,000
only, so that his great loss was incurred before the snow began.
"I am afraid your Grace has done me an unparalleled injury in one
respect, that the clearness, justice, and precision of your Grace's
reasoning puts me out of all patience with my own attempts. I dare
hardly hope in this increase of business for a note or two on Waterloo;
but if your Grace had any, however hasty, which could be copied by a
secretary, the debt would be never to be forgotten.
"I am going to mention a circumstance, which I do with great
apprehension, lest I should be thought to intrude upon your Grace's
goodness. It respects a youth, the son of one of my most intimate
friends, a gentleman of good family and fortune, who is extremely
desirous of being admitted a cadet of artillery. His father is the best
draughtsman in Scotland, and the lad himself shows a great deal of
talent both in science and the ordinary branches of learning. I enclose
a note of the youth's age, studies, and progress, in case your Grace
might think it possible to place on your list for the Engineer service
the name of a poor Scots Hidalgo; your Grace knows Scotland is a
breeding not a feeding country, and we must send our sons abroad, as we
send our black cattle to England; and, as old Lady Campbell of
Ardkinglas proposed to dispose of her nine sons, we have a strong
tendency to put our young folks 'a' to the sword.'
"I have too long detained you, my Lord Duke, from the many high
occupations which have been redoubled upon your Grace's head, and beg
your Grace to believe me, with an unusually deep sense of respect and
obligation, my dear Lord Duke, your Grace's much honoured and grateful,
humble servant, WALTER SCOTT." - _Wellington's Despatches_, etc.
(Continuation), vol. iii. pp. 590-1. London, 8vo, 1868.
 Smollett's _Peregrine Pickle_, VOL. i. cap. 13.
 One page of his MS. answers to four or five of the close printed
pages of the original edition of his _Bonaparte_. - J.G.L.
 Lord Cockburn says: - "Scott's description of the woman is very
correct; she was like a vindictive masculine witch. I remember him
sitting within the bar looking at her. As we were moving out, Sir
Walter's remark upon the acquittal was, 'Well, sirs, all I can say is
that if that woman was my wife I should take good care to be my own
cook.'" - _Circuit Journeys_, 8vo, Edinburgh, 1888, p. 12.
 This can scarcely be taken to refer to Brougham, though at the
"Canning calls Brougham his _Learned_ Friend.
'My honours come and share 'em.
Reformers their assistance give
To countenance old Sarum."
It may, however, stand for Lord Bathurst, who became President of the
Council shortly afterwards in Wellington's Administration.
 Mr. W.H. Murray, Manager of the Theatre Royal, Edinburgh. This
excellent actor retired from the stage with a competency, and spent the
last years of his life in St. Andrews, where he died in March 1852, aged
 This was the dinner at which the veil was publicly withdrawn from
the authorship of _Waverley_; it took place on Friday, 23d February
1827, and a full account of the proceedings is given in the _Life_, vol.
ix. pp. 79-84.
 Sir Walter parodies the conclusion of King Robert the Bruce's
"Maxims or Political Testament." - See Hailes' _Annals_, A.D.
1311. - J.G.L.
_March_ 1. - At Court until two - wrote letters under cover of the
lawyers' long speeches, so paid up some of my correspondents, which I
seldom do upon any other occasion. I sometimes let letters lie for days
unopened, as if that would postpone the necessity of answering them.
Here I am at home, and to work we go - not for the first time to-day, for
I wrought hard before breakfast. So glides away Thursday 1st. By the by,
it is the anniversary of Bosworth Field. In former days _Richard III._
was always acted at London on this day; now the custom, I fancy, is
disused. Walpole's _Historic Doubts_ threw a mist about this reign. It
is very odd to see how his mind dwells upon it at first as the mere
sport of imagination, till at length they become such Delilahs of his
imagination that he deems it far worse than infidelity to doubt his
Doubts. After all, the popular tradition is so very strong and pointed
concerning the character of Richard, that it is I think in vain to doubt
the general truth of the outline. Shakespeare, we may be sure, wrote his
drama in the tone that was to suit the popular belief, although where
that did Richard wrong, his powerful scene was sure to augment the
impression. There was an action and a reaction.
