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Title: Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, Volume 4 (of 10)
Author: Lockhart, J. G. (John Gibson), 1794-1854
Language: English
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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 4 (of 10)" ***

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  Large Paper Edition




  [Illustration: WALTER SCOTT IN 1817
  _From the water-color portrait by William Nicholson_]




  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, 200



  XXV. The "Flitting" to Abbotsford. -- Plantations. --
     George Thomson. -- Rokeby and Triermain in Progress. --
     Excursion to Flodden. -- Bishop-Auckland, and Rokeby
     Park. -- Correspondence with Crabbe. -- Life of Patrick
     Carey, etc. -- Publication of Rokeby, -- and of The
     Bridal of Triermain. 1812-1813                             1

  XXVI. Affairs of John Ballantyne and Co. -- Causes of
     their Derangement. -- Letters of Scott to his Partners.
     -- Negotiation for Relief with Messrs. Constable. --
     New Purchase of Land at Abbotsford. -- Embarrassments
     continued. -- John Ballantyne's Expresses. --
     Drumlanrig, Penrith, etc. -- Scott's Meeting with the
     Marquis of Abercorn at Longtown. -- His Application to
     the Duke of Buccleuch. -- Offer of the
     Poet-Laureateship, -- considered, -- and declined. --
     Address of the City of Edinburgh to the Prince Regent.
     -- Its Reception. -- Civic Honors conferred on Scott.
     -- Question of Taxation on Literary Income. -- Letters
     to Mr. Morritt, Mr. Southey, Mr. Richardson, Mr.
     Crabbe, Miss Baillie, and Lord Byron. 1813                50

  XXVII. Insanity of Henry Weber. -- Letters on the
     Abdication of Napoleon, etc. -- Publication of Scott's
     Life and Edition of Swift. -- Essays for the Supplement
     to the Encyclopædia Britannica. -- Completion and
     Publication of Waverley. 1814                            100

  XXVIII. Voyage to the Shetland Isles, etc. -- Scott's
     Diary kept on Board the Lighthouse Yacht. 1814           124

  XXIX. Diary on Board the Lighthouse Yacht continued. --
     The Orkneys. -- Kirkwall. -- Hoy. -- The Standing
     Stones of Stennis, etc. 1814                             163

  XXX. Diary continued. -- Stromness. -- Bessy Millie's
     Charm. -- Cape Wrath. -- Cave of Smowe. -- The
     Hebrides. -- Scalpa, etc. 1814                           178

  XXXI. Diary continued. -- Isle of Harris. -- Monuments
     of the Chiefs of Macleod. -- Isle of Skye. -- Dunvegan
     Castle. -- Loch Corriskin. -- Macallister's Cave. 1814   193

  XXXII. Diary continued. -- Cave of Egg. -- Iona. --
     Staffa. -- Dunstaffnage. -- Dunluce Castle. -- Giant's
     Causeway. -- Isle of Arran, etc. -- Diary concluded.
     1814                                                     206

  XXXIII. Letter in Verse from Zetland and Orkney. --
     Death of the Duchess of Buccleuch. -- Correspondence
     with the Duke. -- Altrive Lake. -- Negotiation
     concerning The Lord of the Isles completed. -- Success
     of Waverley. -- Contemporaneous criticisms on the
     Novel. -- Letters to Scott from Mr. Morritt, Mr. Lewis,
     and Miss Maclean Clephane. -- Letter from James
     Ballantyne to Miss Edgeworth. 1814                       237



  WALTER SCOTT IN 1817                             _Frontispiece_
  From the water-color portrait by William Nicholson,
  R. S. A., in the possession of W. C. C. Erskine, Esq.
  Through the courtesy of David Douglas, Esq., Edinburgh.

  ABBOTSFORD IN 1812                                            6

  ARCHIBALD CONSTABLE                                          50
  From the painting by Sir Henry Raeburn, R. A., at Braeburn,
  Currie, Mid-Lothian. By permission of William Patrick
  Bruce, Esq.

  J. B. S. MORRITT                                            100
  From the painting by Sir M. A. Shee, P. R. A., in the
  possession of R. A. Morritt, Esq., of Rokeby.

  WILLIAM ERSKINE, LORD KINNEDDER                             124
  From the water-color portrait by William Nicholson,
  R. S. A., in the possession of W. C. C. Erskine, Esq.
  Through the courtesy of David Douglas, Esq., Edinburgh.

  JAMES HOGG                                                  250
  From the water-color portrait by Stephen Poyntz Denning,
  in the National Portrait Gallery.





Towards the end of May, 1812, the Sheriff finally removed from
Ashestiel to Abbotsford. The day when this occurred was a sad one
for many a poor neighbor--for they lost, both in him and his wife,
very generous protectors. In such a place, among the few evils which
counterbalance so many good things in the condition of the
peasantry, the most afflicting is the want of access to medical
advice. As far as their means and skill would go, they had both done
their utmost to supply this want; and Mrs. Scott, in particular, had
made it so much her business to visit the sick in their scattered
cottages, and bestowed on them the contents of her medicine-chest as
well as of the larder and cellar, with such unwearied kindness, that
her name is never mentioned there to this day without some
expression of tenderness. Scott's children remember the parting
scene as one of unmixed affliction--but it had had, as we shall see,
its lighter features.

Among the many amiable English friends whom he owed to his frequent
visits at Rokeby Park, there was, I believe, none that had a higher
place in his regard than the late Anne, Lady Alvanley, the widow of
the celebrated Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas. He was
fond of female society in general; but her ladyship was a woman
after his heart; well born and highly bred, but without the
slightest tinge of the frivolities of modern fashion; soundly
informed, and a warm lover of literature and the arts, but holding
in as great horror as himself the imbecile chatter and affected
ecstasies of the bluestocking generation. Her ladyship had written
to him early in May, by Miss Sarah Smith (now Mrs. Bartley), whom I
have already mentioned as one of his theatrical favorites; and his
answer contains, among other matters, a sketch of the "Forest


                                       ASHESTIEL, 25th May, 1812.

I was honored, my dear Lady Alvanley, by the kind letter which you
sent me with our friend Miss Smith, whose talents are, I hope,
receiving at Edinburgh the full meed of honorable applause which they
so highly merit. It is very much against my will that I am forced to
speak of them by report alone, for this being the term of removing, I
am under the necessity of being at this farm to superintend the
transference of my goods and chattels, a most miscellaneous
collection, to a small property, about five miles down the Tweed,
which I purchased last year. The neighbors have been much delighted
with the procession of my furniture, in which old swords, bows,
targets, and lances, made a very conspicuous show. A family of turkeys
was accommodated within the helmet of some _preux chevalier_ of
ancient Border fame; and the very cows, for aught I know, were bearing
banners and muskets. I assure your ladyship that this caravan,
attended by a dozen of ragged rosy peasant children, carrying
fishing-rods and spears, and leading ponies, greyhounds, and
spaniels, would, as it crossed the Tweed, have furnished no bad
subject for the pencil, and really reminded me of one of the gypsy
groups of Callot upon their march.

                                             EDINBURGH, 28th May.

I have got here at length, and had the pleasure to hear Miss Smith
speak the Ode on the Passions charmingly last night. It was her
benefit, and the house was tolerable, though not so good as she
deserves, being a very good girl, as well as an excellent performer.

I have read Lord Byron with great pleasure, though pleasure is not
quite the appropriate word. I should say admiration--mixed with
regret, that the author should have adopted such an unamiable
misanthropical tone.--The reconciliation with Holland House is
extremely edifying, and may teach young authors to be in no hurry to
exercise their satirical vein. I remember an honest old Presbyterian,
who thought it right to speak with respect even of the devil himself,
since no one knew in what corner he might one day want a friend. But
Lord Byron is young, and certainly has great genius, and has both time
and capacity to make amends for his errors. I wonder if he will pardon
the Edinburgh Reviewers, who have read their recantation of their
former strictures.

Mrs. Scott begs to offer her kindest and most respectful compliments
to your ladyship and the young ladies. I hope we shall get into
Yorkshire this season to see Morritt: he and his lady are really
delightful persons. Believe me, with great respect, dear Lady
Alvanley, your much honored and obliged

                                                    WALTER SCOTT.

A week later, in answer to a letter, mentioning the approach of the
celebrated sale of books in which the Roxburghe Club originated,
Scott says to his trusty ally, Daniel Terry:--

                                       EDINBURGH, 9th June, 1812.

MY DEAR TERRY,--I wish you joy of your success, which, although all
reports state it as most highly flattering, does not exceed what I had
hoped for you. I think I shall do you a sensible pleasure in
requesting that you will take a walk over the fields to Hampstead one
of these fine days, and deliver the enclosed to my friend Miss
Baillie, with whom, I flatter myself, you will be much pleased, as she
has all the simplicity of real genius. I mentioned to her some time
ago that I wished to make you acquainted, so that the sooner you can
call upon her, the compliment will be the more gracious. As I suppose
you will sometimes look in at the Roxburghe sale, a memorandum
respecting any remarkable articles will be a great favor.

Abbotsford was looking charming, when I was obliged to mount my wheel
in this court, too fortunate that I have at length some share in the
roast meat I am daily engaged in turning. Our flitting and removal
from Ashestiel baffled all description; we had twenty-four cart-loads
of the veriest trash in nature, besides dogs, pigs, ponies, poultry,
cows, calves, bare-headed wenches, and bare-breeched boys. In other
respects we are going on in the old way, only poor Percy is dead. I
intend to have an old stone set up by his grave, with "_Cy gist li
preux Percie,_" and I hope future antiquaries will debate which hero
of the house of Northumberland has left his bones in Teviotdale.[1]

Believe me yours very truly,

                                                    WALTER SCOTT.

This was one of the busiest summers of Scott's busy life. Till the
12th of July he was at his post in the Court of Session five days
every week; but every Saturday evening found him at Abbotsford, to
observe the progress his laborers had made within doors and without
in his absence; and on Monday night he returned to Edinburgh. Even
before the Summer Session commenced, he appears to have made some
advance in his Rokeby, for he writes to Mr. Morritt, from
Abbotsford, on the 4th of May: "As for the house and the poem, there
are twelve masons hammering at the one, and one poor noddle at the
other--so they are both in progress;"--and his literary labors
throughout the long vacation were continued under the same sort of
disadvantage. That autumn he had, in fact, no room at all for
himself. The only parlor which had been hammered into anything like
habitable condition served at once for dining-room, drawing-room,
school-room, and study. A window looking to the river was kept
sacred to his desk; an old bed-curtain was nailed up across the room
close behind his chair, and there, whenever the spade, the dibble,
or the chisel (for he took his full share in all the work on hand)
was laid aside, he pursued his poetical tasks, apparently
undisturbed and unannoyed by the surrounding confusion of masons and
carpenters, to say nothing of the lady's small talk, the children's
babble among themselves, or their repetition of their lessons. The
truth no doubt was, that when at his desk he did little more, as far
as regarded _poetry_, than write down the lines which he had
fashioned in his mind while pursuing his vocation as a planter, upon
that bank which received originally, by way of joke, the title of
_the thicket_. "I am now," he says to Ellis (October 17), "adorning
a patch of naked land with trees _facturis nepotibus umbram_, for I
shall never live to enjoy their shade myself otherwise than in the
recumbent posture of Tityrus or Menalcas." But he did live to see
_the thicket_ deserve not only that name, but a nobler one; and to
fell with his own hand many a well-grown tree that he had planted

Another plantation of the same date, by his eastern boundary, was
less successful. For this he had asked and received from his early
friend, the Marchioness of Stafford, a supply of acorns from
Trentham, and it was named in consequence _Sutherland bower_; but
the field-mice, in the course of the ensuing winter, contrived to
root up and devour the whole of her ladyship's goodly benefaction. A
third space had been set apart, and duly enclosed, for the reception
of some Spanish chestnuts offered to him by an admirer established
in merchandise at Seville; but that gentleman had not been a very
knowing ally as to such matters, for when the chestnuts arrived, it
turned out that they had been boiled.

[Illustration: ABBOTSFORD IN 1812]

Scott writes thus to Terry, in September, while the Roxburghe sale
was still going on:--

I have lacked your assistance, my dear Sir, for twenty whimsicalities
this autumn. Abbotsford, as you will readily conceive, has
considerably changed its face since the auspices of Mother Retford
were exchanged for ours. We have got up a good garden wall, complete
stables in the haugh, according to Stark's plan, and the old farmyard
being enclosed with a wall, with some little picturesque additions in
front, has much relieved the stupendous height of the Doctor's barn.
The new plantations have thriven amazingly well, the acorns are coming
up fast, and Tom Purdie is the happiest and most consequential person
in the world. My present work is building up the well with some debris
from the Abbey. Oh, for your assistance, for I am afraid we shall make
but a botched job of it, especially as our materials are of a very
miscellaneous complexion. The worst of all is, that while my trees
grow and my fountain fills, my purse, in an inverse ratio, sinks to
zero. This last circumstance will, I fear, make me a very poor guest
at the literary entertainment your researches hold out for me. I
should, however, like much to have the Treatise on Dreams, by the
author of the New Jerusalem, which, as John Cuthbertson the smith said
of the minister's sermon, must be neat work. The Loyal Poems, by N.
T.,[2] are probably by poor Nahum Tate, who associated with Brady in
versifying the Psalms, and more honorably with Dryden in the second
part of Absalom and Achitophel. I never saw them, however, but would
give a guinea or thirty shillings for the collection. Our friend John
Ballantyne has, I learn, made a sudden sally to London, and doubtless
you will crush a quart with him or a pottle pot; he will satisfy your
bookseller for The Dreamer, or any other little purchase you may
recommend for me. You have pleased Miss Baillie very much both in
public and in society, and though not fastidious, she is not, I think,
particularly lavish of applause either way. A most valuable person is
she, and as warm-hearted as she is brilliant.--Mrs. Scott and all our
little folks are well. I am relieved of the labor of hearing Walter's
lesson by a gallant son of the church, who, with one leg of wood and
another of oak, walks to and fro from Melrose every day for that
purpose. Pray stick to the dramatic work,[3] and never suppose either
that you can be intrusive, or that I can be uninterested in whatever
concerns you.


                                                            W. S.

The tutor alluded to at the close of this letter was Mr. George
Thomson, son of the minister of Melrose, who, when the house
afforded better accommodation, was and continued for many years to
be domesticated at Abbotsford. Scott had always a particular
tenderness towards persons afflicted with any bodily misfortune; and
Thomson, whose leg had been amputated in consequence of a rough
casualty of his boyhood, had a special share in his favor from the
high spirit with which he refused at the time to betray the name of
the companion that had occasioned his mishap, and continued ever
afterwards to struggle against its disadvantages. Tall, vigorous,
athletic, a dauntless horseman, and expert at the singlestick,
George formed a valuable as well as picturesque addition to the
_tail_ of the new laird, who often said, "In the Dominie, like
myself, accident has spoiled a capital lifeguardsman." His many
oddities and eccentricities in no degree interfered with the respect
due to his amiable feelings, upright principles, and sound learning;
nor did _Dominie Thomson_ at all quarrel in after-times with the
universal credence of the neighborhood that he had furnished many
features for the inimitable personage whose designation so nearly
resembled his own; and if he has not yet "wagged his head" in a
"pulpit o' his ain," he well knows it has not been so for want of
earnest and long-continued intercession on the part of the author of
Guy Mannering.[4]

For many years Scott had accustomed himself to proceed in the
composition of poetry along with that of prose essays of various
descriptions; but it is a remarkable fact that he chose this period
of perpetual noise and bustle, when he had not even a summer-house
to himself, for the new experiment of carrying on two poems at the
same time--and this, too, without suspending the heavy labor of his
edition of Swift, to say nothing of the various lesser matters in
which the Ballantynes were, from day to day, calling for the
assistance of his judgment and his pen. In the same letter in which
William Erskine acknowledges the receipt of the first four pages of
Rokeby, he adverts also to The Bridal of Triermain as being already
in rapid progress. The fragments of this second poem, inserted in
the Register of the preceding year, had attracted considerable
notice; the secret of their authorship had been well kept; and by
some means, even in the shrewdest circles of Edinburgh, the belief
had become prevalent that they proceeded not from Scott, but from
Erskine. Scott had no sooner completed his bargain as to the
copyright of the unwritten Rokeby, than he resolved to pause from
time to time in its composition, and weave those fragments into a
shorter and lighter romance, executed in a different metre, and to
be published anonymously, in a small pocket volume, as nearly as
possible on the same day with the avowed quarto. He expected great
amusement from the comparisons which the critics would no doubt
indulge themselves in drawing between himself and this humble
candidate; and Erskine good-humoredly entered into the scheme,
undertaking to do nothing which should effectually suppress the
notion of his having set himself up as a modest rival to his friend.
Nay, he suggested a further refinement, which in the sequel had no
small share in the success of this little plot upon the sagacity of
the reviewers. Having said that he much admired the opening of the
first canto of Rokeby, Erskine adds, "I shall request your
_accoucheur_ to send me your _little Dugald_ too as he gradually
makes his progress. What I have seen is delightful. You are aware
how difficult it is to form any opinion of a work, the general plan
of which is unknown, transmitted merely in legs and wings as they
are formed and feathered. Any remarks must be of the most minute and
superficial kind, confined chiefly to the language, and other such
subordinate matters. I shall be very much amused if the secret is
kept and the knowing ones taken in. To prevent any discovery from
your prose, what think you of putting down your ideas of what the
preface ought to contain, and allowing me to write it over? And
perhaps a quizzing review might be concocted."

This last hint was welcome; and among other parts of the preface to
Triermain which threw out "the knowing ones," certain Greek
quotations interspersed in it are now accounted for. Scott, on his
part, appears to have studiously interwoven into the piece allusions
to personal feelings and experiences more akin to his friend's
history and character than to his own; and he did so still more
largely, when repeating this experiment, in the introductory parts
of Harold the Dauntless.

