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Title: Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, Volume I (of 10)
Author: Lockhart, J. G. (John Gibson), 1794-1854
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, Volume I (of 10)" ***

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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.

      The author used group of asterisks (*****) to replace names.

      Page numbers have been retained as {p.xxx}.




In Ten Volumes


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

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

Six Hundred Copies Printed
Number, 276


Lockhart's _Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, Bart._, which
divides with Boswell's _Life of Johnson_ the honor of leading all
lives of English men of letters, was first published in seven volumes
in 1837-1838. A second edition, with some corrections, some slight
revisions, and a few additions, mostly in the form of notes, was
published in 1839, and this has remained ever since the standard
edition. Later, in 1848, Lockhart prepared, at the request of the
publishers of that work, a condensation of his _magnum opus_, and took
that occasion to add a few facts bearing upon the _Life_ which had
occurred since the original publication, and a few comments which it
would not have been in good taste to make in the first instance.
Throughout his original work, Lockhart, with all his openness of
speech, yet refrained from certain personal references, the subjects
of which were too recent for remark, and he concealed many names under
the disguise of initials.

Since the edition of 1839 there have been many issues of this great
work on both sides of the Atlantic. As late as 1861, Messrs. Ticknor
and Fields, predecessors of the present publishers of the work, issued
an edition in nine volumes, and took occasion to insert some material
from Lockhart's abridgment. They prefaced the edition, which they
dedicated to Nathaniel Hawthorne, with a brief sketch of Lockhart.

Neither {p.vi} these publishers nor any others, so far as we know,
have ever done more than reprint the original work, save for the
slight modification just mentioned. Meanwhile for the past sixty
years, and more especially during the past twenty years, a crowd of
books has been published throwing light on Lockhart's great subject.
Memoirs, reminiscences, editions of Scott's writings, literary
studies, articles in reviews and magazines have added materially to
our knowledge not only of Scott, but of many others of the personages
who throng the chapters of Lockhart's work. Lockhart himself has been
made the subject of a generous biography, and it would seem as though,
lasting as is the fame of the _Life_, its necessary silences were
becoming every year more conspicuous.

Accordingly, the present publishers resolved to issue an edition which
should repair the damage which Time had wrought, and they entrusted
the editing to Miss Susan M. Francis, who through her long conversance
with the original work, and her familiarity with the literature which
has grown up about Scott, as well as her knowledge of the more or less
obscure sources of information, was peculiarly competent not only to
do the service of Old Mortality, but to set in order the inscriptions
still to be added to the stones of Scott's associates.

The principle upon which Lockhart's Scott is now edited may be stated
in very few words. The original work is reprinted without change,
except that initials have been extended to full names in a great many
instances, obvious printers' errors corrected, and Scott's journals
revised to conform with the authoritative edition by Mr. David
Douglas. Then, the text has been annotated by fuller accounts of many
of the persons to whom Scott or Lockhart refer, and very many passages
have been expanded or {p.vii} illuminated by extracts from Scott's
letters and journals, and from a variety of books and articles bearing
upon the subject. In a number of instances the narrative of persons
who were living when Lockhart wrote has been carried forward to show
their after career. All the editor's work is indicated by its
enclosure in brackets. Lockhart's later notes are indicated by the
years 1839, 1845, and 1848, enclosed in parentheses.

In making this annotation recourse has been had first of all to the
editions of Scott's _Familiar Letters_ and _Journal_, so thoroughly
and admirably edited by Mr. David Douglas. No one who undertakes to
work at the life of Scott fails to confess a deep obligation to this
gentleman. Not only so, but Mr. Douglas has repeatedly come to the
editor's aid in settling those nice points which arise in any piece of
careful editing. His own notes when used always bear his initials at
the close. Lang's _Life and Letters of Lockhart_ has also been in
frequent use, and of general works _The Dictionary of National
Biography_ has been in constant demand. The more one uses it the more
one comes to value the accuracy of its statements, and the
thoroughness with which its subjects have been treated. Of the very
large number of memoirs and reminiscences consulted, mention may be
made of _Selections from the Manuscripts of Lady Louisa Stuart_, by
permission of Messrs. Harper and Brothers, the American publishers of
the work; Mrs. Oliphant's _William Blackwood and his Sons_, and the
other two works on the great publishing houses, Smiles's _Memoir of
John Murray_ and _Archibald Constable and his Literary Correspondents_;
Carruthers's _Abbotsford Notanda_ and the _Catalogue of the Scott
Centenary Exhibition_ have been referred to, and the memoirs and
reminiscences connected with the names of Maria {p.viii} Edgeworth,
Washington Irving, Leslie, George Ticknor, Haydon, Byron, Moore,
Charles Mayne Young, Wordsworth, Crabbe, Lord Cockburn, Miss Ferrier,
Mrs. Kemble, and others; while for the later history of the Scott
family, the _Life of James Hope-Scott_ has been serviceable. The
attentive reader will readily understand that the editor has also gone
to numberless books and magazine articles for the proper confirmation
of petty facts and the assurance of accuracy.

To complete the worth of this edition, the publishers have taken pains
to illustrate it abundantly with portraits and other pictures, and to
obtain these they have gone as far as possible in every case to the
original sources. The result is a great English classic of abiding
value, faithfully reproduced, and so supplemented by editorial and
artistic labor as to be brought up to date in all essential

  Autumn, 1901.


  Biographical Sketch of John Gibson Lockhart                xiii

  Lockhart's Preface                                       xxxvii

  Original Dedication                                         xli



  I. Memoir of the Early Life of Sir Walter Scott, written
     by himself.                                                1

  II. Illustrations of the Autobiographical Fragment. --
     Edinburgh. -- Sandy-Knowe. -- Bath. -- Prestonpans.
     1771-1778.                                                51

  III. Illustrations of the Autobiography continued. -- High
     School of Edinburgh. -- Residence at Kelso. 1778-1783.    78

  IV. Illustrations of the Autobiography continued. --
     Anecdotes of Scott's College Life. 1783-1786.            104

  V. Illustrations continued. -- Scott's Apprenticeship to
     his Father. -- Excursions to the Highlands, etc. --
     Debating Societies. -- Early Correspondence, etc. --
     Williamina Stuart. 1786-1790.                            116

  VI. Illustrations continued. -- Studies for the Bar. --
     Excursion to Northumberland. -- Letter on Flodden
     Field. -- Call to the Bar. 1790-1792.                    149

  VII. {p.x} First Expedition into Liddesdale. -- Study of
     German. -- Political Trials, etc. -- Specimen of Law
     Papers. -- Bürger's Lenore translated. -- Disappointment
     in Love. 1792-1796.                                      169

  VIII. Publication of Ballads after Bürger. -- Scott
     Quartermaster of the Edinburgh Light Horse. -- Excursion
     to Cumberland. -- Gilsland Wells. -- Miss Carpenter. --
     Marriage. 1796-1797.                                     227


  WALTER SCOTT IN 1777                               Frontispiece
  From the miniature by Kay, in the Scottish National Portrait
  Gallery, Edinburgh.

  DR. ALEXANDER ADAM                                           28
  From the painting by Sir Henry Raeburn, R. A., in the Scottish
  National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh.

  WALTER SCOTT ("Beardie"), Great-grandfather of Sir Walter
  Scott                                                        60
  After the painting at Abbotsford.

  WALTER SCOTT, W. S., Father of Sir Walter Scott              66
  After the painting at Abbotsford.

  WILLIAMINA STUART                                           146
  From the miniature by Richard Cosway, R. A. By permission
  of the Century Co.

  From a photograph.




John Gibson Lockhart was born in the manse of Cambusnethan, July 14,
1794. His father, the Rev. John Lockhart, was twice married, and of
the children of his first wife only one, William, the laird of
Milton-Lockhart, reached manhood. The second Mrs. Lockhart was
Elizabeth, the daughter of the Rev. John Gibson, minister of St.
Cuthbert's, Edinburgh, and that clergyman's namesake was her eldest
child. "Every Scottishman has his pedigree," says Scott in his
fragment of Autobiography, and there is no lack of interest in the
honorable one of his son-in-law, from the days of Simon Locard of the
Lee, in the county of Lanark, who was knighted by Robert the Bruce,
and after his king's death sailed with the good Lord James Douglas,
who was bearing his master's heart to the Holy Land,--the heart which
Locard rescued from the Moors, when Douglas fell fighting in Spain,
and brought back to Scotland with Lord James's body. Then the Locards
added to their armorial bearings a heart within a fetterlock, and took
the name of Lockhart. From Sir Stephen Lockhart of Cleghorn, a man of
note in the court of James III., was descended Robert Lockhart of
Birkhill, who fought for the Covenant, and led the Lanarkshire Whigs
at the battle of Bothwell Brig.

William {p.xiv} Lockhart, the Covenanter's grandson, married Violet
Inglis, the heiress of Corehouse. The Rev. John Lockhart was the
younger of their two sons. From his father Lockhart seems to have
inherited his scholarly tastes, while in person he appears to have
resembled his mother; to both he was always the most affectionate and
devoted of sons. His warmth of feeling, even in childhood, as well as
his constitutional reserve, is shown by his intense suffering at the
loss of a younger brother and sister, who died within a few days of
each other. He did not weep like the rest of the children, or show
other sign of emotion, but fell seriously ill, and was long in
recovering from the shock. From the first he was a delicate child, and
the removal of the family from country to town, when he was in his
second year, probably did not tend to strengthen him. Dr. Lockhart
became minister of the College Kirk in Glasgow, and his son in due
time entered the High School there. In after-years his schoolmates
remembered him as a very clever, but hardly a diligent boy. Though
frequently absent from illness (one of these childish maladies caused
the deafness in one ear from which he suffered), he always kept his
place at the head of his class. "He never seemed to learn anything
when the class was sitting down," wrote a fellow-pupil, "and on
returning after one of his illnesses, he of course went to the bottom,
but we had not been five minutes up when he began to take places, and
he invariably succeeded, sometimes before the class was dismissed at
noon, in getting to the top of it again."

In 1805, when he had but just entered his twelfth year, Lockhart
matriculated at the University of Glasgow. More than fifty years
later, two of his classmates wrote their recollections of the boy
student,--recollections vivid enough to show how strong an impression
he made on his companions. He still was somewhat delicate in health,
and {p.xv} kept a high position in his studies more from ability than
assiduity. A strong sense of the ludicrous, allied with a turn for
satire, was already one of his marked traits. At the close of the
session of 1805-6 a little incident shows the admiration felt for him
by some of his companions. He had been disappointed in not obtaining a
certain Latin prize, and several of his friends, sharing his feeling,
determined to present to him a testimonial. He was very fond of The
Lay of the Last Minstrel, then a new book, so the lads procured a
splendidly bound copy, and, at their suggestion, the Professor, at the
public distribution of prizes, gave the volume with warm commendations
to Johannes Lockhart, as a prize the students had themselves provided.
It was not till Lockhart joined the logic class (at the age of
thirteen), that he suddenly outstripped all his companions, whom he
later astonished by the amount of Greek which he _professed_ at the
Blackstone examination. It was thought a _profession_ of reasonable
amount "when a student intimated his willingness to translate and be
examined critically on Anacreon, two or three of Lucian's dialogues,
extracts from Epictetus, Bion, and Moschus, and perhaps a book or two
of Homer." "But," declares one of his former fellow-students,
"Lockhart professed the whole Iliad and Odyssey and I know not how
much besides." His brilliant success on this occasion led to his being
offered one of the Snell Exhibitions to Oxford,--an offer which was
accepted after some hesitation on account of his youth. He was not yet
fifteen, and still wore the round jacket of a schoolboy when he was
entered at Balliol College.

One of Lockhart's closest friends at Oxford and ever after, Mr. J. H.
Christie, describes the young student at this time: "Lockhart
immediately made his general talents felt by his tutor and his
companions. His most remarkable characteristic, however, was the
exuberant spirits {p.xvi} which found vent in constant flashes of
merriment brightened and pointed with wit and satire at once droll and
tormenting. Even a lecture-room was not exempt from these
irrepressible sallies; and our tutor, who was formal and wished to be
grave, but had not the gift of gravity, never felt safe in the
presence of his mercurial pupil. Lockhart with great readiness
comprehended the habits and tone of the new society in which he was
placed, and was not for a moment wanting in any of its requirements;
but this adaptive power never interfered with the marked individuality
of his own character and bearing. He was at once a favorite and
formidable. In those days he was an incessant caricaturist; his
papers, his books, and the walls of his rooms were crowded with
portraitures of his friends and himself--so like as to be
unmistakable, with an exaggeration of any peculiarity so droll and so
provoking as to make the picture anything but flattering to the
self-love of its subject. This propensity was so strong in him that I
was surprised when in after-life he repressed it at once and forever.
In the last thirty years of his life I do not think he ever drew a

         [Footnote 1: _Quarterly Review_, vol. cxvi. p. 447.]

In these days Lockhart read not only Greek and Latin, but French,
Italian, and Spanish. German interested him later. At Balliol he
formed some friendships which ended only with life; no man was ever
truer to his early friends than he, and few have had friends more
loyal.[2] He {p.xvii} gained his first class in 1813--he was not yet
nineteen--and returned to his father's house in Glasgow, which he was
to leave two years later for Edinburgh, there to read law and begin
the literary work which was to prove the real business of his life. He
became acquainted with William Blackwood, who, when the young advocate
was about to visit Germany in the vacation of 1817, enabled him to
undertake the then toilsome and expensive journey by paying liberally,
not less than £300, it is said, for a translation to be made later.
Schlegel's Lectures on the History of Literature was the work Lockhart
selected, and of this incident Mr. Gleig says: "Though seldom
communicative on such subjects, he more than once alluded to the
circumstance in after-life, and always in the same terms. 'It was a
generous act on Ebony's part, and a bold one too; for he had only my
word for it that I had any acquaintance at all with the German
language!'" It was a generous act, and also one showing keen
perception on the part of the publisher. At this time began Lockhart's
intimacy with John Wilson, with whom he was so largely to share the
achievements, glorious and inglorious, of Mr. Blackwood's magazine in
its reckless youth. Unfortunately, the older and more experienced
writer was no safe guide for his brilliant but very young co-worker,
still with a boy's fondness for mischief and a dangerous wit, to which
the almost sublime self-complacency of the dominant Whig coteries
would offer abundant opportunities of exercise. Lockhart was not a
sinner above others, but in the end he was made something like the
scapegoat of all the offenders, whose misdeeds, occasionally serious
enough, are sometimes in view of the journalistic and critical
amenities then prevailing in {p.xviii} the organs of both parties
hardly so heinous as to account for the excitement that attended them.

         [Footnote 2: To one of these friends, the Rev. George Robert
         Gleig, Chaplain General of the Forces, we owe the only
         authoritative account of Lockhart's early life. This is to be
         found in the interesting article, the _Life of Lockhart_, in
         the Quarterly Review for October, 1864. Like his friend, Mr.
         Gleig was educated at Glasgow University, was a Snell
         Scholar, and was an early contributor to _Blackwood_ and to
         _Fraser_. Later he wrote for both the great Reviews. He was
         long the last survivor of the early _Blackwood_ and _Fraser_
         groups. He died in 1888, in his ninety-third year. The name
         which stood next to Lockhart in the alphabetical arrangement
         of the first class was that of Henry Hart Milman, his dear
         friend in later life, and one of his most constant and valued
         allies in the _Quarterly_. His correspondence with Milman
         forms an interesting feature of Lang's _Life_.]

What Lockhart thought of these youthful literary escapades in his
sober and saddened middle age is shown in a letter written in 1838: "I
was a raw boy who had never before had the least connection with
politics or controversies of any kind, when, arriving in Edinburgh in
October, 1817, I found my friend John Wilson (ten years my senior)
busied in helping Blackwood out of a scrape he had got into with some
editors of his Magazine, and on Wilson's asking me to try my hand at
some squibberies in his aid, I sat down to do so with as little malice
as if the assigned subject had been the Court of Pekin. But the row in
Edinburgh, the lordly Whigs having considered persiflage as their own
fee-simple, was really so extravagant that when I think of it now the
whole story seems wildly incredible. Wilson and I were singled out to
bear the whole burden of sin, though there were abundance of other
criminals in the concern; and by and by, Wilson passing for being a
very eccentric fellow, and I for a cool one, even he was allowed to
get off comparatively scot-free, while I, by far the youngest and
least experienced of the set, and who alone had no personal grudges
against any of Blackwood's victims, remained under such an
accumulation of wrath and contumely as would have crushed me utterly,
unless for the buoyancy of extreme youth. I now think with deep
sadness of the pain my jokes and jibes inflicted on better men than
myself, and I can say that I have omitted in my mature years no
opportunity of trying to make reparation where I really had been the
offender. But I was not the doer of half the deeds set down to my
account, nor can I, in the face of much evidence printed and
unprinted, believe that, after all, our Ebony (as we used to call the
man and his book) had half so much to answer for as the more regular
artillery {p.xix} which the old Quarterly played incessantly, in
those days, on the same parties.... I believe the only individuals
whom Blackwood ever really and essentially injured were myself and

         [Footnote 3: Lang's _Life of Lockhart_, vol. i. pp. 128-130.]

In May, 1818, occurred the day, memorable to Lockhart, when he first
met Scott, who later invited him to visit Abbotsford. The meeting and
visit have been described by Lockhart, as he alone could do it; but he
does not tell how speedily he won the regard and confidence of the
elder writer, feelings that were constantly to grow warmer and
stronger as the years went on. Scott heartily welcomed Peter's Letters
to his Kinsfolk the next year, those clever, vivid, and apparently
harmless sketches of the Edinburgh of that day,--literary, artistic,
legal, clerical,--which caused an outcry not now to be understood. In
April, 1820, Lockhart and Sophia Scott were married,--a perfect
marriage in its mutual love and trust. How willingly Sir Walter gave
the daughter, so peculiarly dear to him, to the husband of her choice,
his letters to his intimate correspondents show; and how fortunate the
union was to be for him in its results, he seems almost to have
divined. It gave him not only the most affectionate and devoted of
sons,--such love was already his,--but also the most complete
comprehension and sympathy in his home circle. And all the rare
literary gifts which he so early discerned and so heartily admired in
his young friend, informed by delicate insight, loving knowledge, and
a keen intelligence, were to be employed to make him known to the
world, so that the great author should be loved even above his works.

In the next few years, spent at Edinburgh and at Chiefswood, years
that Lockhart was to remember as the happiest of his life, he did much
literary work, beside the occasional articles for Blackwood. Valerius
was published in {p.xx} 1821,--the story of a visitor from Britain
to Rome in the time of the persecution of the Christians under Trajan.
It is admirably well written, and reads exactly like what it professes
to be,--a translation from the Latin. "I am quite delighted with the
reality of your Romans," wrote Scott to the author. But the very
correctness of the studies makes them seem remote and cold to the
ordinary reader.[4] A little later, appeared by far the best of
Lockhart's novels, Some Passages in the Life of Mr. Adam Blair,
Minister of the Gospel at Cross Meikle. A story of the temptation and
fall of a good man, which his father told one day after dinner,
suggested this tale, which is written with force and feeling, a
passion that is still glowing, and a pathos which can still move,
while there are both strength and delicacy of touch in the
character-drawing. Reginald Dalton was published in 1823, and was at
the time a decided success; but these somewhat exaggerated sketches of
Oxford life are now chiefly interesting for the glimpses of personal
experience to be found in the early chapters. Matthew Wald followed in
1824, and was the last novel written by Lockhart. Scott characterized
it succinctly as "full of power, but disagreeable, and ends vilely
ill," a kind of tale which had not yet become popular. There is power
in the description of an ever growing selfishness and unrestrained
passion ending in madness; but the story is ill constructed, and,
despite some vigorous and graphic passages, has not real vitality.

         [Footnote 4: It has been said of _Valerius_, that it
         "contains as much knowledge of its period, and that knowledge
         as accurate, as would furnish out a long and elaborate German
         treatise on a martyr and his time;" so that, whether the
         report that reached its author, that the novel had been used
         in Harvard College as a handbook, was correct or no, it would
         scarcely have been a misuse of the book. It is certain that
         it was speedily appropriated by an American publisher, and we
         have a traditional knowledge of its having been much read and
         admired in certain New England circles.]

Lockhart {p.xxi} edited a new edition of Don Quixote in 1822, and the
next year published his Ancient Spanish Ballads, most of which had
been previously printed in Blackwood's Magazine. This was the first of
his books to bear his name, which the volume, winning wide and
enduring success, made well known. Some competent critics have agreed
with Scott in regarding the translations as "much finer than the
originals," but, however this may be, there is no question whatever as
to the excellence of the ballads in their English form. They have
vigor and swiftness of movement, grace and picturesqueness, simplicity
and spontaneity. And there are exquisite lyrics amongst them, witness
The Wandering Knight's Song. Mr. Lang has made a few selections from
Lockhart's scattered verse in Blackwood as further illustrations of
his poetic gift,--a number of admirable stanzas (in the character of
Wastle) in the _ottava rima_ of Whistlecraft and Beppo (1819); the
best known of his comic poems, Captain Paton's Lament; and some lines
from a translation in hexameters of the twenty-fourth book of the
Iliad, that appeared as late as 1843, which must have sent more than
one reader to the magazine, and made them echo the biographer's words,
that "Lockhart had precisely the due qualifications for a translator,
in sympathy, poetic feeling, and severe yet genial taste, and could
have left a name for a popular, yet close and spirited version of the
Iliad," had he not, after this single anonymous publication, abandoned
his half-formed project. As one of his friends wrote with great truth,
"Lockhart was guilty of injustice to his own surpassing powers. With
all his passion for letters, with all the ambition for literary fame
which burnt in his youthful mind, there was still his shyness,
fastidiousness, reserve. No doubt he might have taken a higher place
as a poet than by the Spanish Ballads, as a writer of fiction than by
his novels. These seem {p.xxii} to have been thrown off by a sudden
uncontrollable impulse to relieve the mind of its fulness, rather than
as works of finished art or mature study. They were the flashes of a
genius which would not be suppressed; no one esteemed them more humbly
than Lockhart, or, having once cast them on the world, thought less of
their fame."[5]

         [Footnote 5: From the interesting obituary notice in the
         _London Times_ for December 9, 1854, supposed to have been
         written by Dean Milman and Lady Eastlake.]

The early years of Lockhart's married life were so intimately
connected with the life of Scott as to need no chronicle here. The
young advocate, with many of the qualities essential to the making of
a great lawyer, lacked one most needful to his branch of the
profession, facility as a public speaker; his extreme shyness would
account for this. As he said at the farewell dinner given to him by
his friends in Edinburgh: "You know as well as I, that if I had ever
been able to make a speech, there would have been no cause for our
present meeting." So literature had become more and more his
occupation,--it became entirely so when, in the autumn of 1826, he
accepted the editorship of the Quarterly Review,--a very responsible
and distinguished post for so young a man, when the position of the
Review at that time, in politics, literature, and society, is
considered. Such newspapers as were in a few years to become powerful
in the world of cultivated (and respectable) readers were as yet,
relatively speaking, in an undeveloped state. Editor of the Quarterly,
he was to remain, till hopelessly impaired health brought an end to
his labors, nearly twenty-eight years later. During these years he
contributed more than a hundred articles to the Review, on the
greatest possible variety of topics,--he could write on everything,
from poetry to dry-rot, it was said. He was that rare thing in our
race, a born critic; but he did not use the {p.xxiii} work
criticised as a text for a discourse of his own; but of deliberate
choice, it would seem, kept closely to his author. So, many of his
papers are simply admirable reviews written for the day, not essays
for future readers. But, as one turns the pages of the Quarterly, how
alive some of the most transient of these articles seem, in comparison
with the often excellent matter in which they are embedded! The clear,
forcible style, the keen wit, the thorough workmanship, are never
wanting. As would be expected, there is permanent interest in the
biographical studies; of these, one of the most interesting and
impressive was fortunately republished in another form.

As a biographer this variously accomplished man of letters was to show
a gift that can almost be called unique. His Life of Burns, published
in 1828, was written when the Scotland of the poet was still known to
all his mature countrymen, though it was too early for the
thoroughgoing scrutiny into every detail of his history practised by
later writers; but, setting that consideration aside, the sympathy,
intelligence, good taste, fairness, and above all, the sanity of the
work, to say nothing of its admirable literary quality, have given it
a position by itself, which it is not likely to lose. This memoir is
not an over-large book, but the Life of Theodore Hook--a reprint of a
Quarterly Review article written in 1843--is one of the smallest of
volumes, yet it is written with so fine an art, the presentment of its
subject, if rapidly sketched, is so vivid, that the reader feels no
sense either of crowded incidents or large omissions; with this
biographer the story is of perfect proportion, whether it fills seven
volumes or one, or does not extend beyond the limits of a _brochure_.
Nothing Lockhart did was ever in the smallest degree slovenly or
careless, but his admirable workmanship is specially evident in the
Life of Scott. The skill is masterly with which the immense mass of
material has been {p.xxiv} handled, making letters, diaries,
extracts, and narrative one harmonious whole, with never an occasional
roughness to cause the ordinary reader fully to realize the smoothness
of the road he is traversing. The absolute modesty and freedom from
self-consciousness of the author--the editor, he calls himself--in
telling a tale of which for a number of years he formed a part, is as
striking as it is rare. He is one of the actors in a great drama; if
it be necessary now and then that he should come to the front, he does
it simply and naturally--that is all. Always and everywhere the hero
is the central figure to whose full presentation all else is
subsidiary. There is no need to speak of the faultlessness of the
style, or of the deep but always manly feeling with which the more
intimate details of the story are told; effusiveness or sentimentality
was as alien to Lockhart as to Scott, and for these reasons no
familiarity or change in literary fashions can make the matchless
closing pages less moving; they are of the things that remain.

In January, 1837, Lockhart wrote a letter to William Laidlaw, of
singular autobiographic interest. After thanking his friend for a
letter and a present of ptarmigan, "both welcome as remembrances of
Scotland and old days," he says:--

"The account you give of your situation at present is, considering how
the world wags, not unsatisfactory. Would it were possible to find
myself placed in something of a similar locality, and with the means
of enjoying the country by day and my books at night, without the
necessity of dividing most of my time between labors of the desk--mere
drudge labors mostly--and the harassing turmoil of worldly society,
for which I never had much, and nowadays have rarely indeed any
relish! But my wife and children bind me to the bit, and I am well
pleased with the fetters. Walter is now a tall and very handsome
{p.xxv} boy of nearly eleven years; Charlotte a very winsome gypsy of
nine,--both intelligent in the extreme, and both, notwithstanding all
possible spoiling, as simple, natural and unselfish as if they had
been bred on a hillside and in a family of twelve. Sophia is your old
friend,--fat, fair, and by and by to be forty, which I now am, and
over, God bless the mark! but though I think I am wiser, at least more
sober, neither richer nor more likely to be rich than I was in the
days of Chiefswood and Kaeside,--after all, our best days, I still

He goes on to say that he has quite forsworn politics, over which he
and his correspondent used sometimes to dispute, and has satisfied
himself "that the age of Toryism is by forever." He remains "a very
tranquil and indifferent observer."

"Perhaps, however, much of this equanimity as to passing affairs has
arisen from the call which has been made on me to live in the past,
bestowing for so many months all the time I could command, and all the
care I have really any heart in, upon the manuscript remains of our
dear friend. I am glad that Cadell and the few others who have seen
what I have done with these are pleased, but I assure you none of them
can think more lightly of my own part in the matter than I do myself.
My sole object is to do him justice, or rather to let him do himself
justice, by so contriving it that he shall be as far as possible, from
first to last, his own historiographer; and I have therefore willingly
expended the time that would have sufficed for writing a dozen books
on what will be no more than the compilation of one. A stern sense of
duty--that kind of sense of it which is combined with the feeling of
his actual presence in a serene state of elevation above all
terrestrial and temporary views--will induce me to touch the few
darker points in his life and character as freely as the others which
were so predominant; and my {p.xxvi} chief anxiety on the appearance
of the book will be, not to hear what is said by the world, but what
is thought by you and the few others who can really compare the
representation as a whole with the facts of the case. I shall,
therefore, desire Cadell to send you the volumes as they are printed,
though long before publication, in the confidence that they will be
kept sacred, while unpublished, to yourself and your own household;
and if you can give me encouragement on seeing the first and second,
now I think nearly out of the printer's hands, it will be very
serviceable to me in the completion of the others. I have waived all
my own notions as to the manner of publication, and so forth, in
deference to the bookseller, who is still so largely our creditor,
and, I am grieved to add, will probably continue to be so for many
years to come.

"Your letters of the closing period I wish you would send to me; and
of these I am sure some use, and some good use, may be made, as of
those addressed to myself at the same time, which all, however
melancholy to compare with those of the better day, have traces of the
man. Out of these confused and painful scraps I think I can contrive
to put together a picture that will be highly touching of a great mind
shattered, but never degraded, and always to the last noble, as his
heart continued pure and warm as long as it could beat."[6]

         [Footnote 6: _Abbotsford Notanda_, pp. 190-193.]

A few weeks after this letter was written Mrs. Lockhart was seized
with an illness almost hopeless, it would seem, from the first. She
died May 17, and this bereavement overclouded the rest of her
husband's life, though, after a few months' retirement to
Milton-Lockhart, he returned to his usual occupations, more devoted
than ever to his children, their happiness and well-being having
become the object of his life. Of his own rarely expressed feelings,
we get a glimpse in a letter to Milman written {p.xxvii} five years
later (October, 1842), after he had attended the funeral of the wife
of a friend. His correspondent at this time was mourning the loss of a
daughter. "I lived over the hour when you stood by me,--but indeed
such an hour is eternally present. After that in every picture of life
the central figure is replaced by a black blot; every train of thought
terminates in the same blank gulf. I see you have been allowing
yourself to dwell too near this dreary region. Escape it while the
wife of your youth is still by you; in her presence no grief should be
other than gentle."[7]

         [Footnote 7: Lang's _Life of Lockhart_, vol. ii. p. 214.]

When the earlier volumes of the Life had been published, Lockhart
wrote to Haydon: "Your approbation of the Life of Scott is valuable,
and might well console me for all the abuse it has called forth, both
on him and me. I trusted to the substantial goodness and greatness of
the character, and thought I should only make it more effective in
portraiture by keeping in the few specks. I despise with my heels the
whole trickery of erecting an alabaster image, and calling that a
_Man_.... The work is now done, and I leave it to its fate. I had no
personal object to gratify except, indeed, that I wished and hoped to
please my poor wife." From a letter to Miss Edgeworth we learn that
Mrs. Lockhart, who had been her husband's secretary for years in the
preparation of the Memoirs, only lived to see, not to read, the first
volume.[8] It should be said here that the work was in every sense a
labor of love on Lockhart's part, as all the profits of the book went
towards the payment of Sir Walter's debt.

         [Footnote 8: _Ibid._ pp. 181, 182.]

One of the friends of these years was Carlyle, who had first met
Lockhart at a Fraser dinner in 1831, and "rather liked the man, and
shall like to meet him again." Long afterward he was to write of him
as one "whom in the {p.xxviii} distance I esteemed more than perhaps
he ever knew. Seldom did I speak to him; but hardly ever without
learning and gaining something." Though the two men did not meet
often, Carlyle became warmly attached to Lockhart, and so much of
their correspondence as has been preserved forms one of the most
interesting chapters in Mr. Lang's biography. Some of the letters show
Carlyle in his best mood, and are peculiarly affectionate in tone. On
one occasion he writes to Lockhart, as though sure of his sympathy, in
a time of sorrow, and the reply, which came quickly, contains a part
of a poem which was written in one of Lockhart's diary books in June,
1841, and cannot be omitted from any sketch of his life:--

                    "When youthful faith has fled,
                       Of loving take thy leave;
                    Be constant to the dead,
                    The dead cannot deceive.

                    "Sweet, modest flowers of spring,
                      How fleet your balmy day!
                    And man's brief year can bring
                      No secondary May.

                    "No earthly burst again
                      Of gladness out of gloom;
                    Fond hope and vision vain,
                      Ungrateful to the tomb!

                    "But 't is an old belief,
                      That on some solemn shore,
                    Beyond the sphere of grief,
                      Dear friends will meet once more.

                    "Beyond the sphere of time,
                      And sin, and fate's control,
                    Serene in changeless prime
                      Of body and of soul.

                    "That creed I fain would keep,
                      That hope I'll not forego;
                    Eternal be the sleep,
                      Unless to waken so."[9]

         [Footnote 9: "A few lines sent to him by a friend whom he
         rarely saw, who is seldom mentioned in connection with his
         history, yet who then and always was exceptionally dear to
         him. The lines themselves were often on his lips to the end
         of his own life, and will not be easily forgotten by any one
         who reads them." Froude's _Thomas Carlyle_, vol. i. p. 249.]

Carlyle {p.xxix} earnestly urged that Lockhart's memoirs should be
written while his old friends were yet living. Had this been done, not
only would more of his letters have been preserved, to the gain of
readers, but some misapprehensions regarding him might not have
hardened into conventions.[10] When the Lockharts left Scotland, Sir
Walter wrote with much feeling to his good friend, Mrs. Hughes, soon
to become and to remain their good friend as well, regarding the
painfulness of the separation, adding: "I wish to bespeak your
affection for Lockhart. When you come to know him you will not want to
be solicited, for I know you will love and understand him, but he is
not easy to know or to be appreciated, as he so well deserves, at
first; he shrinks at a first touch, but take a good hard hammer (it
need not be a sledge one), break the shell, and the kernel will repay
you. Under a cold exterior, Lockhart conceals the warmest affections,
and where he once professes regard he never changes."[11] Long
afterwards, the son-in-law of Lockhart was to speak of the "depth
{p.xxx} and tenderness of feeling which he so often hid under an
almost fierce reserve." This reserve, largely the result of
constitutional shyness, was intensified by the sharp sorrows of his
later life. In truth, as Mr. Leslie Stephen has said: "Lockhart was
one of the men who are predestined to be generally misunderstood. He
was an intellectual aristocrat, fastidious and over-sensitive, with
very fine perceptions, but endowed with rather too hearty a scorn of
fools as well as of folly.... The shyness due to a sensitive nature,
was mistaken, as is so often the case, for supercilious pride, and the
unwillingness to wear his heart on his sleeve, for coldness and want
of sympathy. Such men have to be content with scanty appreciation from
the outside."[12] Fortunately, there were those, not a few, who did
not remain outside, and when any of these have written of their
friend, there is a singular agreement in their testimony. In every-day
matters, in the performance of his editorial or social duties, he was
unfailingly prompt, exact, and courteous. Never a rich man, nor ever
extravagant in his personal expenditures, he was a most generous
giver, especially to unfortunate members of his own craft. Inclined to
be somewhat silent in large companies, among his friends he was a
brilliant talker, though always a ready and willing listener. He
asserted a power over society, Mr. Gleig has noted, "which is not
generally conceded to men having only their personal merits to rely
upon. He was never the lion of a season, or of two seasons, or of
more. He kept his place to the last." Being a gentleman and a man of
sense, he neither over-valued nor under-valued the attractions of the
great world. Regarding one of his personal attributes, all who saw him
were of the same mind: his quite exceptional and very striking beauty
of face and distinction of bearing never failed to impress those
brought into contact {p.xxxi} with him ever so slightly, even in the
sad days when broken health and much sorrow had made him an old man
long before his time. A proud man, he was absolutely without vanity,
and had little tolerance for it in others; undoubtedly, some measure
of this quality would have made him a happier man, and one more
ambitious of literary success. Almost from his boyhood he could
greatly admire great work even while it was yet not only caviare to
the general, but under the condemnation of the critical arbiters of
the day. It was said of him, that as a critic, "high over every other
consideration predominated the love of letters. If any work of genius
appeared, Trojan or Tyrian, it was one to him--his kindred spirit was
kindled at once, his admiration and sympathy threw off all trammel. He
would resist rebuke, remonstrance, to do justice to the works of
political antagonists--that impartial homage was at once freely,
boldly, lavishly paid."

         [Footnote 10: There were untruths as well; some of them so
         grotesquely false as now to cause amusement rather than
         anger. An article on Lockhart in _Temple Bar_ for June, 1895
         (vol. cv. p. 175), touches on some of these legends, and
         pleads for a memoir. Gratitude is due to the anonymous
         writer, for he was, says Mr. Andrew Lang, "the onlie
         begetter" of that gentleman's biography of Lockhart, which
         gives so interesting a portrait of its subject, whom, it is
         plain, the author has learned to love. It is a book written
         with such sympathetic insight and genuine feeling, that it
         should hereafter make Lockhart known as he was. Mr. Lang was
         somewhat hampered (though not very seriously so) by an
         occasional lack of material, including want of access to the
         archives of the houses of Blackwood and Murray; but this is
         partly set right by Mrs. Oliphant's admirable history of
         _William Blackwood and His Sons_, which gives as graphic a
         description of the early days of Maga and of Lockhart's
         connection therewith, indeed of all his relations to the
         magazine and its publishers, as could be desired.]

         [Footnote 11: Scott's _Familiar Letters_, vol. ii. p. 389.]

         [Footnote 12: _Studies of a Biographer_, vol. ii. p. 1.]

"The love of children," wrote Mr. Christie, "was stronger in Lockhart
than I have ever known it in any other man. I never saw so happy a
father as he was with his first-born child in his arms. His first
sorrow was the breaking of the health of this child." There is no need
here to tell the pathetic story of that brief life; but the same
devoted love which had watched over it, was given in full measure to
the children who remained. Of the daughter, Mr. Gleig writes: "She was
the brightest, merriest, and most affectionate of creatures; and her
marriage, in 1847, to Mr. James Hope, met her father's entire
approval. He was satisfied that in giving her to Mr. Hope, he
entrusted his chief earthly treasure to a tender guardian, and strove,
in that reflection, to overshadow the thought that he must himself
henceforth be to her an object of secondary interest only. She never
voluntarily caused him one moment's pain. Nevertheless, it must not
be {p.xxxii} concealed that the secession of Mr. and Mrs. Hope-Scott
to the Roman Catholic faith greatly distressed Lockhart, although he
did full justice to the conscientious motives by which they were
actuated."[13] His attitude is best shown in the letter written to Mr.
Hope at this time, in which he says: "I had clung to the hope that you
would not finally quit the Church of England, but am not so
presumptuous as to say a word more on that step as respects yourself,
who have not certainly assumed so heavy a responsibility without much
study and reflection. As concerns others, I am thoroughly aware that
they may count upon any mitigation which the purest intentions and the
most generous and tender feelings on your part can bring. And I trust
that this, the only part of your conduct that has ever given me pain,
need not now, or ever, disturb the confidence in which it has been of
late a principal consolation for me to live with my son-in-law."[14]

         [Footnote 13: _Quarterly Review_, vol. cxvi. p. 475.]

         [Footnote 14: Ornsby's _Memoirs of J. R. Hope-Scott_, vol. ii
         p. 138.]

Lockhart's letters show how well pleased he was with his daughter's
marriage, though it left him alone in his home. His diary says of
1847: "A year to me of very indifferent health and great anxieties.
Charlotte's marriage _the only good thing_." The beginning of the year
had been saddened by the death of his brother-in-law, Sir Walter
Scott; and the extravagance and waywardness of his son, now the laird
of Abbotsford, had already greatly distressed the father and were to
inflict more torturing anxiety and keener suffering as time went on.
Walter Lockhart, in his happy, healthy boyhood, did not show the
intellectual precocity of his elder brother; but he was a handsome,
intelligent, and winning lad, with no foreshadowing of the
recklessness of his later years. Mr. Lang, who can speak from
knowledge, says: "Could all be known and told, it is not too much to
say that Lockhart's fortitude {p.xxxiii} during these last years, so
black with affliction, bodily and mental, was not less admirable than
that of Sir Walter Scott himself. Thus, the trials from which we are
tempted to avert our eyes, really brought out the noblest manly
qualities of cheerful endurance, of gentle consideration for all, who,
being sorry for his sorrow, must be prevented from knowing how deep
and incurable were his wounds." And it should be said that in these
years Lockhart had to suffer that sharpest of griefs which happily Sir
Walter never knew.

Outwardly, Lockhart's life went on much as usual, save that constantly
failing health made editorial labors more fatiguing, and social
relaxations less and less frequent. But in his letters there is little
change; nothing could overcome "a kind of intellectual high spirits
when his pen was in his hand." His ill health is but slightly dwelt
upon, and only to his daughter is the ever present anxiety revealed.
At last came a ray of hope to the father's heart, a reconciliation,
and then Walter's sudden death. Sorely tried as it had been, the
father's love had never weakened; and after those inexpressibly sad
days at Versailles, recorded with such self-restraint in his letters
to his daughter, his health declined rapidly. On July 5, 1853, he
notes that his doctors agree that he must not attempt the next Review,
and a few days later, he writes, "I suppose my last number of the
Quarterly Review." He had never ceased to be an occasional contributor
to Blackwood; the pages in memory of its founder, which appeared in
October, 1834, were from his pen, and in those days he still took
pleasure in sometimes "making a Noctes." The annalist of the
Blackwoods has given the last note to the publisher, written very near
the end:--

"Dear B.,--If you think the enclosed worth a page, any time, they are
at the service of Maga, from her very old servant, now released from
all service, J. G. L."

That {p.xxxiv} service had lasted for more than the length of a

Dean Boyle, in his interesting notes on Lockhart in his later life,
recalls his remark: "If I had to write my Life of Scott over again,
now, I should say more about his religious opinions. Some people may
think passages in his novels conventional and commonplace, but he
hated cant, and every word he said came from his heart." Of Lockhart's
own religious opinions, Mr. Gleig writes: "A clergyman, with whom he
had lived in constant intimacy from his Oxford days [probably the
writer himself], was in the frequent habit, between 1851 and 1853, of
calling upon Lockhart in Sussex Place, and taking short walks with
him, especially in the afternoons of Sunday. With whatever topic their
colloquy might begin, it invariably fell off, so to speak, of its own
accord, into discussions upon the character and teachings of the
Saviour; upon the influence exercised by both over the opinions and
habits of mankind; upon the light thrown by them on man's future state
and present destiny; and the points both of similitude and its
opposite between the philosophy of Greece in its best days and the
religion of Christ. Lockhart was never so charming as in these
discussions. It was evident that the subject filled his whole mind,
for the views which he enunciated were large, and broad, and most
reverential--free at once from the bigoted dogmatism which passes
current in certain circles for religion ... and from the loose,
unmeaning jargon which is too often accepted as rational

         [Footnote 15: _Quarterly Review_, vol. cxvi. p. 475.]

Lockhart spent the autumn and winter of 1853-54 in Rome, seeking too
late for such amendment as rest and change might give. He was too ill
to take much pleasure in his sojourn there, but his bodily feebleness
did not dull his mental vigor, and it is characteristic that he at
once {p.xxxv} began to read Dante with Dr. Lucentini. He knew the
language well, but wished to master the difficulties of the great
poet, and so turned to the most accomplished of helpers, who naturally
found Lockhart a brilliant and acute pupil, the mention of whom ever
after roused the teacher to enthusiasm. No one, he declared, had ever
put him so on his mettle. The invalid wrote long letters, descriptive
of his Roman life, to his daughter, which show that he exerted himself
much beyond the little strength that remained to him, and in the
spring he gladly turned his face homeward. His resignation of his
editorship was now made absolute, and, with greatly diminished income
(his expenses in consequence of his son's follies had been heavy), he
prepared to leave the house which had been so long his, and seek some
new abiding-place. But his release was at hand. In August, he went to
Milton-Lockhart, to the kind care of his brother's household, always
writing as cheerfully as might be of himself to his daughter. "The
weather is delicious," he says in one of the last letters, "warm, very
warm, but a gentle breeze keeping the leaves in motion all about, and
the sun sheathed, as Wordsworth hath it, with a soft gray layer of
cloud. I am glad to fancy you all enjoying yourselves (I include sweet
M. M.) in this heavenly summer season. If people knew beforehand what
it is to lose health, and all that can't survive health, they would in
youth be what it is easy to preach; do you _try_? I fancy it costs
none of you very much effort either to be good or happy." In October
he went to Abbotsford, and it was at once seen that he was a dying
man. He had gone one day in "most heavenly weather," from
Milton-Lockhart to Douglas, where he had spent, in the old time, a
memorable summer day with the stricken Scott, of which he has left us
the record; and he now desired to be driven about to take leave of the
places on Tweedside, which then had been {p.xxxvi} a part of his
life. His little granddaughter was very dear to him in these last
days. It is still remembered, how, as he lay ill, he loved to hear her
running about the house. "It is life to me," he said. He died November
25, 1854, and was buried, as he had desired, in Dryburgh Abbey, "at
the feet of Sir Walter Scott."

PREFACE {p.xxxvii}

                                        LONDON, December 20, 1836.

In obedience to the instructions of Sir Walter Scott's last will, I
had made some progress in a narrative of his personal history, before
there was discovered, in an old cabinet at Abbotsford, an
autobiographical fragment, composed by him in 1808--shortly after the
publication of his Marmion.

This fortunate accident rendered it necessary that I should altogether
remodel the work which I had commenced. The first chapter of the
following Memoirs consists of the Ashestiel fragment; which gives a
clear outline of his early life down to the period of his call to the
Bar--July, 1792. All the notes appended to this chapter are also by
himself. They are in a handwriting very different from the text, and
seem, from various circumstances, to have been added in 1826.

It appeared to me, however, that the author's modesty had prevented
him from telling the story of his youth with that fulness of detail
which would now satisfy the public. I have therefore recast my own
collections as to the period in question, and presented the substance
of them, in five succeeding chapters, as _illustrations_ of his too
brief autobiography. This procedure has been attended with many
obvious disadvantages; but I greatly preferred it to printing the
precious fragment in an Appendix.

I foresee that some readers may be apt to accuse me of trenching
{p.xxxviii} upon delicacy in certain details of the sixth and seventh
chapters in this volume. Though the circumstances there treated of had
no trivial influence on Sir Walter Scott's history and character, I
should have been inclined, for many reasons, to omit them; but the
choice was, in fact, not left to me,--for they had been mentioned, and
misrepresented, in various preceding sketches of the Life which I had
undertaken to illustrate. Such being the case, I considered it as my
duty to tell the story truly and intelligibly; but I trust I have
avoided unnecessary disclosures; and, after all, there was nothing to
disclose that could have attached blame to any of the parties

For the copious materials which the friends of Sir Walter have placed
at my disposal I feel just gratitude. Several of them are named in the
course of the present volume; but I must take this opportunity of
expressing my sense of the deep obligations under which I have been
laid by the frank communications, in particular, of William Clerk,
Esq., of Eldin,--John Irving, Esq., W. S.,--Sir Adam Ferguson,--James
Skene, Esq., of Rubislaw,--Patrick Murray, Esq., of Simprim,--J. B. S.
Morritt, Esq., of Rokeby,--William Wordsworth, Esq.,--Robert Southey,
Esq., Poet Laureate,--Samuel Rogers, Esq.,--William Stewart Rose,
Esq.,--Sir Alexander Wood,--the Right Hon. the Lord Chief Commissioner
Adam,--the Right Hon. Sir William Rae, Bart.,--the late Right Hon. Sir
William Knighton, Bart.,--the Right Hon. J. W. Croker,--Lord
Jeffrey,--Sir Henry Halford, Bart., G. C. H.,--the late Major-General
Sir John Malcolm, G. C. B.,--Sir Francis Chantrey, R. A.,--Sir David
Wilkie, R. A.,--Thomas Thomson, Esq., P. C. S.,--Charles Kirkpatrick
Sharpe, Esq.,--William Scott, of Raeburn, Esq.,--John Scott, of Gala,
Esq.,--Alexander Pringle, of Whytbank, Esq., M. P.,--John Swinton,
{p.xxxix} of Inverleith-Place, Esq.,--John Richardson, Esq., of
Fludyer Street,--John Murray, Esq., of Albemarle Street,--Robert
Bruce, Esq., Sheriff of Argyle,--Robert Fergusson, Esq., M. D.,--G. P.
R. James, Esq.,--William Laidlaw, Esq.,--Robert Cadell, Esq.,--John
Elliot Shortreed, Esq.,--Allan Cunningham, Esq.,--Claud Russell,
Esq.,--James Clarkson, Esq., of Melrose,--the late James Ballantyne,
Esq.,--Joseph Train, Esq.,--Adolphus Ross, Esq., M. D.,--William
Allan, Esq., R. A.,--Charles Dumergue, Esq.,--Stephen Nicholson
Barber, Esq.,--James Slade, Esq.,--Mrs. Joanna Baillie,--Mrs. George
Ellis,--Mrs. Thomas Scott,--Mrs. Charles Carpenter,--Miss Russell of
Ashestiel,--Mrs. Sarah Nicholson,--Mrs. Duncan, Mertoun-Manse,--the
Right Hon. the Lady Polwarth, and her sons, Henry, Master of Polwarth,
the Hon. and Rev. William, and the Hon. Francis Scott.

I beg leave to acknowledge with equal thankfulness the courtesy of the
Rev. Dr. Harwood, Thomas White, Esq., Mrs. Thomson, and the Rev.
Richard Garnett, all of Lichfield, and the Rev. Thomas Henry White, of
Glasgow, in forwarding to me Sir Walter Scott's early letters to Miss
Seward: that of the Lord Seaford, in entrusting me with those
addressed to his late cousin, George Ellis, Esq.: and the kind
readiness with which whatever papers in their possession could be
serviceable to my undertaking were supplied by the Duke and Duchess of
Buccleuch, and the Lord Montagu;--the Duchess-Countess of Sutherland,
and the Lord Francis Egerton;--the Lord Viscount Sidmouth,--the Lord
Bishop of Llandaff,--the Right Hon. Sir Robert Peel, Bart.,--the Lady
Louisa Stuart,--the Hon. Mrs. Warrender, and the Hon. Catharine
Arden,--Lady Davy,--Miss Edgeworth,--Mrs. Maclean Clephane, of
Torloisk,--Mrs. Hughes, of Uffington,--Mrs. Terry now (Richardson),--Mrs.
Bartley,--Sir George {p.xl} Mackenzie of Coul, Bart.,--the late Sir
Francis Freeling, Bart.,--Captain Sir Hugh Pigott, R. N.,--the late
Sir William Gell,--Sir Cuthbert Sharp,--the Very Rev. Principal
Baird,--the Rev. William Steven of Rotterdam,--the late Rev. James
Mitchell, of Wooler--Robert William Hay, Esq., lately Under Secretary
of State for the Colonial Department,--John Borthwick, of Crookstone,
Esq.,--John Cay, Esq., Sheriff of Linlithgow,--Captain Basil Hall, R.
N.,--Thomas Crofton Croker, Esq.,--Edward Cheney, Esq.,--Alexander
Young, Esq., of Harburn,--A. J. Valpy, Esq.,--James Maidment, Esq.,
Advocate,--the late Donald Gregory, Esq.,--Robert Johnston, Esq., of
Edinburgh,[16]--J. J. Masquerier, Esq., of Brighton,--Owen Rees, Esq.,
of Paternoster Row,[17]--William Miller, Esq., formerly of Albemarle
Street,--David Laing, Esq., of Edinburgh--and John Smith the Youngest,
Esq., of Glasgow.

                                        J. G. LOCKHART.

         [Footnote 16: Bailie Johnston died 4th April, 1838, in his
         73d year.]

         [Footnote 17: Mr. Rees retired from the house of Longman
         and Co. at Midsummer, 1837, and died 5th September following,
         in his 67th year.]

TO {p.xli}









CHAPTER I {p.001}

     Memoir of the Early Life of Sir Walter Scott, Written by

                                        ASHESTIEL, April 26, 1808.

The present age has discovered a desire, or rather a rage, for
literary anecdote and private history, that may be well permitted to
alarm one who has engaged in a certain degree the attention of the
public. That I have had more than my own share of popularity, my
contemporaries will be as ready to admit as I am to confess that its
measure has exceeded not only my hopes, but my merits, and even
wishes. I may be therefore permitted, without an extraordinary degree
of vanity, to take the precaution of recording a few leading
circumstances (they do not merit the name of events) of a very quiet
and uniform life--that, should my literary reputation survive my
temporal existence, the public may know from good authority all that
they are entitled to know of an individual who has contributed to
their amusement.

From the lives of some poets a most important moral lesson may
doubtless be derived, and few sermons can be read with so much profit
as the Memoirs of Burns, of Chatterton, or of Savage. Were I conscious
of anything peculiar {p.002} in my own moral character which could
render such development necessary or useful, I would as readily
consent to it as I would bequeath my body to dissection, if the
operation could tend to point out the nature and the means of curing
any peculiar malady. But as my habits of thinking and acting, as well
as my rank in society, were fixed long before I had attained, or even
pretended to, any poetical reputation,[18] and as it produced, when
acquired, no remarkable change upon either, it is hardly to be
expected that much information can be derived from minutely
investigating frailties, follies, or vices, not very different in
number or degree from those of other men in my situation. As I have
not been blessed with the talents of Burns or Chatterton, I have been
happily exempted from the influence of their violent passions,
exasperated by the struggle of feelings which rose up against the
unjust decrees of fortune. Yet, although I cannot tell of difficulties
vanquished, and distance of rank annihilated by the strength of
genius, those who shall hereafter read this little Memoir may find in
it some hints to be improved, for the regulation of their own minds,
or the training those of others.

         [Footnote 18: I do not mean to say that my success in
         literature has not led me to mix familiarly in society much
         above my birth and original pretensions, since I have been
         readily received in the first circles in Britain. But there
         is a certain intuitive knowledge of the world, to which most
         well-educated Scotchmen are early trained, that prevents them
         from being much dazzled by this species of elevation. A man
         who to good nature adds the general rudiments of good
         breeding, provided he rest contented with a simple and
         unaffected manner of behaving and expressing himself, will
         never be ridiculous in the best society, and so far as his
         talents and information permit, may be an agreeable part of
         the company. I have therefore never felt much elevated, nor
         did I experience any violent change in situation, by the
         passport which my poetical character afforded me into higher
         company than my birth warranted.--(1826).]

Every Scottishman has a pedigree. It is a national prerogative as
unalienable as his pride and his poverty. My birth was neither
distinguished nor sordid. According to the prejudices of my country,
it was esteemed _gentle_, {p.003} as I was connected, though
remotely, with ancient families both by my father's and mother's side.
My father's grandfather was Walter Scott, well known in Teviotdale by
the surname of _Beardie_. He was the second son of Walter Scott, first
Laird of Raeburn, who was third son of Sir William Scott, and the
grandson of Walter Scott, commonly called in tradition _Auld Watt_, of
Harden. I am therefore lineally descended from that ancient chieftain,
whose name I have made to ring in many a ditty, and from his fair
dame, the Flower of Yarrow--no bad genealogy for a Border minstrel.
_Beardie_, my great-grandfather aforesaid, derived his cognomen from a
venerable beard, which he wore unblemished by razor or scissors, in
token of his regret for the banished dynasty of Stuart. It would have
been well that his zeal had stopped there. But he took arms, and
intrigued in their cause, until he lost all he had in the world, and,
as I have heard, run a narrow risk of being hanged, had it not been
for the interference of Anne, Duchess of Buccleuch and Monmouth.
Beardie's elder brother, William Scott of Raeburn, my great-grand-uncle,
was killed about the age of twenty-one, in a duel with Pringle of
Crichton, grandfather of the present Mark Pringle of Clifton. They
fought with swords, as was the fashion of the time, in a field near
Selkirk, called from the catastrophe the _Raeburn Meadow-spot_.
Pringle fled from Scotland to Spain, and was long a captive and slave
in Barbary. _Beardie_ became, of course, _Tutor of Raeburn_, as the
old Scottish phrase called him--that is, guardian to his infant
nephew, father of the present Walter Scott of Raeburn. He also managed
the estates of Makerstoun, being nearly related to that family by his
mother, Isobel MacDougal. I suppose he had some allowance for his care
in either case, and subsisted upon that and the fortune which he had
by his wife, a Miss Campbell of Silvercraigs, in the west, through
which connection my father used to _call cousin_, as they say, with
{p.004} the Campbells of Blythswood. Beardie was a man of some
learning, and a friend of Dr. Pitcairn, to whom his politics probably
made him acceptable. They had a Tory or Jacobite club in Edinburgh, in
which the conversation is said to have been maintained in Latin. Old
Beardie died in a house, still standing, at the northeast entrance to
the Churchyard of Kelso, about ... [November 3, 1729.]

He left three sons. The eldest, Walter, had a family, of which any
that now remain have been long settled in America:--the male heirs are
long since extinct. The third was William, father of James Scott, well
known in India as one of the original settlers of Prince of Wales
Island:--he had, besides, a numerous family both of sons and
daughters, and died at Lasswade, in Mid-Lothian, about....

The second, Robert Scott, was my grandfather. He was originally bred
to the sea; but, being shipwrecked near Dundee in his trial voyage, he
took such a sincere dislike to that element, that he could not be
persuaded to a second attempt. This occasioned a quarrel between him
and his father, who left him to shift for himself. Robert was one of
those active spirits to whom this was no misfortune. He turned Whig
upon the spot, and fairly abjured his father's politics and his
learned poverty. His chief and relative, Mr. Scott of Harden, gave him
a lease of the farm of Sandy-Knowe, comprehending the rocks in the
centre of which Smailholm or Sandy-Knowe Tower is situated. He took
for his shepherd an old man called Hogg, who willingly lent him, out
of respect to his family, his whole savings, about £30, to stock the
new farm. With this sum, which it seems was at the time sufficient for
the purpose, the master and servant set off to purchase a stock of
sheep at Whitsun-Tryste, a fair held on a hill near Wooler in
Northumberland. The old shepherd went carefully from drove to drove,
till he found a _hirsel_ likely to answer their purpose, and {p.005}
then returned to tell his master to come up and conclude the bargain.
But what was his surprise to see him galloping a mettled hunter about
the racecourse, and to find he had expended the whole stock in this
extraordinary purchase!--Moses's bargain of green spectacles did not
strike more dismay into the Vicar of Wakefield's family than my
grandfather's rashness into the poor old shepherd. The thing, however,
was irretrievable, and they returned without the sheep. In the course
of a few days, however, my grandfather, who was one of the best
horsemen of his time, attended John Scott of Harden's hounds on this
same horse, and displayed him to such advantage that he sold him for
double the original price. The farm was now stocked in earnest; and
the rest of my grandfather's career was that of successful industry.
He was one of the first who were active in the cattle trade,
afterwards carried to such extent between the Highlands of Scotland
and the leading counties in England, and by his droving transactions
acquired a considerable sum of money. He was a man of middle stature,
extremely active, quick, keen, and fiery in his temper, stubbornly
honest, and so distinguished for his skill in country matters that he
was the general referee in all points of dispute which occurred in the
neighborhood. His birth being admitted as _gentle_ gave him access to
the best society in the county, and his dexterity in country sports,
particularly hunting, made him an acceptable companion in the field as
well as at the table.[19]

         [Footnote 19: The present Lord Haddington, and other
         gentlemen conversant with the south country, remember my
         grandfather well. He was a fine, alert figure, and wore a
         jockey cap over his gray hair.--(1826.)]

Robert Scott of Sandy-Knowe married, in 1728, Barbara Haliburton,
daughter of Thomas Haliburton of Newmains, an ancient and respectable
family in Berwickshire. Among other patrimonial possessions, they
enjoyed the part of Dryburgh, now the property of the Earl of Buchan,
comprehending the ruins of the Abbey. My {p.006} grand-uncle, Robert
Haliburton, having no male heirs, this estate, as well as the
representation of the family, would have devolved upon my father, and
indeed old Newmains had settled it upon him; but this was prevented by
the misfortunes of my grand-uncle, a weak, silly man, who engaged in
trade, for which he had neither stock nor talents, and became
bankrupt. The ancient patrimony was sold for a trifle (about £3000),
and my father, who might have purchased it with ease, was dissuaded by
my grandfather, who at that time believed a more advantageous purchase
might have been made of some lands which Raeburn thought of selling.
And thus we have nothing left of Dryburgh, although my father's
maternal inheritance, but the right of stretching our bones where mine
may perhaps be laid ere any eye but my own glances over these pages.

