Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, Volume V (of 10)
by John Gibson Lockhart
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Transcriber's note:

Obvious printer's errors have been corrected; all other inconsistencies are as in the original. The author's spelling has been retained.

Page numbers have been retained as {}.

Page 96: The "u" in "Cadil gu lo" has a breve in the original.

Page 218: The marker for footnote 88 could not be found in the text.




In Ten Volumes


Boston and New York Houghton, Mifflin and Company The Riverside Press, Cambridge MCMI

Copyright, 1901 by Houghton, Mifflin and Company All Rights Reserved

Six Hundred Copies Printed Number,


Chap. Page

XXXIV. Progress of The Lord of the Isles. — Correspondence with Mr. Joseph Train. — Rapid completion of The Lord of the Isles. — "Refreshing the Machine." — "Six Weeks at a Christmas." — Publication of the Poem, — and of Guy Mannering. — Letters to Morritt, Terry, and John Ballantyne. — Anecdotes by James Ballantyne. — Visit to London. — Meeting with Lord Byron. — Dinners at Carlton House. 1814-1815. 1

XXXV. Battle of Waterloo — Letter of Sir Charles Bell. — Visit to the Continent. — Waterloo. — Letters from Brussels and Paris. — Anecdotes of Scott at Paris. — The Duke of Wellington. — The Emperor Alexander. — Bluecher. — Platoff — Party at Ermenonville, etc. — London. — Parting with Lord Byron. — Scott's Sheffield Knife. — Return to Abbotsford. — Anecdotes by Mr. Skene and James Ballantyne. 1815. 39

XXXVI. Field of Waterloo published. — Revision of Paul's Letters, etc. — Quarrel and Reconciliation with Hogg. — Football Match at Carterhaugh. — Songs on the Banner of Buccleuch. — Dinner at Bowhill. — Design for a Piece of Plate to the Sutors of Selkirk. — Letters to the Duke of Buccleuch, Joanna Baillie, and Mr. Morritt. 1815. 76

XXXVII. {} Publication of Paul's Letters to his Kinsfolk. — Guy Mannering "Terry-fied." — Death of Major John Scott. — Letters to Thomas Scott. — Publication of The Antiquary. — History of 1814 for the Edinburgh Annual Register. — Letters on the History of Scotland projected. — Publication of the First Tales of my Landlord by Murray and Blackwood. — Anecdotes by Mr. Train. — Quarterly Review on the Tales. — Building at Abbotsford begun. — Letters to Morritt, Terry, Murray, and the Ballantynes. 1816. 94

XXXVIII. Harold the Dauntless published. — Scott aspires to be a Baron of the Exchequer. — Letter to the Duke of Buccleuch concerning Poachers, etc. — First Attack of Cramp in the Stomach. — Letters to Morritt, Terry, and Mrs. Maclean Clephane. — Story of The Doom of Devorgoil. — John Kemble's retirement from the Stage. — William Laidlaw established at Kaeside. — Novel of Rob Roy projected. — Letter to Southey on the Relief of the Poor, etc. — Letter to Lord Montagu on Hogg's Queen's Wake, and on the Death of Frances, Lady Douglas. 1817. 135

XXXIX. Excursion to the Lennox, Glasgow, and Drumlanrig. — Purchase of Toftfield. — Establishment of the Ferguson Family at Huntly Burn. — Lines written in Illness. — Visits of Washington Irving, Lady Byron, and Sir David Wilkie. — Progress of the Building at Abbotsford. — Letters to Morritt, Terry, etc. — Conclusion of Rob Roy. 1817. 173

XL. Rob Boy published. — Negotiation concerning the Second Series of Tales of my Landlord. — Commission to search for the {p.vii} Scottish Regalia. — Letters to the Duke of Buccleuch, Mr. Croker, Mr. Morritt, Mr. Murray, Mr. Maturin, etc. — Correspondence on Rural Affairs with Mr. Laidlaw, and on the Buildings at Abbotsford with Mr. Terry. — Death of Mrs. Murray Keith and Mr. George Bullock. 1818. 202

XLI. Dinner at Mr. Home Drummond's. — Scott's Edinburgh Den. — Details of his Domestic Life in Castle Street. — His Sunday Dinners. — His Evening Drives, etc. — His Conduct in the General Society of Edinburgh. — Dinners at John Ballantyne's Villa, and at James Ballantyne's in St. John Street, on the appearance of a new Novel. — Anecdotes of the Ballantynes, and of Constable. 1818. 236

XLII. Publication of the Heart of Mid-Lothian. — Its Reception in Edinburgh and in England. — Abbotsford in October. — Melrose Abbey, Dryburgh, etc. — Lion-Hunters from America. — Tragedy of the Cherokee Lovers. — Scott's Dinner to the Selkirkshire Yeomen. 1818. 266

Appendix: The Durham Garland. 295

Narrative of the Life of James Annesley. 303


WALTER SCOTT IN 1822 Frontispiece From the painting by Sir Henry Raeburn, R. A., in the possession of the Earl of Home.

MAIDA, THE SCOTTISH DEERHOUND 96 After the painting by Landseer made in 1824.

JOHN MURRAY 124 From the painting by Henry W. Pickersgill, R. A., in the possession of John Murray, Esq.

WASHINGTON IRVING 180 After the painting by Charles Robert Leslie, R. A.

SCOTT'S HOUSE IN CASTLE STREET 250 After the drawing by J. M. W. Turner, R.A.

JOHN GIBSON LOCKHART 274 After the painting by Henry W. Pickersgill, R. A.


Progress of the Lord of the Isles. — Correspondence with Mr. Joseph Train. — Rapid Completion of the Lord of the Isles. — "Refreshing the Machine." — "Six Weeks at a Christmas." — Publication of the Poem, — And of Guy Mannering. — Letters to Morritt, Terry, and John Ballantyne. — Anecdotes by James Ballantyne. — Visit to London. — Meeting with Lord Byron. — Dinners at Carlton House.


By the 11th of November, then, The Lord of the Isles had made great progress, and Scott had also authorized Ballantyne to negotiate among the booksellers for the publication of a second novel. But before I go further into these transactions, I must introduce the circumstances of Scott's first connection with an able and amiable man, whose services were of high importance to him, at this time and ever after, in the prosecution of his literary labors. Calling at Ballantyne's printing-office while Waverley was in the press, he happened to take up a proof sheet of a volume entitled "Poems, with notes illustrative of traditions in Galloway and Ayrshire, by Joseph Train, Supervisor of Excise at Newton-Stewart." The sheet contained a ballad on an Ayrshire tradition, about a certain "Witch of Carrick," whose skill in the black art was, it seems, instrumental in the destruction {p.002} of one of the scattered vessels of the Spanish Armada. The ballad begins:—

"Why gallops the palfrey with Lady Dunore? Who drives away Turnberry's kine from the shore? Go tell it in Carrick, and tell it in Kyle— Although the proud Dons are now passing the Moil,[1] On this magic clew, That in fairyland grew, Old Elcine de Aggart has taken in hand To wind up their lives ere they win to our strand."

[Footnote 1: The Mull of Cantyre.]

Scott immediately wrote to the author, begging to be included in his list of subscribers for a dozen copies, and suggesting at the same time a verbal alteration in one of the stanzas of this ballad. Mr. Train acknowledged his letter with gratitude, and the little book reached him just as he was about to embark in the lighthouse yacht. He took it with him on his voyage, and, on returning home again, wrote to Mr. Train, expressing the gratification he had received from several of his metrical pieces, but still more from his notes, and requesting him, as he seemed to be enthusiastic about traditions and legends, to communicate any matters of that order connected with Galloway which he might not himself think of turning to account; "for," said Scott, "nothing interests me so much as local anecdotes; and, as the applications for charity usually conclude, the smallest donation will be thankfully accepted."