_March_ 2. - Clerk walked home with me from the Court. I was scarce able
to keep up with him; could once have done it well enough. Funny thing at
the Theatre. Among the discourse in "High Life below Stairs," one
of the ladies' ladies asks who wrote Shakespeare. One says, "Ben
Jonson," another, "Finis." "No," said Will Murray, "it is Sir Walter
Scott; he confessed it at a public meeting the other day." _March_
3. - Very severe weather, came home covered with snow. White as a
frosted-plum-cake, by jingo! No matter; I am not sorry to find I can
stand a brush of weather yet; I like to see Arthur's Seat and the stern
old Castle with their white watch-cloaks on. But, as Byron said to
Moore, "d - -n it, Tom, don't be poetical." I settled to _Boney_, and
wrote right long and well.
_March_ 4. - I sat in by the chimney-neuk with no chance of interruption,
and "feagued it away." Sir Adam came, and had half an hour's chat and
laugh. My jaws ought to be sore, if the unwontedness of the motion could
do it. But I have little to laugh at but myself, and my own bizarreries
are more like to make me cry. Wrought hard, though - there's sense in
_March_ 5. - Our young men of first fashion, in whom tranquillity is the
prime merit, a sort of quietism of foppery, if one can use the
expression, have one capital name for a fellow that _outrÃ©s_ and
outroars the fashion, a sort of high-buck as they were called in my
days. They hold him a vulgarian, and call him a tiger. Mr. Gibson came
in, and we talked over my affairs; very little to the purpose I doubt.
Dined at home with Anne as usual, and despatched half-a-dozen Selkirk
processes; among others one which savours of Hamesucken. I think
to-day I have finished a quarter of vol. viii., and last. Shall I be
happy when it is done? - Umph! I think not.
_March_ 6. - A long seat at Court, and an early dinner, as we went to the
play. John Kemble's brother acted Benedick. He is a fine-looking man,
and a good actor, but not superior. He reminds you eternally that he is
acting; and he had got, as the devil directed it, hold of my favourite
Benedick, for which he has no power. He had not the slightest idea of
the part, particularly of the manner in which Benedick should conduct
himself in the quarrelling scene with the Prince and Claudio, in which
his character rises almost to the dignity of tragedy. The laying aside
his light and fantastic humour, and showing himself the man of feeling
and honour, was finely marked of yore by old Tom King. I remember
particularly the high strain of grave moral feeling which he threw upon
the words - "in a false quarrel there is no true valour" - which, spoken
as he did, checked the very brutal levity of the Prince and Claudio.
There were two farces; one I wished to see, and that being the last, was
obliged to tarry for it. Perhaps the headache I contracted made me a
severe critic on Cramond Brig, a little piece ascribed to Lockhart.
Perhaps I am unjust, but I cannot think it his; there are so few
good things in it, and so much prosing transferred from that mine of
marrowless morality called the _Miller of Mansfield_. Yet it
_March_ 7. - We are kept working hard during the expiring days of the
Session, but this being a blank day I wrote hard till dressing time,
when I went to Will Clerk's to dinner. As a bachelor, and keeping a
small establishment, he does not do these things often, but they are
proportionally pleasant when they come round. He had trusted Sir Adam to
bespeak his dinner, who did it _con amore_; so we had excellent cheer,
and the wines were various and capital. As I before hinted, it is not
every day that M'Nab mounts on horseback, and so our landlord had a
little of that solicitude that the party should go off well, which is
very flattering to the guests. We had a very pleasant evening. The
Chief-Commissioner was there, Admiral Adam, Jo. Murray, and Thomson,
etc. etc. Sir Adam predominating at the head, and dancing what he calls
his "merry andrada" in great style. In short, we really laughed, and
real laughter is a thing as rare as real tears. I must say, too, there
was a _heart_, - a kindly feeling prevailed over the party. Can London
give such a dinner? It may, but I never saw one; they are too cold and
critical to be so easily pleased. In the evening I went with some others
to see the exhibition lit up for a promenade, where there were all the
fashionable folks about town; the appearance of the rooms was very gay
_March_ 8. - It snowed all night, which must render the roads impassable,
and will detain me here till Monday. Hard work at Court, as Hammie is
done up with the gout. We dine with Lord Corehouse - that's not true by
the by, for I have mistaken the day. It's to-morrow we dine there.
Wrought, but not too hard.