Walter Scott, my father, was born in 1729, and educated to the
profession of a Writer to the Signet. He was the eldest of a large
family, several of whom I shall have occasion to mention with a
tribute of sincere gratitude. My father was a singular instance of a
man rising to eminence in a profession for which nature had in some
degree unfitted him. He had indeed a turn for labor, and a pleasure in
analyzing the abstruse feudal doctrines connected with conveyancing,
which would probably have rendered him unrivalled in the line of a
special pleader, had there been such a profession in Scotland; but in
the actual business of the profession which he embraced, in that sharp
and intuitive perception which is necessary in driving bargains for
himself and others, in availing himself of the wants, necessities,
caprices, and follies of some, and guarding against the knavery and
malice of others, Uncle Toby himself could not have conducted himself
with more simplicity than my father. Most attorneys have been
suspected, more or less justly, of making their own fortune at the
expense of their clients--my father's fate was to vindicate his
calling from {p.007} the stain in one instance, for in many cases
his clients contrived to ease him of considerable sums. Many
worshipful and be-knighted names occur to my memory, who did him the
honor to run in his debt to the amount of thousands, and to pay him
with a lawsuit, or a commission of bankruptcy, as the case happened.
But they are gone to a different accounting, and it would be
ungenerous to visit their disgrace upon their descendants. My father
was wont also to give openings, to those who were pleased to take
them, to pick a quarrel with him. He had a zeal for his clients which
was almost ludicrous: far from coldly discharging the duties of his
employment towards them, he thought for them, felt for their honor as
for his own, and rather risked disobliging them than neglecting
anything to which he conceived their duty bound them. If there was an
old mother or aunt to be maintained, he was, I am afraid, too apt to
administer to their necessities from what the young heir had destined
exclusively to his pleasures. This ready discharge of obligations
which the Civilians tell us are only natural and not legal, did not, I
fear, recommend him to his employers. Yet his practice was, at one
period of his life, very extensive. He understood his business
theoretically, and was early introduced to it by a partnership with
George Chalmers, Writer to the Signet, under whom he had served his

His person and face were uncommonly handsome, with an expression of
sweetness of temper, which was not fallacious; his manners were rather
formal, but full of genuine kindness, especially when exercising the
duties of hospitality. His general habits were not only temperate, but
severely abstemious; but upon a festival occasion, there were few whom
a moderate glass of wine exhilarated to such a lively degree. His
religion, in which he was devoutly sincere, was Calvinism of the
strictest kind, and his favorite study related to church history. I
suspect the good old man was often engaged with Knox and
Spottiswoode's {p.008} folios, when, immured in his solitary room,
he was supposed to be immersed in professional researches. In his
political principles he was a steady friend to freedom, with a bias,
however, to the monarchical part of our constitution, which he
considered as peculiarly exposed to danger during the later years of
his life. He had much of ancient Scottish prejudice respecting the
forms of marriages, funerals, christenings, and so forth, and was
always vexed at any neglect of etiquette upon such occasions. As his
education had not been upon an enlarged plan, it could not be expected
that he should be an enlightened scholar, but he had not passed
through a busy life without observation; and his remarks upon times
and manners often exhibited strong traits of practical though untaught
philosophy. Let me conclude this sketch, which I am unconscious of
having overcharged, with a few lines written by the late Mrs.
Cockburn[20] upon the subject. They made one among a set of poetical
characters which were given as toasts among a few friends; and we must
hold them to contain a striking likeness, since the original was
recognized so soon as they were read aloud:--

                    "To a thing that's uncommon--
                    A youth of discretion,
                    Who, though vastly handsome,
                    Despises flirtation:
                    To the friend in affliction,
                    The heart of affection,
                    Who may hear the last trump
                    Without dread of detection."

         [Footnote 20: Mrs. Cockburn (born Miss Rutherford of
         Fairnalie) was the authoress of the beautiful song--

              "I have seen the smiling
               Of fortune beguiling."--(1826.)]

In [April, 1758] my father married Anne Rutherford, eldest daughter of
Dr. John Rutherford, professor of medicine in the University of
Edinburgh. He was one of those pupils of Boerhaave, to whom the school
of medicine in our northern metropolis owes its rise, and a man
distinguished {p.009} for professional talent, for lively wit, and
for literary acquirements. Dr. Rutherford was twice married. His first
wife, of whom my mother is the sole surviving child, was a daughter of
Sir John Swinton of Swinton, a family which produced many
distinguished warriors during the Middle Ages, and which, for
antiquity and honorable alliances, may rank with any in Britain. My
grandfather's second wife was Miss Mackay, by whom he had a second
family, of whom are now (1808) alive, Dr. Daniel Rutherford, professor
of botany in the University of Edinburgh, and Misses Janet and
Christian Rutherford, amiable and accomplished women.

My father and mother had a very numerous family, no fewer, I believe,
than twelve children, of whom many were highly promising, though only
five survived very early youth. My eldest brother (that is, the eldest
whom I remember to have seen) was Robert Scott, so called after my
uncle, of whom I shall have much to say hereafter. He was bred in the
King's service, under Admiral, then Captain William Dickson, and was
in most of Rodney's battles. His temper was bold and haughty, and to
me was often checkered with what I felt to be capricious tyranny. In
other respects I loved him much, for he had a strong turn for
literature, read poetry with taste and judgment, and composed verses
himself, which had gained him great applause among his messmates.
Witness the following elegy upon the supposed loss of the vessel,
composed the night before Rodney's celebrated battle of April the
12th, 1782. It alludes to the various amusements of his mess:--

           "No more the geese shall cackle on the poop,
              No more the bagpipe through the orlop sound,
            No more the midshipmen, a jovial group,
              Shall toast the girls, and push the bottle round.
            In death's dark road at anchor fast they stay,
              Till Heaven's loud signal shall in thunder roar;
            Then starting up, all hands shall quick obey,
              Sheet home the topsail, and with speed unmoor."

Robert {p.010} sung agreeably--(a virtue which was never seen in
me)--understood the mechanical arts, and when in good humor, could
regale us with many a tale of bold adventure and narrow escapes. When
in bad humor, however, he gave us a practical taste of what was then
man-of-war's discipline, and kicked and cuffed without mercy. I have
often thought how he might have distinguished himself, had he
continued in the navy until the present times, so glorious for
nautical exploit. But the Peace of Paris [Versailles, 1783] cut off
all hopes of promotion for those who had not great interest; and some
disgust which his proud spirit had taken at harsh usage from a
superior officer, combined to throw poor Robert into the East India
Company's service, for which his habits were ill adapted. He made two
voyages to the East, and died a victim to the climate in....

John Scott, my second brother, is about three years older than me. He
addicted himself to the military service, and is now brevet-major in
the 73rd regiment.[21]

         [Footnote 21: He was this year made major of the second
         battalion, by the kind intercession of Mr. Canning at the War
         Office--1809. He retired from the army, and kept house with
         my mother. His health was totally broken, and he died, yet a
         young man, on 8th May, 1816.--(1826.)]

I had an only sister, Anne Scott, who seemed to be from her cradle the
butt for mischance to shoot arrows at. Her childhood was marked by
perilous escapes from the most extraordinary accidents. Among others,
I remember an iron-railed door leading into the area in the centre of
George's Square being closed by the wind, while her fingers were
betwixt the hasp and staple. Her hand was thus locked in, and must
have been smashed to pieces, had not the bones of her fingers been
remarkably slight and thin. As it was, the hand was cruelly mangled.
On another occasion she was nearly drowned in a pond, or old quarry
hole, in what was then called Brown's Park, on the south side of the
square. But the most unfortunate accident, and which, though it
happened while she {p.011} was only six years old, proved the remote
cause of her death, was her cap accidentally taking fire. The child
was alone in the room, and before assistance could be obtained, her
head was dreadfully scorched. After a lingering and dangerous illness,
she recovered--but never to enjoy perfect health. The slightest cold
occasioned swellings in her face, and other indications of a delicate
constitution. At length, in [1801], poor Anne was taken ill, and died
after a very short interval. Her temper, like that of her brothers,
was peculiar, and in her, perhaps, it showed more odd, from the habits
of indulgence which her nervous illnesses had formed. But she was at
heart an affectionate and kind girl, neither void of talent nor of
feeling, though living in an ideal world which she had framed to
herself by the force of imagination. Anne was my junior by about a

A year lower in the list was my brother Thomas Scott, who is still

         [Footnote 22: Poor Tom, a man of infinite humor and excellent
         parts, pursued for some time my father's profession; but he
         was unfortunate, from engaging in speculations respecting
         farms and matters out of the line of his proper business. He
         afterwards became paymaster of the 70th regiment, and died in
         Canada. Tom married Elizabeth, a daughter of the family of
         M'Culloch of Ardwell, an ancient Galwegian stock, by whom he
         left a son, Walter Scott, now second lieutenant of engineers
         in the East India Company's service, Bombay--and three
         daughters; Jessie, married to Lieutenant-Colonel Huxley; 2.
         Anne; 3. Eliza--the two last still unmarried.--(1826.)]

Last, and most unfortunate of our family, was my youngest brother,
Daniel. With the same aversion to labor, or rather, I should say, the
same determined indolence that marked us all, he had neither the
vivacity of intellect which supplies the want of diligence, nor the
pride which renders the most detested labor better than dependence or
contempt. His career was as unfortunate as might be augured from such
an unhappy combination; and after various unsuccessful attempts to
establish himself in life, he died on his return from the West Indies,
in [July, 1806].

Having {p.012} premised so much of my family, I return to my own
story. I was born, as I believe, on the 15th August, 1771, in a house
belonging to my father, at the head of the College Wynd. It was pulled
down, with others, to make room for the northern front of the new
College. I was an uncommonly healthy child, but had nearly died in
consequence of my first nurse being ill of a consumption, a
circumstance which she chose to conceal, though to do so was murder to
both herself and me. She went privately to consult Dr. Black, the
celebrated professor of chemistry, who put my father on his guard. The
woman was dismissed, and I was consigned to a healthy peasant, who is
still alive to boast of her _laddie_ being what she calls _a grand
gentleman_.[23] I showed every sign of health and strength until I was
about eighteen months old. One night, I have been often told, I showed
great reluctance to be caught and put to bed; and, after being chased
about the room, was apprehended, and consigned to my dormitory with
some difficulty. It was the last time I was to show such personal
agility. In the morning I was discovered to be affected with the fever
which often accompanies the cutting of large teeth. It held me three
days. On the fourth, when they went to bathe me as usual, they
discovered that I had lost the power of my right leg. My grandfather,
an excellent anatomist as well as physician, the late worthy Alexander
Wood, and many others of the most respectable of the faculty, were
consulted. There appeared to be no dislocation or sprain; blisters and
other topical remedies were applied in vain.[24] When the efforts of
regular physicians had been exhausted without the slightest success,
my anxious parents, during the course of many years, eagerly grasped
at every prospect of cure which was held out by the promise of
empirics, or of ancient ladies or gentlemen who {p.013} conceived
themselves entitled to recommend various remedies, some of which were
of a nature sufficiently singular. But the advice of my grandfather,
Dr. Rutherford, that I should be sent to reside in the country, to
give the chance of natural exertion, excited by free air and liberty,
was first resorted to; and before I have the recollection of the
slightest event, I was, agreeably to this friendly counsel, an inmate
in the farmhouse of Sandy-Knowe.

         [Footnote 23: She died in 1810.--(1826.)]

         [Footnote 24: [Regarding this illness, see a medical note by
         Dr. Creighton to the article, "Scott," in the _Encyclopædia

An odd incident is worth recording. It seems my mother had sent a maid
to take charge of me, that I might be no inconvenience in the family.
But the damsel sent on that important mission had left her heart
behind her, in the keeping of some wild fellow, it is likely, who had
done and said more to her than he was like to make good. She became
extremely desirous to return to Edinburgh, and as my mother made a
point of her remaining where she was, she contracted a sort of hatred
at poor me, as the cause of her being detained at Sandy-Knowe. This
rose, I suppose, to a sort of delirious affection, for she confessed
to old Alison Wilson, the housekeeper, that she had carried me up to
the Craigs, meaning, under a strong temptation of the Devil, to cut my
throat with her scissors, and bury me in the moss. Alison instantly
took possession of my person, and took care that her confidant should
not be subject to any farther temptation so far as I was concerned.
She was dismissed, of course, and I have heard became afterwards a

It is here at Sandy-Knowe, in the residence of my paternal
grandfather, already mentioned, that I have the first consciousness of
existence; and I recollect distinctly that my situation and appearance
were a little whimsical. Among the odd remedies recurred to to aid my
lameness, some one had recommended that so often as a sheep was killed
for the use of the family, I should be stripped, and swathed up in the
skin, warm as it was flayed from the carcase {p.014} of the animal.
In this Tartar-like habiliment I well remember lying upon the floor of
the little parlor in the farmhouse, while my grandfather, a venerable
old man with white hair, used every excitement to make me try to
crawl. I also distinctly remember the late Sir George MacDougal of
Makerstoun, father of the present Sir Henry Hay MacDougal, joining in
this kindly attempt. He was, God knows how,[25] a relation of ours,
and I still recollect him in his old-fashioned military habit (he had
been colonel of the Greys), with a small cocked hat, deeply laced, an
embroidered scarlet waistcoat, and a light-colored coat, with
milk-white locks tied in a military fashion, kneeling on the ground
before me, and dragging his watch along the carpet to induce me to
follow it. The benevolent old soldier and the infant wrapped in his
sheepskin would have afforded an odd group to uninterested spectators.
This must have happened about my third year, for Sir George MacDougal
and my grandfather both died shortly after that period.

         [Footnote 25: He was a second cousin of my grandfather's.
         Isobel MacDougal, wife of Walter, the first Laird of Raeburn,
         and mother of Walter Scott, called Beardie, was grand-aunt, I
         take it, to the late Sir George MacDougal. There was always
         great friendship between us and the Makerstoun family. It
         singularly happened, that at the burial of the late Sir Henry
         MacDougal, my cousin William Scott younger of Raeburn, and I
         myself, were the nearest blood relations present, although
         our connection was of so old a date, and ranked as
         pall-bearers accordingly.--(1826.)]

My grandmother continued for some years to take charge of the farm,
assisted by my father's second brother, Mr. Thomas Scott, who resided
at Crailing, as factor or land steward for Mr. Scott of Danesfield,
then proprietor of that estate.[26] This was during the heat of the
American war, and I remember being as anxious on my uncle's weekly
visits (for we heard news at no other time) {p.015} to hear of the
defeat of Washington, as if I had had some deep and personal cause of
antipathy to him. I know not how this was combined with a very strong
prejudice in favor of the Stuart family, which I had originally
imbibed from the songs and tales of the Jacobites. This latter
political propensity was deeply confirmed by the stories told in my
hearing of the cruelties exercised in the executions at Carlisle, and
in the Highlands, after the battle of Culloden. One or two of our own
distant relations had fallen on that occasion, and I remember of
detesting the name of Cumberland with more than infant hatred. Mr.
Curle, farmer at Yetbyre, husband of one of my aunts, had been present
at their execution; and it was probably from him that I first heard
these tragic tales which made so great an impression on me. The local
information, which I conceive had some share in forming my future
taste and pursuits, I derived from the old songs and tales which then
formed the amusement of a retired country family. My grandmother, in
whose youth the old Border depredations were matter of recent
tradition, used to tell me many a tale of Watt of Harden, Wight Willie
of Aikwood, Jamie Telfer of the fair Dodhead, and other heroes--merry
men all, of the persuasion and calling of Robin Hood and Little John.
A more recent hero, but not of less note, was the celebrated _Diel of
Littledean_, whom she well remembered, as he had married her mother's
sister. Of this extraordinary person I learned many a story, grave and
gay, comic and warlike. Two or three old books which lay in the window
seat were explored for my amusement in the tedious winter days.
Automathes and Ramsay's Tea-Table Miscellany were my favorites,
although at a later period an odd volume of Josephus's Wars of the
Jews divided my partiality.

         [Footnote 26: My uncle afterwards resided at Elliston, and
         then took from Mr. Cornelius Elliot the estate of Woollee.
         Finally he retired to Monklaw in the neighborhood of
         Jedburgh, where he died, 1823, at the advanced age of ninety
         years, and in full possession of his faculties. It was a fine
         thing to hear him talk over the change of the country which
         he had witnessed.--(1826.)]

My kind and affectionate aunt, Miss Janet Scott, whose memory will
ever be dear to me, used to read these works to me with admirable
patience, until I could repeat long {p.016} passages by heart. The
ballad of Hardyknute I was early master of, to the great annoyance of
almost our only visitor, the worthy clergyman of the parish, Dr.
Duncan, who had not patience to have a sober chat interrupted by my
shouting forth this ditty. Methinks I now see his tall, thin,
emaciated figure, his legs cased in clasped gambadoes, and his face of
a length that would have rivalled the Knight of La Mancha's, and hear
him exclaiming, "One may as well speak in the mouth of a cannon as
where that child is." With this little acidity, which was natural to
him, he was a most excellent and benevolent man, a gentleman in every
feeling, and altogether different from those of his order who cringe
at the tables of the gentry, or domineer and riot at those of the
yeomanry. In his youth he had been chaplain in the family of Lord
Marchmont--had seen Pope--and could talk familiarly of many characters
who had survived the Augustan age of Queen Anne. Though valetudinary,
he lived to be nearly ninety, and to welcome to Scotland his son,
Colonel William Duncan, who, with the highest character for military
and civil merit, had made a considerable fortune in India. In [1795],
a few days before his death, I paid him a visit, to inquire after his
health. I found him emaciated to the last degree, wrapped in a tartan
night-gown, and employed with all the activity of health and youth in
correcting a history of the Revolution, which he intended should be
given to the public when he was no more. He read me several passages
with a voice naturally strong, and which the feelings of an author
then raised above the depression of age and declining health. I begged
him to spare this fatigue, which could not but injure his health. His
answer was remarkable. "I know," he said, "that I cannot survive a
fortnight--and what signifies an exertion that can at worst only
accelerate my death a few days?" I marvelled at the composure of this
reply, for his appearance sufficiently vouched the truth of his
prophecy, and rode home {p.017} to my uncle's (then my abode),
musing what there could be in the spirit of authorship that could
inspire its votaries with the courage of martyrs. He died within less
than the period he assigned--with which event I close my digression.

I was in my fourth year when my father was advised that the Bath
waters might be of some advantage to my lameness. My affectionate
aunt, although such a journey promised to a person of her retired
habits anything but pleasure or amusement, undertook as readily to
accompany me to the wells of Bladud as if she had expected all the
delight that ever the prospect of a watering-place held out to its
most impatient visitants. My health was by this time a good deal
confirmed by the country air, and the influence of that imperceptible
and unfatiguing exercise to which the good sense of my grandfather had
subjected me; for when the day was fine, I was usually carried out and
laid down beside the old shepherd, among the crags or rocks round
which he fed his sheep. The impatience of a child soon inclined me to
struggle with my infirmity, and I began by degrees to stand, to walk,
and to run. Although the limb affected was much shrunk and contracted,
my general health, which was of more importance, was much strengthened
by being frequently in the open air, and, in a word, I, who in a city
had probably been condemned to hopeless and helpless decrepitude, was
now a healthy, high-spirited, and, my lameness apart, a sturdy
child--_non sine diis animosus infans_.

We went to London by sea, and it may gratify the curiosity of minute
biographers to learn that our voyage was performed in the Duchess of
Buccleuch, Captain Beatson, master. At London we made a short stay,
and saw some of the common shows exhibited to strangers. When,
twenty-five years afterwards, I visited the Tower of London and
Westminster Abbey, I was astonished to find how accurate my
recollections of these celebrated places {p.018} of visitation
proved to be, and I have ever since trusted more implicitly to my
juvenile reminiscences. At Bath, where I lived about a year, I went
through all the usual discipline of the pump-room and baths, but I
believe without the least advantage to my lameness. During my
residence at Bath, I acquired the rudiments of reading at a
day-school, kept by an old dame near our lodgings, and I had never a
more regular teacher, although I think I did not attend her a quarter
of a year. An occasional lesson from my aunt supplied the rest.
Afterwards, when grown a big boy, I had a few lessons from Mr. Stalker
of Edinburgh, and finally from the Rev. Mr. Cleeve. But I never
acquired a just pronunciation, nor could I read with much propriety.

In other respects my residence at Bath is marked by very pleasing
recollections. The venerable John Home, author of Douglas, was then at
the watering-place, and paid much attention to my aunt and to me. His
wife, who has survived him, was then an invalid, and used to take the
air in her carriage on the Downs, when I was often invited to
accompany her. But the most delightful recollections of Bath are dated
after the arrival of my uncle, Captain Robert Scott, who introduced me
to all the little amusements which suited my age, and above all, to
the theatre. The play was As You Like It; and the witchery of the
whole scene is alive in my mind at this moment. I made, I believe,
noise more than enough, and remember being so much scandalized at the
quarrel between Orlando and his brother in the first scene, that I
screamed out, "A'n't they brothers?" A few weeks' residence at home
convinced me, who had till then been an only child in the house of my
grandfather, that a quarrel between brothers was a very natural event.

The other circumstances I recollect of my residence in Bath are but
trifling, yet I never recall them without a feeling of pleasure. The
beauties of the parade (which of them I know not), with the river Avon
winding around it, {p.019} and the lowing of the cattle from the
opposite hills, are warm in my recollection, and are only rivalled by
the splendors of a toy-shop somewhere near the Orange Grove. I had
acquired, I know not by what means, a kind of superstitious terror for
statuary of all kinds. No ancient Iconoclast or modern Calvinist could
have looked on the outside of the Abbey church (if I mistake not, the
principal church at Bath is so called) with more horror than the image
of Jacob's Ladder, with all its angels, presented to my infant eye. My
uncle effectually combated my terrors, and formally introduced me to a
statue of Neptune, which perhaps still keeps guard at the side of the
Avon, where a pleasure boat crosses to Spring Gardens.

After being a year at Bath, I returned first to Edinburgh, and
afterwards for a season to Sandy-Knowe;--and thus the time whiled away
till about my eighth year, when it was thought sea bathing might be of
service to my lameness.

For this purpose, still under my aunt's protection, I remained some
weeks at Prestonpans, a circumstance not worth mentioning, excepting
to record my juvenile intimacy with an old military veteran, Dalgetty
by name, who had pitched his tent in that little village, after all
his campaigns, subsisting upon an ensign's half-pay, though called by
courtesy a Captain. As this old gentleman, who had been in all the
German wars, found very few to listen to his tales of military feats,
he formed a sort of alliance with me, and I used invariably to attend
him for the pleasure of hearing those communications. Sometimes our
conversation turned on the American war, which was then raging. It was
about the time of Burgoyne's unfortunate expedition, to which my
Captain and I augured different conclusions. Somebody had showed me a
map of North America, and, struck with the rugged appearance of the
country, and the quantity of lakes, I expressed some doubts on the
subject of the General's {p.020} arriving safely at the end of his
journey, which, were very indignantly refuted by the Captain. The news
of the Saratoga disaster, while it gave me a little triumph, rather
shook my intimacy with the veteran.[27]

         [Footnote 27: Besides this veteran, I found another ally at
         Prestonpans, in the person of George Constable, an old friend
         of my father's, educated to the law, but retired upon his
         independent property, and generally residing near Dundee. He
         had many of those peculiarities of temper which long
         afterwards I tried to develop in the character of Jonathan
         Oldbuck. It is very odd, that though I am unconscious of
         anything in which I strictly copied the _manners_ of my old
         friend, the resemblance was nevertheless detected by George
         Chalmers, Esq., solicitor, London, an old friend, both of my
         father and Mr. Constable, and who affirmed to my late friend,
         Lord Kinedder, that I must needs be the author of _The
         Antiquary_, since he recognized the portrait of George
         Constable. But my friend George was not so decided an enemy
         to womankind as his representative Monkbarns. On the
         contrary, I rather suspect that he had a _tendresse_ for my
         Aunt Jenny, who even then was a most beautiful woman, though
         somewhat advanced in life. To the close of her life, she had
         the finest eyes and teeth I ever saw, and though she could be
         sufficiently sharp when she had a mind, her general behavior
         was genteel and ladylike. However this might be, I derived a
         great deal of curious information from George Constable, both
         at this early period, and afterwards. He was constantly
         philandering about my aunt, and of course very kind to me. He
         was the first person who told me about Falstaff and Hotspur,
         and other characters in Shakespeare. What idea I annexed to
         them I know not; but I must have annexed some, for I remember
         quite well being interested on the subject. Indeed, I rather
         suspect that children derive impulses of a powerful and
         important kind in hearing things which they cannot entirely
         comprehend; and therefore, that to write _down_ to children's
         understanding is a mistake: set them on the scent, and let
         them puzzle it out. To return to George Constable, I knew him
         well at a much later period. He used always to dine at my
         father's house of a Sunday, and was authorized to turn the
         conversation out of the austere and Calvinistic tone, which
         it usually maintained on that day, upon subjects of history
         or auld langsyne. He remembered the forty-five, and told many
         excellent stories, all with a strong dash of a peculiar
         caustic humor.

         George's sworn ally as a brother antiquary was John Davidson,
         then Keeper of the Signet; and I remember his flattering and
         compelling me to go to dine there. A writer's apprentice with
         the Keeper of the Signet, whose least officer kept us in
         order!--It was an awful event. Thither, however, I went with
         some secret expectation of a scantling of good claret. Mr. D.
         had a son whose taste inclined him to the army, to which his
         father, who had designed him for the Bar, gave a most
         unwilling consent. He was at this time a young officer, and
         he and I, leaving the two seniors to proceed in their chat as
         they pleased, never once opened our mouths either to them or
         each other. The Pragmatic Sanction happened unfortunately to
         become the theme of their conversation, when Constable said
         in jest, "Now, John, I'll wad you a plack that neither of
         these two lads ever heard of the Pragmatic Sanction."--"Not
         heard of the Pragmatic Sanction!" said John Davidson; "I
         would like to see that;" and with a voice of thunder he asked
         his son the fatal question. As young D. modestly allowed he
         knew nothing about it, his father drove him from the table in
         a rage, and I absconded during the confusion; nor could
         Constable ever bring me back again to his friend

From {p.021} Prestonpans I was transported back to my father's house
in George's Square, which continued to be my most established place of
residence, until my marriage in 1797. I felt the change from being a
single indulged brat, to becoming a member of a large family, very
severely; for under the gentle government of my kind grandmother, who
was meekness itself, and of my aunt, who, though of an higher temper,
was exceedingly attached to me, I had acquired a degree of license
which could not be permitted in a large family. I had sense enough,
however, to bend my temper to my new circumstances; but such was the
agony which I internally experienced, that I have guarded against
nothing more in the education of my own family, than against their
acquiring habits of self-willed caprice and domination. I found much
consolation during this period of mortification in the partiality of
my mother. She joined to a light and happy temper of mind a strong
turn to study poetry and works of imagination. She was sincerely
devout, but her religion was, as became her sex, of a cast less
austere than my father's. Still, the discipline of the Presbyterian
Sabbath was severely strict, and I think injudiciously so. Although
Bunyan's Pilgrim, Gessner's Death of Abel, Rowe's Letters, and one or
two other books, which, for that reason, I still have a favor for,
were admitted to relieve the gloom of one dull sermon succeeding to
another--there was far too much tedium annexed to the duties of the
day; and in the end it did none of us any good.

My week-day tasks were more agreeable. My lameness and {p.022} my
solitary habits had made me a tolerable reader, and my hours of
leisure were usually spent in reading aloud to my mother Pope's
translation of Homer, which, excepting a few traditionary ballads, and
the songs in Allan Ramsay's Evergreen, was the first poetry which I
perused. My mother had good natural taste and great feeling: she used
to make me pause upon those passages which expressed generous and
worthy sentiments, and if she could not divert me from those which
were descriptive of battle and tumult, she contrived at least to
divide my attention between them. My own enthusiasm, however, was
chiefly awakened by the wonderful and the terrible--the common taste
of children, but in which I have remained a child even unto this day.
I got by heart, not as a task, but almost without intending it, the
passages with which I was most pleased, and used to recite them aloud,
both when alone and to others--more willingly, however, in my hours of
solitude, for I had observed some auditors smile, and I dreaded
ridicule at that time of life more than I have ever done since.

In [1778] I was sent to the second class of the Grammar School, or
High School of Edinburgh, then taught by Mr. Luke Fraser, a good Latin
scholar and a very worthy man.[28] Though I had received, with my
brothers, in private, lessons of Latin from Mr. James French, now a
minister of the Kirk of Scotland, I was nevertheless rather behind the
class in which I was placed both in years and in progress. This was a
real disadvantage, and one to which a boy of lively temper and talents
ought to be as little exposed as one who might be less expected to
make up his leeway, as it is called. The situation has the unfortunate
effect of reconciling a boy of the former {p.023} character (which
in a posthumous work I may claim for my own) to holding a subordinate
station among his class-fellows--to which he would otherwise affix
disgrace. There is, also, from the constitution of the High School, a
certain danger not sufficiently attended to. The boys take precedence
in their _places_, as they are called, according to their merit, and
it requires a long while, in general, before even a clever boy, if he
falls behind the class, or is put into one for which he is not quite
ready, can force his way to the situation which his abilities really
entitle him to hold. But, in the mean while, he is necessarily led to
be the associate and companion of those inferior spirits with whom he
is placed; for the system of precedence, though it does not limit the
general intercourse among the boys, has nevertheless the effect of
throwing them into clubs and coteries, according to the vicinity of
the seats they hold. A boy of good talents, therefore, placed even for
a time among his inferiors, especially if they be also his elders,
learns to participate in their pursuits and objects of ambition, which
are usually very distinct from the acquisition of learning; and it
will be well if he does not also imitate them in that indifference
which is contented with bustling over a lesson so as to avoid
punishment, without affecting superiority or aiming at reward. It was
probably owing to this circumstance that, although at a more advanced
period of life I have enjoyed considerable facility in acquiring
languages, I did not make any great figure at the High School--or, at
least, any exertions which I made were desultory and little to be
depended on.

         [Footnote 28: [Lord Cockburn, in his _Life of Jeffrey_,
         quotes with approval Scott's commendation of Mr. Fraser, and
         adds, that this teacher had the singular good fortune to turn
         out from three successive classes Walter Scott, Francis
         Jeffrey, and Henry Brougham.]]

Our class contained some very excellent scholars. The first _Dux_ was
James Buchan, who retained his honored place, almost without a day's
interval, all the while we were at the High School. He was afterwards
at the head of the medical staff in Egypt, and in exposing himself to
the plague infection, by attending the hospitals there, {p.024}
displayed the same well-regulated and gentle, yet determined,
perseverance which placed him most worthily at the head of his
schoolfellows, while many lads of livelier parts and dispositions held
an inferior station. The next best scholars (_sed longo intervallo_)
were my friend David Douglas, the heir and _élève_ of the celebrated
Adam Smith, and James Hope, now a Writer to the Signet, both since
well known and distinguished in their departments of the law. As for
myself, I glanced like a meteor from one end of the class to the
other, and commonly disgusted my kind master as much by negligence and
frivolity, as I occasionally pleased him by flashes of intellect and
talent. Among my companions my good-nature and a flow of ready
imagination rendered me very popular. Boys are uncommonly just in
their feelings, and at least equally generous. My lameness, and the
efforts which I made to supply that disadvantage, by making up in
address what I wanted in activity, engaged the latter principle in my
favor; and in the winter play hours, when hard exercise was
impossible, my tales used to assemble an admiring audience round Lucky
Brown's fireside, and happy was he that could sit next to the
inexhaustible narrator. I was also, though often negligent of my own
task, always ready to assist my friends, and hence I had a little
party of stanch partisans and adherents, stout of hand and heart,
though somewhat dull of head--the very tools for raising a hero to
eminence. So, on the whole, I made a brighter figure in the _yards_
than in the _class_[29]

         [Footnote 29: I read not long since, in that authentic
         record called the _Percy Anecdotes_, that I had been educated
         at Musselburgh school, where I had been distinguished as an
         absolute dunce; only Dr. Blair, seeing farther into the
         millstone, had pronounced there was fire in it. I never was
         at Musselburgh school in my life, and though I have met Dr.
         Blair at my father's and elsewhere, I never had the good
         fortune to attract his notice, to my knowledge. Lastly, I was
         never a dunce, nor thought to be so, but an incorrigibly idle
         imp, who was always longing to do something else than what
         was enjoined him.--(1826.)]

My {p.025} father did not trust our education solely to our High
School lessons. We had a tutor at home, a young man of an excellent
disposition, and a laborious student. He was bred to the Kirk, but
unfortunately took such a very strong turn to fanaticism, that he
afterwards resigned an excellent living in a seaport town, merely
because he could not persuade the mariners of the guilt of setting
sail of a Sabbath,--in which, by the bye, he was less likely to be
successful, as, _cæteris paribus_, sailors, from an opinion that it is
a fortunate omen, always choose to weigh anchor on that day. The
calibre of this young man's understanding may be judged of by this
anecdote; but in other respects he was a faithful and active
instructor; and from him chiefly I learned writing and arithmetic. I
repeated to him my French lessons, and studied with him my themes in
the classics, but not classically. I also acquired, by disputing with
him (for this he readily permitted), some knowledge of school divinity
and church history, and a great acquaintance in particular with the
old books describing the early history of the Church of Scotland, the
wars and sufferings of the Covenanters, and so forth. I, with a head
on fire for chivalry, was a Cavalier; my friend was a Roundhead: I was
a Tory, and he was a Whig. I hated Presbyterians, and admired Montrose
with his victorious Highlanders; he liked the Presbyterian Ulysses,
the dark and politic Argyle: so that we never wanted subjects of
dispute; but our disputes were always amicable. In all these tenets
there was no real conviction on my part, arising out of acquaintance
with the views or principles of either party; nor had my antagonist
address enough to turn the debate on such topics. I took up my
politics at that period, as King Charles II. did his religion, from an
idea that the Cavalier creed was the more gentlemanlike persuasion of
the two.

After having been three years under Mr. Fraser, our class was, in the
usual routine of the school, turned over to {p.026} Dr. Adam, the
Rector. It was from this respectable man that I first learned the
value of the knowledge I had hitherto considered only as a burdensome
task. It was the fashion to remain two years at his class, where we
read Cæsar, and Livy, and Sallust, in prose; Virgil, Horace, and
Terence, in verse. I had by this time mastered, in some degree, the
difficulties of the language, and began to be sensible of its
beauties. This was really gathering grapes from thistles; nor shall I
soon forget the swelling of my little pride when the Rector
pronounced, that though many of my schoolfellows understood the Latin
better, _Gualterus Scott_ was behind few in following and enjoying the
author's meaning. Thus encouraged, I distinguished myself by some
attempts at poetical versions from Horace and Virgil. Dr. Adam used to
invite his scholars to such essays, but never made them tasks. I
gained some distinction upon these occasions, and the Rector in future
took much notice of me; and his judicious mixture of censure and
praise went far to counterbalance my habits of indolence and
inattention. I saw I was expected to do well, and I was piqued in
honor to vindicate my master's favorable opinion. I climbed,
therefore, to the first form; and, though I never made a first-rate
Latinist, my schoolfellows, and what was of more consequence, I
myself, considered that I had a character for learning to maintain.
Dr. Adam, to whom I owed so much, never failed to remind me of my
obligations when I had made some figure in the literary world. He was,
indeed, deeply imbued with that fortunate vanity which alone could
induce a man who has arms to pare and burn a muir, to submit to the
yet more toilsome task of cultivating youth. As Catholics confide in
the imputed righteousness of their saints, so did the good old Doctor
plume himself upon the success of his scholars in life, all of which
he never failed (and often justly) to claim as the creation, or at
least the fruits, of his early instructions. He remembered the fate of
every boy {p.027} at his school during the fifty years he had
superintended it, and always traced their success or misfortunes
entirely to their attention or negligence when under his care. His
"noisy mansion," which to others would have been a melancholy bedlam,
was the pride of his heart; and the only fatigues he felt, amidst din
and tumult, and the necessity of reading themes, hearing lessons, and
maintaining some degree of order at the same time, were relieved by
comparing himself to Cæsar, who could dictate to three secretaries at
once;--so ready is vanity to lighten the labors of duty.

It is a pity that a man so learned, so admirably adapted for his
station, so useful, so simple, so easily contented, should have had
other subjects of mortification. But the magistrates of Edinburgh, not
knowing the treasure they possessed in Dr. Adam, encouraged a savage
fellow, called Nicol, one of the undermasters, in insulting his person
and authority. This man was an excellent classical scholar, and an
admirable convivial humorist (which latter quality recommended him to
the friendship of Burns); but worthless, drunken, and inhumanly cruel
to the boys under his charge. He carried his feud against the Rector
within an inch of assassination, for he waylaid and knocked him down
in the dark. The favor which this worthless rival obtained in the town
council led to other consequences, which for some time clouded poor
Adam's happiness and fair fame. When the French Revolution broke out,
and parties ran high in approving or condemning it, the Doctor
incautiously joined the former. This was very natural, for as all his
ideas of existing governments were derived from his experience of the
town council of Edinburgh, it must be admitted they scarce brooked
comparison with the free states of Rome and Greece, from which he
borrowed his opinions concerning republics. His want of caution in
speaking on the political topics of the day lost him the respect of
the boys, most of whom were accustomed to hear {p.028} very
different opinions on those matters in the bosom of their families.
This, however (which was long after my time), passed away with other
heats of the period, and the Doctor continued his labors till about a
year since, when he was struck with palsy while teaching his class. He
survived a few days, but becoming delirious before his dissolution,
conceived he was still in school, and after some expressions of
applause or censure, he said, "But it grows dark--the boys may
dismiss,"--and instantly expired.[30]

         [Footnote 30: [On December 27, 1809, a few days after Dr.
         Adam's death, Scott writes to Mrs. Thomas Scott: "Poor old
         Dr. Adam died last week after a very short illness, which
         first affected him in school. He was light-headed, and
         continued to speak as in the class until the very last, when,
         having been silent for many hours, he said, 'That Horace was
         very well said; _you_ did not do it so well;' then added
         faintly, 'But it grows dark, very dark, the boys may
         dismiss,' and with these striking words he
         expired."--_Familiar Letters_, vol. i. p. 154.]]

From Dr. Adam's class I should, according to the usual routine, have
proceeded immediately to college. But, fortunately, I was not yet to
lose, by a total dismission from constraint, the acquaintance with the
Latin which I had acquired. My health had become rather delicate from
rapid growth, and my father was easily persuaded to allow me to spend
half a year at Kelso with my kind aunt, Miss Janet Scott, whose inmate
I again became. It was hardly worth mentioning that I had frequently
visited her during our short vacations.

At this time she resided in a small house, situated very pleasantly in
a large garden, to the eastward of the churchyard of Kelso, which
extended down to the Tweed. It was then my father's property, from
whom it was afterwards purchased by my uncle. My grandmother was now
dead, and my aunt's only companion, besides an old maid-servant, was
my cousin, Miss Barbara Scott, now Mrs. Meik. My time was here left
entirely to my own disposal, excepting for about four hours in the
day, when I was expected to attend the Grammar School of the {p.029}
village. The teacher at that time was Mr. Lancelot Whale, an excellent
classical scholar, a humorist, and a worthy man. He had a supreme
antipathy to the puns which his very uncommon name frequently gave
rise to; insomuch, that he made his son spell the word _Wale_, which
only occasioned the young man being nicknamed _the Prince of Wales_ by
the military mess to which he belonged. As for Whale, senior, the
least allusion to Jonah, or the terming him an odd fish, or any
similar quibble, was sure to put him beside himself. In point of
knowledge and taste he was far too good for the situation he held,
which only required that he should give his scholars a rough
foundation in the Latin language. My time with him, though short, was
spent greatly to my advantage and his gratification. He was glad to
escape to Persius and Tacitus from the eternal Rudiments and Cornelius
Nepos; and as perusing these authors with one who began to understand
them was to him a labor of love, I made considerable progress under
his instructions. I suspect, indeed, that some of the time dedicated
to me was withdrawn from the instruction of his more regular scholars;
but I was as grateful as I could be. I acted as usher, and heard the
inferior classes, and I spouted the speech of Galgacus at the public
examination, which did not make the less impression on the audience
that few of them probably understood one word of it.

In the mean while my acquaintance with English literature was
gradually extending itself. In the intervals of my school hours I had
always perused with avidity such books of history or poetry or voyages
and travels as chance presented to me--not forgetting the usual, or
rather ten times the usual, quantity of fairy tales, Eastern stories,
romances, etc. These studies were totally unregulated and undirected.
My tutor thought it almost a sin to open a profane play or poem; and
my mother, besides that she might be in some degree trammelled by the
religious scruples which he suggested, had no longer the {p.030}
opportunity to hear me read poetry as formerly. I found, however, in
her dressing-room (where I slept at one time) some odd volumes of
Shakespeare, nor can I easily forget the rapture with which I sat up
in my shirt reading them by the light of a fire in her apartment,
until the bustle of the family rising from supper warned me it was
time to creep back to my bed, where I was supposed to have been safely
deposited since nine o'clock. Chance, however, threw in my way a
poetical preceptor. This was no other than the excellent and
benevolent Dr. Blacklock, well known at that time as a literary
character. I know not how I attracted his attention, and that of some
of the young men who boarded in his family; but so it was that I
became a frequent and favored guest. The kind old man opened to me the
stores of his library, and through his recommendation I became
intimate with Ossian and Spenser. I was delighted with both, yet I
think chiefly with the latter poet. The tawdry repetitions of the
Ossianic phraseology disgusted me rather sooner than might have been
expected from my age. But Spenser I could have read forever. Too young
to trouble myself about the allegory, I considered all the knights and
ladies and dragons and giants in their outward and exoteric sense, and
God only knows how delighted I was to find myself in such society. As
I had always a wonderful facility in retaining in my memory whatever
verses pleased me, the quantity of Spenser's stanzas which I could
repeat was really marvellous. But this memory of mine was a very
fickle ally, and has through my whole life acted merely upon its own
capricious motion, and might have enabled me to adopt old Beattie of
Meikledale's answer, when complimented by a certain reverend divine on
the strength of the same faculty:--"No, sir," answered the old
Borderer, "I have no command of my memory. It only retains what hits
my fancy; and probably, sir, if you were to preach to me for two
hours, I would not be able when you finished to {p.031} remember a
word you had been saying." My memory was precisely of the same kind:
it seldom failed to preserve most tenaciously a favorite passage of
poetry, a playhouse ditty, or, above all, a Border-raid ballad; but
names, dates, and the other technicalities of history, escaped me in a
most melancholy degree. The philosophy of history, a much more
important subject, was also a sealed book at this period of my life;
but I gradually assembled much of what was striking and picturesque in
historical narrative; and when, in riper years, I attended more to the
deduction of general principles, I was furnished with a powerful host
of examples in illustration of them. I was, in short, like an ignorant
gamester, who kept a good hand until he knew how to play it.

I left the High School, therefore, with a great quantity of general
information, ill arranged, indeed, and collected without system, yet
deeply impressed upon my mind; readily assorted by my power of
connection and memory, and gilded, if I may be permitted to say so, by
a vivid and active imagination. If my studies were not under any
direction at Edinburgh, in the country, it may be well imagined, they
were less so. A respectable subscription library, a circulating
library of ancient standing, and some private book-shelves, were open
to my random perusal, and I waded into the stream like a blind man
into a ford, without the power of searching my way, unless by groping
for it. My appetite for books was as ample and indiscriminating as it
was indefatigable, and I since have had too frequently reason to
repent that few ever read so much, and to so little purpose.

Among the valuable acquisitions I made about this time was an
acquaintance with Tasso's Jerusalem Delivered, through the flat medium
of Mr. Hoole's translation. But above all, I then first became
acquainted with Bishop Percy's Reliques of Ancient Poetry. As I had
been from infancy devoted to legendary lore of this nature, and only
reluctantly withdrew my attention, from the {p.032} scarcity of
materials and the rudeness of those which I possessed, it may be
imagined, but cannot be described, with what delight I saw pieces of
the same kind which had amused my childhood, and still continued in
secret the Delilahs of my imagination, considered as the subject of
sober research, grave commentary, and apt illustration, by an editor
who showed his poetical genius was capable of emulating the best
qualities of what his pious labor preserved. I remember well the spot
where I read these volumes for the first time. It was beneath a huge
platanus-tree, in the ruins of what had been intended for an
old-fashioned arbor in the _garden_ I have mentioned. The summer day
sped onward so fast that, notwithstanding the sharp appetite of
thirteen, I forgot the hour of dinner, was sought for with anxiety,
and was still found entranced in my intellectual banquet. To read and
to remember was in this instance the same thing, and henceforth I
overwhelmed my schoolfellows, and all who would hearken to me, with
tragical recitations from the ballads of Bishop Percy. The first time,
too, I could scrape a few shillings together, which were not common
occurrences with me, I bought unto myself a copy of these beloved
volumes; nor do I believe I ever read a book half so frequently, or
with half the enthusiasm. About this period, also, I became acquainted
with the works of Richardson, and those of Mackenzie--(whom in later
years I became entitled to call my friend)--with Fielding, Smollett,
and some others of our best novelists.

To this period, also, I can trace distinctly the awaking of that
delightful feeling for the beauties of natural objects which has never
since deserted me. The neighborhood of Kelso, the most beautiful, if
not the most romantic village in Scotland, is eminently calculated to
awaken these ideas. It presents objects, not only grand in themselves,
but venerable from their association. The meeting of two superb
rivers, the Tweed and the Teviot, both renowned in song--the ruins of
an ancient abbey--the more {p.033} distant vestiges of Roxburgh
Castle--the modern mansion of Fleurs, which is so situated as to
combine the ideas of ancient baronial grandeur with those of modern
taste--are in themselves objects of the first class; yet are so mixed,
united, and melted among a thousand other beauties of a less prominent
description, that they harmonize into one general picture, and please
rather by unison than by concord. I believe I have written
unintelligibly upon this subject, but it is fitter for the pencil than
the pen. The romantic feelings which I have described as predominating
in my mind, naturally rested upon and associated themselves with these
grand features of the landscape around me; and the historical
incidents, or traditional legends connected with many of them, gave to
my admiration a sort of intense impression of reverence, which at
times made my heart feel too big for its bosom. From this time the
love of natural beauty, more especially when combined with ancient
ruins, or remains of our fathers' piety or splendor, became with me an
insatiable passion, which, if circumstances had permitted, I would
willingly have gratified by travelling over half the globe.

I was recalled to Edinburgh about the time when the College meets, and
put at once to the Humanity class, under Mr. Hill, and the first Greek
class, taught by Mr. Dalzell. The former held the reins of discipline
very loosely, and though beloved by his students, for he was a
good-natured man as well as a good scholar, he had not the art of
exciting our attention as well as liking. This was a dangerous
character with whom to trust one who relished labor as little as I
did, and amid the riot of his class I speedily lost much of what I had
learned under Adam and Whale. At the Greek class, I might have made a
better figure, for Professor Dalzell maintained a great deal of
authority, and was not only himself an admirable scholar, but was
always deeply interested in the progress of his students. But here lay
the villainy. Almost {p.034} all my companions who had left the High
School at the same time with myself had acquired a smattering of Greek
before they came to College. I, alas, had none; and finding myself far
inferior to all my fellow-students, I could hit upon no better mode of
vindicating my equality than by professing my contempt for the
language, and my resolution not to learn it. A youth who died early,
himself an excellent Greek scholar, saw my negligence and folly with
pain, instead of contempt. He came to call on me in George's Square,
and pointed out in the strongest terms the silliness of the conduct I
had adopted, told me I was distinguished by the name of the _Greek
Blockhead_, and exhorted me to redeem my reputation while it was
called to-day. My stubborn pride received this advice with sulky
civility; the birth of my Mentor (whose name was Archibald, the son of
an innkeeper) did not, as I thought in my folly, authorize him to
intrude upon me his advice. The other was not sharp-sighted, or his
consciousness of a generous intention overcame his resentment. He
offered me his daily and nightly assistance, and pledged himself to
bring me forward with the foremost of my class. I felt some twinges of
conscience, but they were unable to prevail over my pride and
self-conceit. The poor lad left me more in sorrow than in anger, nor
did we ever meet again. All hopes of my progress in the Greek were now
over; insomuch that when we were required to write essays on the
authors we had studied, I had the audacity to produce a composition in
which I weighed Homer against Ariosto, and pronounced him wanting in
the balance. I supported this heresy by a profusion of bad reading and
flimsy argument. The wrath of the Professor was extreme, while at the
same time he could not suppress his surprise at the quantity of
out-of-the-way knowledge which I displayed. He pronounced upon me the
severe sentence--that dunce I was, and dunce was to remain--which,
however, my excellent and learned friend {p.035} lived to revoke
over a bottle of Burgundy, at our literary Club at Fortune's, of which
he was a distinguished member.

Meanwhile, as if to eradicate my slightest tincture of Greek, I fell
ill during the middle of Mr. Dalzell's second class, and migrated a
second time to Kelso--where I again continued a long time reading what
and how I pleased, and of course reading nothing but what afforded me
immediate entertainment. The only thing which saved my mind from utter
dissipation was that turn for historical pursuit, which never
abandoned me even at the idlest period. I had forsworn the Latin
classics for no reason I know of, unless because they were akin to the
Greek; but the occasional perusal of Buchanan's history, that of
Matthew Paris, and other monkish chronicles, kept up a kind of
familiarity with the language even in its rudest state. But I forgot
the very letters of the Greek alphabet; a loss never to be repaired,
considering what that language is, and who they were who employed it
in their compositions.

About this period--or soon afterwards--my father judged it proper I
should study mathematics, a study upon which I entered with all the
ardor of novelty. My tutor was an aged person, Dr. MacFait, who had in
his time been distinguished as a teacher of this science. Age,
however, and some domestic inconveniences, had diminished his pupils,
and lessened his authority amongst the few who remained. I think that,
had I been more fortunately placed for instruction, or had I had the
spur of emulation, I might have made some progress in this science, of
which, under the circumstances I have mentioned, I only acquired a
very superficial smattering.

In other studies I was rather more fortunate. I made some progress in
Ethics under Professor John Bruce, and was selected, as one of his
students whose progress he approved, to read an essay before Principal
Robertson. I {p.036} was farther instructed in Moral Philosophy at
the class of Mr. Dugald Stewart, whose striking and impressive
eloquence riveted the attention even of the most volatile student. To
sum up my academical studies, I attended the class of History, then
taught by the present Lord Woodhouselee, and, as far as I remember, no
others, excepting those of the Civil and Municipal Law. So that, if my
learning be flimsy and inaccurate, the reader must have some
compassion even for an idle workman, who had so narrow a foundation to
build upon. If, however, it should ever fall to the lot of youth to
peruse these pages--let such a reader remember that it is with the
deepest regret that I recollect in my manhood the opportunities of
learning which I neglected in my youth; that through every part of my
literary career I have felt pinched and hampered by my own ignorance;
and that I would at this moment give half the reputation I have had
the good fortune to acquire, if by doing so I could rest the remaining
part upon a sound foundation of learning and science.

I imagine my father's reason for sending me to so few classes in the
College was a desire that I should apply myself particularly to my
legal studies. He had not determined whether I should fill the
situation of an Advocate or a Writer; but judiciously considering the
technical knowledge of the latter to be useful at least, if not
essential, to a barrister, he resolved I should serve the ordinary
apprenticeship of five years to his own profession. I accordingly
entered into indentures with my father about 1785-86, and entered upon
the dry and barren wilderness of forms and conveyances.

I cannot reproach myself with being entirely an idle apprentice--far
less, as the reader might reasonably have expected,

          "A clerk foredoom'd my father's soul to cross."

The drudgery, indeed, of the office I disliked, and the confinement
{p.037} I altogether detested; but I loved my father, and I felt the
rational pride and pleasure of rendering myself useful to him. I was
ambitious also; and among my companions in labor, the only way to
gratify ambition was to labor hard and well. Other circumstances
reconciled me in some measure to the confinement. The allowance for
copy-money furnished a little fund for the _menus plaisirs_ of the
circulating library and the theatre; and this was no trifling
incentive to labor. When actually at the oar, no man could pull it
harder than I, and I remember writing upwards of 120 folio pages with
no interval either for food or rest. Again, the hours of attendance on
the office were lightened by the power of choosing my own books, and
reading them in my own way, which often consisted in beginning at the
middle or the end of a volume. A deceased friend, who was a
fellow-apprentice with me, used often to express his surprise that,
after such a hop-step-and-jump perusal, I knew as much of the book as
he had been able to acquire from reading it in the usual manner. My
desk usually contained a store of most miscellaneous volumes,
especially works of fiction of every kind, which were my supreme
delight. I might except novels, unless those of the better and higher
class; for though I read many of them, yet it was with more selection
than might have been expected. The whole Jemmy and Jenny Jessamy tribe
I abhorred, and it required the art of Burney, or the feeling of
Mackenzie, to fix my attention upon a domestic tale. But all that was
adventurous and romantic I devoured without much discrimination, and I
really believe I have read as much nonsense of this class as any man
now living. Everything which touched on knight-errantry was
particularly acceptable to me, and I soon attempted to imitate what I
so greatly admired. My efforts, however, were in the manner of the
tale-teller, not of the bard.

My greatest intimate, from the days of my school-tide, was {p.038}
Mr. John Irving, now a Writer to the Signet. We lived near each other,
and by joint agreement were wont, each of us, to compose a romance for
the other's amusement. These legends, in which the martial and the
miraculous always predominated, we rehearsed to each other during our
walks, which were usually directed to the most solitary spots about
Arthur's Seat and Salisbury Crags. We naturally sought seclusion, for
we were conscious no small degree of ridicule would have attended our
amusement, if the nature of it had become known. Whole holidays were
spent in this singular pastime, which continued for two or three
years, and had, I believe, no small effect in directing the turn of my
imagination to the chivalrous and romantic in poetry and prose.

Meanwhile, the translations of Mr. Hoole having made me acquainted
with Tasso and Ariosto, I learned from his notes on the latter, that
the Italian language contained a fund of romantic lore. A part of my
earnings was dedicated to an Italian class which I attended twice a
week, and rapidly acquired some proficiency. I had previously renewed
and extended my knowledge of the French language, from the same
principle of romantic research. Tressan's romances, the Bibliothèque
Bleue, and Bibliothèque de Romans, were already familiar to me, and I
now acquired similar intimacy with the works of Dante, Boiardo, Pulci,
and other eminent Italian authors. I fastened also, like a tiger, upon
every collection of old songs or romances which chance threw in my
way, or which my scrutiny was able to discover on the dusty shelves of
James Sibbald's circulating library in the Parliament Square. This
collection, now dismantled and dispersed, contained at that time many
rare and curious works, seldom found in such a collection. Mr. Sibbald
himself, a man of rough manners but of some taste and judgment,
cultivated music and poetry, and in his shop I had a distant view of
some literary characters, besides {p.039} the privilege of
ransacking the stores of old French and Italian books, which were in
little demand among the bulk of his subscribers. Here I saw the
unfortunate Andrew Macdonald, author of Vimonda; and here, too, I saw
at a distance the boast of Scotland, Robert Burns. Of the latter I
shall presently have occasion to speak more fully.

I am inadvertently led to confound dates while I talk of this remote
period, for, as I have no notes, it is impossible for me to remember
with accuracy the progress of studies, if they deserve the name, so
irregular and miscellaneous. But about the second year of my
apprenticeship my health, which, from rapid growth and other causes,
had been hitherto rather uncertain and delicate, was affected by the
breaking of a blood-vessel. The regimen I had to undergo on this
occasion was far from agreeable. It was spring, and the weather raw
and cold, yet I was confined to bed with a single blanket, and bled
and blistered till I scarcely had a pulse left. I had all the appetite
of a growing boy, but was prohibited any sustenance beyond what was
absolutely necessary for the support of nature, and that in vegetables
alone. Above all, with a considerable disposition to talk, I was not
permitted to open my lips without one or two old ladies who watched my
couch being ready at once to souse upon me,

          "imposing silence with a stilly sound."[31]

         [Footnote 31: [Home's _Douglas_.]]

My only refuge was reading and playing at chess. To the romances and
poetry, which I chiefly delighted in, I had always added the study of
history, especially as connected with military events. I was
encouraged in this latter study by a tolerable acquaintance with
geography, and by the opportunities I had enjoyed while with Mr.
MacFait to learn the meaning of the more ordinary terms of
fortification. While, therefore, I lay in this dreary and silent
solitude, I fell upon the resource of illustrating the {p.040}
battles I read of by the childish expedient of arranging shells, and
seeds, and pebbles, so as to represent encountering armies. Diminutive
cross-bows were contrived to mimic artillery, and with the assistance
of a friendly carpenter I contrived to model a fortress, which, like
that of Uncle Toby, represented whatever place happened to be
uppermost in my imagination. I fought my way thus through Vertot's
Knights of Malta--a book which, as it hovered between history and
romance, was exceedingly dear to me; and Orme's interesting and
beautiful History of Indostan, whose copious plans, aided by the clear
and luminous explanations of the author, rendered my imitative
amusement peculiarly easy. Other moments of these weary weeks were
spent in looking at the Meadow Walks, by assistance of a combination
of mirrors so arranged that, while lying in bed, I could see the
troops march out to exercise, or any other incident which occurred on
that promenade.

After one or two relapses, my constitution recovered the injury it had
sustained, though for several months afterwards I was restricted to a
severe vegetable diet. And I must say, in passing, that though I
gained health under this necessary restriction, yet it was far from
being agreeable to me, and I was affected whilst under its influence
with a nervousness which I never felt before or since. A disposition
to start upon slight alarms--a want of decision in feeling and acting,
which has not usually been my failing--an acute sensibility to
trifling inconveniences--and an unnecessary apprehension of contingent
misfortunes, rise to my memory as connected with my vegetable diet,
although they may very possibly have been entirely the result of the
disorder and not of the cure. Be this as it may, with this illness I
bade farewell both to disease and medicine; for since that time, till
the hour I am now writing, I have enjoyed a state of the most robust
health, having only had to complain of occasional headaches or
stomachic affections when I have been long without taking exercise,
{p.041} or have lived too convivially--the latter having been
occasionally, though, not habitually, the error of my youth, as the
former has been of my advanced life.

My frame gradually became hardened with my constitution, and being
both tall and muscular, I was rather disfigured than disabled by my
lameness. This personal disadvantage did not prevent me from taking
much exercise on horseback, and making long journeys on foot, in the
course of which I often walked from twenty to thirty miles a day. A
distinct instance occurs to me. I remember walking with poor James
Ramsay, my fellow-apprentice, now no more, and two other friends, to
breakfast at Prestonpans. We spent the forenoon in visiting the ruins
at Seton, and the field of battle at Preston--dined at Prestonpans on
_tiled haddocks_ very sumptuously--drank half a bottle of port each,
and returned in the evening. This could not be less than thirty miles,
nor do I remember being at all fatigued upon the occasion.

These excursions on foot or horseback formed by far my most favorite
amusement. I have all my life delighted in travelling, though I have
never enjoyed that pleasure upon a large scale. It was a propensity
which I sometimes indulged so unduly as to alarm and vex my parents.
Wood, water, wilderness itself, had an inexpressible charm for me, and
I had a dreamy way of going much farther than I intended, so that
unconsciously my return was protracted, and my parents had sometimes
serious cause of uneasiness. For example, I once set out with Mr.
George Abercromby[32] (the son of the immortal General), Mr. William
Clerk, and some others, to fish in the lake above Howgate, and the
stream which descends from it into the Esk. We breakfasted at Howgate,
and fished the whole day; and while we were on our return next
morning, I was easily seduced by William Clerk, then a great intimate,
to visit Pennycuik-house, the seat of his family. Here he and John
Irving, and I for their sake, were {p.042} overwhelmed with kindness
by the late Sir John Clerk and his lady, the present Dowager Lady
Clerk. The pleasure of looking at fine pictures, the beauty of the
place, and the flattering hospitality of the owners, drowned all
recollection of home for a day or two. Meanwhile our companions, who
had walked on without being aware of our digression, returned to
Edinburgh without us, and excited no small alarm in my father's
household. At length, however, they became accustomed to my escapades.
My father used to protest to me on such occasions that he thought I
was born to be a strolling pedlar; and though the prediction was
intended to mortify my conceit, I am not sure that I altogether
disliked it. I was now familiar with Shakespeare, and thought of
Autolycus's song--

               "Jog on, jog on, the foot-path way,
                  And merrily hent the stile-a:
                A merry heart goes all the day,
                  Your sad tires in a mile-a."

         [Footnote 32: Now Lord Abercromby.--(1826.)]

My principal object in these excursions was the pleasure of seeing
romantic scenery, or what afforded me at least equal pleasure, the
places which had been distinguished by remarkable historical events.
The delight with which I regarded the former, of course had general
approbation, but I often found it difficult to procure sympathy with
the interest I felt in the latter. Yet to me, the wandering over the
field of Bannockburn was the source of more exquisite pleasure than
gazing upon the celebrated landscape from the battlements of Stirling
castle. I do not by any means infer that I was dead to the feeling of
picturesque scenery; on the contrary, few delighted more in its
general effect. But I was unable with the eye of a painter to dissect
the various parts of the scene, to comprehend how the one bore upon
the other, to estimate the effect which various features of the view
had in producing its leading and general effect. I have never, indeed,
been capable of doing this with precision or {p.043} nicety, though
my latter studies have led me to amend and arrange my original ideas
upon the subject. Even the humble ambition, which I long cherished, of
making sketches of those places which interested me, from a defect of
eye or of hand was totally ineffectual. After long study and many
efforts, I was unable to apply the elements of perspective or of shade
to the scene before me, and was obliged to relinquish in despair an
art which I was most anxious to practise. But show me an old castle or
a field of battle, and I was at home at once, filled it with its
combatants in their proper costume, and overwhelmed my hearers by the
enthusiasm of my description. In crossing Magus Moor, near St.
Andrews, the spirit moved me to give a picture of the assassination of
the Archbishop of St. Andrews to some fellow-travellers with whom I
was accidentally associated, and one of them, though well acquainted
with the story, protested my narrative had frightened away his night's
sleep. I mention this to show the distinction between a sense of the
picturesque in action and in scenery. If I have since been able in
poetry to trace with some success the principles of the latter, it has
always been with reference to its general and leading features, or
under some alliance with moral feeling; and even this proficiency has
cost me study.--Meanwhile I endeavored to make amends for my ignorance
of drawing, by adopting a sort of technical memory respecting the
scenes I visited: Wherever I went, I cut a piece of a branch from a
tree--these constituted what I called my log-book; and I intended to
have a set of chessmen out of them, each having reference to the place
where it was cut--as the kings from Falkland and Holy-Rood; the queens
from Queen Mary's yew-tree at Crookston; the bishops from abbeys or
episcopal palaces; the knights from baronial residences; the rooks
from royal fortresses; and the pawns generally from places worthy of
historical note. But this whimsical design I never carried into

With {p.044} music it was even worse than with painting. My mother
was anxious we should at least learn Psalmody; but the incurable
defects of my voice and ear soon drove my teacher to despair.[33] It
is only by long practice that I have acquired the power of selecting
or distinguishing melodies; and although now few things delight or
affect me more than a simple tune sung with feeling, yet I am sensible
that even this pitch of musical taste has only been gained by
attention and habit, and, as it were, by my feeling of the words being
associated with the tune. I have, therefore, been usually unsuccessful
in composing words to a tune, although my friend, Dr. Clarke, and
other musical composers, have sometimes been able to make a happy
union between their music and my poetry.