Mr. Train, in a little narrative with which he has favored me, says, that for some years before this time he had been engaged, in alliance with a friend of his, Mr. Denniston, in collecting materials for a History of Galloway; they had circulated lists of queries among the clergy and parish schoolmasters, and had thus, and by their own personal researches, accumulated "a great variety of the most excellent materials for that purpose;" but that, from the hour of his correspondence with Walter Scott, he "renounced every idea of authorship for {p.003} himself," resolving, "that thenceforth his chief pursuit should be collecting whatever he thought would be most interesting to him;" and that Mr. Denniston was easily persuaded to acquiesce in the abandonment of their original design. "Upon receiving Mr. Scott's letter," says Mr. Train, "I became still more zealous in the pursuit of ancient lore, and being the first person who had attempted to collect old stories in that quarter with any view to publication, I became so noted, that even beggars, in the hope of reward, came frequently from afar to Newton-Stewart, to recite old ballads and relate old stories to me." Erelong, Mr. Train visited Scott both at Edinburgh and at Abbotsford; a true affection continued ever afterwards to be maintained between them; and this generous ally was, as the prefaces to the Waverley Novels signify, one of the earliest confidants of that series of works, and certainly the most efficient of all the author's friends in furnishing him with materials for their composition. Nor did he confine himself to literary services: whatever portable object of antiquarian curiosity met his eye, this good man secured and treasured up with the same destination; and if ever a catalogue of the museum at Abbotsford shall appear, no single contributor, most assuredly, will fill so large a space in it as Mr. Train.[2]

[Footnote 2: [Joseph Train was born in 1779, at Gilminscroft, Sorn, Ayrshire, where his father was grieve and land-steward. The boy was apprenticed at an early age to a weaver in Ayr, but, notwithstanding the narrowness of his circumstances, and a very imperfect education, he even then showed a love of learning and a passion for antiquarian lore. From 1799 to 1802 he served in the Ayrshire militia. While the regiment was stationed at Inverness, he became a subscriber to Currie's edition of Burns, and his colonel, Sir David Hunter-Blair, seeing the volumes at the bookseller's, was surprised to learn that they had been ordered by one of his men. Greatly pleased thereat, Sir David had the books handsomely bound and sent to Train, free of charge; and later obtained for him an appointment in the Excise in the Ayr district. He was a faithful and efficient officer, but owing to the then prevalent custom of giving the higher places in the Excise to Englishmen, all Scott's efforts for the advancement of his friend were unavailing; he remained supervisor till he went on the retired list in 1836. In 1829 Train was admitted a member of the Scottish Society of Antiquaries. Though the death of Scott made a sad blank in his life, his interest in his favorite studies continued to the end. The latter part of his life was spent in a cottage at Castle Douglas, where he was visited shortly before his death by James Hannay, who found him in a little parlor, crowded with antiquities of interest and value,—the antiquary, "a tall old man, with an autumnal red in his face, hale looking, and of simple, quaint manners." (See Household Words, July 10, 1853.) Train's last extended works were an Historical and Statistical Account of the Isle of Man, with a view of its peculiar customs and popular superstitions (1845); and a study of a local religious sect in The Buchanites from First to Last (1846); but he was an occasional contributor to various periodicals. He died December 1, 1852.]]

{p.004} His first considerable communication, after he had formed the unselfish determination above mentioned, consisted of a collection of anecdotes concerning the Galloway gypsies, and "a local story of an astrologer, who calling at a farmhouse at the moment when the goodwife was in travail, had, it was said, predicted the future fortune of the child, almost in the words placed in the mouth of John MacKinlay, in the Introduction to Guy Mannering." Scott told him, in reply, that the story of the astrologer reminded him of "one he had heard in his youth;" that is to say, as the Introduction explains, from this MacKinlay; but Mr. Train has, since his friend's death, recovered a rude Durham ballad, which in fact contains a great deal more of the main fable of Guy Mannering than either his own written, or MacKinlay's oral edition of the Gallovidian anecdote had conveyed; and—possessing, as I do, numberless evidences of the haste with which Scott drew up his beautiful Prefaces and Introductions of 1829, 1830, and 1831—I am strongly inclined to think that he must in his boyhood have read the Durham Broadside or Chapbook itself—as well as heard the old serving-man's Scottish version of it.

However this may have been, Scott's answer to Mr. Train proceeded in these words:—

I am now to solicit a favor, which I think your interest {p.005} in Scottish antiquities will induce you readily to comply with. I am very desirous to have some account of the present state of Turnberry Castle—whether any vestiges of it remain—what is the appearance of the ground—the names of the neighboring places—and, above all, what are the traditions of the place (if any) concerning its memorable surprise by Bruce, upon his return from the coast of Ireland, in the commencement of the brilliant part of his career. The purpose of this is to furnish some hints for notes to a work in which I am now engaged, and I need not say I will have great pleasure in mentioning the source from which I derive my information. I have only to add, with the modest importunity of a lazy correspondent, that the sooner you oblige me with an answer (if you can assist me on the subject), the greater will the obligation be on me, who am already your obliged humble servant,


The recurrence of the word Turnberry, in the ballad of Elcine de Aggart, had of course suggested this application, which was dated on the 7th of November. "I had often," says Mr. Train, "when a boy, climbed the brown hills, and traversed the shores of Carrick, but I could not sufficiently remember the exact places and distances as to which Mr. Scott inquired; so, immediately on receipt of his letter, I made a journey into Ayrshire to collect all the information I possibly could, and forwarded it to him on the 18th of the same month." Among the particulars thus communicated, was the local superstition, that on the anniversary of the night when Bruce landed at Turnberry from Arran, the same meteoric gleam which had attended his voyage reappeared, unfailingly, in the same quarter of the heavens. With this circumstance Scott was much struck. "Your information," he writes on the 22d November, "was particularly interesting and acceptable, especially that which {p.006} relates to the supposed preternatural appearance of the fire, etc., which I hope to make some use of." What use he did make of it, if any reader has forgotten, will be seen by reference to stanzas 7-17 of the 5th Canto of the Poem; and the notes to the same Canto embody, with due acknowledgment, the more authentic results of Mr. Train's pilgrimage to Carrick.

I shall recur presently to this communication from Mr. Train; but must pause for a moment to introduce two letters, both written in the same week with Scott's request as to the localities of Turnberry. They both give us amusing sketches of his buoyant spirits at this period of gigantic exertion;—and the first of them, which relates chiefly to Maturin's Tragedy of Bertram, shows how he could still contrive to steal time for attention to the affairs of brother authors less energetic than himself.


ABBOTSFORD, November 10, 1814.

MY DEAR TERRY,—I should have long since answered your kind letter by our friend Young, but he would tell you of my departure with our trusty and well-beloved Erskine, on a sort of a voyage to Nova Zembla. Since my return, I have fallen under the tyrannical dominion of a certain Lord of the Isles. Those Lords were famous for oppression in the days of yore, and if I can judge by the posthumous despotism exercised over me, they have not improved by their demise. The peine forte et dure is, you know, nothing in comparison to being obliged to grind verses; and so devilish repulsive is my disposition, that I can never put my wheel into constant and regular motion, till Ballantyne's devil claps in his proofs, like the hot cinder which you Bath folks used to clap in beside an unexperienced turnspit, as a hint to be expeditious in his duty. O long life to the old hermit of Prague, who never saw pen and ink!—much happier in {p.007} that negative circumstance than in his alliance with the niece of King Gorboduc.

To talk upon a blither subject, I wish you saw Abbotsford, which begins this season to look the whimsical, gay, odd cabin, that we had chalked out. I have been obliged to relinquish Stark's plan, which was greatly too expensive. So I have made the old farmhouse my corps de logis, with some outlying places for kitchen, laundry, and two spare bedrooms, which run along the east wall of the farm-court, not without some picturesque effect. A perforated cross, the spoils of the old kirk of Galashiels, decorates an advanced door, and looks very well. This little sly bit of sacrilege has given our spare rooms the name of the chapel. I earnestly invite you to a pew there, which you will find as commodious for the purpose of a nap as you have ever experienced when, under the guidance of old Mrs. Smollett, you were led to St. George's, Edinburgh.

I have been recommending to John Kemble (I dare say without any chance of success) to peruse a MS. Tragedy of Maturin's author of Montorio: it is one of those things which will either succeed greatly or be damned gloriously, for its merits are marked, deep, and striking, and its faults of a nature obnoxious to ridicule. He had our old friend Satan (none of your sneaking St. John Street devils, but the arch-fiend himself) brought on the stage bodily. I believe I have exorcised the foul fiend—for, though in reading he was a most terrible fellow, I feared for his reception in public. The last act is ill contrived. He piddles (so to speak) through a cullender, and divides the whole horrors of the catastrophe (though God wot there are enough of them) into a kind of drippity-droppity of four or five scenes, instead of inundating the audience with them at once in the finale, with a grand "gardez l'eau." With all this, which I should say had I written the thing myself, it is grand and powerful; the language most animated and poetical; and the characters {p.008} sketched with a masterly enthusiasm. Many thanks for Captain Richard Falconer.[3] To your kindness I owe the two books in the world I most longed to see, not so much for their intrinsic merits, as because they bring back with vivid associations the sentiments of my childhood—I might almost say infancy. Nothing ever disturbed my feelings more than when, sitting by the old oak table, my aunt, Lady Raeburn, used to read the lamentable catastrophe of the ship's departing without Captain Falconer, in consequence of the whole party making free with lime-punch on the eve of its being launched. This and Captain Bingfield,[4] I much wished {p.009} to read once more, and I owe the possession of both to your kindness. Everybody that I see talks highly of your steady interest with the public, wherewith, as I never doubted of it, I am pleased but not surprised. We are just now leaving this for the winter: the children went yesterday. Tom Purdie, Finella, and the greyhounds, all in excellent health; the latter have not been hunted this season!!! Can add nothing more to excite your admiration. Mrs. Scott sends her kind compliments.


