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at least I must hear from them. A letter from Violet [Lockhart] gave us
the painful intelligence that she had not mentioned to Sophia the
dangerous state in which her mother was. Most kindly meant, but
certainly not so well judged. I have always thought that truth, even
when painful, is a great duty on such occasions, and it is seldom that
concealment is justifiable.

Sophia's baby was christened on Sunday, 14th May, at Brighton, by the
name of Walter Scott.[270] May God give him life and health to wear it
with credit to himself and those belonging to him. Melancholy to think
that the next morning after this ceremony deprived him of so near a
relation. Sent Mr. Curle £11 to remit Mrs. Bohn, York Street, Covent
Garden, for books - I thought I had paid the poor woman before.

_May_ 21. - Our sad preparations for to-morrow continue. A letter from
Lockhart; doubtful if Sophia's health or his own state of business will
let him be here. If things permit he comes to-night. From Charles not a
word; but I think I may expect him. I wish to-morrow were over; not that
I fear it, for my nerves are pretty good, but it will be a day of many

_May_ 22. - Charles arrived last night, much affected of course. Anne had
a return of her fainting-fits on seeing him, and again upon seeing Mr.
Ramsay, the gentleman who performs the service.[271] I heard him do so
with the utmost propriety for my late friend, Lady Alvanley,[272] the
arrangement of whose funeral devolved upon me. How little I could guess
when, where, and with respect to whom I should next hear those solemn
words. Well, I am not apt to shrink from that which is my duty, merely
because it is painful; but I wish this day over. A kind of cloud of
stupidity hangs about me, as if all were unreal that men seem to be
doing and talking about.

_May_ 23. - About an hour before the mournful ceremony of yesterday,
Walter arrived, having travelled express from Ireland on receiving the
news. He was much affected, poor fellow, and no wonder. Poor Charlotte
nursed him, and perhaps for that reason she was ever partial to him. The
whole scene floats as a sort of dream before me - the beautiful day, the
grey ruins covered and hidden among clouds of foliage and flourish,
where the grave, even in the lap of beauty, lay lurking and gaped for
its prey. Then the grave looks, the hasty important bustle of men with
spades and mattocks - the train of carriages - the coffin containing the
creature that was so long the dearest on earth to me, and whom I was to
consign to the very spot which in pleasure-parties we so frequently
visited. It seems still as if this could not be really so. But it is
so - and duty to God and to my children must teach me patience.

Poor Anne has had longer fits since our arrival from Dryburgh than
before, but yesterday was the crisis. She desired to hear prayers read
by Mr. Ramsay, who performed the duty in a most solemn manner. But her
strength could not carry it through. She fainted before the service was

_May_ 24. - Slept wretchedly, or rather waked wretchedly, all night, and
was very sick and bilious in consequence, and scarce able to hold up my
head with pain. A walk, however, with my sons did me a great deal of
good; indeed their society is the greatest support the world can afford
me. Their ideas of everything are so just and honourable, kind towards
their sisters, and affectionate to me, that I must be grateful to God
for sparing them to me, and continue to battle with the world for their
sakes, if not for my own.

_May_ 25. - I had sound sleep to-night, and waked with little or nothing
of the strange, dreamy feeling which made me for some days feel like one
bewildered in a country where mist or snow has disguised those features
of the landscape which are best known to him.

Walter leaves me to-day; he seems disposed to take interest in country
affairs, which will be an immense resource, supposing him to tire of the
army in a few years. Charles, he and I, went up to Ashestiel to call
upon the Misses Russell, who have kindly promised to see Anne on
Tuesday. This evening Walter left us, being anxious to return to his
wife as well as to his regiment. We expect he will be here early in
autumn, with his household.