_March_ 9. - An idle morning. Dalgleish being set to pack my books. Wrote
notes upon a Mr. Kinloch's Collection of Scottish Ballads, which I
communicated to the young author in the Court this present morning. We
were detained till half-past three o'clock, so when I came home I was
fatigued and slept. I walk slow, heavily, and with pain; but perhaps the
good weather may banish the Fiend of the joints. At any rate, impatience
will do nae good at a', man. Letter from Charles for Â£50. Silver and
gold have I none; but that which I have I will give unto him. We dined
at the Cranstouns, - I beg his pardon, Lord Corehouse; Ferguson, Thomson,
Will Clerk, etc., were there, also the Smiths and John Murray, so we had
a pleasant evening.
_March_ 10. - The business at the Court was not so heavy as I have seen
it the last day of the Session, yet sharp enough. About three o'clock I
got to a meeting of the Bannatyne Club. I hope this institution will be
really useful and creditable. Thomson is superintending a capital
edition of Sir James Melville's Memoirs. It is brave to see how he
wags his Scots tongue, and what a difference there is in the force and
firmness of the language, compared to the mincing English edition in
which he has hitherto been alone known. Nothing to-day but correcting
proofs; Anne went to the play, I remained at home.
_March_ 11. - All my books packed this morning, and this and to-morrow
will be blank days, or nearly such; but I am far ahead of the printer,
who is not done with vol. vii., while I am deep in volume viii. I hate
packing; but my servants never pack books quite to please me. James
Ballantyne dined with us. He kept up my heart about _Bonaparte_, which
sometimes flags; and he is such a grumbler that I think I may trust him
when he is favourable. There must be sad inaccuracies, some which might
certainly have been prevented by care; but as the Lazaroni used to say,
"Did you but know how lazy I am!"
[_Abbotsford_,] _March_ 12. - Away we set, and came safely to Abbotsford
amid all the dulness of a great thaw, which has set the rivers
a-streaming in full tide. The wind is wintry, but for my part
"I like this rocking of the battlements."
I was received by old Tom and the dogs, with the unsophisticated
feelings of goodwill. I have been trying to read a new novel which I
have heard praised. It is called _Almacks_, and the author has so well
succeeded in describing the cold selfish fopperies of the time, that the
copy is almost as dull as the original. I think I will take up my bundle
of Sheriff-Court processes instead of _Almacks_, as the more
entertaining avocation of the two.
_March_ 13. - Before breakfast, prepared and forwarded the processes to
Selkirk. As I had the loan of Â£250 at March from Cadell I am now verging
on to the Â£500 which he promised to allow me in advance on second series
_Canongate Chronicles_. I do not like this, but unless I review or write
to some other purpose, what else can I do? My own expenses are as
limited as possible, but my house expenses are considerable, and every
now and then starts up something of old scores which I cannot turn over
to Mr. Gibson and his co-trustees. Well - time and the hour - money is the
Had a pleasant walk to the thicket, though my ideas were
olla-podrida-ish, curiously checkered between pleasure and melancholy. I
have cause enough for both humours, God knows. I expect this will not be
a day of work but of idleness, for my books are not come. Would to God I
could make it light thoughtless idleness, such as I used to have when
the silly smart fancies ran in my brain like the bubbles in a glass of
champagne, - as brilliant to my thinking, as intoxicating as evanescent.
But the wine is somewhat on the lees. Perhaps it was but indifferent
cider after all. Yet I am happy in this place, where everything looks
friendly, from old Tom to young Nym. After all, he has little to
complain of who has left so many things that like him.
_March_ 14. - All yesterday spent in putting to rights books, and so
forth. Not a word written except interlocutors. But this won't do. I
have tow on the rock, and it must be spun off. Let us see our present
undertakings. 1. Napoleon. 2. Review Home, Cranbourne Chase, and
the Mysteries. 3. Something for that poor faineant Gillies. 4. Essay on
Ballad and Song. 5. Something on the modern state of France. These two
last for the Prose Works. But they may
" - do a little more,
And produce a little ore."
Come, we must up and be doing. There is a rare scud without, which says,
"Go spin, you jade, go spin." I loitered on, and might have answered,
"My spinning-wheel is auld and stiff."
Smoked a brace of cigars after dinner as a sedative. This is the first
time I have smoked these two months. I was afraid the custom would
master me. Went to work in the afternoon, and reviewed for Lockhart
Mackenzie's edition of Home's Works. Proceeded as far as the eighth