_March_ 15. - Kept still at the review till two o'clock; not that there
is any hurry, but because I should lose my ideas, which are not worth
preserving. Went on therefore. I drove over to Huntly Burn with Anne,
then walked through the plantations, with Tom's help to pull me through
the snow-wreaths. Returned in a glow of heat and spirits. Corrected
proof-sheets in the evening.
_March_ 16. -
"A trifling day we have had here,
Begun with trifle and ended."
But I hope no otherwise so ended than to meet the rubrick of the ballad,
for it is but three o'clock. In the morning I was _l'homme qui
cherche_ - everything fell aside, - the very pens absconded, and crept in
among a pack of letters and trumpery, where I had the devil's work
finding them. Thus the time before breakfast was idled, or rather
fidgeted, away. Afterwards it was rather worse. I had settled to finish
the review, when, behold, as I am apt to do at a set task, I jibb'd, and
my thoughts would rather have gone with Waterloo. So I dawdled, as the
women say, with both, now writing a page or two of the review, now
reading a few pages of the Battle of Waterloo by Captain Pringle, a
manuscript which is excellently-written. Well, I will find the
advantage of it by and by. So now I will try to finish this accursed
review, for there is nothing to prevent me, save the untractable
character that hates to work on compulsion, whether of individuals or
_March 17._ - I wrought away at the review and nearly finished it. Was
interrupted, however, by a note from Ballantyne, demanding copy, which
brought me back from Home and Mackenzie to _Boney_. I had my walk as
usual, and worked nevertheless very fairly. Corrected proofs.
_March 18._ - Took up _Boney_ again. I am now at writing, as I used to be
at riding, slow, heavy, and awkward at mounting, but when I did get
fixed in my saddle, could screed away with any one. I have got six pages
ready for my learned Theban to-morrow morning. William Laidlaw and
his brother George dined with me, but I wrote in the evening all the
_March 19._ - Set about my labours, but enter Captain John Ferguson from
the Spanish Main, where he has been for three years. The honest tar sat
about two hours, and I was heartily glad to see him again. I had a
general sketch of his adventures, which we will hear more in detail when
we can meet at kail-time. Notwithstanding this interruption I have
pushed far into the seventh page. Well done for one day. Twenty days
should finish me at this rate, and I read hard too. But allowance must
be made for interruptions.
_March 20._ - To-day worked till twelve o'clock, then went with Anne on a
visit of condolence to Mrs. Pringle of Yair and her family. Mr. Pringle
was the friend both of my father and grandfather; the acquaintance of
our families is at least a century old.
_March_ 21. - Wrote till twelve, then out upon the heights though the day
was stormy, and faced the gale bravely. Tom Purdie was not with me. He
would have obliged me to keep the sheltered ground. But, I don't know -
"Even in our ashes live our wonted fires."
There is a touch of the old spirit in me yet that bids me brave the
tempest, - the spirit that, in spite of manifold infirmities, made me a
roaring boy in my youth, a desperate climber, a bold rider, a deep
drinker, and a stout player at single-stick, of all which valuable
qualities there are now but slender remains. I worked hard when I came
in, and finished five pages.
_March_ 22. - Yesterday I wrote to James Ballantyne, acquiescing in his
urgent request to extend the two last volumes to about 600 each. I
believe it will be no more than necessary after all, but makes one feel
like a dog in a wheel, always moving and never advancing.
_March_ 23. - When I was a child, and indeed for some years after, my
amusement was in supposing to myself a set of persons engaged in various
scenes which contrasted them with each other, and I remember to this day
the accuracy of my childish imagination. This might be the effect of a
natural turn to fictitious narrative, or it might be the cause of it, or
there might be an action and reaction, or it does not signify a pin's
head how it is. But with a flash of this remaining spirit, I imagine my
mother Duty to be a sort of old task-mistress, like the hag of the
merchant Abudah, in the Tales of the Genii - not a hag though, by any
means; on the contrary, my old woman wears a rich old-fashioned gown of
black silk, with ruffles of triple blonde-lace, and a coif as rich as
that of Pearling Jean; a figure and countenance something like Lady
D.S.'s twenty years ago; a clear blue eye, capable of great severity of
expression, and conforming in that with a wrinkled brow, of which the
ordinary expression is a serious approach to a frown - a cautionary and
nervous shake of the head; in her withered hand an ebony staff with a
crutch head, - a Tompion gold watch, which annoys all who know her by
striking the quarters as regularly as if one wished to hear them.