         [Footnote 33: The late Alexander Campbell, a warm-hearted
         man, and an enthusiast in Scottish music, which he sang most
         beautifully, had this ungrateful task imposed on him. He was
         a man of many accomplishments, but dashed with a _bizarrerie_
         of temper which made them useless to their proprietor. He
         wrote several books--as a _Tour in Scotland_, etc.;--and he
         made an advantageous marriage, but fell nevertheless into
         distressed circumstances, which I had the pleasure of
         relieving, if I could not remove. His sense of gratitude was
         very strong, and showed itself oddly in one respect. He would
         never allow that I had a bad ear; but contended, that if I
         did not understand music, it was because I did not choose to
         learn it. But when he attended us in George's Square, our
         neighbor, Lady Cumming, sent to beg the boys might not be all
         flogged precisely at the same hour, as, though she had no
         doubt the punishment was deserved, the noise of the concord
         was really dreadful. Robert was the only one of our family
         who could sing, though my father was musical, and a performer
         on the violoncello at the _gentlemen's concerts_.--(1826.)]

In other points, however, I began to make some amends for the
irregularity of my education. It is well known that in Edinburgh one
great spur to emulation among youthful students is in those
associations called _literary societies_, formed not only for the
purpose of debate, but of composition. These undoubtedly have some
disadvantages, where a bold, petulant, and disputatious temper happens
to be combined with considerable information and talent. Still,
however, in order to such a person {p.045} being actually spoiled by
his mixing in such debates, his talents must be of a very rare nature,
or his effrontery must be proof to every species of assault; for there
is generally, in a well-selected society of this nature, talent
sufficient to meet the forwardest, and satire enough to penetrate the
most undaunted. I am particularly obliged to this sort of club for
introducing me about my seventeenth year into the society which at one
time I had entirely dropped; for, from the time of my illness at
college, I had had little or no intercourse with any of my
class-companions, one or two only excepted. Now, however, about 1788,
I began to feel and take my ground in society. A ready wit, a good
deal of enthusiasm, and a perception that soon ripened into tact and
observation of character, rendered me an acceptable companion to many
young men whose acquisitions in philosophy and science were infinitely
superior to anything I could boast.

In the business of these societies--for I was a member of more than
one successively--I cannot boast of having made any great figure. I
never was a good speaker unless upon some subject which strongly
animated my feelings; and, as I was totally unaccustomed to
composition, as well as to the art of generalizing my ideas upon any
subject, my literary essays were but very poor work. I never attempted
them unless when compelled to do so by the regulations of the society,
and then I was like the Lord of Castle Rackrent, who was obliged to
cut down a tree to get a few fagots to boil the kettle; for the
quantity of ponderous and miscellaneous knowledge, which I really
possessed on many subjects, was not easily condensed, or brought to
bear upon the object I wished particularly to become master of. Yet
there occurred opportunities when this odd lumber of my brain,
especially that which was connected with the recondite parts of
history, did me, as Hamlet says, "yeoman's service." My memory of
events was like one of the large, old-fashioned stone-cannons of the
Turks--very difficult to load well {p.046} and discharge, but making
a powerful effect when by good chance any object did come within range
of its shot. Such fortunate opportunities of exploding with effect
maintained my literary character among my companions, with whom I soon
met with great indulgence and regard. The persons with whom I chiefly
lived at this period of my youth were William Clerk, already
mentioned; James Edmonstoune, of Newton; George Abercromby; Adam
Ferguson, son of the celebrated Professor Ferguson, and who combined
the lightest and most airy temper with the best and kindest
disposition; John Irving, already mentioned; the Honorable Thomas
Douglas, now Earl of Selkirk; David Boyle,[34]--and two or three
others, who sometimes plunged deeply into politics and metaphysics,
and not unfrequently "doffed the world aside, and bid it pass."

         [Footnote 34: Now Lord Justice-Clerk.--(1826.)]

Looking back on these times, I cannot applaud in all respects the way
in which our days were spent. There was too much idleness, and
sometimes too much conviviality: but our hearts were warm, our minds
honorably bent on knowledge and literary distinction; and if I,
certainly the least informed of the party, may be permitted to bear
witness, we were not without the fair and creditable means of
attaining the distinction to which we aspired. In this society I was
naturally led to correct my former useless course of reading;
for--feeling myself greatly inferior to my companions in metaphysical
philosophy and other branches of regular study--I labored, not without
some success, to acquire at least such a portion of knowledge as might
enable me to maintain my rank in conversation. In this I succeeded
pretty well; but unfortunately then, as often since through my life, I
incurred the deserved ridicule of my friends from the superficial
nature of my acquisitions, which being, in the mercantile phrase, _got
up_ for society, very often proved flimsy in the texture; and thus the
gifts of an uncommonly {p.047} retentive memory and acute powers of
perception were sometimes detrimental to their possessor by
encouraging him to a presumptuous reliance upon them.

Amidst these studies, and in this society, the time of my
apprenticeship elapsed; and in 1790, or thereabouts, it became
necessary that I should seriously consider to which department of the
law I was to attach myself. My father behaved with the most parental
kindness. He offered, if I preferred his own profession, immediately
to take me into partnership with him, which, though his business was
much diminished, still afforded me an immediate prospect of a handsome
independence. But he did not disguise his wish that I should
relinquish this situation to my younger brother, and embrace the more
ambitious profession of the Bar. I had little hesitation in making my
choice--for I was never very fond of money; and in no other particular
do the professions admit of a comparison. Besides, I knew and felt the
inconveniences attached to that of a Writer; and I thought (like a
young man) many of them were "ingenio non subeunda meo." The
appearance of personal dependence which that profession requires was
disagreeable to me; the sort of connection between the client and the
attorney seemed to render the latter more subservient than was quite
agreeable to my nature; and, besides, I had seen many sad examples,
while overlooking my father's business, that the utmost exertions, and
the best meant services, do not secure the _man of business_, as he is
called, from great loss, and most ungracious treatment on the part of
his employers. The Bar, though I was conscious of my deficiencies as a
public speaker, was the line of ambition and liberty; it was that also
for which most of my contemporary friends were destined. And, lastly,
although I would willingly have relieved my father of the labors of
his business, yet I saw plainly we could not have agreed on some
particulars if we had attempted to conduct it together, and that I
should disappoint his expectations {p.048} if I did not turn to the
Bar. So to that object my studies were directed with great ardor and
perseverance during the years 1789, 1790, 1791, 1792.

In the usual course of study, the Roman or Civil Law was the first
object of my attention--the second, the Municipal Law of Scotland. In
the course of reading on both subjects, I had the advantage of
studying in conjunction with my friend William Clerk, a man of the
most acute intellects and powerful apprehension, and who, should he
ever shake loose the fetters of indolence by which he has been
hitherto trammelled, cannot fail to be distinguished in the highest
degree. We attended the regular classes of both laws in the University
of Edinburgh. The Civil Law chair, now worthily filled by Mr.
Alexander Irving, might at that time be considered as in _abeyance_,
since the person by whom it was occupied had never been fit for the
situation, and was then almost in a state of dotage. But the Scotch
Law lectures were those of Mr. David Hume, who still continues to
occupy that situation with as much honor to himself as advantage to
his country. I copied over his lectures twice with my own hand, from
notes taken in the class; and when I have had occasion to consult
them, I can never sufficiently admire the penetration and clearness of
conception which were necessary to the arrangement of the fabric of
law, formed originally under the strictest influence of feudal
principles, and innovated, altered, and broken in upon by the change
of times, of habits, and of manners, until it resembles some ancient
castle, partly entire, partly ruinous, partly dilapidated, patched and
altered during the succession of ages by a thousand additions and
combinations, yet still exhibiting, with the marks of its antiquity,
symptoms of the skill and wisdom of its founders, and capable of being
analyzed and made the subject of a methodical plan by an architect who
can understand the various styles of the different ages in which it
was subjected to alteration. Such an architect has Mr. Hume {p.049}
been to the law of Scotland, neither wandering into fanciful and
abstruse disquisitions, which are the more proper subject of the
antiquary, nor satisfied with presenting to his pupils a dry and
undigested detail of the laws in their present state, but combining
the past state of our legal enactments with the present, and tracing
clearly and judiciously the changes which took place, and the causes
which led to them.

Under these auspices I commenced my legal studies. A little parlor was
assigned me in my father's house, which was spacious and convenient,
and I took the exclusive possession of my new realms with all the
feelings of novelty and liberty. Let me do justice to the only years
of my life in which I applied to learning with stern, steady, and
undeviating industry. The rule of my friend Clerk and myself was that
we should mutually qualify ourselves for undergoing an examination
upon certain points of law every morning in the week, Sundays
excepted. This was at first to have taken place alternately at each
other's houses, but we soon discovered that my friend's resolution was
inadequate to severing him from his couch at the early hour fixed for
this exercitation. Accordingly I agreed to go every morning to his
house, which, being at the extremity of Prince's Street, New Town, was
a walk of two miles. With great punctuality, however, I beat him up to
his task every morning before seven o'clock, and in the course of two
summers, we went, by way of question and answer, through the whole of
Heineccius's Analysis of the Institutes and Pandects, as well as
through the smaller copy of Erskine's Institutes of the Law of
Scotland. This course of study enabled us to pass with credit the
usual trials, which, by the regulations of the Faculty of Advocates,
must be undergone by every candidate for admission into their body. My
friend William Clerk and I passed these ordeals on the same
days--namely, the Civil Law trial on the [30th June, 1791], and the
Scots Law trial on the [6th July, 1792]. {p.050} On the [11th July,
1792], we both assumed the gown with all its duties and honors.

My progress in life during these two or three years had been gradually
enlarging my acquaintance, and facilitating my entrance into good
company. My father and mother, already advanced in life, saw little
society at home, excepting that of near relations, or upon particular
occasions, so that I was left to form connections in a great measure
for myself. It is not difficult for a youth with a real desire to
please and be pleased, to make his way into good society in
Edinburgh--or indeed anywhere; and my family connections, if they did
not greatly further, had nothing to embarrass my progress. I was a
gentleman, and so welcome anywhere, if so be I could behave myself, as
Tony Lumpkin says, "in a concatenation accordingly."

CHAPTER II {p.051}

     Illustrations of the Autobiographical Fragment. --
     Edinburgh. -- Sandy-Knowe. -- Bath. -- Prestonpans.


Sir Walter Scott opens his brief account of his ancestry with a
playful allusion to a trait of national character, which has, time out
of mind, furnished merriment to the neighbors of the Scotch; but the
zeal of pedigree was deeply rooted in himself, and he would have been
the last to treat it with serious disparagement. It has often been
exhibited under circumstances sufficiently grotesque; but it has lent
strength to many a good impulse, sustained hope and self-respect under
many a difficulty and distress, armed heart and nerve to many a bold
and resolute struggle for independence; and prompted also many a
generous act of assistance, which under its influence alone could have
been accepted without any feeling of degradation.

He speaks modestly of his own descent; for, while none of his
predecessors had ever sunk below the situation and character of a
gentleman, he had but to go three or four generations back, and
thence, as far as they could be followed, either on the paternal or
maternal side, they were to be found moving in the highest ranks of
our baronage. When he fitted up, in his later years, the beautiful
hall of Abbotsford, he was careful to have the armorial bearings of
his forefathers blazoned in due order on the compartments of its roof;
and there are few in Scotland, under the titled nobility, who could
trace their blood to so many stocks of historical distinction.

In {p.052} the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, and Notes to The
Lay of the Last Minstrel, the reader will find sundry notices of the
"Bauld Rutherfords that were sae stout," and the Swintons of Swinton
in Berwickshire, the two nearest houses on the maternal side. An
illustrious old warrior of the latter family, Sir John Swinton,
extolled by Froissart, is the hero of the dramatic sketch, Halidon
Hill; and it is not to be omitted, that through the Swintons Sir
Walter Scott could trace himself to William Alexander, Earl of
Stirling, the poet and dramatist.[35] His respect for the worthy
barons of Newmains and Dryburgh, of whom, in right of his father's
mother, he was the representative, and in whose venerable sepulchre
his remains now rest, was testified by his Memorials of the
Haliburtons, a small volume printed (for private circulation only) in
the year 1820. His own male ancestors of the family of Harden, whose
lineage is traced by Douglas in his Baronage of Scotland back to the
middle of the fourteenth century, when they branched off from the
great blood of Buccleuch, have been so largely celebrated in his
various writings, that I might perhaps content myself with a general
reference to those pages, their only imperishable monument. The
antique splendor of the ducal house itself has been dignified to all
Europe by the pen of its remote descendant; but it may be doubted
whether his genius could have been adequately developed, had he not
attracted, at an early and critical period, the kindly recognition and
support of the Buccleuchs.

         [Footnote 35: On Sir Walter's copy of _Recreations with the
         Muses, by William, Earl of Stirling_, 1637, there is the
         following MS. note:--"Sir William Alexander, sixth Baron of
         Menstrie, and first Earl of Stirling, the friend of Drummond
         of Hawthornden and Ben Jonson, died in 1640. His eldest son,
         William, Viscount Canada, died before his father, leaving one
         son and three daughters by his wife, Lady Margaret Douglas,
         eldest daughter of William, first Marquis of Douglas.
         Margaret, the second of these daughters, married Sir Robert
         Sinclair of Longformacus in the Merse, to whom she bore two
         daughters, Anne and Jean. Jean Sinclair, the younger
         daughter, married Sir John Swinton of Swinton; and Jean
         Swinton, her eldest daughter, was the grandmother of the
         proprietor of this volume."]

The race had been celebrated, however, long before his {p.053} day,
by a minstrel of its own; nor did he conceal his belief that he owed
much to the influence exerted over his juvenile mind by the rude but
enthusiastic clan-poetry of old _Satchells_ who describes himself _on
his title-page_ as

       "Captain Walter Scot, an old Souldier and no Scholler,
                And one that can write nane,
                But just the Letters of his Name."

His True History of several honourable Families of the Right
Honourable Name of Scot, in the Shires of Roxburgh and Selkirk, and
others adjacent, gathered out of Ancient Chronicles, Histories, and
Traditions of our Fathers, includes, among other things, a string of
complimentary rhymes addressed to the first Laird of Raeburn; and the
copy which had belonged to that gentleman was in all likelihood about
the first book of verses that fell into the poet's hand.[36] How
continually its wild {p.054} and uncouth doggerel was on his lips to
his latest day all his familiars can testify; and the passages which
he quoted with the greatest zest were those commemorative of two
ancient worthies, both of whom had had to contend against physical
misfortune similar to his own. The former of these, according to
Satchells, was the immediate founder of the branch originally designed
of Sinton, afterwards of Harden:--

          "It is four hundred winters past in order
           Since that Buccleuch was Warden in the Border;
           A son he had at that same tide,
           Which was so lame could neither run nor ride.
           John, this lame son, if my author speaks true,
           He sent him to St. Mungo's in Glasgu,
           Where he remained a scholar's time,
           Then married a wife according to his mind....
           And betwixt them twa was procreat
           Headshaw, Askirk, SINTON, and Glack."

         [Footnote 36: His family well remember the delight which he
         expressed on receiving, in 1818, a copy of this first
         edition, a small dark quarto of 1688, from his friend
         Constable. He was breakfasting when the present was
         delivered, and said, "This is indeed the resurrection of an
         old ally--I mind _spelling_ these lines." He read aloud the
         jingling epistle to his own great-great-grandfather, which,
         like the rest, concludes with a broad hint, that as the
         author had neither lands nor flocks--"no estate left except
         his designation"--the more fortunate kinsman who enjoyed,
         like Jason of old, a fair share of _fleeces_, might do worse
         than bestow on him some of King James's _broad pieces_. On
         rising from table, Sir Walter immediately wrote as follows on
         the blank leaf opposite to poor Satchells' honest

           "I, Walter Scott of Abbotsford, a poor scholar, no soldier,
               but a soldier's lover,
            In the style of my namesake and kinsman do hereby discover,
            That I have written the twenty-four letters twenty-four
               million times over;
            And to every true-born Scott I do wish as many golden pieces
            As ever were hairs in Jason's and Medea's golden fleeces."

         The rarity of the original edition of Satchells is such, that
         the copy now at Abbotsford was the only one Mr. Constable had
         ever seen--and no wonder, for the author's envoy is in these

           "Begone, my book, stretch forth thy wings and fly
            Amongst the nobles and gentility;
            Thou'rt not to sell to scavengers and clowns,
            But given to worthy persons of renown.
            The number's few I've printed, in regard
            My charges have been great, and I hope reward;
            I caus'd not print many above twelve score,
            And the printers are engaged that they shall print no more."]

But, if the scholarship of _John the Lamiter_ furnished his descendant
with many a mirthful allusion, a far greater favorite was the memory
of _William the Boltfoot_, who followed him in the sixth generation:--

          "The Laird and Lady of Harden
           Betwixt them procreat was a son
           Called William Boltfoot of Harden."

The emphasis with which this next line was quoted I can never

          "_He did survive to be_ A MAN."

He was, in fact, one of the "prowest knights" of the whole
genealogy--a fearless horseman and expert spearman, renowned and
dreaded; and I suppose I have heard Sir Walter repeat a dozen times,
as he was dashing into the Tweed or Ettrick, "rolling red from brae to
brae," a stanza from what he called an old ballad, though it was most
likely one of his own early imitations:--

          "To tak the foord he aye was first,
             Unless the English loons were near;
           Plunge vassal than, plunge horse and man,
             Auld Boltfoot rides into the rear."

"From {p.055} childhood's earliest hour," says the poet in one of his
last Journals, "I have rebelled against external circumstances." How
largely the traditional famousness of the stalwart _Boltfoot_ may have
helped to develop this element of his character, I do not pretend to
say; but I cannot avoid regretting that Lord Byron had not discovered
such another "Deformed Transformed" among his own chivalrous

So long as Sir Walter retained his vigorous habits, he used to make an
autumnal excursion, with whatever friend happened to be his guest at
the time, to the tower of Harden, the _incunabula_ of his race. A more
picturesque scene for the fastness of a lineage of Border marauders
could not be conceived; and so much did he delight in it, remote and
inaccessible as its situation is, that, in the earlier part of his
life, he had nearly availed himself of his kinsman's permission to fit
up the dilapidated _peel_ for his summer residence. Harden (the ravine
of hares) is a deep, dark, and narrow glen, along which a little
mountain brook flows to join the river Borthwick, itself a tributary
of the Teviot. The castle is perched on the brink of the precipitous
bank, and from the ruinous windows you look down into the crows' nests
on the summits of the old mouldering elms, that have their roots on
the margin of the stream far below:--

         "Where Bortha hoarse, that loads the meads with sand,
          Rolls her red tide to Teviot's western strand,
          Through slaty hills, whose sides are shagged with thorn,
          Where springs in scattered tufts the dark-green corn,
          Towers wood-girt Harden far above the vale,
          And clouds of ravens o'er the turrets sail.
          A hardy race who never shrunk from war,
          The Scott, to rival realms a mighty bar,
          Here fixed his mountain home;--a wide domain,
          And rich the soil, had purple heath been grain;
          But what the niggard ground of wealth denied,
          From fields more bless'd his fearless arm supplied."[37]

         [Footnote 37: Leyden, the author of these beautiful lines,
         has borrowed, as _The Lay of the Last Minstrel_ did also,
         from one of Satchells's primitive couplets--

               "If heather-tops had been corn of the best,
               Then Buccleugh mill had gotten a noble grist."]

It {p.056} was to this wild retreat that the Harden of The Lay of the
Last Minstrel, the Auld Wat of a hundred Border ditties, brought home,
in 1567, his beautiful bride, Mary Scott, "the Flower of Yarrow,"
whose grace and gentleness have lived in song along with the stern
virtues of her lord. She is said to have chiefly owed her celebrity to
the gratitude of an English captive, a beautiful child, whom she
rescued from the tender mercies of Wat's moss-troopers, on their
return from a foray into Cumberland. The youth grew up under her
protection, and is believed to have been the composer both of the
words and the music of many of the best old songs of the Border. As
Leyden says,

         "His are the strains whose wandering echoes thrill
          The shepherd lingering on the twilight hill,
          When evening brings the merry folding hours,
          And sun-eyed daisies close their winking flowers.
          He lived o'er Yarrow's Flower to shed the tear,
          To strew the holly leaves o'er Harden's bier;
          But none was found above the minstrel's tomb,
          Emblem of peace, to bid the daisy bloom.
          He, nameless as the race from which he sprung,
          Saved other names, and left his own unsung."

We are told that when the last bullock which Auld Wat had provided
from the English pastures was consumed, the Flower of Yarrow placed on
her table a dish containing a pair of clean spurs; a hint to the
company that they must bestir themselves for their next dinner. Sir
Walter adds, in a note to the Minstrelsy, "Upon one occasion when the
village herd was driving out the cattle to pasture, the old laird
heard him call loudly to drive out Harden's cow. 'Harden's _cow_!'
echoed the affronted chief; 'is it come to that pass? By my faith they
shall soon say Harden's _kye_' (cows). Accordingly, he sounded his
bugle, set out with his followers, and next day returned with _a bow
of kye, and a bassen'd_ (brindled) _bull_. On his return with this
gallant prey, he passed a very large haystack. It occurred to the
provident laird {p.057} that this would be extremely convenient to
fodder his new stock of cattle; but as no means of transporting it
were obvious, he was fain to take leave of it with the apostrophe, now
become proverbial--'_By my saul, had ye but four feet, ye should not
stand lang there._' In short, as Froissart says of a similar class of
feudal robbers, nothing came amiss to them that was not _too heavy or
too hot_."

Another striking chapter in the genealogical history belongs to the
marriage of Auld Wat's son and heir, afterwards Sir William Scott of
Harden, distinguished by the early favor of James VI., and severely
fined for his loyalty under the usurpation of Cromwell. The period of
this gentleman's youth was a very wild one in that district. The
Border clans still made war on each other occasionally, much in the
fashion of their forefathers; and the young and handsome heir of
Harden, engaging in a foray upon the lands of Sir Gideon Murray of
Elibank, treasurer-depute of Scotland, was overpowered by that baron's
retainers, and carried in shackles to his castle, now a heap of ruins,
on the banks of the Tweed. Elibank's "doomtree" extended its broad
arms close to the gates of his fortress, and the indignant laird was
on the point of desiring his prisoner to say a last prayer, when his
more considerate dame interposed milder counsels, suggesting that the
culprit was born to a good estate, and that they had three unmarried
daughters. Young Harden, not, it is said, without hesitation, agreed
to save his life by taking the plainest of the three off their hands,
and the contract of marriage, executed instantly on the parchment of a
drum, is still in the charter-chest of his noble representative.

Walter Scott, the third son of this couple, was the first Laird of
Raeburn, already alluded to as one of the patrons of Satchells. He
married Isabel Macdougal, daughter of Macdougal of Makerstoun--a
family of great antiquity and distinction in Roxburghshire, of whose
{p.058} blood, through various alliances, the poet had a large share
in his veins. Raeburn, though the son and brother of two steady
Cavaliers, and married into a family of the same political creed,
became a Whig, and at last a Quaker; and the reader will find, in one
of the notes to The Heart of Mid-Lothian, a singular account of the
persecution to which this backsliding exposed him at the hands of both
his own and his wife's relations. He was incarcerated (A. D. 1665),
first at Edinburgh and then at Jedburgh, by order of the Privy
Council--his children were forcibly taken from him, and a heavy sum
was levied on his estate yearly, for the purposes of their education
beyond the reach of his perilous influence. "It appears," says Sir
Walter, in a MS. memorandum now before me, "that the Laird of
Makerstoun, his brother-in-law, joined with Raeburn's own elder
brother, Harden, in this singular persecution, as it will now be
termed by Christians of all persuasions. It was observed by the people
that the male line of the second Sir William of Harden became extinct
in 1710, and that the representation of Makerstoun soon passed into
the female line. They assigned as a cause, that when the wife of
Raeburn found herself deprived of her husband, and refused permission
even to see her children, she pronounced a malediction on her
husband's brother as well as on her own, and prayed that a male of
their body might not inherit their property."

The MS. adds, "of the first Raeburn's two sons it may be observed
that, thanks to the discipline of the Privy Council, they were both
good scholars." Of these sons, Walter, the second, was the poet's
great-grandfather, the enthusiastic Jacobite of the autobiographical
fragment,--who is introduced,

              "With amber beard and flaxen hair,
               And reverend apostolic air,"

in the epistle prefixed to the sixth canto of Marmion. A good
{p.059} portrait of Bearded Wat, painted for his friend Pitcairn, was
presented by the Doctor's grandson, the Earl of Kellie, to the father
of Sir Walter. It is now at Abbotsford; and shows a considerable
resemblance to the poet. Some verses addressed to the original by his
kinsman Walter Scott of Harden are given in one of the Notes to
Marmion. The old gentleman himself is said to have written verses
occasionally, both English and Latin; but I never heard more than the
burden of a drinking-song--

              "Barba crescat, barba crescat,
               Donec carduus revirescat."[38]

         [Footnote 38: Since this book was first published, I have
         seen in print _A Poem on the Death of Master Walter Scott,
         who died at Kelso, November 3, 1729_, written, it is said, by
         Sir William Scott of Thirlestane, Bart., the male ancestor of
         Lord Napier. It has these lines:--

           "His converse breathed the Christian. On his tongue
            The praises of religion ever hung;
            Whence it appeared he did on solid ground
            Commend the pleasures which himself had found....
            His venerable mien and goodly air
            Fix on our hearts impressions strong and fair.
            Full seventy years had shed their silvery glow
            Around his locks, and made his beard to grow;
            That decent beard, which in becoming grace
            Did spread a reverend honor on his face," etc.--(1838.)]

Scantily as the worthy Jacobite seems to have been provided with this
world's goods, he married the daughter of a gentleman of good
condition, "through whom," says the MS. memorandum already quoted,
"his descendants have inherited a connection with some honorable
branches of the _Slioch nan Diarmid_, or Clan of Campbell." To this
connection Sir Walter owed, as we shall see hereafter, many of those
early opportunities for studying the manners of the Highlanders, to
which the world are indebted for Waverley, Rob Roy, and The Lady of
the Lake.

Robert Scott, the son of Beardie, formed also an honorable alliance.
{p.060} His father-in-law, Thomas Haliburton,[39] the last but one of
the "good lairds of Newmains," entered his marriage as follows in the
domestic record, which Sir Walter's pious respect induced him to have
printed nearly a century afterwards:--"My second daughter Barbara is
married to Robert Scott, son to Walter Scott, uncle to Raeburn, upon
this sixteen day of July, 1728, at my house of Dryburgh, by Mr. James
Innes, minister of Mertoun, their mothers being cousings; may the
blessing of the Lord rest upon them, and make them comforts to each
other and to all their relations;" to which the editor of the
Memorials adds this note--"May God grant that the prayers of the
excellent persons who have passed away may avail for the benefit of
those who succeed them!--_Abbotsford_, Nov., 1824."

         [Footnote 39: "From the genealogical deduction in the
         Memorials, it appears that the Haliburtons of Newmains were
         descended from and represented the ancient and once powerful
         family of Haliburton of Mertoun, which became extinct in the
         beginning of the eighteenth century. The first of this latter
         family possessed the lands and barony of Mertoun by a charter
         granted by Archibald, Earl of Douglas and Lord of Galloway
         (one of those tremendous lords whose coronets counterpoised
         the Scottish crown), to Henry de Haliburton, whom he
         designates as his standard-bearer, on account of his service
         to the earl in England. On this account the Haliburtons of
         Mertoun and those of Newmains, in addition to the arms borne
         by the Haliburtons of Dirleton (the ancient chiefs of that
         once great and powerful, but now almost extinguished
         name)--viz. _or_, on a bend _azure_, three mascles of the
         first--gave the distinctive bearing of a buckle of the second
         in the sinister canton. These arms still appear on various
         old tombs in the abbeys of Melrose and Dryburgh, as well as
         on their house at Dryburgh, which was built in 1572."--_MS.
         Memorandum_, 1820. Sir Walter was served heir to these
         Haliburtons soon after the date of this Memorandum, and
         thenceforth quartered the arms above described with those of
         his paternal family.]

I need scarcely remind the reader of the exquisite description of the
poet's grandfather, in the Introduction to the third canto of

          ----"the thatched mansion's gray-hair'd sire,
          Wise without learning, plain and good,
          And sprang of Scotland's gentler blood;
          Whose {p.061} eye, in age quick, clear, and keen,
          Showed what in youth its glance had been;
          Whose doom discording neighbors sought,
          Content with equity unbought."

In the Preface to Guy Mannering, we have an anecdote of Robert Scott
in his earlier days: "My grandfather, while riding over Charterhouse
Moor, then a very extensive common, fell suddenly among a large band
of gypsies, who were carousing in a hollow surrounded by bushes. They
instantly seized on his bridle with shouts of welcome, exclaiming that
they had often dined at his expense, and he must now stay and share
their cheer. My ancestor was a little alarmed, for he had more money
about his person than he cared to risk in such society. However, being
naturally a bold, lively spirited man, he entered into the humor of
the thing, and sat down to the feast, which consisted of all the
varieties of game, poultry, pigs, and so forth, that could be
collected by a wide and indiscriminate system of plunder. The dinner
was a very merry one, but my relative got a hint from some of the
older gypsies, just when 'the mirth and fun grew fast and furious,'
and mounting his horse accordingly, he took a French leave of his
entertainers." His grandson might have reported more than one scene of
the like sort in which he was himself engaged, while hunting the same
district, not in quest of foxes or of cattle sales, like the Goodman
of Sandy-Knowe, but of ballads for the Minstrelsy. Gypsy stories, as
we are told in the same Preface, were frequently in the mouth of the
old man when his face "brightened at the evening fire," in the days of
the poet's childhood. And he adds that, "as Dr. Johnson had a shadowy
recollection of Queen Anne as a stately lady in black, adorned with
diamonds," so his own memory was haunted with "a solemn remembrance of
a woman of more than female height, dressed in a long red cloak, who
once made her appearance beneath the thatched roof of Sandy-Knowe,
commenced acquaintance by {p.062} giving him an apple, and whom he
looked on, nevertheless, with as much awe as the future doctor, High
Church and Tory as he was doomed to be, could look upon the Queen."
This was Madge Gordon, granddaughter of Jean Gordon, the prototype of
Meg Merrilies.

Of Robert of Sandy-Knowe, also, there is a very tolerable portrait at
Abbotsford, and the likeness of the poet to his grandfather must have
forcibly struck every one who has seen it. Indeed, but for its wanting
some inches in elevation of forehead--(a considerable want, it must be
allowed)--the picture might be mistaken for one of Sir Walter Scott.
The keen, shrewd expression of the eye, and the remarkable length and
compression of the upper lip, bring him exactly before me as he
appeared when entering with all the zeal of a professional
agriculturist into the merits of a pit of marle discovered at
Abbotsford. Had the old man been represented with his cap on his head,
the resemblance to one particular phasis of the most changeful of
countenances would have been perfect.

Robert Scott had a numerous progeny, and Sir Walter has intimated his
intention of recording several of them "with a sincere tribute of
gratitude" in the contemplated prosecution of his autobiography. Two
of the younger sons were bred to the naval service of the East India
Company; one of whom died early and unmarried; the other was the
excellent Captain Robert Scott, of whose kindness to his nephew some
particulars are given in the Ashestiel fragment, and more will occur
hereafter. Another son, Thomas, followed the profession of his father
with ability, and retired in old age upon a handsome independence,
acquired by his industrious exertions. He was twice married,--first to
his near relation, a daughter of Raeburn; and secondly to Miss
Rutherford of Know-South, the estate of which respectable family is
now possessed by his son Charles Scott, an amiable and high-spirited
{p.063} gentleman, who was always a special favorite with his eminent
kinsman. The death of Thomas Scott is thus recorded in one of the MS.
notes on his nephew's own copy of the Haliburton Memorials:--"The said
Thomas Scott died at Monklaw, near Jedburgh, at two of the clock, 27th
January, 1823, in the 90th year of his life, and fully possessed of
all his faculties. He read till nearly the year before his death; and
being a great musician on the Scotch pipes, had, when on his deathbed,
a favorite tune played over to him by his son James, that he might be
sure he left him in full possession of it. After hearing it, he hummed
it over himself, and corrected it in several of the notes. The air was
that called Sour Plums in Galashiels. When barks and other tonics were
given him during his last illness, he privately spat them into his
handkerchief, saying, as he had lived all his life without taking
doctor's drugs, he wished to die without doing so."

I visited this old man two years before his death, in company with Sir
Walter, and thought him about the most venerable figure I had ever set
my eyes on--tall and erect, with long flowing tresses of the most
silvery whiteness, and stockings rolled up over his knees, after the
fashion of three generations back. He sat reading his Bible without
spectacles, and did not, for a moment, perceive that any one had
entered his room, but on recognizing his nephew he rose, with cordial
alacrity, kissing him on both cheeks, and exclaiming, "God bless thee,
Walter, my man! thou hast risen to be great, but thou wast always
good." His remarks were lively and sagacious, and delivered with a
touch of that humor which seems to have been shared by most of the
family. He had the air and manner of an ancient gentleman, and must in
his day have been eminently handsome. I saw more than once, about the
same period, this respectable man's sister, who had married her cousin
Walter, Laird of Raeburn--thus adding a new link to the closeness of
the {p.064} family connection. She also must have been, in her
youth, remarkable for personal attractions; as it was, she dwells on
my memory as the perfect picture of an old Scotch lady, with a great
deal of simple dignity in her bearing, but with the softest eye, and
the sweetest voice, and a charm of meekness and gentleness about every
look and expression; all which contrasted strikingly enough with the
stern dry aspect and manners of her husband, a right descendant of the
moss-troopers of Harden, who never seemed at his ease but on
horseback, and continued to be the boldest fox-hunter of the district,
even to the verge of eighty. The poet's aunt spoke her native language
pure and undiluted, but without the slightest tincture of that
vulgarity which now seems almost unavoidable in the oral use of a
dialect so long banished from courts, and which has not been avoided
by any modern writer who has ventured to introduce it, with the
exception of Scott, and I may add, speaking generally, of Burns. Lady
Raeburn, as she was universally styled, may be numbered with those
friends of early days whom her nephew has alluded to in one of his
prefaces, as preserving what we may fancy to have been the old Scotch
of Holyrood.

The particulars which I have been setting down may help English
readers to form some notion of the structure of society in those
southern districts of Scotland. When Satchells wrote, he boasted that
Buccleuch could summon to his banner one hundred lairds, all of his
own name, with ten thousand more--landless men, but still of the same
blood. The younger sons of these various lairds were, through many
successive generations, portioned off with fragments of the
inheritance, until such subdivision could be carried no farther, and
then the cadet, of necessity, either adopted the profession of arms,
in some foreign service very frequently, or became a cultivator on the
estate of his own elder brother, of the chieftain of his branch, or of
the great chief and patriarchal protector of the whole clan. Until the
commerce of England and, {p.065} above all, the military and civil
services of the English colonies were thrown open to the enterprise of
the Scotch, this system of things continued entire. It still remained
in force to a considerable extent at the time when the Goodman of
Sandy-Knowe was establishing his children in the world--and I am happy
to say, that it is far from being abolished even at the present day.
It was a system which bound together the various classes of the rural
population in bonds of mutual love and confidence: the original
community of lineage was equally remembered on all sides; the landlord
could count for more than his rent on the tenant, who regarded him
rather as a father or an elder brother, than as one who owed his
superiority to mere wealth; and the farmer who, on fit occasions,
partook on equal terms of the chase and the hospitality of his
landlord, went back with content and satisfaction to the daily labors
of a vocation which he found no one disposed to consider as derogating
from his gentle blood. Such delusions, if delusions they were, held
the natural arrogance of riches in check, taught the poor man to
believe that in virtuous poverty he had nothing to blush for, and
spread over the whole being of the community the gracious spirit of a
primitive humanity.

Walter Scott, the eldest son of Robert of Sandy-Knowe, appears to have
been the first of the family that ever adopted a town life, or
anything claiming to be classed among the learned professions. His
branch of the law, however, could not in those days be advantageously
prosecuted without extensive connections in the country; his own were
too respectable not to be of much service to him in his calling, and
they were cultivated accordingly. His professional visits to
Roxburghshire and Ettrick Forest were, in his vigorous life, very
frequent; and though he was never supposed to have any tincture either
of romance or poetry in his composition, he retained to the last a
warm affection for his native district, with {p.066} a certain
reluctant flavor of the old feelings and prejudices of the Borderer. I
have little to add to Sir Walter's short and respectful notice of his
father, except that I have heard it confirmed by the testimony of many
less partial observers. According to every account, he was a most
just, honorable, conscientious man; only too high of spirit for some
parts of his business. "He passed from the cradle to the grave," says
a surviving relation, "without making an enemy or losing a friend. He
was a most affectionate parent, and if he discouraged, rather than
otherwise, his son's early devotion to the pursuits which led him to
the height of literary eminence, it was only because he did not
understand what such things meant, and considered it his duty to keep
his young man to that path in which good sense and industry might,
humanly speaking, be thought sure of success."

Sir Walter's mother was short of stature, and by no means comely, at
least after the days of her early youth. She had received, as became
the daughter of an eminently learned physician, the best sort of
education then bestowed on young gentlewomen in Scotland. The poet,
speaking of Mrs. Euphemia Sinclair, the mistress of the school at
which his mother was reared, to the ingenious local antiquary, Mr.
Robert Chambers, said that "she must have been possessed of uncommon
talents for education, as all her young ladies were, in after-life,
fond of reading, wrote and spelled admirably, were well acquainted
with history and the belles-lettres, without neglecting the more
homely duties of the needle and accompt book; and perfectly well-bred
in society." Mr. Chambers adds: "Sir W. further communicated that his
mother, and many others of Mrs. Sinclair's pupils, were sent
afterwards _to be finished off_ by the Honorable Mrs. Ogilvie, a lady
who trained her young friends to a style of manners which would now be
considered intolerably stiff. Such was the effect of this early
training upon the mind {p.067} of Mrs. Scott, that even when she
approached her eightieth year, she took as much care to avoid touching
her chair with her back as if she had still been under the stern eye
of Mrs. Ogilvie."[40] The physiognomy of the poet bore, if their
portraits may be trusted, no resemblance to either of his parents.

         [Footnote 40: See Chambers's _Traditions of Edinburgh_, vol.
         ii. pp. 127-131. The functions here ascribed to Mrs. Ogilvie
         may appear to modern readers little consistent with her rank.
         Such things, however, were not uncommon in those days in poor
         old Scotland. Ladies with whom I have conversed in my youth
         well remembered an _Honorable Mrs. Maitland_ who practised
         the obstetric art in the Cowgate.]

Mr. Scott was nearly thirty years of age when he married, and six
children, born to him between 1759 and 1766, all perished in
infancy.[41] A suspicion that the close situation of the College Wynd
had been unfavorable to the health of his family was the motive that
induced him to remove to the house which he ever afterwards occupied
in George's Square.[42] This removal took place shortly after the
poet's birth; and the children born subsequently were in general
healthy. Of a family of twelve, of whom six lived to maturity, not one
now survives; nor have any of them left descendants, except Sir Walter
himself, and his next and dearest brother, Thomas Scott.

         [Footnote 41: In Sir Walter Scott's desk, after his death,
         there was found a little packet containing six locks of hair,
         with this inscription in the handwriting of his mother:--

           "1. Anne Scott, born March 10, 1759.
            2. Robert Scott, born August 22, 1760.
            3. John Scott, born November 28, 1761.
            4. Robert Scott, born June 7, 1763.
            5. Jean Scott, born March 27, 1765.
            6. Walter Scott, born August 30, 1766.

         "All these are dead, and none of my present family was born
         till some time afterwards."]

         [Footnote 42: [No. 25.]]

He says that his consciousness of existence dated from Sandy-Knowe;
and how deep and indelible was the impression which its romantic
localities had left on his imagination, I need not remind the readers
of Marmion and The Eve of St. John. On the summit of the Crags which
{p.068} overhang the farmhouse stands the ruined tower of Smailholme,
the scene of that fine ballad; and the view from thence takes in a
wide expanse of the district in which, as has been truly said, every
field has its battle, and every rivulet its song:--

         "That lady sat in mournful mood,
            Looked over hill and vale,
          O'er Tweed's fair flood, and Mertoun's wood,
            And all down Teviotdale."--

Mertoun, the principal seat of the Harden family, with its noble
groves; nearly in front of it, across the Tweed, Lessudden, the
comparatively small but still venerable and stately abode of the
Lairds of Raeburn; and the hoary Abbey of Dryburgh, surrounded with
yew-trees as ancient as itself, seem to lie almost below the feet of
the spectator. Opposite him rise the purple peaks of Eildon, the
traditional scene of Thomas the Rhymer's interview with the Queen of
Faerie; behind are the blasted peel which the seer of Ercildoune
himself inhabited, "the Broom of the Cowdenknowes," the pastoral
valley of the Leader, and the bleak wilderness of Lammermoor. To the
eastward, the desolate grandeur of Hume Castle breaks the horizon, as
the eye travels towards the range of the Cheviot. A few miles
westward, Melrose, "like some tall rock with lichens grey," appears
clasped amidst the windings of the Tweed; and the distance presents
the serrated mountains of the Gala, the Ettrick, and the Yarrow, all
famous in song. Such were the objects that had painted the earliest
images on the eye of the last and greatest of the Border Minstrels.

As his memory reached to an earlier period of childhood than that of
almost any other person, so assuredly no poet has given to the world a
picture of the dawning feelings of life and genius, at once so simple,
so beautiful, and so complete, as that of his epistle to William
Erskine, the chief literary confidant and counsellor of his prime of

         "Whether {p.069} an impulse that has birth
          Soon as the infant wakes on earth,
          One with our feelings and our powers,
          And rather part of us than ours;
          Or whether fitlier term'd the sway
          Of habit, formed in early day,
          Howe'er derived, its force confest
          Rules with despotic sway the breast.
          And drags us on by viewless chain,
          While taste and reason plead in vain....
          Thus, while I ape the measure wild
          Of tales that charm'd me yet a child,
          Rude though they be, still with the chime
          Return the thoughts of early time,
          And feelings rous'd in life's first day,
          Glow in the line and prompt the lay.
          Then rise those crags, that mountain tower
          Which charm'd my fancy's wakening hour.
          It was a barren scene and wild
          Where naked cliffs were rudely piled;
          But ever and anon between
          Lay velvet tufts of loveliest green;
          And well the lonely infant knew
          Recesses where the wall-flower grew,
          And honey-suckle loved to crawl
          Up the low crag and ruin'd wall.
          I deem'd such nooks the sweetest shade
          The sun in all its round surveyed;
          And still I thought that shattered tower
          The mightiest work of human power,
          And marvelled as the aged hind,
          With some strange tale bewitch'd my mind,
          Of forayers who, with headlong force,
          Down from that strength had spurr'd their horse,
          Their southern rapine to renew,
          Far in the distant Cheviots blue,
          And home returning, fill'd the hall
          With revel, wassail-rout, and brawl.
          Methought that still with trump and clang
          The gateway's broken arches rang;
          Methought grim features, seam'd with scars,
          Glared through the windows' rusty bars;
          And ever, by the winter hearth,
          Old tales I heard of woe or mirth,
          Of lovers' slights, of ladies' charms,
          Of witches' spells, of warriors' arms--
          Of patriot battles won of old
          By Wallace Wight and Bruce the Bold--
          Of {p.070} later fields of feud and fight,
          When, pouring from their Highland height,
          The Scottish clans, in headlong sway,
          Had swept the scarlet ranks away.
          While stretched at length upon the floor,
          Again I fought each combat o'er,
          Pebbles and shells, in order laid,
          The mimic ranks of war displayed,
          And onward still the Scottish Lion bore,
          And still the scattered Southron fled before."[43]

         [Footnote 43: [_Poetical Works_, Cambridge Edition, p. 108.]]

There are still living in that neighborhood two old women who were in
the domestic service of Sandy-Knowe when the lame child was brought
thither in the third year of his age. One of them, Tibby Hunter,
remembers his coming well; and that "he was a sweet-tempered bairn, a
darling with all about the house." The young ewe-milkers delighted,
she says, to carry him about on their backs among the crags; and he
was "very gleg (quick) at the uptake, and soon kenned every sheep and
lamb by headmark as well as any of them." His great pleasure, however,
was in the society of the "aged hind," recorded in the epistle to
Erskine. "Auld Sandy Ormistoun," called, from the most dignified part
of his function, "the Cow-bailie," had the chief superintendence of
the flocks that browsed upon "the velvet tufts of loveliest green." If
the child saw him in the morning, he could not be satisfied unless the
old man would set him astride on his shoulder, and take him to keep
him company as he lay watching his charge.

         "Here was poetic impulse given
          By the green hill and clear blue heaven."

The Cow-bailie blew a particular note on his whistle, which signified
to the maid-servants in the house below when the little boy wished to
be carried home again. He told his friend, Mr. Skene of Rubislaw, when
spending a summer day in his old age among these well-remembered
crags, that he delighted to roll about on the grass all day long in
the midst of the flock, and that "the sort of {p.071} fellowship he
thus formed with the sheep and lambs had impressed his mind with a
degree of affectionate feeling towards them which had lasted
throughout life." There is a story of his having been forgotten one
day among the knolls when a thunderstorm came on; and his aunt,
suddenly recollecting his situation, and running out to bring him
home, is said to have found him lying on his back, clapping his hands
at the lightning, and crying out, "Bonny! bonny!" at every flash.

I find the following marginal note on his copy of Allan Ramsay's
Tea-Table Miscellany (edition 1724): "This book belonged to my
grandfather, Robert Scott, and out of it I was taught Hardiknute by
heart before I could read the ballad myself. It was the first poem I
ever learnt--the last I shall ever forget." According to Tibby Hunter,
he was not particularly fond of his book, embracing every pretext for
joining his friend the Cow-bailie out of doors; but "Miss Jenny was a
grand hand at keeping him to the bit, and by degrees he came to read
brawly."[44] An early acquaintance of a higher class, Mrs. Duncan, the
wife of the present excellent minister of Mertoun, informs me, that
though she was younger than Sir Walter, she has a dim remembrance of
the interior of Sandy-Knowe--"Old Mrs. Scott sitting, with her
spinning-wheel, at one side of the fire, in a _clean clean_ parlor;
the grandfather, a good deal failed, in his elbow-chair opposite; and
the little boy lying on the carpet, at the old man's feet, listening
to the Bible, or whatever good book Miss Jenny was reading to

         [Footnote 44: This old woman still possesses "the _banes_"
         (bones)--that is to say, the boards--of a Psalm-book, which
         Master Walter gave her at Sandy-Knowe. "He chose it," she
         says, "of a very large print, that I might be able to read it
         when I was _very auld--forty year auld_; but the bairns
         pulled the leaves out langsyne."]

         [Footnote 45: [In writing of his little grandson's earliest
         lessons, Scott recalls these days in a letter to Lockhart
         (March 3, 1826):--

         "I rejoice to hear of Johnnie's grand flip towards
         instruction. I hope Mrs. Mactavish, whom I like not the
         worse, you may be sure, for her name, will be mild in her
         rule, and let him listen to reading a good deal without
         cramming the alphabet and grammar down the poor child's
         throat. I cannot at this moment tell how or when I learned to
         read, but it was by fits and snatches, as one aunt or another
         in the old rumble-tumble farmhouses could give me a lesson,
         and I am sure it increased my love and habit of reading more
         than the austerities of a school could have done. I gave
         trouble, I believe, in wishing to be taught, and in
         self-defence gradually acquired the mystery myself. Johnnie
         is infirm a little, though not so much so as I was, and often
         he has brought back to my recollection the days of my own
         childhood. I hope he will be twice any good that was in me,
         with less carelessness."--Lang's _Life of Lockhart_, vol. i.
         p. 397.]]

Robert {p.072} Scott died before his grandson was four years of age;
and I heard him mention when he was an old man that he distinctly
remembered the writing and sealing of the funeral letters, and all the
ceremonial of the melancholy procession as it left Sandy-Knowe. I
shall conclude my notices of the residence at Sandy-Knowe with
observing that in Sir Walter's account of the friendly clergyman who
so often sat at his grandfather's fireside, we cannot fail to trace
many features of the secluded divine in the novel of St. Ronan's Well.

I have nothing to add to what he has told us of that excursion to
England which interrupted his residence at Sandy-Knowe for about a
twelvemonth, except that I had often been astonished, long before I
read his autobiographic fragment, with the minute recollection he
seemed to possess of all the striking features of the city of Bath,
which he had never seen again since he quitted it before he was six
years of age. He has himself alluded, in his Memoir, to the lively
recollection he retained of his first visit to the theatre, to which
his Uncle Robert carried him to witness a representation of As You
Like It. In his reviewal of the Life of John Kemble, written in 1826,
he has recorded that impression more fully, and in terms so striking,
that I must copy them in this place:--

     "There are few things which those gifted with any degree of
     imagination recollect with a sense of more anxious and mysterious
     delight than the first dramatic representation which they have
     witnessed. The unusual form of the house, filled with such
     groups {p.073} of crowded spectators, themselves forming an
     extraordinary spectacle to the eye which has never witnessed it
     before, yet all intent upon that wide and mystic curtain, whose
     dusky undulations permit us now and then to discern the momentary
     glitter of some gaudy form, or the spangles of some sandalled
     foot, which trips lightly within: Then the light, brilliant as
     that of day; then the music, which, in itself a treat sufficient
     in every other situation, our inexperience mistakes for the very
     play we came to witness; then the slow rise of the shadowy
     curtain, disclosing, as if by actual magic, a new land, with
     woods, and mountains, and lakes, lighted, it seems to us, by
     another sun, and inhabited by a race of beings different from
     ourselves, whose language is poetry,--whose dress, demeanor, and
     sentiments seem something supernatural,--and whose whole actions
     and discourse are calculated not for the ordinary tone of
     every-day life, but to excite the stronger and more powerful
     faculties--to melt with sorrow, overpower with terror, astonish
     with the marvellous, or convulse with irresistible laughter:--all
     these wonders stamp indelible impressions on the memory. Those
     mixed feelings, also, which perplex us between a sense that the
     scene is but a plaything, and an interest which ever and anon
     surprises us into a transient belief that that which so strongly
     affects us cannot be fictitious; those mixed and puzzling
     feelings, also, are exciting in the highest degree. Then there
     are the bursts of applause, like distant thunder, and the
     permission afforded to clap our little hands, and add our own
     scream of delight to a sound so commanding. All this, and much,
     much more, is fresh in our memory, although, when we felt these
     sensations, we looked on the stage which Garrick had not yet
     left. It is now a long while since; yet we have not passed many
     hours of such unmixed delight, and we still remember the sinking
     lights, the dispersing crowd, with the vain longings which we
     felt that the music would again sound, the magic curtain once
     more arise, and the enchanting dream recommence; and the
     astonishment with which we looked upon the apathy of the elder
     part of our company, who, having the means, did not spend every
     evening in the theatre."[46]

         [Footnote 46: _Miscellaneous Prose Works_, vol. xx. p. 154.]

Probably it was this performance that first tempted him {p.074} to
open the page of Shakespeare. Before he returned to Sandy-Knowe,
assuredly, notwithstanding the modest language of his autobiography,
the progress which had been made in his intellectual education was
extraordinary; and it is impossible to doubt that his hitherto almost
sole tutoress, Miss Jenny Scott, must have been a woman of tastes and
acquirements very far above what could have been often found among
Scotch ladies, of any but the highest class at least, in that day. In
the winter of 1777, she and her charge spent some few weeks--not happy
weeks, the Memoir hints them to have been--in George's Square,
Edinburgh; and it so happened, that during this little interval, Mr.
and Mrs. Scott received in their domestic circle a guest capable of
appreciating, and, fortunately for us, of recording in a very striking
manner the remarkable development of young Walter's faculties. Mrs.
Cockburn, mentioned by him in his Memoir as the authoress of the
modern Flowers of the Forest, born a Rutherford, of Fairnalie, in
Selkirkshire, was distantly related to the poet's mother, with whom
she had through life been in habits of intimate friendship. This
accomplished woman was staying at Ravelston, in the vicinity of
Edinburgh, a seat of the Keiths of Dunnottar, nearly related to Mrs.
Scott, and to herself. With some of that family she spent an evening
in George's Square. She chanced to be writing next day to Dr. Douglas,
the well-known and much respected minister of her native parish,
Galashiels; and her letter, of which the Doctor's son has kindly given
me a copy, contains the following passage:--

  "Edinburgh, Saturday night, 15th of 'the gloomy month when the
  people of England hang and drown themselves.'

     ... "I last night supped in Mr. Walter Scott's. He has the most
     extraordinary genius of a boy I ever saw. He was reading a poem
     to his mother when I went in. I made him read on; it was the
     description of a shipwreck. His passion rose with the storm. He
     lifted his eyes and hands. 'There's the {p.075} mast gone,'
     says he; 'crash it goes!--they will all perish!' After his
     agitation, he turns to me. 'That is too melancholy,' says he; 'I
     had better read you something more amusing.' I preferred a little
     chat, and asked his opinion of Milton and other books he was
     reading, which he gave me wonderfully. One of his observations
     was, 'How strange it is that Adam, just new come into the world,
     should know everything--that must be the poet's fancy,' says he.
     But when he was told he was created perfect by God, he instantly
     yielded. When taken to bed last night, he told his aunt he liked
     that lady. 'What lady?' says she. 'Why, Mrs. Cockburn; for I
     think she is a virtuoso like myself.' 'Dear Walter,' says Aunt
     Jenny, 'what is a virtuoso?' 'Don't ye know? Why, it's one who
     wishes and will know everything.'[47]--Now, sir, you will think
     this a very silly story. Pray, what age do you suppose this boy
     to be? Name it now, before I tell you. Why, twelve or fourteen.
     No such thing; he is not quite six years old.[48] He has a lame
     leg, for which he was a year at Bath, and has acquired the
     perfect English accent, which he has not lost since he came, and
     he reads like a Garrick. You will allow this an uncommon exotic."

         [Footnote 47: It may amuse my reader to recall, by the side
         of Scott's early definition of "a virtuoso," the lines in
         which Akenside has painted that character--lines which might
         have been written for a description of the Author of

           "He knew the various modes of ancient times,
            Their arts and fashions of each various guise;
            Their weddings, funerals, punishments of crimes;
            Their strength, their learning eke, and rarities.
            Of old habiliment, each sort and size,
            Male, female, high and low, to him were known;
            Each gladiator's dress, and stage disguise,
            With learned clerkly phrase he could have shown."]

         [Footnote 48: He was, in fact, six years and three months old
         before this letter was written.]

Some particulars in Mrs. Cockburn's account appear considerably at
variance with what Sir Walter has told us respecting his own boyish
proficiency--especially in the article of pronunciation. On that last
head, however, Mrs. Cockburn was not, probably, a very accurate judge;
all that can be said is, that if at this early period he had acquired
anything which could be justly described as {p.076} an English
accent, he soon lost, and never again recovered, what he had thus
gained from his short residence at Bath. In after-life his
pronunciation of words, considered separately, was seldom much
different from that of a well-educated Englishman of his time; but he
used many words in a sense which belonged to Scotland, not to England,
and the tone and accent remained broadly Scotch, though, unless in the
_burr_, which no doubt smacked of the country bordering on
Northumberland, there was no _provincial_ peculiarity about his
utterance. He had strong powers of mimicry--could talk with a peasant
quite in his own style, and frequently in general society introduced
rustic _patois_, northern, southern, or midland, with great truth and
effect; but these things were inlaid dramatically, or playfully, upon
his narrative. His exquisite taste in this matter was not less
remarkable in his conversation than in the prose of his Scotch novels.

Another lady, nearly connected with the Keiths of Ravelston, has a
lively recollection of young Walter, when paying a visit much about
the same period to his kind relation,[49] the mistress of that
picturesque old mansion, which furnished him in after-days with many
of the features of his Tully-Veolan, and whose venerable gardens, with
their massive hedges of yew and holly, he always considered as the
ideal of the art. The lady, whose letter I have now before me, says
she distinctly remembers the sickly boy sitting at the gate of the
house with his attendant, when a poor mendicant approached, old and
woe-begone, to claim the charity which none asked for in vain at
Ravelston. When the man was retiring, the servant remarked to Walter
that he ought to be thankful to Providence for having placed him above
the want and misery he had been contemplating. The child looked up
with a half-wistful, half-incredulous expression, {p.077} and said,
"_Homer was a beggar_!" "How do you know that?" said the other. "Why,
don't you remember," answered the little virtuoso, "that

  'Seven _Roman_ cities strove for Homer dead,
  Through which the living Homer begged his bread?'"

The lady smiled at the "_Roman_ cities,"--but already

  "Each blank in faithless memory void
  The poet's glowing thought supplied."

         [Footnote 49: Mrs. Keith of Ravelston was born a Swinton of
         Swinton, and sister to Sir Walter's maternal grandmother.]

It was in this same year, 1777, that he spent some time at
Prestonpans; made his first acquaintance with George Constable, the
original of his Monkbarns; explored the field where Colonel Gardiner
received his death-wound, under the learned guidance of Dalgetty; and
marked the spot "where the grass long grew rank and green,
distinguishing it from the rest of the field,"[50] above the grave of
poor Balmawhapple.

         [Footnote 50: _Waverley_, chap, xlvii. note.]

His Uncle Thomas, whom I have described as I saw him in extreme old
age at Monklaw, had the management of the farm affairs at Sandy-Knowe,
when Walter returned thither from Prestonpans; he was a kind-hearted
man, and very fond of the child. Appearing on his return somewhat
strengthened, his uncle promoted him from the Cow-bailie's shoulder to
a dwarf of the Shetland race, not so large as many a Newfoundland dog.
This creature walked freely into the house, and was regularly fed from
the boy's hand. He soon learned to sit her well, and often alarmed
Aunt Jenny, by cantering over the rough places about the tower. In the
evening of his life, when he had a grandchild afflicted with an
infirmity akin to his own, he provided him with a little mare of the
same breed, and gave her the name of _Marion_, in memory of this early


     Illustrations of the Autobiography Continued. -- High School
     of Edinburgh. -- Residence at Kelso.


The report of Walter's progress in horsemanship probably reminded his
father that it was time he should be learning other things beyond the
department either of Aunt Jenny or Uncle Thomas, and after a few
months he was recalled to Edinburgh. But extraordinary as was the
progress he had by this time made in that self-education which alone
is of primary consequence to spirits of his order, he was found too
deficient in lesser matters to be at once entered in the High School.
Probably his mother dreaded, and deferred as long as she could, the
day when he should be exposed to the rude collision of a crowd of
boys. At all events he was placed first in a little private school
kept by one Leechman in Bristo Port; and then, that experiment not
answering expectation, under the domestic tutorage of Mr. James
French, afterwards minister of East Kilbride in Lanarkshire. This
respectable man considered him fit to join Luke Fraser's class in
October, 1778.

His own account of his progress at this excellent seminary is, on the
whole, very similar to what I have received from some of his surviving
schoolfellows. His quick apprehension and powerful memory enabled him,
at little cost of labor, to perform the usual routine of tasks, in
such a manner as to keep him generally "in a decent place" (so he once
expressed it to Mr. Skene) "about the middle of the class; with
which," he continued, "I {p.079} was the better contented, that it
chanced to be near the fire."[51] Mr. Fraser was, I believe, more
zealous in enforcing attention to the technicalities of grammar, than
to excite curiosity about historical facts, or imagination to strain
after the flights of a poet. There is no evidence that Scott, though
he speaks of him as his "kind master," in remembrance probably of
sympathy for his physical infirmities, ever attracted his special
notice with reference to scholarship; but Adam, the Rector, into whose
class he passed in October, 1782, was, as his situation demanded, a
teacher of a more liberal caste; and though never, even under his
guidance, did Walter fix and concentrate his ambition so as to
maintain an eminent place, still the vivacity of his talents was
observed, and the readiness of his memory in particular was so often
displayed, that (as Mr. Irving, his chosen friend of that day, informs
me) the Doctor "would constantly refer to him for dates, the
particulars of battles, and other remarkable events alluded to in
Horace, or whatever author the boys were reading, and used to call him
the historian of the class." No one who has read, as few have not, Dr.
Adam's interesting work on Roman Antiquities will doubt the author's
capacity for stimulating such a mind as young Scott's.

         [Footnote 51: According to Mr. Irving's recollections,
         Scott's place, after the first winter, was usually between
         the 7th and the 15th from the top of the class. He adds, "Dr.
         James Buchan was always the _dux_; David Douglas (Lord
         Reston) _second_; and the present Lord Melville _third_."]

