Walter Scott.

The journal of Sir Walter Scott, from the original manuscript at Abbotsford online

. (page 60 of 76)
Online LibraryWalter ScottThe journal of Sir Walter Scott, from the original manuscript at Abbotsford → online text (page 60 of 76)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

occasionally very forcible, but he has made his story difficult to under-
stand, by adopting a region of history little known, and having many
heroes of the same name, whom it is not easy to keep separate in
one's memory. Some of the traits of the Spae-wife, who conceits
herself to be a changeling or twin, are very good indeed. His High-
land Chief is a kind of Caliban, and speaks, like Caliban, a jargon
never spoken on earth, but full of effect for all that.

July 19. I finished two leaves this morning, and received the
Hamiltons and Mrs. Hemans to breakfast. Afterwards we drove to
Yarrow and showed Mrs. Hemans the lions. The party dined with
us, and stayed till evening. Of course no more work.

July 20. A rainy day, and I am very drowsy and would give
the world to '.I wrote four leaves, however, and then my un-

derstanding dropped me. I have made up for yesterday's short task.

[NOTE. From July 20th, 1829, to May 23d, 1830, there are no
entries in the Journal, but during that time Sir Walter met with a
sad loss. He was deprived of his humble friend and staunch hench-
man, Thomas Purdie. The following little note to Laidlaw shows
how keenly he felt his death :

" MY DEAR WILLIE, I write to tell you the shocking news of
poor Tom Purdie's death, by which I have been greatly affected. He
had complained, or rather spoken, of a sore throat; and the day be-
fore yesterday, as it came on a shower of rain, I wanted him to walk
fast on to Abbotsford before me, but you know well how impossible
that was. He took some jelly, or trifle of that kind, but made no
complaint. This morning he rose from bed as usual, and sat down
by the table with his head on his hand ; and when his daughter spoke
to him, life had passed away without a sigh or groan. Poor fellow !
There is a heart cold that loved me well, and, I am sure, thought of
my interest more than his own. I have seldom been so much shocked.
I wish you would take a ride down and pass the night. There is
much I have to say, and this loss adds to my wish to see you. We
dine at four. The day is indifferent, but the sooner the better.
Yours very truly,

"31.s-< (sic) October," Qy.

Blank in original. * Abbotsford Notanda, p. 175.

486 JOURNAL [JULY, 1829.

To Mr. Cadell, a few days later, he says, " I have lost my old
and faithful servant, my factotum, and am so much shocked that I
really wish to be quit of the country. I have this day laid him in the

On coming to Edinburgh, Sir Walter found that his old friend
and neighbour Lady Jane Stuart' was no longer there to welcome
him. She also had died somewhat suddenly on October 28th, and
was buried at Invermay on November 4th. ]

Eldest daughter of David, sixth Earl of John Wishart Belsches Stuart, Bart., of Fetter-
Leveu and fifth of Melville, and widow of Sir cairn. See ante, pp. 2C5, 310, 315.

1830. MAY

May 23, [Abbotsford\. About a year ago I took the pet at my
Diary, chiefly because I thought it made me abominably selfish ; and
that by recording my gloomy fits I encouraged their recurrence,
whereas out of sight, out of mind, is the best way to get rid of
them ; and now I hardly know why I take it up again ; but here
goes. I came here to attend Raeburn's funeral. I am near of his
kin, my great-grandfather, Walter Scott, being the second son or first
cadet of this small family. My late kinsman was also married to my
aunt, a most amiable old lady. He was never kind to me, and at last
utterly ungracious. Of course I never liked him, and we kept no
terms. He had forgot, though, an infantine cause of quarrel, which
I always remembered. When I was four or five years old I was stay-
ing at Lessudden House, an old mansion, the abode of this Raeburn.
A large pigeon-house was almost destroyed with starlings, then a
common bird, though now seldom seen. They were seized in their
nests and put in a bag, and I think drowned, or threshed to death, or
put to some such end. The servants gave one to me, which I in
some degree tamed, and the brute of a laird seized and wrung its
neck. I flew at his throat like a wild cat, and was torn from him
with no little difficulty. Long afterwards I did him the mortal of-
fence to recall some superiority which my father had lent to the laird
to make up a qualification, which he meant to exercise by voting for
Lord Minto's interest against poor Don. This made a total breach
between two relations who had never been friends, and though I was
afterwards of considerable service to his family, he kept his ill-hu-
mour, alleging justly enough that I did these kind actions for the
sake of his wife and family, not for his benefit. I now saw him at
the age of eighty -two or three deposited in the ancestral grave.
Dined with my cousins, and returned to Abbotsford about eight

May 24, \Edinbuv -gh~\. Called on my neighbour Nicol Milne of
Faldonside, to settle something about the road to Selkirk. After-
wards went to Huntly Burn and made my compliments to the fam-
ily. Lunched at half-past two and drove to town, calling at George
Square on Gala. He proposed to give up the present road to Selkirk
in favour of another on the north side of the river, to be completed
by two bridges. This is an object for Abbotsford. In the evening
came to town. Letter from Mr. H[aydon] soliciting 20. Wait till
Lockhart comes.