_May_ 26. - A rough morning, and makes me think of St. George's Channel,
which Walter must cross to-night or to-morrow to get to Athlone. The
wind is almost due east, however, and the channel at the narrowest point
between Port-Patrick and Donaghadee. His absence is a great blank in our
circle, especially, I think, to his sister Anne, to whom he shows
invariably much kindness. But indeed they do so without exception each
towards the other; and in weal or woe have shown themselves a family of
love. No persuasion could force on Walter any of his poor mother's
ornaments for his wife. He undid a reading-glass from the gold chain to
which it was suspended, and agreed to give the glass to Jane, but would
on no account retain the chain. I will go to town on Monday and resume
my labours. Being of a grave nature, they cannot go against the general
temper of my feelings, and in other respects the exertion, as far as I
am concerned, will do me good; besides, I must re-establish my fortune
for the sake of the children, and of my own character. I have not
leisure to indulge the disabling and discouraging thoughts that press on
me. Were an enemy coming upon my house, would I not do my best to fight,
although oppressed in spirits, and shall a similar despondency prevent
me from mental exertion? It shall not, by Heaven! This day and to-morrow
I give to the currency of the ideas which have of late occupied my mind,
and with Monday they shall be mingled at least with other thoughts and
cares. Last night Charles and I walked late on the terrace at Kaeside,
when the clouds seemed accumulating in the wildest masses both on the
Eildon Hills and other mountains in the distance. This rough morning
reads the riddle.

Dull, drooping, cheerless has the day been. I cared not to carry my own
gloom to the girls, and so sate in my own room, dawdling with old
papers, which awakened as many stings as if they had been the nest of
fifty scorpions. Then the solitude seemed so absolute - my poor Charlotte
would have been in the room half-a-score of times to see if the fire
burned, and to ask a hundred kind questions. Well, that is over - and if
it cannot be forgotten, must be remembered with patience.

_May_ 27. - A sleepless night. It is time I should be up and be doing,
and a sleepless night sometimes furnishes good ideas. Alas! I have no
companion now with whom I can communicate to relieve the loneliness of
these watches of the night. But I must not fail myself and my
family - and the necessity of exertion becomes apparent. I must try a
_hors d'oeuvre_, something that can go on between the necessary
intervals of _Nap._ Mrs. M[urray] K[eith's] Tale of the Deserter, with
her interview with the lad's mother, may be made most affecting, but
will hardly endure much expansion.[274] The framework may be a Highland
tour, under the guardianship of the sort of postilion, whom Mrs. M.K.
described to me - a species of conductor who regulated the motions of his
company, made their halts, and was their cicerone.

_May_ 28. - I wrote a few pages yesterday, and then walked. I believe the
description of the old Scottish lady may do, but the change has been
unceasingly rung upon Scottish subjects of late, and it strikes me that
the introductory matter may be considered as an imitation of Washington
Irving. Yet not so neither. In short, I will go on, to-day make a dozen
of close pages ready, and take J.B.'s advice. I intend the work as an
_olla podrida_, into which any species of narrative or discussion may be

I wrote easily. I think the exertion has done me good. I slept sound
last night, and at waking, as is usual with me, I found I had some clear
views and thoughts upon the subject of this trifling work. I wonder if
others find so strongly as I do the truth of the Latin proverb, _Aurora
musis amica_. If I forget a thing over-night, I am sure to recollect it
as my eyes open in the morning. The same if I want an idea, or am
encumbered by some difficulty, the moment of waking always supplies the
deficiency, or gives me courage to endure the alternative.[275]

_May_ 29. - To-day I leave for Edinburgh this house of sorrow. In the
midst of such distress, I have the great pleasure to see Anne regaining
her health, and showing both patience and steadiness of mind. God
continue this, for my own sake as well as hers. Much of my future
comfort must depend upon her.

[_Edinburgh_,] _May_ 30. - Returned to town last night with Charles. This
morning resume ordinary habits of rising early, working in the morning,
and attending the Court. All will come easily round. But it is at first
as if men looked strange on me, and bit their lip when they wring my
hand, and indicated suppressed feelings. It is natural this should
be - undoubtedly it has been so with me. Yet it is strange to find
one's-self resemble a cloud which darkens gaiety wherever it interposes
its chilling shade. Will it be better when, left to my own feelings, I
see the whole world pipe and dance around me? I think it will. Thus
sympathy intrudes on my private affliction.

I finished correcting the proofs for the _Quarterly_; it is but a flimsy
article, but then the circumstances were most untoward.

This has been a melancholy day, most melancholy. I am afraid poor
Charles found me weeping. I do not know what other folks feel, but with
me the hysterical passion that impels tears is of terrible violence - a
sort of throttling sensation - then succeeded by a state of dreaming
stupidity, in which I ask if my poor Charlotte can actually be dead. I
think I feel my loss more than at the first blow.

Poor Charles wishes to come back to study here when his term ends at
Oxford. I can see the motive.