He speaks of himself as occasionally "glancing like a meteor from the
bottom to the top of the form." His schoolfellow, Mr. Claud Russell,
remembers that he once made a great leap in consequence of the
stupidity of some laggard on what is called the _dult's_ (dolt's)
bench, who being asked, on boggling at _cum_, "what part of speech is
_with_?" answered, "_a substantive_." The Rector, after a moment's
pause, thought it worth while to ask his _dux_--"Is _with_ ever a
substantive?" but all were silent {p.080} until the query reached
Scott, then near the bottom of the class, who instantly responded by
quoting a verse of the book of Judges:--"And Samson said unto Delilah,
If they bind me with seven green _withs_ that were never dried, then
shall I be weak, and as another man."[52] Another upward movement,
accomplished in a less laudable manner, but still one strikingly
illustrative of his ingenious resources, I am enabled to preserve
through the kindness of a brother poet and esteemed friend, to whom
Sir Walter himself communicated it in the melancholy twilight of his
bright day.

         [Footnote 52: Chap. xvi. verse 7.]

Mr. Rogers says--"Sitting one day alone with him in your house, in the
Regent's Park--(it was the day but one before he left it to embark at
Portsmouth for Malta)--I led him, among other things, to tell me once
again a story of himself, which he had formerly told me, and which I
had often wished to recover. When I returned home, I wrote it down, as
nearly as I could, in his own words; and here they are. The subject is
an achievement worthy of Ulysses himself, and such as many of his
schoolfellows could, no doubt, have related of him; but I fear I have
done it no justice, though the story is so very characteristic that it
should not be lost. The inimitable manner in which he told it--the
glance of the eye, the turn of the head, and the light that played
over his faded features, as, one by one, the circumstances came back
to him, accompanied by a thousand boyish feelings, that had slept
perhaps for years--there is no language, not even his own, could
convey to you; but you can supply them. Would that others could do so,
who had not the good fortune to know him!--The memorandum (Friday,
October 21, 1831) is as follows:--

"There was a boy in my class at school, who stood always at the
top,[53] nor could I with all my efforts supplant him. {p.081} Day
came after day, and still he kept his place, do what I would; till at
length I observed that, when a question was asked him, he always
fumbled with his fingers at a particular button in the lower part of
his waistcoat. To remove it, therefore, became expedient in my eyes;
and in an evil moment it was removed with a knife. Great was my
anxiety to know the success of my measure; and it succeeded too well.
When the boy was again questioned, his fingers sought again for the
button, but it was not to be found. In his distress he looked down for
it; it was to be seen no more than to be felt. He stood confounded,
and I took possession of his place; nor did he ever recover it, or
ever, I believe, suspect who was the author of his wrong. Often in
after-life has the sight of him smote me as I passed by him; and often
have I resolved to make him some reparation; but it ended in good
resolutions. Though I never renewed my acquaintance with him, I often
saw him, for he filled some inferior office in one of the courts of
law at Edinburgh. Poor fellow! I believe he is dead; he took early to

         [Footnote 53: Mr. Irving inclines to think that this incident
         must have occurred during Scott's attendance on Luke Fraser,
         not after he went to Dr. Adam; and he also suspects that the
         boy referred to sat at the top, not of the _class_, but of
         Scott's own bench or division of the class.]

The autobiography tells us that his translations in verse from Horace
and Virgil were often approved by Dr. Adam. One of these little
pieces, written in a weak boyish scrawl, within pencilled marks still
visible, had been carefully preserved by his mother; it was found
folded up in a cover inscribed by the old lady--"_My Walter's first
lines_, 1782."

         "In awful ruins Ætna thunders nigh,
          And sends in pitchy whirlwinds to the sky
          Black clouds of smoke, which, still as they aspire,
          From their dark sides there bursts the glowing fire;
          At other times huge balls of fire are toss'd,
          That lick the stars, and in the smoke are lost:
          Sometimes the mount, with vast convulsions torn,
          Emits huge rocks, which instantly are borne
          With loud explosions to the starry skies,
          The stones made liquid as the huge mass flies,
          Then back again with greater weight recoils,
          While Ætna thundering from the bottom boils."

I {p.082} gather from Mr. Irving that these lines were considered as
the second best set of those produced on the occasion--Colin Mackenzie
of Portmore, through life Scott's dear friend, carrying off the

In his Introduction to the Lay, he alludes to an original effusion of
these "schoolboy days," prompted by a thunderstorm, which he says "was
much approved of, until a malevolent critic sprung up in the shape of
an apothecary's blue-buskined wife, who affirmed that my most sweet
poetry was copied from an old magazine. I never" (he continues)
"forgave the imputation, and even now I acknowledge some resentment
against the poor woman's memory. She indeed accused me unjustly when
she said I had stolen my poem ready made; but as I had, like most
premature poets, copied all the words and ideas of which my verses
consisted, she was so far right. I made one or two faint attempts at
verse after I had undergone this sort of daw-plucking at the hands of
the apothecary's wife, but some friend or other always advised me to
put my verses into the fire; and, like Dorax in the play, I submitted,
thought with a swelling heart." These lines, and another short piece
"On the Setting Sun," were lately found wrapped up in a cover,
inscribed by Dr. Adam, "Walter Scott, July, 1783," and have been
kindly transmitted to me by the gentleman who discovered them.

                    ON A THUNDERSTORM.

         "Loud o'er my head though awful thunders roll,
          And vivid lightnings flash from pole to pole,
          Yet 't is thy voice, my God, that bids them fly,
          Thy arm directs those lightnings through the sky.
          Then let the good thy mighty name revere,
          And hardened sinners thy just vengeance fear."

                    ON THE SETTING SUN.

         "Those evening clouds, that setting ray
          And beauteous tints, serve to display
            Their great Creator's praise;
          Then let the short-lived thing call'd man,
          Whose {p.083} life's comprised within a span,
            To Him his homage raise.

         "We often praise the evening clouds,
            And tints so gay and bold,
          But seldom think upon our God,
            Who tinged these clouds with gold!"[54]

         [Footnote 54: I am obliged for these little memorials to the
         Rev. W. Steven of Rotterdam, author of an interesting book on
         the history of the branch of the Scotch Church long
         established in Holland, and still flourishing under the
         protection of the enlightened government of that country. Mr.
         Steven found them in the course of his recent researches,
         undertaken with a view to some memoirs of the High School of
         Edinburgh, at which he had received his own early education.]

It must, I think, be allowed that these lines, though of the class to
which the poet himself modestly ascribes them, and not to be compared
with the efforts of Pope, still less of Cowley at the same period,
show, nevertheless, praiseworthy dexterity for a boy of twelve.

The fragment tells us that on the whole he was "more distinguished in
_the yards_ (as the High School playground was called) than in _the
class_;" and this, not less than the intellectual advancement which
years before had excited the admiration of Mrs. Cockburn, was the
natural result of his lifelong "rebellion against external
circumstances." He might now with very slender exertion have been the
_dux_ of his form; but if there was more difficulty, there was also
more to whet his ambition, in the attempt to overcome the
disadvantages of his physical misfortune, and in spite of them assert
equality with the best of his compeers on the ground which they
considered as the true arena of honor. He told me, in walking through
these same _yards_ forty years afterwards, that he had scarcely made
his first appearance there, before some dispute arising, his opponent
remarked that "there was no use to hargle-bargle with a cripple;" upon
which he replied, that if he might fight _mounted_, he would try his
hand with any one of his inches. "An elder boy," said he, "who had
perhaps been chuckling over our friend Roderick {p.084} Random when
his mother supposed him to be in full cry after Pyrrhus or Porus,
suggested that the two little tinklers might be lashed front to front
upon a deal board--and--'O gran bonta de' cavalier antichi'--the
proposal being forthwith agreed to, I received my first bloody nose in
an attitude which would have entitled me, in the blessed days of
personal cognizances, to assume that of a _lioncel seiant gules_. My
pugilistic trophies here," he continued, "were all the results of such
_sittings in banco_." Considering his utter ignorance of fear, the
strength of his chest and upper limbs, and that the scientific part of
pugilism never flourished in Scotland, I dare say these trophies were
not few.

The mettle of the High School boys, however, was principally displayed
elsewhere than in their own _yards_; and Sir Walter has furnished us
with ample indications of the delight with which he found himself at
length capable of rivalling others in such achievements as required
the exertion of active locomotive powers. Speaking of some scene of
his infancy in one of his latest tales, he says--"Every step of the
way after I have passed through the green already mentioned" (probably
the _Meadows_ behind George's Square) "has for me something of an
early remembrance. There is the stile at which I can recollect a cross
child's-maid upbraiding me with my infirmity as she lifted me coarsely
and carelessly over the flinty steps which my brothers traversed with
shout and bound. I remember the _suppressed bitterness_ of the moment,
and, conscious of my own infirmity, the envy with which I regarded the
easy movements and elastic steps of my more happily formed brethren.
Alas!" he adds, "these goodly barks have all perished in life's wide
ocean, and only that which seemed, as the naval phrase goes, so little
seaworthy, has reached the port when the tempest is over." How
touching to compare with this passage that in which he records his
pride in being found before he left the High School one of the
boldest {p.085} and nimblest climbers of "the kittle nine stanes," a
passage of difficulty which might puzzle a chamois-hunter of the Alps,
its steps, "few and far between," projected high in air from the
precipitous black granite of the Castle rock. But climbing and
fighting could sometimes be combined, and he has in almost the same
page dwelt upon perhaps the most favorite of all these juvenile
exploits--namely, "the manning of the Cowgate Port,"--in the season
when snowballs could be employed by the young scorners of discipline
for the annoyance of the Town-guard. To understand fully the feelings
of a High School boy of that day with regard to those ancient
Highlanders, who then formed the only police of the city of Edinburgh,
the reader must consult the poetry of the scapegrace Fergusson. It was
in defiance of their Lochaber axes that the Cowgate Port was
manned--and many were the occasions on which its defence presented a
formidable mimicry of warfare. "The gateway," Sir Walter adds, "is now
demolished, and probably most of its garrison lie as low as the
fortress! To recollect that I, however naturally disqualified, was one
of these juvenile dreadnoughts, is a sad reflection for one who cannot
now step over a brook without assistance."

I am unwilling to swell this narrative by extracts from Scott's
published works, but there is one juvenile exploit told in the General
Preface to the Waverley Novels, which I must crave leave to introduce
here in his own language, because it is essentially necessary to
complete our notion of his schoolboy life and character. "It is well
known," he says, "that there is little boxing at the Scottish schools.
About forty or fifty years ago, however, a far more dangerous mode of
fighting, in parties or factions, was permitted in the streets of
Edinburgh, to the great disgrace of the police, and danger of the
parties concerned. These parties were generally formed from the
quarters of the town in which the combatants resided, {p.086} those
of a particular square or district fighting against those of an
adjoining one. Hence it happened that the children of the higher
classes were often pitted against those of the lower, each taking
their side according to the residence of their friends. So far as I
recollect, however, it was unmingled either with feelings of democracy
or aristocracy, or indeed with malice or ill-will of any kind towards
the opposite party. In fact, it was only a rough mode of play. Such
contests were, however, maintained with great vigor with stones, and
sticks, and fisticuffs, when one party dared to charge, and the other
stood their ground. Of course, mischief sometimes happened; boys are
said to have been killed at these _bickers_, as they were called, and
serious accidents certainly took place, as many contemporaries can
bear witness.

"The author's father residing in George's Square, in the southern side
of Edinburgh, the boys belonging to that family, with others in the
square, were arranged into a sort of company, to which a lady of
distinction presented a handsome set of colors.[55] Now, this company
or regiment, as a matter of course, was engaged in weekly warfare with
the boys inhabiting the Cross-causeway, Bristo-Street, the
Potterrow--in short, the neighboring suburbs. These last were chiefly
of the lower rank, but hardy loons, who threw stones to a
hair's-breadth, and were very rugged antagonists at close quarters.
The skirmish sometimes lasted for a whole evening, until one party or
the other was victorious, when, if ours were successful, we drove the
enemy to their quarters, and were usually chased back by the
reinforcement of bigger lads who came to their assistance. If, on the
contrary, we were pursued, as was often the case, into the precincts
of our square, we were in our turn supported by our elder brothers,
domestic servants, and similar auxiliaries. It followed, from our
frequent opposition to each other, that, {p.087} though not knowing
the names of our enemies, we were yet well acquainted with their
appearance, and had nicknames for the most remarkable of them. One
very active and spirited boy might be considered as the principal
leader in the cohort of the suburbs. He was, I suppose, thirteen or
fourteen years old, finely made, tall, blue-eyed, with long fair hair,
the very picture of a youthful Goth. This lad was always first in the
charge, and last in the retreat--the Achilles at once and Ajax of the
Cross-causeway. He was too formidable to us not to have a cognomen,
and, like that of a knight of old, it was taken from the most
remarkable part of his dress, being a pair of old green livery
breeches, which was the principal part of his clothing; for, like
Pentapolin, according to Don Quixote's account, Green-breeks, as we
called him, always entered the battle with bare arms, legs, and feet.

         [Footnote 55: This young patroness was the Duchess-Countess
         of Sutherland.]

"It fell, that once upon a time when the combat was at its thickest,
this plebeian champion headed a charge so rapid and furious, that all
fled before him. He was several paces before his comrades, and had
actually laid his hands upon the patrician standard, when one of our
party, whom some misjudging friend had entrusted with a _couteau de
chasse_, or hanger, inspired with a zeal for the honor of the corps,
worthy of Major Sturgeon himself, struck poor Green-breeks over the
head, with strength sufficient to cut him down. When this was seen,
the casualty was so far beyond what had ever taken place before, that
both parties fled different ways, leaving poor Green-breeks, with his
bright hair plentifully dabbled in blood, to the care of the watchman,
who (honest man) took care not to know who had done the mischief. The
bloody hanger was thrown into one of the Meadow ditches, and solemn
secrecy was sworn on all hands; but the remorse and terror of the
actor were beyond all bounds, and his apprehensions of the most
dreadful character. The wounded hero was for a few days in the
Infirmary, {p.088} the case being only a trifling one. But though
inquiry was strongly pressed on him, no argument could make him
indicate the person from whom he had received the wound, though he
must have been perfectly well known to him. When he recovered and was
dismissed, the author and his brothers opened a communication with
him, through the medium of a popular gingerbread baker, of whom both
parties were customers, in order to tender a subsidy in the name of
smart-money. The sum would excite ridicule were I to name it; but sure
I am that the pockets of the noted Green-breeks never held as much
money of his own. He declined the remittance, saying that he would not
sell his blood; but at the same time reprobated the idea of being an
informer, which he said was _clam_, that is, base or mean. With much
urgency, he accepted a pound of snuff for the use of some old
woman--aunt, grandmother, or the like--with whom he lived. We did not
become friends, for the _bickers_ were more agreeable to both parties
than any more pacific amusement; but we conducted them ever after
under mutual assurances of the highest consideration for each other."
Sir Walter adds--"Of five brothers, all healthy and promising in a
degree far beyond one whose infancy was visited by personal infirmity,
and whose health after this period seemed long very precarious, I am,
nevertheless, the only survivor. The best loved, and the best
deserving to be loved, who had destined this incident to be the
foundation of a literary composition, died 'before his day,' in a
distant and foreign land; and trifles assume an importance not their
own when connected with those who have been loved and lost."

During some part of his attendance on the High School, young Walter
spent one hour daily at a small separate seminary of writing and
arithmetic, kept by one Morton, where, as was, and I suppose continues
to be, the custom of Edinburgh, young girls came for instruction as
{p.089} well as boys; and one of Mr. Morton's female pupils has been
kind enough to set down some little reminiscences of Scott, who
happened to sit at the same desk with herself. They appear to me the
more interesting, because the lady had no acquaintance with him in the
course of his subsequent life. Her nephew, Mr. James (the accomplished
author of Richelieu), to whose friendship I owe her communication,
assures me, too, that he had constantly heard her tell the same things
in the very same way, as far back as his own memory reaches, many
years before he had ever seen Sir Walter, or his aunt could have
dreamt of surviving to assist in the biography of his early days.

"He attracted," Mrs. Churnside says, "the regard and fondness of all
his companions, for he was ever rational, fanciful, lively, and
possessed of that urbane gentleness of manner which makes its way to
the heart. His imagination was constantly at work, and he often so
engrossed the attention of those who learnt with him, that little
could be done--Mr. Morton himself being forced to laugh as much as the
little scholars at the odd turns and devices he fell upon; for he did
nothing in the ordinary way, but, for example, even when he wanted ink
to his pen, would get up some ludicrous story about sending his doggie
to the mill again. He used also to interest us in a more serious way,
by telling us the _visions_, as he called them, which he had lying
alone on the floor or sofa, when kept from going to church on a Sunday
by ill health. Child as I was, I could not help being highly delighted
with his description of the glories he had seen--his misty and sublime
sketches of the regions above, which he had visited in his trance.
Recollecting these descriptions, radiant and not gloomy as they were,
I have often thought since that there must have been a bias in his
mind to superstition--the marvellous seemed to have such power over
him, though the mere offspring of his own imagination, that the
expression of his face, habitually that of genuine {p.090}
benevolence, mingled with a shrewd innocent humor, changed greatly
while he was speaking of these things, and showed a deep intenseness
of feeling, as if he were awed even by his own recital.... I may add,
that in walking he used always to keep his eyes turned downwards as if
thinking, but with a pleasing expression of countenance, as if
enjoying his thoughts. Having once known him, it was impossible ever
to forget him. In this manner, after all the changes of a long life,
he constantly appears as fresh as yesterday to my mind's eye."

This beautiful extract needs no commentary. I may as well, however,
bear witness, that exactly as the schoolboy still walks before her
"mind's eye," his image rises familiarly to mine, who never saw him
until he was past the middle of life: that I trace in every feature of
her delineation the same gentleness of aspect and demeanor which the
presence of the female sex, whether in silk or in russet, ever
commanded in the man; and that her description of the change on his
countenance when passing from the "doggie of the mill" to the dream of
Paradise is a perfect picture of what no one that has heard him recite
a fragment of high poetry, in the course of table talk, can ever
forget. Strangers may catch some notion of what fondly dwells on the
memory of every friend, by glancing from the conversational bust of
Chantrey to the first portrait by Raeburn, which represents the Last
Minstrel as musing in his prime within sight of Hermitage.

I believe it was about this time that, as he expresses it in one of
his latest works, "the first images of horror from the scenes of real
life were stamped upon his mind," by the tragical death of his
great-aunt, Mrs. Margaret Swinton. This old lady, whose extraordinary
nerve of character he illustrates largely in the introduction to the
story of Aunt Margaret's Mirror, was now living with one female
attendant, in a small house not far from Mr. Scott's residence in
George's Square. The maid-servant, in {p.091} a sudden access of
insanity, struck her mistress to death with a coal-axe, and then
rushed furiously into the street with the bloody weapon in her hand,
proclaiming aloud the horror she had perpetrated. I need not dwell on
the effects which must have been produced in a virtuous and
affectionate circle by this shocking incident. The old lady had been
tenderly attached to her nephew, "She was," he says, "our constant
resource in sickness, or when we tired of noisy play, and closed round
her to listen to her tales."

It was at this same period that Mr. and Mrs. Scott received into their
house, as tutor for their children, Mr. James Mitchell, of whom the
Ashestiel Memoir gives us a description, such as I could not have
presented had he been still alive. Mr. Mitchell was living, however,
at the time of his pupil's death, and I am now not only at liberty to
present Scott's unmutilated account of their intercourse, but enabled
to give also the most simple and characteristic narrative of the other
party. I am sure no one, however nearly related to Mr. Mitchell, will
now complain of seeing his keen-sighted pupil's sketch placed by the
side, as it were, of the fuller portraiture drawn by the unconscious
hand of the amiable and worthy man himself. The following is an
extract from Mr. Mitchell's MS., entitled "Memorials of the most
remarkable occurrences and transactions of my life, drawn up in the
hope that, when I shall be no more, they may be read with profit and
pleasure by my children." The good man was so kind as to copy out one
chapter for my use, as soon as he heard of Sir Walter Scott's death.
He was then, and had for many years been, minister of a Presbyterian
chapel at Wooler, in Northumberland, to which situation he had retired
on losing his benefice at Montrose, in consequence of the Sabbatarian
scruples alluded to in Scott's Autobiography.

     "In 1782," says Mr. Mitchell, "I became a tutor in Mr. Walter
     Scott's family. He was a Writer to the Signet in George's
     {p.092} Square, Edinburgh. Mr. Scott was a fine-looking man,
     then a little past the meridian of life, of dignified, yet
     agreeable manners. His business was extensive. He was a man of
     tried integrity, of strict morals, and had a respect for religion
     and its ordinances. The church the family attended was the Old
     Greyfriars, of which the celebrated Doctors Robertson and Erskine
     were the ministers. Thither went Mr. and Mrs. Scott every
     Sabbath, when well and at home, attended by their fine young
     family of children, and their domestic servants--a sight so
     amiable and exemplary as often to excite in my breast a glow of
     heartfelt satisfaction. According to an established and laudable
     practice in the family, the heads of it, the children, and
     servants, were assembled on Sunday evenings in the drawing-room,
     and examined on the Church Catechism and sermons they had heard
     delivered during the course of the day; on which occasions I had
     to perform the part of chaplain, and conclude with prayer. From
     Mrs. Scott I learned that Mr. Scott was one that had not been
     seduced from the paths of virtue; but had been enabled to
     venerate good morals from his youth. When he first came to
     Edinburgh to follow out his profession, some of his
     schoolfellows, who, like him, had come to reside in Edinburgh,
     attempted to unhinge his principles, and corrupt his morals; but
     when they found him resolute, and unshaken in his virtuous
     dispositions, they gave up the attempt; but, instead of
     abandoning him altogether, they thought the more of him, and
     honored him with their confidence and patronage; which is
     certainly a great inducement to young men in the outset of life
     to act a similar part.

     "After having heard of his inflexible adherence to the cause of
     virtue in his youth, and his regular attendance on the ordinances
     of religion in after-life, we will not be surprised to be told
     that he bore a sacred regard for the Sabbath, nor at the
     following anecdote illustrative of it. An opulent farmer of East
     Lothian had employed Mr. Scott as his agent, in a cause depending
     before the Court of Session. Having a curiosity to see something
     in the papers relative to the process, which were deposited in
     Mr. Scott's hands, this worldly man came into Edinburgh on a
     Sunday to have an inspection of them. As there was no immediate
     necessity for this measure, Mr. Scott asked the farmer if an
     ordinary week-day would not answer equally well. {p.093} The
     farmer was not willing to take this advice, but insisted on the
     production of his papers. Mr. Scott then delivered them to him,
     saying, it was not his practice to engage in secular business on
     the Sabbath, and that he would have no difficulty in Edinburgh to
     find some of his profession who would have none of his scruples.
     No wonder such a man was confided in, and greatly honored in his
     professional line.--All the poor services I did to his family
     were more than repaid by the comfort and honor I had by being in
     the family, the pecuniary remuneration I received, and
     particularly by his recommendation of me, some time afterwards,
     to the Magistrates and Town Council of Montrose, when there was a
     vacancy, and this brought me on the carpet, which, as he said,
     was all he could do, as the settlement would ultimately hinge on
     a popular election.

     "Mrs. Scott was a wife in every respect worthy of such a
     husband. Like her partner, she was then a little past the
     meridian of life, of a prepossessing appearance, amiable manners,
     of a cultivated understanding, affectionate disposition, and fine
     taste. She was both able and disposed to soothe her husband's
     mind under the asperities of business, and to be a rich blessing
     to her numerous progeny. But what constituted her distinguishing
     ornament was that she was sincerely religious. Some years
     previous to my entrance into the family, I understood from one of
     the servants she had been under deep religious concern about her
     soul's salvation, which had ultimately issued in a conviction of
     the truth of Christianity, and in the enjoyment of its divine
     consolations. She liked Dr. Erskine's sermons; but was not fond
     of the Principal's, however rational, eloquent, and well
     composed, and would, if other things had answered, have gone,
     when he preached, to have heard Dr. Davidson. Mrs. Scott was a
     descendant of Dr. Daniel Rutherford, a professor in the Medical
     School of Edinburgh, and one of those eminent men, who, by
     learning and professional skill, brought it to the high pitch of
     celebrity to which it has attained. He was an excellent linguist,
     and, according to the custom of the times, delivered his
     prelections to the students in Latin. Mrs. Scott told me, that,
     when prescribing to his patients, it was his custom to offer up
     at the same time a prayer for the accompanying blessing of
     heaven; a laudable practice, in which, I fear, he has not been
     generally imitated by those of his profession.

     "Mr. {p.094} Scott's family consisted of six children, all of
     which were at home except the eldest, who was an officer in the
     army; and as they were of an age fit for instruction, they were
     all committed to my superintendence, which, in dependence on God,
     I exercised with an earnest and faithful regard to their temporal
     and spiritual good. As the most of them were under public
     teachers, the duty assigned me was mainly to assist them in the
     prosecution of their studies. In all the excellencies, whether as
     to temper, conduct, talents natural or acquired, which any of the
     children individually possessed, to Master Walter, since the
     celebrated Sir Walter, must a decided preference be ascribed.
     Though, like the rest of the children, placed under my tuition,
     the conducting of his education comparatively cost me but little
     trouble, being, by the quickness of his intellect, tenacity of
     memory, and diligent application to his studies, generally equal
     of himself to the acquisition of those tasks I or others
     prescribed to him. So that Master Walter might be regarded not so
     much as a pupil of mine, but as a friend and companion, and, I
     may add, as an assistant also; for, by his example and
     admonitions, he greatly strengthened my hands, and stimulated my
     other pupils to industry and good behavior. I seldom had occasion
     all the time I was in the family to find fault with him even for
     trifles, and only once to threaten serious castigation, of which
     he was no sooner aware than he suddenly sprung up, threw his arms
     about my neck, and kissed me. It is hardly needful to state, that
     now the intended castigation was no longer thought of. By such
     generous and noble conduct, my displeasure was in a moment
     converted into esteem and admiration; my soul melted into
     tenderness, and I was ready to mingle my tears with his. Some
     incidents in reference to him in that early period, and some
     interesting and useful conversations I had with him, then deeply
     impressed on my mind, and which the lapse of near half a century
     has not yet obliterated, afforded no doubtful presage of his
     future greatness and celebrity. On my going into the family, as
     far as I can judge, he might be in his twelfth or thirteenth
     year, a boy in the rector's class. However elevated above the
     other boys in genius, though generally in the list of the duxes,
     he was seldom, as far as I recollect, the leader of the school:
     nor need this be deemed surprising, as it has often been observed
     that boys of original genius have been {p.095} outstripped, by
     those that were far inferior to themselves, in the acquisition of
     the dead languages. Dr. Adam, the rector, celebrated for his
     knowledge of the Latin language, was deservedly held by Mr.
     Walter in high admiration and regard; of which the following
     anecdote may be adduced as a proof. In the High School, as is
     well known, there are four masters and a rector. The classes of
     those masters the rector in rotation inspects, and in the mean
     time the master, whose school is examined, goes in to take care
     of the rector's. One of the masters, on account of some grudge,
     had rudely assaulted and injured the venerable rector one night
     in the High School Wynd. The rector's scholars, exasperated at
     the outrage, at the instigation of Master Walter, determined on
     revenge, and which was to be executed when this obnoxious master
     should again come to teach the class. When this occurred, the
     task the class had prescribed to them was that passage in the
     Æneid of Virgil, where the Queen of Carthage interrogates the
     court as to the stranger that had come to her habitation--

         'Quis novus hic hospes successit sedibus nostris?'[56]

         [Footnote 56: This transposition of _hospes_ and _nostris_
         sufficiently confirms his pupil's statement that Mr. Mitchell
         "superintended his classical themes, but not classically."
         The "obnoxious master" alluded to was Burns's friend Nicoll,
         the hero of the song--

              "Willie brewed a peck O' maut,
               And Rob and Allan cam' to see," etc.]

     Master Walter, having taken a piece of paper, inscribed upon it
     these words, substituting _vanus_ for _novus_, and pinned it to
     the tail of the master's coat, and turned him into ridicule by
     raising the laugh of the whole school against him. Though this
     juvenile action could not be justified on the footing of
     Christian principles, yet certainly it was so far honorable that
     it was not a dictate of personal revenge, but that it originated
     in respect for a worthy and injured man, and detestation of one
     whom he looked upon as a bad character.

     "One forenoon, on coming from the High School, he said he wished
     to know my opinion as to his conduct in a matter he should state
     to me. When passing through the High School Yards, he found a
     half-guinea piece on the ground. Instead of appropriating this to
     his own use, a sense of honesty led him to look around, and on
     doing so he espied a countryman, whom he suspected to be the
     proprietor. Having asked the man if he had {p.096} lost
     anything, he searched his pockets, and then replied that he had
     lost half-a-guinea. Master Walter with pleasure presented him
     with his lost treasure. In this transaction, his ingenuity in
     finding out the proper owner, and his integrity in restoring the
     property, met my most cordial approbation.

     "When in church, Master Walter had more of a soporific tendency
     than the rest of my young charge. This seemed to be
     constitutional. He needed one or other of the family to arouse
     him, and from this it might be inferred that he would cut a poor
     figure on the Sabbath evening when examined about the sermons.
     But what excited the admiration of the family was, that none of
     the children, however wakeful, could answer as he did. The only
     way that I could account for this was, that when he heard the
     text, and divisions of the subject, his good sense, memory, and
     genius, supplied the thoughts which would occur to the preacher.

     "On one occasion, in the dining-room, when, according to custom,
     he was reading some author in the time of relaxation from study,
     I asked him how he accounted for the superiority of knowledge he
     possessed above the rest of the family. His reply was:--Some
     years ago he had been attacked by a swelling in one of his
     ankles, which confined him to the house, and prevented him taking
     amusement and exercise, and which was the cause of his lameness.
     As under this ailment he could not romp with his brothers and the
     other young people in the green in George's Square, he found
     himself compelled to have recourse to some substitute for the
     juvenile amusements of his comrades, and this was reading. So
     that, to what he no doubt accounted a painful dispensation of
     Providence, he probably stood indebted for his future celebrity.
     When it was understood I was to leave the family, Master Walter
     told me that he had a small present to give me, to be kept as a
     memorandum of his friendship, and that it was of little value:
     'But you know, Mr. Mitchell,' said he, 'that presents are not to
     be estimated according to their intrinsic value, but according to
     the intention of the donor.' This was his Adam's Grammar, which
     had seen hard service in its day, and had many animals and
     inscriptions on its margins. This, to my regret, is no longer to
     be found in my collection of books, nor do I know what has become
     of it.

     "Since leaving the family, although no stranger to the widely
     spreading {p.097} fame of Sir Walter, I have had few
     opportunities of personal intercourse with him. When minister in
     the second charge of the Established Church at Montrose, he paid
     me a visit, and spent a night with me--few visits have been more
     gratifying. He was then on his return from Aberdeen, where he, as
     an advocate, had attended the Court of Justiciary in its northern
     circuit. Nor was his attendance in this court his sole object:
     another, and perhaps the principal, was, as he stated to me, to
     collect in his excursion ancient ballads and traditional stories
     about fairies, witches, and ghosts. Such intelligence proved to
     me as an electrical shock; and as I then sincerely regretted, so
     do I still, that Sir Walter's precious time was so much devoted
     to the _dulce_, rather than the _utile_ of composition, and that
     his great talent should have been wasted on such subjects. At the
     same time I feel happy to qualify this censure, as I am generally
     given to understand that his Novels are of a more pure and
     unexceptionable nature than characterizes writings of a similar
     description; while at the same time his pen has been occupied in
     the production of works of a better and nobler order. Impressed
     with the conviction that he would one day arrive at honor and
     influence in his native country, I endeavored to improve the
     occasion of his visit to secure his patronage in behalf of the
     strict and evangelical party in the Church of Scotland, in
     exerting himself to induce patrons to grant to the Christian
     people liberty to elect their own pastors in cases of vacancy.
     His answer struck me much: it was--"Nay, nay, Mr. Mitchell, I'll
     not do that; for if that were to be done, I and the like of me
     would have no life with such as you;" from which I inferred he
     thought that, were the evangelical clergy to obtain the
     superiority, they would introduce such strictness of discipline
     as would not quadrate with the ideas of that party called _the
     moderate_ in the Church of Scotland, whose views, I presume, Sir
     Walter had now adopted. Some, however, to whom I have mentioned
     Sir Walter's reply, have suggested that I had misunderstood his
     meaning, and that what he said was not in earnest, but in
     jocularity and good-humor. This may be true, and certainly is a
     candid interpretation. As to the ideal beings already mentioned
     as the subject of his inquiries, my materials were too scanty to
     afford him much information."

Notwithstanding {p.098} the rigidly Presbyterian habits which this
chronicle describes with so much more satisfaction than the
corresponding page in the Ashestiel Memoir, I am reminded, by a
communication already quoted from a lady of the Ravelston family, that
Mrs. Scott, who had, she says, "a turn for literature quite uncommon
among the ladies of the time," encouraged her son in his passion for
Shakespeare; that his plays, and the Arabian Nights, were often read
aloud in the family circle by Walter, "and served to spend many a
happy evening hour;" nay, that, however good Mitchell may have frowned
at such a suggestion, even Mr. Scott made little objection to his
children, and some of their young friends, getting up private
theatricals occasionally in the dining-room after the lessons of the
day were over. The lady adds, that Walter was always the manager, and
had the whole charge of the affair, and that the favorite piece used
to be Jane Shore, in which he was the Hastings, his sister the Alicia.
I have heard from another friend of the family that Richard III. also
was attempted, and that Walter took the part of the Duke of
Gloucester, observing that "the limp would do well enough to represent
the hump."

A story which I have seen in print, about his partaking in the dancing
lessons of his brothers, I do not believe. But it was during Mr.
Mitchell's residence in the family that they all made their
unsuccessful attempts in the art of music, under the auspices of poor
_Allister_ Campbell--the Editor of Albyn's Anthology.

Mr. Mitchell appears to have terminated his superintendence before
Walter left Dr. Adam, and in the interval between this and his
entrance at College, he spent some time with his aunt, who now
inhabited a cottage at Kelso; but the Memoir, I suspect, gives too
much extension to that residence--which may be accounted for by his
blending with it a similar visit which he paid to the same place
during his College vacation of the next year.

Some {p.099} of the features of Miss Jenny's abode at Kelso are
alluded to in the Memoir, but the fullest description of it occurs in
his Essay on Landscape Gardening (1828), where, talking of grounds
laid out in the _Dutch taste_, he says:--"Their rarity _now_ entitles
them to some care as a species of antiques, and unquestionably they
give character to some snug, quiet, and sequestered situations, which
would otherwise have no marked feature of any kind. I retain an early
and pleasing recollection of the seclusion of such a scene. A small
cottage, adjacent to a beautiful village, the habitation of an ancient
maiden lady, was for some time my abode. It was situated in a garden
of seven or eight acres, planted about the beginning of the eighteenth
century by one of the Millars, related to the author of the Gardeners'
Dictionary, or, for aught I know, by himself. It was full of long,
straight walks, between hedges of yew and hornbeam, which rose tall
and close on every side. There were thickets of flowery shrubs, a
bower, and an arbor, to which access was obtained through a little
maze of contorted walks calling itself a labyrinth. In the centre of
the bower was a splendid Platanus, or Oriental plane--a huge hill of
leaves--one of the noblest specimens of that regularly beautiful tree
which I remember to have seen. In different parts of the garden were
fine ornamental trees, which had attained great size, and the orchard
was filled with fruit-trees of the best description. There were seats,
and hilly walks, and a banqueting house. I visited this scene lately,
after an absence of many years. Its air of retreat, the seclusion
which its alleys afforded, was entirely gone; the huge Platanus had
died, like most of its kind, in the beginning of this century; the
hedges were cut down, the trees stubbed up, and the whole character of
the place so destroyed that I was glad when I could leave it." It was
under this Platanus that Scott first devoured Percy's Reliques. I
remember well being with him, in 1820 or 1821, when he {p.100}
revisited the favorite scene, and the sadness of his looks when he
discovered that the "huge hill of leaves" was no more.

To keep up his scholarship while inhabiting _the garden_, he attended
daily, as he informs us, the public school of Kelso, and here he made
his first acquaintance with a family, two members of which were
intimately connected with the most important literary transactions of
his after-life--James Ballantyne, the printer of almost all his works,
and his brother John, who had a share in the publication of many of
them. Their father was a respectable tradesman in this pretty town.
The elder of the brothers, who did not long survive his illustrious
friend, was kind enough to make an exertion on behalf of this work,
while stretched on the bed from which he never rose, and dictated a
valuable paper of _memoranda_ from which I shall here introduce my
first extract:--

     "I think," says James Ballantyne, "it was in the year 1783 that I
     first became acquainted with Sir Walter Scott, then a boy about
     my own age, at the Grammar School of Kelso, of which Mr. Lancelot
     Whale was the Rector. The impression left by his manners was,
     even at that early period, calculated to be deep, and I cannot
     recall any other instance in which the man and the boy continued
     to resemble each other so much and so long. Walter Scott was not
     a constant schoolfellow at this seminary; he only attended it for
     a few weeks during the vacation of the Edinburgh High School. He
     was then, as he continued during all his after-life to be,
     devoted to antiquarian lore, and was certainly the best
     story-teller I had ever heard, either then or since. He soon
     discovered that I was as fond of listening as he himself was of
     relating; and I remember it was a thing of daily occurrence, that
     after he had made himself master of his own lesson, I, alas,
     being still sadly to seek in mine, he used to whisper to me,
     'Come, slink over beside me, Jamie, and I'll tell you a story.' I
     well recollect that he had a form, or seat, appropriated to
     himself, the particular reason of which I cannot tell, but he was
     always treated with a peculiar degree {p.101} of respect, not
     by the boys of the different classes merely, but by the venerable
     Master Lancelot himself, who, an absent, grotesque being, betwixt
     six and seven feet high, was nevertheless an admirable scholar,
     and sure to be delighted to find any one so well qualified to
     sympathize with him as young Walter Scott; and the affectionate
     gratitude of the young pupil was never intermitted, so long as
     his venerable master continued to live. I may mention, in
     passing, that old Whale bore, in many particulars, a strong
     resemblance to Dominie Sampson, though, it must be admitted,
     combining more gentlemanly manners with equal classical lore,
     and, on the whole, being a much superior sort of person. In the
     intervals of school hours, it was our constant practice to walk
     together by the banks of the Tweed, our employment continuing
     exactly the same, for his stories seemed to be quite
     inexhaustible. This intercourse continued during the summers of
     the years 1783--84, but was broken off in 1785-86, when I went
     into Edinburgh to College."

Perhaps the separate seat assigned to Walter Scott by the Kelso
schoolmaster was considered due to him as a temporary visitor from the
great Edinburgh seminary. Very possibly, however, the worthy Mr. Whale
thought of nothing but protecting his solitary student of Persius and
Tacitus from the chances of being jostled among the adherents of
Ruddiman and Cornelius Nepos.

Another of his Kelso schoolfellows was Robert Waldie (son of Mr.
Waldie of Henderside), and to this connection he owed, both while
quartered in the garden, and afterwards at Rosebank, many kind
attentions, of which he ever preserved a grateful recollection, and
which have left strong traces on every page of his works in which he
has occasion to introduce the Society of Friends. This young
companion's mother, though always called in the neighborhood "Lady
Waldie," belonged to that community; and the style of life and manners
depicted in the household of Joshua Geddes of Mount Sharon and his
amiable sister, in some of the sweetest chapters of Redgauntlet, is a
slightly decorated edition of what he witnessed under {p.102} her
hospitable roof. He records, in a note to the novel, the "liberality
and benevolence" of this "kind old lady" in allowing him to "rummage
at pleasure, and carry home any volumes he chose of her small but
valuable library;" annexing only the condition that he should "take at
the same time some of the tracts printed for encouraging and extending
the doctrines of her own sect. She did not," he adds, "even exact any
assurance that I would read these performances, being too justly
afraid of involving me in a breach of promise, but was merely desirous
that I should have the chance of instruction within my reach, in case
whim, curiosity, or accident, might induce me to have recourse to it."
I remember the pleasure with which he read, late in life, Rome in the
Nineteenth Century, an ingenious work produced by one of Mrs. Waldie's
granddaughters, and how comically he pictured the alarm with which his
ancient friend would have perused some of its delineations of the high
places of Popery.

I shall be pardoned for adding a marginal note written, apparently
late in Scott's life, on his copy of a little forgotten volume,
entitled Trifles in Verse, by a Young Soldier. "In 1783," he says, "or
about that time, I remember John Marjoribanks, a smart recruiting
officer in the village of Kelso, the Weekly Chronicle of which he
filled with his love verses. His Delia was a Miss Dickson, daughter of
a shopkeeper in the same village--his Gloriana a certain prudish old
maiden lady, benempt Miss Goldie; I think I see her still, with her
thin arms sheathed in scarlet gloves, and crossed like two lobsters in
a fishmonger's stand. Poor Delia was a very beautiful girl, and not
more conceited than a be-rhymed miss ought to be. Many years
afterwards I found the Kelso _belle_, thin and pale, her good looks
gone, and her smart dress neglected, governess to the brats of a
Paisley manufacturer. I ought to say there was not an atom of scandal
in her flirtation with the young military poet. The bard's {p.103}
fate was not much better; after some service in India and elsewhere,
he led a half-pay life about Edinburgh, and died there. There is a
tenuity of thought in what he has written, but his verses are usually
easy, and I like them because they recall my schoolboy days, when I
thought him a Horace, and his Delia a goddess."

CHAPTER IV {p.104}

     Illustrations of the Autobiography Continued. -- Anecdotes
     of Scott's College Life.


On returning to Edinburgh, and entering the College, in November,
1783, Scott found himself once more in the fellowship of all his
intimates of the High School; of whom, besides those mentioned in the
autobiographical fragment, he speaks in his diaries with particular
affection of Sir William Rae, Bart., David Monypenny (afterwards Lord
Pitmilly), Thomas Tod, W. S., Sir Archibald Campbell of Succoth,
Bart., all familiar friends of his through manhood,--and the Earl of
Dalhousie,[57] whom, on meeting with him after a long separation in
the evening of life, he records as still being, and having always
been, "the same manly and generous character that all about him loved
as the _Lordie Ramsay_ of the Yards." The chosen companion, however,
continued to be for some time Mr. John Irving--his suburban walks with
whom have been recollected so tenderly, both in the Memoir of 1808,
and in the Preface to Waverley of 1829. It will interest the reader to
compare with those beautiful descriptions the following extract from a
letter with which Mr. Irving has favored me:--

     "Every Saturday, and more frequently during the vacations, we
     used to retire, with three or four books from the circulating
     library, to Salisbury Crags, Arthur's Seat, or Blackford Hill,
     and read them together. He read {p.105} faster than I, and had,
     on this account, to wait a little at finishing every two pages,
     before turning the leaf. The books we most delighted in were
     romances of knight-errantry; the Castle of Otranto, Spenser,
     Ariosto, and Boiardo were great favorites. We used to climb up
     the rocks in search of places where we might sit sheltered from
     the wind; and the more inaccessible they were, the better we
     liked them. He was very expert at climbing. Sometimes we got into
     places where we found it difficult to move either up or down, and
     I recollect it being proposed, on several occasions, that I
     should go for a ladder to see and extricate him; but I never had
     any need really to do so, for he always managed somehow either to
     get down or ascend to the top. The number of books we thus
     devoured was very great. I forgot great part of what I read; but
     my friend, notwithstanding he read with such rapidity, remained,
     to my surprise, master of it all, and could even weeks or months
     afterwards repeat a whole page in which anything had particularly
     struck him at the moment. After we had continued this practice of
     reading for two years or more together, he proposed that we
     should recite to each other alternately such adventures of
     knight-errants as we could ourselves contrive; and we continued
     to do so a long while. He found no difficulty in it, and used to
     recite for half an hour or more at a time, while I seldom
     continued half that space. The stories we told were, as Sir
     Walter has said, interminable--for we were unwilling to have any
     of our favorite knights killed. Our passion for romance led us to
     learn Italian together; after a time we could both read it with
     fluency, and we then copied such tales as we had met with in that
     language, being a continued succession of battles and
     enchantments. He began early to collect old ballads, and as my
     mother could repeat a great many, he used to come and learn those
     she could recite to him. He used to get all the copies of these
     ballads he could, and select the best."

         [Footnote 57: George, ninth Earl of Dalhousie, highly
         distinguished in the military annals of his time, died on the
         21st March, 1838, in his 68th year.]

These, {p.106} no doubt, were among the germs of the collection of
ballads in six little volumes, which, from the handwriting, had been
begun at this early period, and which is still preserved at
Abbotsford. And it appears that at least as early a date must be
ascribed to another collection of little humorous stories in prose,
the _Penny Chap-books_, as they are called, still in high favor among
the lower classes in Scotland, which stands on the same shelf. In a
letter of 1830[58] he states that he had bound up things of this kind
to the extent of several volumes, before he was ten years old.

         [Footnote 58: See Strang's _Germany in 1831_, vol. i. p.

Although the Ashestiel Memoir mentions so very lightly his boyish
addiction to verse, and the rebuke which his vein received from the
apothecary's blue-buskined wife as having been followed by similar
treatment on the part of others, I am inclined to believe that while
thus devouring, along with his young friend, the stories of Italian
romance, he essayed, from time to time, to weave some of their
materials into rhyme;--nay, that he must have made at least one rather
serious effort of this kind, as early as the date of these rambles to
the Salisbury Crags. I have found among his mother's papers a copy of
verses, headed, "_Lines to Mr. Walter Scott--on reading his poem of
Guiscard and Matilda, inscribed to Miss Keith of Ravelston_." There is
no date; but I conceive the lines bear internal evidence of having
been written when he was very young--not, I should suppose, above
fourteen or fifteen at most. I think it also certain that the writer
was a woman; and have almost as little doubt that they came from the
pen of his old admirer, Mrs. Cockburn. They are as follows:--

         "If such the accents of thy early youth
          When playful fancy holds the place of truth;
          If so divinely sweet thy numbers flow,
          And thy young heart melts with such tender woe;
          What {p.107} praise, what admiration shall be thine,
          When sense mature with science shall combine
          To raise thy genius, and thy taste refine!

         "Go on, dear youth, the glorious path pursue
          Which bounteous Nature kindly smooths for you;
          Go, bid the seeds her hand hath sown arise,
          By timely culture, to their native skies;
          Go, and employ the poet's heavenly art,
          Not merely to delight, but mend the heart.
          Than other poets happier mayst thou prove,
          More blest in friendship, fortunate in love,
          Whilst Fame, who longs to make true merit known,
          Impatient waits, to claim, thee as her own.

         "Scorning the yoke of prejudice and pride,
          Thy tender mind let truth and reason guide;
          Let meek humility thy steps attend,
          And firm integrity, youth's surest friend.
          So peace and honor all thy hours shall bless,
          And conscious rectitude each joy increase;
          A nobler meed be thine than empty praise--
          Heaven shall approve thy life, and Keith thy lays."[59]

         [Footnote 59: [Miss Fleming, in her contribution to Dr. John
         Brown's memorial of her sister Marjorie, says that these
         verses were written by her aunt, Mrs. Keir, after meeting the
         boy poet at Ravelston. Another aunt was the wife of Scott's
         kinsman, Mr. William Keith of Corstorphine Hill, and it was
         at her house, 1, North Charlotte Street, that Sir Walter came
         to know familiarly her delightful little niece, during her
         long visits to Edinburgh. These ladies and Mrs. Fleming were
         the daughters of Dr. James Rae.--See _Marjorie Fleming_.]]

At the period to which I refer these verses, Scott's parents still
continued to have some expectations of curing his lameness, and Mr.
Irving remembers to have often assisted in applying the electrical
apparatus, on which for a considerable time they principally rested
their hopes. There is an allusion to these experiments in Scott's
autobiographical fragment, but I have found a fuller notice on the
margin of his copy of the Guide to Health, Beauty, Riches, and
Longevity, as Captain Grose chose to entitle an amusing collection of
quack advertisements.

"The celebrated Dr. Graham," says the annotator, "was an empiric of
some genius and great assurance. In fact, {p.108} he had a dash of
madness in his composition. He had a fine electrical apparatus, and
used it with skill. I myself, amongst others, was subjected to a
course of electricity under his charge. I remember seeing the old Earl
of Hopetoun seated in a large armchair, and hung round with a collar,
and a belt of magnets, like an Indian chief. After this, growing quite
wild, Graham set up his _Temple of Health_, and lectured on _the
Celestial Bed_. He attempted a course of these lectures at Edinburgh,
and as the Magistrates refused to let him do so, he libelled them in a
series of advertisements, the flights of which were infinitely more
absurd and exalted than those which Grose has collected. In one tirade
(long in my possession), he declared that 'he looked down upon them'
(the Magistrates) 'as the sun in his meridian glory looks down on the
poor, feeble, stinking glimmer of an expiring farthing candle, or as
G--himself, in the plenitude of his omnipotence, may regard the
insolent bouncings of a few refractory maggots in a rotten cheese.'
Graham was a good-looking man; he used to come to the Greyfriars'
Church in a suit of white and silver, with a chapeau-bras, and his
hair marvellously dressed into a sort of double toupee, which divided
upon his head like the two tops of Parnassus. Mrs. Macaulay, the
historianess, married his brother. Lady Hamilton is said to have first
enacted his Goddess of Health, being at this time a _fille de joie_ of
great celebrity.[60] The Temple of Health dwindled into a sort of
obscene _hell_, or gambling house. In a quarrel which took place
there, a poor young man was run into the bowels with a red-hot poker,
of which injury he died. The mob vented their fury on the house, and
the Magistrates, somewhat of the latest, shut up the exhibition. A
quantity of glass and crystal trumpery, the remains of the splendid
apparatus, was sold on the South Bridge for next to nothing. Graham's
next {p.109} receipt was the _earth-bath_, with which he wrought
some cures; but that also failing, he was, I believe, literally
starved to death."

         [Footnote 60: Lord Nelson's connection with this lady will
         preserve her celebrity. In Kay's _Edinburgh Portraits_ the
         reader will find more about Dr. Graham.]

Graham's earth-bath, too, was, I understand, tried upon Scott, but his
was not one of the cases, if any such there were, in which it worked a
cure. He, however, improved about this time greatly in his general
health and strength, and Mr. Irving, in accordance with the statement
in the Memoir, assures me that while attending the early classes at
the College the young friends extended their walks, so as to visit in
succession all the old castles within eight or ten miles of Edinburgh.
"Sir Walter," he says, "was specially fond of Rosslyn. We frequently
walked thither before breakfast--after breakfasting there, walked all
down the river side to Lasswade--and thence home to town before
dinner. He used generally to rest one hand upon my shoulder when we
walked together, and leaned with the other on a stout stick."

The love of picturesque scenery, and especially of feudal castles,
with which the vicinity of Edinburgh is plentifully garnished, awoke,
as the Memoir tells us, the desire of being able to use the pencil.
Mr. Irving says--"I attended one summer a class of drawing along with
him, but although both fond of it, we found it took up so much time
that we gave this up before we had made much progress." In one of his
later diaries, Scott himself gives the following more particular
account of this matter:--

"I took lessons of oil-painting in youth from a little Jew
animalcule--a smouch called Burrell--a clever, sensible creature
though. But I could make no progress either in painting or drawing.
Nature denied me the correctness of eye and neatness of hand. Yet I
was very desirous to be a draughtsman at least--and labored harder to
attain that point than at any other in my recollection to which I did
not make some approaches. Burrell was {p.110} not useless to me
altogether neither. He was a Prussian, and I got from him many a long
story of the battles of Frederick, in whose armies his father had been
a commissary, or perhaps a spy. I remember his picturesque account of
seeing a party of the _black hussars_ bringing in some forage carts
which they had taken from a body of the Cossacks, whom he described as
lying on the top of the carts of hay mortally wounded, and, like the
dying gladiator, eyeing their own blood as it ran down through the

A year or two later Scott renewed his attempt. "I afterwards," he
says, "took lessons from Walker, whom we used to call _Blue Beard_. He
was one of the most conceited persons in the world, but a good
teacher; one of the ugliest countenances he had that need be
exhibited--enough, as we say, to _spean weans_. The man was always
extremely precise in the quality of everything about him; his dress,
accommodations, and everything else. He became insolvent, poor man,
and, for some reason or other, I attended the meeting of those
concerned in his affairs. Instead of ordinary accommodations for
writing, each of the persons present was equipped with a large sheet
of drawing-paper and a swan's quill. It was mournfully ridiculous
enough. Skirving made an admirable likeness of Walker; not a single
scar or mark of the small-pox, which seamed his countenance, but the
too accurate brother of the brush had faithfully laid it down in
longitude and latitude. Poor Walker destroyed it (being in crayons)
rather than let the caricature of his ugliness appear at the sale of
his effects. I did learn myself to take some vile views from nature.
When Will Clerk and I lived very much together, I used sometimes to
make them under his instruction. He to whom, as to all his family, art
is a familiar attribute, wondered at me as a Newfoundland dog would at
a greyhound which showed fear of the water."[61]

         [Footnote 61: [See _Journal_, vol. i. pp. 137-139.]]

Notwithstanding {p.111} all that Scott says about the total failure
of his attempts in the art of the pencil, I presume few will doubt
that they proved very useful to him afterwards; from them it is
natural to suppose he caught the habit of analyzing, with some
approach at least to accuracy, the scenes over which his eye might
have continued to wander with the vague sense of delight. I may add
that a longer and more successful practice of the crayon might, I
cannot but think, have proved the reverse of serviceable to him as a
future painter with the pen. He might have contracted the habit of
copying from pictures rather than from nature itself; and we should
thus have lost that which constitutes the very highest charm in his
delineations of scenery, namely, that the effect is produced by the
selection of a few striking features, arranged with a light,
unconscious grace, neither too much nor too little--equally remote
from the barren generalizations of a former age, and the dull, servile
fidelity with which so many inferior writers of our time fill in both
background and foreground, having no more notion of the perspective of
genius than Chinese paper-stainers have of that of the atmosphere, and
producing in fact not descriptions but inventories.

The illness which he alludes to in his Memoir, as interrupting for a
considerable period his attendance on the Latin and Greek classes in
Edinburgh College, is spoken of more largely in one of his
prefaces.[62] It arose from the bursting of a blood-vessel in the
lower bowels; and I have heard him say that his uncle, Dr. Rutherford,
considered his recovery from it as little less than miraculous. His
sweet temper and calm courage were no doubt important elements of
safety. He submitted without a murmur to the severe discipline
prescribed by his affectionate physician, and found consolation in
poetry, romance, and the enthusiasm of young friendship. Day after day
John Irving relieved his mother and sister in their {p.112}
attendance upon him. The bed on which he lay was piled with a constant
succession of works of imagination, and sad realities were forgotten
amidst the brilliant day-dreams of genius drinking unwearied from the
eternal fountains of Spenser and Shakespeare. Chess was recommended as
a relief to these unintermitted, though desultory studies; and he
engaged eagerly in the game which had found favor with so many of his
Paladins. Mr. Irving remembers playing it with him hour after hour, in
very cold weather, when, the windows being kept open as a part of the
medical treatment, nothing but youthful nerves and spirit could have
persevered. But Scott did not pursue the science of chess after his
boyhood. He used to say that it was a shame to throw away upon
mastering a mere game, however ingenious, the time which would suffice
for the acquisition of a new language. "Surely," he said,
"chess-playing is a sad waste of brains."

         [Footnote 62: See Preface to _Waverley_, 1829.]

His recovery was completed by another visit to Roxburghshire. Captain
Robert Scott, who had been so kind to the sickly infant at Bath,
finally retired about this time from his profession, and purchased the
elegant villa of Rosebank, on the Tweed, a little below Kelso. Here
Walter now took up his quarters, and here, during all the rest of his
youth, he found, whenever he chose, a second home, in many respects
more agreeable than his own. His uncle, as letters to be subsequently
quoted will show, had nothing of his father's coldness for polite
letters, but entered into all his favorite pursuits with keen
sympathy, and was consulted, from this time forth, upon all his
juvenile essays, both in prose and verse.

He does not seem to have resumed attendance at College during the
session of 1785-86; so that the Latin and Greek classes, with that of
Logic, were the only ones he had passed through previous to the
signing of his indentures as an apprentice to his father. The Memoir
mentions the ethical course of Dugald Stewart, as if he had {p.113}
gone immediately from the logical professor (Mr. Bruce) to that
eminent lecturer; but he, in fact, attended Mr. Stewart four years
afterwards, when beginning to consider himself as finally destined for
the Bar.

I shall only add to what he sets down on the subject of his early
academical studies, that in this, as in almost every case, he appears
to have underrated his own attainments. He had, indeed, no pretensions
to the name of an extensive, far less of an accurate, Latin scholar;
but he could read, I believe, any Latin author, of any age, so as to
catch without difficulty his meaning; and although his favorite Latin
poet, as well as historian, in later days, was Buchanan, he had
preserved, or subsequently acquired, a strong relish for some others
of more ancient date. I may mention, in particular, Lucan and
Claudian. Of Greek, he does not exaggerate in saying that he had
forgotten even the alphabet; for he was puzzled with the words [Greek:
aoidos] and [Greek: poiêtês], which he had occasion to introduce, from
some authority on his table, into his Introduction to Popular Poetry,
written in April, 1830; and happening to be in the house with him at
the time, he sent for me to insert them for him in his MS. Mr. Irving
has informed us of the early period at which he enjoyed the real Tasso
and Ariosto. I presume he had at least as soon as this enabled himself
to read Gil Blas in the original; and, in all probability, we may
refer to the same time of his life, or one not much later, his
acquisition of as much Spanish as served for the Guerras Civiles de
Granada, Lazarillo de Tormes, and, above all, Don Quixote. He read all
these languages in after-life with about the same facility. I never
but once heard him attempt to speak any of them, and that was when
some of the courtiers of Charles X. came to Abbotsford, soon after
that unfortunate prince took up his residence for the second time at
Holyrood-house. Finding that one or two of these gentlemen could speak
no English at all, he made some efforts to amuse them in their own
language after {p.114} the champagne had been passing briskly round
the table; and I was amused next morning with the expression of one of
the party, who, alluding to the sort of reading in which Sir Walter
seemed to have chiefly occupied himself, said, "Mon Dieu! comme il
estropiait, entre deux vins, le Français du bon sire de Joinville!" Of
all these tongues, as of German somewhat later, he acquired as much as
was needful for his own purposes, of which a critical study of any
foreign language made at no time any part. In them he sought for
incidents, and he found images; but for the treasures of diction he
was content to dig on British soil. He had all he wanted in the old
wells of "English undefiled," and the still living, though fast
shrinking, waters of that sister idiom which had not always, as he
flattered himself, deserved the name of a dialect.

As may be said, I believe, with perfect truth of every really great
man, Scott was self-educated in every branch of knowledge which he
ever turned to account in the works of his genius--and he has himself
told us that his real studies were those lonely and desultory ones of
which he has given a copy in the third chapter of Waverley, where the
hero is represented as "driving through the sea of books, like a
vessel without pilot or rudder;" that is to say, obeying nothing but
the strong breath of native inclination:--"He had read, and stored in
a memory of uncommon tenacity, much curious, though ill-arranged and
miscellaneous information. In English literature, he was master of
Shakespeare and Milton, of our earlier dramatic authors, of many
picturesque and interesting passages from our old historical
chronicles, and was particularly well acquainted with Spenser,
Drayton, and other poets, who have exercised themselves on romantic
fiction,--_of all themes the most fascinating to a youthful
imagination, before the passions have roused themselves, and demand
poetry of a more sentimental description_." I need not repeat his
enumeration of other favorites, Pulci, the {p.115} Decameron,
Froissart, Brantôme, Delanoue, and the chivalrous and romantic lore of
Spain. I have quoted a passage so well known, only for the sake of the
striking circumstance by which it marks the very early date of these
multifarious studies.

CHAPTER V {p.116}

     Illustrations Continued. -- Scott's Apprenticeship to his
     Father. --Excursions to the Highlands, etc. -- Debating
     Societies. -- Early Correspondence, etc. -- Williamina


In the Minute-books of the Society of Writers to the Signet appears
the following entry: "Edinburgh, 15th May, 1786. Compeared Walter
Scott, and presented an indenture, dated 31st March last, entered into
between him and Walter Scott, his son, for five years from the date
thereof, under a mutual penalty of £40 sterling."