[Footnote 3: "The Voyages, Dangerous Adventures, and Imminent Escapes of Capt. Rich. Falconer. Containing the Laws, Customs, and Manners of the Indians in America; his shipwrecks; his marrying an Indian wife; his narrow escape from the Island of Dominico, etc. Intermixed with the Voyages and Adventures of Thomas Randal, of Cork, Pilot; with his Shipwreck in the Baltick, being the only man that escap'd. His being taken by the Indians of Virginia, etc. And an Account of his Death. The Fourth Edition. London. Printed for J. Marshall, at the Bible in Gracechurch Street. 1734."

On the fly-leaf is the following note, in Scott's handwriting: "This book I read in early youth. I am ignorant whether it is altogether fictitious and written upon De Foe's plan, which it greatly resembles, or whether it is only an exaggerated account of the adventures of a real person. It is very scarce, for, endeavoring to add it to the other favorites of my infancy, I think I looked for it ten years to no purpose, and at last owed it to the active kindness of Mr. Terry. Yet Richard Falconer's adventures seem to have passed through several editions."]

[Footnote 4: "The Travels and Adventures of William Bingfield, Esq., containing, as surprizing a Fluctuation of Circumstances, both by Sea and Land, as ever befel one man. With an Accurate Account of the Shape, Nature, and Properties of that most furious, and amazing Animal, the Dog-Bird. Printed from his own Manuscript. With a beautiful Frontispiece. 2 vols. 12mo. London: Printed for E. Withers, at the Seven Stars, in Fleet Street. 1753." On the fly-leaf of the first volume Scott has written as follows: "I read this scarce little Voyage Imaginaire when I was about ten years old, and long after sought for a copy without being able to find a person who would so much as acknowledge having heard of William Bingfield or his Dog-birds, until the indefatigable kindness of my friend Mr. Terry, of the Haymarket, made me master of this copy. I am therefore induced to think the book is of very rare occurrence." [In consequence of these Notes, both Falconer and Bingfield have been recently reprinted in London.—(1839.)]]

The following, dated a day after, refers to some lines which Mr. Morritt had sent him from Worthing.


ABBOTSFORD, November 11, 1814.

MY DEAR MORRITT,—I had your kind letter with the beautiful verses. May the Muse meet you often on the verge of the sea or among your own woods of Rokeby! May you have spirits to profit by her visits (and that implies all good wishes for the continuance of Mrs. M.'s convalescence), and may I often, by the fruits of your inspiration, have my share of pleasure! My Muse is a Tyranness, and not a Christian queen, and compels me to attend to longs and shorts, and I know not what, when, God wot, I had rather be planting evergreens by my new old fountain. You must know that, like the complaint of a fine young boy who was complimented by a stranger on his being a smart fellow, "I am sair halded down by the bubbly jock." In other words, the turkey cock, at the head of a family of some forty or fifty infidels, lays waste all my shrubs. In vain I remonstrate with Charlotte upon these occasions; she is in league with the hen-wife, the natural protectress of these pirates; and I have only the inhuman consolation that I may one day, like a cannibal, eat up my enemies. This is but dull fun, but what else have I to tell you about? It {p.010} would be worse if, like Justice Shallow's Davy, I should consult you upon sowing down the headland with wheat. My literary tormentor is a certain Lord of the Isles, famed for his tyranny of yore, and not unjustly. I am bothering some tale of him I have had long by me into a sort of romance. I think you will like it: it is Scottified up to the teeth, and somehow I feel myself like the liberated chiefs of the Rolliad, "who boast their native philabeg restored." I believe the frolics one can cut in this loose garb are all set down by you Sassenachs to the real agility of the wearer, and not the brave, free, and independent character of his clothing. It is, in a word, the real Highland fling, and no one is supposed able to dance it but a native. I always thought that epithet of Gallia Braccata implied subjugation, and was never surprised at Caesar's easy conquests, considering that his Labienus and all his merry men wore, as we say, bottomless breeks.

Ever yours,

W. S.

Well might he describe himself as being hard at work with his Lord of the Isles. The date of Ballantyne's letter to Miss Edgeworth (November 11), in which he mentions the third Canto as completed; that of the communication from Mr. Train (November 18), on which so much of Canto Fifth was grounded; and that of a note from Scott to Ballantyne (December 16, 1814), announcing that he had sent the last stanza of the poem: these dates, taken together, afford conclusive evidence of the fiery rapidity with which the three last Cantos of The Lord of the Isles were composed.

He writes, on the 25th December, to Constable that he "had corrected the last proofs, and was setting out for Abbotsford to refresh the machine." And in what did his refreshment of the machine consist? Besides having written within this year the greater part (almost, I believe, the whole) of the Life of Swift—Waverley—and {p.011} The Lord of the Isles—he had given two essays to the Encyclopaedia Supplement, and published, with an Introduction and notes, one of the most curious pieces of family history ever produced to the world, on which he labored with more than usual zeal and diligence, from his warm affection for the noble representative of its author. This inimitable Memorie of the Somervilles came out in October; and it was speedily followed by an annotated reprint of the strange old treatise, entitled "Rowland's letting off the humours of the blood in the head vein, 1611." He had also kept up his private correspondence on a scale which I believe never to have been exemplified in the case of any other person who wrote continually for the press—except, perhaps, Voltaire; and, to say nothing of strictly professional duties, he had, as a vast heap of documents now before me proves, superintended from day to day, except during his Hebridean voyage, the still perplexed concerns of the Ballantynes, with a watchful assiduity that might have done credit to the most diligent of tradesmen. The "machine" might truly require "refreshment."

It was, as has been seen, on the 7th of November that Scott acknowledged the receipt of that communication from Mr. Train which included the story of the Galloway astrologer. There can be no doubt that this story recalled to his mind, if not the Durham ballad, the similar but more detailed corruption of it which he had heard told by his father's servant, John MacKinlay, in the days of George's Square and Green-breeks, and which he has preserved in the introduction to Guy Mannering, as the groundwork of that tale. It has been shown that the three last Cantos of The Lord of the Isles were written between the 11th of November and the 25th of December; and it is therefore scarcely to be supposed that any part of this novel had been penned before he thus talked of "refreshing the machine." It is quite certain that when James Ballantyne wrote to Miss Edgeworth on the {p.012} 11th November, he could not have seen one page of Guy Mannering, since he in that letter announces that the new novel of his nameless friend would depict manners more ancient than those of 1745. And yet it is equally certain, that before The Lord of the Isles was published, which took place on the 18th of January, 1815, two volumes of Guy Mannering had been not only written and copied by an amanuensis, but printed.

Scott thus writes to Morritt, in sending him his copy of The Lord of the Isles:—


EDINBURGH, 19th January, 1815.

MY DEAR MORRITT,—I have been very foolishly putting off my writing until I should have time for a good long epistle; and it is astonishing what a number of trifles have interfered to prevent my commencing on a great scale. The last of these has been rather of an extraordinary kind, for your little friend Walter has chose to make himself the town talk, by taking what seemed to be the small-pox, despite of vaccination in infancy, and inoculation with the variolous matter thereafter, which last I resorted to by way of making assurance double sure. The medical gentleman who attended him is of opinion that he has had the real small-pox, but it shall never be averred by me—for the catastrophe of Tom Thumb is enough to deter any thinking person from entering into a feud with the cows. Walter is quite well again, which was the principal matter I was interested in. We had very nearly been in a bad scrape, for I had fixed the Monday on which he sickened, to take him with me for the Christmas vacation to Abbotsford. It is probable that he would not have pleaded headache when there was such a party in view, especially as we were to shoot wild ducks one day together at Cauldshiels Loch; and what the consequence of such a journey might have been, God alone knows.

{p.013} I am clear of The Lord of the Isles, and I trust you have your copy. It closes my poetic labors upon an extended scale: but I dare say I shall always be dabbling in rhyme until the solve senescentem. I have directed the copy to be sent to Portland Place. I want to shake myself free of Waverley, and accordingly have made a considerable exertion to finish an odd little tale within such time as will mystify the public, I trust—unless they suppose me to be Briareus. Two volumes are already printed, and the only persons in my confidence, W. Erskine and Ballantyne, are of opinion that it is much more interesting than Waverley. It is a tale of private life, and only varied by the perilous exploits of smugglers and excisemen. The success of Waverley has given me a spare hundred or two, which I have resolved to spend in London this spring, bringing up Charlotte and Sophia with me. I do not forget my English friends—but I fear they will forget me, unless I show face now and then. My correspondence gradually drops, as must happen when people do not meet; and I long to see Ellis, Heber, Gifford, and one or two more. I do not include Mrs. Morritt and you, because we are much nearer neighbors, and within a whoop and a holla in comparison. I think we should come up by sea, if I were not a little afraid of Charlotte being startled by the March winds—for our vacation begins 12th March.

You will have heard of poor Caberfae's death? What a pity it is he should have outlived his promising young representative. His state was truly pitiable—all his fine faculties lost in paralytic imbecility, and yet not so entirely so but that he perceived his deprivation as in a glass darkly. Sometimes he was fretful and anxious because he did not see his son; sometimes he expostulated and complained that his boy had been allowed to die without his seeing him; and sometimes, in a less clouded state of intellect, he was sensible of, and lamented his loss in its full extent. These, indeed, are {p.014} the "fears of the brave, and follies of the wise,"[5] which sadden and humiliate the lingering hours of prolonged existence. Our friend Lady Hood will now be Caberfae herself. She has the spirit of a chieftainess in every drop of her blood, but there are few situations in which the cleverest women are so apt to be imposed upon as in the management of landed property, more especially of an Highland estate. I do fear the accomplishment of the prophecy, that when there should be a deaf Caberfae, the house was to fall.[6]

[Footnote 5: Johnson's Vanity of Human Wishes.]

