and went on till the lot was knocked down to Cadell at Â£8400; a very
large sum certainly, yet he has been offered profit on it already. For
my part I think the loss would have been very great had we suffered
these copyrights to go from those which we possessed. They would have
been instantly stereotyped and forced on the market to bring home the
price, and by this means depreciated for ever, and all ours must have
shared the same fate. Whereas, husbanded and brought out with care, they
cannot fail to draw in the others in the same series, and thus to be a
sure and respectable source of profit. Considered in this point of view,
even if they were worth only the Â£8400 to others, they were Â£10,000 to
us. The largeness of the price arising from the activity of the contest
only serves to show the value of the property. Had at the same time
the agreeable intelligence that the octavo sets, which were bought by
Hurst and Company at a depreciated rate, are now rising in the market,
and that instead of 1500 sold, they have sold upwards of 2000 copies.
This mass will therefore in all probability be worn away in a few months
and then our operations may commence. On the whole, I am greatly pleased
with the acquisition. If this first series be worth Â£8400, the remaining
books must be worth Â£10,000, and then there is _Napoleon_, which is
gliding away daily, for which I would not take the same sum, which would
come to Â£24,200 in all for copyrights; besides Â£20,000 payable by
insurance. Add the value of my books and furniture, plate, etc.,
there would be Â£50,000. So this may be considered my present progress.
There will still remain upwards of Â£35,000.
"Heaven's arm strike with us - 'tis a fearful odds."
Yet with health and continued popularity there are chances in my favour.
Dine at James Ballantyne's, and happy man is he at the result of the
sale; indeed it must have been the making or marring of him. Sir Henry
Steuart there, who "fooled me to the top of my bent."
_December_ 21. - A very sweet pretty-looking young lady, the Prima Donna
of the Italian Opera, now performing here, by name Miss Ayton, came
to breakfast this morning, with her father, (a bore, after the manner of
all fathers, mothers, aunts, and other chaperons of pretty actresses)!
Miss Ayton talks very prettily, and, I dare say, sings beautifully,
though too much in the Italian manner, I fear, to be a great favourite
of mine. But I did not hear her, being called away by the Clerk's coach.
I am like Jeremy in _Love for Love_ - have a reasonable good ear for
a jig, but your solos and sonatas give me the spleen.
Called at Cadell's, who is still enamoured of his bargain, and with
good reason, as the London booksellers were offering him Â£1000 or Â£2000
to give it up to them. He also ascertained that all the copies with
which Hurst and Robinson loaded the market would be off in a half year.
Make us thankful! the weather is clearing to windward. Cadell is
cautious, steady, and hears good counsel; and Gibson quite inclined,
were I too confident, to keep a good look-out ahead.
_December_ 22. - Public affairs look awkward. The present Ministry are
neither Whig nor Tory, and, divested of the support of either of the
great parties of the State, stand supported by the will of the sovereign
alone. This is not constitutional, and though it may be a temporary
augmentation of the sovereign's personal influence, yet it cannot but
prove hurtful to the Crown upon the whole, by tending to throw that
responsibility on the Sovereign of which the law has deprived him. I
pray to God I may be wrong, but an attempt to govern _par bascule_ - by
trimming betwixt the opposite parties - is equally unsafe for the crown
and detrimental to the country, and cannot do for a long time. The fact
seems to be that Lord Goderich, a well-meaning and timid man, finds
himself on a precipice - that his head is grown dizzy and he endeavours
to cling to the person next him. This person is Lord Lansdowne, who he
hopes may support him in the House of Lords against Lord Grey, so he
proposes to bring Lord Lansdowne into the Cabinet. Lord G. resigns, and
his resignation is accepted. Lord Harrowby is then asked to place
himself at the head of a new Administration, - declines. The tried
abilities of Marquis Wellesley are next applied to; it seems he also
declines, and then Lord Goderich comes back, his point about Lord
Lansdowne having failed, and his threatened resignation goes for
nothing. This must lower the Premier in the eyes of every one. It is
plain the K. will not accept the Whigs; it is equally plain that he has
not made a move towards the Tories, and that with a neutral
administration, this country, hard ruled at anytime, can he long
governed, I, for one, cannot believe. God send the good King, to whom I
owe so much, as safe and honourable extrication as the circumstances
After Court Anne set out for Abbotsford with the Miss Kerrs. I came off
at three o'clock to Arniston, where I found Lord Register and lady, R.