The same post which conveyed William Erskine's letter, above quoted,
brought him an equally wise and kind one from Mr. Morritt, in answer
to a fresh application for some minute details about the scenery and
local traditions of the Valley of the Tees. Scott had promised to
spend part of this autumn at Rokeby Park himself; but now, busied as
he was with his planting operations at home, and continually urged
by Ballantyne to have the poem ready for publication by Christmas,
he would willingly have trusted his friend's knowledge in place of
his own observation and research. Mr. Morritt gave him in reply
various particulars, which I need not here repeat, but added,--

I am really sorry, my dear Scott, at your abandonment of your kind
intention of visiting Rokeby, and my sorrow is not quite selfish, for
seriously, I wish you could have come, if but for a few days, in
order, on the spot, to settle accurately in your mind the localities
of the new poem, and all their petty circumstances, of which there are
many that would give interest and ornament to your descriptions. I am
too much flattered by your proposal of inscribing the poem to me, not
to accept it with gratitude and pleasure. I shall always feel your
friendship as an honor--we all wish our honors to be permanent--and
yours promises mine at least a fair chance of immortality. I hope,
however, you will not be obliged to write in a hurry on account of the
impatience of your booksellers. They are, I think, ill advised in
their proceeding, for surely the book will be the more likely to
succeed from not being forced prematurely into this critical world. Do
not be persuaded to risk your established fame on this hazardous
experiment. If you want a few hundreds independent of these
booksellers, your credit is so very good, now that you have got rid of
your Old Man of the Sea, that it is no great merit to trust you, and I
happen at this moment to have five or six for which I have no sort of
demand--so rather than be obliged to spur Pegasus beyond the power of
pulling him up when he is going too fast, do consult your own judgment
and set the midwives of the trade at defiance. Don't be scrupulous to
the disadvantage of your muse, and above all be not offended at me for
a proposition which is meant in the true spirit of friendship. I am
more than ever anxious for your success--The Lady of the Lake more
than succeeded--I think Don Roderick is less popular--I want this work
to be another Lady at the least. Surely it would be worth your while
for such an object to spend a week of your time, and a portion of your
Old Man's salary, in a mail-coach flight hither, were it merely to
renew your acquaintance with the country, and to rectify the little
misconceptions of a cursory view. Ever affectionately yours,

                                                      J. B. S. M.

This appeal was not to be resisted. Scott, I believe, accepted Mr.
Morritt's friendly offer so far as to ask his assistance in having
some of Ballantyne's bills discounted; and he proceeded the week
after to Rokeby, by the way of Flodden and Hexham, travelling on
horseback, his eldest boy and girl on their ponies, while Mrs. Scott
followed them in the carriage. Two little incidents that diversified
this ride through Northumberland have found their way into print
already; but, as he was fond of telling them both down to the end of
his days, I must give them a place here also. Halting at Flodden to
expound the field of battle to his young folks, he found that
Marmion had, as might have been expected, benefited the keeper of
the public house there very largely; and the village Boniface,
overflowing with gratitude, expressed his anxiety to have a _Scott's
Head_ for his sign-post. The poet demurred to this proposal, and
assured mine host that nothing could be more appropriate than the
portraiture of a foaming tankard, which already surmounted his
doorway. "Why, the painter-man has not made an ill job," said the
landlord, "but I would fain have something more connected with the
book that has brought me so much good custom." He produced a
well-thumbed copy, and handing it to the author, begged he would at
least suggest a motto from the tale of Flodden Field. Scott opened
the book at the death scene of the hero, and his eye was immediately
caught by the "inscription" in black-letter,--

  "Drink, weary pilgrim, drink, and pray
  For the kind soul of Sibyl Grey," etc.

"Well, my friend," said he, "what more would you have? You need but
strike out one letter in the first of these lines, and make your
painter-man, the next time he comes this way, print between the
jolly tankard and your own name,--

  "Drink, weary pilgrim, drink and PAY."

Scott was delighted to find, on his return, that this suggestion had
been adopted, and, for aught I know, the romantic legend may still
be visible. The other story I shall give in the words of Mr.

"It happened at a small country town that Scott suddenly required
medical advice for one of his servants, and, on inquiring if there was
any doctor at the place, was told that there were two,--one long
established, and the other a newcomer. The latter gentleman, being
luckily found at home, soon made his appearance;--a grave,
sagacious-looking personage, attired in black, with a shovel hat, in
whom, to his utter astonishment, Sir Walter recognized a Scotch
blacksmith, who had formerly practised, with tolerable success, as a
veterinary operator in the neighborhood of Ashestiel.--'How, in all
the world,' exclaimed he, 'can it be possible that this is John
Lundie?'--'In troth is it, your honor--just _a' that's for
him_.'--'Well, but let us hear; you were a _horse_-doctor before; now,
it seems, you are a _man_-doctor; how do you get on?'--'Ou, just
extraordinar weel; for your honor maun ken my practice is vera sure
and orthodox. I depend entirely upon twa _simples_.'--'And what may
their names be? Perhaps it is a secret?'--'I'll tell your honor,' in a
low tone; 'my twa simples are just _laudamy_ and _calamy_!'--'Simples
with a vengeance!' replied Scott. 'But, John, do you never happen to
_kill_ any of your patients?'--'Kill? Ou ay, may be sae! Whiles they
die, and whiles no;--but it's the will o' Providence. _Ony how, your
honor, it wad be lang before it makes up for Flodden!_'"[5]

It was also in the course of this expedition that Scott first made
acquaintance with the late excellent and venerable Shute Barrington,
Bishop of Durham. The travellers having reached Auckland over night were
seeing the public rooms of the Castle at an early hour next morning,
when the Bishop happened, in passing through one of them, to catch a
glimpse of Scott's person, and immediately recognizing him, from the
likeness of the engravings by this time multiplied, introduced himself
to the party, and insisted upon acting as cicerone. After showing them
the picture-gallery and so forth, his Lordship invited them to join the
morning service of the chapel, and when that was over, insisted on their
remaining to breakfast. But Scott and his Lordship were by this time so
much pleased with each other that they could not part so easily. The
good Bishop ordered his horse, nor did Scott observe without admiration
the proud curvetting of the animal on which his Lordship proposed to
accompany him during the next stage of his progress. "Why, yes, Mr.
Scott," said the gentle but high-spirited old man, "I still like to feel
my horse under me." He was then in his seventy-ninth year, and survived
to the age of ninety-two, the model in all things of a real prince of
the Church. They parted after a ride of ten miles, with mutual regret;
and on all subsequent rides in that direction, Bishop-Auckland was one
of the poet's regular halting-places.[6]

At Rokeby, on this occasion, Scott remained about a week; and I
transcribe the following brief account of his proceedings while
there from Mr. Morritt's _Memorandum_:--

"I had, of course," he says, "had many previous opportunities of
testing the almost conscientious fidelity of his local descriptions;
but I could not help being singularly struck with the lights which
this visit threw on that characteristic of his compositions. The
morning after he arrived he said, 'You have often given me materials
for romance--now I want a good robber's cave, and an old church of the
right sort.' We rode out, and he found what he wanted in the ancient
slate quarries of Brignall and the ruined Abbey of Egglestone. I
observed him noting down even the peculiar little wild flowers and
herbs that accidentally grew round and on the side of a bold crag near
his intended cave of Guy Denzil; and could not help saying, that as he
was not to be upon oath in his work, daisies, violets, and primroses
would be as poetical as any of the humble plants he was examining. I
laughed, in short, at his scrupulousness; but I understood him when he
replied, 'that in nature herself no two scenes were exactly alike, and
that whoever copied truly what was before his eyes would possess the
same variety in his descriptions, and exhibit apparently an
imagination as boundless as the range of nature in the scenes he
recorded; whereas, whoever trusted to imagination would soon find his
own mind circumscribed, and contracted to a few favorite images, and
the repetition of these would sooner or later produce that very
monotony and barrenness which had always haunted descriptive poetry in
the hands of any but the patient worshippers of truth. Besides which,'
he said, 'local names and peculiarities make a fictitious story look
so much better in the face.' In fact, from his boyish habits, he was
but half satisfied with the most beautiful scenery when he could not
connect with it some local legend, and when I was forced sometimes to
confess with the Knife-grinder, 'Story! God bless you! I have none to
tell, sir,'--he would laugh and say, 'Then let us make one--nothing so
easy as to make a tradition.'"

Mr. Morritt adds, that he had brought with him about half The
Bridal of Triermain--told him that he meant to bring it out the same
week with Rokeby--and promised himself particular satisfaction in
_laying a trap for Jeffrey_; who, however, as we shall see, escaped
the snare.

Some of the following letters will show with what rapidity, after
having refreshed and stored his memory with the localities of
Rokeby, he proceeded in the composition of the romance:--


                                  ABBOTSFORD, 12th October, 1812.

MY DEAR MORRITT,--I have this morning returned from Dalkeith House, to
which I was whisked amid the fury of an election tempest, and I found
your letter on my table. More on such a subject cannot be said among
friends who give each other credit for feeling as they ought.

We peregrinated over Stanmore, and visited the Castles of Bowes,
Brough, Appleby, and Brougham with great interest. Lest our spirit of
chivalry thus excited should lack employment, we found ourselves, that
is, _I_ did, at Carlisle, engaged in the service of two distressed
ladies, being no other than our friends Lady Douglas and Lady Louisa
Stuart, who overtook us there, and who would have had great trouble in
finding quarters, the election being in full vigor, if we had not
anticipated their puzzle, and secured a private house capable of
holding us all. Some distress occurred, I believe, among the waiting
damsels, whose case I had not so carefully considered, for I heard a
sentimental exclamation--"Am I to sleep with the greyhounds?" which I
conceived to proceed from Lady Douglas's _suivante_, from the
exquisite sensibility of tone with which it was uttered, especially as
I beheld the fair one descend from the carriage with three half-bound
volumes of a novel in her hand. Not having it in my power to alleviate
her woes, by offering her either a part or the whole of my own
couch.--"_Transeat_," quoth I, "_cum cæteris erroribus_."

I am delighted with your Cumberland admirer,[7] and give him credit
for his visit to the vindicator of Homer; but you missed one of
another description, who passed Rokeby with great regret, I mean
General John Malcolm, the Persian envoy, the Delhi resident, the poet,
the warrior, the polite man, and the Borderer. He is really a fine
fellow. I met him at Dalkeith, and we returned together;--he has just
left me, after drinking his coffee. A fine time we had of it, talking
of Troy town, and Babel, and Persepolis, and Delhi, and Langholm, and
Burnfoot;[8] with all manner of episodes about Iskendiar, Rustan, and
Johnny Armstrong. Do you know, that poem of Ferdusi's must be
beautiful. He read me some very splendid extracts which he had himself
translated. Should you meet him in London, I have given him charge to
be acquainted with you, for I am sure you will like each other. To be
sure, I know him little, but I like his frankness and his sound ideas
of morality and policy; and I have observed, that when I have had no
great liking to persons at the beginning, it has usually pleased
Heaven, as Slender says, to decrease it on further acquaintance.
Adieu, I must mount my horse. Our last journey was so delightful that
we have every temptation to repeat it. Pray give our kind love to the
lady, and believe me ever yours,

                                                    WALTER SCOTT.


                                  EDINBURGH, 29th November, 1812.

MY DEAR MORRITT,--I have been, and still am, working very hard, in
hopes to face the public by Christmas, and I think I have hitherto
succeeded in throwing some interest into the piece. It is, however, a
darker and more gloomy interest than I intended; but involving one's
self with bad company, whether in fiction or in reality, is the way
not to get out of it easily; so I have been obliged to bestow more
pains and trouble upon Bertram, and one or two blackguards whom he
picks up in the slate quarries, than what I originally designed. I am
very desirous to have your opinion of the three first Cantos, for
which purpose, so soon as I can get them collected, I will send the
sheets under cover to Mr. Freeling, whose omnipotent frank will
transmit them to Rokeby, where, I presume, you have been long since
comfortably settled--

  "So York may overlook the town of York."[9]

I trust you will read it with some partiality, because, if I have not
been so successful as I could wish in describing your lovely and
romantic glens, it has partly arisen from my great anxiety to do it
well, which is often attended with the very contrary effect. There are
two or three songs, and particularly one in praise of Brignall Banks,
which I trust you will like--because, _entre nous_, I like them
myself. One of them is a little dashing banditti song, called and
entitled Allen-a-Dale. I think you will be able to judge for yourself
in about a week. Pray, how shall I send you the _entire goose_, which
will be too heavy to travel the same way with its _giblets_--for the
Carlisle coach is terribly inaccurate about parcels? I fear I have
made one blunder in mentioning the brooks which flow into the Tees. I
have made the Balder distinct from that which comes down Thorsgill--I
hope I am not mistaken. You will see the passage; and if they are the
same rivulet, the leaf must be cancelled.

I trust this will find Mrs. Morritt pretty well; and I am glad to find
she has been better for her little tour. We were delighted with ours,
except in respect of its short duration, and Sophia and Walter hold
their heads very high among their untravelled companions, from the
predominance acquired by their visit to England. You are not perhaps
aware of the polish which is supposed to be acquired by the most
transitory intercourse with your more refined side of the Tweed. There
was an honest carter who once applied to me respecting a plan which he
had formed of breeding his son, a great booby of twenty, to the
Church. As the best way of evading the scrape, I asked him whether he
thought his son's language was quite adapted for the use of a public
speaker?--to which he answered, with great readiness, that he could
knap English with any one, having twice driven his father's cart to
Etal coal-hill.

I have called my heroine Matilda. I don't much like Agnes, though I
can't tell why, unless it is because it begins like Agag. Matilda is a
name of unmanageable length; but, after all, is better than none, and
my poor damsel was likely to go without one in my indecision.

We are all hungering and thirsting for news from Russia. If Boney's
devil does not help him, he is in a poor way. The Leith letters talk
of the unanimity of the Russians as being most exemplary; and troops
pour in from all quarters of their immense empire. Their commissariat
is well managed under the Prince Duke of Oldenburgh. This was their
weak point in former wars.

Adieu! Mrs. Scott and the little people send love to Mrs. Morritt and
you. Ever yours,

                                                    WALTER SCOTT.


                        EDINBURGH, Thursday, 10th December, 1812.

MY DEAR MORRITT,--I have just time to say that I have received your
letters, and am delighted that Rokeby pleases the owner. As I hope the
whole will be printed off before Christmas, it will scarce be worth
while to send you the other sheets till it reaches you altogether.
Your criticisms are the best proof of your kind attention to the
poem. I need not say I will pay them every attention in the next
edition. But some of the faults are so interwoven with the story, that
they must stand. Denzil, for instance, is essential to me, though, as
you say, not very interesting; and I assure you that, generally
speaking, the _poeta loquitur_ has a bad effect in narrative; and when
you have twenty things to tell, it is better to be slatternly than
tedious. The fact is, that the tediousness of many really good poems
arises from an attempt to support the same tone throughout, which
often occasions periphrasis, and always stiffness. I am quite sensible
that I have often carried the opposite custom too far; but I am apt to
impute it partly to not being able to bring out my own ideas well, and
partly to haste--not to error in the system. This would, however, lead
to a long discussion, more fit for the fireside than for a letter. I
need not say that, the poem being in fact your own, you are at perfect
liberty to dispose of the sheets as you please. I am glad my geography
is pretty correct. It is too late to inquire if Rokeby is insured, for
I have burned it down in Canto V.; but I suspect you will bear me no
greater grudge than at the noble Russian who burned Moscow. Glorious
news to-day from the North--_pereat iste_! Mrs. Scott, Sophia, and
Walter, join in best compliments to Mrs. Morritt; and I am, in great
haste, ever faithfully yours,

                                                    WALTER SCOTT.

P. S.--I have heard of Lady Hood by a letter from herself. She is
well, and in high spirits, and sends me a pretty topaz seal, with a
talisman which secures this letter, and signifies (it seems), which
one would scarce have expected from its appearance, my name.

We are now close upon the end of this busy twelvemonth; but I must
not turn the leaf to 1813, without noticing one of its miscellaneous
incidents--his first intercourse by letter with the poet Crabbe. Mr.
Hatchard, the publisher of his Tales, forwarded a copy of the book
to Scott as soon as it was ready; and, the bookseller having
communicated to his author some flattering expressions in Scott's
letter of acknowledgment, Mr. Crabbe addressed him as follows:--


                            MUSTON, GRANTHAM, 13th October, 1812.

SIR,--Mr. Hatchard, judging rightly of the satisfaction it would
afford me, has been so obliging as to communicate your two letters, in
one of which you desire my Tales to be sent; in the other, you
acknowledge the receipt of them; and in both you mention my verses in
such terms, that it would be affected in me were I to deny, and I
think unjust if I were to conceal, the pleasure you give me. I am
indeed highly gratified.

I have long entertained a hearty wish to be made known to a poet whose
works are so greatly and so universally admired; and I continued to hope
that I might at some time find a common friend, by whose intervention I
might obtain that honor; but I am confined by duties near my home, and
by sickness in it. It may be long before I be in town, and then no such
opportunity might offer. Excuse me, then, sir, if I gladly seize this
which now occurs to express my thanks for the politeness of your
expressions, as well as my desire of being known to a gentleman who has
delighted and affected me, and moved all the passions and feelings in
turn, I believe--Envy surely excepted--certainly, if I know myself, but
in a moderate degree. I truly rejoice in your success; and while I am
entertaining, in my way, a certain set of readers, for the most part,
probably, of peculiar turn and habit, I can with pleasure see the effect
you produce on all. Mr. Hatchard tells me that he hopes or expects that
thousands will read my Tales, and I am convinced that your publisher
might, in like manner, so speak of your ten thousands; but this, though
it calls to mind the passage, is no true comparison with the related
prowess of David and Saul, because I have no evil spirit to arise and
trouble me on the occasion; though, if I had, I know no David whose
skill is so likely to allay it. Once more, sir, accept my best thanks,
with my hearty wishes for your health and happiness, who am, with great
esteem, and true respect,

Dear Sir, your obedient servant,

                                                   GEORGE CRABBE.

I cannot produce Scott's reply to this communication. Mr. Crabbe
appears to have, in the course of the year, sent him a copy of all
his works, "ex dono auctoris," and there passed between them several
letters, one or two of which I must quote.


Know you, sir, a gentleman in Edinburgh, A. Brunton (the Rev.), who
dates St. John Street, and who asks my assistance in furnishing hymns
which have relation to the Old or New Testament--anything which might
suit the purpose of those who are cooking up a book of Scotch
Psalmody? Who is Mr. Brunton? What is his situation? If I could help
one who needed help, I would do it cheerfully--but have no great
opinion of this undertaking....

With every good wish, yours sincerely,

                                                   GEORGE CRABBE.