Occasionally she has a small scourge of nettles, which I feel her lay
across my fingers at this moment, and so _Tace_ is Latin for a
candle. I have 150 pages to write yet.
_March_ 24. - Does Duty not wear a pair of round old-fashioned silver
buckles? Buckles she has, but they are square ones. All belonging to
Duty is rectangular. Thus can we poor children of imagination play with
the ideas we create, like children with soap-bubbles. Pity that we pay
for it at other times by starting at our shadows.
"Man but a rush against Othello's breast."
The hard work still proceeds, varied only by a short walk.
_March_ 25. - Hard work still, but went to Huntly Burn on foot, and
returned in the carriage. Walked well and stoutly - God be praised! - and
prepared a whole bundle of proofs and copy for the Blucher to morrow;
that damned work will certainly end some time or other. As it drips and
dribbles out on the paper, I think of the old drunken Presbyterian
under the spout.
_March 26._ - Despatched packets. Colonel and Captain Ferguson arrived to
breakfast. I had previously determined to give myself a day to write
letters; and, as I expect John Thomson to dinner, this day will do as
well as another. I cannot keep up with the world without shying a letter
now and then. It is true the greatest happiness I could think of would
be to be rid of the world entirely. Excepting my own family, I have
little pleasure in the world, less business in it, and am heartily
careless about all its concerns. Mr. Thomson came accordingly - not John
Thomson of Duddingston, whom the letter led me to expect, but John
Anstruther Thomson of Charlton [Fifeshire], the son-in-law of Lord
_March 27._ - Wrote two leaves this morning, and gave the day after
breakfast to my visitor, who is a country gentleman of the best
description; knows the world, having been a good deal attached both to
the turf and the field; is extremely good-humoured, and a good deal of a
local antiquary. I showed him the plantations, going first round the
terrace, then to the lake, then came down by the Rhymer's Glen, and took
carriage at Huntly Burn, almost the grand tour, only we did not walk
from Huntly Burn. The Fergusons dined with us.
_March 28._ - Mr Thomson left us about twelve for Minto, parting a
pleased guest, I hope, from a pleased landlord. When I see a "gemman as
_is_ a gemman," as the blackguards say, why, I know how to be civil.
After he left I set doggedly to work with _Bonaparte_, who had fallen a
little into arrear. I can clear the ground better now by mashing up my
old work in the Edinburgh Register with my new matter, a species of
_colcannen_, where cold potatoes are mixed with hot cabbage. After all,
I think Ballantyne is right, and that I have some talents for
history-writing after all. That same history in the Register reads
prettily enough. _Coragio_, cry Claymore. I finished five pages, but
with additions from Register they will run to more than double I hope;
like Puff in the Critic, be luxuriant.
Here is snow back again, a nasty, comfortless, stormy sort of a day, and
I will work it off at _Boney_. What shall I do when _Bonaparte_ is done?
He engrosses me morning, noon, and night. Never mind; _Komt Zeit komt
Rath_, as the German says. I did not work longer than twelve, however,
but went out in as rough weather as I have seen, and stood out several
_March 29, 30._ -
"He walk'd and wrought, poor soul! What then?
Why, then he walk'd and wrought again."
_March 31._ - Day varied by dining with Mr. Scrope, where we found Mr.
Williams and Mr. Simson, both excellent artists. We had not too
much of the palette, but made a very agreeable day out. I contrived to
mislay the proof-sheets sent me this morning, so that I must have a
revise. This frequent absence of mind becomes very exceeding
troublesome. I have the distinct recollection of laying them carefully
aside after I dressed to go to the Pavilion. Well, I have a head - the
proverb is musty.
 See Townley's _Farce_.
 _Hamesucken_. - The crime of beating or assaulting a person in his
own house. A Scotch law term.
 King had retired from the stage in 1801. He died four years later.
 _Cramond Brig_ is said to have been written by Mr. W.H. Murray,
the manager of the Theatre, and is still occasionally acted in
 Marginal Note in Original MSS. "I never saw it - not mine. - J.G.L."
 By Dodsley.
 That singular personage, the late M'Nab of _that ilk_, spent his
life almost entirely in a district where a boat was the usual
conveyance. - J.G.L.
 _Ancient Scottish Ballads, recovered from tradition, with notes_,
etc., by George R. Kinloch, 8vo, London, 1827.
 Issued by the Club, June 4, 1827.
 Zanga in _The Revenge_, Act I. Sc. 1. - J.G.L.
 Nimrod, a staghound. - J.G.L.