May 25. Got into the old mill this morning, and grind away.
Walked in very bad day to George Square from the Parliament House,
through paths once familiar, but not trod for twenty years. Met
Scott of Woll and Scott of Gala, and consulted about the new road
between Galashiels and Selkirk. I am in hopes to rid myself of the
road to Selkirk, which goes too near me at Abbotsford. Dined at
Lord Chief-Commissioner's, where we met the new Chief Baron Aber-
cromby 1 and his lady. I thought it was the first time we had met
for above forty years, but he put me in mind we had dined one day
at John Richardson's.

May 26. Wrought with proofs, etc., at the Demonology, which is
a cursed business to do neatly. I must finish it though, for I need
money. I went to the Court ; from that came home, and scrambled
on with half writing, half reading, half idleness till evening. I have
laid aside smoking much ; and now, unless tempted by company,
rarely take a cigar. I was frightened by a species of fit which I had
in February, which took from me my power of speaking. I am told
it is from the stomach. It looked woundy like palsy or apoplexy.
Well, be it what it will, I can stand it. a

May 27. Court as usual. I am agitating a proposed retirement
from the Court. As they are only to have four instead of six Clerks
of Session in Scotland, it will be their interest to let me retire on a
superannuation. Probably I shall make a bad bargain, and get only
two-thirds of the salary, instead of three-fourths. This would be
hard, but I could save between two and three hundred pounds by
giving up town residence ; and surely I could do enough with my time

i James Abercromby, who succeeded Sir want to save money and push forward work,

Samuel Shepherd as Chief Baron, was the third both which motives urge me to stay at home

son of Sir Ralph Abercromby. He was after- this spring. On the other, besides my great

wards elected member for Edinburgh in 1832, wish to see you all, and besides my desire to

and Speaker of the House of Commons in 1835. look at the ' forty-five ' affairs. I am also desir-

On Mr. Abercromby's retirement in 1839, he ous to put in for my interest upon the changes

was raised to the Peerage as Lord Dunferm- at the Court. ... It must be very much as

line. He died at Colinton House on April 17th, health and weather shall determine, for if I

1858, aged 81. see the least chance of a return of this irrita-

* Of this illness, Sir Walter had written the tion, my own house will be the only fit place
following account to Mr. Lockhart, a week after for me. Do not suppose I am either low-spir-
its occurrence: ited or frightened at the possibilities I calcu-

"Anne would tell you of an awkward sort of late upon, but there is no harm in looking at

fit I had on Monday last; it lasted about five what may be as what needs must be. I really

minutes, during which I lost the power of ar- believe the ugly symptoms proceed from the

ticulation, or rather of speaking what I wished stomach particularly. I feel, thank God, no

to say. I revived instantly, but submitted to mental injury, which is most of all to be dep-

be bled, and to keep the house for a week, ex- recated. Still, I am a good deal failed in body

cept exercising walks. They seem to say it is within these two or three last years, and the

from the stomach. It may or may not be a tingula praedantur come by degrees to make

paralytic affection. We must do the best we up a sum. They say, 'Do not work,' but my

can in either event. I think by hard work I habits are such that it is not easily managed,

will have all my affairs regulated within five for I would be driven mad with idleness. . . .

or six years, and leave the means of clearing Adieu. Love to all. The odds are greatly

them iu case of my death. I hope there will against my seeing you till you come down

be enough for all, and provision besides for my here, but I will have the cottage in such order

own family. The present return of the novels for you; and as Will Laidlaw comes back at

to me is about 8000 a year, which moves fast Whitsunday, I will have him Jo lend me an

on to clear off old scores. arm to Chiefswood, and I have no doubt to do

"This awkward turn of health makes my gallantly,

motions very uncertain. On the one hand I ECIKBURQH, wd February [1830]."