An inauspicious step this might at first sight appear in the early
history of one so strongly predisposed for pursuits wide as the
antipodes asunder from the dry technicalities of conveyancing; but he
himself, I believe, was never heard, in his mature age, to express any
regret that it should have been taken; and I am convinced for my part
that it was a fortunate one. It prevented him, indeed, from passing
with the usual regularity through a long course of Scotch metaphysics;
but I extremely doubt whether any discipline could ever have led him
to derive either pleasure or profit from studies of that order. His
apprenticeship left him time enough, as we shall find, for continuing
his application to the stores of poetry and romance, and those old
chroniclers, who to the end were his darling historians. Indeed, if he
had wanted any new stimulus, the necessity of devoting certain hours
of every day to a routine of drudgery, however it might have operated
on a spirit more prone to earth, must have tended {p.117} to quicken
his appetite for "the sweet bread eaten in secret." But the duties
which he had now to fulfil were, in various ways, directly and
positively beneficial to the development both of his genius and his
character. It was in the discharge of his functions as a Writer's
Apprentice that he first penetrated into the Highlands, and formed
those friendships among the surviving heroes of 1745, which laid the
foundation for one great class of his works. Even the less attractive
parts of his new vocation were calculated to give him a more complete
insight into the smaller workings of poor human nature than can ever
perhaps be gathered from the experience of the legal profession in its
higher walk;--the etiquette of the bar in Scotland, as in England,
being averse to personal intercourse between the advocate and his
client. But finally, and I will say chiefly, it was to this prosaic
discipline that he owed those habits of steady, sober diligence, which
few imaginative authors had ever before exemplified--and which, unless
thus beaten into his composition at a ductile stage, even he, in all
probability, could never have carried into the almost professional
exercise of some of the highest and most delicate faculties of the
human mind. He speaks, in not the least remarkable passage of the
preceding Memoir, as if constitutional indolence had been his portion
in common with all the members of his father's family. When Gifford,
in a dispute with Jacob Bryant, quoted Doctor Johnson's own confession
that he knew little Greek, Bryant answered, "Yes, young man; but how
shall we know what Johnson would have called much Greek?" and Gifford
has recorded the deep impression which this hint left on his own mind.
What Scott would have called constitutional diligence, I know not; but
surely, if indolence of any kind had been inherent in his nature, even
the triumph of Socrates was not more signal than his.

It will be, by some of my friends, considered as trivial to remark on
such a circumstance--but the reader who is {p.118} unacquainted with
the professional habits of the Scotch lawyers may as well be told that
the Writer's Apprentice receives a certain allowance in money for
every page he transcribes; and that, as in those days the greater part
of the business, even of the supreme courts, was carried on by means
of written papers, a ready penman, in a well-employed chamber, could
earn in this way enough, at all events, to make a handsome addition to
the pocket-money which was likely to be thought suitable for a youth
of fifteen by such a man as the elder Scott. The allowance being, I
believe, threepence for every page containing a certain fixed number
of words, when Walter had finished, as he tells us he occasionally
did, 120 pages within twenty-four hours, his fee would amount to
thirty shillings; and in his early letters I find him more than once
congratulating himself on having been, by some such exertion, enabled
to purchase a book, or a coin, otherwise beyond his reach. A
schoolfellow, who was now, like himself, a Writer's Apprentice,
recollects the eagerness with which he thus made himself master of
Evans's Ballads, shortly after their publication; and another of them,
already often referred to, remembers, in particular, his rapture with
Mickle's Cumnor Hall, which first appeared in that collection. "After
the labors of the day were over," says Mr. Irving, "we often walked in
_the Meadows_"--(a large field intersected by formal alleys of old
trees, adjoining George's Square)--"especially in the moonlight
nights; and he seemed never weary of repeating the first stanza--

         'The dews of summer night did fall--
            The Moon, sweet regent of the sky,
          Silvered the walls of Cumnor Hall,
            And many an oak that grew thereby.'"

I have thought it worth while to preserve these reminiscences of his
companions at the time, though he has himself stated the circumstance
in his Preface to Kenilworth. "There is a period in youth," he there
says, "when {p.119} the mere power of numbers has a more strong
effect on ear and imagination than in after-life. At this season of
immature taste, the author was greatly delighted with the poems of
Mickle and Langhorne. The first stanza of Cumnor Hall especially had a
peculiar enchantment for his youthful ear--the force of which is not
yet (1829) entirely spent." Thus that favorite elegy, after having
dwelt on his memory and imagination for forty years, suggested the
subject of one of his noblest romances.

It is affirmed by a preceding biographer, on the authority of one of
these brother-apprentices, that about this period Scott showed him a
MS. poem on the Conquest of Granada, in four books, each amounting to
about 400 lines, which, soon after it was finished, he committed to
the flames.[63] As he states in his Essay on the Imitation of Popular
Poetry, that, for ten years previous to 1796, when his first
translation from the German was executed, he had written no verses
"except an occasional sonnet to his mistress's eyebrow," I presume
this Conquest of Granada, the fruit of his study of the Guerras
Civiles, must be assigned to the summer of 1786--or, making allowance
for trivial inaccuracy, to the next year at latest. It was probably
composed in imitation of Mickle's Lusiad:--at all events, we have a
very distinct statement, that he made no attempts in the manner of the
old minstrels, early as his admiration for them had been, until the
period of his acquaintance with Bürger. Thus with him, as with most
others, genius had hazarded many a random effort ere it discovered the
true keynote. Long had

         "Amid the strings his fingers stray'd,
          And an uncertain warbling made,"

before "the measure wild" was caught, and

         "In varying cadence, soft or strong,
          He swept the sounding chords along."

         [Footnote 63: _Life of Scott_, by Mr. Allan, p. 53.]

His {p.120} youthful admiration of Langhorne has been rendered
memorable by his own record of his first and only interview with his
great predecessor, Robert Burns. Although the letter in which he
narrates this incident, addressed to myself in 1827, when I was
writing a short biography of that poet, has been often reprinted, it
is too important for my present purpose to be omitted here.

"As for Burns," he writes, "I may truly say, _Virgilium vidi tantum_.
I was a lad of fifteen in 1786-87, when he came first to Edinburgh,
but had sense and feeling enough to be much interested in his poetry,
and would have given the world to know him; but I had very little
acquaintance with any literary people, and still less with the gentry
of the west country, the two sets that he most frequented. Mr. Thomas
Grierson was at that time a clerk of my father's. He knew Burns, and
promised to ask him to his lodgings to dinner, but had no opportunity
to keep his word, otherwise I might have seen more of this
distinguished man. As it was, I saw him one day at the late venerable
Professor Ferguson's, where there were several gentlemen of literary
reputation, among whom I remember the celebrated Mr. Dugald Stewart.
Of course we youngsters sat silent, looked, and listened. The only
thing I remember which was remarkable in Burns's manner was the effect
produced upon him by a print of Bunbury's, representing a soldier
lying dead on the snow, his dog sitting in misery on the one side, on
the other his widow, with a child in her arms. These lines were
written beneath,--

         'Cold on Canadian hills, or Minden's plain,
          Perhaps that parent wept her soldier slain;
          Bent o'er her babe, her eye dissolved in dew,
          The big drops, mingling with the milk he drew,
          Gave the sad presage of his future years,
          The child of misery baptized in tears.'

Burns seemed much affected by the print, or rather the ideas which it
suggested to his mind. He actually shed tears. He asked whose the
lines were, and it chanced that {p.121} nobody but myself remembered
that they occur in a half-forgotten poem of Langhorne's, called by the
unpromising title of The Justice of the Peace. I whispered my
information to a friend present, who mentioned it to Burns, who
rewarded me with a look and a word, which, though of mere civility, I
then received, and still recollect, with very great pleasure.

"His person was strong and robust: his manners rustic, not clownish; a
sort of dignified plainness and simplicity, which received part of its
effect perhaps from one's knowledge of his extraordinary talents. His
features are represented in Mr. Nasmyth's picture, but to me it
conveys the idea that they are diminished as if seen in perspective. I
think his countenance was more massive than it looks in any of the
portraits. I would have taken the poet, had I not known what he was,
for a very sagacious country farmer of the old Scotch school--_i. e._,
none of your modern agriculturists, who keep laborers for their
drudgery, but the _douce gudeman_ who held his own plough. There was a
strong expression of sense and shrewdness in all his lineaments; the
eye alone, I think, indicated the poetical character and temperament.
It was large, and of a dark cast, and glowed (I say literally
_glowed_) when he spoke with feeling or interest. I never saw such
another eye in a human head, though I have seen the most distinguished
men in my time. His conversation expressed perfect self-confidence,
without the slightest presumption. Among the men who were the most
learned of their time and country he expressed himself with perfect
firmness, but without the least intrusive forwardness; and when he
differed in opinion, he did not hesitate to express it firmly, yet at
the same time with modesty. I do not remember any part of his
conversation distinctly enough to be quoted, nor did I ever see him
again, except in the street, where he did not recognize me, as I could
not expect he should. He was much caressed in Edinburgh, but
(considering what literary emoluments {p.122} have been since his
day) the efforts made for his relief were extremely trifling.

"I remember on this occasion I mention, I thought Burns's acquaintance
with English poetry was rather limited, and also, that having twenty
times the abilities of Allan Ramsay and of Fergusson, he talked of
them with too much humility as his models; there was doubtless
national predilection in his estimate."

I need not remark on the extent of knowledge and justness of taste
exemplified in this early measurement of Burns, both as a student of
English literature and as a Scottish poet. The print, over which Scott
saw Burns shed tears, is still in the possession of Dr. Ferguson's
family, and I had often heard him tell the story, in the room where
the precious relic hangs, before I requested him to set it down in
writing--how little anticipating the use to which I should ultimately
apply it![64]

         [Footnote 64: ["Long life to thy fame and peace to thy soul,
         Rob Burns! When I want to express a sentiment which I feel
         strongly, I find the phrase in Shakespeare--or
         thee."--_Journal_, December 11, 1826.]]

His intimacy with Adam (now Sir Adam) Ferguson was thus his first
means of introduction to the higher literary society of Edinburgh; and
it was very probably to that connection that he owed, among the rest,
his acquaintance with the blind poet Blacklock, whom Johnson, twelve
years earlier, "beheld with reverence." We have seen, however, that
the venerable author of Douglas was a friend of his own parents, and
had noticed him even in his infancy at Bath. John Home now inhabited a
villa at no great distance from Edinburgh, and there, all through his
young days, Scott was a frequent guest. Nor must it be forgotten that
his uncle, Dr. Rutherford, inherited much of the general
accomplishments, as well as the professional reputation of his
father--and that it was beneath that roof he saw, several years before
this, Dr. Cartwright, then in the enjoyment of some fame as a poet. In
this family, indeed, he had more than one kind {p.123} and strenuous
encourager of his early literary tastes, as will be shown abundantly
when we reach certain relics of his correspondence with his mother's
sister. Dr. Rutherford's good-natured remonstrances with him, as a
boy, for reading at breakfast, are well remembered, and will remind my
reader of a similar trait in the juvenile manners both of Burns and
Byron; nor was this habit entirely laid aside even in Scott's advanced

If he is quite accurate in referring his first acquaintance with the
Highlands to his fifteenth year, this incident also belongs to the
first season of his apprenticeship. His father had, among a rather
numerous list of Highland clients, Alexander Stewart of Invernahyle,
an enthusiastic Jacobite, who had survived to recount, in secure and
vigorous old age, his active experiences in the insurrections both of
1715 and 1745. He had, it appears, attracted Walter's attention and
admiration at a very early date; for he speaks of having "seen him in
arms" and heard him "exult in the prospect of drawing his claymore
once more before he died," when Paul Jones threatened a descent on
Edinburgh; which transaction occurred in September, 1779. Invernahyle,
as Scott adds, was the only person who seemed to have retained
possession of his cool senses at the period of that disgraceful alarm,
and offered the magistrates to collect as many Highlanders as would
suffice for cutting off any part of the pirate's crew that might
venture, in quest of plunder, into a city full of high houses and
narrow lanes, and every way well calculated for defence. The eager
delight with which the young apprentice now listened to the tales of
this fine old man's early days produced an invitation to his residence
among the mountains; and to this excursion he probably devoted the few
weeks of an autumnal vacation--whether in 1786 or 1787 it is of no
great consequence to ascertain.

In the Introduction to one of his Novels he has preserved a vivid
picture of his sensations when the vale of Perth {p.124} first burst
on his view, in the course of his progress to Invernahyle, and the
description has made classical ground of the _Wicks of Baiglie_, the
spot from which that beautiful landscape was surveyed. "Childish
wonder, indeed," he says, "was an ingredient in my delight, for I was
not above fifteen years old, and as this had been the first excursion
which I was permitted to make on a pony of my own, I also experienced
the glow of independence, mingled with that degree of anxiety which
the most conceited boy feels when he is first abandoned to his own
undirected counsels. I recollect pulling up the reins without meaning
to do so, and gazing on the scene before me as if I had been afraid it
would shift, like those in a theatre, before I could distinctly
observe its different parts, or convince myself that what I saw was
real. Since that hour the recollection of that inimitable landscape
has possessed the strongest influence over my mind, and retained its
place as a memorable thing, while much that was influential on my own
fortunes has fled from my recollection." So speaks the poet; and who
will not recognize his habitual modesty in thus undervaluing, as
uninfluential in comparison with some affair of worldly business, the
ineffaceable impression thus stamped on the glowing imagination of his

I need not quote the numerous passages scattered over his writings,
both early and late, in which he dwells with, fond affection on the
chivalrous character of Invernahyle--the delight with which he heard
the veteran describe his broadsword duel with Rob Roy--his campaigns
with Mar and Charles Edward--and his long seclusion (as pictured in
the story of Bradwardine) within a rocky cave situated not far from
his own house, while it was garrisoned by a party of English soldiers,
after the battle of Culloden. Here, too, still survived the trusty
henchman who had attended the chieftain in many a bloody field and
perilous escape, the same "grim-looking old Highlander" who was in the
act of cutting down Colonel Whitefoord {p.125} with his Lochaber axe
at Prestonpans when his master arrested the blow--an incident to which
Invernahyle owed his life, and we are indebted for another of the most
striking pages in Waverley.

I have often heard Scott mention some curious particulars of his first
visit to the remote fastness of one of these Highland friends; but
whether he told the story of Invernahyle, or of one of his own
relations of the Clan Campbell, I do not recollect; I rather think the
latter was the case. On reaching the brow of a bleak eminence
overhanging the primitive tower and its tiny patch of cultivated
ground, he found his host and three sons, and perhaps half-a-dozen
attendant _gillies_, all stretched half asleep in their tartans upon
the heath, with guns and dogs, and a profusion of game about them;
while in the courtyard, far below, appeared a company of women
actively engaged in loading a cart with manure. The stranger was not a
little astonished when he discovered, on descending from the height,
that among these industrious females were the laird's own lady, and
two or three of her daughters; but they seemed quite unconscious of
having been detected in an occupation unsuitable to their
rank--retired presently to their "bowers," and when they reappeared in
other dresses, retained no traces of their morning's work, except
complexions glowing with a radiant freshness, for one evening of which
many a high-bred beauty would have bartered half her diamonds. He
found the young ladies not ill informed, and exceedingly agreeable;
and the song and the dance seemed to form the invariable termination
of their busy days. I must not forget his admiration at the principal
article of this laird's first course; namely, a gigantic _haggis_,
borne into the hall in a wicker basket by two half-naked Celts, while
the piper strutted fiercely behind them, blowing a tempest of

These Highland visits were repeated almost every summer for several
successive years, and perhaps even the {p.126} first of them was in
some degree connected with his professional business. At all events,
it was to his allotted task of enforcing the execution of a legal
instrument against some Maclarens, refractory tenants of Stewart of
Appin, brother-in-law to Invernahyle, that Scott owed his introduction
to the scenery of The Lady of the Lake. "An escort of a sergeant and
six men," he says, "was obtained from a Highland regiment lying in
Stirling, and the author, then a Writer's Apprentice, equivalent to
the honorable situation of an attorney's clerk, was invested with the
superintendence of the expedition, with directions to see that the
messenger discharged his duty fully, and that the gallant sergeant did
not exceed his part by committing violence or plunder. And thus it
happened, oddly enough, that the author first entered the romantic
scenery of Loch Katrine, of which he may perhaps say he has somewhat
extended the reputation, riding in all the dignity of danger, with a
front and rear guard, and loaded arms. The sergeant was absolutely a
Highland Sergeant Kite, full of stories of Rob Roy and of himself, and
a very good companion. We experienced no interruption whatever, and
when we came to Invernenty, found the house deserted. We took up our
quarters for the night, and used some of the victuals which we found
there. The Maclarens, who probably had never thought of any serious
opposition, went to America, where, having had some slight share in
removing them from their _paupera regna_, I sincerely hope they

         [Footnote 65: Introduction to _Rob Roy_.]

That he entered with ready zeal into such professional business as
inferred Highland expeditions with comrades who had known Rob Roy, no
one will think strange; but more than one of his biographers allege
that in the ordinary indoor fagging of the chamber in George's Square,
he was always an unwilling, and rarely an efficient assistant. Their
addition, that he often played chess with one of his companions in the
office, and had to conceal the {p.127} board with precipitation when
the old gentleman's footsteps were heard on the staircase, is, I do
not doubt, true; and we may remember along with it his own insinuation
that his father was sometimes poring in his secret nook over
Spottiswoode or Wodrow, when his apprentices supposed him to be deep
in Dirleton's Doubts, or Stair's decisions. But the Memoir of 1808, so
candid--indeed more than candid--as to many juvenile irregularities,
contains no confession that supports the broad assertion to which I
have alluded; nor can I easily believe, that with his affection for
his father, and that sense of duty which seems to have been inherent
in his character, and, lastly, with the evidence of a most severe
training in industry which the habits of his after-life presented, it
is at all deserving of serious acceptation. His mere handwriting,
indeed, continued, during the whole of his prime, to afford most
striking and irresistible proof how completely he must have submitted
himself for some very considerable period to the mechanical discipline
of his father's office. It spoke to months after months of this humble
toil, as distinctly as the illegible scrawl of Lord Byron did to his
self-mastership from the hour that he left Harrow. There are some
little technical tricks, such as no gentleman who has not been
subjected to a similar regimen ever can fall into, which he practised
invariably while composing his poetry, which appear not unfrequently
on the MSS. of his best novels, and which now and then dropt
instinctively from his pen, even in the private letters and diaries of
his closing years. I allude particularly to a sort of flourish at the
bottom of the page, originally, I presume, adopted in engrossing as a
safeguard against the intrusion of a forged line between the
legitimate text and the attesting signature. He was quite sensible
that this ornament might as well be dispensed with; and his family
often heard him mutter, after involuntarily performing it, "There goes
the old shop again!"

I {p.128} dwell on this matter because it was always his favorite
tenet, in contradiction to what he called the cant of sonneteers, that
there is no necessary connection between genius and an aversion or
contempt for any of the common duties of life; he thought, on the
contrary, that to spend some fair portion of every day in any matter
of fact occupation is good for the higher faculties themselves in the
upshot. In a word, from beginning to end, he piqued himself on being
_a man of business_; and did--with one sad and memorable
exception--whatever the ordinary course of things threw in his way, in
exactly the businesslike fashion which might have been expected from
the son of a thoroughbred old Clerk to the Signet, who had never
deserted his father's profession.

In the winter of 1788, however, his apprentice habits were exposed to
a new danger; and from that date I believe them to have undergone a
considerable change. He was then sent to attend the lectures of the
Professor of Civil Law in the University, this course forming part of
the usual professional education of Writers to the Signet, as well as
of Advocates. For some time his companions, when in Edinburgh, had
been chiefly, almost solely, his brother-apprentices and the clerks in
his father's office. He had latterly seen comparatively little even of
the better of his old High School friends, such as Ferguson and
Irving--for though both of these also were writer's apprentices, they
had been indentured to other masters, and each had naturally formed
new intimacies within his own chamber. The Civil Law class brought him
again into daily contact with both Irving and Ferguson, as well as
others of his earlier acquaintance of the higher ranks; but it also
led him into the society of some young gentlemen previously unknown to
him, who had from the outset been destined for the Bar, and whose
conversation, tinctured with certain prejudices natural to scions of
what he calls in Redgauntlet _the Scottish noblesse de la robe_, soon
banished from his mind every {p.129} thought of ultimately adhering
to the secondary branch of the law. He found these future barristers
cultivating general literature, without the least apprehension that
such elegant pursuits could be regarded by any one as interfering with
the proper studies of their professional career; justly believing, on
the contrary, that for the higher class of forensic exertion some
acquaintance with almost every branch of science and letters is a
necessary preparative. He contrasted their liberal aspirations, and
the encouragement which these received in their domestic circles, with
the narrower views which predominated in his own home; and resolved to
gratify his ambition by adopting a most precarious walk in life,
instead of adhering to that in which he might have counted with
perfect security on the early attainment of pecuniary independence.
This resolution appears to have been foreseen by his father, long
before it was announced in terms; and the handsome manner in which the
old gentleman conducted himself upon the occasion is remembered with
dutiful gratitude in the preceding Autobiography.

The most important of these new alliances was the intimate friendship
which he now formed with Mr. John Irving's near relation, William
Clerk of Eldin, of whose powerful talents and extensive
accomplishments we shall hereafter meet with many enthusiastic
notices. It was in company with this gentleman that he entered the
debating societies described in his Memoir; through him he soon became
linked in the closest intimacy with George Cranstoun (now Lord
Corehouse), George Abercromby (now Lord Abercromby), John James
Edmonstone[66] of Newton (whose mother was sister of Sir Ralph
Abercromby), Patrick Murray of Simprim, Sir Patrick Murray of
Ochtertyre, and a group of other young men, all high in birth and
connection, and all remarkable in early life for the qualities which
afterwards led them to eminent station, {p.130} or adorned it. The
introduction to their several families is alluded to by Scott as
having opened to him abundantly certain advantages, which no one could
have been more qualified to improve, but from which he had hitherto
been in great measure debarred in consequence of the retired habits of
his parents.

         [Footnote 66: Mr. Edmonstone died 19th April, 1840.--(1848.)]

Mr. Clerk says that he had been struck from the first day he entered
the Civil Law class-room with something odd and remarkable in Scott's
appearance; what this something was he cannot now recall, but he
remembers telling his companion some time afterwards that he thought
he looked like a _hautboy player_. Scott was amused with this notion,
as he had never touched a musical instrument of any kind; but I fancy
his friend had been watching a certain noticeable but altogether
indescribable play of the upper lip when in an abstracted mood. He
rallied Walter, he says, during one of their first evening walks
together, on the slovenliness of his dress: he wore a pair of corduroy
breeches, much glazed by the rubbing of his staff, which he
immediately flourished--and said, "They be good enough for drinking
in--let us go and have some oysters in the Covenant Close."

Convivial habits were then indulged among the young men of Edinburgh,
whether students of law, solicitors, or barristers, to an extent now
happily unknown; and this anecdote recalls some striking hints on that
subject which occur in Scott's brief Autobiography. That he partook
profusely in the juvenile bacchanalia of that day, and continued to
take a plentiful share in such jollities down to the time of his
marriage, are facts worthy of being distinctly stated; for no man in
mature life was more habitually averse to every sort of intemperance.
He could, when I first knew him, swallow a great quantity of wine
without being at all visibly disordered by it; but nothing short of
some very particular occasion could ever induce him to put this
strength of head to a trial; and {p.131} I have heard him many times
utter words which no one in the days of his youthful temptation can be
the worse for remembering:--"Depend upon it, of all vices, drinking is
the most incompatible with greatness."

The liveliness of his conversation--the strange variety of his
knowledge--and above all, perhaps, the portentous tenacity of his
memory--riveted more and more Clerk's attention, and commanded the
wonder of all his new allies; but of these extraordinary gifts Scott
himself appeared to be little conscious; or at least he impressed them
all as attaching infinitely greater consequence--(exactly as had been
the case with him in the days of the Cowgate Port and the kittle nine
steps)--to feats of personal agility and prowess. William Clerk's
brother, James, a midshipman in the navy, happened to come home from a
cruise in the Mediterranean shortly after this acquaintance began, and
Scott and the sailor became almost at sight "sworn brothers." In order
to complete his time under the late Sir Alexander Cochrane, who was
then on the Leith station, James Clerk obtained the command of a
lugger, and the young friends often made little excursions to sea with
him. "The first time Scott dined on board," says William Clerk, "we
met before embarking at a tavern in Leith--it was a large party,
mostly midshipmen, and strangers to him, and our host introducing his
landsmen guests said, 'My brother you know, gentlemen; as for Mr.
Scott, mayhap you may take him for a poor lamiter, but he is the first
to begin a row, and the last to end it;' which eulogium he confirmed
with some of the expletives of Tom Pipes."[67] When, many years
afterwards, Clerk read The Pirate, he was startled by the resurrection
of a hundred traits of the table-talk of this lugger; but the author
has since traced {p.132} some of the most striking passages in that
novel to his recollection of the almost childish period when he hung
on his own brother Robert's stories about Rodney's battles and the
haunted _keys_ of the West Indies.

         [Footnote 67: "Dinna steer him," says Hobbie Elliot; "ye may
         think Elshie's but a lamiter, but I warrant ye, grippie for
         grippie, he'll gar the blue blood spin frae your nails--his
         hand's like a smith's vice."--_Black Dwarf_, chap. xvii.]

One morning Scott called on Clerk, and, exhibiting his stick all cut
and marked, told him he had been attacked in the streets the night
before by three fellows, against whom he had defended himself for an
hour. "By Shrewsbury clock?" said his friend. "No," said Scott,
smiling, "by the Tron." But thenceforth, adds Mr. Clerk, and for
twenty years after, he called his walking stick by the name of

With these comrades Scott now resumed, and pushed to a much greater
extent, his early habits of wandering over the country in quest of
castles and other remains of antiquity, his passion for which derived
a new impulse from the conversation of the celebrated John Clerk of
Eldin,[68] the father of his friend. William Clerk well remembers his
father telling a story which was introduced in due time in The
Antiquary. While he was visiting his grandfather, Sir John Clerk, at
Dumcrieff, in Dumfriesshire, many years before this time, the old
Baronet carried some English virtuosos to see a supposed Roman camp;
and on his exclaiming at a particular spot, "This I take to have been
the Prætorium," a herdsman who stood by answered, "Prætorium here
Prætorium there, I made it wi' a slaughter spade."[69] Many traits of
the elder Clerk were, his son has no doubt, embroidered on the
character of George Constable in the composition of Jonathan Oldbuck.
The old gentleman's enthusiasm, for antiquities was often played on by
these young friends, but more effectually by his eldest son, John
Clerk (Lord Eldin), who, having a great genius for art, used to amuse
himself with manufacturing mutilated heads, which, after being buried
for a convenient time in the {p.133} ground, were accidentally
discovered in some fortunate hour, and received by the laird with
great honor as valuable accessions to his museum.[70]

         [Footnote 68: Author of the famous Essay on dividing the Line
         in Sea-fights.]

         [Footnote 69: Compare _The Antiquary_, chap. iv.]

         [Footnote 70: The most remarkable of these _antique heads_
         was so highly appreciated by another distinguished
         connoisseur, the late Earl of Buchan, that he carried it off
         from Mr. Clerk's museum, and presented it to the Scottish
         Society of Antiquaries--in whose collection, no doubt, it may
         still be admired.]

On a fishing excursion to a loch near Howgate, among the Moorfoot
Hills, Scott, Clerk, Irving, and Abercromby spent the night at a
little public-house kept by one Mrs. Margaret Dods. When St. Ronan's
Well was published, Clerk, meeting Scott in the street, observed,
"That's an odd name; surely I have met with it somewhere before."
Scott smiled, said, "Don't you remember Howgate?" and passed on. The
name alone, however, was taken from the Howgate hostess.

At one of their drinking bouts of those days William Clerk, Sir P.
Murray, Edmonstone, and Abercromby, being of the party, the sitting
was prolonged to a very late hour, and Scott fell asleep. When he
awoke, his friends succeeded in convincing him that he had sung a song
in the course of the evening, and sung it extremely well. How must
these gentlemen have chuckled when they read Frank Osbaldistone's
account of his revels in the old hall! "It has even been reported by
maligners that I sung a song while under this vinous influence; but as
I remember nothing of it, and never attempted to turn a tune in all my
life, either before or since, I would willingly hope there is no
actual foundation for the calumny."[71]

         [Footnote 71: _Rob Roy_, chap. xii.]

On one of his first long walks with Clerk and others of the same set,
their pace, being about four miles an hour, was found rather too much
for Scott, and he offered to contract for three, which measure was
thenceforth considered as the legal one. At this rate they often
continued to wander from five in the morning till eight in the
{p.134} evening, halting for such refreshment at mid-day as any
village alehouse might afford. On many occasions, however, they had
stretched so far into the country, that they were obliged to be absent
from home all night; and though great was the alarm which the first
occurrence of this sort created in George's Square, the family soon
got accustomed to such things, and little notice was taken, even
though Walter remained away for the better part of a week. I have
heard him laugh heartily over the recollections of one protracted
excursion, towards the close of which the party found themselves a
long day's walk--thirty miles, I think--from Edinburgh, without a
single sixpence left among them. "We were put to our shifts," said he;
"but we asked every now and then at a cottage door for a drink of
water; and one or two of the good-wives, observing our worn-out looks,
brought forth milk in place of water--so with that, and hips and haws,
we came in little the worse." His father met him with some impatient
questions as to what he had been living on so long, for the old man
well knew how scantily his pocket was supplied. "Pretty much like the
young ravens," answered he; "I only wished I had been as good a player
on the flute as poor George Primrose in The Vicar of Wakefield. If I
had his art I should like nothing better than to tramp like him from
cottage to cottage over the world."--"I doubt," said the grave Clerk
to the Signet, "I greatly doubt, sir, you were born for nae better
than a _gangrel scrape gut_." Some allusions to reproaches of this
kind occur in the Memoir; and we shall find others in letters
subsequent to his admission at the Bar.[72]

         [Footnote 72: After the cautious father had had further
         opportunity of observing his son's proceedings, his wife
         happened one night to express some anxiety on the protracted
         absence of Walter and his brother Thomas. "My dear Annie,"
         said the old man, "Tom is with Walter this time; and have you
         not yet perceived that wherever Walter goes, he is pretty
         sure to find his bread buttered on both sides?"--_From Mrs.
         Thomas Scott._--(1839.)]

The debating club formed among these young friends at {p.135} this
era of their studies was called _The Literary Society_; and is not to
be confounded with the more celebrated Speculative Society, which
Scott did not join for two years later. At _The Literary_ he spoke
frequently, and very amusingly and sensibly, but was not at all
numbered among the most brilliant members. He had a world of knowledge
to produce; but he had not acquired the art of arranging it to the
best advantage in a continued address; nor, indeed, did he ever, I
think, except under the influence of strong personal feeling, even
when years and fame had given him full confidence in himself, exhibit
upon any occasion the powers of oral eloquence. His antiquarian
information, however, supplied many an interesting feature in these
evenings of discussion. He had already dabbled in Anglo-Saxon and the
Norse Sagas: in his Essay on Imitations of Popular Poetry, he alludes
to these studies as having facilitated his acquisition of German:--But
he was deep especially in Fordun and Wyntoun, and all the Scotch
chronicles; and his friends rewarded him by the honorable title of
_Duns Scotus_.

A smaller society, formed with less ambitious views, originated in a
ride to Pennycuik, the seat of the head of Mr. Clerk's family, whose
elegant hospitalities are recorded in the Memoir. This was called, by
way of excellence, _The Club_, and I believe it is continued under the
same name to this day. Here, too, Walter had his sobriquet; and--his
corduroy breeches, I presume, not being as yet worn out--it was
_Colonel Grogg_.[73]

         [Footnote 73: "The members of _The Club_ used to meet on
         Friday evenings in a room in Carrubber's Close, from which
         some of them usually adjourned to sup at an oyster tavern in
         the same neighborhood. In after-life, those of them who
         chanced to be in Edinburgh dined together twice every year,
         at the close of the winter and summer sessions of the Law
         Courts; and during thirty years, Sir Walter was very rarely
         absent on these occasions. It was also a rule, that when any
         member received an appointment or promotion, he should give a
         dinner to his old associates; and they had accordingly two
         such dinners from him--one when he became Sheriff of
         Selkirkshire, and another when he was named Clerk of Session.
         The original members were, in number, nineteen--viz., _Sir
         Walter Scott_, Mr. William Clerk, Sir A. Ferguson, Mr. James
         Edmonstone, Mr. George Abercromby (Lord Abercromby), Mr. D.
         Boyle (now Lord Justice-Clerk), Mr. James Glassford
         (Advocate), Mr. James Ferguson (Clerk of Session), Mr. David
         Monypenny (Lord Pitmilly), Mr. Robert Davidson (Professor of
         Law at Glasgow), Sir William Rae, Bart., Sir Patrick Murray,
         Bart., _David Douglas_ (Lord Reston), Mr. Murray of Simprim,
         Mr. Monteith of Closeburn, _Mr. Archibald Miller_ (son of
         Professor Miller), _Baron Reden_, a Hanoverian; the Honorable
         _Thomas Douglas_, afterwards Earl of Selkirk,--and John
         Irving. Except the five whose names are _underlined_, these
         original members are all still alive."--_Letter from Mr.
         Irving_, dated 29th September, 1836.]

Meantime {p.136} he had not broken up his connection with Rosebank;
he appears to have spent several weeks in the autumn, both of 1788 and
1789, under his uncle's roof; and it was, I think, of his journey
thither, in the last named year, that he used to tell an anecdote,
which I shall here set down--how shorn, alas, of all the accessories
that gave it life when he recited it. Calling, before he set out, on
one of the ancient spinsters of his family, to inquire if she had any
message for Kelso, she retired, and presently placed in his hands a
packet of some bulk and weight, which required, she said, very
particular attention. He took it without examining the address, and
carried it in his pocket next day, not at all to the lightening of a
forty miles' ride in August. On his arrival, it turned out to contain
one of the old lady's pattens, sealed up for a particular cobbler in
Kelso, and accompanied with fourpence to pay for mending it, and
special directions that it might be brought back to her by the same
economical conveyance.

It will be seen from the following letter, the earliest of Scott's
writing that has fallen into my hands, that professional business had
some share in this excursion to Kelso; but I consider with more
interest the brief allusion to a day at Sandy-Knowe:--


        (_With a parcel._)

                                        ROSEBANK, 5th September, 1788.

     DEAR MOTHER,--I was favored with your letter, and send you Anne's
     stockings along with this: I would have sent them last week, but
     had some expectations of a private opportunity. I have been very
     happy for this fortnight; we have some plan or other for every
     day. Last week my uncle, my cousin William,[74] and I, rode to
     Smailholm, and from thence walked to Sandy-Knowe Craigs, where we
     spent the whole day, and made a very hearty dinner by the side of
     the Orderlaw Well, on some cold beef and bread and cheese: we had
     also a small case-bottle of rum to make grog with, which we drank
     to the Sandy-Knowe bairns, and all their connections. This jaunt
     gave me much pleasure, and had I time, I would give you a more
     full account of it.

     The fishing has been hitherto but indifferent, and I fear I shall
     not be able to accomplish my promise with regard to the wild
     ducks. I was out on Friday, and only saw three. I may probably,
     however, send you a hare, as my uncle has got a present of two
     greyhounds from Sir H. MacDougall, and as he has a license, only
     waits till the corn is off the ground to commence coursing. Be it
     known to you, however, I am not altogether employed in
     amusements, for I have got two or three clients besides my uncle,
     and am busy drawing tacks and contracts,--not, however, of
     marriage. I am in a fair way of making money, if I stay here

     Here I have written a pretty long letter, and nothing in it; but
     you know writing to one's friends is the next thing to seeing
     them. My love to my father and the boys, from, Dear Mother, your
     dutiful and affectionate son,

                                        WALTER SCOTT.

         [Footnote 74: The present Laird of Raeburn.]

It {p.138} appears from James Ballantyne's _memoranda_, that having
been very early bound apprentice to a solicitor in Kelso, he had no
intercourse with Scott during the three or four years that followed
their companionship at the school of Lancelot Whale; but Ballantyne
was now sent to spend a winter in Edinburgh, for the completion of his
professional education, and in the course of his attendance on the
Scots Law class, became a member of a young Teviotdale club, where
Walter Scott seldom failed to make his appearance. They supped
together, it seems, once a month; and here, as in the associations
above mentioned, good fellowship was often pushed beyond the limits of
modern indulgence. The strict intimacy between Scott and Ballantyne
was not at this time renewed,--their avocations prevented it,--but the
latter was no uninterested observer of his old comrade's bearing on
this new scene. "Upon all these occasions," he says, "one of the
principal features of his character was displayed as conspicuously as
I believe it ever was at any later period. This was the remarkable
ascendency he never failed to exhibit among his young companions, and
which appeared to arise from their involuntary and unconscious
submission to the same firmness of understanding, and gentle exercise
of it, which produced the same effects throughout his after-life.
Where there was always a good deal of drinking, there was of course
now and then a good deal of quarrelling. But three words from Walter
Scott never failed to put all such propensities to quietness."

Mr. Ballantyne's account of his friend's peace-making exertions at
this club may seem a little at variance with some preceding details.
There is a difference, however, between encouraging quarrels in the
bosom of a convivial party, and taking a fair part in a _row_ between
one's own party and another. But Ballantyne adds, that at _The
Teviotdale_, Scott was always remarkable for being the most temperate
of the set; and if the club consisted chiefly {p.139} of persons,
like Ballantyne himself, somewhat inferior to Scott in birth and
station, his carefulness both of sobriety and decorum at their
meetings was but another feature of his unchanged and unchangeable
character--_qualis ab incepto_.

At one of the many merry suppers of this time Walter Scott had said
something, of which, on recollecting himself next morning, he was
sensible that his friend Clerk might have reason to complain. He sent
him accordingly a note apologetical, which has by some accident been
preserved, and which I am sure every reader will agree with me in
considering well worthy of preservation. In it Scott contrives to make
use of _both_ his own club designations, and addresses his friend by
another of the same order, which Clerk had received in consequence of
comparing himself on some forgotten occasion to Sir John Brute in the
play. This characteristic document is as follows:--


     DEAR BARONET,--I am sorry to find that our friend Colonel Grogg
     has behaved with a very undue degree of vehemence in a dispute
     with you last night, occasioned by what I am convinced was a
     gross misconception of your expressions. As the Colonel, though a
     military man, is not too haughty to acknowledge an error, he has
     commissioned me to make his apology as a mutual friend, which I
     am convinced you will accept from yours ever,

                                        DUNS SCOTUS.

     Given at Castle Duns,

I should perhaps have mentioned sooner that when first _Duns Scotus_
became _the Baronet's_ daily companion, this new alliance was observed
with considerable jealousy by some of his former inseparables of the
writing office. At the next annual supper of the clerks and
apprentices, the _gaudy_ of the chamber, this feeling showed itself
{p.140} in various ways, and when the cloth was drawn, Walter rose
and asked what was meant. "Well," said one of the lads, "since you
will have it out, you are _cutting_ your old friends for the sake of
Clerk and some more of these dons that look down on the like of us."
"Gentlemen," answered Scott, "I will never _cut_ any man unless I
detect him in scoundrelism; but I know not what right any of you have
to interfere with my choice of my company. If any one thought I had
injured him, he would have done well to ask an explanation in a more
private manner. As it is, I fairly own, that though I like many of you
very much, and have long done so, I think William Clerk well worth you
all put together." The senior in the chair was wise enough to laugh,
and the evening passed off without further disturbance.

As one effect of his office education, Scott soon began to preserve in
regular files the letters addressed to him; and from the style and
tone of such letters, as Mr. Southey observes in his Life of Cowper, a
man's character may often be gathered even more surely than from those
written by himself. The first series of any considerable extent in his
collection includes letters dated as far back as 1786, and proceeds,
with not many interruptions, down beyond the period when his fame had
been established. I regret, that from the delicate nature of the
transactions chiefly dwelt upon in the earlier of these
communications, I dare not make a free use of them; but I feel it my
duty to record the strong impression they have left on my own mind of
high generosity of affection, coupled with calm judgment, and
perseverance in well-doing, on the part of the stripling Scott. To
these indeed every line in the collection bears pregnant testimony. A
young gentleman, born of good family, and heir to a tolerable fortune,
is sent to Edinburgh College, and is seen partaking, along with Scott,
through several apparently happy and careless years, of the studies
and amusements {p.141} of which the reader may by this time have
formed an adequate notion. By degrees, from the usual license of his
equal comrades, he sinks into habits of a looser description--becomes
reckless, contracts debts, irritates his own family almost beyond hope
of reconciliation, is virtually cast off by them, runs away from
Scotland, forms a marriage far below his condition in a remote part of
the sister kingdom--and, when the poor girl has made him a father,
then first begins to open his eyes to the full consequences of his mad
career. He appeals to Scott, by this time in his eighteenth year, "as
the truest and noblest of friends," who had given him "the earliest
and the strongest warnings," had assisted him "the most generously
throughout all his wanderings and distresses," and will not now
abandon him in his "penitent lowliness of misery," the result of his
seeing "virtue and innocence involved in the punishment of his
errors." I find Scott obtaining the slow and reluctant assistance of
his own careful father--who had long before observed this youth's
wayward disposition, and often cautioned his son against the
connection--to intercede with the unfortunate wanderer's family, and
procure, if possible, some mitigation of their sentence. The result is
that he is furnished with the scanty means of removing himself to a
distant colony, where he spends several years in the drudgery of a
very humble occupation, but by degrees establishes for himself a new
character, which commands the anxious interest of strangers;--and I
find these strangers, particularly a benevolent and venerable
clergyman, addressing, on his behalf, without his privacy, the young
person, as yet unknown to the world, whom the object of their concern
had painted to them as "uniting the warm feelings of youth with the
sense of years"--whose hair he had, "from the day he left England,
worn next his heart." Just at the time when this appeal reached Scott,
he hears that his exiled friend's father has died suddenly, and, after
all, intestate; he has actually been {p.142} taking steps to
ascertain the truth of the case at the moment when the American
despatch is laid on his table. I leave the reader to guess with what
pleasure Scott has to communicate the intelligence that his repentant
and reformed friend may return to take possession of his inheritance.
The letters before me contain touching pictures of their meeting--of
Walter's first visit to the ancient hall, where a happy family are now
assembled--and of the affectionately respectful sense which his friend
retained ever afterwards of all that he had done for him in the season
of his struggles. But what a grievous loss is Scott's part of this
correspondence! I find the comrade over and over again expressing his
admiration of the letters in which Scott described to him his early
tours both in the Highlands and the Border dales: I find him
prophesying from them, as early as 1789, "one day your pen will make
you famous,"--and already, in 1790, urging him to concentrate his
ambition on a "history of the clans."[75]

         [Footnote 75: All Scott's letters to the friend here alluded
         to are said to have perished in an accidental fire.]

This young gentleman appears to have had a decided turn for
literature; and, though in his earlier epistles he makes no allusion
to Scott as ever dabbling in rhyme, he often inserts verses of his
own, some of which are not without merit. There is a long letter in
doggerel, dated 1788, descriptive of a ramble from Edinburgh to
Carlisle--of which I may quote the opening lines, as a sample of the
simple habits of these young people:--

         "At four in the morning, I won't be too sure,
          Yet, if right I remember me, that was the hour,
          When with Fergusson, Ramsay, and Jones, sir, and you,
          From Auld Reekie I southward my route did pursue.
          But two of the dogs (yet God bless them, I said)
          Grew tired, and but set me half way to Lasswade,
          While Jones, you, and I, Wat, went on without flutter,
          And at Symonds's feasted on good bread and butter;
          Where I, wanting a sixpence, you lugged out a shilling,
          And paid for me too, though I was most unwilling.
          We {p.143} parted--be sure I was ready to snivel--
          Jones and you to go home--I to go to the devil."

In a letter of later date, describing the adventurer's captivation
with the cottage maiden whom he afterwards married, there are some
lines of a very different stamp. This couplet at least seems to me

         "Lowly beauty, dear friend, beams with primitive grace,
          And 't is innocence' self plays the rogue in her face."

I find in another letter of this collection--and it is among the first
of the series--the following passage:--"Your Quixotism, dear Walter,
was highly characteristic. From the description of the blooming fair,
as she appeared when she lowered her _manteau vert_, I am hopeful you
have not dropt the acquaintance. At least I am certain some of our
more rakish friends would have been glad enough of such an
introduction." This hint I cannot help connecting with the first scene
of _The Lady Green Mantle_ in Redgauntlet; but indeed I could easily
trace many more coincidences between these letters and that novel,
though at the same time I have no sort of doubt that William Clerk
was, in the main, _Darsie Latimer_, while Scott himself unquestionably
sat for his own picture in young _Alan Fairford_.

The allusion to "our more rakish friends" is in keeping with the whole
strain of this juvenile correspondence. Throughout there occurs no
coarse or even jocular suggestion as to the conduct of _Scott_ in that
particular, as to which most youths of his then age are so apt to lay
up stores of self-reproach. In this season of hot and impetuous blood
he may not have escaped quite blameless, but I have the concurrent
testimony of all the most intimate among his surviving associates,
that he was remarkably free from such indiscretions; that while his
high sense of honor shielded him from the remotest dream of tampering
with female innocence, he had an instinctive delicacy about him which
made him recoil with utter disgust from low and vulgar debaucheries.
His {p.144} friends, I have heard more than one of them confess,
used often to rally him on the coldness of his nature. By degrees they
discovered that he had, from almost the dawn of the passions,
cherished a secret attachment, which continued, through all the most
perilous stage of life, to act as a romantic charm in safeguard of
virtue. This--(however he may have disguised the story by mixing it up
with the Quixotic adventure of the damsel in the Green Mantle)--this
was the early and innocent affection to which we owe the tenderest
pages, not only of Redgauntlet, but of The Lay of the Last Minstrel,
and of Rokeby. In all of these works the heroine has certain
distinctive features, drawn from one and the same haunting dream of
his manly adolescence.

It was about 1790, according to Mr. William Clerk, that Scott was
observed to lay aside that carelessness, not to say slovenliness, as
to dress, which used to furnish matter for joking at the beginning of
their acquaintance. He now did himself more justice in these little
matters, became fond of mixing in general female society, and, as his
friend expresses it, "began to set up for a squire of dames."

His personal appearance at this time was not unengaging. A lady of
high rank,[76] who well remembers him in the Old Assembly Rooms, says,
"Young Walter Scott was a comely creature." He had outgrown the
sallowness of early ill health, and had a fresh, brilliant complexion.
His eyes were clear, open, and well set, with a changeful radiance, to
which teeth of the most perfect regularity and whiteness lent their
assistance, while the noble expanse and elevation of the brow gave to
the whole aspect a dignity far above the charm of mere features. His
smile was always delightful; and I can easily fancy the peculiar
intermixture of tenderness and gravity, with playful innocent hilarity
and humor in the expression, as being well calculated to fix a fair
lady's eye. His figure, {p.145} excepting the blemish in one limb,
must in those days have been eminently handsome; tall, much above the
usual standard, it was cast in the very mould of a young Hercules; the
head set on with singular grace, the throat and chest after the truest
model of the antique, the hands delicately finished; the whole outline
that of extraordinary vigor, without as yet a touch of clumsiness.
When he had acquired a little facility of manner, his conversation
must have been such as could have dispensed with any exterior
advantages, and certainly brought swift forgiveness for the one
unkindness of nature. I have heard him, in talking of this part of his
life, say, with an arch simplicity of look and tone which those who
were familiar with him can fill in for themselves--"It was a proud
night with me when I first found that a pretty young woman could think
it worth her while to sit and talk with me, hour after hour, in a
corner of the ballroom, while all the world were capering in our

         [Footnote 76: The late Countess-Duchess of

I believe, however, that the "pretty young woman" here specially
alluded to had occupied his attention long before he ever appeared in
the Edinburgh Assembly Rooms, or any of his friends took note of him
as "setting up for a squire of dames." I have been told that their
acquaintance began in the Greyfriars' Churchyard, where rain beginning
to fall one Sunday as the congregation were dispersing, Scott happened
to offer his umbrella, and the tender being accepted, so escorted her
to her residence, which proved to be at no great distance from his
own.[77] To return from church together had, it seems, grown into
something like a custom, before they met in society, Mrs. Scott being
of the party. It then appeared that she and the lady's mother had been
companions in their youth, though, both living secludedly, they
{p.146} had scarcely seen each other for many years; and the two
matrons now renewed their former intercourse. But no acquaintance
appears to have existed between the fathers of the young people, until
things had advanced in appearance farther than met the approbation of
the good Clerk to the Signet.

         [Footnote 77: In one of his latest articles for the
         _Quarterly Review_, Scott observes, "There have been
         instances of love tales being favorably received in England,
         when told under an umbrella, and in the middle of a
         shower."--_Miscellaneous Prose Works_, vol. xviii.]

Being aware that the young lady, who was very highly connected, had
prospects of fortune far above his son's, the upright and honorable
man conceived it his duty to give her parents warning that he observed
a degree of intimacy which, if allowed to go on, might involve the
parties in future pain and disappointment. He had heard his son talk
of a contemplated excursion to the part of the country in which his
neighbor's estates lay, and not doubting that Walter's real object was
different from that which he announced, introduced himself with a
frank statement that he wished no such affair to proceed without the
express sanction of those most interested in the happiness of persons
as yet too young to calculate consequences for themselves. The
northern Baronet had heard nothing of the young apprentice's intended
excursion, and appeared to treat the whole business very lightly. He
thanked Mr. Scott for his scrupulous attention--but added that he
believed he was mistaken; and this paternal interference, which Walter
did not hear of till long afterwards, produced no change in his
relations with the object of his growing attachment.

I have neither the power nor the wish to give in detail the sequel of
this story. It is sufficient to say, that after he had through several
long years nourished the dream of an ultimate union with this lady,
his hopes terminated in her being married to a gentleman of the
highest character, to whom some affectionate allusions occur in one of
the greatest of his works, and who lived to act the part of a most
generous friend to his early rival throughout the anxieties and
distresses of 1826 and 1827. I have said enough for my purpose--which
was only to render {p.147} intelligible a few allusions in the
letters which I shall by and by have to introduce; but I may add that
I have no doubt this unfortunate passion, besides one good effect
already adverted to, had a powerful influence in nerving Scott's mind
for the sedulous diligence with which he pursued his proper legal
studies, as described in his Memoir, during the two or three years
that preceded his call to the Bar.[78]

         [Footnote 78: (The object of the strongest, or perhaps it
         should be said the single, passion of Scott's life was
         Williamina, the only child of Sir John Wishart Belsches
         Stuart of Fettercairn, and his wife, the Lady Jane Leslie,
         daughter of David, Earl of Leven and Melville. Beside beauty
         of person, sweetness of disposition, a quick intelligence,
         and cultivated tastes, Miss Stuart seems to have possessed in
         large measure that indefinable but potent gift, which is
         called charm. Through some misapprehension, Lockhart appears
         to have antedated the beginning of her influence over Scott,
         as in 1790 she was hardly more than a child, and she was not
         sixteen when he was called to the Bar, though the meeting in
         the Greyfriars' Churchyard had probably already taken place.
         The "three years of dreaming" were ended, as the biographer
         narrates, in the autumn of 1796. On January 19, 1797, Miss
         Stuart was married to William Forbes, son and heir of Sir
         William Forbes of Pitsligo, an eminent banker, and the author
         of a Life of his friend Beattie. Scott's affectionate
         allusions to his early rival will be found in the
         Introduction to the Fourth Canto of _Marmion_:--

           "And one whose name I may not say,--
            For not mimosa's tender tree
            Shrinks sooner from the touch than he,"--

         an Introduction inscribed to James Skene of Rubislaw, whose
         marriage to a daughter of Sir William had been speedily
         followed by the father's death. Mr. Forbes succeeded to the
         baronetcy in 1806, and his wife, on the death of Sir John
         Stuart, inherited Fettercairn. She died December 5, 1810,
         after thirteen years of unclouded happiness. Dean Boyle has
         recorded that Lockhart once read to him the letter "full of
         beauty," which Scott wrote to the bereaved husband at this
         time. Lady Stuart-Forbes left six children, four sons and two
         daughters. The three sons who survived to maturity all were
         men of unusual ability.

         The story of Williamina Stuart's brief life was told for the
         first time with any fulness by Miss F. M. F. Skene in the
         _Century Magazine_ for July, 1899. As the daughter of one of
         Scott's earliest and dearest friends and the niece of Sir
         William Forbes, she could write with knowledge. She says that
         from the day of his wife's death, "so far as society and the
         outer world were concerned, Sir William Forbes may be said to
         have died with her. He retired into the most complete
         seclusion, maintaining the heart-stricken silence of a grief
         too deep for words, and scarcely seeing even his own nearest
         relatives. Only at the call of duty did he ever emerge from
         his [retirement," as when he proved so stanch a friend to
         Scott in the darkest days of 1826 and 1827.

         A charming portrait, after a miniature by Cosway, accompanies
         Miss Skene's sketch of Lady Stuart-Forbes,--a pleasing
         contrast to the picture, without merit, either as a work of
         art or as a likeness, which was engraved for the Memoir of
         her youngest son, James David Forbes.)]

CHAPTER VI {p.149}

     Illustrations Continued. -- Studies for the Bar. --
     Excursion to Northumberland. -- Letter on Flodden Field. --
     Call to the Bar.


The two following letters may sufficiently illustrate the writer's
every-day existence in the autumn of 1790. The first, addressed to his
_fidus Achates_, has not a few indications of the vein of humor from
which he afterwards drew so largely in his novels; and indeed, even in
his last days, he delighted to tell the story of the Jedburgh bailies'


                                        ROSEBANK, 6th August, 1790.

     DEAR WILLIAM,--Here am I, the weather, according to your phrase,
     most bitchiferous; the Tweed, within twenty yards of the window
     at which I am writing, swelled from bank to brae, and roaring
     like thunder. It is paying you but a poor compliment to tell you
     I waited for such a day to perform my promise of writing, but you
     must consider that it is the point here to reserve such
     within-doors employment as we think most agreeable for bad
     weather, which in the country always wants something to help it
     away. In fair weather we are far from wanting amusement, which at
     present is my business; on the contrary, every fair day has some
     plan of pleasure annexed to it, in so much that I can hardly
     believe I have been here above two days, so swiftly does the time
     pass {p.150} away. You will ask how it is employed? Why,
     negatively, I read _no_ civil law. Heineccius and his
     fellow-worthies have ample time to gather a venerable coat of
     dust, which they merit by their dulness. As to my positive
     amusements, besides riding, fishing, and the other usual sports
     of the country, I often spend an hour or two in the evening in
     shooting herons, which are numerous on this part of the river. To
     do this I have no farther to go than the bottom of our garden,
     which literally hangs over the river. When you fire at a bird,
     she always crosses the river, and when again shot at with ball,
     usually returns to your side, and will cross in this way several
     times before she takes wing. This furnishes fine sport; nor are
     they easily shot, as you never can get very near them. The
     intervals between their appearing are spent very agreeably in
     eating gooseberries.

     Yesterday was St. James's Fair, a day of great business. There
     was a great show of black cattle--I mean of ministers; the
     narrowness of their stipends here obliges many of them to enlarge
     their incomes by taking farms and grazing cattle. This, in my
     opinion, diminishes their respectability, nor can the farmer be
     supposed to entertain any great reverence for the ghostly advice
     of a _pastor_ (they literally deserve the epithet) who perhaps
     the day before overreached him in a bargain. I would not have you
     to suppose there are no exceptions to this character, but it
     would serve most of them. I had been fishing with my uncle,
     Captain Scott, on the Teviot, and returned through the ground
     where the Fair is kept. The servant was waiting there with our
     horses, as we were to ride the water. Lucky it was that it was
     so; for just about that time the magistrates of Jedburgh, who
     preside there, began their solemn procession through the Fair.
     For the greater dignity upon this occasion they had a pair of
     boots among three men--_i. e._, as they ride three in a rank, the
     _outer_ legs of those personages who formed the outside, as it
     may be called, of the procession, were {p.151} each clothed in
     a boot. This and several other incongruous appearances were
     thrown in the teeth of those cavaliers by the Kelso populace,
     and, by the assistance of whiskey, parties were soon inflamed to
     a very tight battle, one of that kind which, for distinction
     sake, is called royal. It was not without great difficulty that
     we extricated ourselves from the confusion; and had we been on
     foot, we might have been trampled down by these fierce
     Jedburghians, who charged like so many troopers. We were
     spectators of the combat from an eminence, but peace was soon
     after restored, which made the older warriors regret the
     effeminacy of the age, as, regularly, it ought to have lasted
     till night. Two lives were lost, I mean of horses; indeed, had
     you seen them, you would rather have wondered that they were able
     to bear their masters to the scene of action, than that they
     could not carry them off.[79]

     I am ashamed to read over this sheet of nonsense, so excuse
     inaccuracies. Remember me to the lads of the Literary, those of
     _the club_ in particular. I wrote Irving. Remember my most
     respectful compliments to Mr. and Mrs. Clerk and family,
     particularly James; when you write, let me know how he did when
     you heard of him. Imitate me in writing a long letter, but not in
     being long in writing it. Direct to me at Miss Scott's, Garden,
     Kelso. My letters lie there for me, as it saves their being sent
     down to Rosebank. The carrier puts up at the Grassmarket, and
     goes away on Wednesday forenoon. Yours,

                                         WALTER SCOTT.

         [Footnote 79: Mr. Andrew Shortreed (one of a family often
         mentioned in these Memoirs) says, in a letter of November,
         1838: "The joke of the _one pair_ of boots to _three pair_ of
         legs was so unpalatable to the honest burghers of Jedburgh,
         that they have suffered the ancient privilege of 'riding the
         Fair,' as it was called (during which ceremony the
         inhabitants of Kelso were compelled to shut up their shops as
         on a holiday), to fall into disuse. Huoy, the runaway forger,
         a native of Kelso, availed himself of the calumny in a clever
         squib on the subject:--

           'The outside man had each a boot,
            The three had but a pair.'"]

The {p.152} next letter is dated from a house at which I have often
seen the writer in his latter days. Kippilaw, situated about five or
six miles behind Abbotsford, on the high ground between the Tweed and
the Water of Ayle, is the seat of an ancient laird of the clan Kerr,
but was at this time tenanted by the family of Walter's
brother-apprentice, James Ramsay, who afterwards realized a fortune in
the civil service of Ceylon.


                                        KIPPILAW, September 3, 1790.

     DEAR CLERK,--I am now writing from the country habitation of our
     friend Ramsay, where I have been spending a week as pleasantly as
     ever I spent one in my life. Imagine a commodious old house,
     pleasantly situated amongst a knot of venerable elms, in a fine
     sporting, open country, and only two miles from an excellent
     water for trouts, inhabited by two of the best old ladies
     (Ramsay's aunts), and three as pleasant young ones (his sisters)
     as any person could wish to converse with--and you will have some
     idea of Kippilaw. James and I wander about, fish, or look for
     hares, the whole day, and at night laugh, chat, and play round
     games at cards. Such is the fatherland in which I have been
     living for some days past, and which I leave to-night or
     to-morrow. This day is very bad; notwithstanding which, James has
     sallied out to make some calls, as he soon leaves the country. I
     have a great mind to trouble him with the care of this.

     And now for your letter, the receipt of which I have not, I
     think, yet acknowledged, though I am much obliged to you for it.
     I dare say you would relish your jaunt to Pennycuik very much,
     especially considering the solitary desert of Edinburgh, from
     which it relieved you. By the bye, know, O thou devourer of
     grapes, who contemnest the vulgar gooseberry, that thou art not
     singular in thy devouring--_nec tam aversus equos sol jungit
     {p.153} ab urbe (Kelsonianâ scilicet)_--my uncle being the
     lawful possessor of a vinery measuring no less than twenty-four
     feet by twelve, the contents of which come often in my way; and,
     according to the proverb, that enough is as good as a feast, are
     equally acceptable as if they came out of the most extensive
     vineyard in France. I cannot, however, equal your boast of
     breakfasting, dining, and supping on them. As for the
     civilians[80]--peace be with them, and may the dust lie light
     upon their heads--they deserve this prayer in return for those
     sweet slumbers which their benign influence infuses into their
     readers. I fear I shall too soon be forced to disturb them, for
     some of our family being now at Kelso, I am under the agonies
     lest I be obliged to escort them into town. The only pleasure I
     shall reap by this is that of asking you how you do, and,
     perhaps, the solid advantage of completing our studies before the
     College sits down. Employ, therefore, your mornings in slumber
     while you can, for soon it will be chased from your eyes. I plume
     myself on my sagacity with regard to C. J. Fox.[81] I always
     foretold you would tire of him--a vile brute. I have not yet
     forgot the narrow escape of my fingers. I rejoice at James's[82]
     intimacy with Miss Menzies. She promised to turn out a fine girl,
     has a fine fortune, and could James get her, he might sing, "I'll
     go no more to sea, to sea." Give my love to him when you
     write.--"God preserve us, what a scrawl!" says one of the ladies
     just now, in admiration at the expedition with which I scribble.
     Well--I was never able in my life to do anything with what is
     called gravity and deliberation.

     I dined two days ago _tête-à-tête_ with Lord Buchan. Heard a
     history of all his ancestors whom he has hung round his
     chimney-piece. From counting of pedigrees, good {p.154} Lord
     deliver us! He is thinking of erecting a monument to Thomson. He
     frequented Dryburgh much in my grandfather's time. It will be a
     handsome thing. As to your scamp of a boy, I saw nothing of him;
     but the face is enough to condemn there. I have seen a man
     flogged for stealing spirits on the sole information of his nose.
     Remember me respectfully to your family.

              Believe me yours affectionately,

                                        WALTER SCOTT.

         [Footnote 80: Books on Civil Law.]

         [Footnote 81: A tame fox of Mr. Clerk's, which he soon

         [Footnote 82: Mr. James Clerk, R. N.]

After his return from the scene of these merry doings, he writes as
follows to his kind uncle. The reader will see that, in the course of
the preceding year, he had announced his early views of the origin of
what is called the feudal system, in a paper read before the _Literary
Society_. He, in the succeeding winter, chose the same subject for an
essay, submitted to Mr. Dugald Stewart, whose prelections on ethics he
was then attending. Some time later he again illustrated the same
opinions more at length in a disquisition before the Speculative
Society; and, indeed, he always adhered to them. One of the last
historical books he read, before leaving Abbotsford for Malta in 1831,
was Colonel Tod's interesting account of Rajasthan; and I well
remember the delight he expressed on finding his views confirmed, as
they certainly are in a very striking manner, by the philosophical
soldier's details of the structure of society in that remote region of
the East.