[Footnote 6: Francis, Lord Seaforth, died 11th January, 1815, in his 60th year, having outlived four sons, all of high promise. His title died with him, and he was succeeded in his estates by his daughter, Lady Hood, now the Hon. Mrs. Stewart-Mackenzie of Seaforth.—See some verses on Lord Seaforth's death, in Scott's Poetical Works, vol. viii. p. 392 [Cambridge Ed. p. 419]. The Celtic designation of the chief of the clan MacKenzie, Caberfae, means Staghead, the bearing of the family. The prophecy which Scott alludes to in this letter is also mentioned by Sir Humphry Davy in one of his Journals (see his Life, by Dr. Davy, vol. ii. p. 72),—and it was, if the account be correct, a most extraordinary one, for it connected the fall of the house of Seaforth not only with the appearance of a deaf Caberfae, but with the contemporaneous appearance of various different physical misfortunes in several of the other great Highland chiefs; all of which are said—and were certainly believed both by Scott and Davy—to have actually occurred within the memory of the generation that has not yet passed away. Mr. Morritt can testify thus far—that he "heard the prophecy quoted in the Highlands at a time when Lord Seaforth had two sons both alive and in good health—so that it certainly was not made apres coup." [Mrs. Stewart-Mackenzie died at Brahan Castle in 1862, in her 79th year. "Her funeral was one of the largest ever witnessed in the North." The Seaforth estates passed to the eldest of her three sons.]]

I am delighted to find Mrs. Morritt is recovering health and strength—better walking on the beach at Worthing than on the plainstanes of Prince's Street, for the weather is very severe here indeed. I trust Mrs. M. will, in her milder climate, lay in such a stock of health and strength as may enable you to face the north in Autumn. I have got the nicest crib for you possible, just about twelve feet square, and in the harmonious vicinity of a piggery. You never saw so minute an establishment,—but {p.015} it has all that we wish for, and all our friends will care about; and we long to see you there. Charlotte sends the kindest remembrances to Mrs. Morritt.

As for politics, I have thought little about them lately; the high and exciting interest is so completely subsided, that the wine is upon the lees. As for America, we have so managed as to give her the appearance of triumph, and what is worse, encouragement to resume the war upon a more favorable opportunity. It was our business to have given them a fearful memento that the babe unborn should have remembered; but, having missed this opportunity, I believe that this country would submit with great reluctance to continue a war, for which there is really no specific object. As for the Continental monarchs, there is no guessing what the folly of Kings and Ministers may do; but God knows! would any of them look at home, enough is to be done which might strengthen and improve their dominions in a different manner than by mere extension. I trust Ministers will go out rather than be engaged in war again, upon any account. If France is wise (I have no fear that any superfluous feeling of humanity will stand in the way), she will send 10,000 of her most refractory troops to fight with Christophe and the yellow fever in the Island of St. Domingo, and then I presume they may sit down in quiet at home.

But my sheet grows to an end, and so does the pleading of the learned counsel, who is thumping the poor bar as I write. He hems twice. Forward, sweet Orator Higgins!—at least till I sign myself, dear Morritt,

Yours most truly,

Walter SCOTT.

Guy Mannering was published on the 24th of February—that is, exactly two months after The Lord of the Isles {p.016} was dismissed from the author's desk; and—making but a narrow allowance for the operations of the transcriber, printer, bookseller, etc., I think the dates I have gathered together confirm the accuracy of what I have often heard Scott say, that his second novel "was the work of six weeks at a Christmas." Such was his recipe "for refreshing the machine."

I am sorry to have to add, that this severity of labor, like the repetition of it which had such deplorable effects at a later period of his life, was the result of his anxiety to acquit himself of obligations arising out of his connection with the commercial speculations of the Ballantynes. The approach of Christmas, 1814, brought with it the prospect of such a recurrence of difficulties about the discount of John's bills, as to render it absolutely necessary that Scott should either apply again for assistance to his private friends, or task his literary powers with some such extravagant effort as has now been recorded. The great object, which was still to get rid of the heavy stock that had been accumulated before the storm of May, 1813, at length determined the chief partner to break up, as soon as possible, the concern which his own sanguine rashness, and the gross irregularities of his mercurial lieutenant, had so lamentably perplexed; but Constable, having already enabled the firm to avoid public exposure more than once, was not now, any more than when he made his contract for The Lord of the Isles, disposed to burden himself with an additional load of Weber's Beaumont and Fletcher, and other almost as unsalable books. While they were still in hopes of overcoming his scruples, it happened that a worthy friend of Scott's, the late Mr. Charles Erskine, his sheriff-substitute in Selkirkshire, had immediate occasion for a sum of money which he had some time before advanced, at Scott's personal request, to the firm of John Ballantyne and Company; and on receiving his application, Scott wrote as follows:—


ABBOTSFORD, October 14, 1814.

DEAR JOHN,—Charles Erskine wishes his money, as he has made a purchase of land. This is a new perplexity—for paid he must be forthwith—as his advance was friendly and confidential. I do not at this moment see how it is to be raised, but believe I shall find means. In the mean while, it will be necessary to propitiate the Leviathans of Paternoster Row. My idea is, that you or James should write to them to the following effect: That a novel is offered you by the Author of Waverley; that the author is desirous it should be out before Mr. Scott's poem, or as soon thereafter as possible; and that having resolved, as they are aware, to relinquish publishing, you only wish to avail yourselves of this offer to the extent of helping off some of your stock. I leave it to you to consider whether you should condescend on any particular work to offer them as bread to their butter—or on any particular amount—as L500. One thing must be provided, that Constable shares to the extent of the Scottish sale—they, however, managing. My reason for letting them have this scent of roast meat is, in case it should be necessary for us to apply to them to renew bills in December. Yours,

W. S.

Upon receiving this letter, John Ballantyne suggested to Scott that he should be allowed to offer, not only the new novel, but the next edition of Waverley, to Longman, Murray, or Blackwood—in the hope that the prospect of being let in to the profits of the already established favorite, would overcome effectually the hesitation of one or other of these houses about venturing on the encumbrance which Constable seemed to shrink from with such pertinacity; but upon this ingenious proposition Scott at once set his veto. He writes (October 17, 1814):—

{p.018} DEAR JOHN,—

Your expedients are all wretched, as far as regards me. I never will give Constable, or any one, room to say I have broken my word with him in the slightest degree. If I lose everything else, I will at least keep my honor unblemished; and I do hold myself bound in honor to offer him a Waverley, while he shall continue to comply with the conditions annexed. I intend the new novel to operate as something more permanent than a mere accommodation; and if I can but be permitted to do so, I will print it before it is sold to any one, and then propose, first to Constable and Longman—second, to Murray and Blackwood—to take the whole at such a rate as will give them one half of the fair profits; granting acceptances which, upon an edition of 3000, which we shall be quite authorized to print, will amount to an immediate command of L1500; and to this we may couple the condition, that they must take L500 or L600 of the old stock. I own I am not solicitous to deal with Constable alone, nor am I at all bound to offer him the new novel on any terms; but he, knowing of the intention, may expect to be treated with, at least, although it is possible we may not deal. However, if Murray and Blackwood were to come forward with any handsome proposal as to the stock, I should certainly have no objection to James's giving the pledge of the Author of W. for his next work. You are like the crane in the fable, when you boast of not having got anything from the business; you may thank God that it did not bite your head off. Would to God I were at let-a-be for let-a-be;—but you have done your best, and so must I.

Yours truly,

W. S.

Both Mr. Murray, and Longman's partner, Mr. Rees, were in Scotland about this time; and the former at least paid Scott a visit at Abbotsford. Of course, however, whatever propositions they may have made were received by one or other of the Ballantynes. The result was, {p.019} that the house of Longman undertook Guy Mannering on the terms dictated by Scott—namely, granting bills for L1500, and relieving John Ballantyne and Company of stock to the extent of L500 more; and Constable's first information of the transaction was from Messrs. Longman themselves, when they, in compliance with Scott's wish, as signified in the letter last quoted, offered him a share in the edition which they had purchased. With one or two exceptions, originating in circumstances nearly similar, the house of Constable published all the subsequent series of the Waverley Novels.

I must not, however, forget that The Lord of the Isles was published a month before Guy Mannering. The poem was received with an interest much heightened by the recent and growing success of the mysterious Waverley. Its appearance, so rapidly following that novel, and accompanied with the announcement of another prose tale, just about to be published, by the same hand, puzzled and confounded the mob of dulness.[7] The more sagacious few said to themselves—Scott is making one serious effort more in his old line, and by this it will be determined whether he does or does not altogether renounce that for his new one.