1830.] JOURNAL 489

at reviews and other ways, so as to make myself comfortable at Ab-
botsford. At any rate, jacta est alea ; Sir Robert Peel and the Ad-
vocate seem to acquiesce in the arrangement, and Sir Robert Dundas
retires alongst with me. I think the difference will be infinite in
point of health and happiness.

May 28. Wrought in the morning, then the Court, then Cadell's.
My affairs go on up to calculation, and the Magnum keeps its ground.
If this can last for five or six years longer we may clear our hands
of debt; but perhaps I shall have paid that of Nature before that
time come. They will have the books, and Cadell to manage them, who
is a faithful pilot. The poetry which we purchased for [7000], pay-
able in two years, is melting off our hands ; and we will feed our
Magnum in that way when we have sold the present stock, by which
we hope to pay the purchase-money, and so go on velvet with the
continuation. So my general affairs look well. I expect Lockhart
and Sophia to arrive this evening in the Roads, and breakfast with
us to-morrow. This is very reviving.

May 29. The Lockharts were to appear at nine o'clock, but it is
past four, and they come not. There has been easterly wind, and a
swell of the sea at the mouth of the Firth, but nevertheless I wish
they would come. The machinery is liable to accidents, and they
may be delayed thus.

Mr. Piper, the great contractor for the mail coaches, one of the
sharpest men in his line, called here to-day to give his consent to our
line of road. He pays me the compliment of saying he wishes my
views on the subject. That is perhaps fudge, but at least I know
enough to choose the line that is most for my own advantage. I have
written to make Gala acquainted that my subscription depends on
their taking the Gala foot road ; no other would suit me. After din-
ner I began to tease myself about the children and their parents, and
night went down on our uncertainty.

May 30. Our travellers appeared early in the morning, cum tota
sequela. Right happy were we all. Poor Johnnie looks well. His
deformity is confirmed, poor fellow ; but he may be a clever lad for
all that. An imposthume in his neck seems to be the crisis of his
complaint. He is a gentle, placid creature. Walter is remarkably
handsome, and so is little Whippety Stourie, 1 as I call her. After
breakfast I had a chat with Lockhart about affairs in general, which,
as far as our little interests are concerned, are doing very well.
Lockhart is now established in his reputation and literary prospects.*
I wrote some more in his Demonology, which is a scrape, I think.

1 His grand - daughter, Charlotte, whom he "Your letter, this day received, namely Wed-
playfully named after the fairy in the old Scot- nesday, gave me the greatest pleasure on ac-
tish Nursery story. count of the prosperous intelligence which it

8 Mr. Lockhart had some thoughts of enter- gives me of your own advancing prospects. . . .

ing Parliament, at this time, and Sir Walter I take it for granted that you have looked to

had expressed his opinion a few days before the income of future years before thinking of

their meeting: disposing of the profits of a successful one in a



[MAY, 1830.

May 31. Set to work early, and did a good day's work without
much puffing and blowing. Had Lockhart at dinner, and a tete-a-
tete over our cigar. He has got the right ideas for getting to the
very head of the literary world and now stands very high as well for
taste and judgment as for genius. I think there is no fear now of
his letting a love of fun run away with him. At home the whole day,
except a walk to Cadell's, who is enlarging his sale. As he comes
upon heavy months, and is come now to the Abbot, the Monastery, and
the less profitable or popular of the novels, this is a fortunate circum-
stance. The management seems very judicious.

manner which cannot be supposed to produce
positive or direct advantage, but may rather
argue some additional degree of expense.

" But this being premeesed, I cannot help
highly approving of your going into Parlia-
ment, especially as a member entirely unfet-
tered and left to act according to the weal of
the public, or what you conceive such. It is
the broad turnpike to importance and conse-
quence which you, as a man of talents in the
full vigour of youth, ought naturally to be am-
bitious of. The present times threaten to bring
in many occasions when there will and must
be opportunities of a man distinguishing him-
self and serving his country.

"To go into the House without speaking

would be useless. I will frankly tell you that
when I heard you speak you seemed always
sufficiently up to the occasion both in words
and matter, but too indifferent in the manner
in which you pressed your argument, and there-
fore far less likely to'attract attention than if
you had seemed more earnestly persuaded ol
the truth and importance of what you have
been saying. I think you may gain advantage
from taking this hint. No one is disposed to
weigh any man's arguments more favourably
than he himself does, and if you are not con-
sidered as gravely interested in what you say,
and conscious of its importance, your audience
will not be so. ...

" EDINBUBQH, 20(A May, 1830."