Scott's answer to this letter expresses the opinions he always held
in conversation on the important subject to which it refers; and
acting upon which, he himself at various times declined taking any
part in the business advocated by Dr. Brunton:--


MY DEAR SIR,--I was favored with your kind letter some time ago. Of
all people in the world, I am least entitled to demand regularity of
correspondence; for being, one way and another, doomed to a great deal
more writing than suits my indolence, I am sometimes tempted to envy
the reverend hermit of Prague, confessor to the niece of Queen
Gorboduc, who never saw either pen or ink. Mr. Brunton is a very
respectable clergyman of Edinburgh, and I believe the work in which he
has solicited your assistance is one adopted by the General Assembly,
or Convocation of the Kirk. I have no notion that he has any
individual interest in it; he is a well-educated and liberal-minded
man, and generally esteemed. I have no particular acquaintance with
him myself, though we speak together. He is at this very moment
sitting on the outside of the bar of our Supreme Court, within which I
am fagging as a clerk; but as he is hearing the opinion of the Judges
upon an action for augmentation of stipend to him and to his brethren,
it would not, I conceive, be a very favorable time to canvass a
literary topic. But you are quite safe with him; and having so much
command of scriptural language, which appears to me essential to the
devotional poetry of Christians, I am sure you can assist his purpose
much more than any man alive.

I think those hymns which do not immediately recall the warm and
exalted language of the Bible are apt to be, however elegant, rather
cold and flat for the purposes of devotion. You will readily believe
that I do not approve of the vague and indiscriminate Scripture
language which the fanatics of old and the modern Methodists have
adopted, but merely that solemnity and peculiarity of diction, which
at once puts the reader and hearer upon his guard as to the purpose of
the poetry. To my Gothic ear, indeed, the _Stabat Mater_, the _Dies
Iræ_, and some of the other hymns of the Catholic Church, are more
solemn and affecting than the fine classical poetry of Buchanan; the
one has the gloomy dignity of a Gothic church, and reminds us
instantly of the worship to which it is dedicated; the other is more
like a Pagan temple, recalling to our memory the classical and
fabulous deities.[10] This is, probably, all referable to the
association of ideas--that is, if the "association of ideas" continues
to be the universal pick-lock of all metaphysical difficulties, as it
was when I studied moral philosophy--or to any other more fashionable
universal solvent which may have succeeded to it in reputation. Adieu,
my dear sir,--I hope you and your family will long enjoy all happiness
and prosperity. Never be discouraged from the constant use of your
charming talent. The opinions of reviewers are really too
contradictory to found anything upon them, whether they are favorable
or otherwise; for it is usually their principal object to display the
abilities of the writers of the critical lucubrations themselves. Your
Tales are universally admired here. I go but little out, but the few
judges whose opinions I have been accustomed to look up to, are
unanimous. Ever yours, most truly,

                                                    WALTER SCOTT.


_MY DEAR SIR_,--Law, then, is your profession--I mean a profession you
give your mind and time to--but how "fag as a _clerk_"? Clerk is a
name for a learned person, I know, in our Church; but how the same
hand which held the pen of Marmion holds that with which a clerk fags,
unless a clerk means something vastly more than I understand, is not
to be comprehended. I wait for elucidation. Know you, dear sir, I have
often thought I should love to read _reports_--that is, brief
histories of extraordinary cases, with the judgments. If that is what
is meant by _reports_, such reading must be pleasant; but, probably, I
entertain wrong ideas, and could not understand the books I think so
engaging. Yet I conclude there are _histories of cases_, and have
often thought of consulting Hatchard whether he knew of such kind of
reading, but hitherto I have rested in ignorance.... Yours truly,

                                                   GEORGE CRABBE.


MY DEAR SIR,--I have too long delayed to thank you for the most kind
and acceptable present of your three volumes. Now am I doubly armed,
since I have a set for my cabin at Abbotsford as well as in town; and,
to say truth, the auxiliary copy arrived in good time, for my original
one suffers as much by its general popularity among my young people,
as a popular candidate from the hugs and embraces of his democratical
admirers. The clearness and accuracy of your painting, whether
natural or moral, renders, I have often remarked, your works generally
delightful to those whose youth might render them insensible to the
other beauties with which they abound. There are a sort of
pictures--surely the most valuable, were it but for that reason--which
strike the uninitiated as much as they do the connoisseur, though the
last alone can render reason for his admiration. Indeed our old friend
Horace knew what he was saying when he chose to address his ode,
"_Virginibus puerisque_," and so did Pope when he told somebody he had
the mob on the side of his version of Homer, and did not mind the
high-flying critics at Button's. After all, if a faultless poem could
be produced, I am satisfied it would tire the critics themselves, and
annoy the whole reading world with the spleen.

You must be delightfully situated in the Vale of Belvoir--a part of
England for which I entertain a special kindness, for the sake of the
gallant hero, Robin Hood, who, as probably you will readily guess, is
no small favorite of mine; his indistinct ideas concerning the
doctrine of _meum_ and _tuum_ being no great objection to an outriding
Borderer. I am happy to think that your station is under the
protection of the Rutland family, of whom fame speaks highly. Our lord
of the "cairn and the scaur," waste wilderness and hungry hills, for
many a league around, is the Duke of Buccleuch, the head of my clan; a
kind and benevolent landlord, a warm and zealous friend, and the
husband of a lady--_comme il y en a peu_. They are both great admirers
of Mr. Crabbe's poetry, and would be happy to know him, should he ever
come to Scotland, and venture into the Gothic halls of a Border chief.
The early and uniform kindness of this family, with the friendship of
the late and present Lord Melville, enabled me, some years ago, to
exchange my toils as a barrister, for the lucrative and respectable
situation of one of the Clerks of our Supreme Court, which only
requires a certain routine of official duty, neither laborious nor
calling for any exertion of the mind; so that my time is entirely at
my own command, except when I am attending the Court, which seldom
occupies more than two hours of the morning during sitting. I besides
hold _in commendam_ the Sheriffdom of Ettrick Forest, which is now no
forest; so that I am a pluralist as to law appointments, and have, as
Dogberry says, "two gowns, and everything handsome about me."[11]

I have often thought it is the most fortunate thing for bards like you
and me to have an established profession, and professional character,
to render us independent of those worthy gentlemen, the retailers, or,
as some have called them, the midwives of literature, who are so much
taken up with the abortions they bring into the world, that they are
scarcely able to bestow the proper care upon young and flourishing
babes like ours. That, however, is only a mercantile way of looking at
the matter; but did any of my sons show poetical talent, of which, to
my great satisfaction, there are no appearances, the first thing I
should do would be to inculcate upon him the duty of cultivating some
honorable profession, and qualifying himself to play a more
respectable part in society than the mere poet. And as the best
corollary of my doctrine, I would make him get your tale of The Patron
by heart from beginning to end. It is curious enough that you should
have republished The Village for the purpose of sending your young men
to college, and I should have written The Lay of the Last Minstrel for
the purpose of buying a new horse for the Volunteer Cavalry. I must
now send this scrawl into town to get a frank, for, God knows, it is
not worthy of postage. With the warmest wishes for your health,
prosperity, and increase of fame--though it needs not--I remain most
sincerely and affectionately yours,

                                                WALTER SCOTT.[12]

The contrast of the two poets' epistolary styles is highly amusing;
but I have introduced these specimens less on that account, than as
marking the cordial confidence which a very little intercourse was
sufficient to establish between men so different from each other in
most of the habits of life. It will always be considered as one of
the most pleasing peculiarities in Scott's history, that he was the
friend of every great contemporary poet: Crabbe, as we shall see
more largely in the sequel, was no exception to the rule: yet I
could hardly name one of them who, manly principles and the
cultivation of literature apart, had many points of resemblance to
him; and surely not one who had fewer than Crabbe.

Scott continued, this year, his care for the Edinburgh Annual
Register--the historical department of which was again supplied by
Mr. Southey. The poetical miscellany owed its opening piece, the
Ballad of Polydore, to the readiness with which Scott entered into
correspondence with its author, who sent it to him anonymously, with
a letter which, like the verses, might well have excited much
interest in his mind, even had it not concluded with stating the
writer's age to be _fifteen_. Scott invited the youth to visit him
in the country, was greatly pleased with the modesty of his manners
and the originality of his conversation, and wrote to Joanna
Baillie, that, "though not one of the crimps for the muses," he
thought he could hardly be mistaken in believing that in the boyish
author of Polydore he had discovered a true genius. When I mention
the name of my friend William Howison of Clydegrove, it will be
allowed that he prognosticated wisely. He continued to correspond
with this young gentleman and his father, and gave both much advice,
for which both were most grateful. There was inserted in the same
volume a set of beautiful stanzas, inscribed to Scott by Mr. Wilson,
under the title of The Magic Mirror, in which that enthusiastic
young poet also bears a lofty and lasting testimony to the gentle
kindness with which his earlier efforts had been encouraged by him
whom he designates, for the first time, by what afterwards became
one of his standing titles, that of The Great Magician.

  "Onwards a figure came, with stately brow,
    And, as he glanced upon the ruin'd pile
  A look of regal pride, 'Say, who art thou'
    (His countenance bright'ning with a scornful smile,
  He sternly cried), 'whose footsteps rash profane
  The wild romantic realm where I have willed to reign?'

  "But ere to these proud words I could reply,
    How changed that scornful face to soft and mild!
  A witching frenzy glitter'd in his eye,
    Harmless, withal, as that of playful child.
  And when once more the gracious vision spoke,
    I felt the voice familiar to mine ear;
  While many a faded dream of earth awoke,
    Connected strangely with that unknown seer,
  Who now stretch'd forth his arm, and on the sand
  A circle round me traced, as with magician's wand," etc.

Scott's own chief contribution to this volume was a brief account of
the Life and Poems (hitherto unpublished)[13] of Patrick Carey, whom
he pronounces to have been not only as stout a Cavalier, but almost
as good a poet as his contemporary Lovelace. That Essay was
expanded, and prefixed to an edition of Carey's Trivial Poems and
Triolets, which Scott published in 1820; but its circulation in
either shape has been limited: and I believe I shall be gratifying
the majority of my readers by here transcribing some paragraphs of
his beautiful and highly characteristic introduction of this
forgotten poet of the seventeenth century.

"The present age has been so distinguished for research into poetical
antiquities, that the discovery of an unknown bard is, in certain
chosen literary circles, held as curious as an augmentation of the
number of fixed stars would be esteemed by astronomers. It is true,
these 'blessed twinklers of the night' are so far removed from us,
that they afford no more light than serves barely to evince their
existence to the curious investigator; and in like manner the pleasure
derived from the revival of an obscure poet is rather in proportion to
the rarity of his volume than to its merit; yet this pleasure is not
inconsistent with reason and principle. We know by every day's
experience the peculiar interest which the lapse of ages confers upon
works of human art. The clumsy strength of the ancient castles, which,
when raw from the hand of the builder, inferred only the oppressive
power of the barons who reared them, is now broken by partial ruin
into proper subjects for the poet or the painter; and as Mason has
beautifully described the change,

  Has mouldered into beauty many a tower,
  Which, when it frowned with all its battlements,
  Was only terrible.'

"The monastery, too, which was at first but a fantastic monument of
the superstitious devotion of monarchs, or of the purple pride of
fattened abbots, has gained by the silent influence of antiquity the
power of impressing awe and devotion. Even the stains and
weather-taints upon the battlements of such buildings add, like the
scars of a veteran, to the affecting impression:--

  'For time has softened what was harsh when new,
  And now the stains are all of sober hue;
  The living stains which nature's hand alone,
  Profuse of life, pours forth upon the stone.'--_Crabbe._

"If such is the effect of Time in adding interest to the labors of the
architect, if partial destruction is compensated by the additional
interest of that which remains, can we deny his exerting a similar
influence upon those subjects which are sought after by the
bibliographer and poetical antiquary? The obscure poet, who is detected
by their keen research, may indeed have possessed but a slender portion
of that spirit which has buoyed up the works of distinguished
contemporaries during the course of centuries, yet still his verses
shall, in the lapse of time, acquire an interest, which they did not
possess in the eyes of his own generation. The wrath of the critic,
like that of the son of Ossian, flies from the foe that is low. Envy,
base as she is, has one property of the lion, and cannot prey on
carcases; she must drink the blood of a sentient victim, and tear the
limbs that are yet warm with vital life. Faction, if the ancient has
suffered her persecution, serves only to endear him to the recollection
of posterity, whose generous compassion overpays him for the injuries he
sustained while in life. And thus freed from the operation of all
unfavorable prepossessions, his merit, if he can boast any, has more
than fair credit with his readers. This, however, is but part of his
advantages. The mere attribute of antiquity is of itself sufficient to
interest the fancy by the lively and powerful train of associations
which it awakens. Had the pyramids of Egypt, equally disagreeable in
form and senseless as to utility, been the work of any living tyrant,
with what feelings, save those of scorn and derision, could we have
regarded such a waste of labor? But the sight, nay, the very mention of
these wonderful monuments, is associated with the dark and sublime ideas
which vary their tinge according to the favorite hue of our studies. The
Christian divine recollects the land of banishment and of refuge; to the
eyes of the historian's fancy, they excite the shades of Pharaohs and of
Ptolemies, of Cheops and Merops, and Sesostris drawn in triumph by his
sceptred slaves; the philosopher beholds the first rays of moral truth
as they dawned on the hieroglyphic sculptures of Thebes and Memphis; and
the poet sees the fires of magic blazing upon the mystic altars of a
land of incantation. Nor is the grandeur of size essential to such
feelings, any more than the properties of grace and utility. Even the
rudest remnant of a feudal tower, even the obscure and almost
indistinguishable vestige of an altogether unknown edifice, has power to
awaken such trains of fancy. We have a fellow interest with the 'son of
the winged days,' over whose fallen habitation we tread:--

  'The massy stones, though hewn most roughly, show
  The hand of man had once at least been there.'--_Wordsworth._

"Similar combinations give a great part of the delight we receive from
ancient poetry. In the rude song of the Scald, we regard less the
strained imagery and extravagance of epithet, than the wild
impressions which it conveys of the dauntless resolution, savage
superstition, rude festivity, and ceaseless depredation of the ancient
Scandinavians. In the metrical romance, we pardon the long, tedious,
and bald enumeration of trifling particulars; the reiterated sameness
of the eternal combats between knights and giants; the overpowering
languor of the love speeches, and the merciless length and similarity
of description--when Fancy whispers to us that such strains may have
cheered the sleepless pillow of the Black Prince on the memorable eves
of Cressy or Poictiers. There is a certain romance of Ferumbras, which
Robert the Bruce read to his few followers, to divert their thoughts
from the desperate circumstances in which they were placed, after an
unsuccessful attempt to rise against the English. Is there a true
Scotsman who, being aware of this anecdote, would be disposed to yawn
over the romance of Ferumbras? Or, on the contrary, would not the
image of the dauntless hero, inflexible in defeat, beguiling the
anxiety of his war-worn attendants by the lays of the minstrel, give
to these rude lays themselves an interest beyond Greek and Roman

The year 1812 had the usual share of minor literary labors--such as
contributions to the journals; and before it closed, the Romance of
Rokeby was finished. Though it had been long in hand, the MS. sent
to the printer bears abundant evidence of its being the _prima
cura_: three cantos at least reached Ballantyne through the Melrose
post--written on paper of various sorts and sizes--full of blots and
interlineations--the closing couplets of a despatch now and then
encircling the page, and mutilated by the breaking of the seal.

According to the recollection of Mr. Cadell, though James Ballantyne
read the poem, as the sheets were advancing through the press, to
his usual circle of literary _dilettanti_, their whispers were far
from exciting in Edinburgh such an intensity of expectation as had
been witnessed in the case of The Lady of the Lake. He adds,
however, that it was looked for with undiminished anxiety in the
south. "Send me _Rokeby_," Byron writes to Murray on seeing it
advertised,--"Who the devil is he? No matter--he has good
connections, and will be well introduced."[14] Such, I suppose, was
the general feeling in London. I well remember, being in those days
a young student at Oxford, how the booksellers' shops there were
beleaguered for the earliest copies, and how he that had been so
fortunate as to secure one was followed to his chambers by a tribe
of friends, all as eager to hear it read as ever horse-jockeys were
to see the conclusion of a match at Newmarket; and indeed not a few
of those enthusiastic academics had bets depending on the issue of
the struggle, which they considered the elder favorite as making, to
keep his own ground against the fiery rivalry of Childe Harold.

The poem was published a day or two before Scott returned to
Edinburgh from Abbotsford, between which place and Mertoun he had
divided his Christmas vacation. On the 9th and 10th of January,
1813, he thus addresses his friends at Sunning Hill and Hampstead:--


MY DEAR ELLIS,--I am sure you will place it to anything rather than
want of kindness that I have been so long silent--so very long, indeed,
that I am not quite sure whether the fault is on my side or yours--but,
be it what it may, it can never, I am sure, be laid to forgetfulness in
either. This comes to train you on to the merciful reception of a Tale
of the Civil Wars; not political, however, but merely a pseudo-romance
of pseudo-chivalry. I have converted a lusty buccaneer into a hero with
some effect; but the worst of all my undertakings is, that my rogue
always, in despite of me, turns out my hero. I know not how this should
be. I am myself, as Hamlet says, "indifferent honest;" and my father,
though an attorney (as you will call him), was one of the most honest
men, as well as gentlemanlike, that ever breathed. I am sure I can bear
witness to that--for if he had at all _smacked_, or _grown to_, like the
son of Lancelot Gobbo, he might have left us all as rich as Croesus,
besides having the pleasure of taking a fine primrose path himself,
instead of squeezing himself through a tight gate and up a steep ascent,
and leaving us the decent competence of an honest man's children. As to
our more ancient pedigree, I should be loath to vouch for them. My
grandfather was a horse-jockey and cattle-dealer, and made a fortune; my
great-grandfather a Jacobite and traitor (as the times called him), and
lost one; and after him intervened one or two half-starved lairds, who
rode a lean horse, and were followed by leaner greyhounds; gathered with
difficulty a hundred pounds from a hundred tenants; fought duels; cocked
their hats,--and called themselves gentlemen. Then we come to the old
Border times, cattle-driving, halters, and so forth, for which, in the
matter of honesty, very little I suppose can be said--at least in modern
acceptation of the word. Upon the whole, I am inclined to think it is
owing to the earlier part of this inauspicious generation that I
uniformly find myself in the same scrape in my fables, and that, in
spite of the most obstinate determination to the contrary, the greatest
rogue in my canvas always stands out as the most conspicuous and
prominent figure. All this will be a riddle to you, unless you have
received a certain packet, which the Ballantynes were to have sent under
Freeling's or Croker's cover, so soon as they could get a copy done up.