_May_ 31. - The melancholy hours of yesterday must not return. To
encourage that dreamy state of incapacity is to resign all authority
over the mind, and I have been wont to say -

"My mind to me a kingdom is."[276]
I am rightful monarch; and, God to aid, I will not be dethroned by any
rebellious passion that may rear its standard against me. Such are
morning thoughts, strong as carle-hemp - says Burns -

"Come, firm Resolve, take thou the van,
Thou stalk of carle-hemp in man."

Charles went by the steam-boat this morning at six. We parted last night
mournfully on both sides. Poor boy, this is his first serious sorrow.
Wrote this morning a Memorial on the Claims which Constable's people
prefer as to the copyrights of _Woodstock_ and _Napoleon_.[277]


[263] See _Miscellaneous Prose Works_, vol. xx. pp. 152-244, or
_Quarterly Review_ No. 67, Kelly's _Reminiscences_.

[264] 2 _Henry IV_., Act III. Sc. I, slightly altered.

[265] [Mrs. Brown's Lodgings, No. 6 North St. David Street.]

[266] This is the opening couplet of a German trooper's song, alluded to
in _Life_, vol. ii. p. 13. The literal translation is: -

"The day of departure is come;
Heavy lies it on the hearts - heavy." - J.G.L.

[267] Scott had written: - "and yet to part with the companion of twenty
years just six," and had then deleted the three words, "years just six,"
and written "nine" above them. It looks as if he had meant at first to
refer to the change in his fortunes, "just six" MONTHS before, and had
afterwards thought it better to refrain. This would account for a
certain obscurity of meaning.

[268] _As You Like It_, Act II. Sc. 4.

[269] Cicero, _de Orat._ ii. p. 346. - J.G.L.

[270] Walter Scott Lockhart, died at Versailles in 1853, and was buried
in the Cemetery of Notre-Dame there.

[271] The Rev. Edward Bannerman Ramsay, A.M., St. John's College,
Cambridge, incumbent St. John's, Edinburgh, afterwards Dean of the
Diocese in the Scots Episcopal Church, and still more widely known as
the much-loved "Dean Ramsay," author of _Reminiscences of Scottish Life
and Character_. This venerable Scottish gentleman was for many years the
delight of all who had the privilege of knowing him. He died at the age
of eighty-three in his house, 23 Ainslie Place, Edinburgh, Dec. 27th,

[272] See _Life_, vol. iv. p. 2.

[273] Mr. Skene has preserved the following note written on this
day: - "I take the advantage of Mr. Ramsay's return to Edinburgh to
answer your kind letter. It would have done no good to have brought you
here when I could not have enjoyed your company, and there were enough
friends here to ensure everything being properly adjusted. Anne,
contrary to a natural weakness of temper, is quite quiet and resigned to
her distress, but has been visited by many fainting fits, the effect, I
am told, of weakness, over-exertion, and distress of mind. Her brothers
are both here - Walter having arrived from Ireland yesterday in time to
assist at the _munus inane_; their presence will do her much good, but I
cannot think of leaving her till Monday next, nor could I do my brethren
much good by coming to town, having still that stunned and giddy feeling
which great calamities necessarily produce. It will soon give way to my
usual state of mind, and my friends will not find me much different from
what I have usually been.

"Mr. Ramsay, who I find is a friend of yours, appears an excellent young
man. - My kind love to Mrs. Skene, and am always, yours truly,


[274] _The Highland Widow_, Waverley Novels, vol. xli.

[275] See February 10, 1826.

[276] This excellent philosophical song appears to have been famous in
the sixteenth century. - Percy's _Reliques_, vol. i. 307. - J.G.L.

[277] See June 2.


_June_ 1. - Yesterday I also finished a few trifling memoranda on a book
called _The Omen_, at Blackwood's request. There is something in the
work which pleases me, and the style is good, though the story is not
artfully conducted. I dined yesterday in family with Skene, and had a
visit from Lord Chief-Commissioner; we met as mourners under a common
calamity. There is something extremely kind in his disposition.

Sir R. D[undas] offers me three days of the country next week, which
tempts me strongly were it but the prospect of seeing Anne. But I think
I must resist and say with Tilburina,

"Duty, I'm all thine own."[278]

If I do this I shall deserve a holiday about the 15th June, and I think
it is best to wait till then.

_June_ 2. - A pleasant letter from Sophia, poor girl; all doing well
there, for which God be praised.

I wrote a good task yesterday, five pages, which is nearly double the
usual stint.

I am settled that I will not go to Abbotsford till to-morrow fortnight.