[Footnote 7: John Ballantyne put forth the following paragraph in the Scots Magazine of December, 1814:—

"Mr. Scott's poem of The Lord of the Isles will appear early in January. The Author of Waverley is about to amuse the public with a new novel, in three volumes, entitled Guy Mannering."]

The Edinburgh Review on The Lord of the Isles begins with,—

"Here is another genuine Lay of the Great Minstrel, with all his characteristic faults, beauties, and irregularities. The same glow of coloring—the same energy of narration—the same amplitude of description are conspicuous—with the same still more characteristic disdain of puny graces and small originalities—the true poetical hardihood, in the strength of which he urges on his Pegasus fearlessly through dense and rare, and aiming gallantly at the great ends of truth and effect, {p.020} stoops but rarely to study the means by which they are to be attained; avails himself without scruple of common sentiments and common images wherever they seem fitted for his purpose; and is original by the very boldness of his borrowing, and impressive by his disregard of epigram and emphasis."

The conclusion of the contemporaneous article in the Quarterly Review is as follows:—

"The many beautiful passages which we have extracted from the poem, combined with the brief remarks subjoined to each canto, will sufficiently show, that although The Lord of the Isles is not likely to add very much to the reputation of Mr. Scott, yet this must be imputed rather to the greatness of his previous reputation, than to the absolute inferiority of the poem itself. Unfortunately, its merits are merely incidental, while its defects are mixed up with the very elements of the poem. But it is not in the power of Mr. Scott to write with tameness; be the subject what it will (and he could not easily have chosen one more impracticable), he impresses upon whatever scenes he describes so much movement and activity,—he infuses into his narrative such a flow of life, and, if we may so express ourselves, of animal spirits, that without satisfying the judgment, or moving the feelings, or elevating the mind, or even very greatly interesting the curiosity, he is able to seize upon, and, as it were, exhilarate the imagination of his readers, in a manner which is often truly unaccountable. This quality Mr. Scott possesses in an admirable degree; and supposing that he had no other object in view than to convince the world of the great poetical powers with which he is gifted, the poem before us would be quite sufficient for his purpose. But this is of very inferior importance to the public; what they want is a good poem, and, as experience has shown, this can only be constructed upon a solid foundation of taste, and judgment, and meditation."

These passages appear to me to condense the result of deliberate and candid reflection, and I have therefore quoted them. The most important remarks of either Essayist on the details of the plot and execution are annexed to the last edition of the poem; and show such an {p.021} exact coincidence of judgment in two masters of their calling, as had not hitherto been exemplified in the professional criticism of his metrical romances. The defects which both point out are, I presume, but too completely explained by the preceding statement of the rapidity with which this, the last of those great performances, had been thrown off; nor do I see that either Reviewer has failed to do sufficient justice to the beauties which redeem the imperfections of The Lord of the Isles—except as regards the whole character of Bruce, its real hero, and the picture of the battle of Bannockburn, which, now that one can compare these works from something like the same point of view, does not appear to me in the slightest particular inferior to the Flodden of Marmion.

This poem is now, I believe, about as popular as Rokeby; but it has never reached the same station in general favor with the Lay, Marmion, or The Lady of the Lake. The first edition of 1800 copies in quarto was, however, rapidly disposed of, and the separate editions in 8vo, which ensued before his poetical works were collected, amounted together to 12,250 copies. This, in the case of almost any other author, would have been splendid success; but as compared with what he had previously experienced, even in his Rokeby, and still more so as compared with the enormous circulation at once attained by Lord Byron's early tales, which were then following each other in almost breathless succession, the falling off was decided. One evening, some days after the poem had been published, Scott requested James Ballantyne to call on him, and the printer found him alone in his library, working at the third volume of Guy Mannering. I give what follows from Ballantyne's Memoranda:—

"'Well, James,' he said, 'I have given you a week—what are people saying about The Lord of the Isles?' I hesitated a little, after the fashion of Gil Blas, but he speedily brought the matter to a point. 'Come,' he said, 'speak out, my good {p.022} fellow; what has put it into your head to be on so much ceremony with me all of a sudden? But, I see how it is, the result is given in one word—Disappointment.' My silence admitted his inference to the fullest extent. His countenance certainly did look rather blank for a few seconds; in truth, he had been wholly unprepared for the event; for it is a singular fact, that before the public, or rather the booksellers, had given their decision, he no more knew whether he had written well or ill, than whether a die thrown out of a box was to turn up a size or an ace. However, he instantly resumed his spirits, and expressed his wonder rather that his poetical popularity should have lasted so long, than that it should have now at last given way. At length he said, with perfect cheerfulness, 'Well, well, James, so be it—but you know we must not droop, for we can't afford to give over. Since one line has failed, we must just stick to something else:'—and so he dismissed me and resumed his novel."

Ballantyne concludes the anecdote in these words:—

"He spoke thus, probably unaware of the undiscovered wonders then slumbering in his mind. Yet still he could not but have felt that the production of a few poems was nothing in comparison of what must be in reserve for him, for he was at this time scarcely more than forty.[8] An evening or two after, I called again on him, and found on the table a copy of The Giaour, which he seemed to have been reading. Having an enthusiastic young lady in my house, I asked him if I might carry the book home with me, but chancing to glance on the autograph blazon, 'To the Monarch of Parnassus from one of his subjects,' instantly retracted my request, and said I had not observed Lord Byron's inscription before. 'What inscription?' said he; 'oh yes, I had forgot, but inscription or no inscription, you are equally welcome.' I again took it up, and he continued, 'James, Byron hits the mark where I don't even pretend to fledge my arrow.' At this time he had never seen Byron, but I knew he meant soon to be in London, when, no doubt, the mighty consummation of the meeting of the two bards would be accomplished; and I ventured to say that he must be looking forward to it with some interest. His countenance {p.023} became fixed, and he answered impressively, 'Oh, of course.' In a minute or two afterwards he rose from his chair, paced the room at a very rapid rate, which was his practice in certain moods of mind, then made a dead halt, and bursting into an extravaganza of laughter, 'James,' cried he, 'I'll tell you what Byron should say to me when we are about to accost each other,—

[Footnote 8: He was not forty-four till August, 1815.]

"Art thou the man whom men famed Grizzle call?"

And then how germane would be my answer,—

"Art thou the still more famed Tom Thumb the small?"'

"This," says the printer, "is a specimen of his peculiar humor; it kept him full of mirth for the rest of the evening."

The whole of the scene strikes me as equally and delightfully characteristic; I may add, hardly more so of Scott than of his printer; for Ballantyne, with all his profound worship of his friend and benefactor, was in truth, even more than he, an undoubting acquiescer in "the decision of the public, or rather of the booksellers;" and among the many absurdities into which his reverence for the popedom of Paternoster Row led him, I never could but consider with special astonishment, the facility with which he seemed to have adopted the notion that the Byron of 1814 was really entitled to supplant Scott as a popular poet. Appreciating, as a man of his talents could hardly fail to do, the splendidly original glow and depth of Childe Harold, he always appeared to me quite blind to the fact, that in The Giaour, in The Bride of Abydos, in Parisina, and indeed in all his early serious narratives, Byron owed at least half his success to clever, though perhaps unconscious imitation of Scott, and no trivial share of the rest to the lavish use of materials which Scott never employed, only because his genius was, from the beginning to the end of his career, under the guidance of high and chivalrous feelings of moral rectitude. All this Lord Byron himself seems to have felt most completely—as witness the whole sequence of {p.024} his letters and diaries;[9] and I think I see many symptoms that both the decision of the million, and its index, "the decision of the booksellers," tend the same way at present; but my business is to record, as far as my means may permit, the growth and structure of one great mind, and the effect which it produced upon the actual witnesses of its manifestations, not to obtrude the conjectures of a partial individual as to what rank posterity may assign it amongst or above contemporary rivals.

[Footnote 9: E. G. "If they want to depose Scott, I only wish they would not set me up as a competitor. I like the man—and admire his works to what Mr. Braham calls Entusymusy. All such stuff can only vex him, and do me no good."—Byron (1813), vol. ii. p. 259.

"Scott is certainly the most wonderful writer of the day. His novels are a new literature in themselves, and his poetry as good as any—if not better (only on an erroneous system), and only ceased to be popular, because the vulgar learned were tired of hearing 'Aristides called the Just,' and Scott the Best, and ostracized him."—Byron (1821), vol. v. p. 72.]