And now let me gratulate you upon the renovated vigor of your fine old
friends the Russians. By the Lord, sir! it is most famous, this
campaign of theirs. I was not one of the very sanguine persons who
anticipated the actual capture of Buonaparte--a hope which rather
proceeded from the ignorance of those who cannot conceive that
military movements, upon a large scale, admit of such a force being
accumulated upon any particular point as may, by abandonment of other
considerations, always insure the escape of an individual. But I had
no hope, in my time, of seeing the dry bones of the Continent so warm
with life again, as this revivification of the Russians proves them to
be. I look anxiously for the effect of these great events on Prussia,
and even upon Saxony; for I think Boney will hardly trust himself
again in Germany, now that he has been plainly shown, both in Spain
and Russia, that protracted, stubborn, unaccommodating resistance will
foil those grand exertions in the long run. All laud be to Lord
Wellington, who first taught that great lesson.

Charlotte is with me just now at this little scrub habitation, where
we weary ourselves all day in looking at our projected improvements,
and then slumber over the fire, I pretending to read, and she to work
trout-nets, or cabbage-nets, or some such article. What is Canning
about? Is there any chance of our getting him in? Surely Ministers
cannot hope to do without him. Believe me, dear Ellis, ever truly

                                                        W. SCOTT.

ABBOTSFORD, 9th January, 1813.


                                    ABBOTSFORD, January 10, 1813.

Your kind encouragement, my dear friend, has given me spirits to
complete the lumbering quarto, which I hope has reached you by this
time. I have gone on with my story _forth right_, without troubling
myself excessively about the development of the plot and other
critical matters--

  "But shall we go mourn for that, my dear?
    The pale moon shines by night;
  And when we wander here and there,
    We then do go most right."

I hope you will like Bertram to the end; he is a Caravaggio sketch,
which, I may acknowledge to you--but tell it not in Gath--I rather
pique myself upon; and he is within the keeping of Nature, though
critics will say to the contrary. It may be difficult to fancy that
any one should take a sort of pleasure in bringing out such a
character, but I suppose it is partly owing to bad reading, and
ill-directed reading, when I was young. No sooner had I corrected the
last sheet of Rokeby, than I escaped to this Patmos as blithe as bird
on tree, and have been ever since most decidedly idle--that is to say,
with busy idleness. I have been banking, and securing, and diking
against the river, and planting willows, and aspens, and
weeping-birches, around my new old well, which I think I told you I
had constructed last summer. I have now laid the foundations of a
famous background of copse, with pendent trees in front; and I have
only to beg a few years to see how my colors will come out of the
canvas. Alas, who can promise that? But somebody will take my
place--and enjoy them, whether I do or no. My old friend and pastor,
Principal Robertson (the historian), when he was not expected to
survive many weeks, still watched the setting of the blossom upon some
fruit-trees in the garden with as much interest as if it was possible
he could have seen the fruit come to maturity, and moralized on his
own conduct, by observing that we act upon the same inconsistent
motive throughout life. It is well we do so for those that are to come
after us. I could almost dislike the man who refuses to plant
walnut-trees, because they do not bear fruit till the second
generation; and so--many thanks to our ancestors, and much joy to our
successors, and truce to my fine and very new strain of morality.
Yours ever,

                                                            W. S.

The following letter lets us completely behind the scenes at the
publication of Rokeby. The "horrid story" it alludes to was that of
a young woman found murdered on New Year's Day in the highway
between Greta Bridge and Barnard Castle--a crime, the perpetrator of
which was never discovered. The account of a parallel atrocity in
Galloway, and the mode of its detection, will show the reader from
what source Scott drew one of the most striking incidents in his Guy


                                   EDINBURGH, 12th January, 1813.

DEAR MORRITT,--Yours I have just received in mine office at the
Register-House, which will excuse this queer sheet of paper. The
publication of Rokeby was delayed till Monday, to give the London
publishers a fair start. My copies, that is, my friends', were all to
be got off about Friday or Saturday; but yours may have been a little
later, as it was to be what they call a picked one. I will call at
Ballantyne's as I return from this place, and close the letter with
such news as I can get about it there. The book has gone off here very
bobbishly, for the impression of 3000 and upwards is within two or
three score of being exhausted, and the demand for these continuing
faster than they can be boarded. I am heartily glad of this, for now I
have nothing to fear but a bankruptcy in the Gazette of Parnassus; but
the loss of five or six thousand pounds to my good friends and
school-companions would have afflicted me very much. I wish we could
whistle you here to-day. Ballantyne always gives a christening dinner,
at which the Duke of Buccleuch, and a great many of my friends, are
formally feasted. He has always the best singing that can be heard in
Edinburgh, and we have usually a very pleasant party, at which your
health as patron and proprietor of Rokeby will be faithfully and
honorably remembered.

Your horrid story reminds me of one in Galloway, where the perpetrator
of a similar enormity on a poor idiot girl was discovered by means of
the print of his foot which he left upon the clay floor of the cottage
in the death struggle. It pleased Heaven (for nothing short of a
miracle could have done it) to enlighten the understanding of an old
ram-headed sheriff, who was usually nicknamed Leather-head. The steps
which he took to discover the murderer were most sagacious. As the
poor girl was pregnant (for it was not a case of violation), it was
pretty clear that her paramour had done the deed, and equally so that
he must be a native of the district. The sheriff caused the minister
to advertise from the pulpit that the girl would be buried on a
particular day, and that all persons in the neighborhood were invited
to attend the funeral, to show their detestation of such an enormous
crime, as well as to evince their own innocence. This was sure to
bring the murderer to the funeral. When the people were assembled in
the kirk, the doors were locked by the sheriff's order, and the shoes
of all the men were examined; that of the murderer was detected by the
measure of the foot, tread, etc., and a peculiarity in the mode in
which the sole of one of them had been patched. The remainder of the
curious chain of evidence upon which he was convicted will suit best
with twilight, or a blinking candle, being too long for a letter. The
fellow bore a most excellent character, and had committed this crime
for no other reason that could be alleged, than that, having been led
accidentally into an intrigue with this poor wretch, his pride
revolted at the ridicule which was likely to attend the discovery.

On calling at Ballantyne's, I find, as I had anticipated, that your
copy, being of royal size, requires some particular nicety in
hot-pressing. It will be sent by the Carlisle mail _quam
primum_.--Ever yours,

                                                    WALTER SCOTT.

P. S.--Love to Mrs. Morritt. John Ballantyne says he has just about
eighty copies left, out of 3250, this being the second day of
publication, and the book a two-guinea one.

It will surprise no one to hear that Mr. Morritt assured his friend
he considered Rokeby as the best of all his poems. The admirable,
perhaps the unique fidelity of the local descriptions, might alone
have swayed, for I will not say it perverted, the judgment of the
lord of that beautiful and thenceforth classical domain; and,
indeed, I must admit that I never understood or appreciated half the
charm of this poem until I had become familiar with its scenery. But
Scott himself had not designed to rest his strength on these
descriptions. He said to James Ballantyne while the work was in
progress (September 2), "I hope the thing will do, chiefly because
the world will not expect from _me_ a poem of which the interest
turns upon _character_;" and in another letter (October 28, 1812),
"I think you will see the same sort of difference taken in all my
former poems,--of which I would say, if it is fair for me to say
anything, that the force in the Lay is thrown on style--in Marmion,
on description--and in The Lady of the Lake, on incident."[15] I
suspect some of these distinctions may have been matters of
afterthought; but as to Rokeby, there can be no mistake. His own
original conceptions of some of its principal characters have been
explained in letters already cited; and I believe no one who
compares the poem with his novels will doubt that, had he undertaken
their portraiture in prose, they would have come forth with effect
hardly inferior to any of all the groups he ever created. As it is,
I question whether even in his prose there is anything more
exquisitely wrought out, as well as fancied, than the whole contrast
of the two rivals for the love of the heroine in Rokeby; and that
heroine herself, too, has a very particular interest attached to
her. Writing to Miss Edgeworth five years after this time (10th May,
1818), he says, "I have not read one of my poems since they were
printed, excepting last year The Lady of the Lake, which I liked
better than I expected, but not well enough to induce me to go
through the rest--so I may truly say with Macbeth--

  'I am afraid to think what I have done--
  Look on 't again I dare not.'

"This much of _Matilda_ I recollect--(for that is not so easily
forgotten)--that she was attempted for the existing person of a lady
who is now no more, so that I am particularly flattered with your
distinguishing it from the others, which are in general mere
shadows."[16] I can have no doubt that the lady he here alludes to
was the object of his own unfortunate first love; and as little,
that in the romantic generosity, both of the youthful poet who fails
to win her higher favor, and of his chivalrous competitor, we have
before us something more than "a mere shadow."

In spite of these graceful characters, the inimitable scenery on
which they are presented, and the splendid vivacity and thrilling
interest of several chapters in the story--such as the opening
interview of Bertram and Wycliffe--the flight up the cliff on the
Greta--the first entrance of the cave at Brignall--the firing of
Rokeby Castle--and the catastrophe in Eglistone Abbey;--in spite
certainly of exquisitely happy lines profusely scattered throughout
the whole composition, and of some detached images--that of the
setting of the tropical sun,[17] for example--which were never
surpassed by any poet; in spite of all these merits, the immediate
success of Rokeby was greatly inferior to that of The Lady of the
Lake; nor has it ever since been so much a favorite with the public
at large as any other of his poetical romances. He ascribes this
failure, in his Introduction of 1830, partly to the radically
unpoetical character of the Roundheads; but surely their character
has its poetical side also, had his prejudices allowed him to enter
upon its study with impartial sympathy; and I doubt not, Mr. Morritt
suggested the difficulty on this score, when the outline of the
story was as yet undetermined, from consideration rather of the
poet's peculiar feelings, and powers as hitherto exhibited, than of
the subject absolutely. Partly he blames the satiety of the public
ear, which had had so much of his rhythm, not only from himself, but
from dozens of mocking-birds, male and female, all more or less
applauded in their day, and now all equally forgotten.[18] This
circumstance, too, had probably no slender effect; the more that, in
defiance of all the hints of his friends, he now, in his narrative,
repeated (with more negligence) the uniform octosyllabic couplets of
The Lady of the Lake, instead of recurring to the more varied
cadence of the Lay or Marmion. It is fair to add that, among the
London circles at least, some sarcastic flings in Mr. Moore's
Twopenny Post Bag must have had an unfavorable influence on this
occasion.[19] But the cause of failure which the poet himself places
last was unquestionably the main one. The deeper and darker passion
of Childe Harold, the audacity of its morbid voluptuousness, and the
melancholy majesty of the numbers in which it defied the world, had
taken the general imagination by storm; and Rokeby, with many
beauties and some sublimities, was pitched, as a whole, on a key
which seemed tame in the comparison.

I have already adverted to the fact that Scott felt it a relief, not
a fatigue, to compose The Bridal of Triermain _pari passu_ with
Rokeby. In answer, for example, to one of James Ballantyne's
letters, urging accelerated speed with the weightier romance, he
says, "I fully share in your anxiety to get forward the grand work;
but, I assure you, I feel the more confidence from coquetting with
the guerilla."

The quarto of Rokeby was followed, within two months, by the small
volume which had been designed for a twin birth;--the MS. had been
transcribed by one of the Ballantynes themselves, in order to guard
against any indiscretion of the press-people; and the mystification,
aided and abetted by Erskine, in no small degree heightened the
interest of its reception. Except Mr. Morritt, Scott had, so far as
I am aware, no English confidant upon this occasion. Whether any of
his daily companions in the Parliament House were in the secret, I
have never heard; but I can scarcely believe that any of those
intimate friends, who had known him and Erskine from their youth
upwards, could have for a moment believed the latter capable either
of the invention or the execution of this airy and fascinating
romance in little. Mr. Jeffrey, for whom chiefly "the trap had been
set," was far too sagacious to be caught in it; but, as it happened,
he made a voyage that year to America, and thus lost the opportunity
of immediately expressing his opinion either of Rokeby or of The
Bridal of Triermain. The writer in the Quarterly Review (July, 1813)
seems to have been completely deceived.

"We have already spoken of it," says the critic, "as an imitation of
Mr. Scott's style of composition; and if we are compelled to make the
general approbation more precise and specific, we should say, that if
it be inferior in vigor to some of his productions, it equals or
surpasses them in elegance and beauty; that it is more uniformly
tender, and far less infected with the unnatural prodigies and
coarseness of the earlier romances. In estimating its merits, however,
we should forget that it is offered as an imitation. The diction
undoubtedly reminds us of a rhythm and cadence we have heard before;
but the sentiments, descriptions, and characters, have qualities that
are native and unborrowed."

If this writer was, as I suppose, Ellis, he probably considered it
as a thing impossible that Scott should have engaged in such a
scheme without giving him a hint of it; but to have admitted into
the secret any one who was likely to criticise the piece, would have
been to sacrifice the very object of the device. Erskine's own
suggestion, that "perhaps a quizzical review might be got up," led,
I believe, to nothing more important than a paragraph in one of the
Edinburgh newspapers. He may be pardoned for having been not a
little flattered to find it generally considered as not impossible
that he should have written such a poem; and I have heard James
Ballantyne say that nothing could be more amusing than the style of
his coquetting on the subject while it was yet fresh; but when this
first excitement was over, his natural feeling of what was due to
himself, as well as to his friend, dictated many a remonstrance;
and, though he ultimately acquiesced in permitting another minor
romance to be put forth in the same manner, he did so reluctantly,
and was far from acting his part so well.

Scott says, in the Introduction to The Lord of the Isles, "As Mr.
Erskine was more than suspected of a taste for poetry, and as I took
care, in several places, to mix something that might resemble (as
far as was in my power) my friend's feeling and manner, the train
easily caught, and two large editions were sold." Among the passages
to which he here alludes are no doubt those in which the character
of the minstrel Arthur is shaded with the colorings of an almost
effeminate gentleness. Yet, in the midst of them, the "mighty
minstrel" himself, from time to time, escapes; as, for instance,
where the lover bids Lucy, in that exquisite picture of crossing a
mountain stream, trust to his "stalwart arm"--

  "Which could yon oak's prone trunk uprear."

Nor can I pass the compliment to Scott's own fair patroness, where
Lucy's admirer is made to confess, with some momentary lapse of
gallantry, that he

  "Ne'er won--best meed to minstrel true--
  One favoring smile from fair Buccleuch;"

nor the burst of genuine Borderism,--

  "Bewcastle now must keep the hold,
    Speir-Adam's steeds must bide in stall,
  Of Hartley-burn the bowmen bold
    Must only shoot from battled wall;
  And Liddesdale may buckle spur,
    And Teviot now may belt the brand,
  Tarras and Ewes keep nightly stir,
    And Eskdale foray Cumberland."

But, above all, the choice of the scenery, both of the Introductions
and of the story itself, reveals the early and treasured
predilections of the poet. For who that remembers the circumstances
of his first visit to the vale of St. John, but must see throughout
the impress of his own real romance? I own I am not without a
suspicion that, in one passage, which always seemed to me a blot
upon the composition--that in which Arthur derides the military
coxcombries of his rival--

  "Who comes in foreign trashery
    Of tinkling chain and spur,
  A walking haberdashery
    Of feathers, lace, and fur;
  In Rowley's antiquated phrase,
  Horse-milliner of modern days"--

there is a sly reference to the incidents of a certain ball, of
August, 1797, at the Gilsland Spa.[20]

Among the more prominent Erskinisms, are the eulogistic mention of
Glasgow, the scene of Erskine's education; and the lines on
Collins--a supplement to whose Ode on the Highland Superstitions is,
as far as I know, the only specimen that ever was published of
Erskine's verse.[21]

As a whole, The Bridal of Triermain appears to me as characteristic
of Scott as any of his larger poems. His genius pervades and
animates it beneath a thin and playful veil, which perhaps adds as
much of grace as it takes away of splendor. As Wordsworth says of
the eclipse on the lake of Lugano--

  "'T is sunlight sheathed and gently charmed;"

and I think there is at once a lightness and a polish of
versification beyond what he has elsewhere attained. If it be a
miniature, it is such a one as a Cooper might have hung fearlessly
beside the masterpieces of Vandyke.

The Introductions contain some of the most exquisite passages he
ever produced; but their general effect has always struck me as
unfortunate. No art can reconcile us to contemptuous satire of the
merest frivolities of modern life--some of them already, in twenty
years, grown obsolete--interlaid between such bright visions of the
old world of romance, when

  "Strength was gigantic, valor high,
  And wisdom soared beyond the sky,
  And beauty had such matchless beam
  As lights not now a lover's dream."

The fall is grievous, from the hoary minstrel of Newark, and his
feverish tears on Killiecrankie, to a pathetic swain, who can stoop
to denounce as objects of his jealousy--

  "The landaulet and four blood bays--
  The Hessian boot and pantaloon."

Before Triermain came out, Scott had taken wing for Abbotsford; and
indeed he seems to have so contrived it in his earlier period, that
he should not be in Edinburgh when any unavowed work of his was
published; whereas, from the first, in the case of books that bore
his name on the title-page, he walked as usual to the Parliament
House, and bore all the buzz and tattle of friends and acquaintance
with an air of good-humored equanimity, or rather total apparent
indifference. The following letter, which contains some curious
matter of more kinds than one, was written partly in town and partly
in the country:--


                                       EDINBURGH, March 13, 1813.