Dundas and lady, Robt. Adam Dundas, Durham of Calderwood and lady, old
and young friends. Charles came with me.
_December_ 23. - Went to church to Borthwick with the family, and heard a
well-composed, well-delivered, sensible discourse from Mr. Wright,
the clergyman - a different sort of person, I wot, from my old half-mad,
half-drunken, little hump-back acquaintance Clunie, renowned for
singing "The Auld Man's Mear's dead," and from the circumstance of his
being once interrupted in his minstrelsy by the information that his own
horse had died in the stable.
After sermon we looked at the old castle, which made me an old man. The
castle was not a bit older for the twenty-five years which had passed
away, but the ruins of the visitor were very apparent; to climb up round
staircases, to creep through vaults and into dungeons, were not the
easy labours but the positive sports of my younger years; but that time
is gone by, and I thought it convenient to attempt no more than the
access to the large and beautiful hall in which, as it is somewhere
described, an armed horseman might brandish his lance. The feeling of
growing and increasing inability is painful to one like me, who boasted,
in spite of my infirmity, great boldness and dexterity in such feats;
the boldness remains, but hand and foot, grip and accuracy of step, have
altogether failed me; the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak, and
so I must retreat into the invalided corps and tell them of my former
exploits, which may very likely pass for lies. We drove to Dalhousie
Castle, where the gallant Earl, who had done so much to distinguish the
British name in all and every quarter of the globe, is repairing the
castle of his ancestors, which of yore stood a siege against John of
Gaunt. I was Lord Dalhousie's companion at school, where he was as much
beloved by his companions as he has been ever respected by his
companions-in-arms, and the people over whom he has been deputed to
exercise the authority of his sovereign. He was always steady, wise, and
generous. The old Castle of Dalhousie - _potius Dalwolsey_ - was mangled
by a fellow called, I believe, Douglas, who destroyed, as far as in him
lay, its military and baronial character, and roofed it after the
fashion of a poor-house. The architect, Burn, is now restoring and
repairing in the old taste, and I think creditably to his own feeling.
God bless the roof-tree!
We returned home through the Temple banks by the side of the South Esk,
where I had the pleasure to see that Robert Dundas is laying out his
woods with taste, and managing them with care. His father and uncle took
notice of me when I was a "fellow of no mark or likelihood," and I am
always happy in finding myself in the old oak room at Arniston, where I
have drunk many a merry bottle, and in the fields where I have seen many
a hare killed.
_December_ 24. - Left Arniston after breakfast and arrived to dinner at
My reflections on entering my own gate were of a very different and more
pleasing cast than those with which I left my house about six weeks ago.
I was then in doubt whether I should fly my country or become avowedly
bankrupt, and surrender my library and household furniture, with the
liferent of my estate, to sale. A man of the world will say I had better
done so. No doubt had I taken this course at once, I might have employed
the Â£25,000 which I made since the insolvency of Constable and
Robinson's houses in compounding my debts. But I could not have slept
sound as I now can, under the comfortable impression of receiving the
thanks of my creditors and the conscious feeling of discharging my duty
like a man of honour and honesty. I see before me a long tedious and
dark path, but it leads to true fame and stainless reputation. If I die
in the harrows, as is very likely, I shall die with honour; if I achieve
my task I shall have the thanks of all concerned, and the approbation of
my own conscience. And so I think I can fairly face the return of
_December_ 25. - - I drove over to Huntly Burn, and saw the plantation
which is to be called Janeswood, in honour of my daughter-in-law. All
looking well and in order. Before dinner, arrived Mrs. George Ellis and
her nephew and niece, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Ellis, whom I was delighted
to see, as there are a thousand kind recollections of old days. Mrs.
George Ellis is less changed in manner and appearance than any one I
know. The gay and light-hearted have in that respect superiority over
those who are of a deeper mould and a heavier. There is something even
in the slightness and elasticity of person which outlasts the ponderous
strength which is borne down by its own weight. Colonel Ellis is an
enthusiastic soldier: and, though young, served in Spain and at
"And so we held our Christmastide
With mirth and burly cheer."