The following letter was addressed to Lord Byron on the receipt of that copy of The Giaour to which Mr. Ballantyne's Memorandum refers: I believe the inscription to Scott first appeared on the ninth edition of the poem:


MY LORD,—I have long owed you my best thanks for the uncommon pleasure I had in perusing your high-spirited Turkish fragment. But I should hardly have ventured to offer them, well knowing how you must be overwhelmed by volunteer intrusions of approbation (which always look as if the writer valued his opinion at fully more than it may be worth) unless I had to-day learned that I have an apology for entering upon the subject, from your having so kindly sent me a copy of the poem. I did not receive it sooner, owing to my absence from Edinburgh, where it had been lying quietly at my house in Castle Street; so that I must have seemed ungrateful, when, in truth, I was only modest. The last offence may be forgiven, as not common in a lawyer {p.025} and poet; the first is said to be equal to the crime of witchcraft, but many an act of my life hath shown that I am no conjurer. If I were, however, ten times more modest than twenty years' attendance at the Bar renders probable, your flattering inscription would cure me of so unfashionable a malady. I might, indeed, lately have had a legal title to as much supremacy on Parnassus as can be conferred by a sign-manual, for I had a very flattering offer of the laurel; but as I felt obliged, for a great many reasons, to decline it, I am altogether unconscious of any other title to sit high upon the forked hill.

To return to The Giaour; I had lent my first edition, but the whole being imprinted in my memory, I had no difficulty in tracing the additions, which are great improvements, as I should have conjectured aforehand merely from their being additions. I hope your Lordship intends to proceed with this fascinating style of composition. You have access to a stream of sentiments, imagery, and manners, which are so little known to us as to convey all the interest of novelty, yet so endeared to us by the early perusal of Eastern tales, that we are not embarrassed with utter ignorance upon the subject. Vathek, bating some passages, would have made a charming subject for a tale. The conclusion is truly grand. I would give a great deal to know the originals from which it was drawn. Excuse this hasty scrawl, and believe me, my Lord, your Lordship's much obliged, very humble servant,

Walter SCOTT.

If January brought the writer of this letter "disappointment," there was abundant consolation in store for February, 1815. Guy Mannering was received with eager curiosity, and pronounced by acclamation fully worthy to share the honors of Waverley. The easy transparent flow of its style; the beautiful simplicity, and here and there the wild solemn magnificence of its {p.026} sketches of scenery; the rapid, ever heightening interest of the narrative; the unaffected kindliness of feeling, the manly purity of thought, everywhere mingled with a gentle humor and a homely sagacity; but, above all, the rich variety and skilful contrast of characters and manners, at once fresh in fiction, and stamped with the unforgeable seal of truth and nature: these were charms that spoke to every heart and mind; and the few murmurs of pedantic criticism were lost in the voice of general delight, which never fails to welcome the invention that introduces to the sympathy of imagination a new group of immortal realities.

The earlier chapters of the present narrative have anticipated much of what I might, perhaps with better judgment, have reserved for this page. Taken together with the author's Introduction and Notes, those anecdotes of his days of youthful wandering must, however, have enabled the reader to trace almost as minutely as he could wish, the sources from which the novelist drew his materials, both of scenery and character; and the Durham Garland, which I print in the Appendix to this volume, exhausts my information concerning the humble groundwork on which fancy reared this delicious romance.[10]

[Footnote 10: I leave my text as it stood in the former editions; but since the last of these appeared, a writer in The Gentleman's Magazine (July, 1840) has pointed out some very remarkable coincidences between the narrative of Guy Mannering and the very singular history of James Annesley, claimant in 1743 of the honors and estates of the Earls of Anglesey, in Ireland. That Sir Walter must have read the records of this celebrated trial, as well as Smollett's edition of the story in Peregrine Pickle, there can be no doubt. How the circumstance had not recurred to his memory when writing the explanatory Introduction to his Novel, I can offer no conjecture. Very possibly the Garland itself may have been framed after the Annesley trial took place.—(1841.) [The paper in The Gentleman's Magazine, referred to above, will be found in the Appendix to this volume.]]

The first edition was, like that of Waverley, in three little volumes, with a humility of paper and printing which the meanest novelist would now disdain to imitate; {p.027} the price a guinea. The 2000 copies of which it consisted were sold the day after the publication; and within three months came a second and a third impression, making together 5000 copies more. The sale, before those novels began to be collected, had reached nearly 10,000; and since then (to say nothing of foreign reprints of the text, and myriads of translations into every tongue of Europe) the domestic sale has amounted to 50,000.

On the rising of the Court of Session in March, Mr. and Mrs. Scott went by sea to London with their eldest girl, whom, being yet too young for general society, they again deposited with Joanna Baillie at Hampstead, while they themselves resumed, for two months, their usual quarters at kind Miss Dumergue's in Piccadilly. Six years had elapsed since Scott last appeared in the metropolis; and brilliant as his reception had then been, it was still more so on the present occasion. Scotland had been visited in the interim, chiefly from the interest excited by his writings, by crowds of the English nobility, most of whom had found introduction to his personal acquaintance—not a few had partaken of his hospitality at Ashestiel or Abbotsford. The generation among whom, I presume, a genius of this order feels his own influence with the proudest and sweetest confidence—on whose fresh minds and ears he has himself made the first indelible impressions—the generation with whose earliest romance of the heart and fancy his idea had been blended, was now grown to the full stature; the success of these recent novels, seen on every table, the subject of every conversation, had, with those who did not doubt their parentage, far more than counterweighed his declination, dubious after all, in the poetical balance; while the mystery that hung over them quickened the curiosity of the hesitating and conjecturing many—and the name on which ever and anon some new circumstance accumulated stronger suspicion, loomed larger through the {p.028} haze in which he had thought fit to envelop it. Moreover, this was a period of high national pride and excitement.

"O who that shared them ever shall forget The emotions of the spirit-rousing time, When breathless in the mart the couriers met, Early and late, at evening and at prime; When the loud cannon and the merry chime Hail'd news on news, as field on field was won, When Hope, long doubtful, soared at length sublime, And our glad eyes, awake as day begun, Watch'd Joy's broad banner rise, to meet the rising sun?

"O these were hours, when thrilling joy repaid A long, long course of darkness, doubts, and fears! The heart-sick faintness of the hope delayed, The waste, the woe, the bloodshed, and the tears That tracked with terror twenty rolling years— All was forgot in that blithe jubilee. Her downcast eye even pale Affliction rears, To sigh a thankful prayer amid the glee That hailed the Despot's fall, and peace and liberty!"[11]

[Footnote 11: Lord of the Isles, Canto vi.]

At such a time, Prince and people were well prepared to hail him who, more perhaps than any other master of the pen, had contributed to sustain the spirit of England throughout the struggle, which was as yet supposed to have been terminated on the field of Toulouse. "Thank Heaven you are coming at last!" Joanna Baillie had written a month or two before. "Make up your mind to be stared at only a little less than the Czar of Muscovy, or old Bluecher."

And now took place James Ballantyne's "mighty consummation of the meeting of the two bards." Scott's own account of it, in a letter to Mr. Moore, must have been seen by most of my readers; yet I think it ought also to find a place here. He says:—

"It was in the spring of 1815, that, chancing to be in London, I had the advantage of a personal introduction {p.029} to Lord Byron. Report had prepared me to meet a man of peculiar habits and a quick temper, and I had some doubts whether we were likely to suit each other in society. I was most agreeably disappointed in this respect. I found Lord Byron in the highest degree courteous, and even kind. We met for an hour or two almost daily, in Mr. Murray's drawing-room, and found a great deal to say to each other.[12] We also met frequently in parties and evening society, so that for about two months I had the advantage of a considerable intimacy with this distinguished individual. Our sentiments agreed a good deal, except upon the subjects of religion and politics, upon neither of which I was inclined to believe that Lord Byron entertained very fixed opinions. I remember saying to him, that I really thought that if he lived a few years he would alter his sentiments. He answered, rather sharply, 'I suppose you are one of those who prophesy I shall turn Methodist.' I replied: 'No, I don't expect your conversion to be of such an ordinary kind. I would rather look to see you retreat upon the Catholic faith, and distinguish yourself by the austerity of your penances. The species of religion to which you must, or may, one day attach yourself, must exercise a strong power on the imagination.' He smiled gravely, and seemed to allow I might be right.

[Footnote 12: [John Murray—the third of the name—gives some interesting notes of his recollections of these meetings in Albemarle Street, in the Memoirs of his father (vol. i. p. 267).]]

"On politics, he used sometimes to express a high strain of what is now called Liberalism; but it appeared to me that the pleasure it afforded him, as a vehicle for displaying his wit and satire against individuals in office, was at the bottom of this habit of thinking, rather than any real conviction of the political principles on which he talked. He was certainly proud of his rank and ancient family, and, in that respect, as much an aristocrat {p.030} as was consistent with good sense and good breeding. Some disgusts, how adopted I know not, seemed to me to have given this peculiar and (as it appeared to me) contradictory cast of mind; but, at heart, I would have termed Byron a patrician on principle.

"Lord Byron's reading did not seem to me to have been very extensive, either in poetry or history. Having the advantage of him in that respect, and possessing a good competent share of such reading as is little read, I was sometimes able to put under his eye objects which had for him the interest of novelty. I remember particularly repeating to him the fine poem of Hardyknute, an imitation of the old Scottish ballad, with which he was so much affected, that some one who was in the same apartment asked me what I could possibly have been telling Byron by which he was so much agitated.