I might have spared myself the trouble of my self-denial, for go I
cannot, Hamilton having a fit of gout.

Gibson seems in high spirits on the views I have given to him on the
nature of Constable and Co.'s claim. It amounts to this, that being no
longer accountable as publishers, they cannot claim the character of
such, or plead upon any claim arising out of the contracts entered into
while they held that capacity.

_June_ 3. - I was much disturbed this morning by bile and its
consequences, and lost so much sleep that I have been rather late in
rising by way of indemnification. I must go to the map and study the
Italian campaigns instead of scribbling.

_June_ 4. - I wrote a good task yesterday, and to-day a great one, scarce
stirring from the desk the whole day, except a few minutes when Lady Rae
called. I was glad to see my wife's old friend, with whom in early life
we had so many liaisons. I am not sure it is right to work so hard; but
a man must take himself, as well as other people, when he is in the
humour. A man will do twice as much at one time and in half the time,
and twice as well as he will be able to do at another. People are always
crying out about method, and in some respects it is good, and shows to
great advantage among men of business, but I doubt if men of method, who
can lay aside or take up the pen just at the hour appointed, will ever
be better than poor creatures. Lady L[ouisa] S[tuart] used to tell me of
Mr. Hoole, the translator of _Tasso_ and _Ariosto_, and in that capacity
a noble transmuter of gold into lead, that he was a clerk in the India
House, with long ruffles and a snuff-coloured suit of clothes, who
occasionally visited her father [John, Earl of Bute]. She sometimes
conversed with him, and was amused to find that he _did_ exactly so many
couplets day by day, neither more or less; and habit had made it light
to him, however heavy it might seem to the reader.

Well, but if I lay down the pen, as the pain in my breast hints that I
should, what am I to do? If I think, why, I shall weep - and that's
nonsense; and I have no friend now - none - to receive my tediousness for
half-an-hour of the gloaming. Let me be grateful - I have good news from

_June_ 5. - Though this be Monday, I am not able to feague it away, as
Bayes says.[279] Between correcting proofs and writing letters, I have
got as yet but two pages written, and that with labour and a sensation
of pain in the chest. I may be bringing on some serious disease by
working thus hard; if I had once justice done to other folks, I do not
much care, only I would not like to suffer long pain. Harden made me a
visit. He argued with me that Lord M. affichéd his own importance, too
much at the election, and says Henry is anxious about it. I hinted to
him the necessity of counter-balancing it the next time, which will be

Thomson also called about the Bannatyne Club.

These two interruptions did me good, though I am still a poor wretch.

After all, I have fagged through six pages; and made poor Wurmser lay
down his sword on the glacis of Mantua - and my head aches - my eyes
ache - my back aches - so does my breast - and I am sure my heart aches,
and what can Duty ask more?

_June_ 6. - I arose much better this morning, having taken some medicine,
which has removed the strange and aching feeling in my back and breast.
I believe it is from the diaphragm; it must be looked to, however. I
have not yet breakfasted, yet have cleared half my day's work holding it
at the ordinary stint.

Worked hard. John Swinton, my kinsman, came to see me, - very kind and
affectionate in his manner; my heart always warms to that Swinton
connection, so faithful to old Scottish feelings. Harden was also with
me. I talked with him about what Lord M. did at the election; I find
that he disapproves - I see these visits took place on the 5th.

_June_ 7. - Again a day of hard work, only at half-past eight I went to
the Dean of Faculty's to a consultation about Constable,[280] and met
with said Dean and Mr. [J.S.] More and J. Gibson. I find they have as
high hope of success as lawyers ought to express; and I think I know how
our profession speak when sincere. I cannot interest myself deeply in
it. When I had come home from such a business, I used to carry the news
to poor Charlotte, who dressed her face in sadness or mirth as she saw
the news affect me; this hangs lightly about me. I had almost forgot the
appointment, if J.G. had not sent me a card, I passed a piper in the
street as I went to the Dean's and could not help giving him a shilling
to play _Pibroch a Donuil Dhu_ for luck's sake - what a child I am!