MY DEAREST FRIEND,--The pinasters have arrived safe, and I can hardly
regret, while I am so much flattered by, the trouble you have had in
collecting them. I have got some wild larch-trees from Loch Katrine,
and both are to be planted next week, when, God willing, I shall be at
Abbotsford to superintend the operation. I have got a little corner of
ground laid out for a nursery, where I shall rear them carefully till
they are old enough to be set forth to push their fortune on the banks
of Tweed.--What I shall finally make of this villa-work I don't know,
but in the mean time it is very entertaining. I shall have to resist
very flattering invitations this season; for I have received hints,
from more quarters than one, that my bow would be acceptable at
Carlton House in case I should be in London, which is very flattering,
especially as there were some prejudices to be got over in that
quarter. I should be in some danger of giving new offence, too; for,
although I utterly disapprove of the present rash and ill-advised
course of the princess, yet, as she always was most kind and civil to
me, I certainly could not, as a gentleman, decline obeying any
commands she might give me to wait upon her, especially in her present
adversity. So, though I do not affect to say I should be sorry to take
an opportunity of peeping at the splendors of royalty, prudence and
economy will keep me quietly at home till another day. My great
amusement here this some time past has been going almost nightly to
see John Kemble, who certainly is a great artist. It is a pity he
shows too much of his machinery. I wish he could be double-capped, as
they say of watches;--but the fault of too much study certainly does
not belong to many of his tribe. He is, I think, very great in those
parts especially where character is tinged by some acquired and
systematic habits, like those of the Stoic philosophy in Cato and
Brutus, or of misanthropy in Penruddock; but sudden turns and natural
bursts of passion are not his forte. I saw him play Sir Giles
Overreach (the Richard III. of middling life) last night; but he came
not within a hundred miles of Cooke, whose terrible visage, and short,
abrupt, and savage utterance, gave a reality almost to that
extraordinary scene in which he boasts of his own successful villainy
to a nobleman of worth and honor, of whose alliance he is ambitious.
Cooke contrived somehow to impress upon the audience the idea of such
a monster of enormity as had learned to pique himself even upon his
own atrocious character. But Kemble was too handsome, too plausible,
and too smooth, to admit its being probable that he should be blind to
the unfavorable impression which these extraordinary vaunts are likely
to make on the person whom he is so anxious to conciliate.

                                          ABBOTSFORD, 21st March.

This letter, begun in Edinburgh, is to take wing from Abbotsford. John
Winnos (now John Winnos is the sub-oracle of Abbotsford, the principal
being Tom Purdie)--John Winnos pronounces that the pinaster seed ought
to be raised at first on a hot-bed, and thence transplanted to a
nursery; so to a hot-bed they have been carefully consigned, the upper
oracle not objecting, in respect his talent lies in catching a salmon,
or finding a hare sitting--on which occasions (being a very complete
Scrub) he solemnly exchanges his working jacket for an old green one
of mine, and takes the air of one of Robin Hood's followers. His more
serious employments are ploughing, harrowing, and overseeing all my
premises; being a complete Jack-of-all-trades, from the carpenter to
the shepherd, nothing comes strange to him; and being extremely
honest, and somewhat of a humorist, he is quite my right hand. I
cannot help singing his praises at this moment, because I have so many
odd and out-of-the-way things to do, that I believe the conscience of
many of our jog-trot countrymen would revolt at being made my
instrument in sacrificing good corn-land to the visions of Mr. Price's
theory. Mr. Pinkerton, the historian, has a play coming out at
Edinburgh; it is by no means bad poetry, yet I think it will not be
popular; the people come and go, and speak very notable things in good
blank verse, but there is no very strong interest excited; the plot
also is disagreeable, and liable to the objections (though in a less
degree) which have been urged against the Mysterious Mother; it is to
be acted on Wednesday; I will let you know its fate. P., with whom I
am in good habits, showed the MS., but I referred him, with such
praise as I could conscientiously bestow, to the players and the
public. I don't know why one should take the task of damning a man's
play out of the hands of the proper tribunal. Adieu, my dear friend. I
have scarce room for love to Miss, Mrs., and Dr. B.

                                                        W. SCOTT.

To this I add a letter to Lady Louisa Stuart, who had sent him a
copy of these lines, found by Lady Douglas on the back of a tattered

  "Farewell, my note, and wheresoe'er ye wend,
  Shun gaudy scenes, and be the poor man's friend.
  You've left a poor one; go to one as poor,
  And drive despair and hunger from his door."

It appears that these noble friends had adopted, or feigned to
adopt, the belief that The Bridal of Triermain was a production of
Mr. R. P. Gillies--who had about this time published an imitation of
Lord Byron's Romaunt, under the title of Childe Alarique.


                                    ABBOTSFORD, 28th April, 1813.

DEAR LADY LOUISA,--Nothing can give me more pleasure than to hear from
you, because it is both a most acceptable favor to me, and also a sign
that your own spirits are recovering their tone. Ladies are, I think,
very fortunate in having a resource in work at a time when the mind
rejects intellectual amusement. Men have no resource but striding up
and down the room, like a bird that beats itself to pieces against the
bars of its cage; whereas needle-work is a sort of sedative, too
mechanical to worry the mind by distracting it from the points on
which its musings turn, yet gradually assisting it in regaining
steadiness and composure; for so curiously are our bodies and minds
linked together, that the regular and constant employment of the
former on any process, however dull and uniform, has the effect of
tranquillizing, where it cannot disarm, the feelings of the other. I
am very much pleased with the lines on the guinea note, and if Lady
Douglas does not object, I would willingly mention the circumstance in
the Edinburgh Annual Register. I think it will give the author great
delight to know that his lines had attracted attention, and _had_ sent
the paper on which they were recorded, "heaven-directed, to the
poor." Of course I would mention no names. There was, as your Ladyship
may remember, some years since, a most audacious and determined murder
committed on a porter belonging to the British Linen Company's Bank at
Leith, who was stabbed to the heart in broad daylight, and robbed of a
large sum in notes.[22] If ever this crime comes to light, it will be
through the circumstance of an idle young fellow having written part
of a playhouse song on one of the notes, which, however, has as yet
never appeared in circulation.

I am very glad you like Rokeby, which is nearly out of fashion and
memory with me. It has been wonderfully popular, about ten thousand
copies having walked off already, in about three months, and the
demand continuing faster than it can be supplied. As to my imitator,
the Knight of Triermain, I will endeavor to convey to Mr. Gillies
(_puisque Gillies il est_) your Ladyship's very just strictures on the
Introduction to the second Canto. But if he takes the opinion of a
hacked old author like myself, he will content himself with avoiding
such bevues in future, without attempting to mend those which are
already made. There is an ominous old proverb which says, _Confess and
be hanged_; and truly if an author acknowledges his own blunders, I do
not know who he can expect to stand by him; whereas, let him confess
nothing, and he will always find some injudicious admirers to
vindicate even his faults. So that I think after publication the
effect of criticism should be prospective, in which point of view I
dare say Mr. G. will take your friendly hint, especially as it is
confirmed by that of the best judges who have read the poem.--Here is
beautiful weather for April! an absolute snow-storm mortifying me to
the core by retarding the growth of all my young trees and
shrubs.--Charlotte begs to be most respectfully remembered to your
Ladyship and Lady D. We are realizing the nursery tale of the man and
his wife who lived in a vinegar bottle, for our only sitting-room is
just twelve feet square, and my Eve alleges that I am too big for our
paradise. To make amends, I have created a tolerable garden, occupying
about an English acre, which I begin to be very fond of. When one
passes forty, an addition to the quiet occupations of life becomes of
real value, for I do not hunt and fish with quite the relish I did ten
years ago. Adieu, my dear Lady Louisa, and all good attend you.

                                                    WALTER SCOTT.

Footnotes of the Chapter XXV.

[1: The epitaph of this favorite greyhound may be seen on
the edge of the bank, a little way below the house of Abbotsford.]

[2: The Reverend Alexander Dyce says, "N. T. stands for
_Nathaniel Thompson_, the Tory bookseller, who published these
_Loyal Poems_."--(1839.)]

[3: An edition of the British Dramatists had, I believe,
been projected by Mr. Terry.]

[4: Mr. Thomson died 8th January, 1838, before the
publication of the first edition of these Memoirs had been

[5: _Reminiscences of Sir Walter Scott_, p. 56.]

[6: [From a passage in a letter to Lady Abercorn, written
September 10, 1818, on the return from a similar journey (see
_Familiar Letters_, vol. ii. p. 24), it seems probable that some at
least of the incidents of this visit belong to that of the later

[7: This alluded to a ridiculous hunter of lions, who,
being met by Mr. Morritt in the grounds at Rokeby, disclaimed all
taste for picturesque beauties, but overwhelmed their owner with
Homeric Greek; of which he had told Scott.]

[8: _Burnfoot_ is the name of a farmhouse on the Buccleuch
estate, not far from Langholm, where the late Sir John Malcolm and
his distinguished brothers were born. Their grandfather had, I
believe, found refuge there after forfeiting a good estate and an
ancient baronetcy in the _affair_ of 1715. A monument to the gallant
General's memory has recently been erected near the spot of his

[9: _3d King Henry VI._ Act I. Scene 4.]

[10: See _Life of Dryden_, Scott's _Miscellaneous Prose
Works_, vol. i. p. 293.]

[11: _Much Ado about Nothing_, Act IV. Scene 2.]

[12: Several of these letters having been enclosed in
franked covers, which have perished, I am unable to affix the exact
dates to them.]

[13: The Rev. Alexander Dyce informs me that _nine_ of
Carey's pieces were printed in 1771, for J. Murray of Fleet Street,
in a quarto of thirty-five pages, entitled _Poems from a MS. written
in the time of Oliver Cromwell_. This rare tract had never fallen
into Scott's hands.--(1839.)]

[14: Byron's _Life and Works_, vol. ii. p. 169.]

[15: Several letters to Ballantyne on the same subject are
quoted in the notes to the last edition of _Rokeby_. See Scott's
_Poetical Works_, 1834, vol. ix. pp. 1-3; and especially the note on
p. 300, from which it appears that the closing stanza was added, in
deference to Ballantyne and Erskine, though the author retained his
own opinion that "it spoiled one effect without producing another."]

[16: [See _Familiar Letters_, vol. ii. p. 16.]]


  "My noontide, India may declare;
  Like her fierce sun, I fired the air!
  Like him, to wood and cave bid fly
  Her natives, from mine angry eye.
  And now, my race of terror ran,
  Mine be the eye of tropic sun!
  No pale gradations quench his ray,
  No twilight dews his wrath allay;
  With disk like battle-target red,
  He rushes to his burning bed.
  Dyes the wide wave with bloody light,
  Then sinks at once--and all is night."--_Canto_ vi. 21.]

[18: "Scott found peculiar favor and imitation among the
fair sex. There was Miss Holford, and Miss Mitford, and Miss
Francis; but, with the greatest respect be it spoken, none of his
imitators did much honor to the original except Hogg, the Ettrick
Shepherd, until the appearance of _The Bridal of Triermain_ and
_Harold the Dauntless_, which, in the opinion of some, equalled if
not surpassed him; and, lo! after three or four years, they turned
out to be the master's own compositions."--Byron, vol. xv. p. 96.]

[19: See, for instance, the Epistle of Lady Corke--or that
of Messrs. Lackington, booksellers, to one of their dandy authors,--

  "Should you feel any touch of _poetical_ glow,
  We've a scheme to suggest--Mr. Scott, you must know
  (Who, we're sorry to say it, now works for the _Row_),
  Having quitted the Borders to seek new renown,
  Is coming by long Quarto stages to town,
  And beginning with Rokeby (the job's sure to pay),
  Means to do all the gentlemen's seats on the way.
  Now the scheme is, though none of our hackneys can beat him,
  To start a new Poet through Highgate to meet him;
  Who by means of quick proofs--no revises--long coaches--
  May do a few Villas before Scott approaches;
  Indeed if our Pegasus be not curst shabby,
  He'll reach, without foundering, at least Woburn-Abbey," etc., etc.]

[20: See _ante_, vol. i. p. 246.]

[21: It is included in the _Border Minstrelsy_, vol. i. p.

[22: This murder, perpetrated in November, 1806, remains a
mystery in 1836. The porter's name was Begbie. [See _Familiar
Letters_, vol. i. p. 63.]]




About a month after the publication of The Bridal of Triermain, the
affairs of the Messrs. Ballantyne, which had never apparently been
in good order since the establishment of the bookselling firm,
became so embarrassed as to call for Scott's most anxious efforts to
disentangle them. Indeed, it is clear that there had existed some
very serious perplexity in the course of the preceding autumn; for
Scott writes to John Ballantyne, while Rokeby was in progress
(August 11, 1812),--"I have a letter from James, very anxious about
your health and state of spirits. If you suffer the present
inconveniences to depress you too much, you are wrong; and if you
conceal any part of them, are very unjust to us all. I am always
ready to make any sacrifices to do justice to engagements, and would
rather sell anything, or everything, than be less than true men to
the world."


_From the painting by Raeburn_]

I have already, perhaps, said enough to account for the general want
of success in this publishing adventure; but Mr. James Ballantyne
sums up the case so briefly in his deathbed paper, that I may here
quote his words. "My brother," he says, "though an active and
pushing, was not a cautious bookseller, and the large sums received
never formed an addition to stock. In fact, they were all expended
by the partners, who, being then young and sanguine men, not
unwillingly adopted my brother's hasty results. By May, 1813, in a
word, the absolute throwing away of our own most valuable
publications, and the rash adoption of some injudicious speculations
of Mr. Scott, had introduced such losses and embarrassments, that
after a very careful consideration, Mr. Scott determined to dissolve
the concern." He adds: "This became a matter of less difficulty,
because time had in a great measure worn away the differences
between Mr. Scott and Mr. Constable, and Mr. Hunter was now out of
Constable's concern.[23] A peace, therefore, was speedily made up,
and the old habits of intercourse were restored."

How reluctantly Scott had made up his mind to open such a
negotiation with Constable, as involved a complete exposure of the
mismanagement of John Ballantyne's business as a publisher, will
appear from a letter dated about the Christmas of 1812, in which he
says to James, who had proposed asking Constable to take a share
both in Rokeby and in the Annual Register, "You must be aware, that
in stating the objections which occur to me to taking in Constable,
I think they ought to give way either to absolute necessity or to
very strong grounds of advantage. But I _am_ persuaded nothing
ultimately good can be expected from any connection with that
house, unless for those who have a mind to be hewers of wood and
drawers of water. We will talk the matter coolly over, and, in the
mean while, perhaps you could see W. Erskine, and learn what
impression this odd union is like to make among your friends.
Erskine is sound-headed, and quite to be trusted with _your whole
story_. I must own I can hardly think the purchase of the Register
is equal to the loss of credit and character which your surrender
will be conceived to infer." At the time when he wrote this, Scott
no doubt anticipated that Rokeby would have success not less
decisive than The Lady of the Lake; but in this expectation--though
10,000 copies in three months would have seemed to any other author
a triumphant sale--he had been disappointed. And meanwhile the
difficulties of the firm, accumulating from week to week, had
reached, by the middle of May, a point which rendered it absolutely
necessary for him to conquer all his scruples.

Mr. Cadell, then Constable's partner, says in his
_Memoranda_,--"Prior to this time the reputation of John Ballantyne
and Co. had been decidedly on the decline. It was notorious in the
trade that their general speculations had been unsuccessful; they
were known to be grievously in want of money. These rumors were
realized to the full by an application which Messrs. B. made to Mr.
Constable in May, 1813, for pecuniary aid, accompanied by an offer
of some of the books they had published since 1809, as a purchase,
along with various shares in Mr. Scott's own poems. Their
difficulties were admitted, and the negotiation was pressed
urgently; so much so, that a pledge was given, that if the terms
asked were acceded to, John Ballantyne and Co. would endeavor to
wind up their concerns, and cease as soon as possible to be
publishers." Mr. Cadell adds: "I need hardly remind you that this
was a period of very great general difficulty in the money market.
It was the crisis of the war. The public expenditure had reached an
enormous height; and even the most prosperous mercantile houses were
often pinched to sustain their credit. It may easily, therefore, be
supposed that the Messrs. Ballantyne had during many months besieged
every banker's door in Edinburgh, and that their agents had done the
like in London."

The most important of the requests which the laboring house made to
Constable was that he should forthwith take entirely to himself the
stock, copyright, and future management of the Edinburgh Annual
Register. Upon examining the state of this book, however, Constable
found that the loss on it had never been less than £1000 per annum,
and he therefore declined that matter for the present. He promised,
however, to consider seriously the means he might have of ultimately
relieving them from the pressure of the Register, and, in the mean
time, offered to take 300 sets of the stock on hand. The other
purchases he finally made on the 18th of May were considerable
portions of Weber's unhappy Beaumont and Fletcher--of an edition of
De Foe's novels in twelve volumes--of a collection entitled Tales of
the East in three large volumes, 8vo, double-columned--and of
another in one volume, called Popular Tales--about 800 copies of The
Vision of Don Roderick--and a fourth of the remaining copyright of
Rokeby, price £700. The immediate accommodation thus received
amounted to £2000; and Scott, who had personally conducted the
latter part of the negotiation, writes thus to his junior partner,
who had gone a week or two earlier to London in quest of some
similar assistance there:--


                                   PRINTING-OFFICE, May 18, 1813.

DEAR JOHN,--After many _offs_ and _ons_, and as many _projets_ and
_contre-projets_ as the treaty of Amiens, I have at length concluded
a treaty with Constable, in which I am sensible he has gained a great
advantage;[24] but what could I do amidst the disorder and pressure of
so many demands? The arrival of your long-dated bills decided my
giving in, for what could James or I do with them? I trust this
sacrifice has cleared our way, but many rubs remain; nor am I, after
these hard skirmishes, so able to meet them by my proper credit.
Constable, however, will be a zealous ally; and for the first time
these many weeks I shall lay my head on a quiet pillow, for now I do
think that, by our joint exertions, we shall get well through the
storm, save Beaumont from depreciation, get a partner in our heavy
concerns, reef our topsails, and move on securely under an easy sail.
And if, on the one hand, I have sold my gold too cheap, I have, on the
other, turned my lead to gold. Brewster[25] and Singers[26] are the
only heavy things to which I have not given a blue eye. Had your news
of Cadell's sale[27] reached us here, I could not have harpooned my
grampus so deeply as I have done, as nothing but Rokeby would have
barbed the hook.

Adieu, my dear John. I have the most sincere regard for you, and you
may depend on my considering your interest with quite as much
attention as my own. If I have ever expressed myself with irritation
in speaking of this business, you must impute it to the sudden,
extensive, and unexpected embarrassments in which I found myself
involved all at once. If to your real goodness of heart and integrity,
and to the quickness and acuteness of your talents, you added habits
of more universal circumspection, and, above all, the courage to tell
disagreeable truths to those whom you hold in regard, I pronounce that
the world never held such a man of business. These it must be your
study to add to your other good qualities. Meantime, as some one says
to Swift, I love you with all your failings. Pray make an effort and
love me with all mine. Yours truly,

                                                            W. S.

Three days afterwards Scott resumes the subject as follows:--


                                       EDINBURGH, 21st May, 1813.