"I saw Byron for the last time in 1815, after I returned from France. He dined, or lunched, with me at Long's, in Bond Street. I never saw him so full of gayety and good-humor, to which the presence of Mr. Mathews, the comedian, added not a little. Poor Terry was also present. After one of the gayest parties I ever was present at, my fellow-traveller, Mr. Scott of Gala, and I set off for Scotland, and I never saw Lord Byron again. Several letters passed between us—one perhaps every half-year. Like the old heroes in Homer, we exchanged gifts. I gave Byron a beautiful dagger mounted with gold, which had been the property of the redoubted Elfi Bey. But I was to play the part of Diomed in the Iliad, for Byron sent me, some time after, a large sepulchral vase of silver. It was full of dead men's bones, and had inscriptions on two sides of the base. One ran thus: 'The bones contained in this urn were found in certain ancient sepulchres within the long walls of Athens, in the month of February, 1811.' The other face bears the lines of Juvenal: 'Expende—quot libras in duce summo {p.031} invenies?—Mors sola fatetur quantula sint hominum corpuscula.'

"To these I have added a third inscription, in these words, 'The gift of Lord Byron to Walter Scott.'[13] There was a letter with this vase, more valuable to me than the gift itself, from the kindness with which the donor expressed himself towards me. I left it naturally in the urn with the bones; but it is now missing. As the theft was not of a nature to be practised by a mere domestic, I am compelled to suspect the inhospitality of some individual of higher station, most gratuitously exercised certainly, since, after what I have here said, no one will probably choose to boast of possessing this literary curiosity.

[Footnote 13: Mr. Murray had, at the time of giving the vase, suggested to Lord Byron, that it would increase the value of the gift to add some such inscription; but the noble poet answered modestly,—

"April 9, 1815. DEAR MURRAY,—I have a great objection to your proposition about inscribing the vase—which is, that it would appear ostentatious on my part; and of course I must send it as it is, without any alteration. Yours ever, BYRON."]

"We had a good deal of laughing, I remember, on what the public might be supposed to think, or say, concerning the gloomy and ominous nature of our mutual gifts.

"I think I can add little more to my recollections of Byron. He was often melancholy—almost gloomy. When I observed him in this humor, I used either to wait till it went off of its own accord, or till some natural and easy mode occurred of leading him into conversation, when the shadows almost always left his countenance, like the mist rising from a landscape. In conversation he was very animated.

"I met with him very frequently in society; our mutual acquaintances doing me the honor to think that he liked to meet with me. Some very agreeable parties I can recollect—particularly one at Sir George Beaumont's—where the amiable landlord had assembled some persons {p.032} distinguished for talent. Of these I need only mention the late Sir Humphry Davy, whose talents for literature were as remarkable as his empire over science. Mr. Richard Sharpe and Mr. Rogers were also present.

"I think I also remarked in Byron's temper starts of suspicion, when he seemed to pause and consider whether there had not been a secret, and perhaps offensive, meaning in something casually said to him. In this case, I also judged it best to let his mind, like a troubled spring, work itself clear, which it did in a minute or two. I was considerably older, you will recollect, than my noble friend, and had no reason to fear his misconstruing my sentiments towards him, nor had I ever the slightest reason to doubt that they were kindly returned on his part. If I had occasion to be mortified by the display of genius which threw into the shade such pretensions as I was then supposed to possess, I might console myself that, in my own case, the materials of mental happiness had been mingled in a greater proportion.

"I rummage my brains in vain for what often rushes into my head unbidden—little traits and sayings which recall his looks, manner, tone, and gestures; and I have always continued to think that a crisis of life was arrived, in which a new career of fame was opened to him, and that had he been permitted to start upon it, he would have obliterated the memory of such parts of his life as friends would wish to forget."

I have nothing to add to this interesting passage, except that Joanna Baillie's tragedy of The Family Legend being performed at one of the theatres during Scott's stay in town, Lord Byron accompanied the authoress and Mr. and Mrs. Scott to witness the representation; and that the vase with the Attic bones appears to have been sent to Scott very soon after his arrival in London, not, as Mr. Moore had gathered from the hasty diction of his Reminiscences, at some "subsequent period of their acquaintance." {p.033} This is sufficiently proved by the following note:—



MY DEAR LORD,—I am not a little ashamed of the value of the shrine in which your Lordship has enclosed the Attic relics; but were it yet more costly, the circumstance could not add value to it in my estimation, when considered as a pledge of your Lordship's regard and friendship. The principal pleasure which I have derived from my connection with literature has been the access which it has given me to those who are distinguished by talents and accomplishments; and, standing so high as your Lordship justly does in that rank, my satisfaction in making your acquaintance has been proportionally great. It is one of those wishes which, after having been long and earnestly entertained, I have found completely gratified upon becoming personally known to you; and I trust you will permit me to profit by it frequently, during my stay in town. I am, my dear Lord, your truly obliged and faithful

Walter SCOTT.

It was also in the spring of 1815 that Scott had, for the first time, the honor of being presented to the Prince Regent. His Royal Highness had (as has been seen from a letter to Joanna Baillie, already quoted) signified, more than a year before this time, his wish that the poet should revisit London—and, on reading his Edinburgh Address in particular, he said to Mr. Dundas, that "Walter Scott's charming behavior about the laureateship had made him doubly desirous of seeing him at Carlton House." More lately, on receiving a copy of The Lord of the Isles, his Royal Highness's librarian had been commanded to write to him in these terms:—


CARLTON HOUSE, January 19, 1815.

MY DEAR SIR,—You are deservedly so great a favorite with the Prince Regent, that his librarian is not only directed to return you the thanks of his Royal Highness for your valuable present, but to inform you that the Prince Regent particularly wishes to see you whenever you come to London; and desires you will always, when you are there, come into his library whenever you please. Believe me always, with sincerity, one of your warmest admirers, and most obliged friends,


On hearing from Mr. Croker (then Secretary to the Admiralty) that Scott was to be in town by the middle of March, the Prince said, "Let me know when he comes, and I'll get up a snug little dinner that will suit him;" and, after he had been presented and graciously received at the levee, he was invited to dinner accordingly, through his excellent friend Mr. Adam (now Lord Chief Commissioner of the Jury Court in Scotland),[14] who at that time held a confidential office in the royal household. The Regent had consulted with Mr. Adam also as to the composition of the party. "Let us have," said he, "just a few friends of his own—and the more Scotch the better;" and both the Chief Commissioner and Mr. Croker assure me that the party was the most interesting and agreeable one in their recollection. It comprised, I believe, the Duke of York—the late Duke of Gordon (then Marquis of Huntly)—the Marquis of Hertford (then Lord Yarmouth)—the Earl of Fife—and {p.035} Scott's early friend Lord Melville. "The Prince and Scott," says Mr. Croker, "were the two most brilliant story-tellers in their several ways, that I have ever happened to meet; they were both aware of their forte, and both exerted themselves that evening with delightful effect. On going home, I really could not decide which of them had shone the most. The Regent was enchanted with Scott, as Scott with him; and on all his subsequent visits to London, he was a frequent guest at the royal table." The Lord Chief Commissioner remembers that the Prince was particularly delighted with the poet's anecdotes of the old Scotch judges and lawyers, which his Royal Highness sometimes capped by ludicrous traits of certain ermined sages of his own acquaintance. Scott told, among others, a story, which he was fond of telling; and the commentary of his Royal Highness on hearing it amused Scott, who often mentioned it afterwards. The anecdote is this: A certain Judge, whenever he went on a particular circuit, was in the habit of visiting a gentleman of good fortune in the neighborhood of one of the assize towns, and staying at least one night, which, being both of them ardent chess-players, they usually concluded with their favorite game. One Spring circuit the battle was not decided at daybreak, so the Judge said, "Weel, Donald, I must e'en come back this gate in the harvest, and let the game lie ower for the present;" and back he came in October, but not to his old friend's hospitable house; for that gentleman had, in the interim, been apprehended on a capital charge (of forgery), and his name stood on the Porteous Roll, or list of those who were about to be tried under his former guest's auspices. The laird was indicted and tried accordingly, and the jury returned a verdict of guilty. The Judge forthwith put on his cocked hat (which answers to the black cap in England), and pronounced the sentence of the law in the usual terms: "To be hanged by the neck until you be dead; and may the Lord have {p.036} mercy upon your unhappy soul!" Having concluded this awful formula in his most sonorous cadence, the Judge, dismounting his formidable beaver, gave a familiar nod to his unfortunate acquaintance, and said to him in a sort of chuckling whisper, "And now, Donald, my man, I think I've checkmated you for ance." The Regent laughed heartily at this specimen of judicial humor; and "I' faith, Walter," said he, "this old big-wig seems to have taken things as coolly as my tyrannical self. Don't you remember Tom Moore's description of me at breakfast,—

'The table spread with tea and toast, Death-warrants and the Morning Post?'"