_June_ 8. - Bilious and headache this morning. A dog howl'd all night and
left me little sleep. Poor cur! I dare say he had his distresses, as I
have mine. I was obliged to make Dalgleish shut the windows when he
appeared at half-past six, as usual, and did not rise till nine, when
_me voici_. I have often deserved a headache in my younger days without
having one, and Nature is, I suppose, paying off old scores. Ay, but
then the want of the affectionate care that used to be ready, with
lowered voice and stealthy pace, to smooth the pillow - and offer
condolence and assistance, - gone - gone - for ever - ever - ever. Well,
there is another world, and we'll meet free from the mortal sorrows and
frailties which beset us here. Amen, so be it. Let me change the topic
with hand and head, and the heart must follow.

I think that sitting so many days and working so hard may have brought
on this headache. I must inflict a walk on myself to-day. Strange that
what is my delight in the country is _here_ a sort of penance! Well, but
now I think on it, I will go to the Chief-Baron and try to get his
Lordship's opinion about the question with Constable; if I carry it, as
there is, I trust, much hope I shall, Mr. Gibson says there will be
funds to divide 6s. in the pound, without counting upon getting anything
from Constable or Hurst, but sheer hard cash of my own. Such another
pull is possible, especially if _Boney_ succeeds, and the rogue had a
knack at success. Such another, I say, and we touch ground I believe,
for surely Constable, Robinson, etc., must pay something; the struggle
is worth waring[281] a headache upon.

I finished five pages to-day, headache, laziness, and all.

_June_ 9. - Corrected a stubborn proof this morning. These battles have
been the death of many a man - I think they will be mine. Well but it
clears to windward; so we will fag on.

Slept well last night. By the way, how intolerably selfish this Journal
makes me seem - so much attention to one's naturals and non-naturals!
Lord Mackenzie[282] called, and we had much chat about business. The
late regulations for preparing cases in the Outer-House do not work
well, and thus our old machinery, which was very indifferent, is
succeeded by a kind that will hardly move at all. Mackenzie says his
business is trebled, and that he cannot keep it up. I question whether
the extreme strictness of rules of court be advisable in practice they
are always evaded, upon an equitable showing. I do not, for instance,
lodge a paper _debito tempore_, and for an accident happening, perhaps
through the blunder of a Writer's apprentice, I am to lose my cause. The
penalty is totally disproportioned to the delict, and the consequence
is, that means are found out of evasion by legal fictions and the like.
The judges listen to these; they become frequent, and the rule of Court
ends by being a scarecrow merely. Formerly, delays of this kind were
checked by corresponding _amendes_. But the Court relaxed this petty
fine too often. Had they been more strict, and levied the mulct on the
agents, with _no recourse_ upon their clients, the abuse might have been
remedied. I fear the present rule is too severe to do much good.

One effect of running causes fast through the Courts below is, that they
go by scores to appeal, and Lord Gifford[283] has hitherto decided them
with such judgment, and so much rapidity, as to give great satisfaction.
The consequence will in time be, that the Scottish Supreme Court will be
in effect situated in London. Then down fall - as national objects of
respect and veneration - the Scottish Bench, the Scottish Bar, the
Scottish Law herself, and - and - "there is an end of an auld sang."[284]
Were I as I have been, I would fight knee-deep in blood ere it came to
that. But it is a catastrophe which the great course of events brings
daily nearer -

"And who can help it, Dick?"

I shall always be proud of _Malachi_ as having headed back the Southron,
or helped to do so, in one instance at least.

_June_ 10. - This was an unusual teind-day at Court. In the morning and
evening I corrected proofs - four sheets in number; and I wrote my task
of three pages and a little more. Three pages a day will come, at
Constable's rate, to about £12,000 to £15,000 per year. They have sent
their claim; it does not frighten me a bit.

_June_ 11. - Bad dreams about poor Charlotte. Woke, thinking my old and
inseparable friend beside me; and it was only when I was fully awake
that I could persuade myself that she was dark, low, and distant, and
that my bed was widowed. I believe the phenomena of dreaming are in a
great measure occasioned by the _double touch_, which takes place when
one hand is crossed in sleep upon another. Each gives and receives the
impression of touch to and from the other, and this complicated
sensation our sleeping fancy ascribes to the agency of another being,
when it is in fact produced by our own limbs acting on each other. Well,
here goes - _incumbite remis_.

_June_ 12. - Finished volume third of _Napoleon_. I resumed it on the 1st
of June, the earliest period that I could bend my mind to it after my
great loss. Since that time I have lived, to be sure, the life of a

Online LibraryWalter ScottThe Journal of Sir Walter Scott From the Original Manuscript at Abbotsford → online text (page 17 of 76)