DEAR JOHN,--Let it never escape your recollection, that shutting your
own eyes, or blinding those of your friends, upon the actual state of
business, is the high road to ruin. Meanwhile, we have recovered our
legs for a week or two. Constable will, I think, come in to the
Register. He is most anxious to maintain the printing-office; he sees
most truly that the more we print the less we publish; and for the
same reason he will, I think, help us off with our heavy quire-stock.

I was aware of the distinction between the _state_ and the _calendar_
as to the latter including the printing-office bills, and I summed and
docked them (they are marked with red ink), but there is still a
difference of £2000 and upwards on the calendar against the business.
I sometimes fear that, between the long dates of your bills, and the
tardy settlements of the Edinburgh trade, some difficulties will occur
even in June; and July I always regard with deep anxiety. As for loss,
if I get out without public exposure, I shall not greatly regard the
rest. Radcliffe the physician said, when he lost £2000 on the South
Sea scheme, it was only going up 2000 pair of stairs; I say, it is
only writing 2000 couplets, and the account is balanced. More of this
hereafter. Yours truly,

                                                        W. SCOTT.

P. S.--James has behaved very well during this whole transaction, and
has been most steadily attentive to business. I am convinced that the
more he works the better his health will be. One or other of you will
need to be constantly in the printing-office henceforward,--it is the

The allusion in this _postscript_ to James Ballantyne's health
reminds me that Scott's letters to himself are full of hints on that
subject, even from a very early period of their connection; and
these hints are all to the same effect. James was a man of lazy
habits, and not a little addicted to the more solid, and perhaps
more dangerous, part of the indulgences of the table. One letter
(dated Ashestiel, 1810) will be a sufficient specimen:--


MY DEAR JAMES,--I am very sorry for the state of your health, and
should be still more so, were I not certain that I can prescribe for
you as well as any physician in Edinburgh. You have naturally an
athletic constitution and a hearty stomach, and these agree very ill
with a sedentary life and the habits of indolence which it brings on.
Your stomach thus gets weak; and from those complaints of all others
arise most certainly flatulence, hypochondria, and all the train of
unpleasant feelings connected with indigestion. We all know the
horrible sensation of the nightmare arises from the same cause which
gives those waking nightmares commonly called the blue devils. You
must positively put yourself on a regimen as to eating, not for a
month or two, but for a year at least, and take regular exercise--and
my life for yours. I know this by myself, for if I were to eat and
drink in town as I do here, it would soon finish me, and yet I am
sensible I live too genially in Edinburgh as it is. Yours very truly,

                                                        W. SCOTT.

Among Scott's early pets at Abbotsford there was a huge raven,
whose powers of speech were remarkable, far beyond any parrot's that
he had ever met with; and who died in consequence of an excess of
the kind to which James Ballantyne was addicted. Thenceforth, Scott
often repeated to his old friend, and occasionally scribbled by way
of postscript to his notes on business--

  "When you are craving,
  Remember the Raven."

Sometimes the formula is varied to--

  "When you've dined half,
  Think on poor Ralph!"

His preachments of regularity in book-keeping to John, and of
abstinence from good cheer to James Ballantyne, were equally vain;
but on the other hand it must be allowed that they had some reason
for displeasure--(the more felt, because they durst not, like him,
express their feelings)[28]--when they found that scarcely had these
"hard skirmishes" terminated in the bargain of May 18, before Scott
was preparing fresh embarrassments for himself, by commencing a
negotiation for a considerable addition to his property at
Abbotsford. As early as the 20th of June he writes to Constable as
being already aware of this matter, and alleges his anxiety "to
close at once with a very capricious person," as the only reason
that could have induced him to make up his mind to sell the whole
copyright of an as yet unwritten poem, to be entitled The Nameless
Glen. This copyright he then offered to dispose of to Constable for
£5000; adding, "this is considerably less in proportion than I have
already made on the share of Rokeby sold to yourself, and surely
that is no unfair admeasurement." A long correspondence ensued, in
the course of which Scott mentions The Lord of the Isles, as a title
which had suggested itself to him in place of The Nameless Glen; but
as the negotiation did not succeed, I may pass its details. The new
property which Scott was so eager to acquire was that hilly tract
stretching from the old Roman road near Turn-again towards the
Cauldshiels Loch: a then desolate and naked mountain-mere, which he
likens, in a letter of this summer (to Lady Louisa Stuart), to the
Lake of the Genie and the Fisherman in the Arabian Tale. To obtain
this lake at one extremity of his estate, as a contrast to the Tweed
at the other, was a prospect for which hardly any sacrifice would
have appeared too much; and he contrived to gratify his wishes in
the course of that July, to which he had spoken of himself in May as
looking forward "with the deepest anxiety."

Nor was he, I must add, more able to control some of his minor
tastes. I find him writing to Mr. Terry, on the 20th of June, about
"that splendid lot of ancient armor, advertised by Winstanley," a
celebrated auctioneer in London, of which he had the strongest fancy
to make his spoil, though he was at a loss to know where it should
be placed when it reached Abbotsford; and on the 2d of July, this
acquisition also having been settled, he says to the same
correspondent: "I have written to Mr. Winstanley. My bargain with
Constable was otherwise arranged, but Little John is to find the
needful article, and I shall take care of Mr. Winstanley's interest,
who has behaved too handsomely in this matter to be trusted to the
mercy of our little friend the Picaroon, who is, notwithstanding his
many excellent qualities, a little on the score of old Gobbo--doth
somewhat smack--somewhat grow to.[29] We shall be at Abbotsford on
the 12th, and hope soon to see you there. I am fitting up a small
room above _Peter-House_, where an unceremonious bachelor may
consent to do penance, though the place is a cock-loft, and the
access that which leads many a bold fellow to his last nap--a
ladder."[30] And a few weeks later, he says, in the same sort, to
his sister-in-law, Mrs. Thomas Scott: "In despite of these hard
times, which affect my patrons the booksellers very much, I am
buying old books and old armor as usual, and adding to what your old
friend Burns[31] calls--

  'A fouth of auld nick-nackets,
  Rusty airn caps and jingling jackets,
  Wad haud the Lothians three in tackets
                      A towmont gude,
  And parritch-pats and auld saut-backets,
                      Before the flude.'"

Notwithstanding all this, it must have been with a most uneasy mind
that he left Edinburgh to establish himself at Abbotsford that July.
The assistance of Constable had not been granted, indeed it had not
been asked, to an extent at all adequate for the difficulties of the
case; and I have now to transcribe, with pain and reluctance, some
extracts from Scott's letters, during the ensuing autumn, which
speak the language of anxious, and, indeed, humiliating distress;
and give a most lively notion of the incurable recklessness of his
younger partner.


                                 ABBOTSFORD, Saturday, 24th July.

DEAR JOHN,--I sent you the order, and have only to hope it arrived
safe and in good time. I waked the boy at three o'clock myself,
having slept little, less on account of the money than of the time.
Surely you should have written, three or four days before, the
probable amount of the deficit, and, as on former occasions, I would
have furnished you with means of meeting it. These expresses, besides
every other inconvenience, excite surprise in my family and in the
neighborhood. I know no justifiable occasion for them but the
unexpected return of a bill. I do not consider you as answerable for
the success of plans, but I do and must hold you responsible for
giving me, in distinct and plain terms, your opinion as to any
difficulties which may occur, and that in such time that I may make
arrangements to obviate them if possible.

Of course, if anything has gone wrong you will come out here
to-morrow. But if, as I hope and trust, the cash arrived safe, you
will write to me, under cover to the Duke of Buccleuch, Drumlanrig
Castle, Dumfries-shire. I shall set out for that place on Monday
morning early.

                                                            W. S.


                                     ABBOTSFORD, 25th July, 1813.

DEAR JAMES,--I address the following jobation for John to you, that
you may see whether I do not well to be angry, and enforce upon him
the necessity of constantly writing his fears as well as his hopes.
You should rub him often on this point, for his recollection becomes
rusty the instant I leave town and am not in the way to rack him with
constant questions. I hope the presses are doing well, and that you
are quite stout again. Yours truly,

                                                            W. S.



MY GOOD FRIEND JOHN,--The post brings me no letter from you, which I
am much surprised at, as you must suppose me anxious to learn that
your express arrived. I think he must have reached you before
post-hours, and James or you _might_ have found a minute to say so in
a single line. I once more request that you will be a businesslike
correspondent, and state your provisions for every week prospectively.
I do not expect you to _warrant them_, which you rather perversely
seem to insist is my wish, but I do want to be aware of their nature
and extent, that I may provide against the possibility of miscarriage.
The calendar, to which you refer me, tells me what sums are due, but
cannot tell your shifts to pay them, which are naturally altering with
circumstances, and of which alterations I request to have due notice.
You say you _could not suppose_ Sir W. Forbes would have refused the
long dated bills; but that you _had_ such an apprehension is clear,
both because in the calendar these bills were rated two months lower,
and because, three days before, you wrote me an enigmatical expression
of your apprehensions, instead of saying plainly there was a chance of
your wanting £350, when I would have sent you an order to be used

All I desire is unlimited confidence and frequent correspondence, and
that you will give me weekly at least the fullest anticipation of your
resources, and the probability of their being effectual. I may be
disappointed in my own, of which you shall have equally timeous
notice. Omit no exertions to procure the use of money, even for a
month or six weeks, for time is most precious. The large balance due
in January from the trade, and individuals, which I cannot reckon at
less than £4000, will put us finally to rights; and it will be a shame
to founder within sight of harbor. The greatest risk we run is from
such ill-considered despatches as those of Friday. Suppose that I had
gone to Drumlanrig--suppose the pony had set up--suppose a thousand
things--and we were ruined for want of your telling your apprehensions
in due time. Do not plague yourself to vindicate this sort of
management; but if you have escaped the consequences (as to which you
have left me uncertain), thank God, and act more cautiously another
time. It was quite the same to me on what day I sent that draft;
indeed it must have been so if I had the money in my cash account, and
if I had not, the more time given me to provide it the better.

Now, do not affect to suppose that my displeasure arises from your not
having done your utmost to realize funds, and that utmost having
failed. It is one mode, to be sure, of exculpation, to suppose one's
self accused of something they are not charged with, and then to make
a querulous or indignant defence, and complain of the injustice of the
accuser. The head and front of your offending is precisely your not
writing explicitly, and I request this may not happen again. It is
your fault, and I believe arises either from an ill-judged idea of
smoothing matters to me--as if I were not behind the curtain--or a
general reluctance to allow that any danger is near, until it is
almost unparriable. I shall be very sorry if anything I have said
gives you pain; but the matter is too serious for all of us, to be
passed over without giving you my explicit sentiments. To-morrow I set
out for Drumlanrig, and shall not hear from you till Tuesday or
Wednesday. Make yourself master of the post-town--Thornhill, probably,
or Sanquhar. As Sir W. F. & Co. have cash to meet my order, nothing, I
think, can have gone wrong, unless the boy perished by the way.
Therefore, in faith and hope, and--that I may lack none of the
Christian virtues--in charity with your dilatory worship, I remain
very truly yours,

                                                            W. S.

Scott proceeded, accordingly, to join a gay and festive circle, whom
the Duke of Buccleuch had assembled about him on first taking
possession of the magnificent Castle of Drumlanrig, in Nithsdale,
the principal messuage of the dukedom of Queensberry, which had
recently lapsed into his family. But, _post equitem sedet atra
cura_--another of John Ballantyne's unwelcome missives, rendered
necessary by a neglect of precisely the same kind as before, reached
him in the midst of this scene of rejoicing. On the 31st, he again


                                              DRUMLANRIG, Friday.

DEAR JOHN,--I enclose the order. Unfortunately, the Drumlanrig post
only goes thrice a week; but the Marquis of Queensberry, who carries
this to Dumfries, has promised that the guard of the mail-coach shall
deliver it by five to-morrow. I was less anxious, as your note said
you could clear this month. It is a cruel thing that no State you
furnish excludes the arising of such unexpected claims as this for the
taxes on the printing-office. What unhappy management, to suffer them
to run ahead in such a manner!--but it is in vain to complain. Were it
not for your strange concealments, I should anticipate no difficulty
in winding up these matters. But who can reckon upon a State where
claims are kept out of view until they are in the hands of a _writer_?
If you have no time to say that _this_ comes safe to hand, I suppose
James may favor me so far. Yours truly,

                                                            W. S.

Let the guard be rewarded.

Let me know exactly what you _can_ do and _hope_ to do for next
month; for it signifies nothing raising money for you, unless I see
it is to be of real service. Observe, I make you responsible for
nothing but a fair statement.[32] The guard is known to the Marquis,
who has good-naturedly promised to give him this letter with his own
hand; so it must reach you in time, though probably past five on

Another similar application reached Scott the day after the guard
delivered his packet. He writes thus, in reply:


                                              DRUMLANRIG, Sunday.

DEAR JOHN,--I trust you got my letter yesterday by five, with the
draft enclosed. I return your draft accepted. On Wednesday I think of
leaving this place, where, but for these damned affairs, I should have
been very happy.

                                                            W. S.

Scott had been for some time under an engagement to meet the Marquis
of Abercorn at Carlisle, in the first week of August, for the
transaction of some business connected with his brother Thomas's
late administration of that nobleman's Scottish affairs; and he had
designed to pass from Drumlanrig to Carlisle for this purpose,
without going back to Abbotsford. In consequence of these repeated
harassments, however, he so far altered his plans as to cut short
his stay at Drumlanrig, and turn homewards for two or three days,
where James Ballantyne met him with such a statement as in some
measure relieved his mind.

He then proceeded to fulfil his engagement with Lord Abercorn, whom
he encountered travelling in a rather peculiar style between
Carlisle and Longtown. The ladies of the family and the household
occupied four or five carriages, all drawn by the Marquis's own
horses, while the noble Lord himself brought up the rear, mounted on
horseback, and decorated with the ribbon of the order of the Garter.
On meeting the cavalcade, Scott turned with them, and he was not a
little amused when they reached the village of Longtown, which he
had ridden through an hour or two before, with the preparations
which he found there made for the dinner of the party. The Marquis's
major-domo and cook had arrived there at an early hour in the
morning, and everything was now arranged for his reception in the
paltry little public house, as nearly as possible in the style usual
in his own lordly mansions. The ducks and geese that had been
dabbling three or four hours ago in the village pond were now ready
to make their appearance under numberless disguises as _entrées_; a
regular bill-of-fare flanked the noble Marquis's allotted cover;
every huckaback towel in the place had been pressed to do service as
a napkin; and, that nothing might be wanting to the mimicry of
splendor, the landlady's poor remnants of crockery and pewter had
been furbished up, and mustered in solemn order on a crazy old
beauffet, which was to represent a sideboard worthy of Lucullus. I
think it worth while to preserve this anecdote, which Scott
delighted in telling, as perhaps the last relic of a style of
manners now passed away, and never likely to be revived among us.

Having despatched this dinner and his business, Scott again turned
southwards, intending to spend a few days with Mr. Morritt at
Rokeby; but on reaching Penrith, the landlord there, who was his old
acquaintance (Mr. Buchanan), placed a letter in his hands: _ecce
iterum_--it was once more a cry of distress from John Ballantyne. He
thus answered it:--


                                        PENRITH, August 10, 1813.

DEAR JOHN,--I enclose you an order for £350. I shall remain at Rokeby
until Saturday or Sunday, and be at Abbotsford on Wednesday at latest.

I hope the printing-office is going on well. I fear, from the state of
accompts between the companies, restrictions on the management and
expense will be unavoidable, which may trench upon James's comforts. I
cannot observe hitherto that the printing-office is paying off, but
rather adding to its embarrassments; and it cannot be thought that I
have either means or inclination to support a losing concern at the
rate of £200 a month. If James could find a monied partner, an active
man who understood the commercial part of the business, and would
superintend the conduct of the cash, it might be the best for all
parties; for I really am not adequate to the fatigue of mind which
these affairs occasion me, though I must do the best to struggle
through them.

Believe me yours, etc.

                                                            W. S.

At Brough he encountered a messenger who brought him such a painful
account of Mrs. Morritt's health, that he abandoned his intention of
proceeding to Rokeby; and, indeed, it was much better that he should
be at Abbotsford again as soon as possible, for his correspondence
shows a continued succession, during the three or four ensuing
weeks, of the same annoyances that had pursued him to Drumlanrig and
to Penrith. By his desire, the Ballantynes had, it would seem,
before the middle of August, laid a statement of their affairs
before Constable. Though the statement was not so clear and full as
Scott had wished it to be, Constable, on considering it, at once
assured them, that to go on raising money in driblets would never
effectually relieve them; that, in short, one or both of the
companies must stop, unless Mr. Scott could find means to lay his
hand, without farther delay, on at least £4000; and I gather that,
by way of inducing Constable himself to come forward with part at
least of this supply, John Ballantyne again announced his intention
of forthwith abandoning the bookselling business altogether, and
making an effort to establish himself--on a plan which Constable had
shortly before suggested--as an auctioneer in Edinburgh. The
following letters need no comment:--


                                     ABBOTSFORD, August 16, 1813.

DEAR JOHN,--I am quite satisfied it is impossible for J. B. and Co.
to continue business longer than is absolutely necessary for the sale
of stock and extrication of their affairs. The fatal injury which
their credit has sustained, as well as your adopting a profession in
which I sincerely hope you will be more fortunate, renders the closing
of the bookselling business inevitable. With regard to the printing,
it is my intention to retire from that also, so soon as I can possibly
do so with safety to myself, and with the regard I shall always
entertain for James's interest. Whatever loss I may sustain will be
preferable to the life I have lately led, when I seem surrounded by a
sort of magic circle, which neither permits me to remain at home in
peace, nor to stir abroad with pleasure. Your first exertion as an
auctioneer may probably be on "that distinguished, select, and
inimitable collection of books, made by an amateur of this city
retiring from business." I do not feel either health or confidence in
my own powers sufficient to authorize me to take a long price for a
new poem, until these affairs shall have been in some measure
digested. This idea has been long running in my head, but the late
fatalities which have attended this business have quite decided my
resolution. I will write to James to-morrow, being at present annoyed
with a severe headache.