 _Anecdotes of Cranbourne Chase_, etc., by Chafin. 8vo, London,
1818. Mr. Lockhart says, "I am sorry Sir Walter never redeemed his
promise to make it the subject of an article in the _Quarterly
Review_." - See _Life_, vol. vii. pp. 43-44.
 The article appeared in the Number for June 1827, and is now
included in the _Prose Misc. Works_, vol. xix. pp. 283-367.
 See Captain John Pringle's remarks on the campaign of 1815 in App.
to Scott's _Napoleon_, vol. ix. pp. 115-160.
 _Lear_, Act III. Sc. 4.
 "Pearling Jean," the name of the ghost of the Spanish Nun at
Allanbank, Berwickshire. See Sharpe's _Letters_, vol. i. pp. 303-5, and
Ingram's _Haunted Homes_, Lond. 1884, vol. i. pp. 1-4.
 This quaint saying, arising out of some forgotten joke, has been
thought to be Scott's own, as it was a favourite with him and his
intimates, and he introduces it in more than one of his works.[A] But
though its origin cannot be traced, Swift uses it in that very curious
collection of proverbs and saws, which he strung together under the
title of _Polite Conversation_, and published about 1738.[B] Fielding
also introduces it in _Amelia_,[C] 1752. See _Notes and Queries_, first
series, vol. i. p. 385; ii. p. 45; iv. p. 450; x. p. 173; sixth series,
vol. iii. p. 213; iv. p. 157.
[A] e.g. _Redgauntlet_, ch. xii. Pate-in-Peril at Dumfries.
[B] _Lord Smart_ - "Well, Tom, can you tell me what's Latin for a
_Neverout_ - "O, my Lord, I know that [answer]: Brandy is Latin for a
goose! and _Tace_ is Latin for a candle." - SCOTT'S _Swift_, vol. ix. p.
[C] "_Tace_, Madam," added Murphy, "is Latin for a candle." - _Amelia_,
Bk. 1. cap. xi.
 Sheridan's Play, Act II. Sc. 1.
 William Simson, R.S.A., landscape painter. He died in London,
_April_ 1. - The proofs are not to be found. Applications from R.P.
G[illies]. I must do something for him; yet have the melancholy
conviction that nothing will do him any good. Then he writes letters and
expects answers. Then they are bothering me about writing in behalf of
the oil-gas light, which is going to the devil very fast. I cannot be
going a-begging for them or anybody. Please to look down with an eye of
pity - a poor distressed creature! No, not for the last morsel of bread.
A dry ditch and a speedy death is worth it all.
_April_ 2. - Another letter from R.P.G. I shall begin to wish, like S.,
that he had been murthered and robbed in his walks between Wimbledon and
London. John [Archibald] Murray and his young wife came to dinner, and
in good time. I like her very much, and think he has been very lucky.
She is not in the vaward of youth, but John is but two or three years my
junior. She is pleasing in her manners, and totally free from
affectation; a beautiful musician, and willingly exerts her talents in
that way; is said to be very learned, but shows none of it. A large
fortune is no bad addition to such a woman's society.
_April_ 3. - I had processes to decide; and though I arose at my usual
hour, I could not get through above two of five proofs. After breakfast
I walked with John Murray, and at twelve we went for Melrose, where I
had to show the lions. We came back by Huntly Burn, where the carriage
broke down, and gave us a pretty long walk home. Mr. Scrope dined with
his two artists, and John [Thomson?]. The last is not only the best
landscape-painter of his age and country, but is, moreover, one of the
warmest-hearted men living, with a keen and unaffected feeling of
poetry. Poor fellow! he has had many misfortunes in his family. I drank
a glass or two of wine more than usual, got into good spirits, and _came
from Tripoli_ for the amusement of the good company. I was in good
_April_ 4. - I think I have a little headache this morning; however, as
Othello says, "That's not much." I saw our guests go off by seven in the
morning, but was not in time to give them good-bye.
"And now again, boys, to the oar."
I did not go to the oar though, but walked a good deal.
_April_ 5. - Heard from Lockhart; the Duke of W[ellington] and Croker are
pleased with my historical labours; so far well - for the former, as a
soldier said of him, "I would rather have his long nose on my side than
a whole brigade." Well! something good may come of it, and if it does it
will be good luck, for, as you and I know, Mother Duty, it has been a
rummily written work. I wrote hard to-day.
_April_ 6. - Do. Do. I only took one turn about the thicket, and have
nothing to put down but to record my labours.