                                        EDINBURGH, September 30, 1790.

     DEAR UNCLE,--We arrived here without any accident about five
     o'clock on Monday evening. The good weather made our journey
     pleasant. I have been attending to your commissions here, and
     find that the last volume of Dodsley's Annual Register published
     is that for 1787, which I was about to send you; but the
     bookseller I {p.155} frequent had not one in boards, though he
     expects to procure one for me. There is a new work of the same
     title and size, on the same plan, which, being published every
     year regularly, has almost cut out Dodsley's, so that this last
     is expected to stop altogether. You will let me know if you would
     wish to have the new work, which is a good one, will join very
     well with those volumes of Dodsley's which you already have, and
     is published up to the present year. Byron's Narrative is not yet
     published, but you shall have it whenever it comes out.

     Agreeable to your permission, I send you the scroll copy of an
     essay on the origin of the feudal system, written for the
     Literary Society last year. As you are kind enough to interest
     yourself in my style and manner of writing, I thought you might
     like better to see it in its original state, than one on the
     polishing of which more time had been bestowed. You will see that
     the intention and attempt of the essay is principally to
     controvert two propositions laid down by the writers on the
     subject:--1st, That the system was invented by the Lombards; and,
     2dly, that its foundation depended on the king's being
     acknowledged the sole lord of all the lands in the country, which
     he afterwards distributed to be held by military tenures. I have
     endeavored to assign it a more general origin, and to prove that
     it proceeds upon principles common to all nations when placed in
     a certain situation. I am afraid the matter will but poorly
     reward the trouble you will find in reading some parts. I hope,
     however, you will make out enough to enable you to favor me with
     your sentiments upon its faults. There is none whose advice I
     prize so high, for there is none in whose judgment I can so much
     confide, or who has shown me so much kindness.

     I also send, as amusement for an idle half hour, a copy of the
     regulations of our Society, some of which will, I think, be
     favored with your approbation.

     My {p.156} mother and sister join in compliments to aunt and
     you, and also in thanks for the attentions and hospitality which
     they experienced at Rosebank. And I am ever your affectionate

                                        WALTER SCOTT.

     P. S.--If you continue to want a mastiff, I think I can procure
     you one of a good breed, and send him by the carrier.

While attending Mr. Dugald Stewart's class, in the winter of 1790-91,
Scott produced, in compliance with the usual custom of ethical
students, several essays besides that to which I have already made an
allusion, and which was, I believe, entitled, On the Manners and
Customs of the Northern Nations. But this essay it was that first
attracted, in any particular manner, his Professor's attention. Mr.
Robert Ainslie,[83] well known as the friend and fellow-traveller of
Burns, happened to attend Stewart the same session, and remembers his
saying, _ex cathedra_, "The author of this paper shows much knowledge
of his subject, and a great taste for such researches." Scott became,
before the close of the session, a frequent visitor in Mr. Stewart's
family, and an affectionate intercourse was maintained between them
through their after-lives.

         [Footnote 83: Mr. Ainslie died at Edinburgh, 11th April,
         1838, in his 73d year.]

Let me here set down a little story which most of his friends must
have heard him tell of the same period. While attending Dugald
Stewart's lectures on moral philosophy, Scott happened to sit
frequently beside a modest and diligent youth, considerably his
senior, and obviously of very humble condition. Their acquaintance
soon became rather intimate, and he occasionally made this new friend
the companion of his country walks, but as to his parentage and place
of residence he always preserved total silence. One day towards the
end of the session, as Scott was returning to Edinburgh from a
solitary ramble, {p.157} his eye was arrested by a singularly
venerable _Bluegown_, a beggar of the Edie Ochiltree order, who stood
propped on his stick, with his hat in his hand, but silent and
motionless, at one of the outskirts of the city. Scott gave the old
man what trifle he had in his pocket, and passed on his way. Two or
three times afterwards the same thing happened, and he had begun to
consider the Bluegown as one who had established a claim on his
bounty: when one day he fell in with him as he was walking with his
humble student. Observing some confusion in his companion's manner as
he saluted his pensioner, and bestowed the usual benefaction, he could
not help saying, after they had proceeded a few yards further, "Do you
know anything to the old man's discredit?" Upon which the youth burst
into tears, and cried, "Oh no, sir, God forbid!--but I am a poor
wretch to be ashamed to speak to him--he is my own father. He has
enough laid by to serve for his own old days, but he stands bleaching
his head in the wind, that he may get the means of paying for my
education." Compassionating the young man's situation, Scott soothed
his weakness, and kept his secret, but by no means broke off the
acquaintance. Some months had elapsed before he again met the
Bluegown--it was in a retired place, and the old man begged to speak a
word with him. "I find, sir," he said, "that you have been very kind
to my Willie. He had often spoke of it before I saw you together. Will
you pardon such a liberty, and give me the honor and pleasure of
seeing you under my poor roof? Tomorrow is Saturday; will you come at
two o'clock? Willie has not been very well, and it would do him meikle
good to see your face." His curiosity, besides better feelings, was
touched, and he accepted this strange invitation. The appointed hour
found him within sight of a sequestered little cottage, near St.
Leonard's--the hamlet where he has placed the residence of his David
Deans. His fellow-student, pale and emaciated from recent {p.158}
sickness, was seated on a stone bench by the door, looking out for his
coming, and introduced him into a not untidy cabin, where the old man,
divested of his professional garb, was directing the last vibrations
of a leg of mutton that hung by a hempen cord before the fire. The
mutton was excellent--so were the potatoes and whiskey; and Scott
returned home from an entertaining conversation, in which, besides
telling many queer stories of his own life--and he had seen service in
his youth--the old man more than once used an expression, which was
long afterwards put into the mouth of Dominie Sampson's
mother:--"Please God, I may live to see my bairn wag his head in a
pulpit yet."

Walter could not help telling all this the same night to his mother,
and added, that he would fain see his poor friend obtain a tutor's
place in some gentleman's family. "Dinna speak to your father about
it," said the good lady; "if it had been _a shoulder_ he might have
thought less, but he will say _the jigot_ was a sin. I'll see what I
can do." Mrs. Scott made her inquiries in her own way among the
Professors, and having satisfied herself as to the young man's
character, applied to her favorite minister, Dr. Erskine, whose
influence soon procured such a situation as had been suggested for
him, in the north of Scotland. "And thenceforth," said Sir Walter, "I
lost sight of my friend--but let us hope he made out his _curriculum_
at Aberdeen, and is now wagging his head where the fine old carle
wished to see him."[84]

         [Footnote 84: The reader will find a story not unlike this in
         the Introduction to _The Antiquary_, 1830. When I first read
         that note, I asked him why he had altered so many
         circumstances from the usual oral edition of his anecdote.
         "Nay," said he, "both stories may be true, and why should I
         be always lugging in myself, when what happened to another of
         our class would serve equally well for the purpose I had in
         view?" I regretted the _leg of mutton_.]

On the 4th January, 1791, Scott was admitted a member of _The
Speculative Society_, where it had, long before, been the custom of
those about to be called to the Bar, {p.159} and those who after
assuming the gown were left in possession of leisure by the
solicitors, to train or exercise themselves in the arts of elocution
and debate. From time to time each member produces an essay, and his
treatment of his subject is then discussed by the conclave. Scott's
essays were, for November, 1791, On the Origin of the Feudal System;
for the 14th February, 1792, On the Authenticity of Ossian's Poems;
and on the 11th December of the same year, he read one, On the Origin
of the Scandinavian Mythology. The selection of these subjects shows
the course of his private studies and predilections; but he appears,
from the minutes, to have taken his fair share in the ordinary debates
of the Society,--and spoke, in the spring of 1791, on these questions,
which all belong to the established text-book for juvenile speculation
in Edinburgh:--"Ought any permanent support to be provided for the
poor?" "Ought there to be an established religion?" "Is attainder and
corruption of blood ever a proper punishment?" "Ought the public
expenses to be defrayed by levying the amount directly upon the
people, or is it expedient to contract national debt for that
purpose?" "Was the execution of Charles I. justifiable?" "Should the
slave-trade be abolished?" In the next session, previous to his call
to the Bar, he spoke in the debates of which these were the
theses:--"Has the belief in a future state been of advantage to
mankind, or is it ever likely to be so?" "Is it for the interest of
Britain to maintain what is called the balance of Europe?" and again
on the eternal question as to the fate of King Charles I., which, by
the way, was thus set up for re-discussion on a motion by Walter

He took, for several winters, an ardent interest in this society. Very
soon after his admission (18th January, 1791), he was elected their
librarian; and in the November following he became also their
secretary and treasurer; all which appointments indicate the reliance
placed on {p.160} his careful habits of business, the fruit of his
chamber education. The minutes kept in his handwriting attest the
strict regularity of his attention to the small affairs, literary and
financial, of the club; but they show also, as do all his early
letters, a strange carelessness in spelling. His constant good temper
softened the asperities of debate; while his multifarious lore, and
the quaint humor with which he enlivened its display, made him more a
favorite as a speaker than some whose powers of rhetoric were far
above his.

Lord Jeffrey remembers being struck, the first night he spent at the
Speculative, with the singular appearance of the secretary, who sat
gravely at the bottom of the table in a huge woollen nightcap; and
when the president took the chair, pleaded a bad toothache as his
apology for coming into that worshipful assembly in such a "portentous
machine." He read that night an essay on ballads, which so much
interested the new member that he requested to be introduced to him.
Mr. Jeffrey called on him next evening, and found him "in a small den,
on the sunk floor of his father's house in George's Square, surrounded
with dingy books," from which they adjourned to a tavern, and supped
together. Such was the commencement of an acquaintance, which by
degrees ripened into friendship, between the two most distinguished
men of letters whom Edinburgh produced in their time. I may add here
the description of that early _den_, with which I am favored by a lady
of Scott's family:--"Walter had soon begun to collect out-of-the-way
things of all sorts. He had more books than shelves; a small painted
cabinet, with Scotch and Roman coins in it, and so forth. A claymore
and Lochaber axe, given him by old Invernahyle, mounted guard on a
little print of Prince Charlie; and _Broughton's Saucer_ was hooked up
against the wall below it." Such was the germ of the magnificent
library and museum of Abbotsford; and such were the "new realms" in
which he, on taking possession, had {p.161} arranged his little
paraphernalia about him "with all the feelings of novelty and
liberty." Since those days, the habits of life in Edinburgh, as
elsewhere, have undergone many changes: and the "convenient parlor,"
in which Scott first showed Jeffrey his collections of minstrelsy, is
now, in all probability, thought hardly good enough for a menial's

But I have forgotten to explain _Broughton's Saucer_. We read of Mr.
Saunders Fairford, that though "an elder of the kirk, and of course
zealous for King George and the Government," yet, having "many clients
and connections of business among families of opposite political
tenets, he was particularly cautious to use all the conventional
phrases which the civility of the time had devised as an admissible
mode of language betwixt the two parties: Thus he spoke sometimes of
the Chevalier, but never either of the _Prince_, which would have been
sacrificing his own principles, or of _the Pretender_, which would
have been offensive to those of others: Again, he usually designated
the Rebellion as the _affair_ of 1745, and spoke of any one engaged in
it as a person who had been _out_ at a certain period--so that, on the
whole, he was much liked and respected on all sides."[85] All this was
true of Mr. Walter Scott, W. S.; but I have often heard his son tell
an anecdote of him, which he dwelt on with particular satisfaction, as
illustrative of the man, and of the difficult time through which he
had lived.

         [Footnote 85: _Redgauntlet_, chap. i.]

Mrs. Scott's curiosity was strongly excited one autumn by the regular
appearance, at a certain hour every evening, of a sedan chair, to
deposit a person carefully muffled up in a mantle, who was immediately
ushered into her husband's private room, and commonly remained with
him there until long after the usual bedtime of this orderly family.
Mr. Scott answered her repeated inquiries with a vagueness which
irritated the lady's feelings more and more; until, at last, she could
bear the thing {p.162} no longer; but one evening, just as she heard
the bell ring as for the stranger's chair to carry him off, she made
her appearance within the forbidden parlor with a salver in her hand,
observing that she thought the gentlemen had sat so long, they would
be the better of a dish of tea, and had ventured accordingly to bring
some for their acceptance. The stranger, a person of distinguished
appearance, and richly dressed, bowed to the lady, and accepted a cup;
but her husband knit his brows, and refused very coldly to partake the
refreshment. A moment afterwards the visitor withdrew--and Mr. Scott,
lifting up the window-sash, took the cup which he had left empty on
the table, and tossed it out upon the pavement. The lady exclaimed for
her china, but was put to silence by her husband's saying, "I can
forgive your little curiosity, madam, but you must pay the penalty. I
may admit into my house, on a piece of business, persons wholly
unworthy to be treated as guests by my wife. Neither lip of me nor of
mine comes after Mr. Murray of Broughton's."

This was the unhappy man who, after attending Prince Charles Stuart as
his secretary throughout the greater part of his expedition,
condescended to redeem his own life and fortune by bearing evidence
against the noblest of his late master's adherents, when

         "Pitied by gentle hearts Kilmarnock died--
          The brave, Balmerino, were on thy side."

When confronted with Sir John Douglas of Kelhead (ancestor of the
Marquess of Queensberry), before the Privy Council in St. James's, the
prisoner was asked, "Do you know this witness?" "Not I," answered
Douglas; "I once knew a person who bore the designation of Murray of
Broughton--but that was a gentleman and a man of honor, and one that
could hold up his head!"

The saucer belonging to Broughton's teacup had been preserved; and
Walter, at a very early period, made prize {p.163} of it. One can
fancy young Alan Fairford pointing significantly to the relic, when
Mr. Saunders was vouchsafing him one of his customary lectures about
listening with, unseemly sympathy to "the blawing, bleezing stories
which the Hieland gentlemen told of those troublous times."[86]

         [Footnote 86: _Redgauntlet_, letter ix.]

The following letter is the only one of the autumn of 1791 that has
reached my hands. It must be read with particular interest for its
account of Scott's first visit to Flodden field, destined to be
celebrated seventeen years afterwards in the very noblest specimen of
his numbers:--


                                   NORTHUMBERLAND, 26th August, 1791.

     DEAR CLERK,--Behold a letter from the mountains; for I am very
     snugly settled here, in a farmer's house, about six miles from
     Wooler, in the very centre of the Cheviot hills, in one of the
     wildest and most romantic situations which your imagination,
     fertile upon the subject of cottages, ever suggested. And what
     the deuce are you about there? methinks I hear you say. Why, sir,
     of all things in the world--drinking goat's whey--not that I
     stand in the least need of it, but my uncle having a slight cold,
     and being a little tired of home, asked me last Sunday evening if
     I would like to go with him to Wooler, and I answering in the
     affirmative, next morning's sun beheld us on our journey, through
     a pass in the Cheviots, upon the back of two special nags, and
     man Thomas behind with a portmanteau, and two fishing-rods
     fastened across his back, much in the style of St. Andrew's
     Cross. Upon reaching Wooler we found the accommodations so bad
     that we were forced to use some interest to get lodgings here,
     where we are most delightfully appointed indeed. To add to my
     satisfaction, we are amidst places renowned by the feats of
     former days; each {p.164} hill is crowned with a tower, or
     camp, or cairn, and in no situation can you be near more fields
     of battle: Flodden, Otterburn, Chevy Chase, Ford Castle,
     Chillingham Castle, Copland Castle, and many another scene of
     blood, are within the compass of a forenoon's ride. Out of the
     brooks, with which these hills are intersected, we pull trouts of
     half a yard in length, as fast as we did the perches from the
     pond at Pennycuik, and we are in the very country of muirfowl.

     Often as I have wished for your company, I never did it more
     earnestly than when I rode over Flodden Edge. I know your taste
     for these things, and could have undertaken to demonstrate that
     never was an affair more completely bungled than that day's work
     was. Suppose one army posted upon the face of a hill, and secured
     by high grounds projecting on each flank, with the river Till in
     front, a deep and still river, winding through a very extensive
     valley called Milfield Plain, and the only passage over it by a
     narrow bridge, which the Scots artillery, from the hill, could in
     a moment have demolished. Add, that the English must have
     hazarded a battle while their troops, which were tumultuously
     levied, remained together; and that the Scots, behind whom the
     country was open to Scotland, had nothing to do but to wait for
     the attack as they were posted. Yet did two thirds of the army,
     actuated by the _perfervidum ingenium Scotorum_, rush down and
     give an opportunity to Stanley to occupy the ground they had
     quitted, by coming over the shoulder of the hill, while the other
     third, under Lord Home, kept their ground, and having seen their
     king and about 10,000 of their countrymen cut to pieces, retired
     into Scotland without loss. For the reason of the bridge not
     being destroyed while the English passed, I refer you to
     Pitscottie, who narrates at large, and to whom I give credit for
     a most accurate and clear description, agreeing perfectly with
     the ground.

     My uncle drinks the whey here, as I do ever since I understood
     {p.165} it was brought to his bedside every morning at six, by a
     very pretty dairy-maid. So much for my residence: all the day we
     shoot, fish, walk, and ride; dine and sup upon fish struggling
     from the stream, and the most delicious heath-fed mutton,
     barn-door fowls, poys,[87] milk-cheese, etc., all in perfection;
     and so much simplicity resides among these hills, that a pen,
     which could write at least, was not to be found about the house,
     though belonging to a considerable farmer, till I shot the crow
     with whose quill I write this epistle. I wrote to Irving before
     leaving Kelso. Poor fellow, I am sure his sister's death must
     have hurt him much; though he makes no noise about feelings, yet
     still streams always run deepest. I sent a message by him to
     Edie,[88] poor devil, adding my mite of consolation to him in his
     affliction. I pity poor ******, who is more deserving of
     compassion, being his first offence. Write soon, and as long as
     the last; you will have Perthshire news, I suppose, soon. Jamie's
     adventure diverted me much. I read it to my uncle, who being long
     in the India service, was affronted. Remember me to James when
     you write, and to all your family, and friends in general. I send
     this to Kelso--you may address as usual; my letters will be
     forwarded--adieu--au revoir,

                                        WALTER SCOTT.

         [Footnote 87: Pies.]

         [Footnote 88: Sir A. Ferguson.]

With the exception of this little excursion, Scott appears to have
been nailed to Edinburgh during this autumn, by that course of legal
study, in company with Clerk, on which he dwells in his Memoir with
more satisfaction than on any other passage in his early life. He
copied out _twice_, as the fragment tells us, his notes of those
lectures of the eminent Scots Law professor (Mr. Hume), which he
speaks of in such a high strain of eulogy; and Mr. Irving adds that
the second copy, being fairly finished and bound into volumes, was
presented to {p.166} his father. The old gentleman was highly
gratified with this performance, not only as a satisfactory proof of
his son's assiduous attention to the law professor, but inasmuch as
the lectures afforded himself "very pleasant reading for leisure

Mr. Clerk assures me that nothing could be more exact (excepting as to
a few petty circumstances introduced for obvious reasons) than the
resemblance of the Mr. Saunders Fairford of Redgauntlet to his
friend's father:--"He was a man of business of the old school,
moderate in his charges, economical, and even niggardly in his
expenditure; strictly honest in conducting his own affairs and those
of his clients; but taught by long experience to be wary and
suspicious in observing the motions of others. Punctual as the clock
of St. Giles tolled nine" (the hour at which the Court of Session
meets), "the dapper form of the hale old gentleman was seen at the
threshold of the court hall, or, at farthest, at the head of the Back
Stairs" (the most convenient access to the Parliament House from
George's Square), "trimly dressed in a complete suit of snuff-colored
brown, with stockings of silk or woollen, as suited the weather; a bob
wig and a small cocked hat; shoes blacked as Warren would have blacked
them; silver shoe-buckles, and a gold stock-buckle. His manners
corresponded with his attire, for they were scrupulously civil, and
not a little formal.... On the whole, he was a man much liked and
respected, though his friends would not have been sorry if he had
given a dinner more frequently, as his little cellar contained some
choice old wine, of which, on such rare occasions, he was no niggard.
The whole pleasure of this good old-fashioned man of method, besides
that which he really felt in the discharge of his own daily business,
was the hope to see his son attain what in the father's eyes was the
proudest of all distinctions--the rank and fame of a well-employed
lawyer. Every profession has its peculiar honors, and his mind was
constructed upon {p.167} so limited and exclusive a plan, that he
valued nothing save the objects of ambition which his own presented.
He would have shuddered at his son's acquiring the renown of a hero,
and laughed with scorn at the equally barren laurels of literature; it
was by the path of the law alone that he was desirous to see him rise
to eminence; and the probabilities of success or disappointment were
the thoughts of his father by day, and his dream by night."[89]

         [Footnote 89: _Redgauntlet_, chap. i.]

It is easy to imagine the original of this portrait, writing to one of
his friends, about the end of June, 1792--"I have the pleasure to tell
you that my son has passed his private Scots Law examinations with
good approbation--a great relief to my mind, especially as worthy Mr.
Pest[90] told me in my ear, there was no fear of the 'callant,' as he
familiarly called him, which gives me great heart. His public trials,
which are nothing in comparison, save a mere form, are to take place,
by order of the Honorable Dean of Faculty,[91] on Wednesday first, and
on Friday he puts on the gown, and gives a bit chack of dinner to his
friends and acquaintances, as is the custom. Your company will be
wished for there by more than him.--_P. S._ His thesis is on the
title, _De periculo et commodo rei venditæ_, and is a very pretty
piece of Latinity."[92]

         [Footnote 90: It has been suggested that _Pest_ is a misprint
         for _Peat_. There was an elderly practitioner of the latter
         name, with whom Mr. Fairford must have been well

         [Footnote 91: The situation of Dean of Faculty was filled in
         1792 by the Honorable Henry Erskine, of witty and benevolent

         [Footnote 92: _Redgauntlet_, letter ix.]

And all things passed in due order, even as they are figured. The real
_Darsie_ was present at the real Alan Fairford's "bit chack of
dinner," and the old Clerk of the Signet was very joyous on the
occasion. Scott's _thesis_ was, in fact, on the Title of the Pandects,
_Concerning the disposal of the dead bodies of Criminals_. It was
{p.168} dedicated, I doubt not by the careful father's advice, to his
friend and neighbor in George's Square, the coarsely humorous, but
acute and able, and still well-remembered, Macqueen of Braxfield, then
Lord Justice-Clerk (or President of the Supreme Criminal Court) of

         [Footnote 93: An eminent annotator observes on this
         passage:--"The praise of Lord Braxfield's capacity and
         acquirement is perhaps rather too slight. He was a very good
         lawyer, and a man of extraordinary sagacity, and in quickness
         and sureness of apprehension resembled Lord Kenyon, as well
         as in his ready use of his profound knowledge of

I have often heard both _Alan_ and _Darsie_ laugh over their
reminiscences of the important day when they "put on the gown." After
the ceremony was completed, and they had mingled for some time with
the crowd of barristers in the Outer Court, Scott said to his comrade,
mimicking the air and tone of a Highland lass waiting at the Cross of
Edinburgh to be hired for the harvest work--"We've stood here an hour
by the Tron, hinny, and de'il a ane has speered our price." Some
friendly solicitor, however, gave him a guinea fee before the Court
rose; and as they walked down the High Street together, he said to Mr.
Clerk, in passing a hosier's shop--"This is a sort of a wedding-day,
Willie; I think I must go in and buy me a new nightcap," He did so
accordingly; perhaps this was Lord Jeffrey's "portentous machine." His
first fee of any consequence, however, was expended on a silver
taper-stand for his mother, which the old lady used to point to with
great satisfaction, as it stood on her chimney-piece five-and-twenty
years afterwards.


     First Expedition into Liddesdale. -- Study of German. --
     Political Trials, etc. -- Specimen of Law Papers. --
     Bürger's Lenore Translated. -- Disappointment in Love.


Scott was called to the Bar only the day before the closing of the
session, and he appears to have almost immediately escaped to the
country. On the 2d of August I find his father writing,--"I have sent
the copies of your _thesis_ as desired;" and on the 15th he addressed
to him at Rosebank a letter, in which there is this paragraph, an
undoubted autograph of Mr. Saunders Fairford, _anno ætatis_

     "DEAR WALTER,--... I am glad that your expedition to the west
     proved agreeable. You do well to warn your mother against
     Ashestiel. Although I said little, yet I never thought that road
     could be agreeable; besides, it is taking too wide a circle. Lord
     Justice-Clerk is in town attending the Bills.[94] He called here
     yesterday, and inquired very particularly for you. I told him
     where you was, and he expects to see you at Jedburgh upon the
     21st. He is to be at Mellerstain[95] on the 20th, and will be
     there all night. His Lordship said, in a very pleasant manner,
     that something might cast up at Jedburgh to give you an
     opportunity of appearing, and that he would insist upon it,
     {p.170} and that in future he meant to give you a share of the
     criminal business in this Court,--all which is very kind. I told
     his Lordship that I had dissuaded you from appearing at Jedburgh,
     but he said I was wrong in doing so, and I therefore leave the
     matter to you and him. _I think it is probable he will breakfast
     with Sir H. H. MacDougall on the 21st, on his way to

         [Footnote 94: The Judges then attended in Edinburgh in
         rotation during the intervals of term, to take care of
         various sorts of business which could not brook delay, bills
         of injunction, etc.]

         [Footnote 95: The beautiful seat of the Baillies of
         Jerviswood, in Berwickshire, a few miles below Dryburgh.]

This last quiet hint, that the young lawyer might as well be at
Makerstoun (the seat of a relation) when _His Lordship_ breakfasted
there, and of course swell the train of His Lordship's little
procession into the county town, seems delightfully characteristic. I
think I hear Sir Walter himself lecturing _me_, when in the same sort
of situation, thirty years afterwards. He declined, as one of the
following letters will show, the opportunity of making his first
appearance on this occasion at Jedburgh. He was present, indeed, at
the Court during the assizes, but "durst not venture." His accounts to
William Clerk of his vacation amusements, and more particularly of his
second excursion to Northumberland, will, I am sure, interest every


                                        ROSEBANK, 10th September, 1792.

     DEAR WILLIAM,--Taking the advantage of a very indifferent day,
     which is likely to float away a good deal of corn, and of my
     father's leaving this place, who will take charge of this scroll,
     I sit down to answer your favor. I find you have been, like
     myself, taking advantage of the good weather to look around you a
     little, and congratulate you upon the pleasure you must have
     received from your jaunt with Mr. Russell[96] I apprehend, though
     you are silent on the subject, that your conversation was
     enlivened by many curious disquisitions of the nature {p.171}
     of _undulating exhalations_. I should have bowed before the
     venerable grove of oaks at Hamilton with as much respect as if I
     had been a Druid about to gather the sacred mistletoe. I should
     hardly have suspected your host Sir William[97] of having been
     the occasion of the scandal brought upon the library and Mr.
     Gibb[98] by the introduction of the Cabinet des Fées, of which I
     have a volume or two here. I am happy to think there is an
     admirer of _snug things_ in the administration of the library.
     Poor Linton's[99] misfortune, though I cannot say it surprises,
     yet heartily grieves me. I have no doubt he will have many
     advisers and animadverters upon the naughtiness of his ways,
     whose admonitions will be forgot upon the next opportunity.

     I am lounging about the country here, to speak sincerely, as idle
     as the day is long. Two old companions of mine, brothers of Mr.
     Walker of Wooden, having come to this country, we have renewed a
     great intimacy. As they live directly upon the opposite bank of
     the river, we have signals agreed upon by which we concert a plan
     of operations for the day. They are both officers, and very
     intelligent young fellows, and what is of some consequence, have
     a brace of fine greyhounds. Yesterday forenoon we killed seven
     hares, so you may see how plenty the game is with us. I have
     turned a keen duck-shooter, though my success is not very great;
     and when wading through the mosses upon this errand, accoutred
     with the long gun, a jacket, mosquito trousers, and a rough cap,
     I might well pass for one of my redoubted moss-trooper {p.172}
     progenitors, Walter Fire-the-Braes,[100] or rather Willie wi' the

     For about-doors' amusement, I have constructed a seat in a large
     tree which spreads its branches horizontally over the Tweed. This
     is a favorite situation of mine for reading, especially in a day
     like this, when the west wind rocks the branches on which I am
     perched, and the river rolls its waves below me of a turbid blood
     color. I have, moreover, cut an embrasure, through which I can
     fire upon the gulls, herons, and cormorants, as they fly
     screaming past my nest. To crown the whole, I have carved an
     inscription upon it in the ancient Roman taste. I believe I shall
     hardly return into town, barring accidents, sooner than the
     middle of next month, perhaps not till November. Next week,
     weather permitting, is destined for a Northumberland expedition,
     in which I shall visit some parts of that country which I have
     not yet seen, particularly about Hexham. Some days ago I had
     nearly met with a worse accident than the tramp I took at
     Moorfoot;[101] for having bewildered myself among the Cheviot
     hills, it was nearly nightfall before I got to the village of
     Hownam, and the passes with which I was acquainted. You do not
     speak of being in Perthshire this season, though I suppose you
     intend it. I suppose we, that is, _nous autres_,[102] are at
     present completely dispersed.

     Compliments to all who are in town, and best respects to your own
     family, both in Prince's Street and at Eldin.--Believe me ever
     most sincerely yours,

                                        WALTER SCOTT.

         [Footnote 96: Mr. Russell, surgeon, afterwards Professor of
         Clinical Surgery at Edinburgh.]

         [Footnote 97: Sir William Miller (Lord Glenlee).]

         [Footnote 98: Mr. Gibb was the Librarian of the Faculty of

         [Footnote 99: Clerk, Abercromby, Scott, Ferguson, and others,
         had occasional boating excursions from Leith to Inchcolm,
         Inchkeith, etc. On one of these their boat was neared by a
         Newhaven one--Ferguson, at the moment, was standing up
         talking; one of the Newhaven fishermen, taking him for a
         brother of his own craft, bawled out, "Linton, you lang
         bitch, is that you?" From that day Adam Ferguson's cognomen
         among his friends of _The Club_ was Linton.]

         [Footnote 100: Walter Scott of Synton (elder brother of
         _Bolt-Foot_, the first Baron of Harden) was thus designated.
         He greatly distinguished himself in the battle of Melrose, A.
         D. 1526.]

         [Footnote 101: This alludes to being lost in a fishing

         [Footnote 102: The companions of _The Club_.]

     TO {p.173} WILLIAM CLERK, ESQ.

                                        ROSEBANK, 30th September, 1792.

     DEAR WILLIAM,--I suppose this will find you flourishing like a
     green bay-tree on the mountains of Perthshire, and in full
     enjoyment of all the pleasures of the country. All that I envy
     you is the _noctes cænæque deum_, which, I take it for granted,
     you three merry men will be spending together, while I am poring
     over Bartholine in the long evenings, solitary enough; for, as
     for the lobsters, as you call them, I am separated from them by
     the Tweed, which precludes evening meetings, unless in fine
     weather and full moons. I have had an expedition through Hexham
     and the higher parts of Northumberland, which would have
     delighted the very cockles of your heart, not so much on account
     of the beautiful romantic appearance of the country, though that
     would have charmed you also, as because you would have seen more
     Roman inscriptions built into gate-posts, barns, etc., than
     perhaps are to be found in any other part of Britain. These have
     been all dug up from the neighboring Roman wall, which is still
     in many places very entire, and gives a stupendous idea of the
     perseverance of its founders, who carried such an erection from
     sea to sea, over rocks, mountains, rivers, and morasses. There
     are several lakes among the mountains above Hexham, well worth
     going many miles to see, though their fame is eclipsed by their
     neighborhood to those of Cumberland. They are surrounded by old
     towers and castles, in situations the most savagely romantic;
     what would I have given to have been able to take effect-pieces
     from some of them! Upon the Tyne, about Hexham, the country has a
     different aspect, presenting much of the beautiful, though less
     of the sublime. I was particularly charmed with the situation of
     Beaufront, a house belonging to a mad sort of genius, whom, I am
     sure, I have told you some stories about. He used to call himself
     the Noble Errington, {p.174} but of late has assumed the title
     of Duke of Hexham. Hard by the town is the field of battle where
     the forces of Queen Margaret were defeated by those of the House
     of York, a blow which the Red Rose never recovered during the
     civil wars. The spot where the Duke of Somerset and the northern
     nobility of the Lancastrian faction were executed after the
     battle is still called Dukesfield. The inhabitants of this
     country speak an odd dialect of the Saxon, approaching nearly
     that of Chaucer, and have retained some customs peculiar to
     themselves. They are the descendants of the ancient Danes, chased
     into the fastnesses of Northumberland by the severity of William
     the Conqueror. Their ignorance is surprising to a Scotchman. It
     is common for the traders in cattle, which business is carried on
     to a great extent, to carry all letters received in course of
     trade to the parish church, where the clerk reads them aloud
     after service, and answers them according to circumstances.

     We intended to visit the lakes in Cumberland, but our jaunt was
     cut short by the bad weather. I went to the circuit at Jedburgh,
     to make my bow to Lord J. Clerk, and might have had employment,
     but durst not venture. Nine of the Dunse rioters were condemned
     to banishment, but the ferment continues violent in the Merse.
     Kelso races afforded little sport--Wishaw[103] lost a horse which
     cost him £500, and foundered irrecoverably on the course. At
     another time I shall quote George Buchanan's adage of "a fool and
     his money," but at present labor under a similar misfortune; my
     Galloway having yesterday thought proper (N. B., without a rider)
     to leap over a gate, and being lamed for the present. This is not
     his first _faux-pas_, for he jumped into a water with me on his
     back when in Northumberland, to the imminent danger of my life.
     He is, therefore, to be sold (when recovered), and another
     purchased. This accident has occasioned {p.175} you the trouble
     of reading so long an epistle, the day being Sunday, and my
     uncle, the captain, busily engaged with your father's naval
     tactics, is too seriously employed to be an agreeable companion.
     Apropos (des bottes)--I am sincerely sorry to hear that James is
     still unemployed, but have no doubt a time will come round when
     his talents will have an opportunity of being displayed to his
     advantage. I have no prospect of seeing my _chère adorable_ till
     winter, if then. As for you, I pity you not, seeing as how you
     have so good a succedaneum in M. G.; and, on the contrary, hope,
     not only that Edmonstone may _roast_ you, but that Cupid may
     again (as erst) _fry_ you on the gridiron of jealousy for your
     infidelity. Compliments to our right trusty and well-beloved
     Linton and Jean Jacques.[104] If you write, which, by the way, I
     hardly have the conscience to expect, direct to my father's care,
     who will forward your letter. I have quite given up duck-shooting
     for the season, the birds being too old, and the mosses too deep
     and cold. I have no reason to boast of my experience or success
     in the sport, and for my own part, should fire at any distance
     under eighty or even ninety paces, though above forty-five I
     would reckon it a _coup désespéré_, and as the bird is beyond
     measure shy, you may be sure I was not very bloody. Believe me,
     deferring, _as usual_, our dispute till another opportunity,
     always sincerely yours,

                                        WALTER SCOTT.

     P. S.--I believe, if my pony does not soon recover, that
     misfortune, with the bad weather, may send me soon to town.

         [Footnote 103: William Hamilton of Wishaw,--who afterwards
         established his claim to the peerage of Belhaven.]

         [Footnote 104: John James Edmonstone.]

It was within a few days after Scott's return from his excursion to
Hexham, that, while attending the Michaelmas head-court, as an annual
county-meeting is called, at Jedburgh, he was introduced, by an old
companion, Charles Kerr of Abbotrule, to Mr. Robert Shortreed, that
{p.176} gentleman's near relation, who spent the greater part of his
life in the enjoyment of much respect as Sheriff-substitute of
Roxburghshire. Scott had been expressing his wish to visit the then
wild and inaccessible district of Liddesdale, particularly with a view
to examine the ruins of the famous castle of Hermitage, and to pick up
some of the ancient _riding ballads_, said to be still preserved among
the descendants of the moss-troopers, who had followed the banner of
the Douglases, when lords of that grim and remote fastness. Mr.
Shortreed had many connections in Liddesdale, and knew its passes
well, and he was pointed out as the very guide the young advocate
wanted. They started, accordingly, in a day or two afterwards, from
Abbotrule; and the laird meant to have been of the party; but "it was
well for him," said Shortreed, "that he changed his mind--for he could
never have done as we did."[105]

         [Footnote 105: I am obliged to Mr. John Elliot Shortreed, a
         son of Scott's early friend, for some _memoranda_ of his
         father's conversations on this subject. These notes were
         written in 1824; and I shall make several quotations from
         them. I had, however, many opportunities of hearing Mr.
         Shortreed's stories from his own lips, having often been
         under his hospitable roof in company with Sir Walter, who to
         the last always was his old friend's guest when business took
         him to Jedburgh.]

During seven successive years Scott made a _raid_, as he called it,
into Liddesdale, with Mr. Shortreed for his guide; exploring every
rivulet to its source, and every ruined _peel_ from foundation to
battlement. At this time no wheeled carriage had ever been seen in the
district--the first, indeed, that ever appeared there was a gig,
driven by Scott himself for a part of his way, when on the last of
these seven excursions. There was no inn or public-house of any kind
in the whole valley; the travellers passed from the shepherd's hut to
the minister's manse, and again from the cheerful hospitality of the
manse to the rough and jolly welcome of the homestead; gathering,
wherever they went, songs and tunes, and occasionally more tangible
relics of antiquity--even such "a {p.177} rowth of auld nicknackets"
as Burns ascribes to Captain Grose. To these rambles Scott owed much
of the materials of his Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border; and not
less of that intimate acquaintance with the living manners of these
unsophisticated regions, which constitutes the chief charm of one of
the most charming of his prose works. But how soon he had any definite
object before him in his researches seems very doubtful. "He was
_makin' himsel'_ a' the time," said Mr. Shortreed; "but he didna ken
maybe what he was about till years had passed: at first he thought o'
little, I dare say, but the queerness and the fun."

"In those days," says the Memorandum before me, "advocates were not so
plenty--at least about Liddesdale;" and the worthy Sheriff-substitute
goes on to describe the sort of bustle, not unmixed with alarm,
produced at the first farmhouse they visited (Willie Elliot's at
Millburnholm), when the honest man was informed of the quality of one
of his guests. When they dismounted, accordingly, he received Mr.
Scott with great ceremony, and insisted upon himself leading his horse
to the stable. Shortreed accompanied Willie, however, and the latter,
after taking a deliberate peep at Scott, "out-by the edge of the
door-cheek," whispered, "Weel, Robin, I say, de'il hae me if I's be a
bit feared for him now; he's just a chield like ourselves, I think."
Half-a-dozen dogs of all degrees had already gathered round "the
advocate," and his way of returning their compliments had set Willie
Elliot at once at his ease.

According to Mr. Shortreed, this goodman of Millburnholm was the great
original of Dandie Dinmont. As he seems to have been the first of
these upland sheep-farmers that Scott ever visited, there can be
little doubt that he sat for some parts of that inimitable
portraiture; and it is certain that the James Davidson, who carried
the name of Dandie to his grave with him, and whose thoroughbred
deathbed scene is told in the Notes to Guy Mannering, {p.178} was
first pointed out to Scott by Mr. Shortreed himself, several years
after the novel had established the man's celebrity all over the
Border; some accidental report about his terriers, and their odd
names, having alone been turned to account in the original composition
of the tale. But I have the best reason to believe that the kind and
manly character of Dandie, the gentle and delicious one of his wife,
and some at least of the most picturesque peculiarities of the
_ménage_ at Charlieshope, were filled up from Scott's observation,
years after this period, of a family, with one of whose members he
had, through the best part of his life, a close and affectionate
connection. To those who were familiar with him, I have perhaps
already sufficiently indicated the early home of his dear friend,
William Laidlaw, among "the braes of Yarrow."

They dined at Millburnholm, and after having lingered over Willie
Elliot's punch-bowl, until, in Mr. Shortreed's phrase, they were
"half-glowrin," mounted their steeds again, and proceeded to Dr.
Elliot's at Cleughhead, where ("for," says my Memorandum, "folk were
na very nice in those days") the two travellers slept in one and the
same bed--as, indeed, seems to have been the case with them throughout
most of their excursions in this primitive district. This Dr. Elliot
had already a large MS. collection of the ballads Scott was in quest
of; and finding how much his guest admired his acquisitions,
thenceforth exerted himself, for several years, with redoubled
diligence, in seeking out the living depositaries of such lore among
the darker recesses of the mountains. "The Doctor," says Mr.
Shortreed, "would have gane through fire and water for Sir Walter,
when he ance kenned him."

Next morning they seem to have ridden a long way, for the express
purpose of visiting one "auld Thomas o' Twizzlehope," another Elliot,
I suppose, who was celebrated for his skill on the Border pipe, and in
particular for {p.179} being in possession of the real _lilt_ of
_Dick o' the Cow_. Before starting, that is, at six o'clock, the
ballad-hunters had, "just to lay the stomach, a devilled duck or twae,
and some _London_ porter." Auld Thomas found them, nevertheless, well
disposed for "breakfast" on their arrival at Twizzlehope; and this
being over, he delighted them with one of the most hideous and
unearthly of all the specimens of "riding music," and, moreover, with
considerable libations of whiskey-punch, manufactured in a certain
wooden vessel, resembling a very small milk-pail, which he called
"Wisdom," because it "made" only a few spoonfuls of spirits--though he
had the art of replenishing it so adroitly, that it had been
celebrated for fifty years as more fatal to sobriety than any bowl in
the parish. Having done due honor to "Wisdom," they again mounted, and
proceeded over moss and moor to some other equally hospitable master
of the pipe. "Eh me," says Shortreed, "sic an endless fund o' humor
and drollery as he then had wi' him! Never ten yards but we were
either laughing or roaring and singing. Wherever we stopped, how
brawlie he suited himsel' to everybody! He aye did as the lave did;
never made himsel' the great man, or took ony airs in the company.
I've seen him in a' moods in these jaunts, grave and gay, daft and
serious, sober and drunk--(this, however, even in our wildest rambles,
was but rare)--but, drunk or sober, he was aye the gentleman. He
looked excessively heavy and stupid when he was _fou_, but he was
never out o' gude-humor."

On reaching, one evening, some _Charlieshope_ or other (I forget the
name) among those wildernesses, they found a kindly reception as
usual; but to their agreeable surprise, after some days of hard
living, a measured and orderly hospitality as respected liquor. Soon
after supper, at which a bottle of elderberry wine alone had been
produced, a young student of divinity, who happened to be in the
house, was called upon to take the "big ha' Bible," {p.180} in the
good old fashion of Burns's Saturday Night; and some progress had been
already made in the service, when the goodman of the farm, whose
"tendency," as Mr. Mitchell says, "was soporific," scandalized his
wife and the dominie by starting suddenly from his knees, and rubbing
his eyes, with a stentorian exclamation of "By ----, here 's the keg at
last!" and in tumbled, as he spake the word, a couple of sturdy
herdsmen, whom, on hearing a day before of the advocate's approaching
visit, he had despatched to a certain smuggler's haunt, at some
considerable distance, in quest of a supply of _run_ brandy from the
Solway Frith. The pious "exercise" of the household was hopelessly
interrupted. With a thousand apologies for his hitherto shabby
entertainment, this jolly Elliot, or Armstrong, had the welcome _keg_
mounted on the table without a moment's delay, and gentle and simple,
not forgetting the dominie, continued carousing about it until
daylight streamed in upon the party. Sir Walter Scott seldom failed,
when I saw him in company with his Liddesdale companion, to mimic with
infinite humor the sudden outburst of his old host, on hearing the
clatter of horses' feet, which he knew to indicate the arrival of the
keg--the consternation of the dame--and the rueful despair with which
the young clergyman closed the book.

     "It was in that same season, I think," says Mr. Shortreed, "that
     Sir Walter got from Dr. Elliot the large old border war-horn,
     which ye may still see hanging in the armory at Abbotsford. How
     _great_ he was when he was made master o' _that_! I believe it
     had been found in Hermitage Castle--and one of the Doctor's
     servants had used it many a day as a grease-horn for his scythe,
     before they discovered its history. When cleaned out, it was
     never a hair the worse--the original chain, hoop, and mouth-piece
     of steel, were all entire, just as you now see them. Sir Walter
     carried it home all the way from Liddesdale to Jedburgh, slung
     about his neck like Johnny Gilpin's bottle, while I was entrusted
     with an ancient bridle-bit, which we had likewise picked up.

         'The {p.181} feint o' pride--na pride had he...
          A lang kail-gully hung down by his side,
          And a great meikle nowt-horn to rout on had he,'

     and meikle and sair we routed on 't and 'hotched and blew, wi'
     micht and main.' O what pleasant days! And then a' the nonsense
     we had cost us naething. We never put hand in pocket for a week
     on end. Toll-bars there were none--and indeed I think our haill
     charges were a feed o' corn to our horses in the gangin' and
     comin' at Riccartoun mill."

It is a pity that we have no letters of Scott's describing this first
_raid_ into Liddesdale; but as he must have left Kelso for Edinburgh
very soon after its conclusion, he probably chose to be the bearer of
his own tidings. At any rate, the wonder perhaps is, not that we
should have so few letters of this period, as that any have been
recovered. "I ascribe the preservation of my little handful," says Mr.
Clerk, "to a sort of instinctive prophetic sense of his future

I have found, however, two note-books, inscribed "Walter Scott, 1792,"
containing a variety of scraps and hints which may help us to fill up
our notion of his private studies during that year. He appears to have
used them indiscriminately. We have now an extract from the author he
happened to be reading; now a memorandum of something that had struck
him in conversation; a fragment of an essay; transcripts of favorite
poems; remarks on curious cases in the old records of the Justiciary
Court; in short, a most miscellaneous collection, in which there is
whatever might have been looked for, with perhaps the single exception
of original verse. One of the books opens with: "_Vegtam's Kvitha_, or
The Descent of Odin, with the Latin of Thomas Bartholine, and the
English poetical version of Mr. Gray; with some account of the death
of Balder, both as narrated in the Edda, and as handed down to us by
the Northern historians--_Auctore Gualtero Scott_." The Norse original
and the two versions are then transcribed; and {p.182} the
historical account appended, extending to seven closely written quarto
pages, was, I doubt not, read before one or other of his debating
societies. Next comes a page, headed "Pecuniary Distress of Charles
the First," and containing a transcript of a receipt for some plate
lent to the King in 1643. He then copies Langhorne's Owen of Carron;
the verses of Canute, on passing Ely; the lines to a cuckoo, given by
Warton as the oldest specimen of English verse; a translation "by a
gentleman in Devonshire," of the death-song of Regner Lodbrog; and the
beautiful quatrain omitted in Gray's Elegy,--

         "There scattered oft, the earliest of the year," etc.

After this we have an Italian canzonet, on the praises of blue eyes
(which were much in favor at this time); several pages of etymologies
from Ducange; some more of notes on the Morte Arthur; extracts from
the books of Adjournal, about Dame Janet Beaton, the Lady of Branksome
of The Lay of the Last Minstrel, and her husband, "Sir Walter Scott of
Buccleuch, called _Wicked Wat_;" other extracts about witches and
fairies; various couplets from Hall's Satires; a passage from Albania;
notes on the Second Sight, with extracts from Aubrey and Glanville; a
"List of Ballads to be discovered or recovered;" extracts from Guerin
de Montglave; and after many more similar entries, a table of the
Mæso-Gothic, Anglo-Saxon and Runic alphabets--with a fourth section,
headed _German_, but left blank. But enough perhaps of this record.

In November, 1792, Scott and Clerk began their regular attendance at
the Parliament House, and Scott, to use Mr. Clerk's words, "by and by
crept into a tolerable share of such business as may be expected from
a writer's connection." By this we are to understand that he was
employed from time to time by his father, and probably a few other
solicitors, in that dreary every-day taskwork, chiefly of long written
_informations_, and other papers {p.183} for the Court, on which
young counsellors of the Scotch Bar were then expected to bestow a
great deal of trouble for very scanty pecuniary remuneration, and with
scarcely a chance of finding reserved for their hands any matter that
could elicit the display of superior knowledge of understanding. He
had also his part in the cases of persons suing _in forma pauperis_;
but how little important those that came to his share were, and how
slender was the impression they had left on his mind, we may gather
from a note on Redgauntlet, wherein he signifies his doubts whether he
really had ever been engaged in what he has certainly made the _cause
célèbre_ of _Poor Peter Peebles_.

But he soon became as famous for his powers of storytelling among the
lawyers of the Outer-House, as he had been among the companions of his
High School days. The place where these idlers mostly congregated was
called, it seems, by a name which sufficiently marks the date--it was
_the Mountain_. Here, as Roger North says of the Court of King's Bench
in his early day, "there was more news than law;"--here hour after
hour passed away, week after week, month after month, and year after
year, in the interchange of light-hearted merriment among a circle of
young men, more than one of whom, in after-times, attained the highest
honors of the profession. Among the most intimate of Scott's daily
associates from this time, and during all his subsequent attendance at
the Bar, were, besides various since-eminent persons that have been
already named, the first legal antiquary of our time in Scotland, Mr.
Thomas Thomson, and William Erskine, afterwards Lord Kinnedder. Mr.
Clerk remembers complaining one morning on finding the group convulsed
with laughter, that _Duns Scotus_ had been forestalling him in a good
story, which he had communicated privately the day before--adding,
moreover, that his friend had not only stolen, but disguised it.
"Why," answered he, skilfully waiving the main charge, "this {p.184}
is always the way with _the Baronet_. He is continually saying that I
change his stories, whereas in fact I only put a cocked hat on their
heads, and stick a cane into their hands--to make them fit for going
into company."

The German class, of which we have an account in one of the Prefaces
of 1830, was formed before the Christmas of 1792, and it included
almost all these loungers of _the Mountain_. In the essay now referred
to Scott traces the interest excited in Scotland on the subject of
German literature to a paper read before the Royal Society of
Edinburgh, on the 21st of April, 1788, by the author of The Man of
Feeling. "The literary persons of Edinburgh," he says, "were then
first made aware of the existence of works of genius in a language
cognate with the English, and possessed of the same manly force of
expression; they learned at the same time that the taste which
dictated the German compositions was of a kind as nearly allied to the
English as their language: those who were from their youth accustomed
to admire Shakespeare and Milton, became acquainted for the first time
with a race of poets, who had the same lofty ambition to spurn the
flaming boundaries of the universe, and investigate the realms of
Chaos and Old Night; and of dramatists, who, disclaiming the pedantry
of the unities, sought, at the expense of occasional improbabilities
and extravagance, to present life on the stage in its scenes of
wildest contrast, and in all its boundless variety of character....
Their fictitious narratives, their ballad poetry, and other branches
of their literature, which are particularly apt to bear the stamp of
the extravagant and the supernatural, began also to occupy the
attention of the British literati. In Edinburgh, where the remarkable
coincidence between the German language and the Lowland Scottish
encouraged young men to approach this newly discovered spring of
literature, a class was formed of six or seven intimate friends, who
proposed to make themselves acquainted {p.185} with the German
language. They were in the habit of being much together, and the time
they spent in this new study was felt as a period of great amusement.
One source of this diversion was the laziness of one of their number,
the present author, who, averse to the necessary toil of grammar, and
the rules, was in the practice of fighting his way to the knowledge of
the German by his acquaintance with the Scottish and Anglo-Saxon
dialects, and of course frequently committed blunders which were not
lost on his more accurate and more studious companions." The teacher,
Dr. Willich, a medical man, is then described as striving with little
success to make his pupils sympathize in his own passion for the
"sickly monotony" and "affected ecstasies" of Gessner's Death of Abel;
and the young students, having at length acquired enough of the
language for their respective purposes, as selecting for their private
pursuits, some the philosophical treatises of Kant, others the dramas
of Schiller and Goethe. The chief, if not the only _Kantist_ of the
party, was, I believe, John Macfarlan of Kirkton; among those who
turned zealously to the popular belles-lettres of Germany were, with
Scott, his most intimate friends of the period, William Clerk, William
Erskine, and Thomas Thomson.

These studies were much encouraged by the example, and assisted by the
advice, of an accomplished person, considerably Scott's superior in
standing, Alexander Fraser Tytler, afterwards a Judge of the Court of
Session by the title of Lord Woodhouselee. His version of Schiller's
Robbers was one of the earliest from the German theatre, and no doubt
stimulated his young friend to his first experiments in the same walk.

The contemporary familiars of those days almost all survive; but one,
and afterwards the most intimate of them all, went before him; and I
may therefore hazard in this place a few words on the influence which
he exercised at this critical period on Scott's literary tastes and
studies. {p.186} William Erskine was the son of an Episcopalian
clergyman in Perthshire, of a good family, but far from wealthy. He
had received his early education at Glasgow, where, while attending
the college lectures, he was boarded under the roof of Andrew
Macdonald, the author of Vimonda, who then officiated as minister to a
small congregation of Episcopalian nonconformists. From this
unfortunate but very ingenious man, Erskine had derived, in boyhood, a
strong passion for old English literature, more especially the
Elizabethan dramatists; which, however, he combined with a far
livelier relish for the classics of antiquity than either Scott or his
master ever possessed. From the beginning, accordingly, Scott had in
Erskine a monitor who--entering most warmly into his taste for
national lore--the life of the past--and the bold and picturesque
style of the original English school--was constantly urging the
advantages to be derived from combining with its varied and masculine
breadth of delineation such attention to the minor graces of
arrangement and diction as might conciliate the fastidiousness of
modern taste. Deferring what I may have to say as to Erskine's general
character and manners, until I shall have approached the period when I
myself had the pleasure of sharing his acquaintance, I introduce the
general bearing of his literary opinions thus early, because I
conceive there is no doubt that his companionship was, even in those
days, highly serviceable to Scott as a student of the German drama and
romance. Directed, as he mainly was in the ultimate determination of
his literary ambition, by the example of their great founders, he
appears to have run at first no trivial hazard of adopting the
extravagances, both of thought and language, which he found blended in
their works with such a captivating display of genius, and genius
employed on subjects so much in unison with the deepest of his own
juvenile predilections. His friendly critic was just, as well as
delicate; and unmerciful severity as to the mingled absurdities
{p.187} and vulgarities of German detail commanded deliberate
attention from one who admired not less enthusiastically than himself
the genuine sublimity and pathos of his new favorites. I could, I
believe, name one other at least among Scott's fellow-students of the
same time, whose influence was combined in this matter with Erskine's;
but his was that which continued to be exerted the longest, and always
in the same direction. That it was not accompanied with entire
success, the readers of The Doom of Devorgoil, to say nothing of minor
blemishes in far better works, must acknowledge.

These German studies divided Scott's attention with the business of
the courts of law, on which he was at least a regular attendant during
the winter of 1792-93.

In March, when the Court rose, he proceeded into Galloway, where he
had not before been, in order to make himself acquainted with the
persons and localities mixed up with the case of a certain Rev. Mr.
M'Naught, minister of Girthon, whose trial, on charges of habitual
drunkenness, singing of lewd and profane songs, dancing and toying at
a penny-wedding with a "sweetie wife" (that is, an itinerant vender of
gingerbread, etc.), and moreover of promoting irregular marriages as a
justice of the peace, was about to take place before the General
Assembly of the Kirk.

As his "Case for M'Naught," dated May, 1793, is the first of his legal
papers that I have discovered, and contains several characteristic
enough turns, I make no apology for introducing a few extracts:--

     At the head of the first class of offences stands the
     extraordinary assertion, that, being a Minister of the Gospel,
     the respondent had illegally undertaken the office of a justice
     of peace. It is, the respondent believes, the first time that
     ever the undertaking an office of such extensive utility was
     stated as a crime; for he humbly apprehends, that by conferring
     the office of a justice of the peace upon clergymen, their
     influence may, in the general case, be rendered more extensive
     among their parishioners, and {p.188} many trifling causes be
     settled by them, which might lead the litigants to enormous
     expenses, and become the subject of much contention before other
     courts. The duty being only occasional, and not daily, cannot be
     said to interfere with those of their function; and their
     education, and presumed character, render them most proper for
     the office. It is indeed alleged that the Act 1584, chap. 133,
     excludes clergymen from acting under a commission of the peace.
     This Act, however, was passed at a time when it was of the
     highest importance to the Crown to wrench from the hands of the
     clergy the power of administering justice in civil cases, which
     had, from the ignorance of the laity, been enjoyed by them almost
     exclusively. During the whole reign of James VI., as is well
     known to the Reverend Court, such a jealousy subsisted betwixt
     the Church and the State, that those who were at the head of the
     latter endeavored, by every means in their power, to diminish the
     influence of the former. At present, when these dissensions
     happily no longer subsist, the law, as far as regards the office
     of justice of the peace, appears to have fallen into disuse, and
     the respondent conceives that any minister is capable of acting
     in that, or any other judicial capacity, provided it is of such a
     nature as not to withdraw much of his time from what the statute
     calls the comfort and edification of the flock committed to him.
     Further, the Act 1584 is virtually repealed by the statute 6th
     Anne, _c._ 6, sect. 2, which makes the Scots Law on the subject
     of justices of the peace the same with that of England, where the
     office is publicly exercised by the clergy of all descriptions.

     ... Another branch of the accusation against the defender as a
     justice of peace, is the ratification of irregular marriages. The
     defender must here also call the attention of his reverend
     brethren and judges to the expediency of his conduct. The girls
     were usually with child at the time the application was made to
     the defender. In this situation, the children born out of
     matrimony, though begot under promise of marriage, must have been
     thrown upon the parish, or perhaps murdered in infancy, had not
     the men been persuaded to consent to a solemn declaration of
     betrothment, or private marriage, emitted before the defender as
     a justice of peace. The defender himself, commiserating the
     situation of such women, often endeavored to persuade their
     seducers to do them justice; and men frequently acquiesced
     {p.189} in this sort of marriage, when they could by no means
     have been prevailed upon to go through the ceremonies of
     proclamation of banns, or the expense and trouble of a public
     wedding. The declaration of a previous marriage was sometimes
     literally true; sometimes a fiction voluntarily emitted by the
     parties themselves, under the belief that it was the most safe
     way of constituting a private marriage _de presenti_. The
     defender had been induced, from the practice of other justices,
     to consider the receiving these declarations, whether true or
     false, as a part of his duty, which he could not decline, even
     had he been willing to do so. Finally, the defender must remind
     the Venerable Assembly that he acted upon these occasions as a
     justice of peace, which brings him back to the point from which
     he set out, namely, that the Reverend Court are utterly
     incompetent to take cognizance of his conduct in that character,
     which no sentence that they can pronounce could give or take

     The second grand division of the libel against the defender
     refers to his conduct as a clergyman and a Christian. He was
     charged in the libel with the most gross and vulgar behavior,
     with drunkenness, blasphemy, and impiety; yet all the evidence
     which the appellants have been able to bring forward tends only
     to convict him of three acts of drunkenness during the course of
     fourteen years: for even the Presbytery, severe as they have
     been, acquit him _quoad ultra_. But the attention of the Reverend
     Court is earnestly entreated to the situation of the defender at
     the time, the circumstances which conduced to his imprudence, and
     the share which some of those had in occasioning his guilt, who
     have since been most active in persecuting and distressing him on
     account of it.

     The defender must premise, by observing, that the crime of
     drunkenness consists not in a man's having been in that situation
     twice or thrice in his life, but in the constant and habitual
     practice of the vice; the distinction between _ebrius_ and
     _ebriosus_ being founded in common sense, and recognized by law.
     A thousand cases may be supposed, in which a man, without being
     aware of what he is about, may be insensibly led on to
     intoxication, especially in a country where the vice is
     unfortunately so common, that upon some occasions a man may go to
     excess from a false sense of modesty, or a fear of disobliging
     his entertainer. {p.190} The defender will not deny, that after
     losing his senses upon the occasions, and in the manner to be
     afterwards stated, he may have committed improprieties which fill
     him with sorrow and regret: but he hopes, that in case he shall
     be able to show circumstances which abridge and palliate the
     guilt of his imprudent excess, the Venerable Court will consider
     these improprieties as the effects of that excess only, and not
     as arising from any radical vice in his temper or disposition.
     When a man is bereft of his judgment by the influence of wine,
     and commits any crime, he can only be said to be morally
     culpable, in proportion to the impropriety of the excess he has
     committed, and not in proportion to the magnitude of its evil
     consequences. In a legal view, indeed, a man must be held as
     answerable and punishable for such a crime, precisely as if he
     had been in a state of sobriety; but his crime is, in a moral
     light, comprised in the _origo mali_, the drunkenness only. His
     senses being once gone, he is no more than a human machine, as
     insensible of misconduct, in speech and action, as a parrot or an
     automaton. This is more particularly the case with respect to
     indecorums, such as the defender is accused of; for a man can no
     more be held a common swearer, or a habitual talker of obscenity,
     because he has been guilty of using such expressions when
     intoxicated, than he can be termed an idiot, because, when
     intoxicated, he has spoken nonsense. If, therefore, the defender
     can extenuate the guilt of his intoxication, he hopes that its
     consequences will be numbered rather among his misfortunes than
     faults; and that his Reverend Brethren will consider him, while
     in that state, as acting from a mechanical impulse, and as
     incapable of distinguishing between right and wrong. For the
     scandal which his behavior may have occasioned, he feels the most
     heartfelt sorrow, and will submit with penitence and contrition
     to the severe rebuke which the Presbytery have decreed against
     him. But he cannot think that his unfortunate misdemeanor,
     circumstanced as he was, merits a severer punishment. He can show
     that pains were at these times taken to lead him on, when bereft
     of his senses, to subjects which were likely to call forth
     improper or indecent expressions. The defender must further urge,
     that not being originally educated for the church, he may, before
     he assumed the sacred character, have occasionally permitted
     himself freedoms of expression which are reckoned less culpable
     {p.191} among the laity. Thus he may, during that time, have
     learned the songs which he is accused of singing, though rather
     inconsistent with his clerical character. What, then, was more
     natural, than that, when thrown off his guard by the assumed
     conviviality and artful solicitations of those about him, former
     improper habits, though renounced during his thinking moments,
     might assume the reins of his imagination, when his situation
     rendered him utterly insensible of their impropriety?