June 1. Proofs and Court, the inevitable employment of the day.
Louisa Kerr dined with us, and Williams looked in. We talked a
good deal on Celtic witchery and fairy lore. I was glad to renew my
acquaintance with this able and learned man.

June 2. The Lockharts left us again this morning, and although
three masons are clanking at their work to clear a well, the noise is
mitigated, now the poor babies' clang of tongues is removed. I set
myself to write, determining to avoid reasoning, and to bring in as
many stories as possible. Being a Teind Wednesday, I may work
undisturbed, and I will try to get so far ahead as may permit a jour-
ney to Abbotsford on Saturday. At nine o'clock was as far ahead as
page 57. It runs out well, and 150 pages will do.

June 3. Finished my proofs, and sent them off with copy. I saw
Mr. Dickinson 1 on Tuesday : a right plain sensible man. He is so
confident in my matters, that, being a large creditor himself, he offers
to come down, with the support of all the London creditors, to carry
through any measure that can be devised for my behoof. Mr. Cadell
showed him that we are four years forward in matter prepared for the
press. Got Heath's illustrations, which, I dare say, are finely engraved,
but commonplace enough in point of art.

June 4. Court as usual, and not long detained. Visited Cadell.
All right, and his reports favourable, it being the launch of our annual
volume, now traversing a year, with unblemished reputation and suc-
cess uninterrupted. I should have said I overhauled proofs and fur-
nished copy in the morning between seven and ten o'clock.

After coming from the Court I met Woll and Gala, and agreed
upon the measures to be attempted at Selkirk on the eighth at the
meeting of trustees. In the evening smoked an extra cigar (none
since Tuesday), and dedicated the rest to putting up papers, etc., for
Abbotsford. Anne wants me to go to hear the Tyrolese Minstrels,
but though no one more esteems that bold and high-spirited people, I
cannot but think their yodelling, if this be the word, is a variation, or
set of variations, upon the tones of a jackass, so I remain to dribble
and scribble at home.

June 5. I rose at seven as usual, and, to say truth, dawdled away
my time in putting things to rights, which is a vile amusement, and
writing letters to people who write to ask my opinion of their books,

1 Mr. John Dickinson of Nash Mill, Herts, the eminent paper-maker. i. a. i Ante, p. 294.


which is as much as to say " Tom, come tickle me." This is worse
than the other pastime, but either may serve for a broken day, and
both must be done sometimes.

\AbbotsfordJ\ After the Court, started for Abbotsford at half-past
twelve at noon, and here we are at half-past five impransi. The coun-
try looks beautiful, though the foliage, larches in particular, have had
a blight. Yet they can hardly be said to lose foliage since they have
but a sort of brushes at best.

June 6. Went through a good deal of duty as to proofs, and the
like. At two set out and reached by four Chiefs wood, where I had
the happiness to find the Lockharts all in high spirits, well and happy.
Johnnie must be all his life a weakly child, but he may have good
health, and possesses an admirable temper. We dined with the Lock-
harts, and were all very happy.

June 7. Same duty carefully performed. I continued working
till about one, when Lockhart came to walk. We took our course
round by the Lake. I was a good deal fagged, and must have tired
my companion by walking slow. The Fergusons came over Sir
Adam in all his glory and "the night drave on wi' sangs and clatter." '

June 8. Had not time to do more than correct a sheet or two.
About eleven set off for Selkirk, where there was a considerable meet-
ing of road trustees. The consideration of the new road was intrust-
ed to a committee which in some measure blinks the question ; yet I
think it must do in the end. I dined with the Club, young Chesters
president. It is but bad fun, but I might be father of most of them,
and must have patience. At length

"Hame cam our gudeman at e'en,
And hame cam he."*

June 9. In the morning I advised Sheriff Court processes, car-
ried on the Demonology till twelve, then put books, etc., in some or-
der to leave behind me. Will it be ordered that I come back not like
a stranger, or sojourner, but to inhabit here ? I do not know ; I shall
be happy either way. It is perhaps a violent change in the end of
life to quit the walk one has trod so long, and the cursed splenetic
temper, which besets all men, makes you value opportunities and cir-
cumstances when one enjoys them no longer. Well ! things must be
as they may, as says that great philosopher Corporal Nym.*

[Edinburgh.] I had my walk, and on my return found the Lock-
harts come to take luncheon, and leave of us. Reached Edinburgh at
nine o'clock. Found, among less interesting letters, two from Lord
Northampton on the death of the poor Marchioness, 4 and from Anna
Jane Clephane on the same melancholy topic. Hei mihi !