_April_ 7. - The same history occurs; my desk and my exercise. I am a
perfect automaton. _Bonaparte_ runs in my head from seven in the morning
till ten at night without intermission. I wrote six leaves to-day and
corrected four proofs.
_April_ 8. - Ginger, being in my room, was safely delivered in her basket
of four puppies; the mother and children all doing well. Faith! that is
as important an entry as my Journal could desire. The day is so
beautiful that I long to go out. I won't, though, till I have done
something. A letter from Mr. Gibson about the trust affairs. If the
infernal bargain with Constable go on well, there will be a pretty sop
in the pan to the creditors; Â£35,000 at least. If I could work as
effectually for three years more, I shall stand on my feet like a man.
But who can assure success with the public?
_April_ 9. - I wrote as hard to-day as need be, finished my neat eight
pages, and, notwithstanding, drove out and visited at Gattonside. The
devil must be in it if the matter drags out longer now.
_April_ 10. - Some incivility from the Leith Bank, which I despise with
my heels. I have done for settling my affairs all that any man - much
more than most men - could have done, and they refuse a draught of Â£20,
because, in mistake, it was Â£8 overdrawn. But what can be expected of a
_sow_ but a _grumph_? Wrought hard, hard.
_April_ 11. - The parks were rouped for Â£100 a year more than they
brought last year. Poor Abbotsford will come to good after all. In the
meantime it is _Sic vos non vobis_ - but who cares a farthing? If _Boney_
succeeds, we will give these affairs a blue eye, and I will wrestle
stoutly with them, although
"My _banks_ they are covered with _bees_,"
or rather with wasps. A very tough day's work.
_April_ 12. - _Ha-a-lt_ - as we used to say, my proof-sheets being still
behind. Very unhandsome conduct on the part of the Blucher while I
was lauding it so profusely. It is necessary to halt and close up our
files - of correspondence I mean. So it is a chance if, except for
contradiction's sake, or upon getting the proof-sheets, I write a line
to-day at _Boney_. I did, however, correct five revised sheets and one
proof, which took me up so much of the day that I had but one turn
through the courtyard. Owing to this I had some of my flutterings, my
trembling exies, as the old people called the ague. Wrote a great many
letters - but no "copy."
_April_ 13. - I have sometimes wondered with what regularity - that is,
for a shrew of my impatient temper - I have been able to keep this
Journal. The use of the first person being, of course, the very essence
of a diary, I conceive it is chiefly vanity, the dear pleasure of
writing about the best of good fellows, Myself, which gives me
perseverance to continue this idle task. This morning I wrote till
breakfast, then went out and marked trees to be cut for paling, and am
just returned - and what does any one care? Ay, but, Gad! I care myself,
though. We had at dinner to-day Mr. and Mrs. Cranstoun (Burns's Maria of
Ballochmyle), Mr. Bainbridge and daughters, and Colonel Russell.
_April_ 14. - Went to Selkirk to try a fellow for an assault on Dr.
Clarkson - fined him seven guineas, which, with his necessary expenses,
will amount to ten guineas. It is rather too little; but as his income
does not amount to Â£30 a year, it will pinch him severely enough, and is
better than sending him to an ill-kept jail, where he would be idle and
drunk from morning to night. I had a dreadful headache while sitting in
the Court - rheumatism in perfection. It did not last after I got warm by
_April_ 15. - Delightful soft morning, with mild rain. Walked out and got
wet, as a sovereign cure for the rheumatism. Was quite well, though, and
_April_ 16. - A day of work and exercise. In the evening a letter from
L[ockhart], with the wonderful news that the Ministry has broken up, and
apparently for no cause that any one can explain. The old grudge, I
suppose, betwixt Peel and Canning, which has gone on augmenting like a
crack in the side of a house, which enlarges from day to day, till down
goes the whole. Mr. Canning has declared himself fully satisfied with
J.L., and sent Barrow to tell him so. His suspicions were indeed most
erroneous, but they were repelled with no little spirit both by L. and
myself, and Canning has not been like another Great Man I know to whom
I showed demonstrably that he had suspected an individual unjustly. "It
may be so," he said, "but his mode of defending himself was
_April_ 17. - Went to dinner to-day to Mr. Bainbridge's Gattonside House,
and had fireworks in the evening, made by Captain Burchard, a
good-humoured kind of Will Wimble. One nice little boy announced to
us everything that was going to be done, with the importance of a
prologue. Some of the country folks assembled, and our party was
enlivened by the squeaks of the wenches and the long-protracted Eh,
eh's! by which a Teviotdale tup testifies his wonder.