Yours truly,

                                                        W. SCOTT.

Were I to transcribe all the letters to which these troubles gave
rise, I should fill a volume before I had reached the end of another
twelvemonth. The two next I shall quote are dated on the same day
(the 24th August), which may, in consequence of the answer the
second of them received, be set down as determining the crisis of


                                   ABBOTSFORD, 24th August, 1813.

DEAR JAMES,--Mr. Constable's advice is, as I have always found it,
sound, sensible, and friendly,--and I shall be guided by it. But I
have no wealthy friend who would join in security with me to such an
extent; and to apply in quarters where I might be refused would insure
disclosure. I conclude John has shown Mr. C. the state of the affairs;
if not, I would wish him to do so directly. If the proposed
accommodation could be granted to the firm on my personally joining in
the security, the whole matter would be quite safe, for I have to
receive in the course of the winter some large sums from my father's
estate.[33] Besides which, I shall certainly be able to go to press in
November with a new poem; or, if Mr. Constable's additional security
would please the bankers better, I could insure Mr. C. against the
possibility of loss, by assigning the copyrights, together with that
of the new poem, or even my library, in his relief. In fact, if he
looks into the affairs, he will I think see that there is no prospect
of any eventual loss to the creditors, though I may be a loser myself.
My property here is unincumbered; so is my house in Castle Street; and
I have no debts out of my own family, excepting a part of the price of
Abbotsford, which I am to retain for four years. So that, literally, I
have no claims upon me unless those arising out of this business; and
when it is considered that my income is above £2000 a year, even if
the printing-office pays nothing, I should hope no one can possibly be
a loser by me.

  Clerkship,       £1300}
  Sheriffdom,       300 }
  Mrs. Scott,       200 }
  Interest,         100 }
  Somers, (say)     200 }
                  £2100 }

I am sure I would strip myself to my shirt rather than it should be
the case; and my only reason for wishing to stop the concern was to do
open justice to all persons. It must have been a bitter pill to me. I
can more confidently expect some aid from Mr. Constable, or from
Longman's house, because they can look into the concern and satisfy
themselves how little chance there is of their being losers, which
others cannot do. Perhaps between them they might manage to assist us
with the credit necessary, and go on in winding up the concern by
occasional acceptances.

An odd thing has happened. I have a letter, by order of the Prince
Regent, offering me the laureateship in the most flattering terms.
Were I my own man, as you call it, I would refuse this offer (with all
gratitude); but, as I am situated, £300 or £400 a year is not to be
sneezed at upon a point of poetical honor--and it makes me a better
man to that extent. I have not yet written, however. I will say little
about Constable's handsome behavior, but shall not forget it. It is
needless to say I shall wish him to be consulted in every step that is
taken. If I should lose all I advanced to this business, I should be
less vexed than I am at this moment. I am very busy with Swift at
present, but shall certainly come to town if it is thought necessary;
but I should first wish Mr. Constable to look into the affairs to the
bottom. Since I have personally superintended them, they have been
winding up very fast, and we are now almost within sight of harbor. I
will also own it was partly ill-humor at John's blunder last week that
made me think of throwing things up.

Yours truly,

                                                            W. S.

After writing and despatching this letter, an idea occurred to Scott
that there was a quarter, not hitherto alluded to in any of these
anxious epistles, from which he might consider himself as entitled
to ask assistance, not only with little, if any, chance of a
refusal, but (owing to particular circumstances) without incurring
any very painful sense of obligation. On the 25th he says to John

After some meditation, last night, it occurred to me I had some title
to ask the Duke of Buccleuch's guarantee to a cash account for £4000,
as Constable proposes. I have written to him accordingly, and have
very little doubt that he will be my surety. If this cash account be
in view, Mr. Constable will certainly _assist us_ until the necessary
writings are made out--I beg your pardon--I dare say I am very stupid;
but very often you don't consider that I can't follow details which
would be quite obvious to a man of business;--for instance, you tell
me daily, "that _if_ the sums I count upon _are_ forthcoming, the
results must be as I suppose." But--in a week--the scene is changed,
and all I can do, and more, is inadequate to bring about these
results. I protest I don't know if at this moment £4000 _will_ clear
us out. After all, you are vexed, and so am I; and it is needless to
wrangle who has a right to be angry. Commend me to James.

Yours truly,

                                                            W. S.

Having explained to the Duke of Buccleuch the position in which he
stood--obliged either to procure some guarantee which would enable
him to raise £4000, or to sell abruptly all his remaining interest
in the copyright of his works; and repeated the statement of his
personal property and income, as given in the preceding letter to
James Ballantyne--Scott says to his noble friend:--

I am not asking nor desiring any loan from your Grace, but merely the
honor of your sanction to my credit as a good man for £4000; and the
motive of your Grace's interference would be sufficiently obvious to
the London Shylocks, as your constant kindness and protection is no
secret to the world. Will your Grace consider whether you can do what
I propose, in conscience and safety, and favor me with your answer?--I
have a very flattering offer from the Prince Regent, of his own free
motion, to make me poet laureate; I am very much embarrassed by it. I
am, on the one hand, afraid of giving offence where no one would
willingly offend, and perhaps losing an opportunity of smoothing the
way to my youngsters through life; on the other hand, the office is a
ridiculous one, somehow or other--they and I should be well
quizzed,--yet that I should not mind. My real feeling of reluctance
lies deeper--it is, that favored as I have been by the public, I
should be considered, with some justice, I fear, as engrossing a petty
emolument which might do real service to some poorer brother of the
Muses. I shall be most anxious to have your Grace's advice on this
subject. There seems something churlish, and perhaps conceited, in
repelling a favor so handsomely offered on the part of the Sovereign's
representative; and on the other hand, I feel much disposed to shake
myself free from it. I should make but a bad courtier, and an
ode-maker is described by Pope as a poet out of his way or out of his
senses. I will find some excuse for protracting my reply till I can
have the advantage of your Grace's opinion; and remain, in the mean
time, very truly your obliged and grateful

                                                    WALTER SCOTT.

P. S.--I trust your Grace will not suppose me capable of making such a
request as the enclosed, upon any idle or unnecessary speculation;
but, as I stand situated, it is a matter of deep interest to me to
prevent these copyrights from being disposed of either hastily or at
under prices. I could have half the booksellers in London for my
sureties, on a hint of a new poem; but bankers do not like people in
trade, and my brains are not ready to spin another web. So your Grace
must take me under your princely care, as in the days of lang syne;
and I think I can say, upon the sincerity of an honest man, there is
not the most distant chance of your having any trouble or expense
through my means.

The Duke's answer was in all respects such as might have been looked
for from the generous kindness and manly sense of his character.


                              DRUMLANRIG CASTLE, August 28, 1813.

MY DEAR SIR,--I received yesterday your letter of the 24th. I shall
with pleasure comply with your request of guaranteeing the £4000. You
must, however, furnish me with the form of a letter to this effect, as
I am completely ignorant of transactions of this nature.

I am never willing to _offer_ advice, but when my opinion is asked by
a friend I am ready to give it. As to the offer of his Royal Highness
to appoint you laureate, I shall frankly say that I should be
mortified to see you hold a situation which, by the general
concurrence of the world, is stamped ridiculous. There is no good
reason why this should be so; but so it is. _Walter Scott, Poet
Laureate_, ceases to be the Walter Scott of the Lay, Marmion, etc. Any
future poem of yours would not come forward with the same probability
of a successful reception. The poet laureate would stick to you and
your productions like a piece of _court plaster_. Your muse has
hitherto been independent--don't put her into harness. We know how
lightly she trots along when left to her natural paces, but do not try
driving. I would write frankly and openly to his Royal Highness, but
with respectful gratitude, for he _has_ paid you a compliment. I would
not fear to state that you had hitherto written when in poetic mood,
but feared to trammel yourself with a fixed periodical exertion; and I
cannot but conceive that his Royal Highness, who has much taste, will
at once see the many objections which you must have to his proposal,
but which you cannot write. Only think of being chaunted and
recitatived by a parcel of hoarse and squeaking choristers on a
birthday, for the edification of the bishops, pages, maids of honor,
and gentlemen-pensioners! Oh horrible! thrice horrible! Yours

                                                  BUCCLEUCH, ETC.

The letter which first announced the Prince Regent's proposal was
from his Royal Highness's librarian, Dr. James Stanier Clarke; but
before Scott answered it he had received a more formal notification
from the late Marquis of Hertford, then Lord Chamberlain. I shall
transcribe both these documents.


                             PAVILION, BRIGHTON, August 18, 1813.

MY DEAR SIR,--Though I have never had the honor of being introduced to
you, you have frequently been pleased to convey to me very kind and
flattering messages,[34] and I trust, therefore, you will allow me,
without any further ceremony, to say--That I took an early opportunity
this morning of seeing the Prince Regent, who arrived here late
yesterday; and I then delivered to his Royal Highness my earnest wish
and anxious desire that the vacant situation of poet laureate might be
conferred on you. The Prince replied, "that you had already been
written to, and that if you wished it, everything would be settled as
I could desire."

I hope, therefore, I may be allowed to congratulate you on this event.
You are the man to whom it ought first to have been offered, and it
gave me sincere pleasure to find that those sentiments of high
approbation which my Royal Master had so often expressed towards you
in private, were now so openly and honorably displayed in public. Have
the goodness, dear sir, to receive this intrusive letter with your
accustomed courtesy, and believe me, yours very sincerely,

                                                    J. S. CLARKE,

Librarian to H. R. H., the Prince Regent.


                                       RAGLEY, 31st August, 1813.

SIR,--I thought it my duty to his Royal Highness, the Prince Regent,
to express to him my humble opinion that I could not make so
creditable a choice as in your person for the office, now vacant, of
poet laureate. I am now authorized to offer it to you, which I would
have taken an earlier opportunity of doing, but that, till this
morning, I have had no occasion of seeing his Royal Highness since Mr.
Pye's death. I have the honor to be, sir, your most obedient, humble

                                                 INGRAM HERTFORD.

The following letters conclude this matter:--


                                       ABBOTSFORD, 4th September.

MY LORD,--I am this day honored with your Lordship's letter of the
31st August, tendering for my acceptance the situation of poet
laureate in the Royal Household. I shall always think it the highest
honor of my life to have been the object of the good opinion implied
in your Lordship's recommendation, and in the gracious acquiescence of
his Royal Highness, the Prince Regent. I humbly trust I shall not
forfeit sentiments so highly valued, although I find myself under the
necessity of declining, with every acknowledgment of respect and
gratitude, a situation above my deserts, and offered to me in a manner
so very flattering. The duties attached to the office of poet laureate
are not indeed very formidable, if judged of by the manner in which
they have sometimes been discharged. But an individual selected from
the literary characters of Britain, upon the honorable principle
expressed in your Lordship's letter, ought not, in justice to your
Lordship, to his own reputation, but above all to his Royal Highness,
to accept of the office, unless he were conscious of the power of
filling it respectably, and attaining to excellence in the execution
of the tasks which it imposes. This confidence I am so far from
possessing, that, on the contrary, with all the advantages which do
now, and I trust ever will, present themselves to the poet whose task
it may be to commemorate the events of his Royal Highness's
administration, I am certain I should feel myself inadequate to the
fitting discharge of the regularly recurring duty of periodical
composition, and should thus at once disappoint the expectation of the
public, and, what would give me still more pain, discredit the
nomination of his Royal Highness.

Will your Lordship permit me to add, that though far from being
wealthy, I already hold two official situations in the line of my
profession, which afford a respectable income. It becomes me,
therefore, to avoid the appearance of engrossing one of the few
appointments which seem specially adapted for the provision of those
whose lives have been dedicated exclusively to literature, and who too
often derive from their labors more credit than emolument.

Nothing could give me greater pain than being thought ungrateful to
his Royal Highness's goodness, or insensible to the honorable
distinction his undeserved condescension has been pleased to bestow
upon me. I have to trust to your Lordship's kindness for laying at the
feet of his Royal Highness, in the way most proper and respectful, my
humble, grateful, and dutiful thanks, with these reasons for declining
a situation which, though every way superior to my deserts, I should
chiefly have valued as a mark of his Royal Highness's approbation.

For your Lordship's unmerited goodness, as well as for the trouble you
have had upon this occasion, I can only offer you my respectful
thanks, and entreat that you will be pleased to believe me, my Lord
Marquis, your Lordship's much obliged and much honored humble servant,

                                                    WALTER SCOTT.


                                   ABBOTSFORD, September 5, 1813.

MY DEAR LORD DUKE,--Good advice is easily followed when it jumps with
our own sentiments and inclinations. I no sooner found mine fortified
by your Grace's opinion than I wrote to Lord Hertford, declining the
laurel in the most civil way I could imagine. I also wrote to the
Prince's librarian, who had made himself active on the occasion,
dilating, at somewhat more length than I thought respectful to the
Lord Chamberlain, my reasons for declining the intended honor. My
wife has made a copy of the last letter, which I enclose for your
Grace's perusal: there is no occasion either to preserve or return
it--but I am desirous you should know what I have put my apology upon,
for I may reckon on its being misrepresented. I certainly should never
have survived the recitative described by your Grace: it is a part of
the etiquette I was quite unprepared for, and should have sunk under
it. It is curious enough that Drumlanrig should always have been the
refuge of bards who decline court promotion. Gay, I think, refused to
be a gentleman-usher, or some such post;[35] and I am determined to
abide by my post of Grand Ecuyer Trenchant of the Chateau, varied for
that of tale-teller of an evening.

I will send your Grace a copy of the letter of guarantee when I
receive it from London. By an arrangement with Longman and Co., the
great booksellers in Paternoster Row, I am about to be enabled to
place their security, as well as my own, between your Grace and the
possibility of hazard. But your kind readiness to forward a
transaction which is of such great importance both to my fortune and
comfort can never be forgotten--although it can scarce make me more
than I have always been, my dear Lord, your Grace's much obliged and
truly faithful,

                                                    WALTER SCOTT.



                                 ABBOTSFORD, 4th September, 1813.

SIR,--On my return to this cottage, after a short excursion, I was at
once surprised and deeply interested by the receipt of your letter. I
shall always consider it as the proudest incident of my life that his
Royal Highness, the Prince Regent, whose taste in literature is so
highly distinguished, should have thought of naming me to the
situation of poet laureate. I feel, therefore, no small embarrassment
lest I should incur the suspicion of churlish ingratitude in declining
an appointment in every point of view so far above my deserts, but
which I should chiefly have valued as conferred by the unsolicited
generosity of his Royal Highness, and as entitling me to the
distinction of terming myself an immediate servant of his Majesty. But
I have to trust to your goodness in representing to his Royal
Highness, with my most grateful, humble, and dutiful acknowledgments,
the circumstances which compel me to decline the honor which his
undeserved favor has proposed for me. The poetical pieces I have
hitherto composed have uniformly been the hasty production of
impulses, which I must term fortunate, since they have attracted his
Royal Highness's notice and approbation. But I strongly fear, or
rather am absolutely certain, that I should feel myself unable to
justify, in the eye of the public, the choice of his Royal Highness,
by a fitting discharge of the duties of an office which requires
stated and periodical exertion. And although I am conscious how much
this difficulty is lessened under the government of his Royal
Highness, marked by paternal wisdom at home and successes abroad which
seem to promise the liberation of Europe, I still feel that the
necessity of a regular commemoration would trammel my powers of
composition at the very time when it would be equally my pride and
duty to tax them to the uttermost. There is another circumstance which
weighs deeply in my mind while forming my present resolution. I have
already the honor to hold two appointments under Government, not
usually conjoined, and which afford an income, far indeed from wealth,
but amounting to decent independence. I fear, therefore, that in
accepting one of the few situations which our establishment holds
forth as the peculiar provision of literary men, I might be justly
censured as availing myself of his Royal Highness's partiality to
engross more than my share of the public revenue, to the prejudice of
competitors equally meritorious at least, and otherwise unprovided
for; and as this calculation will be made by thousands who know that I
have reaped great advantages by the favor of the public, without being
aware of the losses which it has been my misfortune to sustain, I may
fairly reckon that it will terminate even more to my prejudice than if
they had the means of judging accurately of my real circumstances. I
have thus far, sir, frankly exposed to you, for his Royal Highness's
favorable consideration, the feelings which induce me to decline an
appointment offered in a manner so highly calculated to gratify, I
will not say my vanity only, but my sincere feelings of devoted
attachment to the crown and constitution of my country, and to the
person of his Royal Highness, by whom its government has been so
worthily administered. No consideration on earth would give me so much
pain as the idea of my real feelings being misconstrued on this
occasion, or that I should be supposed stupid enough not to estimate
the value of his Royal Highness's favor, or so ungrateful as not to
feel it as I ought. And you will relieve me from great anxiety if you
will have the goodness to let me know if his Royal Highness is pleased
to receive favorably my humble and grateful apology.

I cannot conclude without expressing my sense of your kindness and of
the trouble you have had upon this account, and I request you will
believe me, sir, your obliged humble servant,

                                                    WALTER SCOTT.


                                 ABBOTSFORD, 4th September, 1813.

MY DEAR SOUTHEY,--On my return here I found, to my no small surprise,
a letter tendering me the laurel vacant by the death of the poetical
Pye. I have declined the appointment, as being incompetent to the task
of annual commemoration; but chiefly as being provided for in my
professional department, and unwilling to incur the censure of
engrossing the emolument attached to one of the few appointments which
seems proper to be filled by a man of literature who has no other
views in life. Will you forgive me, my dear friend, if I own I had you
in my recollection? I have given Croker the hint, and otherwise
endeavored to throw the office into your option. I am uncertain if you
will like it, for the laurel has certainly been tarnished by some of
its wearers, and, as at present managed, its duties are inconvenient
and somewhat liable to ridicule. But the latter matter might be
amended, as I think the Regent's good sense would lead him to lay
aside these regular commemorations; and as to the former point, it has
been worn by Dryden of old, and by Warton in modern days. If you quote
my own refusal against me, I reply--first, I have been luckier than
you in holding two offices not usually conjoined; secondly, I did not
refuse it from any foolish prejudice against the situation, otherwise
how durst I mention it to you, my elder brother in the muse?--but from
a sort of internal hope that they would give it to you, upon whom it
would be so much more worthily conferred. For I am not such an ass as
not to know that you are my better in poetry, though I have had,
probably but for a time, the tide of popularity in my favor. I have
not time to add ten thousand other reasons, but I only wished to tell
you how the matter was, and to beg you to think before you reject the
offer which I flatter myself will be made to you. If I had not been,
like Dogberry, a fellow with two gowns already, I should have jumped
at it like a cock at a gooseberry. Ever yours most truly,

                                                    WALTER SCOTT.