_December_ 26. - Colonel Ellis and I took a pretty long walk round by the
glen, etc., where I had an extraordinary escape from the breaking down
of a foot-bridge as I put my foot upon it. I luckily escaped either
breaking my leg by its passing through the bridge in so awkward a
manner, or tearing it by some one of the hundred rusty nails through
which it fell. However, I was not, thanks to Heaven, hurt in the
slightest degree. Tom Purdie, who had orders to repair the bridge long
since, was so scandalised at the consequence of his negligence that the
bridge is repaired by the time I am writing this. But how the noiseless
step of Fate dogs us in our most seeming safe and innocent sports.
On returning home we were joined by the Lord Chief-Commissioner, the
Lord Chief Baron, and William Clerk, of gentlemen; and of ladies, Miss
Adam and young Miss Thomson of Charlton. Also the two Miss Kerrs, Lord
Robert's daughters, and so behold us a gallant Christmas party, full of
mirth and harmony. Moreover, Captain John Ferguson came over from Huntly
Burn, so we spent the day jocundly. I intend to take a holiday or two
while these friends are about us. I have worked hard enough to merit it,
"... Maggie will not sleep
For that, ere summer."
_December_ 27. - This morning we took a drive up the Yarrow in great
force, and perambulated the Duchess's Walk with all the force of our
company. The weather was delightful, the season being considered; and
Newark Castle, amid its leafless trees, resembled a dear old man who
smiles upon the ruins which time has spread around him. It is looking
more venerable than formerly, for the repairs judiciously undertaken
have now assumed colouring congenial with the old walls; formerly, they
had a raw and patchy appearance. I have seldom seen the scene look
better even when summer smiled upon it.
I have a letter from James Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd, asking me to
intercede with the Duke of Buccleuch about his farm. He took this
burthen upon himself without the advice of his best friends, and
certainly contrary to mine. From the badness of the times it would have
been a poor speculation in any hands, especially in those of a man of
letters, whose occupation, as well as the society in which it involves
him, [are so different]. But I hope this great family will be kind to
him; if not, _cela ne vaudra pas Ã moi_. But I cannot and ought not to
look for having the same interest with this gentleman which I exercised
in the days of Duke Charles.
_December_ 28. - A demand from Cadell to prepare a revised copy of the
_Tales of my Grandfather_ for the press. I received it with great
pleasure, for I always had private hopes of that work. If I have a knack
for anything it is for selecting the striking and interesting points out
of dull details, and hence, I myself receive so much pleasure and
instruction from volumes which are generally reputed dull and
uninteresting. Give me facts, I will find fancy for myself. The first
two volumes of these little tales are shorter than the third by seventy
or eighty pages. Cadell proposes to equalise them by adding part of vol.
ii. to vol. i., and of vol. iii. to vol. ii. But then vol. i. ends with
the reign of Robert Bruce, vol. ii. with the defeat of Flodden; happy
points of pause which I cannot think of disturbing, the first in
particular, for surely we ought to close one volume at least of Scottish
history at a point which leaves the kingdom triumphant and happy; and,
alas! where do her annals present us with such an era excepting after
Bannockburn? So I will set about to fill up the volumes, which are too
short, with some additional matter, and so diminish at least, if we
cannot altogether remove, their unsightly inequality in size. The rest
of the party went to Dryburgh - too painful a place of pilgrimage for
me. I walked with the Lord Chief Commissioner through our grounds
at Huntly Burn, and by taking the carriage now and then I succeeded in
giving my excellent old friend enough of exercise without any fatigue.
We made our visit at Huntly Burn.
_December_ 29. - Lord Chief-Baron, Lord Chief-Commissioner, Miss Adam,
Miss Anstruther Thomson, and William Clerk left us. We read prayers, and
afterwards walked round the terrace.
I had also time to work hard on the additions to the _Tales of a
Grandfather_, vols. 1 and 2. The day passed pleasantly over.
_December_ 30. - The Fergusons came over, and we welcomed in the New Year
with the usual forms of song and flagon.
Looking back to the conclusion of 1826, I observe that the last year
ended in trouble and sickness, with pressures for the present and gloomy
prospects for the future. The sense of a great privation so lately
sustained, together with the very doubtful and clouded nature of my
private affairs, pressed hard upon my mind. I am now perfectly well in
constitution; and though I am still on troubled waters, yet I am rowing
with the tide, and less than the continuation of my exertions of 1827
may, with God's blessing, carry me successfully through 1828, when we
may gain a more open sea, if not exactly a safe port. Above all, my
children are well. Sophia's situation excites some natural anxiety; but
it is only the accomplishment of the burthen imposed on her sex. Walter
is happy in the view of his majority, on which matter we have favourable
hopes from the Duke of Wellington. Anne is well and happy. Charles's
entry upon life under the highest patronage, and in a line for which I
hope he is qualified, is about to take place presently.