June 10. Corrected proofs, prepared some copy, and did all that

Burns's Tarn o' Shanler. 3 Henry V., Act n. Sc. 1.

11 See Johnson's Musical Muteum Illustra- 4 Daughter of his old friend, Mrs. Maclean
tions, Pt. v. No. 454. Clephane of Torloisk.

1830.] JOURNAL 493

was right. Dined and wrought in the evening, yet I did not make
much way after all.

June 11. In the morning, the usual labour of two hours. God
bless that habit of being up at seven ! I could do nothing without
it, but it keeps me up to the scratch, as they say. I had a letter this
morning with deep mourning paper and seal ; the mention of my
nephew in the first line made me sick, fearing it had related to Wal-
ter. It was from poor Sir Thomas Bradford, who has lost his lady,
but was indeed an account of Walter, 1 and a good one.

June 12. A day of general labour and much weariness.

June 13. The same may be said of this day.

June 14. And of this, only I went out for an hour and a half to
Mr. Colvin Smith, to conclude a picture for Lord Gillies. This is a
sad relief from labour.

"... Sedet seternumque sedebit
Infelix Theseus." 8

But Lord Gillies has been so kind and civil that I must have his pict-
ure as like as possible.

June 15. I had at breakfast the son of Mr. Fellenburg 3 of Hof-
wyll, Switzerland, a modest young man. I used to think his father
something of a quack, in proposing to discover how a boy's natural
genius lies, with a view to his education. How would they have made
me a scholar, is a curious question. Whatever was forced on me as
a task I should have detested. There was also a gentlemanlike little

man, the Chevalier de , silent, and speaks no English. Poor

George Scott, Harden, is dead of the typhus fever. Poor dear boy !
I am sorry for him, and yet more for his parents. I have a letter
from Henry on the subject.

June 16. I wrote this forenoon till I completed the 100 pages,
which is well done. I had a call from Colin Mackenzie, whom I had
not seen for nearly two years. He has not been so well, and looks
ghastly, but I think not worse than I have seen him of late years.
\Ve are very old acquaintances. 1 remember he was one of a small
party at college, that formed ourselves into a club called the Poetical
Society. The other members were Charles Kerr of Abbotrule (a sin-
gular being), Colin M'Laurin (insane), Colin, and I, who have luckily
kept our wits. I also saw this morning a Mr. Low, a youth of great
learning, who has written a good deal on the early history of Scot-
land. 4 He is a good-looking, frank, gentlemanlike lad ; with these
good gifts only a parish schoolmaster in Aberdeenshire. Having won
a fair holiday I go to see Miss Kemble for the first time. It is two
or three years since I have been in a theatre, once my delight.

1 "Little Walter." Thomas Scott's son, who 3 Emanuel de Fellenburg, who died in 1844.
went to India in 1826, anlr, p. 6:5. He became 4 " The History of Scotland from the Earliest

a General in the Indian Army, and died in Period to the Middle of the Ninth Century,"

1873. by the Rev. Alex. Low. 8vo, Edinburgh, 1826.

a jJZneid vi. 617. See Misc. Prose Works, vol. xx. pp. 374-6.


June 17. Went last night to theatre, and saw Miss Fanny Kem-
ble's Isabella, 1 which was a most creditable performance. It has
much of the genius of Mrs. Siddons, her aunt. She wants her beau-
tiful countenance, her fine form, and her matchless dignity of step
and manner. On the other hand, Miss Fanny Kemble has very ex-
pressive, though not regular, features, and what is worth it all, great
energy mingled with and chastened by correct taste. I suffered by
the heat, lights, and exertion, and will not go back to-night, for it has
purchased me a sore headache this theatrical excursion. Besides,
the play is Mrs. Beverley, 1 and I hate to be made miserable about do-
mestic distress, so I keep my gracious presence at home to-night,
though I love and respect Miss Kemble for giving her active support
to her father in his need, and preventing Covent Garden from coming
down about their ears. I corrected proofs before breakfast, attended
Court, but was idle in the forenoon, the headache annoying me much.
Dinner will make me better. And so it did. I wrote in the evening
three pages, and tolerably well, though I may say with the Emperor
Titus (not Titus Oates) that I have lost a day.

June 18, [Blair- Adani\. Young John Colquhoun of Killermont
and his wife breakfasted with us, a neat custom that, and saves wine
and wassail. Then to Court, and arranged for our departure for

Online LibraryWalter ScottThe journal of Sir Walter Scott, from the original manuscript at Abbotsford → online text (page 60 of 76)