     ... The Venerable Court will now consider how far three instances
     of ebriety, and their consequences, should ruin at once the
     character and the peace of mind of the unfortunate defender, and
     reduce him, at his advanced time of life, about sixty years,
     together with his aged parent, to a state of beggary. He hopes
     his severe sufferings may be considered as some atonement for the
     improprieties of which he may have been guilty; and that the
     Venerable Court will, in their judgment, remember mercy.

          In respect whereof, etc.
                                        WALTER SCOTT.

This argument (for which he received five guineas) was sustained by
Scott in a speech of considerable length at the Bar of the Assembly.
It was far the most important business in which any solicitor had as
yet employed him, and _The Club_ mustered strong in the gallery. He
began in a low voice, but by degrees gathered more confidence; and
when it became necessary for him to analyze the evidence touching a
certain penny-wedding, repeated some very coarse specimens of his
client's alleged conversation, in a tone so bold and free, that he was
called to order with great austerity by one of the leading members of
the Venerable Court. This seemed to confuse him not a little; so when,
by and by, he had to recite a stanza of one of M'Naught's convivial
ditties, he breathed it out in a faint and hesitating style;
whereupon, thinking he needed encouragement, the allies in the gallery
astounded the Assembly by cordial shouts of _hear! hear!--encore!
encore!_ They were immediately turned out, and Scott got through the
rest of his harangue very little to his own satisfaction.

He {p.192} believed, in a word, that he had made a complete failure,
and issued from the Court in a melancholy mood. At the door he found
Adam Ferguson waiting to inform him that the brethren so
unceremoniously extruded from the gallery had sought shelter in a
neighboring tavern, where they hoped he would join them. He complied
with the invitation, but seemed for a long while incapable of enjoying
the merriment of his friends. "Come, _Duns_," cried _the
Baronet_,--"cheer up, man, and fill another tumbler; here's ******
going to give us _The Tailor_."--"Ah!" he answered, with a groan, "the
tailor was a better man than me, sirs; for he didna venture _ben_
until he _kenned the way_." A certain comical old song, which had,
perhaps, been a favorite with the minister of Girthon--

         "The tailor he came here to sew,
          And weel he kenn'd the way o't," etc.

was, however, sung and chorused; and the evening ended in the full
jollity of _High Jinks_.

Mr. M'Naught was deposed from the ministry, and his young advocate has
written out at the end of the printed papers on the case two of the
_songs_ which had been alleged in the evidence. They are both grossly
indecent. It is to be observed, that the research he had made with a
view to pleading this man's cause carried him, for the first, and I
believe for the last time, into the scenery of his Guy Mannering; and
I may add that several of the names of the minor characters of the
novel (that of _M'Guffog_, for example) appear in the list of
witnesses for and against his client.

If the preceding autumn forms a remarkable point in Scott's history,
as first introducing him to the manners of the wilder Border country,
the summer which followed left traces of equal importance. He gave the
greater part of it to an excursion which much extended his knowledge
of Highland scenery and character; and in particular furnished him
with the richest stores, which he afterwards turned {p.193} to
account in one of the most beautiful of his great poems, and in
several, including the first, of his prose romances.

Accompanied by Adam Ferguson, he visited on this occasion some of the
finest districts of Stirlingshire and Perthshire; and not in the
percursory manner of his more boyish expeditions, but taking up his
residence for a week or ten days in succession at the family
residences of several of his young allies of _the Mountain_, and from
thence familiarizing himself at leisure with the country and the
people round about. In this way he lingered some time at Tullibody,
the seat of the father of Sir Ralph Abercromby, and grandfather of his
friend Mr. George Abercromby (now Lord Abercromby); and heard from the
old gentleman's own lips his narrative of a journey which he had been
obliged to make, shortly after he first settled in Stirlingshire, to
the wild retreat of Rob Roy. The venerable laird told how he was
received by the cateran "with much courtesy," in a cavern exactly such
as that of _Bean Lean_; dined on collops cut from some of his own
cattle, which he recognized hanging by their heels from the rocky roof
beyond; and returned in all safety, after concluding a bargain of
_blackmail_--in virtue of which annual payment Rob Roy guaranteed the
future security of his herds against, not his own followers merely,
but all freebooters whatever. Scott next visited his friend
Edmonstone, at Newton, a beautiful seat close to the ruins of the once
magnificent Castle of Doune, and heard another aged gentleman's vivid
recollections of all that happened there when John Home, the author of
Douglas, and other Hanoverian prisoners, escaped from the Highland
garrison in 1745.[106] Proceeding towards the sources of the Teith, he
was received for the first time under a roof which, in subsequent
years, he regularly revisited, that of another of his associates,
Buchanan, the young Laird of Cambusmore. It was thus that {p.194}
the scenery of Loch Katrine came to be so associated with "the
recollection of many a dear friend and merry expedition of former
days," that to compose The Lady of the Lake was "a labor of love, and
no less so to recall the manners and incidents introduced."[107] It
was starting from the same house, when the poem itself had made some
progress, that he put to the test the practicability of riding from
the banks of Loch Vennachar to the Castle of Stirling within the brief
space which he had assigned to Fitz-James's Grey Bayard, after the
duel with Roderick Dim; and the principal landmarks in the description
of that fiery progress are so many hospitable mansions, all familiar
to him at the same period--Blairdrummond, the residence of Lord
Kaimes; Ochtertyre, that of John Ramsay, the scholar and antiquary
(now best remembered for his kind and sagacious advice to Burns); and
"the lofty brow of ancient Kier," the splendid seat of the chief
family of the name of Stirling; from which, to say nothing of remoter
objects, the prospect has, on one hand, the rock of "Snowdon," and in
front the field of Bannockburn.

         [Footnote 106: _Waverley_, chap, xxxviii. note.]

         [Footnote 107: Introduction to _The Lady of the Lake_, 1830.]

Another resting-place was Craighall, in Perthshire, the seat of the
Rattrays, a family related to Mr. Clerk, who accompanied him. From the
position of this striking place, as Mr. Clerk at once perceived, and
as the author afterwards confessed to him, that of the _Tully-Veolan_
was very faithfully copied; though in the description of the house
itself, and its gardens, many features were adopted from Bruntsfield
and Ravelston.[108] Mr. Clerk has told me that he went through the
first chapters of Waverley without more than a vague suspicion of the
new novelist; but that when he read the arrival at Tully-Veolan, his
suspicion was at once converted into certainty, and he handed the book
to a common friend of his and the author's, saying, "This is
Scott's--and I'll lay {p.195} a bet you'll find such and such things
in the next chapter." I hope Mr. Clerk will forgive me for mentioning
_the_ particular circumstance that first flashed the conviction on his
mind. In the course of a ride from Craighall they had both become
considerably fagged and heated, and Clerk, seeing the smoke of a
_clachan_ a little way before them, ejaculated--"How agreeable if we
should here fall in with one of those signposts where a red lion
predominates over a punch-bowl!" The phrase happened to tickle Scott's
fancy--he often introduced it on similar occasions afterwards--and at
the distance of twenty years Mr. Clerk was at no loss to recognize an
old acquaintance in the "huge bear" which "predominates" over the
stone basin in the courtyard of Baron Bradwardine.

         [Footnote 108: _Waverley_, chap. viii.]

I believe the longest stay he made this autumn was at Meigle in
Forfarshire, the seat of Patrick Murray of Simprim, a gentleman whose
enthusiastic passion for antiquities, and especially military
antiquities, had peculiarly endeared him both to Scott and Clerk. Here
Adam Ferguson, too, was of the party; and I have often heard them each
and all dwell on the thousand scenes of adventure and merriment which
diversified that visit. In the village churchyard, close beneath Mr.
Murray's gardens, tradition still points out the tomb of Queen
Guenever; and the whole district abounds in objects of historical
interest. Amidst them they spent their wandering days, while their
evenings passed in the joyous festivity of a wealthy young bachelor's
establishment, or sometimes under the roofs of neighbors less refined
than their host, the _Balmawhapples_ of the Braes of Angus. From
Meigle they made a trip to Dunnottar Castle, the ruins of the huge old
fortress of the Earls Marischall, and it was in the churchyard of that
place that Scott then saw for the first and last time Robert Paterson,
the living _Old Mortality_. He and Mr. Walker, the minister of the
parish, found the poor man refreshing the epitaphs on {p.196} the
tombs of certain Cameronians who had fallen under the oppressions of
James the Second's brief insanity. Being invited into the manse after
dinner to take a glass of whiskey-punch, "to which he was supposed to
have no objections," he joined the minister's party accordingly; but
"he was in bad humor," says Scott, "and, to use his own phrase, had no
freedom for conversation. His spirit had been sorely vexed by hearing,
in a certain Aberdonian kirk, the psalmody directed by a pitch-pipe or
some similar instrument, which was to Old Mortality the abomination of

It was also while he had his headquarters at Meigle at this time that
Scott visited for the first time _Glammis_, the residence of the Earls
of Strathmore, by far the noblest specimen of the real feudal castle,
entire and perfect, that had as yet come under his inspection. What
its aspect was when he first saw it, and how grievously he lamented
the change it had undergone when he revisited it some years
afterwards, he has recorded in one of the most striking passages that
I think ever came from his pen. Commenting, in his Essay on Landscape
Gardening (1828), on the proper domestic ornaments of the Castle
_Pleasaunce_, he has this beautiful burst of lamentation over the
barbarous innovations of _the Capability men_:--"Down went many a
trophy of old magnificence, courtyard, ornamented enclosure, fosse,
avenue, barbican, and every external muniment of battled wall and
flanking tower, out of the midst of which the ancient dome, rising
high above all its characteristic accompaniments, and seemingly girt
round by its appropriate defences, which again circled each other in
their different gradations, looked, as it should, the queen and
mistress of the surrounding country. It was thus that the huge old
tower of Glammis, 'whose birth tradition notes not,' once showed its
lordly head above seven circles (if I remember aright) of defensive
boundaries, through which the friendly guest was admitted, and at each
of which a suspicious {p.197} person was unquestionably put to his
answer. A disciple of Kent had the cruelty to render this splendid old
mansion (the more modern part of which was the work of Inigo Jones)
more _parkish_, as he was pleased to call it; to raze all those
exterior defences, and bring his mean and paltry gravel-walk up to the
very door from which, deluded by the name, one might have imagined
Lady Macbeth (with the form and features of Siddons) issuing forth to
receive King Duncan. It is thirty years and upwards since I have seen
Glammis, but I have not yet forgotten or forgiven the atrocity which,
under pretence of improvement, deprived that lordly place of its
appropriate accompaniments,

         'Leaving an ancient dome and towers like these
          Beggar'd and outraged.'"[109]

         [Footnote 109: Wordsworth's Sonnet on Neidpath Castle.]

The night he spent at the yet unprofaned Glammis in 1793 was, as he
elsewhere says, one of the "_two_ periods distant from each other" at
which he could recollect experiencing "that degree of superstitious
awe which his countrymen call _eerie_."

     "The heavy pile," he writes, "contains much in its appearance,
     and in the traditions connected with it, impressive to the
     imagination. It was the scene of the murder of a Scottish King of
     great antiquity--not indeed the gracious Duncan, with whom the
     name naturally associates itself, but Malcolm II. It contains
     also a curious monument of the peril of feudal times, being a
     secret chamber, the entrance of which, by the law or custom of
     the family, must only be known to three persons at once, namely,
     the Earl of Strathmore, his heir-apparent, and any third person
     whom they may take into their confidence. The extreme antiquity
     of the building is vouched by the thickness of the walls, and the
     wild straggling arrangement of the accommodation within doors. As
     the late Earl seldom resided at Glammis, it was when I was there
     but half furnished, and that with movables of great antiquity,
     which, with the pieces of chivalric armor hanging on the walls,
     greatly contributed to the general effect of the whole. After a
     very hospitable reception from {p.198} the late Peter Proctor,
     seneschal of the castle, I was conducted to my apartment in a
     distant part of the building. I must own, that when I heard door
     after door shut, after my conductor had retired, I began to
     consider myself as too far from the living, and somewhat too near
     the dead. We had passed through what is called _the King's Room_,
     a vaulted apartment, garnished with stags' antlers and other
     trophies of the chase, and said by tradition to be the spot of
     Malcolm's murder, and I had an idea of the vicinity of the castle
     chapel. In spite of the truth of history, the whole night scene
     in Macbeth's Castle rushed at once upon me, and struck my mind
     more forcibly than even when I have seen its terrors represented
     by John Kemble and his inimitable sister. In a word, I
     experienced sensations which, though not remarkable for timidity
     or superstition, did not fail to affect me to the point of being
     disagreeable, while they were mingled at the same time with a
     strange and indescribable sort of pleasure, the recollection of
     which affords me gratification at this moment."[110]

         [Footnote 110: _Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft_, p.

He alludes here to the hospitable reception which had preceded the
mingled sensations of this _eerie_ night; but one of his notes on
Waverley touches this not unimportant part of the story more
distinctly; for we are there informed that the _silver bear_ of
Tully-Veolan, "_the poculum potatorium_ of the valiant baron," had its
prototype at Glammis--a massive beaker of silver, double gilt, moulded
into the form of a _lion_, the name and bearing of the Earls of
Strathmore, and containing about an English pint of wine. "The
author," he says, "ought perhaps to be ashamed of recording that he
had the honor of swallowing the contents of _the lion_; and the
recollection of the feat suggested the story of the Bear of

From this pleasant tour, so rich in its results, Scott returned in
time to attend the autumnal assizes at Jedburgh, on which occasion he
made his first appearance as counsel in a criminal court; and had the
satisfaction of helping a veteran poacher and sheep-stealer to escape
through some of the meshes of the law. "You're a lucky {p.199}
scoundrel," Scott whispered to his client, when the verdict was
pronounced. "I'm just o' your mind," quoth the desperado, "and I'll
send ye a maukin[111] the morn, man." I am not sure whether it was at
these assizes or the next in the same town, that he had less success
in the case of a certain notorious housebreaker. The man, however, was
well aware that no skill could have baffled the clear evidence against
him, and was, after his fashion, grateful for such exertions as had
been made in his behalf. He requested the young advocate to visit him
once more before he left the place. Scott's curiosity induced him to
accept this invitation, and his friend, as soon as they were alone
together in the _condemned cell_, said--"I am very sorry, sir, that I
have no fee to offer you--so let me beg your acceptance of two bits of
advice which may be useful perhaps when you come to have a house of
your own. I am done with practice, you see, and here is my legacy.
Never keep a large watchdog out of doors--we can always silence them
cheaply--indeed if it be a _dog_, 'tis easier than whistling--but tie
a little tight yelping terrier within; and secondly, put no trust in
nice, clever, gimcrack locks--the only thing that bothers us is a huge
old heavy one, no matter how simple the construction,--and the ruder
and rustier the key, so much the better for the housekeeper." I
remember hearing him tell this story some thirty years after at a
Judges' dinner at Jedburgh, and he summed it up with a rhyme--"Ay, ay,
my lord," (I think he addressed his friend Lord Meadowbank)--

         "Yelping terrier, rusty key,
          Was Walter Scott's best Jeddart fee."

         [Footnote 111: A hare.]

At these, or perhaps the next assizes, he was also counsel in an
appeal case touching a cow which his client had sold as sound, but
which the court below (the sheriff) had pronounced to have what is
called _the cliers_--a disease analogous to glanders in a horse. In
opening his case {p.200} before Sir David Rae, Lord Eskgrove, Scott
stoutly maintained the healthiness of the cow, who, as he said, had
merely a cough. "Stop there," quoth the judge; "I have had plenty of
healthy kye in my time, but I never heard of are of them coughing. A
coughin' cow!--that will never do. Sustain the sheriff's judgment, and

A day or two after this, Scott and his old companion were again on
their way into Liddesdale, and "just," says the Shortreed Memorandum,
"as we were passing by Singdon, we saw a grand herd o' cattle a'
feeding by the roadside, and a fine young bullock, the best in the
whole lot, was in the midst of them, coughing lustily. 'Ah,' said
Scott, 'what a pity for my client that old Eskgrove had not taken
Singdon on his way to the town. That bonny creature would have saved

         "A Daniel come to judgment, yea a Daniel;
          O wise young judge, how I do honor thee!"'"


                              ROSEBANK, near Kelso, September 13, 1793.

     DEAR MURRAY,--I would have let fly an epistle at you long ere
     this, had I not known I should have some difficulty in hitting so
     active a traveller, who may in that respect be likened unto a
     bird of passage. Were you to follow the simile throughout, I
     might soon expect to see you winging your way to the southern
     climes, instead of remaining to wait the approach of winter in
     the colder regions of the north. Seriously, I have been in weekly
     hopes of hearing of your arrival in the Merse, and have been
     qualifying myself by constant excursions to be your Border

     As the facetious Linton will no doubt make one of your party, I
     have got by heart for his amusement a reasonable number of Border
     ballads, most of them a little longer than Chevy Chase, which I
     intend to throw in at intervals, just by way of securing my share
     in the conversation. {p.201} As for _you_, as I know your
     picturesque turn, I can be in this country at no loss how to
     cater for your entertainment, especially if you would think of
     moving before the fall of the leaf. I believe with respect to the
     real _To Kalon_, few villages can surpass that near which I am
     now writing; and as to your rivers, it is part of my creed that
     the Tweed and Teviot yield to none in the world, nor do I fear
     that even in your eyes, which have been feasted on classic
     ground, they will greatly sink in comparison with the Tiber or
     Po. Then for antiquities, it is true we have got no temples or
     heathenish fanes to show; but if substantial old castles and
     ruined abbeys will serve in their stead, they are to be found in
     abundance. So much for Linton and you. As for Mr. Robertson,[112]
     I don't know quite so well how to bribe him. We had indeed lately
     a party of strollers here, who might in some degree have
     entertained him, _i. e._, in case he felt no compassion for the
     horrid and tragical murders which they nightly committed,--but
     now, _Alas, Sir! the players be gone_.

     I am at present very uncertain as to my own motions, but I still
     hope to be northwards again before the commencement of the
     session, which (d--n it) is beginning to draw nigher than I could
     wish. I would esteem myself greatly favored by a few lines
     informing me of your motions when they are settled; since
     visiting you, should I go north, or attending you if you come
     this way, are my two grand plans of amusement.

     What think you of our politics now? Had I been within reach of
     you, or any of the chosen, I suspect the taking of Valenciennes
     would have been sustained as a reason for examining the contents
     of t'other bottle, which has too often suffered for slighter
     pretences. I have little {p.202} doubt, however, that by the
     time we meet in glory (terrestrial glory, I mean) Dunkirk will be
     an equally good apology. Adieu, my good friend; remember me
     kindly to Mr. Robertson, to Linton, and to the Baronet. I
     understand both these last intend seeing you soon. I am very
     sincerely yours,

                                        WALTER SCOTT.

         [Footnote 112: Dr. Robertson was tutor to the Laird of
         Simprim, and afterwards minister of Meigle--a man of great
         worth, and an excellent scholar. In his younger days he was
         fond of the theatre, and encouraged and directed _Simprim,
         Grogg, Linton & Co._ in their histrionic

The winter of 1793-94 appears to have been passed like the preceding
one: the German class resumed their sittings; Scott spoke in his
debating club on the questions of Parliamentary Reform and the
Inviolability of the Person of the First Magistrate, which the
circumstances of the time had invested with extraordinary interest,
and in both of which he no doubt took the side adverse to the
principles of the English, and the practice of the French Liberals.
His love-affair continued on exactly the same footing as before;--and
for the rest, like the young heroes in Redgauntlet, he "swept the
boards of the Parliament House with the skirts of his gown; laughed,
and made others laugh; drank claret at Bayle's, Fortune's, and
Walker's, and eat oysters in the Covenant Close." On his desk "the
new novel most in repute lay snugly intrenched beneath Stair's
Institute, or an open volume of Decisions;" and his dressing-table was
littered with "old play-bills, letters respecting a meeting of the
Faculty, Rules of the Speculative, Syllabus of Lectures--all the
miscellaneous contents of a young advocate's pocket, which contains
everything but briefs and bank-notes." His professional occupation was
still very slender; but he took a lively interest in the proceedings
of the criminal court, and more especially in those arising out of the
troubled state of the public feeling as to politics.

In the spring of 1794 I find him writing to his friends in
Roxburghshire with great exultation about the "good spirit"
manifesting itself among the upper classes of the citizens of
Edinburgh, and, above all, the organization of a {p.203} regiment of
volunteers, in which his brother Thomas, now a fine active young man,
equally handsome and high-spirited, was enrolled as a grenadier,
while, as he remarks, his own "unfortunate infirmity" condemned him to
be "a mere spectator of the drills." In the course of the same year,
the plan of a corps of volunteer light horse was started; and, if the
recollection of Mr. Skene be accurate, the suggestion originally
proceeded from Scott himself, who certainly had a principal share in
its subsequent success. He writes to his uncle at Rosebank, requesting
him to be on the lookout for a "strong gelding, such as would suit a
stalwart dragoon;" and intimating his intention to part with his
collection of Scottish coins, rather than not be mounted to his mind.
The corps, however, was not organized for some time; and in the mean
while he had an opportunity of displaying his zeal in a manner which
Captain Scott by no means considered as so respectable.

A party of Irish medical students began, towards the end of April, to
make themselves remarkable in the Edinburgh Theatre, where they
mustered in a particular corner of the pit, and lost no opportunity of
insulting the Loyalists of the boxes, by calling for revolutionary
tunes, applauding every speech that could bear a seditious meaning,
and drowning the national anthem in howls and hootings. The young
Tories of the Parliament House resented this license warmly, and after
a succession of minor disturbances, the quarrel was, put to the issue
of a regular trial by combat. Scott was conspicuous among the juvenile
advocates and solicitors who on this grand night assembled in front of
the pit, armed with stout cudgels, and determined to have God save the
King not only played without interruption, but sung in full chorus by
both company and audience. The Irishmen were ready at the first note
of the anthem. They rose, clapped on their hats, and brandished their
shillelahs; a stern battle ensued, and after many a head had been
cracked, the {p.204} Loyalists at length found themselves in
possession of the field. In writing to Simprim a few days afterwards,
Scott says--"You will be glad to hear that the _affair_ of Saturday
passed over without any worse consequence to the Loyalists than that
five, including your friend and humble servant Colonel Grogg, have
been bound over to the peace, and obliged to give bail for their good
behavior, which, you may believe, was easily found. The said Colonel
had no less than three broken heads laid to his charge by as many of
the Democrats." Alluding to Simprim's then recent appointment as
Captain in the Perthshire Fencibles (Cavalry), he adds--"Among my own
military (I mean mock-military) achievements, let me not fail to
congratulate you and the country on the real character you have agreed
to accept. Remember; in case of real action, I shall beg the honor of
admission to your troop as a volunteer."

One of the theatrical party, Sir Alexander Wood, whose notes lie
before me, says--"Walter was certainly our Coryphæus, and signalized
himself splendidly in this desperate fray; and nothing used afterwards
to afford him more delight than dramatizing its incidents. Some of the
most efficient of our allies were persons previously unknown to him,
and of several of these whom he had particularly observed, he never
lost sight afterwards. There were, I believe, cases in which they owed
most valuable assistance in life to his recollection of _the playhouse
row_." To this last part of Sir Alexander's testimony I can also add
mine; and I am sure my worthy friend, Mr. Donald M'Lean, W. S., will
gratefully confirm it. When that gentleman became candidate for some
office in the Exchequer, about 1822 or 1823, and Sir Walter's interest
was requested on his behalf,--"To be sure!" said he; "did not he sound
the charge upon Paddy? Can I ever forget Donald's _Sticks by

         [Footnote 113: According to a friendly critic, one of the
         Liberals exclaimed, as the _row_ was thickening, "No
         Blows!"--and Donald, suiting the action to the word,
         responded, "Plows by ----!"--(1839.)]

On {p.205} the 9th May, 1794, Charles Kerr of Abbotrule writes to
him--"I was last night at Rosebank, and your uncle told me he had been
giving you a very long and very sage lecture upon the occasion of
these Edinburgh squabbles; I am happy to hear they are now at an end.
They were rather of the serious cast, and though you encountered them
with spirit and commendable resolution, I, with your uncle, should
wish to see your abilities conspicuous on another theatre." The same
gentleman, in his next letter (June 3), congratulates Scott on having
"seen _his name in the newspaper_," namely, as counsel for another
Roxburghshire laird, by designation _Bedrule_. Such, no doubt, was
Abbotrule's "other theatre."

Scott spent the long vacation of this year chiefly in Roxburghshire,
but again visited Keir, Cambusmore, and others of his friends in
Perthshire, and came to Edinburgh, early in September, to be present
at the trials of Watt and Downie, on a charge of high treason. Watt
seems to have tendered his services to Government as a spy upon the
Society of the Friends of the People in Edinburgh, but ultimately,
considering himself as underpaid, to have embraced, to their wildest
extent, the schemes he had become acquainted with in the course of
this worthy occupation; and he, and one Downie, a mechanic, were now
arraigned as having taken a prominent part in the organizing of a plot
for a general rising in Edinburgh, to seize the Castle, the Bank, the
persons of the Judges, and proclaim a Provisional Republican
Government; all which was supposed to have been arranged in concert
with the Hardies, Thelwalls, Holcrofts, and so forth, who were a few
weeks later brought to trial in London for an alleged conspiracy to
"summon delegates to a National Convention, with a view to subvert the
Government, and levy war upon the King." The English prisoners were
acquitted, but Watt and Downie were not so fortunate. Scott writes as
follows to his aunt, Miss Christian Rutherford, then at Ashestiel, in

     ADVOCATES' {p.206} LIBRARY, 5th September, 1794.

     My dear Miss Christy will perceive, from the date of this
     epistle, that I have accomplished my purpose of coming to town to
     be present at the trial of the Edinburgh traitors. I arrived here
     on Monday evening from Kelso, and was present at Watt's trial on
     Wednesday, which displayed to the public the most atrocious and
     deliberate plan of villainy which has occurred, perhaps, in the
     annals of Great Britain. I refer you for particulars to the
     papers, and shall only add, that the equivocations and perjury of
     the witnesses (most of them being accomplices in what they called
     the _great plan_) set the abilities of Mr. Anstruther, the King's
     counsel, in the most striking point of view. The patience and
     temper with which he tried them on every side, and screwed out of
     them the evidence they were so anxious to conceal, showed much
     knowledge of human nature; and the art with which he arranged the
     information he received, made the trial, upon the whole, the most
     interesting I ever was present at. Downie's trial is just now
     going forwards over my head; but as the evidence is just the same
     as formerly brought against Watt, is not so interesting. You will
     easily believe that on Wednesday my curiosity was too much
     excited to retire at an early hour, and, indeed, I sat in the
     Court from seven in the morning till two the next morning; but as
     I had provided myself with some cold meat and a bottle of wine, I
     contrived to support the fatigue pretty well. It strikes me, upon
     the whole, that the plan of these miscreants might, from its very
     desperate and improbable nature, have had no small chance of
     succeeding, at least as far as concerned cutting off the
     soldiers, and obtaining possession of the banks, besides shedding
     the blood of the most distinguished inhabitants. There, I think,
     the evil must have stopped, unless they had further support than
     has yet appeared. Stooks was the prime mover of the whole, and
     the person who supplied the money; and our theatrical
     disturbances are found to have {p.207} formed one link of the
     chain. So, I have no doubt, Messrs. Stooks, Burk, etc., would
     have found out a new way of paying old debts. The _people_ are
     perfectly quiescent upon this grand occasion, and seem to
     interest themselves very little in the fate of their _soi-disant
     friends_. The Edinburgh volunteers make a respectable and
     formidable appearance already. They are exercised four hours
     almost every day, with all the rigor of military discipline. The
     grenadier company consists entirely of men above six feet. So
     much for public news.

     As to home intelligence--you know that my mother and Anne had
     projected a _jaunt_ to Inverleithen; fate, however, had destined
     otherwise. The intended day of departure was ushered in by a most
     complete deluge, to which, and the consequent disappointment, our
     proposed travellers did not submit with that Christian meekness
     which might have beseemed. In short, both within and without
     doors, it was a _devil_ of a day. The second was like unto it.
     The third day came a post, a killing post,[114] and in the shape
     of a letter from this fountain of health, informed us no lodgings
     were to be had there; so, whatever be its virtues, or the
     grandeur attending a journey to its streams, we might as well
     have proposed to visit the river Jordan, or the walls of Jericho.
     Not so our heroic John; he has been arrived here for some time
     (much the same as when he went away), and has formed the
     desperate resolution of riding out with me to Kelso to-morrow
     morning. I have stayed a day longer, waiting for the arrival of a
     pair of new boots and buckskin etcs., in which the soldier is to
     be equipt. I ventured to hint the convenience of a roll of
     diaculum plaister, and a box of the most approved horseman-salve,
     in which recommendation our doctor[115] warmly joined. His
     impatience for the journey has been somewhat cooled by some
     inclination yesterday {p.208} displayed by his charger (a pony
     belonging to Anne) to lay his warlike rider in the dust--a
     purpose he had nearly effected. He next mounted Queen Mab, who
     treated him with little more complaisance, and, in carters'
     phrase, would neither _hap_ nor _wynd_ till she got rid of him.
     Seriously, however, if Jack has not returned covered with
     laurels, a crop which the Rock[116] no longer produces, he has
     brought back all his own good-nature, and a manner considerably
     improved, so that he is at times very agreeable company. Best
     love to Miss R., Jean, and Anne (I hope they are improved at the
     battledore), and the boys, not forgetting my friend Archy, though
     least not last in my remembrance. Best compliments to the
     Colonel.[117] I shall remember with pleasure Ashestiel
     hospitality, and not without a desire to put it to the proof next
     year. Adieu, ma chère amie. When you write, direct to Rosebank,
     and I shall be a good boy, and write you another sheet of
     nonsense soon. All friends here well. Ever yours affectionately,

                                        WALTER SCOTT.

         [Footnote 114:

           "The third day comes a frost, a killing frost."
               _King Henry VIII_.]

         [Footnote 115: Dr. Rutherford.]

         [Footnote 116: Captain John Scott had been for some time with
         his regiment at Gibraltar.]

         [Footnote 117: Colonel Russell of Ashestiel, married to a
         sister of Scott's mother.]

The letter, of which the following is an extract, must have been
written in October or November--Scott having been in Liddesdale, and
again in Perthshire, during the interval. It is worth quoting for the
little domestic allusions with which it concludes, and which every one
who has witnessed the discipline of a Presbyterian family of the old
school, at the time of preparation for _the Communion_, will perfectly
understand. Scott's father, though on particular occasions he could
permit himself, like Saunders Fairford, to play the part of a good
Amphitryon, was habitually ascetic in his habits. I have heard his son
tell, that it was common with him, if any one observed that the soup
was good, to taste it again, and say,--"Yes, {p.209} it is too good,
bairns," and dash a tumbler of cold water into his plate. It is easy,
therefore, to imagine with what rigidity he must have enforced the
ultra-Catholic severities which marked, in those days, the yearly or
half-yearly _retreat_ of the descendants of John Knox.


     Previous to my ramble, I stayed a single day in town, to witness
     the exit of the _ci-devant_ Jacobin, Mr. Watt. It was a very
     solemn scene, but the pusillanimity of the unfortunate victim was
     astonishing, considering the boldness of his nefarious plans. It
     is matter of general regret that his associate Downie should have
     received a reprieve, which, I understand, is now prolonged for a
     second month, I suppose to wait the issue of the London trials.
     Our volunteers are now completely embodied, and, notwithstanding
     the heaviness of their dress, have a martial and striking
     appearance. Their accuracy in firing and manoevring excites the
     surprise of military gentlemen, who are the best judges of their
     merit in that way. Tom is very proud of the grenadier company, to
     which he belongs, which has indisputably carried off the palm
     upon all public occasions. And now, give me leave to ask you
     whether the approaching _winter_ does not remind you of your snug
     parlor in George's Street? Do you not feel a little uncomfortable
     when you see

                     "how bleak and bare
          He wanders o'er the heights of _Yair_?"

     Amidst all this regard for your accommodation, don't suppose I am
     devoid of a little self-interest when I press your speedy return
     to Auld Reekie, for I am really tiring excessively to see the
     said parlor again inhabited, Besides that, I want the assistance
     of your eloquence to convince my honored father that Nature did
     not mean me either for a vagabond or _travelling merchant_, when
     she honored {p.210} me with the wandering propensity lately so
     conspicuously displayed. I saw Dr. yesterday, who is well. I did
     not choose to intrude upon the little lady, this being sermon
     week; for the same reason we are looking very religious and very
     sour at home. However, it is with _some folk_ selon les règles,
     that in proportion as they are pure themselves, they are entitled
     to render uncomfortable those whom they consider as less perfect.
     Best love to Miss R., cousins and friends in general, and believe
     me ever most sincerely yours,

                                        WALTER SCOTT.

In July, 1795, a young lad, James Niven by name, who had served for
some time with excellent character on board a ship of war, and been
discharged in consequence of a wound which disabled one of his hands,
had the misfortune, in firing off a toy cannon in one of the narrow
wynds of Edinburgh, to kill on the spot David Knox, one of the
attendants of the Court of Session; a button, or some other hard
substance, having been accidentally inserted with his cartridge. Scott
was one of his counsel when he was arraigned for murder, and had
occasion to draw up a written argument or _information_ for the
prisoner, from which I shall make a short quotation. Considered as a
whole, the production seems both crude and clumsy, but the following
passages have, I think, several traces of the style of thought and
language which he afterwards made familiar to the world:--

     "Murder," he writes, "or the premeditated slaughter of a citizen,
     is a crime of so deep and scarlet a dye, that there is scarce a
     nation to be found in which it has not, from the earliest period,
     been deemed worthy of a capital punishment. 'He who sheddeth
     man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed,' is a general maxim
     which has received the assent of all times and countries. But it
     is equally certain that even the rude legislators of former days
     soon perceived that the death of one man may be occasioned by
     another, without the slayer himself being the proper object of
     the _lex talionis_. Such an accident may happen {p.211} either
     by the carelessness of the killer, or through that excess and
     vehemence of passion to which humanity is incident. In either
     case, though blamable, he ought not to be confounded with the
     cool and deliberate assassin, and the species of criminality
     attaching itself to those acts has been distinguished by the term
     _dolus_, in opposition to the milder term _culpa_. Again, there
     may be a third species of homicide, in which the perpetrator
     being the innocent and unfortunate cause of casual misfortune,
     becomes rather an object of compassion than punishment.

     "Admitting there may have been a certain degree of culpability in
     the panel's conduct, still there is one circumstance which pleads
     strongly in his favor, so as to preclude all presumption of
     _dole_. This is the frequent practice, whether proper or
     improper, of using this amusement in the streets. It is a matter
     of public notoriety, that boys of all ages and descriptions are,
     or at least till the late very proper proclamation of the
     magistrates were, to be seen every evening in almost every corner
     of this city, amusing themselves with fire-arms and small
     cannons, and that without being checked or interfered with. When
     the panel, a poor ignorant raw lad, lately discharged from a ship
     of war--certainly not the most proper school to learn a prudent
     aversion to unlucky or mischievous practices--observed the sons
     of gentlemen of the first respectability engaged in such
     amusements, unchecked by their parents or by the magistrates,
     surely it can hardly be expected that he should discover that in
     imitating them in so common a practice, he was constituting
     himself _hostis humani generis_, a wretch the pest and scourge of

     "There is, no doubt, attached to every even the most innocent of
     casual slaughter, a certain degree of blame, inasmuch as almost
     everything of the kind might have been avoided had the slayer
     exhibited the strictest degree of diligence. A well-known and
     authentic story will illustrate the proposition. A young
     gentleman, just married to a young lady of whom he was
     passionately fond, in affectionate trifling presented at her a
     pistol, of which he had drawn the charge some days before. The
     lady, entering into the joke, desired him to fire: he did so, and
     shot her dead; the pistol having been again charged by his
     servant without his knowledge. Can any one read this story, and
     feel {p.212} any emotion but that of sympathy towards the
     unhappy husband? Can they ever connect the case with an idea of
     punishment? Yet, divesting it of these interesting circumstances
     which act upon the imagination, it is precisely that of the panel
     at your Lordships' Bar; and though no one will pretend to say
     that such a homicide is other than casual, yet there is not the
     slightest question but it might have been avoided had the killer
     taken the precaution of examining his piece. But this is not the
     degree of _culpa_ which can raise a misfortune to the pitch of a
     crime. It is only an instance that no accident can take place
     without its afterwards being discovered that the chief actor
     might have avoided committing it, had he been gifted with the
     spirit of prophecy, or with such an extreme degree of prudence as
     is almost equally rare.

     "In the instance of shooting at butts, or at a bird, the person
     killed must have been somewhat in the line previous to the
     discharge of the shot, otherways it could never have come near
     him. The shooter must therefore have been guilty _culpæ levis seu
     levissimæ_ in firing while the deceased was in such a situation.
     In like manner, it is difficult to conceive how death should
     happen in consequence of a boxing or wrestling match, without
     some excess upon the part of the killer. Nay, in the exercise of
     the martial amusements of our forefathers, even by royal
     commission, should a champion be slain in running his barriers,
     or performing his tournament, it could scarcely happen without
     some _culpa seu levis seu levissima_, on the part of his
     antagonist. Yet all these are enumerated in the English law-books
     as instances of casual homicide only; and we may therefore safely
     conclude, that by the law of the sister country a slight degree
     of blame will not subject the slayer _per infortunium_ to the
     penalties of culpable homicide.

     "Guilt, as an object of punishment, has its origin in the mind
     and intention of the actor; and therefore, where that is wanting,
     there is no proper object of chastisement. A madman, for example,
     can no more properly be said to be guilty of murder than the
     sword with which he commits it, both being equally incapable of
     intending injury. In the present case, in like manner, although
     it ought no doubt to be matter of deep sorrow and contrition to
     the panel that his folly should have occasioned the loss of life
     to a fellow-creature; yet as that folly can neither be {p.213}
     termed malice, nor yet doth amount to a gross negligence, he
     ought rather to be pitied than condemned. The fact done can never
     be recalled, and it rests with your Lordships to consider the
     case of this unfortunate young man, who has served his country in
     an humble though useful station,--deserved such a character as is
     given him in the letter of his officers,--and been disabled in
     that service. You will best judge how (considering he has
     suffered a confinement of six months) he can in humanity be the
     object of further or severer punishment, for a deed of which his
     mind at least, if not his hand, is guiltless. When a case is
     attended with some nicety, your Lordships will allow mercy to
     incline the balance of justice, well considering with the
     legislator of the East, 'It is better ten guilty should escape
     than that one innocent man should perish in his innocence.'"

The young sailor was acquitted.

To return for a moment to Scott's love-affair. I find him writing as
follows, in March, 1795, to his cousin, William Scott, now Laird of
Raeburn, who was then in the East Indies:--"The lady you allude to has
been in town all this winter, and going a good deal into public, which
has not in the least altered the meekness of her manners. Matters, you
see, stand just as they did."

To another friend he writes thus, from Rosebank, on the 23d of August,

     It gave me the highest satisfaction to find, by the receipt of
     your letter of the 14th current, that you have formed precisely
     the same opinion with me, both with regard to the interpretation
     of [Miss Stuart's] letter as highly flattering and favorable, and
     to the mode of conduct I ought to pursue--for, after all, what
     she has pointed out is the most prudent line of conduct for us
     both, at least till better days, which, I think myself now
     entitled to suppose, she, as well as I myself, will look forward
     to with pleasure. If you were surprised at reading the {p.214}
     important billet, you may guess how agreeably I was so at
     receiving it; for I had, to anticipate disappointment, struggled
     to suppress every rising gleam of hope; and it would be very
     difficult to describe the mixed feelings her letter occasioned,
     which, _entre nous_, terminated in a very hearty fit of crying. I
     read over her epistle about ten times a day, and always with new
     admiration of her generosity and candor--and as often take shame
     to myself for the mean suspicions, which, after knowing her so
     long, I could listen to, while endeavoring to guess how she would
     conduct herself. To tell you the truth, I cannot but confess that
     my _amour propre_, which one would expect should have been
     exalted, has suffered not a little upon this occasion, through a
     sense of my own _unworthiness_, pretty similar to that which
     afflicted Linton upon sitting down at Keir's table. I ought
     perhaps to tell you, what indeed you will perceive from her
     letter, that I was always attentive, while consulting with you
     upon the subject of my declaration, rather to under-than
     over-rate the extent of our intimacy. By the way, I must not omit
     mentioning the respect in which I hold your knowledge of the fair
     sex, and your capacity of advising in these matters, since it
     certainly is to your encouragement that I owe the present
     situation of my affairs. I wish to God, that, since you have
     acted as so useful an auxiliary during my attack, which has
     succeeded in bringing the enemy to terms, you would next sit down
     before some fortress yourself, and were it as impregnable as the
     rock of Gibraltar, I should, notwithstanding, have the highest
     expectations of your final success. Not a line from poor
     Jack--What can he be doing? Moping, I suppose, about some
     watering-place, and deluging his guts with specifics of every
     kind--or lowering and snorting in one corner of a post-chaise,
     with Kennedy, as upright and cold as a poker, stuck into the
     other. As for Linton, and Crab, I anticipate with pleasure their
     marvellous adventures, in the course of which Dr. {p.215}
     Black's _self-denying ordinance_ will run a shrewd chance of
     being neglected.[118] They will be a source of fun for the winter
     evening conversations. Methinks I see the pair upon the mountains
     of Tipperary--John with a beard of three inches, united and
     blended with his shaggy black locks, an ellwand-looking cane with
     a gilt head in his hand, and a bundle in a handkerchief over his
     shoulder, exciting the cupidity of every Irish raparee who passes
     him, by his resemblance to a Jew pedlar who has sent forward his
     pack--Linton, tired of trailing his long legs, exalted in state
     upon an Irish garron, without stirrups, and a halter on its head,
     tempting every one to ask--

              "Who is that upon the pony,
               So long, so lean, so raw, so bony?"[119]

     --calculating, as he moves along, the expenses of the salt
     horse--and grinning a ghastly smile, when the hollow voice of his
     fellow-traveller observes--"God! Adam, if ye gang on at this
     rate, the eight shillings and seven-pence halfpenny will never
     carry us forward to my uncle's at Lisburn." Enough of a thorough
     Irish expedition.

     We have a great marriage towards here--Scott of Harden, and a
     daughter of Count Brühl, the famous chess-player, a lady of
     sixteen quarters, half-sister to the Wyndhams. I wish they may
     come down soon, as we shall have fine racketing, of which I will,
     probably, get my share. I think of being in town some time next
     month, but whether for good and all, or only for a visit, I
     {p.216} am not certain. Oh, for November! Our meeting will be a
     little embarrassing one. How will she look, etc., etc., etc., are
     the important subjects of my present conjectures--how different
     from what they were three weeks ago! I give you leave to laugh
     when I tell you seriously, I had begun to "dwindle, peak, and
     pine," upon the subject--but now, after the charge I have
     received, it were a shame to resemble Pharaoh's lean kine. If
     good living and plenty of exercise can avert that calamity, I am
     in little danger of disobedience, and so, to conclude

     Dicite Io poean, et Io bis dicite poean!--
                         Jubeo te bene valere,

                                        GUALTERUS SCOTT.

         [Footnote 118: _Crab_ was the nickname of a friend who had
         accompanied Ferguson this summer on an Irish tour. Dr. Black,
         celebrated for his discoveries in chemistry, was Adam
         Ferguson's uncle; and had, it seems, given the young
         travellers a strong admonition touching the dangers of Irish

         [Footnote 119: These lines are part of a song on
         _Little-tony_--_i. e._, the Parliamentary orator Littleton.
         They are quoted in Boswell's _Life of Johnson_, originally
         published in 1791.]

I have had much hesitation about inserting the preceding letter, but
could not make up my mind to omit what seems to me a most exquisite
revelation of the whole character of Scott at this critical period of
his history, both literary and personal;--more especially of his
habitual effort to suppress, as far as words were concerned, the more
tender feelings, which were in no heart deeper than in his.

It must, I think, have been, while he was indulging his _vagabond_
vein, during the autumn of 1795, that Mrs. Barbauld paid her visit to
Edinburgh, and entertained a party at Mr. Dugald Stewart's, by reading
Mr. William Taylor's then unpublished version of Bürger's Lenore. In
the essay on Imitation of Popular Poetry, the reader has a full
account of the interest with which Scott heard, some weeks afterwards,
a friend's imperfect recollections of this performance; the anxiety
with which he sought after a copy of the original German; the delight
with which he at length perused it; and how, having just been reading
the specimens of ballad poetry introduced into Lewis's romance of The
Monk, he called to mind the early facility of versification which had
lain so long in abeyance, {p.217} and ventured to promise his friend
a rhymed translation of Lenore from his own pen. The friend in
question was Miss Cranstoun, afterwards Countess of Purgstall, the
sister of his friend George Cranstoun, now Lord Corehouse. He began
the task, he tells us, after supper, and did not retire to bed until
he had finished it, having by that time worked himself into a state of
excitement which set sleep at defiance.

Next morning, before breakfast, he carried his MS. to Miss Cranstoun,
who was not only delighted but astonished at it; for I have seen a
letter of hers to a common friend in the country, in which she
says--"Upon my word, Walter Scott is going to turn out a
poet--something of a cross, I think, between Burns and Gray." The same
day he read it also to his friend Sir Alexander Wood, who retains a
vivid recollection of the high strain of enthusiasm into which he had
been exalted by dwelling on the wild unearthly imagery of the German
bard. "He read it over to me," says Sir Alexander, "in a very slow and
solemn tone, and after we had said a few words about its merits,
continued to look at the fire silent and musing for some minutes,
until he at length burst out with 'I wish to Heaven I could get a
skull and two cross-bones.'" Wood said that if Scott would accompany
him to the house of John Bell, the celebrated surgeon, he had no doubt
this wish might be easily gratified. They went thither accordingly on
the instant;--Mr. Bell smiled on hearing the object of their visit,
and pointing to a closet, at the corner of his library, bade Walter
enter and choose. From a well-furnished museum of mortality, he
selected forthwith what seemed to him the handsomest skull and pair of
cross-bones it contained, and wrapping them in his handkerchief,
carried the formidable bundle home to George's Square. The trophies
were immediately mounted on the top of his little bookcase; and when
Wood visited him, after many years of absence from this country, he
found them in possession of {p.218} a similar position in his
dressing-room at Abbotsford.[120]

         [Footnote 120: Sir A. Wood was himself the son of a
         distinguished surgeon in Edinburgh. He married one of the
         daughters of Sir William Forbes--rose in the diplomatic
         service--and died in 1846.--(1848.)]

All this occurred in the beginning of April, 1796. A few days
afterwards, Scott went to pay a visit at a country house, where he
expected to meet the "lady of his love." Jane Anne Cranstoun was in
the secret of his attachment, and knew, that however doubtful might be
Miss [Stuart's] feeling on that subject, she had a high admiration of
Scott's abilities, and often corresponded with him on literary
matters; so, after he had left Edinburgh, it occurred to her that she
might perhaps forward his views in this quarter, by presenting him in
the character of a printed author. William Erskine being called into
her councils, a few copies of the ballad were forthwith thrown off in
the most elegant style, and one, richly bound and blazoned, followed
Scott in the course of a few days to the country. The verses were read
and approved of, and Miss Cranstoun at least flattered herself that he
had not made his first appearance in types to no purpose.[121]

         [Footnote 121: This story was told by the Countess of
         Purgstall on her deathbed to Captain Basil Hall. See his
         _Schloss Hainfeld_, p. 333.]

I ought to have mentioned before, that in June, 1795, he was appointed
one of the curators of the Advocates' Library, an office always
reserved for those members of the Faculty who have the reputation of
superior zeal in literary affairs. He had for colleagues David Hume,
the Professor of Scots Law, and Malcolm Laing, the historian; and his
discharge of his functions must have given satisfaction, for I find
him further nominated, in March, 1796, together with Mr. Robert
Hodgson Cay--an accomplished gentleman, afterwards Judge of the
Admiralty Court in Scotland--to "put the Faculty's cabinet of medals
in proper arrangement."

On {p.219} the 4th of June, 1796 (the birthday of George III.), there
seems to have been a formidable riot in Edinburgh, and Scott is found
again in the front. On the 5th, he writes as follows to his aunt,
Christian Rutherford, who was then in the north of Scotland, and had
meant to visit, among other places, the residence of the "chère

     EDINBURGH, 5th June, 1796.

     MY CHÈRE AMIE,--Nothing doubting that your curiosity will be upon
     the tenters to hear the wonderful events of the long-expected 4th
     of June, I take the pen to inform you that not one worth
     mentioning has taken place. Were I inclined to prolixity, I
     might, indeed, narrate at length _how_ near a thousand gentlemen
     (myself among the number) offered their services to the
     magistrates to act as _constables_ for the preservation of the
     peace--how their services were accepted--what fine speeches were
     made upon the occasion--_how_ they were furnished with pretty
     painted brown _batons_--_how_ they were assembled in the aisle of
     the New Church, and treated with claret and sweetmeats--_how_ Sir
     John Whiteford was chased by the mob, and _how_ Tom, Sandy Wood,
     and I rescued him, and dispersed his tormentors _à beaux coups de
     batons_--_how_ the Justice-Clerk's windows were broke by a few
     boys, and _how_ a large body of constables and a press-gang of
     near two hundred men arrived, and were much disappointed at
     finding the coast entirely clear; with many other matters of
     equal importance, but of which you must be contented to remain in
     ignorance till you return to your castle. Seriously, everything,
     with the exception of the very trifling circumstances above
     mentioned, was perfectly quiet--much more so than during any
     King's birthday I can recollect. That very stillness, however,
     shows that something is brewing among our friends the Democrats,
     which they will take their own time of bringing forward. By the
     wise precautions of the magistrates, or rather of the provost,
     and {p.220} the spirited conduct of the gentlemen, I hope their
     designs will be frustrated. Our association meets to-night, when
     we are to be divided into districts according to the place of our
     abode, places of rendezvous and captains named; so that, upon the
     hoisting of a flag on the Tron-steeple, and ringing out all the
     large bells, we can be on duty in less than five minutes. I am
     sorry to say that the complexion of the town seems to justify all
     precautions of this kind. I hope we shall demean ourselves as
     _quiet_ and _peaceable_ magistrates; and intend, for the purpose
     of learning the duties of my new office, to con diligently the
     instructions delivered to the watch by our brother Dogberry, of
     facetious memory. So much for information. By way of inquiry,
     pray let me know--that is, when you find a very idle hour--how
     you accomplished the perilous passage of her Majestie's Ferry
     without the assistance and escort of your preux-chevalier, and
     whether you will receive them on your return--how Miss R. and you
     are spending your time, whether stationary or otherwise--above
     all, whether you have been at [Invermay] and all the etcs.,
     etcs., which the question involves. Having made out a pretty long
     scratch, which, as Win Jenkins says, will take you some time to
     decipher, I shall only inform you farther, that I shall tire
     excessively till you return to your shop. I beg to be remembered
     to Miss Kerr, and in particular to La Belle Jeanne. Best love to
     Miss Rutherford; and believe me ever, my dear Miss Christy,
     sincerely and affectionately your

                                        WALTER SCOTT

During the autumn of 1796 he visited again his favorite haunts in
Perthshire and Forfarshire. It was in the course of this tour that he
spent a day or two at Montrose with his old tutor Mitchell, and
astonished and grieved that worthy Presbyterian by his zeal about
witches and fairies.[122] The only letter of his, written during this
{p.221} expedition, that I have recovered, was addressed to another
of his clerical friends--one by no means of Mitchell's stamp--Mr.
Walker, the minister of Dunnottar, and it is chiefly occupied with an
account of his researches at a vitrified fort, in Kincardineshire,
commonly called Lady Fenella's Castle, and, according to tradition,
the scene of the murder of Kenneth III. While in the north, he visited
also the residence of the lady who had now for so many years been the
object of his attachment; and that his reception was not adequate to
his expectations, may be gathered pretty clearly from some expressions
in a letter addressed to him when at Montrose by his friend and
confidante, Miss Cranstoun:--


     DEAR SCOTT,--Far be it from me to affirm that there are no
     diviners in the land. The voice of the people and the voice of
     God are loud in their testimony. Two years ago, when I was in the
     neighborhood of Montrose, we had recourse for amusement one
     evening to chiromancy, or, as the vulgar say, having our fortunes
     read; and read mine were in such a sort, that either my letters
     must have been inspected, or the devil was by in his own proper
     person. I never mentioned the circumstance since, for obvious
     reasons; but now that you are on the spot, I feel it my bounden
     duty to conjure you not to put your shoes rashly from off your
     feet, for you are not standing on holy ground.

     I bless the gods for conducting your poor dear soul safely to
     Perth. When I consider the wilds, the forests, the lakes, the
     rocks--and the spirits in which you must have whispered to their
     startled echoes, it amazeth me how you escaped. Had you but
     dismissed your little squire and Earwig,[123] and spent a few
     days as Orlando would have done, all posterity might have
     profited by it; but to trot quietly away, without so much as one
     stanza to despair--never talk to me of love again--never, never,
     never! I am dying for your collection of exploits. When {p.222}
     will you return? In the mean time, Heaven speed you! Be sober,
     and hope to the end.

     William Taylor's translation of your ballad is published, and so
     inferior, that I wonder we could tolerate it. Dugald Stewart read
     yours to **** the other day. When he came to the fetter
     dance,[124] he looked up, and poor ***** was sitting with his hands
     nailed to his knees, and the big tears rolling down his innocent
     nose in so piteous a manner, that Mr. Stewart could not help
     bursting out a-laughing. An angry man was *****. have seen another
     edition, too, but it is below contempt. So many copies make the
     ballad famous, so that every day adds to your renown.

     This here place is very, very dull. Erskine is in London; my dear
     Thomson at Daily; Macfarlan hatching Kant--and George[125]
     Fountainhall.[126] I have nothing more to tell you, but that I am
     most affectionately yours. Many an anxious thought I have about
     you. Farewell.--J. A. C.

         [Footnote 122: See _ante_, p. 97.]

         [Footnote 123: A servant-boy and pony.]

         [Footnote 124:

           "'Dost fear? dost fear?--The moon shines clear;--
               Dost fear to ride with, me?
             Hurrah! hurrah! the dead can ride!'--
               Oh, William, let them be!'

           "'See there! see there! What yonder swings
               And creaks 'mid whistling rain?'--
             Gibbet and steel, the accursed wheel,
               A murderer in his chain.

           "'Hollo! thou felon, follow here,
               To bridal bed we ride;
             And thou shalt prance a fetter dance
               Before me and my bride.'

            "And hurry, hurry! clash, clash, clash!
               The wasted form descends;
             And fleet as wind, through hazel bush,
               The wild career attends.

            "Tramp, tramp! along the land they rode;
               Splash, splash! along the sea;
             The scourge is red, the spur drops blood.
               The flashing pebbles flee."]

         [Footnote 125: George Cranstoun, Lord Corehouse.]

         [Footnote 126: Decisions by Lord Fountainhall.]

The {p.223} affair in which this romantic creature took so lively an
interest was now approaching its end. It was known, before this autumn
closed, that the lady of his vows had finally promised her hand to his
amiable rival; and, when the fact was announced, some of those who
knew Scott the best appear to have entertained very serious
apprehensions as to the effect which the disappointment might have
upon his feelings. For example, one of those brothers of _the
Mountain_ wrote as follows to another of them, on the 12th October,
1796: "Mr. [Forbes] marries Miss [Stuart]. This is not good news. I
always dreaded there was some self-deception on the part of our
romantic friend, and I now shudder at the violence of his most
irritable and ungovernable mind. Who is it that says, 'Men have died,
and worms have eaten them, but not for LOVE'? I hope sincerely it may
be verified on this occasion."

Scott had, however, in all likelihood, digested his agony during the
solitary ride in the Highlands to which Miss Cranstoun's last letter

Talking of this story with Lord Kinnedder, I once asked him whether
Scott never made it the subject of verses at the period. His own
confession, that, even during the time when he had laid aside the
habit of versification, he did sometimes commit "a sonnet on a
mistress's eyebrow," had not then appeared. Lord Kinnedder answered,
"Oh yes, he made many little stanzas about the lady, and he sometimes
showed them to Cranstoun, Clerk, and myself--but we really thought
them in general very poor. Two things of the kind, however, have been
preserved--and one of them was done just after the conclusion of the
business." He then took down a volume of the English Minstrelsy, and
pointed out to me some lines On a Violet, which had not at that time
been included in Scott's collected works. Lord Kinnedder read them
over in his usual impressive, though not quite unaffected, manner, and
said, "I remember well, that when I first saw {p.224} these, I told
him they were his best, but he had touched them up afterwards."

         "The violet in her greenwood bower,
            Where birchen boughs with hazels mingle,
          May boast itself the fairest flower
            In glen or copse or forest dingle.

         "Though fair her gems of azure hue
            Beneath the dewdrop's weight reclining,
          I've seen an eye of lovelier blue
            More sweet through watery lustre shining.

         "The summer sun that dew shall dry,
            Ere yet the sun be past its morrow,
          Nor longer in my false love's eye
            Remained the tear of parting sorrow!"

In turning over a volume of MS. papers, I have found a copy of verses,
which, from the hand, Scott had evidently written down within the last
ten years of his life. They are headed "To Time--by a Lady;" but
certain _initials_ on the back satisfy me that the authoress was no
other than the object of his first passion.[127] I think I must be
pardoned for transcribing the lines which had dwelt so long on his
memory--leaving it to the reader's fancy to picture the mood of mind
in which the fingers of a gray-haired man may have traced such a relic
of his youthful dreams:--

         "Friend of the wretch oppress'd with grief,
            Whose lenient hand, though slow, supplies
          The balm that lends to care relief,
            That wipes her tears--that checks her sighs!

        "'Tis thine the wounded soul to heal
            That hopeless bleeds from sorrow's smart,
          From stern misfortune's shaft to steal
            The barb that rankles in the heart.

         "What {p.225} though with thee the roses fly,
            And jocund youth's gay reign is o'er;
          Though dimm'd the lustre of the eye,
            And hope's vain dreams enchant no more?

         "Yet in thy train come dove-eyed peace,
            Indifference with her heart of snow;
          At her cold couch, lo! sorrows cease,
            No thorns beneath her roses grow.

         "O haste to grant thy suppliant's prayer,
            To me thy torpid calm impart;
          Rend from my brow youth's garland fair,
            But take the thorn that's in my heart.

         "Ah! why do fabling poets tell
            That thy fleet wings outstrip the wind?
          Why feign thy course of joy the knell,
            And call thy slowest pace unkind?

         "To me thy tedious feeble pace
            Comes laden with the weight of years;
          With sighs I view morn's blushing face,
            And hail mild evening with my tears."

         [Footnote 127: A very intimate friend both of Scott and of
         the lady tells me that these verses were great favorites of
         hers--she gave himself a copy of them, and no doubt her
         recitation had made them known to Scott--but that he believes
         them to have been composed by Mrs. Hunter of

I venture to recall here to the reader's memory the opening of the
twelfth chapter of Peveril of the Peak, written twenty-six years after
the date of this youthful disappointment.

         "Ah me! for aught that ever I could read,
          Could ever hear by tale or history,
          The course of true love never did run smooth!"

                                        _Midsummer Night's Dream._

"The celebrated passage which we have prefixed to this chapter has,
like most observations of the same author, its foundation in real
experience. The period at which love is formed for the first time, and
felt most strongly, is seldom that at which there is much prospect of
its being brought to a happy issue. The state of artificial society
opposes many complicated obstructions to early marriages; and the
chance is very great, that such obstacles prove insurmountable. In
fine, there are few men who do not look back in secret to some period
of their {p.226} youth, at which a sincere and early affection was
repulsed or betrayed, or became abortive from opposing circumstances.
It is these little passages of secret history, which leave a tinge of
romance in every bosom, scarce permitting us, even in the most busy or
the most advanced period of life, to listen with total indifference to
a tale of true love."


     Publication of Ballads After Bürger. -- Scott Quartermaster
     of the Edinburgh Light Horse. -- Excursion to Cumberland. --
     Gilsland Wells. -- Miss Carpenter. -- Marriage.