For all these great blessings it becomes me well to be thankful to God,
who in his good time and good pleasure sends us good as well as evil.
 The Duchess of Bedford's eldest son.
 _My Aunt Margaret's Mirror_.
 Sir Walter need have expressed no surprise at this architect's
desire to pull down the old house of Lauriston! The present generation
can judge of Mr. Burn's appreciation of ancient Architecture by looking
at the outside of St. Giles, Edinburgh. - It was given over to his tender
mercies in 1829, a picturesque old building, and it left his hands in
1834 a bit of solid well-jointed mason-work with all Andrew
Fairservice's "whigmaleeries, curliewurlies, and open steek hems" most
thoroughly removed! - _Rob Roy_, vol. viii. pp. 29-30. Fortunately the
tower and crown were untouched, and the interior, which was injured in a
less degree, has, through the liberality and good taste of the late
William Chambers, been restored to its original stateliness.
 See Ethwald, _Plays on the Passions_, vol. ii., Lond. 1802.
 Alluding to an entry in the _Journal_, that he had expended 30s. in
the purchase of the _Theatre of God's Judgment_, 1612, a book which is
still in the Abbotsford Library.
 See note to May 30, 1827, vol. i. p. 398.
 Burns's lines _To a Mouse_.
 _Ante_, p. 60. The book had only been published two months. "The
Second Series," when published in the following year, contained _St.
Valentine's Eve, or the Fair Maid of Perth_; the two stories objected
to, viz.: _My Aunt Margaret's Mirror_ and the _Laird's Jock_ appeared in
the _Keepsake_ of 1828, and were afterwards included in vol. xli. of the
 The Garrick papers were published under the title _Private
Correspondence, of David Garrick, illustrated with notes and Memoir_. 2
vols. 4to, London, 1831-32. [Edited by James Boaden.]
 Afterwards Judge in the Court of Session under the title of Lord
 A few days later, however, the following reply was sent: - "Dear
Gordon, - As I have no money to spare at present, I find it necessary to
make a sacrifice of my own scruples to relieve you from serious
difficulties. The enclosed will entitle you to deal with any respectable
bookseller. You must tell the history in your own way as shortly as
possible. All that is necessary to say is that the discourses were
written to oblige a young friend. It is understood my name is not to be
put in the title-page, or blazed at full length in the preface. You may
trust that to the newspapers.
"Pray do not think of returning any thanks about this; it is enough that
I know it is likely to serve your purpose. But use the funds arising
from this unexpected source with prudence, for such fountains do not
spring up at every place of the desert. I am, in haste, ever yours most
truly, Walter Scott" - _Life_, vol. ix. p. 205.
 Issued in 1829 as No. 33 of the Bannatyne Club Books. _Memorials of
George Bannatyne_, 1545-1608, with Memoir by Sir Walter Scott.
 It was thus that the scenery of Loch Katrine came to be so
associated with the recollection of many a dear friend and merry
expedition of former days, that to compose the _Lady of the Lake_ was a
labour of love, and no less so to recall the manners and incidents
introduced. - _Life_, vol. i. p. 296.
 See note, Jan. 8, 1828, pp. 107-8.
 On his own life.
 See _Henry V._, Act IV. Sc. 3.
 The Edinburgh play-bills of the day intimate the "Second
appearance of Miss Fanny Ayton, Prima Donna of the King's Theatre."
 By Congreve - Act II. Sc. 7.
 The dissolution of the Goderich Cabinet confirmed very soon these
shrewd guesses; and Sir Walter anticipated nothing but good from the
Premiership of the Duke of Wellington. - _Life_, vol. ix. p. 188.
 The Rev. Thomas Wright was minister of Borthwick from 1817 to
1841, when he was deposed on the ground of alleged heresy. His works,
_The True Plan of a Living Temple_, _Morning and Evening Sacrifice_,
_Farewell to Time_, _My Old House_, etc., were published anonymously.