[Footnote 14: This most amiable and venerable gentleman, my dear and kind friend, died at Edinburgh on the 17th February, 1839, in the 80th year of his age. He retained his strong mental faculties in their perfect vigor to the last days of this long life, and with them all the warmth of social feelings which had endeared him to all who were so happy as to have any opportunity of knowing him. The reader will find an affectionate tribute to his worth, from Sir Walter Scott's Diary, in a subsequent volume of these Memoirs.—(March, 1839.)]

Towards midnight, the Prince called for "a bumper, with all the honors, to the Author of Waverley," and looked significantly, as he was charging his own glass, to Scott. Scott seemed somewhat puzzled for a moment, but instantly recovering himself, and filling his glass to the brim, said, "Your Royal Highness looks as if you thought I had some claim to the honors of this toast. I have no such pretensions, but shall take good care that the real Simon Pure hears of the high compliment that has now been paid him." He then drank off his claret, and joined in the cheering, which the Prince himself timed. But before the company could resume their seats, his Royal Highness exclaimed, "Another of the same, if you please, to the Author of Marmion—and now, Walter, my man, I have checkmated you for ance." The second bumper was followed by cheers still more prolonged: and Scott then rose and returned thanks in a short address, which struck the Lord Chief Commissioner as "alike grave and graceful." This story has been circulated in a very perverted shape. I now give it on the authority of my venerated friend. He adds, that having occasion, the day after, to call on the Duke of York, his Royal Highness said to him: "Upon my word, Adam, my brother went rather too near the wind about Waverley—but {p.037} nobody could have turned the thing more prettily than Walter Scott did—and upon the whole I never had better fun."[15]

[Footnote 15: Since this narrative was first published, I have been told by two gentlemen who were at this dinner, that, according to their recollection, the Prince did not on that occasion run so "near the wind" as my text represents; and I am inclined to believe that a scene at Dalkeith, in 1822, may have been unconsciously blended with a gentler rehearsal of Carlton House, 1815. The Chief Commissioner had promised to revise my sheets for the present edition; but alas, he never did so—and I must now leave the matter as it stands.—(1839.)]

The Regent, as was his custom with those he most delighted to honor, uniformly addressed the poet, even at their first dinner, by his Christian name, "Walter."

Before he left town, he again dined at Carlton House, when the party was a still smaller one than before, and the merriment, if possible, still more free. That nothing might be wanting, the Prince sung several capital songs in the course of that evening—as witness the lines in Sultan Serendib:[16]—

"I love a Prince will bid the bottle pass, Exchanging with his subjects glance and glass, In fitting time can, gayest of the gay, Keep up the jest and mingle in the lay. Such Monarchs best our freeborn humor suit, But despots must be stately, stern, and mute."[17]

[Footnote 16: [The Search after Happiness.]]

[Footnote 17: Scott's Poetical Works, vol. xi. p. 353 [Cambridge Ed. p. 431].]

Before he returned to Edinburgh, on the 22d of May, the Regent sent him a gold snuff-box, set in brilliants, with a medallion of his Royal Highness's head on the lid, "as a testimony" (writes Mr. Adam, in transmitting it) "of the high opinion his Royal Highness entertains of your genius and merit."

I transcribe what follows from James Ballantyne's Memoranda:—

"After Mr. Scott's first interview with his Sovereign, one or two intimate friends took the liberty of inquiring, what judgment he had formed of the Regent's talents? He declined {p.038} giving any definite answer—but repeated that 'he was the first gentleman he had seen—certainly the first English gentleman of his day;—there was something about him which, independently of the prestige, the "divinity, which hedges a King," marked him as standing entirely by himself; but as to his abilities, spoken of as distinct from his charming manners, how could any one form a fair judgment of that man who introduced whatever subject he chose, discussed it just as long as he chose, and dismissed it when he chose?'"

Ballantyne adds:—

"What I have now to say is more important, not only in itself, but as it will enable you to give a final contradiction to an injurious report which has been in circulation; namely, that the Regent asked him as to the authorship of Waverley, and received a distinct and solemn denial. I took the bold freedom of requesting to know from him whether his Royal Highness had questioned him on that subject, and what had been his answer. He glanced at me with a look of mild surprise, and said, 'What answer I might have made to such a question, put to me by my Sovereign, perhaps I do not, or rather perhaps I do know; but I was never put to the test. He is far too well-bred a man ever to put so ill-bred a question.'"

The account I have already given of the convivial scene alluded to would probably have been sufficient; but it can do no harm to place Ballantyne's, or rather Scott's own testimony, also on record.

I ought not to have omitted, that during Scott's residence in London, in April, 1815, he lost one of the English friends, to a meeting with whom he had looked forward with the highest pleasure. Mr. George Ellis died on the 15th of that month, at his seat of Sunning Hill. This threw a cloud over what would otherwise have been a period of unmixed enjoyment. Mr. Canning penned the epitaph for that dearest of his friends, but he submitted it to Scott's consideration before it was engraved.


Battle of Waterloo. — Letter of Sir Charles Bell. — Visit to the Continent. — Waterloo. — Letters from Brussels and Paris. — Anecdotes of Scott at Paris. — The Duke of Wellington. — The Emperor Alexander. — Bluecher. — Platoff. — Party at Ermenonville, etc. — London. — Parting with Lord Byron. — Scott's Sheffield Knife. — Return to Abbotsford. — Anecdotes by Mr. Skene and James Ballantyne.


Goethe expressed, I fancy, a very general sentiment, when he said, that to him the great charm and value of my friend's Life of Buonaparte seemed quite independent of the question of its accuracy as to small details; that he turned eagerly to the book, not to find dates sifted, and countermarches analyzed, but to contemplate what could not but be a true record of the broad impressions made on the mind of Scott by the marvellous revolutions of his own time in their progress. Feeling how justly in the main that work has preserved those impressions, though gracefully softened and sobered in the retrospect of peaceful and more advanced years, I the less regret that I have it not in my power to quote any letters of his touching the reappearance of Napoleon on the soil of France—the immortal march from Cannes—the reign of the Hundred Days, and the preparations for another struggle, which fixed the gaze of Europe in May, 1815.

That he should have been among the first civilians {p.040} who hurried over to see the field of Waterloo, and hear English bugles sound about the walls of Paris, could have surprised none who knew the lively concern he had always taken in the military efforts of his countrymen, and the career of the illustrious captain, who had taught them to reestablish the renown of Agincourt and Blenheim,—

"Victor of Assaye's Eastern plain, Victor of all the fields of Spain."

I had often heard him say, however, that his determination was, if not fixed, much quickened by a letter of an old acquaintance of his, who had, on the arrival of the news of the 18th of June, instantly repaired to Brussels, to tender his professional skill in aid of the overburdened medical staff of the conqueror's army. When, therefore, I found the letter in question preserved among Scott's papers, I perused it with a peculiar interest; and I now venture, with the writer's permission, to present it to the reader. It was addressed by Sir Charles Bell to his brother, an eminent barrister in Edinburgh, who transmitted it to Scott. "When I read it," said he, "it set me on fire." The marriage of Miss Maclean Clephane of Torloisk with the Earl Compton (now Marquis of Northampton), which took place on the 24th of July, was in fact the only cause why he did not leave Scotland instantly; for that dear young friend had chosen Scott for her guardian, and on him accordingly devolved the chief care of the arrangements on this occasion. The extract sent to him by Mr. George Joseph Bell is as follows:—

"BRUSSELS, 2d July, 1815.

"This country, the finest in the world, has been of late quite out of our minds. I did not, in any degree, anticipate the pleasure I should enjoy, the admiration forced from me, on coming into one of these antique towns, or in journeying through the rich garden. Can you recollect the time when there were gentlemen meeting at the Cross of Edinburgh, or those whom we thought such? They are all collected here. {p.041} You see the very men, with their scraggy necks sticking out of the collars of their old-fashioned square-skirted coats—their canes—their cocked-hats; and, when they meet, the formal bow, the hat off to the ground, and the powder flying in the wind. I could divert you with the odd resemblances of the Scottish faces among the peasants, too—but I noted them at the time with my pencil, and I write to you only of things that you won't find in my pocket-book.

"I have just returned from seeing the French wounded received in their hospital; and could you see them laid out naked, or almost so—100 in a row of low beds on the ground—though wounded, exhausted, beaten, you would still conclude with me that these were men capable of marching unopposed from the west of Europe to the east of Asia. Strong, thickset, hardy veterans, brave spirits and unsubdued, as they cast their wild glance upon you,—their black eyes and brown cheeks finely contrasted with the fresh sheets,—you would much admire their capacity of adaptation. These fellows are brought from the field after lying many days on the ground; many dying—many in the agony—many miserably racked with pain and spasms; and the next mimics his fellow, and gives it a tune,—Aha, vous chantez bien! How they are wounded you will see in my notes. But I must not have you to lose the present impression on me of the formidable nature of these fellows as exemplars of the breed in France. It is a forced praise; for from all I have seen, and all I have heard of their fierceness, cruelty, and bloodthirstiness, I cannot convey to you my detestation of this race of trained banditti. By what means they are to be kept in subjection until other habits come upon them, I know not; but I am convinced that these men cannot be left to the bent of their propensities.

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