Rebelling, as usual, against circumstances, Scott seems to have turned
with renewed ardor to his literary pursuits; and in that same October,
1796, he was "prevailed on," as he playfully expresses it, "by the
_request of friends_, to indulge his own vanity, by publishing the
translation of Lenore, with that of The Wild Huntsman, also from
Bürger, in a thin quarto." The little volume, which has no author's
name on the title-page, was printed for Manners and Miller of
Edinburgh. The first named of these respectable publishers had been a
fellow-student in the German class of Dr. Willich; and this
circumstance probably suggested the negotiation. It was conducted by
William Erskine, as appears from his postscript to a letter addressed
to Scott by his sister, who, before it reached its destination, had
become the wife of Mr. Campbell Colquhoun of Clathick and
Killermont--in after-days Lord Advocate of Scotland. This was another
of Scott's dearest female friends. The humble home which she shared
with her brother during his early struggles at the Bar had been the
scene of many of his happiest hours; and her letter affords such a
pleasing idea of the warm affectionateness of the little circle that I
cannot forbear inserting it:--


                                        Monday evening.

     If it were not that etiquette and I were constantly at war, I
     should think myself very blamable in thus trespassing against one
     of its laws; but as it is long since I forswore its dominion, I
     have acquired a prescriptive right to act as I will--and I shall
     accordingly anticipate the station of a _matron_ in addressing _a
     young man_.

     I can express but a very, very little of what I feel, and shall
     ever feel, for your unintermitting friendship and attention. I
     have ever considered you as a brother, and shall _now_ think
     myself entitled to make even larger claims on your confidence.
     Well do I remember the _dark_ conference we lately held together!
     The intention of unfolding _my own_ future fate was often at my

     I cannot tell you my distress at leaving this house, wherein I
     have enjoyed so much real happiness, and giving up the service of
     so gentle a master, whose yoke was indeed easy. I will therefore
     only commend him to your care as the last bequest of Mary Anne
     Erskine, and conjure you to continue to each other through all
     your pilgrimage as you have commenced it. May every happiness
     attend you! Adieu!

                 Your most sincere friend and sister,

                                        M. A. E.

Mr. Erskine writes on the other page, "The poems are gorgeous, but I
have made no bargain with any bookseller. I have told M. and M. that I
won't be satisfied with indemnity, but an offer must be made. They
will be out before the end of the week." On what terms the publication
really took place, I know not.

It has already been mentioned that Scott owed his copy of Bürger's
works to the young lady of Harden, whose marriage occurred in the
autumn of 1795. She was daughter of Count Brühl of Martkirchen, long
Saxon ambassador at the Court of St. James's, by his wife Almeria,
Countess-Dowager of Egremont. The young kinsman was introduced to her
soon after her arrival {p.229} at Mertoun, and his attachment to
German studies excited her attention and interest. Mrs. Scott supplied
him with many standard German books, besides Bürger; and the gift of
an Adelung's dictionary from his old ally, George Constable (Jonathan
Oldbuck), enabled him to master their contents sufficiently for the
purposes of translation. The ballad of The Wild Huntsman appears to
have been executed during the month that preceded his first
publication; and he was thenceforth engaged in a succession of
versions from the dramas of Meier and Iffland, several of which are
still extant in his MS., marked 1796 and 1797. These are all in prose
like their originals; but he also versified at the same time some
lyrical fragments of Goethe, as, for example, the Morlachian Ballad,

         "What yonder glimmers so white on the mountain,"

and the song from Claudina von Villa Bella. He consulted his friend at
Mertoun on all these essays; and I have often heard him say, that,
among those many "obligations of a distant date which remained
impressed on his memory, after a life spent in a constant interchange
of friendship and kindness," he counted not as the least, the lady's
frankness in correcting his Scotticisms, and more especially his
Scottish _rhymes_.

His obligations to this lady were indeed various; but I doubt, after
all, whether these were the most important. He used to say that she
was the first _woman of real fashion_ that _took him_ up; that she
used the privileges of her sex and station in the truest spirit of
kindness; set him right as to a thousand little trifles, which no one
else would have ventured to notice; and, in short, did for him what no
one but an elegant woman can do for a young man, whose early days have
been spent in narrow and provincial circles. "When I first saw Sir
Walter," she writes to me, "he was about four-or five-and-twenty, but
looked much younger. He seemed bashful and {p.230} awkward; but
there were from the first such gleams of superior sense and spirit in
his conversation, that I was hardly surprised when, after our
acquaintance had ripened a little, I felt myself to be talking with a
man of genius. He was most modest about himself, and showed his little
pieces apparently without any consciousness that they could possess
any claim on particular attention. Nothing so easy and good-humored as
the way in which he received any hints I might offer, when he seemed
to be tampering with the King's English. I remember particularly how
he laughed at himself, when I made him take notice that 'the little
two dogs,' in some of his lines, did not please an English ear
accustomed to 'the two little dogs.'"

Nor was this the only person at Mertoun who took a lively interest in
his pursuits. Harden entered into all the feelings of his beautiful
bride on this subject; and his mother, the Lady Diana Scott, daughter
of the last Earl of Marchmont, did so no less. She had conversed, in
her early days, with the brightest ornaments of the cycle of Queen
Anne, and preserved rich stores of anecdote, well calculated to
gratify the curiosity and excite the ambition of a young enthusiast in
literature. Lady Diana soon appreciated the minstrel of the clan; and,
surviving to a remarkable age, she had the satisfaction of seeing him
at the height of his eminence--the solitary person who could give the
author of Marmion personal reminiscences of Pope.[128]

         [Footnote 128: Mr. Scott of Harden's right to the peerage of
         Polwarth, as representing, through his mother, the line of
         Marchmont, was allowed by the House of Lords in 1835.]

On turning to James Ballantyne's Memorandum (already quoted), I find
an account of Scott's journey from Rosebank to Edinburgh, in the
November after the Ballads from Bürger were published, which gives an
interesting notion of his literary zeal and opening ambition at this
remarkable epoch of his life. Mr. Ballantyne had settled {p.231} in
Kelso as a solicitor in 1795; but, not immediately obtaining much
professional practice, time hung heavy on his hands, and he willingly
listened, in the summer of 1796, to a proposal of some of the
neighboring nobility and gentry respecting the establishment of a
weekly newspaper,[129] in opposition to one of a democratic tendency,
then widely circulated in Roxburghshire and the other Border counties.
He undertook the printing and editing of this new journal, and
proceeded to London, in order to engage correspondents and make other
necessary preparations. While thus for the first time in the
metropolis, he happened to meet with two authors, whose reputations
were then in full bloom,--namely, Thomas Holcroft and William
Godwin,--the former, a popular dramatist and novelist; the latter, a
novelist of far greater merit, but "still more importantly
distinguished," says the Memorandum before me, "by those moral, legal,
political, and religious heterodoxies, which his talents enabled him
to present to the world in a very captivating manner. His Caleb
Williams had then just come out, and occupied as much public attention
as any work has done before or since." "Both these eminent persons,"
Ballantyne continues, "I saw pretty frequently; and being anxious to
hear whatever I could tell about the literary men in Scotland, they
both treated me with remarkable freedom of communication. They were
both distinguished by the clearness of their elocution, and very full
of triumphant confidence in the truth of their systems. They were as
willing to speak, therefore, as I could be to hear; and as I put my
questions with all the fearlessness of a very young man, the result
was, that I carried away copious and interesting stores of thought and
information: that the greater part of what I heard was full of error,
never entered into my contemplation. Holcroft at this time was a
fine-looking, lively man, of green old age, somewhere about sixty.
Godwin, some twenty {p.232} years younger, was more shy and
reserved. As to me, my delight and enthusiasm were boundless."

         [Footnote 129: _The Kelso Mail._]

After returning home, Ballantyne made another journey to Glasgow for
the purchase of types; and on entering the Kelso coach for this
purpose, "It would not be easy," says he, "to express my joy on
finding that Mr. Scott was to be one of my partners in the carriage,
the only other passenger being a fine, stout, muscular, old Quaker. A
very few miles reëstablished us on our ancient footing. Travelling not
being half so speedy then as it is now, there was plenty of leisure
for talk, and Mr. Scott was exactly what is called _the old man_. He
abounded, as in the days of boyhood, in legendary lore, and had now
added to the stock, as his recitations showed, many of those fine
ballads which afterwards composed the Minstrelsy. Indeed, I was more
delighted with him than ever; and, by way of reprisal, I opened on him
my London budget, collected from Holcroft and Godwin. I doubt if
Boswell ever showed himself a more skilful _Reporter_ than I did on
this occasion. Hour after hour passed away, and found my borrowed
eloquence still flowing, and my companion still hanging on my lips
with unwearied interest. It was customary in those days to break the
journey (only forty miles) by dining on the road, the consequence of
which was, that we both became rather oblivious; and after we had
reëntered the coach, the worthy Quaker felt quite vexed and
disconcerted with the silence which had succeeded so much
conversation. 'I wish,' said he, 'my young friends, that you would
cheer up, and go on with your pleasant songs and tales as before: they
entertained me much.' And so," says Ballantyne, "it went on again
until the evening found us in Edinburgh; and from that day, until
within a very short time of his death--a period of not less than
five-and-thirty years--I may venture to say that our intercourse never

The reception of the two ballads had, in the mean time, {p.233} been
favorable, in his own circle at least. The many inaccuracies and
awkwardnesses of rhyme and diction, to which he alludes in
republishing them towards the close of his life, did not prevent real
lovers of poetry from seeing that no one but a poet could have
transfused the daring imagery of the German in a style so free, bold,
masculine, and full of life; but, wearied as all such readers had been
with that succession of feeble, flimsy, lackadaisical trash which
followed the appearance of the Reliques by Bishop Percy, the opening
of such a new vein of popular poetry as these verses revealed would
have been enough to produce lenient critics for far inferior
translations. Many, as we have seen, sent forth copies of the Lenore
about the same time; and some of these might be thought better than
Scott's in particular passages; but, on the whole, it seems to have
been felt and acknowledged by those best entitled to judge, that he
deserved the palm. Meantime, we must not forget that Scotland had lost
that very year the great poet Burns,--her glory and her shame. It is
at least to be hoped that a general sentiment of self-reproach, as
well as of sorrow, had been excited by the premature extinction of
such a light; and, at all events, it is agreeable to know that they
who had watched his career with the most affectionate concern were
among the first to hail the promise of a more fortunate successor.
Scott found on his table, when he reached Edinburgh, the following
letters from two of Burns's kindest and wisest friends:--


     MY DEAR SIR,--I beg you will accept of my best thanks for the
     favor you have done me by sending me four copies of your
     beautiful translations. I shall retain two of them, as Mrs.
     Stewart and I both set a high value on them as gifts from the
     author. The other two I shall take the earliest opportunity of
     transmitting to a friend in England, who, I hope, may be
     instrumental in making their merits more generally known at the
     time {p.234} of their first appearance. In a few weeks, I am
     fully persuaded they will engage public attention to the utmost
     extent of your wishes, without the aid of any recommendation
     whatever. I ever am, Dear Sir, yours most truly,

                                        DUGALD STEWART.

     CANONGATE, Wednesday evening.


     DEAR SIR,--On my return from Cardross, where I had been for a
     week, I found yours of the 14th, which had surely loitered by the
     way. I thank you most cordially for your present. I meet with
     little poetry nowadays that touches my heart; but your
     translations excite mingled emotions of pity and terror,
     insomuch, that I would not wish any person of weaker nerves to
     read William and Helen before going to bed. Great must be the
     original, if it equals the translation in energy and pathos. One
     would almost suspect you have used as much liberty with Bürger as
     Macpherson was suspected of doing with Ossian. It is, however,
     easier to _backspeir_ you. Sober reason rejects the machinery as
     unnatural; it reminds me, however, of the magic of Shakespeare.
     Nothing has a finer effect than the repetition of certain words,
     that are echoes to the sense, as much as the celebrated lines in
     Homer about the rolling up and falling down of the stone: _Tramp,
     tramp! splash, splash!_ is to me perfectly new; and much of the
     imagery is nature. I should consider this muse of yours (if you
     carry the intrigue far) more likely to steal your heart from the
     law than even a wife. I am, Dear Sir, your most obedient, humble

                                        JO. RAMSAY.

     OCHTERTYRE, 30th November, 1796.

Among other literary persons at a distance, I may mention George
Chalmers, the celebrated antiquary, with whom he had been in
correspondence from the beginning of this year, supplying him with
Border ballads for the illustration of his researches into Scotch
history. This gentleman had been made acquainted with Scott's large
collections in that way by a common friend, Dr. Somerville, minister
of Jedburgh, author of the History of Queen {p.235} Anne;[130] and
the numerous MS. copies communicated to him in consequence were
recalled in the course of 1799, when the plan of the Minstrelsy began
to take shape. Chalmers writes in great transports about Scott's
versions; but weightier encouragement came from Mr. Taylor of Norwich,
himself the first translator of the Lenore.

         [Footnote 130: Some extracts from this venerable person's
         unpublished Memoirs of his own Life have been kindly sent to
         me by his son, the well-known physician of Chelsea College,
         from which it appears that the reverend doctor, and, more
         particularly still, his wife, a lady of remarkable talent and
         humor, had formed a high notion of Scott's future eminence at
         a very early period of his life. Dr. S. survived to a great
         old age, preserving his faculties quite entire, and I have
         spent many pleasant hours under his hospitable roof in
         company with Sir Walter Scott. We heard him preach an
         excellent circuit sermon when he was upwards of eighty-two,
         and at the Judges' dinner afterwards he was among the gayest
         of the company.]

     I need not tell you, sir [he writes], with how much eagerness I
     opened your volume--with how much glow I followed The Chase--or
     with how much alarm I came to William and Helen. Of the latter I
     will say nothing; praise might seem hypocrisy--criticism envy.
     The ghost nowhere makes his appearance so well as with you, or
     his exit so well as with Mr. Spenser. I like very much the
     recurrence of

         "The scourge is red, the spur drops blood,
          The flashing pebbles flee;"

     but of William and Helen I had resolved to say nothing. Let me
     return to The Chase, of which the metric stanza style pleases me
     entirely; yet I think a few passages written in too elevated a
     strain for the general spirit of the poem. This age leans too
     much to the Darwin style. Mr. Percy's Lenore owes its coldness to
     the adoption of this; and it seems peculiarly incongruous in the
     ballad--where habit has taught us to expect simplicity. Among the
     passages too stately and pompous, I should reckon--

         "The mountain echoes startling wake--
          And for devotion's choral swell
          Exchange the rude discordant noise--
          Fell Famine marks the maddening throng
          With cold Despair's averted eye,"--

     and perhaps one or two more. In the twenty-first stanza, I
     prefer {p.236} Bürger's _trampling the corn into chaff and
     dust_, to your more metaphorical, and therefore less picturesque,
     "destructive sweep the field along." In the thirtieth, "On
     whirlwind's pinions swiftly borne," to me seems less striking
     than the still disapparition of the tumult and bustle--the earth
     has opened, and he is sinking with his evil genius to the nether
     world--as he approaches, _dumpf rauscht es wie ein fernes
     Meer_--it should be rendered, therefore, not by "Save what a
     distant torrent gave," but by some sounds which shall necessarily
     excite the idea of being _hell-sprung_--the sound of simmering
     seas of fire--pinings of goblins damned--or some analogous noise.
     The forty-seventh stanza is a very great improvement of the
     original. The profanest blasphemous speeches need not have been
     softened down, as, in proportion to the impiety of the
     provocation, increases the poetical probability of the final
     punishment. I should not have ventured upon these criticisms, if
     I did not think it required a microscopic eye to make any, and if
     I did not on the whole consider The Chase as a most spirited and
     beautiful translation. I remain (to borrow in another sense a
     concluding phrase from the Spectator), your constant admirer,

                                        W. TAYLOR, Jun.

     NORWICH, 14th December, 1796.

The anticipations of these gentlemen, that Scott's versions would
attract general attention in the south, were not fulfilled. He himself
attributes this to the contemporaneous appearance of so many other
translations from Lenore. "In a word," he says, "my adventure, where
so many pushed off to sea, proved a dead loss, and a great part of the
edition was condemned to the service of the trunkmaker. This failure
did not operate in any unpleasant degree either on my feelings or
spirits. I was coldly received by strangers, but my reputation began
rather to increase among my own friends, and on the whole I was more
bent to show the world that it had neglected something worth notice,
than to be affronted by its indifference; or rather, to speak
candidly, I found pleasure in the literary labors in which I had
almost by accident become engaged, and labored less in the hope of
pleasing {p.237} others, though certainly without despair of doing
so, than in a pursuit of a new and agreeable amusement to

         [Footnote 131: _Remarks on Popular Poetry._ 1830.]

On the 12th of December Scott had the curiosity to witness the trial
of one James Mackean, a shoemaker, for the murder of Buchanan, a
carrier, employed to convey money weekly from the Glasgow bank to a
manufacturing establishment at Lanark. Mackean invited the carrier to
spend the evening in his house; conducted family worship in a style of
much seeming fervor; and then, while his friend was occupied, came
behind him, and almost severed his head from his body by one stroke of
a razor. I have heard Scott describe the sanctimonious air which the
murderer maintained during his trial--preserving throughout the aspect
of a devout person, who believed himself to have been hurried into his
accumulation of crime by an uncontrollable exertion of diabolical
influence; and on his copy of the "Life of James Mackean, executed
25th January, 1797," I find the following marginal note:--

"I went to see this wretched man when under sentence of death, along
with my friend, Mr. William Clerk, advocate. His great anxiety was to
convince us that his diabolical murder was committed from a sudden
impulse of revengeful and violent passion, not from deliberate design
of plunder. But the contrary was manifest from the accurate
preparation of the deadly instrument--a razor strongly lashed to an
iron bolt--and also from the evidence on the trial, from which it
seems he had invited his victim to drink tea with him on the day he
perpetrated the murder, and that this was a reiterated invitation.
Mackean was a good-looking elderly man, having a thin face and clear
gray eye; such a man as may be ordinarily seen beside a
collection-plate at a seceding meeting-house, a post which the said
Mackean had occupied in his day. All Mackean's account of the murder
is {p.238} apocryphal. Buchanan was a powerful man, and Mackean
slender. It appeared that the latter had engaged Buchanan in writing,
then suddenly clapped one hand on his eyes, and struck the fatal blow
with the other. The throat of the deceased was cut through his
handkerchief to the back bone of the neck, against which the razor was
hacked in several places."

In his pursuit of his German studies, Scott acquired, about this time,
a very important assistant in Mr. Skene of Rubislaw, in
Aberdeenshire--a gentleman considerably his junior,[132] who had just
returned to Scotland from a residence of several years in Saxony,
where he had obtained a thorough knowledge of the language, and
accumulated a better collection of German books than any to which
Scott had, as yet, found access. Shortly after Mr. Skene's arrival in
Edinburgh, Scott requested to be introduced to him by a mutual friend,
Mr. Edmonstone of Newton; and their fondness for the same literature,
with Scott's eagerness to profit by his new acquaintance's superior
attainment in it, thus opened an intercourse which general similarity
of tastes, and I venture to add, in many of the most important
features of character, soon ripened into the familiarity of a tender
friendship--"An intimacy," Mr. Skene says, in a paper before me, "of
which I shall ever think with so much pride--a friendship so pure and
cordial as to have been able to withstand all the vicissitudes of
nearly forty years, without ever having sustained even a casual chill
from unkind thought or word." Mr. Skene adds, "During the whole
progress of his varied life, to that eminent station which he could
not but feel he at length held in the estimation, not of his
countrymen alone, but of the whole world, I never could perceive the
slightest shade of variance from that simplicity of character with
which he impressed me on the first hour of our meeting."[133]

         [Footnote 132: [James Skene, son of George Skene of Rubislaw,
         was born in 1775.]]

         [Footnote 133: [Beside the memoranda placed by Mr. Skene in
         Lockhart's hands and used by him in various portions of the
         _Life_, the friend's unpublished _Reminiscences_, from which
         Mr. Douglas has fortunately been enabled to draw largely in
         annotating the _Journal_, contains recollections of peculiar

Among {p.239} the common tastes which served to knit these friends
together was their love of horsemanship, in which, as in all other
manly exercises, Skene highly excelled; and the fears of a French
Invasion becoming every day more serious, their thoughts were turned
with corresponding zeal to the project of organising a force of
mounted volunteers in Scotland. "The London Light Horse had set the
example," says Mr. Skene; "but in truth it was to Scott's ardor that
this force in the North owed its origin. Unable, by reason of his
lameness, to serve amongst his friends on foot, he had nothing for it
but to rouse the spirit of the moss-trooper, with which he readily
inspired all who possessed the means of substituting the sabre for the

On the 14th February, 1797, these friends and many more met and drew
up an offer to serve as a body of volunteer cavalry in Scotland; which
offer being transmitted through the Duke of Buccleuch, Lord-Lieutenant
of Mid-Lothian, was accepted by Government. The organization of the
corps proceeded rapidly; they extended their offer to serve in any
part of the island in case of invasion; and this also being accepted,
the whole arrangement was shortly completed; when Charles Maitland of
Rankeillor was elected Major-Commandant; (Sir) William Rae of St.
Catharine's Captain; James Gordon of Craig, and George Robinson of
Clermiston, Lieutenants; (Sir) William Forbes of Pitsligo, and James
Skene of Rubislaw, Cornets; Walter Scott, Paymaster, Quartermaster,
and Secretary; John Adams, Adjutant. But the treble duties thus
devolved on Scott were found to interfere too severely with his other
avocations, and Colin Mackenzie of Portmore relieved him soon
afterwards from those of paymaster.

"The {p.240} part of quartermaster," says Mr. Skene, "was purposely
selected for him, that he might be spared the rough usage of the
ranks; but, notwithstanding his infirmity, he had a remarkably firm
seat on horseback, and in all situations a fearless one: no fatigue
ever seemed too much for him, and his zeal and animation served to
sustain the enthusiasm of the whole corps, while his ready 'mot à
rire' kept up, in all, a degree of good-humor and relish for the
service, without which the toil and privations of long _daily_ drills
would not easily have been submitted to by such a body of gentlemen.
At every interval of exercise, the order, _sit at ease_, was the
signal for the quartermaster to lead the squadron to merriment; every
eye was intuitively turned on 'Earl Walter,' as he was familiarly
called by his associates of that date, and his ready joke seldom
failed to raise the ready laugh. He took his full share in all the
labors and duties of the corps, had the highest pride in its progress
and proficiency, and was such a trooper himself as only a very
powerful frame of body and the warmest zeal in the cause could have
enabled any one to be. But his habitual good-humor was the great
charm, and at the daily mess (for we all dined together when in
quarters) that reigned supreme."

_Earl Walter's_ first charger, by the way, was a tall and powerful
animal, named Lenore. These daily drills appear to have been persisted
in during the spring and summer of 1797; the corps spending moreover
some weeks in quarters at Musselburgh. The majority of the troop
having professional duties to attend to, the ordinary hour for drill
was five in the morning; and when we reflect, that after some hours of
hard work in this way, Scott had to produce himself regularly in the
Parliament House with gown and wig, for the space of four or five
hours at least, while his chamber practice, though still humble, was
on the increase--and that he had found a plentiful source of new
social engagements in his troop {p.241} connections--it certainly
could have excited no surprise had his literary studies been found
suffering total intermission during this busy period. That such was
not the case, however, his correspondence and note-books afford ample

He had no turn, at this time of his life, for early rising; so that
the regular attendance at the morning drills was of itself a strong
evidence of his military zeal; but he must have, in spite of them, and
of all other circumstances, persisted in what was the usual custom of
all his earlier life, namely, the devotion of the best hours of the
night to solitary study. In general, both as a young man, and in more
advanced age, his constitution required a good allowance of sleep, and
he, on principle, indulged in it, saying, "He was but half a man if he
had not full seven hours of utter unconsciousness;" but his whole mind
and temperament were, at this period, in a state of most fervent
exaltation, and spirit triumphed over matter. His translation of
Steinberg's Otho of Wittelsbach is marked "1796-7;" from which, I
conclude, it was finished in the latter year. The volume containing
that of Meier's Wolfred of Dromberg, a drama of Chivalry, is dated
1797; and, I think, the reader will presently see cause to suspect,
that though not alluded to in his imperfect note-book, these tasks
must have been accomplished in the very season of the daily drills.

The letters addressed to him in March, April, and June, by Kerr of
Abbotrule, George Chalmers, and his uncle at Rosebank, indicate his
unabated interest in the collection of coins and ballads; and I shall
now make a few extracts from his private note-book, some of which will
at all events amuse the survivors of the Edinburgh Light Horse;--

     "_March 15, 1797._--Read Stanfield's trial, and the conviction
     appears very doubtful indeed. Surely no one could seriously
     believe, in 1688, that the body of the murdered {p.242} bleeds
     at the touch of the murderer, and I see little else that directly
     touches Philip Stanfield. He was a very bad character, however;
     and tradition says, that having insulted Welsh, the wild
     preacher, one day in his early life, the saint called from the
     pulpit that God had revealed to him that this blasphemous youth
     would die in the sight of as many as were then assembled. It was
     believed at the time that Lady Stanfield had a hand in the
     assassination, or was at least privy to her son's plans; but I
     see nothing inconsistent with the old gentleman's having
     committed suicide.[134] The ordeal of touching the corpse was
     observed in Germany. They call it _barrecht_.

     "_March 27._--

                        'The friers of Fail
          Gat never owre hard eggs, or owre thin kale;
          For they made their eggs thin wi' butter,
          And their kale thick wi' bread.
          And the friers of Fail they made gude kale
          On Fridays when they fasted;
          They never wanted gear enough
          As lang as their neighbours' lasted.'

     "Fairy-rings.--_N. B._ Delrius says the same appearance occurs
     wherever the witches have held their Sabbath.

     "For the ballad of 'Willie's lady,' compare Apuleius, lib. i. p.

     "_April 20._--The portmanteau to contain the following articles:
     2 shirts; 1 black handkerchief; 1 nightcap, woollen; 1 pair
     pantaloons, blue; 1 flannel shirt with sleeves; 1 pair flannel
     drawers; 1 waistcoat; 1 pair worsted stockings or socks.

     "In the slip, in cover of portmanteau, a case with
     shaving-things, combs, and a knife, fork, and spoon; a German
     pipe and tobacco-bag, flint, and steel; pipe-clay and {p.243}
     oil, with brush for laying it on; a shoe-brush; a pair of shoes
     or hussar-boots; a horse-picker, and other loose articles.

     "Belt with the flap and portmanteau, currycomb, brush, and
     mane-comb, with sponge.

     "Over the portmanteau, the blue overalls, and a spare jacket for
     stable; a small horse-sheet, to cover the horse's back with, and
     a spare girth or two.

     "In the cartouche-box, screw-driver and picker for pistol, with
     three or four spare flints.

     "The horse-sheet may be conveniently folded below the saddle, and
     will save the back in a long march or bad weather. Beside the
     holster, two forefeet shoes.[135]

     "_May 22._--Apuleius, lib. ii.... Anthony-a-Wood.... Mr.
     Jenkinson's name (now Lord Liverpool) being proposed as a
     difficult one to rhyme to, a lady present hit off this verse
     extempore.--_N. B._ Both father and son (Lord Hawkesbury) have a
     peculiarity of vision:--

                 'Happy Mr. Jenkinson,
                  Happy Mr. Jenkinson,
                    I'm sure to you
                    Your lady's true,
                  For you have got a winking son.'


     "24--'I, John Bell of Brackenbrig, lies under this stane;
           Four {p.244} of my sons laid it on my wame.
           I was man of my meat, and master of my wife,
           And lived in mine ain house without meikle strife.
           Gif thou be'st a "better man in thy time than I was in mine,
           Tak this stane off my wame, and lay it upon thine.'

     "25.--Meric Casaubon on Spirits....

     "26.--'There saw we learned Maroe's golden tombe;
            The way he cut an English mile in length
            Thorow a rock of stone in one night's space.'

     "Christopher Marlowe's Tragicall History of Dr. Faustus--a very
     remarkable thing. Grand subject--end grand.... Copied Prophecy of
     Merlin from Mr. Clerk's MS.

     "27.--Read Everybody's Business is Nobody's Business, by Andrew
     Moreton. This was one of Defoe's many _aliases_--like his pen, in

           'To Cuthbert, Car, and Collingwood, to Shafto and to Hall;
            To every gallant generous heart that for King James did fall.'

     "28.--... Anthony-a-Wood.... Plain Proof of the True Father and
     Mother of the Pretended Prince of Wales, by W. Fuller. This
     fellow was pilloried for a forgery some years later.... Began
     _Nathan der Weise_.

     "_June 29._--Read Introduction to a Compendium on Brief
     Examination, by W. S.--viz., William Stafford--though it was for
     a time given to no less a W. S. than William Shakespeare. A
     curious treatise--the Political Economy of the Elizabethan
     Day--worth reprinting....

     "_July 1._--Read Discourse of Military Discipline, by Captain
     Barry--a very curious account of the famous Low Countries
     armies--full of military hints worth note.... _Anthony Wood_

     "3.--_Nathan der Weise._ ... _Delrius_....

     "5.--Geutenberg's _Braut_ begun.

     "6.--The Bride again. _Delrius._"

         [Footnote 134: See particulars of Stanfield's case in Lord
         Fountainhall's _Chronological Notes of Scottish Affairs_,
         1680-1701, edited by Sir Walter Scott. 4to, Edinburgh, 1822.
         Pp. 233-236.]

         [Footnote 135: Some of Scott's most intimate friends at the
         Bar, partly, no doubt, from entertaining political opinions
         of another caste, were by no means disposed to sympathize
         with the demonstrations of his military enthusiasm at this
         period. For example, one of these gentlemen thus writes to
         another in April, 1797: "By the way, Scott is become the
         merest trooper that ever was begotten by a drunken dragoon on
         his trull in a hayloft. Not an idea crosses his mind, or a
         word his lips, that has not an allusion to some d----d
         instrument or evolution of the Cavalry--'Draw your swords--by
         single files to the right of front--to the left
         wheel--charge!' After all, he knows little more about wheels
         and charges than I do about the wheels of Ezekiel, or the
         King of Pelew about charges of horning on six days' date. I
         saw them charge on Leith Walk a few days ago, and I can
         assure you it was by no means orderly proceeded. Clerk and I
         are continually obliged to open a six-pounder upon him in
         self-defence, but in spite of a temporary confusion, he soon
         rallies and returns to the attack."]

The note-book from which I have been copying is chiefly filled with
extracts from Apuleius and Anthony-a-Wood--most of {p.245} them
bearing, in some way, on the subject of popular superstitions. It is a
pity that many leaves have been torn out; for if unmutilated, the
record would probably have enabled one to guess whether he had already
planned his Essay on Fairies.

I have mentioned his business at the Bar as increasing at the same
time. His _fee-book_ is now before me, and it shows that he made by
his first year's practice £24 3s.; by the second, £57 15s.; by the
third, £84 4s.; by the fourth, £90; and in his fifth year at the
Bar--that is, from November, 1796 to July, 1797--£144 10s.; of which
£50 were fees from his father's chamber.

His friend, Charles Kerr of Abbotrule, had been residing a good deal
about this time in Cumberland: indeed, he was so enraptured with the
scenery of the lakes, as to take a house in Keswick with the intention
of spending half of all future years there. His letters to Scott
(March, April, 1797) abound in expressions of wonder that he should
continue to devote so much of his vacations to the Highlands of
Scotland, "with every crag and precipice of which," says he, "I should
imagine you would be familiar by this time; nay, that the goats
themselves might almost claim you for an acquaintance;" while another
district lay so near him, at least as well qualified "to give a swell
to the fancy."

After the rising of the Court of Session in July, Scott accordingly
set out on a tour to the English lakes, accompanied by his brother
John, and Adam Ferguson. Their first stage was Halyards in Tweeddale,
then inhabited by his friend's father, the philosopher and historian;
and they stayed there for a day or two, in the course of which Scott
had his first and only interview with David Ritchie, the original of
his Black Dwarf.[136] Proceeding southwards, the tourists visited
Carlisle, Penrith,--the vale of the Eamont, including Mayburgh and
Brougham Castle,--Ullswater and Windermere; and at length fixed
{p.246} their headquarters at the then peaceful and sequestered
little watering-place of Gilsland, making excursions from thence to
the various scenes of romantic interest which are commemorated in The
Bridal of Triermain, and otherwise leading very much the sort of life
depicted among the loungers of St. Ronan's Well. Scott was, on his
first arrival in Gilsland, not a little engaged with the beauty of one
of the young ladies lodged under the same roof with him; and it was on
occasion of a visit in her company to some part of the Roman Wall that
he indited his lines--

         "Take these flowers, which, purple waving,
          On the ruined rampart grew," etc.[137]

         [Footnote 136: See the Introduction to this novel in the
         edition of 1830.]

         [Footnote 137: I owe this circumstance to the recollection of
         Mr. Claud Russell, accountant in Edinburgh, who was one of
         the party. Previously I had always supposed these verses to
         have been inspired by Miss Carpenter.]

But this was only a passing glimpse of flirtation. A week or so
afterwards commenced a more serious affair.

Riding one day with Ferguson, they met, some miles from Gilsland, a
young lady taking the air on horseback, whom neither of them had
previously remarked, and whose appearance instantly struck both so
much that they kept her in view until they had satisfied themselves
that she also was one of the party at Gilsland. The same evening there
was a ball, at which Captain Scott produced himself in his
regimentals, and Ferguson also thought proper to be equipped in the
uniform of the Edinburgh Volunteers. There was no little rivalry among
the young travellers as to who should first get presented to the
unknown beauty of the morning's ride; but though both the gentlemen in
scarlet had the advantage of being dancing partners, their friend
succeeded in handing the fair stranger to supper--and such was his
first introduction to Charlotte Margaret Carpenter.

Without the features of a regular beauty, she was rich in personal
attractions; "a form that was fashioned as light as a fay's;" a
complexion of the clearest and lightest olive; {p.247} eyes large,
deep-set and dazzling, of the finest Italian brown; and a profusion of
silken tresses, black as the raven's wing; her address hovering
between the reserve of a pretty young Englishwoman who has not mingled
largely in general society, and a certain natural archness and gayety
that suited well with the accompaniment of a French accent. A lovelier
vision, as all who remember her in the bloom of her days have assured
me, could hardly have been imagined; and from that hour the fate of
the young poet was fixed.[138]

         [Footnote 138: ["You may perhaps have remarked Miss Carpenter
         at a Carlisle ball, but more likely not, as her figure is not
         very _frappant_. A smart-looking little girl with dark brown
         hair would probably be her portrait if drawn by an
         indifferent hand. But I, you may believe, should make a piece
         of work of my sketch, as little like the original as Hercules
         to me."--Scott to P. Murray, December, 1797.--_Familiar
         Letters_, vol. i. p. 10.]]

She was the daughter of Jean Charpentier, of Lyons, a devoted
royalist, who held an office under Government,[139] and Charlotte
Volere, his wife. She and her only brother, Charles Charpentier, had
been educated in the Protestant religion of their mother; and when
their father died, which occurred in the beginning of the Revolution,
Madame Charpentier made her escape with her children, first to Paris,
and then to England, where they found a warm friend and protector in
the late Marquis of Downshire, who had, in the course of his travels
in France, formed an intimate acquaintance with the family, and,
indeed, spent some time under their roof. M. Charpentier had, in his
first alarm as to the coming Revolution, invested £4000 in English
securities--part in a mortgage upon Lord Downshire's estates. On the
mother's death, which occurred soon after her arrival in London, this
nobleman took on himself the character of sole guardian to her
children; and Charles Charpentier received in due time, through his
interest, an appointment in {p.248} the service of the East India
Company, in which he had by this time risen to the lucrative situation
of Commercial Resident at Salem. His sister was now making a little
excursion, under the care of the lady who had superintended her
education, Miss Jane Nicolson, a daughter of Dr. Nicolson, Dean of
Exeter, and granddaughter of William Nicolson, Bishop of Carlisle,
well known as the editor of The English Historical Library. To some
connections which the learned prelate's family had ever since his time
kept up in the diocese of Carlisle, Miss Carpenter owed the direction
of her summer tour.

         [Footnote 139: In several deeds which I have seen, M.
         Charpentier is designed "Écuyer du Roi;" one of those
         purchasable ranks peculiar to the latter stages of the old
         French Monarchy. What the post he held was, I never heard.]

Scott's father was now in a very feeble state of health, which
accounts for his first announcement of this affair being made in a
letter to his mother; it is undated;--but by this time the young lady
had left Gilsland for Carlisle, where she remained until her destiny
was settled,


     MY DEAR MOTHER,--I should very ill deserve the care and affection
     with which you have ever regarded me, were I to neglect my duty
     so far as to omit consulting my father and you in the most
     important step which I can possibly take in life, and upon the
     success of which my future happiness must depend. It is with
     pleasure I think that I can avail myself of your advice and
     instructions in an affair of so great importance as that which I
     have at present on my hands. You will probably guess from this
     preamble that I am engaged in a matrimonial plan, which is really
     the case. Though my acquaintance with the young lady has not been
     of long standing, this circumstance is in some degree
     counterbalanced by the intimacy in which we have lived, and by
     the opportunities which that intimacy has afforded me of
     remarking her conduct and sentiments on many different occasions,
     some of which were rather of a delicate nature, so that in fact I
     have seen more of her during the few weeks we have {p.249} been
     together than I could have done after a much longer acquaintance,
     shackled by the common forms of ordinary life. You will not
     expect from me a description of her person--for which I refer you
     to my brother, as also for a fuller account of all the
     circumstances attending the business than can be comprised in the
     compass of a letter. Without flying into raptures, for I must
     assure you that my judgment as well as my affections are
     consulted upon this occasion--without flying into raptures, then,
     I may safely assure you that her temper is sweet and cheerful,
     her understanding good, and, what I know will give you pleasure,
     her principles of religion very serious. I have been very
     explicit with her upon the nature of my expectations, and she
     thinks she can accommodate herself to the situation which I
     should wish her to hold in society as my wife, which, you will
     easily comprehend, I mean should neither be extravagant nor
     degrading. Her fortune, though partly dependent upon her brother,
     who is high in office at Madras, is very considerable--at present
     £500 a year. This, however, we must, in some degree, regard as
     precarious--I mean to the full extent; and indeed, when you know
     her, you will not be surprised that I regard this circumstance
     chiefly because it removes those prudential considerations which
     would otherwise render our union impossible for the present.
     Betwixt her income and my own professional exertions, I have
     little doubt we will be enabled to hold the rank in society which
     my family and situation entitle me to fill.

     My dear mother, I cannot express to you the anxiety I have that
     you will not think me flighty nor inconsiderate in this business.
     Believe me, that experience, in one instance--you cannot fail to
     know to what I allude--is too recent to permit my being so hasty
     in my conclusions as the warmth of my temper might have otherwise
     prompted. I am also most anxious that you should be prepared to
     show her kindness, which I know the goodness {p.250} of your
     own heart will prompt, more especially when I tell you that she
     is an orphan, without relations, and almost without friends. Her
     guardian is--I should say _was_, for she is of age--Lord
     Downshire, to whom I must write for his consent,--a piece of
     respect to which he is entitled for his care of her,--and there
     the matter rests at present. I think I need not tell you that if
     I assume the new character which I threaten, I shall be happy to
     find that in that capacity I may make myself more useful to my
     brothers, and especially to Anne, than I could in any other. On
     the other hand, I shall certainly expect that my friends will
     endeavor to show every attention in their power to a woman who
     forsakes for me prospects much more splendid than what I can
     offer, and who comes into Scotland without a single friend but
     myself. I find I could write a great deal more upon this subject,
     but as it is late, and as I must write to my father, I shall
     restrain myself. I think (but you are best judge) that in the
     circumstances in which I stand, you should write to her, Miss
     Carpenter, under cover to me at Carlisle.

     Write to me very fully upon this important subject--send me your
     opinion, your advice, and, above all, your blessing; you will see
     the necessity of not delaying a minute in doing so, and in
     keeping this business _strictly private_, till you hear farther
     from me, since you are not ignorant that even at this advanced
     period an objection on the part of Lord Downshire, or many other
     accidents, may intervene; in which case, I should little wish my
     disappointment to be public.

          Believe me, my dear Mother,
                  Ever your dutiful and affectionate son,
                                        WALTER SCOTT.

Scott remained in Cumberland until the Jedburgh assizes recalled him
to his legal duties. On arriving in that town, he immediately sent for
his friend Shortreed, whose {p.251} _memorandum_ records that the
evening of the 30th September, 1797 was one of the most joyous he ever
spent. "Scott," he says, "was _sair_ beside himself about Miss
Carpenter;--we toasted her twenty times over--and sat together, he
raving about her, until it was one in the morning." He soon returned
to Cumberland; and the following letters will throw light on the
character and conduct of the parties, and on the nature of the
difficulties which were presented by the prudence and prejudices of
the young advocate's family connections. It appears, that at one stage
of the business, Scott had seriously contemplated leaving the Bar at
Edinburgh, and establishing himself with his bride (I know not in what
capacity) in one of the colonies.


                                        CARLISLE, October 4, 1797.

     It is only an hour since I received Lord Downshire's letter. You
     will say, I hope, that I am indeed very good to write so soon,
     but I almost fear that all my goodness can never carry me through
     all this plaguy writing. Lord Downshire will be happy to hear
     from you. He is the very best man on earth--his letter is kind
     and affectionate, and full of advice, much in the style of _your
     last_. I am to consult _most carefully my heart_. Do you believe
     I did not do it when I gave you my consent? It is true, I don't
     like to reflect on that subject. I am afraid. It is very awful to
     think it is for life. How can I ever laugh after such tremendous
     thoughts? I believe never more. I am hurt to find that your
     friends don't think the match a prudent one. If it is not
     agreeable to them all, you must then forget me, for I have too
     much pride to think of connecting myself in a family were I not
     equal to them. Pray, my dear sir, write to Lord D.
     immediately--explain yourself to him as you would to me, and he
     will, I am sure, do all he can to serve us. If you {p.252}
     really love me, you must love him, and write to him as you would
     to a friend.

     Adieu,--au plaisir de vous revoir bientôt.

                                        C. C.


                                        SELKIRK, 8th October, 1797.

     DEAR BOB,--This day a long train of anxieties was put an end to
     by a letter from Lord Downshire, couched in the most flattering
     terms, giving his consent to my marriage with his ward. I am thus
     far on my way to Carlisle--only for a visit--because, betwixt her
     reluctance to an immediate marriage and the imminent approach of
     the session, I am afraid I shall be thrown back to the Christmas
     holidays. I shall be home in about eight days.

                 Ever yours sincerely,

                                        W. SCOTT.


     Has it never happened to you, my dear Miss Christy, in the course
     of your domestic economy, to meet with a drawer stuffed so very,
     so _extremely_ full, that it was very difficult to pull it open,
     however desirous you might be to exhibit its contents? In case
     this miraculous event has ever taken place, you may somewhat
     conceive from thence the cause of my silence, which has really
     proceeded from my having a very great deal to communicate; so
     much so, that I really hardly know how to begin. As for my
     affection and friendship for you, believe me sincerely, they
     neither slumber nor sleep, and it is only your suspicions of
     their drowsiness which incline me to write at this period of a
     business highly interesting to me, rather than when I could have
     done so with something like certainty--Hem! Hem! It must come out
     at once--I am in a very fair way of being married to a very
     amiable {p.253} young woman, with whom I formed an attachment
     in the course of my tour. She was born in France--her parents
     were of English extraction--the name Carpenter. She was left an
     orphan early in life, and educated in England, and is at present
     under the care of a Miss Nicolson, a daughter of the late Dean of
     Exeter, who was on a visit to her relations in Cumberland. Miss
     Carpenter is of age, but as she lies under great obligations to
     the Marquis of Downshire, who was her guardian, she cannot take a
     step of such importance without his consent--and I daily expect
     his final answer upon the subject. Her fortune is dependent, in a
     great measure, upon an only and very affectionate brother. He is
     Commercial Resident at Salem in India, and has settled upon her
     an annuity of £500. Of her personal accomplishments I shall only
     say that she possesses very good sense, with uncommon good
     temper, which I have seen put to most severe trials. I must
     bespeak your kindness and friendship for her. You may easily
     believe I shall rest very much both upon Miss R. and you for
     giving her the _carte de pays_, when she comes to Edinburgh. I
     may give you a hint that there is no _romance_ in her
     composition--and that, though born in France, she has the
     sentiments and manners of an Englishwoman, and does not like to
     be thought otherwise. A very slight tinge in her pronunciation is
     all which marks the foreigner. She is at present at Carlisle,
     where I shall join her as soon as our arrangements are finally
     made. Some difficulties have occurred in settling matters with my
     father, owing to certain prepossessions which you can easily
     conceive his adopting. One main article was the uncertainty of
     her provision, which has been in part removed by the safe arrival
     of her remittances for this year, with assurances of their being
     regular and even larger in future, her brother's situation being
     extremely lucrative. Another objection was her birth: "Can any
     good thing come out of Nazareth?" but as it was _birth merely
     and solely_, {p.254} this has been abandoned. _You_ will be
     more interested about other points regarding her, and I can only
     say that--though our acquaintance was shorter than ever I could
     have thought of forming such a connection upon--it was
     exceedingly close, and gave me full opportunities for
     observation--and if I had parted with her, it must have been
     forever, which both parties began to think would be a
     disagreeable thing. She has conducted herself through the whole
     business with so much propriety as to make a strong impression in
     her favor upon the minds of my father and mother, prejudiced as
     they were against her, from the circumstances I have mentioned.
     We shall be your neighbors in the New Town, and intend to live
     very quietly; Charlotte will need many lessons from Miss R. in
     housewifery. Pray show this letter to Miss R. with my very best
     compliments. Nothing can now stand in the way except Lord
     Downshire, who may not think the match a prudent one for Miss C.;
     but he will surely think her entitled to judge for herself at her
     age, in what she would wish to place her happiness. She is not a
     beauty, by any means, but her person and face are very engaging.
     She is a brunette; her manners are lively, but when necessary she
     can be very serious. She was baptized and educated a Protestant
     of the Church of England. I think I have now said enough upon
     this subject. Do not write till you hear from me again, which
     will be when all is settled. I wish this important event may
     hasten your return to town. I send a goblin story, with best
     compliments to the misses, and ever am, yours affectionately,

                                        WALTER SCOTT.

                         THE ERL-KING.[140]

     (_The Erl-King is a goblin that haunts the Black Forest in
     Thuringia.--To be read by a candle particularly long in the

          O, who rides by night thro' the woodland so wild?
          It is the fond father embracing his child;
          And {p.255} close the boy nestles within his loved arm,
          To hold himself fast, and to keep himself warm.

         "O father, see yonder! see yonder!" he says.
         "My boy, upon what doest thou fearfully gaze?"--
         "O, 't is the Erl-King with his crown and his shroud."--
         "No, my son, it is but a dark wreath of the cloud."

                       (_The Erl-King speaks._)

         "O, come and go with me, thou loveliest child;
          By many a gay sport shall thy time be beguiled;
          My mother keeps for thee full many a fair toy,
          And many a fine flower shall she pluck for my boy."

         "O father, my father, and did you not hear
          The Erl-King whisper so low in my ear?"
         "Be still, my heart's darling--my child, be at ease;
          It was but the wild blast as it sung thro' the trees."


         "O wilt thou go with me, thou loveliest boy?
          My daughter shall tend thee with care and with joy;
          She shall bear thee so lightly thro' wet and thro' wild,
          And press thee, and kiss thee, and sing to my child."

         "O father, my father, and saw you not plain
          The Erl-King's pale daughter glide past thro' the rain?"--
         "O yes, my loved treasure, I knew it full soon;
          It was the gray willow that danced to the moon."


         "O, come and go with me, no longer delay,
          Or else, silly child, I will drag thee away."--
         "O Father! O father! now, now keep your hold,
          The Erl-King has seized me--his grasp is so cold!"

          Sore trembled the father; he spurr'd thro' the wild,
          Clasping close to his bosom his shuddering child;
          He reaches his dwelling in doubt and in dread,
          But, clasp'd to his bosom, the infant was _dead_!

     You see I have not altogether lost the faculty of rhyming. I
     assure you, there is no small impudence in attempting a version
     of that ballad, as it has been translated by _Lewis_.--All good
     things be with you.

                                        W. S.

         [Footnote 140: From the German of Goethe.]


                                        LONDON, October 15, 1797.

     SIR,--I received your letter with pleasure, instead of
     considering it as an intrusion. One thing more being fully stated
     would have made it perfectly satisfactory,--namely, the sort of
     income you immediately possess, and the sort of maintenance Miss
     Carpenter, in case of your demise, might reasonably expect.
     Though she is of an age to judge for herself in the choice of an
     object that she would like to run the race of life with, she has
     referred the subject to me. As her friend and guardian, I in duty
     must try to secure her happiness, by endeavoring to keep her
     comfortable immediately, and to prevent her being left destitute,
     in case of any unhappy contingency. Her good sense and good
     education are her chief fortune; therefore, in the worldly way of
     talking, she is not entitled to much. Her brother, who was also
     left under my care at an early period, is excessively fond of
     her; he has no person to think of but her as yet; and will
     certainly be enabled to make her very handsome presents, as he is
     doing very well in India, where I sent him some years ago, and
     where he bears a very high character, I am happy to say. I do not
     throw out this to induce you to make any proposal beyond what
     prudence and discretion recommend; but I hope I shall hear from
     you by return of post, as I may be shortly called out of town to
     some distance. As children are in general the consequence of an
     happy union, I should wish to know what may be your thoughts or
     wishes upon that subject. I trust you will not think me too
     particular; indeed I am sure you will not, when you consider that
     I am endeavoring to secure the happiness and welfare of an
     estimable young woman whom you admire and profess to be partial
     and attached to, and for whom I have the highest regard, esteem,
     and respect.

          I am, Sir, your obedient humble servant,


     TO {p.257} THE SAME.

                                        CARLISLE, October 22.

     Your last letter, my dear sir, contains a very fine train of
     _perhaps_, and of so many pretty conjectures, that it is not
     flattering you to say you excel in the art of tormenting
     yourself. As it happens, you are quite wrong in all your
     suppositions. I have been waiting for Lord D.'s answer to your
     letter, to give a full answer to your very proper inquiries about
     my family. Miss Nicolson says, that when she did offer to give
     you some information, you refused it--and advises me _now_ to
     wait for Lord D.'s letter. Don't believe I have been idle; I have
     been writing very long letters to him, and all about you. How can
     you think that I will give an answer about the house until I hear
     from London?--that is quite impossible; and I believe you are a
     little out of your senses to imagine I can be in Edinburgh before
     the twelfth of next month. O, my dear sir, no--you must not think
     of it this _great while_. I am much flattered by your mother's
     remembrance; present my respectful compliments to her. You don't
     mention your father in your last _anxious_ letter--I hope he is
     better. I am expecting every day to hear from my brother. You may
     tell your uncle he is Commercial Resident at Salem. He will find
     the name of Charles C. in his India list. My compliments to
     Captain Scott. _Sans adieu_,

                                        C. C.


                                        CARLISLE, October 25.

     Indeed, Mr. Scott, I am by no means pleased with all this
     writing. I have told you how much I dislike it, and yet you still
     persist in asking me to write, and that by return of post. O, you
     really are quite out of your senses. I should not have indulged
     you in that whim of yours, had you not given me that hint that my
     silence gives an air of mystery. I have no reason that can
     detain {p.258} me in acquainting you that my father and mother
     were French, of the name of Charpentier; he had a place under
     government; their residence was at Lyons, where you would find on
     inquiries that they lived in good repute and in _very good
     style_. I had the misfortune of losing my father before I could
     know the value of such a parent. At his death we were left to the
     care of Lord D., who was his very great friend; and very soon
     after I had the affliction of losing my mother. Our taking the
     name of Carpenter was on my brother's going to India, to prevent
     any little difficulties that might have occurred. I hope now you
     are pleased. Lord D. could have given you every information, as
     he has been acquainted with all my family. You say you almost
     love _him_; but until your _almost_ comes to a _quite_, I cannot
     love _you_. Before I conclude this famous epistle, I will give
     you a little hint--that is, not to put so many _musts_ in your
     letters--it is beginning _rather too soon_; and another thing is,
     that I take the liberty not to mind them much, but I expect you
     mind me. You _must_ take care of yourself; you _must_ think of
     me, and believe me yours sincerely,

                                        C. C.


                                        CARLISLE, October 26.

     I have only a minute before the post goes, to assure you, my dear
     sir, of the welcome reception of the stranger.[141] The very
     great likeness to a friend of mine will endear him to me; he
     shall be my constant companion, but I wish he could give me an
     answer to a thousand questions I have to make--one in particular,
     what reason have you for so many fears you express? Have your
     friends changed? Pray let me know the truth--they perhaps don't
     like me _being French_. Do write immediately--let it be in better
     spirits. Et croyez-moi toujours votre sincère

                                        C. C.

         [Footnote 141: A miniature of Scott.]

     TO {p.259} THE SAME.

                                        October 31.

     ... All your apprehensions about your friends make me very
     uneasy. At your father's age, prejudices are not easily
     overcome--old people have, you know, so much more wisdom and
     experience, that we must be guided by them. If he has an
     objection on my being _French_, I excuse him with all my heart,
     as I don't love them myself. O how all these things plague
     me!--when will it end? And to complete the matter, you talk of
     going to the West Indies. I am certain your father and uncle say
     you are a hot _heady_ young man, quite mad, and I assure you I
     join with them; and I must believe, that when you have such an
     idea, you have then determined to think no more of me. I begin to
     repent of having accepted your picture. I will send it _back
     again_, if you ever think again about the West Indies. Your
     family then would _love me_ very much--to forsake them for a
     _stranger_, a person who does not possess half the charms and
     good qualities that you _imagine_. I think I hear your uncle
     calling you a hot heady young man. I am certain of it, and I am
     _generally right_ in my conjectures. What does your sister say
     about it? I suspect that she thinks on the matter as I should do,
     with fears and anxieties for the happiness of her brother. If it
     be proper, and you think it would be _acceptable_, present my
     best compliments to your mother; and to my old acquaintance
     Captain Scott I beg to be remembered. This evening is the first
     ball--don't you wish to be of our party? I guess your answer--it
     would give me infinite pleasure. En attendant le plaisir de vous
     revoir, je suis toujours votre constante



                              THE CASTLE, HARTFORD, October 29, 1797.

     SIR,--I received the favor of your letter. It was so manly,
     honorable, candid, and so full of good sense, that I {p.260}
     think Miss Carpenter's friends cannot in any way object to the
     union you propose. Its taking place, when or where, will depend
     upon herself, as I shall write to her by this night's post. Any
     provision that may be given to her by her brother, you will have
     settled upon her and her children; and I hope, with all my heart,
     that every earthly happiness may attend you both. I shall be
     always happy to hear it, and to subscribe myself your faithful
     friend and obedient humble servant,



                                        CARLISLE, November 4.

     Last night I received the enclosed for you from Lord Downshire.
     If it has your approbation, I shall be very glad to see you as
     soon as will be convenient. I have a thousand things to tell you;
     but let me beg of you not to think for some time of a house. I am
     sure I can convince you of the propriety and prudence of waiting
     until your father will settle things more to your satisfaction,
     and until I have heard from my brother. You _must_ be of my way
     of thinking.--Adieu.

                                        C. C.

Scott obeyed this summons, and I suppose remained in Carlisle until
the Court of Session met, which is always on the 12th of November.


                                        CARLISLE, November 14.

     Your letter never could have come in a more favorable moment.
     Anything you could have said would have been well received. You
     surprise me much at the regret you express you had of leaving
     Carlisle. Indeed, I can't believe it was on my account, I was so
     uncommonly stupid. I don't know what could be the matter with me,
     I was so very low, and felt really ill: it was even a trouble to
     speak. The settling of our little plans--all looked {p.261} so
     much in earnest--that I began reflecting more seriously than I
     generally do, or _approve of_. I don't think that very thoughtful
     people ever can be happy. As this is my maxim, adieu to all
     thoughts. I have made a determination of being pleased with
     everything, and with everybody in Edinburgh; a wise system for
     happiness, is it not? I enclose the lock. I have had almost all
     my hair cut off. Miss Nicolson has taken some, which she sends to
     London to be made to something, but this you are not to know of,
     as she intends to present it to you.... I am happy to hear of
     your father's being better pleased as to money matters; it will
     come at last; don't let that trifle disturb you. Adieu, Monsieur.
     J'ai l'honneur d'être votre très humble et très


                                        C. C.

                                        CARLISLE, November 27.

     You have made me very _triste_ all day. Pray never more complain
     of being poor. Are you not ten times richer than I am? Depend on
     yourself and your profession. I have no doubt you will rise very
     high, and be a _great rich man_, but we should look down to be
     contented with our lot, and banish all disagreeable thoughts. We
     shall do very well. I am very sorry to hear you have such a _bad
     head_. I hope I shall nurse away all your aches. I think you
     write too much. When I am _mistress_ I shall not allow it. How
     very angry I should be with you if you were to part with Lenore.
     Do you really believe I should think it an _unnecessary expense_
     where your health and pleasure can be concerned? I have a better
     opinion of you, and I am very glad you don't give up the cavalry,
     as I love anything that is _stylish_. Don't forget to find a
     stand for the old carriage, as I shall like to keep it, in case
     we should have to go any journey; it is so much more convenient
     than the post-chaises, and will do very well till we can keep
     _our carriage_. What an idea of yours was that to mention where
     {p.262} you wish to have your _bones laid_![142] If you were
     married, I should think you were tired of me. A very pretty
     compliment _before marriage_. I hope sincerely that I shall not
     live to see that day. If you always have those cheerful thoughts,
     how very pleasant and gay you must be.

     Adieu, my dearest friend. Take care of yourself if you love me,
     as I have _no wish_ that you should _visit_ that _beautiful_ and
     _romantic_ scene, the burying-place. Adieu, once more, and
     believe that you are loved very sincerely by

                                        C. C.

         [Footnote 142: ["I had a visit from Mr. Haliburton to-day,
         and asked him all about your brother, who was two years in
         his house. My father is Mr. Haliburton's relation and chief,
         as he represents a very old family of that name. When you go
         to the south of Scotland with me, you will see their
         burying-place, now all that remains with my father of a very
         handsome property. It is one of the most beautiful and
         romantic scenes you ever saw, among the ruins of an old
         abbey. When I die, Charlotte, you must cause my bones to be
         laid there; but we shall have many happy days before that, I
         hope."--Scott to Miss Carpenter, November 22,
         1797.--_Familiar Letters_, vol. i. p. 8.]]

                                        December 10.

     If I could but really believe that my letter gave you only half
     the pleasure you express, I should almost think, my dearest
     Scott, that I should get very fond of writing merely for the
     pleasure to _indulge_ you--that is saying a great deal. I hope
     you are sensible of the compliment I pay you, and don't expect I
     shall _always_ be so pretty behaved. You may depend on me, my
     dearest friend, for fixing as _early_ a day as I possibly can;
     and if it happens to be not quite so soon as you wish, you must
     not be angry with me. It is very unlucky you are such a bad
     housekeeper--as I am no better. I shall try. I hope to have very
     soon the pleasure of seeing you, and to tell you how much I love
     you; but I wish the first fortnight was over. With all my love,
     and those sort of pretty things--adieu.


     P. S.--_Étudiez {p.263} votre Français._ Remember you are to
     teach me Italian in return, but I shall be but a stupid scholar.
     _Aimez Charlotte._

                                        CARLISLE, December 14.

     ... I heard last night from my friends in London, and I shall
     certainly have the deed this week. I will send it to you
     directly; but not to lose so much time, as you have been
     reckoning, I will prevent any little delay that might happen by
     the post, by fixing already next Wednesday for your coming here,
     and on Thursday the 21st--Oh, my dear Scott, on that day I shall
     be yours forever.

                                        C. C.

     _P. S._--Arrange it so that we shall see none of your family the
     night of our arrival. I shall be so tired, and such a fright, I
     should not be seen to advantage.

To these extracts I may add the following from the first leaf of an
old black-letter Bible at Abbotsford:--

     "_Secundum morem majorum hæc de familiâ Gualteri Scott,
     Jurisconsulti Edinensis, in librum hunc sacrum manu suâ
     conscripta sunt._

     "_Gualterus Scott, filius Gualteri Scott et Annæ Rutherford,
     natus erat apud Edinam 15mo die Augusti, A. D. 1771._

     "_Socius Facultatis Juridicæ Edinensis receptus erat 11mo die
     Julii, A. D. 1792._

     "_In ecclesiam Sanctæ Mariæ apud Carlisle, uxorem duxit
     Margaretam Charlottam Carpenter, filiam quondam Joannis
     Charpentier et Charlottæ Volere, Lugdunensem, 24to die Decembris,

         [Footnote 143: The account in the text of Miss Carpenter's
         origin has been, I am aware, both spoken and written of as an
         uncandid one: it had been expected that even in 1837 I would
         not pass in silence a rumor of early prevalence, which
         represented her and her brother as children of Lord Downshire
         by Madame Charpentier. I did not think it necessary to allude
         to this story while any of Sir Walter's own children were
         living; and I presume it will be sufficient for me to say
         now, that neither I, nor, I firmly believe, any one of them,
         ever heard either from Sir Walter, or from his wife, or from
         Miss Nicolson (who survived them both) the slightest hint as
         to the rumor in question. There is not an expression in the
         preserved correspondence between Scott, the young lady, and
         the Marquis, that gives it a shadow of countenance. Lastly,
         Lady Scott always kept hanging by her bedside, and repeatedly
         kissed in her dying moments, a miniature of her father which
         is now in my hands; and it is the well-painted likeness of a
         handsome gentleman--but I am assured the features have no
         resemblance to Lord Downshire or any of the Hill


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