Mr. Wright lived in Edinburgh for fourteen years after his deposition,
much beloved and respected; he died on 13th March 1855 in his
 Rev. John Clunie, Mr. Wright's predecessor in the parish, of whom,
many absurd stories were told, appears to have been an enthusiastic
lover of Scottish songs, as Burns in 1794 says it was owing to his
singing _Ca' the yowes to the knowes_ so charmingly that he took it down
from his voice, and sent it to Mr. Thomson. - Currie's _Burns_, vol. iv.
p. 100, and Chambers's _Scottish Songs_, 2 vols. Edin. 1829, p. 269.
 See Burns's "Auld Farmer's New-year Salutation."
 "Mount Benger," of which Hogg had taken a lease on his marriage,
in 1820, and found that he could not make it pay.
 The first series had just been published under the following
title: _Tales of a Grandfather, being stories taken from Scottish
History_. Humbly inscribed to Hugh Littlejohn, Esq., in three volumes.
Printed for Cadell and Co., Edinburgh, Simpkin and Marshall, London, and
John Cumming, Dublin, 1828.
 During Sir Walter's illness in 1818-19 Mr. Skene was with him at
Abbotsford, and he records a curious incident regarding Dryburgh which
may be given here: - "For nearly two years he had to struggle for his
life with that severe illness, which the natural strength of his
constitution at length proved sufficient to throw off. With its
disappearance, although restored to health, disappeared also much of his
former vigour of body, activity, and power of undergoing fatigue, while
in personal appearance he had advanced twenty years in the downward
course of life; his hair had become bleached to pure white and scanty
locks; the fire of his eye quenched; and his step, more uncertain, had
lost the vigorous swinging gait with which he was used to proceed; in
fact, old age had by many years anticipated its usual progress and
marked how severely he had suffered. The complaint, that of gall-stones,
was one of extreme bodily suffering. During his severest attack he had
been alone at Abbotsford with his daughter Sophia, before her marriage
to Mr. Lockhart, and had sent to say that he was desirous I should come
to him, which I did, and remained for ten days till the attack had
subsided. During its course the extreme violence of the pain end
spasmodic contraction of the muscles of the stomach were such that I
scarcely expected the powers of endurance could sustain him through the
trial, and so much at times was he exhausted by it as to leave us in
alarm as to what the result had actually been. One night I shall not
soon forget: he had been frequently and severely ill during the day, and
having been summoned to his room in the middle of the night, where his
daughter was already standing, the picture of deep despair, at his
bed-side, the attack seemed intense, and we followed the directions left
by the physician to assuage it. At length it seemed to subside, and he
fell back exhausted on the pillow, his eyes were closed, and his
countenance wan and livid. Apparently with corresponding misgivings, his
daughter at one side of the bed and I at the other gazed for some time
intently and in silence on his countenance, and then glanced with
anxious inquiring looks to each other, till, at length, having placed my
finger on his pulse, to ascertain whether it had actually ceased to
throb, I shall never forget the sudden beam which again brightened his
daughter's countenance, and for a moment dispelled the intense
expression of anxiety which had for some time overspread it, when Sir
Walter, aware of my feeling his pulse, and the probable purpose,
whispered, with a faint voice, but without opening his eyes, 'I am not
_yet_ gone.' After some time he revived, and gave us a proof of the
mastery of his mind over the sufferings of the body. 'Do you recollect,'
he said to me, 'a small round turret near the gate of the Monastery of
Aberbrothwick, and placed so as to overhang the street?' Upon answering
that I did perfectly, and that a picturesque little morsel it was, he
said, 'Well, I was over there when a mob had assembled, excited by some
purpose, which I do not recollect, but failing of their original
intention, they took umbrage at the little venerable emblem of
aristocracy, which still bore its weather-stained head so conspicuously
aloft, and, resolving to humble it with the dust, they got a stout
hawser from a vessel in the adjoining harbour, which a sailor lad,
climbing up, coiled round the body of the little turret, and the rabble
seizing the rope by both ends tugged and pulled, and laboured long to
strangle and overthrow the poor old turret, but in vain, for it
withstood all their endeavours. Now that is exactly the condition of my
poor stomach: there is a rope twisted round it, and the malicious devils
are straining and tugging at it, and, faith, I could almost think that I
sometimes hear them shouting and cheering each other to their task, and
when they are at it I always have the little turret and its tormentors