_April_ 18. - I felt the impatience of news so much that I walked up to
Mr. Laidlaw, surely for no other purpose than to talk politics. This
interrupted _Boney_ a little. After I returned, about twelve or one,
behold Tom Tack; he comes from Buenos Ayres with a parcel of little
curiosities he had picked up for me. As Tom Tack spins a _tough yarn_, I
lost the morning almost entirely - what with one thing, what with
t'other, as my friend the Laird of Raeburn says. Nor have I much to say
for the evening, only I smoked a cigar more than usual to get the box
ended, and give up the custom for a little.
_April_ 19. - Another letter from Lockhart. I am sorry when I think
of the goodly fellowship of vessels which are now scattered on the
ocean. There is the Duke of Wellington, the Lord Chancellor, Lord
Melville, Mr. Peel, and I wot not who besides, all turned out of office
or resigned! I wonder what they can do in the House of Lords when all
the great Tories are on the wrong side of the House. Canning seems quite
serious in his views of helping Lockhart. I hope it will come to
_April_ 20. - A surly sort of day. I walked for two hours, however, and
then returned chiefly to _Nap_. Egad! I believe it has an end at last,
this blasted work. I have the fellow at Plymouth, or near about it.
Well, I declare, I thought the end of these beastly big eight volumes
was like the end of the world, which is always talked of and never
_April_. 21. - Here is a vile day - downright rain, which disconcerts an
inroad of bairns from Gattonside, and, of course, annihilates a part of
the stock of human happiness. But what says the proverb of your true
rainy day -
"'Tis good for book, 'tis good for work,
For cup and can, or knife and fork."
_April_ 22. - Wrote till twelve o'clock, then sallied forth, and walked
to Huntly Burn with Tom; and so, look you, sir, I drove home in the
carriage. Wrought in the afternoon, and tried to read _De Vere_, a
sensible but heavy book, written by an able hand - but a great bore for
all that. Wrote in the evening.
_April 23._ - Snowy morning. White as my shirt. The little Bainbridges
came over; invited to see the armoury, etc., which I stood showman to.
It is odd how much less cubbish the English boys are than the Scotch.
Well-mannered and sensible are the southern boys. I suppose the sun
brings them forward. Here comes six o'clock at night, and it is snowing
as if it had not snowed these forty years before. Well, I'll work away a
couple of chapters - three at most will finish _Napoleon_.
_April 24._ - Still deep snow - a foot thick in the courtyard, I dare say.
Severe welcome to the poor lambs now coming into the world. But what
signifies whether they die just now, or a little while after to be
united with salad at luncheon-time? It signifies a good deal too. There
is a period, though a short one, when they dance among the gowans, and
seem happy. As for your aged sheep or wether, the sooner they pass to
the Norman side of the vocabulary the better. They are like some old
dowager ladies and gentlemen of my acquaintance, - no one cares about
them till they come to be _cut up_, and then we see how the tallow lies
on the kidneys and the chine.
_April 25._ - Snow yet, and it prevents my walking, and I grow bilious. I
wrote hard though. I have now got _Boney_ pegg'd up in the knotty
entrails of Saint Helena, and may make a short pause.
So I finished the review of John Home's works, which, after all, are
poorer than I thought them. Good blank verse and stately sentiment, but
something lukewarmish, excepting Douglas, which is certainly a
masterpiece. Even that does not stand the closet. Its merits are for the
stage; but it is certainly one of the best acting plays going. Perhaps a
play, to act well, should not be too poetical.
There is a talk in London of bringing in the Marquis of Lansdowne, then
Lauderdale will perhaps come in here. It is certain the old Tory party
is down the wind, not from political opinions, but from personal
aversion to Canning. Perhaps his satirical temper has partly occasioned
this; but I rather consider emulation as the source of it, the head and
front of the offending. Croker no longer rhymes to joker. He has made a
good _coup_, it is said, by securing Lord Hertford for the new
administration. D.W. calls him their viper. After all, I cannot
sympathise with that delicacy which throws up office, because the most
eloquent man in England, and certainly the only man who can manage the
House of Commons, is named Minister.
_April_ 26. - The snow still profusely distributed, and the surface, as
our hair used to be in youth, after we had played at some active game,
half black, half white, all in large patches. I finished the criticism
on Home, adding a string of Jacobite anecdotes, like that which boys put
to a kite's tail. Sent off the packet to Lockhart; at the same time sent
Croker a volume of French tracts, containing _La Portefeuille de
Bonaparte_, which he wished to see. Received a great cargo of papers