Immediately after Mr. Croker received Scott's letter here alluded
to, Mr. Southey was invited to accept the vacant laurel. But, as the
birthday ode had been omitted since the illness of King George III.,
and the Regent had good sense and good taste enough to hold that
ancient custom as "more honored in the breach than the observance,"
the whole fell completely into disuse.[36] The office was thus
relieved from the burden of ridicule which had, in spite of so many
illustrious names, adhered to it; and though its emoluments did not
in fact amount to more than a quarter of the sum at which Scott
rated them when he declined it, they formed no unacceptable addition
to Mr. Southey's income. Scott's answer to his brother poet's
affectionate and grateful letter on the conclusion of this affair is
as follows:--


                                    EDINBURGH, November 13, 1813.

I do not delay, my dear Southey, to say my _gratulor_. Long may you
live, as Paddy says, to rule over us, and to redeem the crown of
Spenser and of Dryden to its pristine dignity. I am only discontented
with the extent of your royal revenue, which I thought had been £400,
or £300 at the very least. Is there no getting rid of that iniquitous
modus, and requiring the _butt_ in kind? I would have you think of it;
I know no man so well entitled to Xeres sack as yourself, though many
bards would make a better figure at drinking it. I should think that
in due time a memorial might get some relief in this part of the
appointment--it should be at least, £100 wet and £100 dry. When you
have carried your point of discarding the ode, and my point of getting
the sack, you will be exactly in the situation of Davy in the farce,
who stipulates for more wages, less work, and the key of the
ale-cellar.[37] I was greatly delighted with the circumstances of your
investiture. It reminded me of the porters at Calais with Dr.
Smollett's baggage, six of them seizing upon one small portmanteau,
and bearing it in triumph to his lodgings. You see what it is to laugh
at the superstitions of a gentleman-usher, as I think you do
somewhere. "The whirligig of time brings in his revenges."[38]

Adieu, my dear Southey; my best wishes attend all that you do, and my
best congratulations every good that attends you--yea even this, the
very least of Providence's mercies, as a poor clergyman said when
pronouncing grace over a herring. I should like to know how the Prince
received you; his address is said to be excellent, and his knowledge
of literature far from despicable. What a change of fortune even since
the short time when we met! The great work of retribution is now
rolling onward to consummation, yet am I not fully satisfied--_pereat
iste_!--there will be no permanent peace in Europe till Buonaparte
sleeps with the tyrants of old. My best compliments attend Mrs.
Southey and your family.

Ever yours,

                                                    WALTER SCOTT.

To avoid returning to the affair of the laureateship, I have placed
together such letters concerning it as appeared important. I regret
to say that, had I adhered to the chronological order of Scott's
correspondence, ten out of every twelve letters between the date of
his application to the Duke of Buccleuch, and his removal to
Edinburgh on the 12th of November, would have continued to tell the
same story of pecuniary difficulty, urgent and almost daily
applications for new advances to the Ballantynes, and endeavors,
more or less successful, but in no case effectually so, to relieve
the pressure on the bookselling firm by sales of its heavy stock to
the great publishing houses of Edinburgh and London. Whatever
success these endeavors met with, appears to have been due either
directly or indirectly to Mr. Constable; who did a great deal more
than prudence would have warranted, in taking on himself the results
of its unhappy adventures,--and, by his sagacious advice, enabled
the distressed partners to procure similar assistance at the hands
of others, who did not partake his own feelings of personal kindness
and sympathy. "I regret to learn," Scott writes to him on the 16th
October, "that there is great danger of your exertions in our favor,
which once promised so fairly, proving finally abortive, or at least
being too tardy in their operation to work out our relief. If
anything more can be honorably and properly done to avoid a most
unpleasant shock, I shall be most willing to do it; if not--God's
will be done! There will be enough of property, including my private
fortune, to pay every claim; and I have not used prosperity so ill,
as greatly to fear adversity. But these things we will talk over at
meeting; meanwhile believe me, with a sincere sense of your kindness
and friendly views, very truly yours, W. S."--I have no wish to
quote more largely from the letters which passed during this crisis
between Scott and his partners. The pith and substance of his, to
John Ballantyne at least, seems to be summed up in one brief
_postscript_: "For God's sake treat me as a man, and not as a

The difficulties of the Ballantynes were by this time well known
throughout the commercial circles not only of Edinburgh, but of
London; and a report of their actual bankruptcy, with the addition
that Scott was engaged as their surety to the extent of £20,000,
found its way to Mr. Morritt about the beginning of November. This
dear friend wrote to him, in the utmost anxiety, and made liberal
offers of assistance in case the catastrophe might still be
averted; but the term of Martinmas, always a critical one in
Scotland, had passed before this letter reached Edinburgh, and
Scott's answer will show symptoms of a clearing horizon. I think
also there is one expression in it which could hardly have failed to
convey to Mr. Morritt that his friend was involved, more deeply than
he had ever acknowledged, in the concerns of the Messrs. Ballantyne.


                                  EDINBURGH, 20th November, 1813.

I did not answer your very kind letter, my dear Morritt, until I could
put your friendly heart to rest upon the report you have heard, which
I could not do entirely until this term of Martinmas was passed. I
have the pleasure to say that there is no truth whatever in the
Ballantynes' reported bankruptcy. They have had severe difficulties
for the last four months to make their resources balance the demands
upon them, and I, having the price of Rokeby, and other monies in
their hands, have had considerable reason for apprehension, and no
slight degree of plague and trouble. They have, however, been so well
supported, that I have got out of hot water upon their account. They
are winding up their bookselling concern with great regularity, and
are to abide hereafter by the printing-office, which, with its stock,
etc., will revert to them fairly.

I have been able to redeem the offspring of my brain, and they are
like to pay me like grateful children. This matter has set me
a-thinking about money more seriously than ever I did in my life, and
I have begun by insuring my life for £4000, to secure some ready cash
to my family should I slip girths suddenly. I think my other property,
library, etc., may be worth about £12,000, and I have not much debt.

Upon the whole, I see no prospect of any loss whatever. Although in
the course of human events I may be disappointed, there certainly
_can_ be none to vex your kind and affectionate heart on my account. I
am young, with a large official income, and if I lose anything now, I
have gained a great deal in my day. I cannot tell you, and will not
attempt to tell you, how much I was affected by your letter--so much,
indeed, that for several days I could not make my mind up to express
myself on the subject. Thank God! all real danger was yesterday put
over--and I will write, in two or three days, a funny letter, without
any of these vile cash matters, of which it may be said there is no
living with them nor without them.

Ever yours, most truly,

                                                    WALTER SCOTT.

All these annoyances produced no change whatever in Scott's habits of
literary industry. During these anxious months of September, October,
and November, he kept feeding James Ballantyne's press, from day to day,
both with the annotated text of the closing volumes of Swift's works,
and with the MS. of his Life of the Dean. He had also proceeded to
mature in his own mind the plan of The Lord of the Isles, and executed
such a portion of the First Canto as gave him confidence to renew his
negotiation with Constable for the sale of the whole, or part of its
copyright. It was, moreover, at this period, that, looking into an old
cabinet in search of some fishing-tackle, his eye chanced to light once
more on the Ashestiel fragment of Waverley.--He read over those
introductory chapters--thought they had been undervalued--and determined
to finish the story.

All this while, too, he had been subjected to those interruptions
from idle strangers, which from the first to the last imposed so
heavy a tax on his celebrity; and he no doubt received such guests
with all his usual urbanity of attention. Yet I was not surprised to
discover, among his hasty notes to the Ballantynes, several of
tenor akin to the following specimens:--

                                              "September 2, 1813.

"My temper is really worn to a hair's breadth. The intruder of
yesterday hung on me till twelve to-day. When I had just taken my pen,
he was relieved, like a sentry leaving guard, by two other lounging
visitors; and their post has now been supplied by some people on real


  "Monday evening.

  "Oh James! oh James! Two Irish dames
    Oppress me very sore;
  I groaning send one sheet I've penned--
    For, hang them! there's no more."

A scrap of nearly the same date to his brother Thomas may be
introduced, as belonging to the same state of feeling:--

DEAR TOM,--I observe what you say as to Mr. ****; and as you may
often be exposed to similar requests, which it would be difficult to
parry, you can sign such letters of introduction as relate to persons
whom you do not delight to honor short, _T. Scott_; by which
abridgment of your name I shall understand to limit my civilities.

It is proper to mention that, in the very agony of these
perplexities, the unfortunate Maturin received from him a timely
succor of £50, rendered doubly acceptable by the kind and judicious
letter of advice in which it was enclosed; and I have before me
ample evidence that his benevolence had been extended to other
struggling brothers of the trade, even when he must often have had
actual difficulty to meet the immediate expenditure of his own
family. All this, however, will not surprise the reader.

Nor did his general correspondence suffer much interruption; and,
as some relief after so many painful details, I shall close the
narrative of this anxious year by a few specimens of his
miscellaneous communications:--


                                  ABBOTSFORD, September 12, 1813.

MY DEAR MISS BAILLIE,--I have been a vile lazy correspondent, having
been strolling about the country, and indeed a little way into
England, for the greater part of July and August; in short, "aye
skipping here and there," like the Tanner of Tamworth's horse. Since I
returned, I have had a gracious offer of the laurel on the part of the
Prince Regent. You will not wonder that I have declined it, though
with every expression of gratitude which such an unexpected compliment
demanded. Indeed, it would be high imprudence in one having literary
reputation to maintain, to accept of an offer which obliged him to
produce a poetical exercise on a given theme twice a year; and
besides, as my loyalty to the royal family is very sincere, I would
not wish to have it thought mercenary. The public has done its part by
me very well, and so has Government: and I thought this little
literary provision ought to be bestowed on one who has made literature
his sole profession. If the Regent means to make it respectable, he
will abolish the foolish custom of the annual odes, which is a
drudgery no person of talent could ever willingly encounter--or come
clear off from, if he was so rash. And so, peace be with the laurel,

  "Profaned by Cibber and contemned by Gray."

I was for a fortnight at Drumlanrig, a grand old chateau, which has
descended, by the death of the late Duke of Queensberry, to the Duke
of Buccleuch. It is really a most magnificent pile, and when embosomed
amid the wide forest scenery, of which I have an infantine
recollection, must have been very romantic. But old Q. made wild
devastation among the noble trees, although some fine ones are still
left, and a quantity of young shoots are, in despite of the want of
every kind of attention, rushing up to supply the places of the
fathers of the forest from whose stems they are springing. It will now
I trust be in better hands, for the reparation of the castle goes hand
in hand with the rebuilding of all the cottages, in which an aged race
of pensioners of Duke Charles, and his pious wife,--"Kitty, blooming,
young and gay,"--have, during the last reign, been pining into
rheumatisms and agues, in neglected poverty.

All this is beautiful to witness: the indoor work does not please me
so well, though I am aware that, to those who are to inhabit an old
castle, it becomes often a matter of necessity to make alterations by
which its tone and character are changed for the worse. Thus a noble
gallery, which ran the whole length of the front, is converted into
bedrooms--very comfortable, indeed, but not quite so magnificent; and
as grim a dungeon as ever knave or honest man was confined in, is in
some danger of being humbled into a wine-cellar. It is almost
impossible to draw your breath, when you recollect that this, so many
feet under-ground, and totally bereft of air and light, was built for
the imprisonment of human beings, whether guilty, suspected, or merely
unfortunate. Certainly, if our frames are not so hardy, our hearts are
softer than those of our forefathers, although probably a few years of
domestic war, or feudal oppression, would bring us back to the same
case-hardening both in body and sentiment.

I meant to have gone to Rokeby, but was prevented by Mrs. Morritt
being unwell, which I very much regret, as I know few people that
deserve better health. I am very glad you have known them, and I pray
you to keep up the acquaintance in winter. I am glad to see by this
day's paper that our friend Terry has made a favorable impression on
his first appearance at Covent Garden--he has got a very good
engagement there for three years, at twelve guineas a week, which is a
handsome income.--This little place comes on as fast as can be
reasonably hoped; and the pinasters are all above the ground, but
cannot be planted out for twelve months. My kindest compliments--in
which Mrs. Scott always joins--attend Miss Agnes, the Doctor, and his
family. Ever, my dear friend, yours most faithfully,

                                                    WALTER SCOTT.


                                  ABBOTSFORD, 20th October, 1813.

DEAR TERRY,--You will easily believe that I was greatly pleased to
hear from you. I had already learned from The Courier (what I had
anticipated too strongly to doubt for one instant) your favorable
impression on the London public. I think nothing can be more judicious
in the managers than to exercise the various powers you possess, in
their various extents. A man of genius is apt to be limited to one
single style, and to become perforce a mannerist, merely because the
public is not so just to its own amusement as to give him an
opportunity of throwing himself into different lines; and doubtless
the exercise of our talents in one unvaried course, by degrees renders
them incapable of any other, as the over-use of any one limb of our
body gradually impoverishes the rest. I shall be anxious to hear that
you have played _Malvolio_, which is, I think, one of your
_coups-de-maître_, and in which envy itself cannot affect to trace an
imitation. That same charge of imitation, by the way, is one of the
surest scents upon which dunces are certain to open. Undoubtedly, if
the same character is well performed by two individuals, their acting
must bear a general resemblance--it could not be well performed by
both were it otherwise. But this general resemblance, which arises
from both following nature and their author, can as little be termed
imitation as the river in Wales can be identified with that of
Macedon. Never mind these dunderheads, but go on your own way, and
scorn to laugh on the right side of your mouth, to make a difference
from some ancient comedian who, in the same part, always laughed on
the left. Stick to the public--be uniform in your exertions to study
even those characters which have little in them, and to give a grace
which you cannot find in the author. Audiences are always grateful for
this--or rather--for gratitude is as much out of the question in the
theatre, as Bernadotte says to Boney it is amongst sovereigns--or
rather, the audience is gratified by receiving pleasure from a part
which they had no expectation would afford them any. It is in this
view that, had I been of your profession, and possessed talents, I
think I should have liked often those parts with which my brethren
quarrelled, and studied to give them an effect which their intrinsic
merit did not entitle them to. I have some thoughts of being in town
in spring (not resolutions by any means); and it will be an additional
motive to witness your success, and to find you as comfortably
established as your friends in Castle Street earnestly hope and trust
you will be.

The summer--an uncommon summer in beauty and serenity--has glided away
from us at Abbotsford, amidst our usual petty cares and petty
pleasures. The children's garden is in apple-pie order, our own
completely cropped and stocked, and all the trees flourishing like the
green bay of the Psalmist. I have been so busy about our domestic
arrangements, that I have not killed six hares this season. Besides, I
have got a cargo of old armor, sufficient to excite a suspicion that I
intend to mount a squadron of cuirassiers. I only want a place for my
armory; and, thank God, I can wait for that, these being no times for
building. And this brings me to the loss of poor Stark, with whom more
genius has died than is left behind among the collected universality
of Scottish architects. O Lord!--but what does it signify?--Earth was
born to bear, and man to pay (that is, lords, nabobs, Glasgow traders,
and those who have wherewithal)--so wherefore grumble at great castles
and cottages, with which the taste of the latter contrives to load the
back of Mother Terra?--I have no hobbyhorsical commissions at present,
unless if you meet the Voyages of Captain Richard, or Robert Falconer,
in one volume--"cow-heel, quoth Sancho"--I mark them for my own. Mrs.
Scott, Sophia, Anne, and the boys, unite in kind remembrances. Ever
yours truly,

                                                        W. SCOTT.


                                  ABBOTSFORD, 6th November, 1813.

MY DEAR LORD,--I was honored with your Lordship's letter of the 27th
September,[39] and have sincerely to regret that there is such a
prospect of your leaving Britain, without my achieving your personal
acquaintance. I heartily wish your Lordship had come down to Scotland
this season, for I have never seen a finer, and you might have renewed
all your old associations with Caledonia, and made such new ones as
were likely to suit you. I dare promise you would have liked me well
enough--for I have many properties of a Turk--never trouble myself
about futurity--am as lazy as the day is long--delight in collecting
silver-mounted pistols and ataghans, and go out of my own road for no
one--all which I take to be attributes of your good Moslem. Moreover,
I am somewhat an admirer of royalty, and in order to maintain this
part of my creed, I shall take care never to be connected with a
court, but stick to the _ignotum pro mirabili_.

The author of The Queen's Wake will be delighted with your
approbation. He is a wonderful creature for his opportunities, which
were far inferior to those of the generality of Scottish peasants.
Burns, for instance--(not that their extent of talents is to be
compared for an instant)--had an education not much worse than the
sons of many gentlemen in Scotland. But poor Hogg literally could
neither read nor write till a very late period of his life; and when
he first distinguished himself by his poetical talent, could neither
spell nor write grammar. When I first knew him, he used to send me his
poetry, and was both indignant and horrified when I pointed out to him
parallel passages in authors whom he had never read, but whom all the
world would have sworn he had copied. An evil fate has hitherto
attended him, and baffled every attempt that has been made to place
him in a road to independence. But I trust he may be more fortunate in

I have not yet seen Southey in the Gazette as Laureate. He is a real
poet, such as we read of in former times, with every atom of his soul
and every moment of his time dedicated to literary pursuits, in which
he differs from almost all those who have divided public attention
with him. Your Lordship's habits of society, for example, and my own
professional and official avocations, must necessarily connect us much
more with our respective classes in the usual routine of pleasure or
business, than if we had not any other employment than _vacare musis_.
But Southey's ideas are all poetical, and his whole soul dedicated to
the pursuit of literature. In this respect, as well as in many others,
he is a most striking and interesting character.

I am very much interested in all that concerns your Giaour, which is
universally approved of among our mountains. I have heard no objection
except by one or two geniuses, who run over poetry as a cat does over
a harpsichord, and they affect to complain of obscurity. On the
contrary, I hold every real lover of the art is obliged to you for
condensing the narrative, by giving us only those striking scenes
which you have shown to be so susceptible of poetic ornament, and
leaving to imagination the says I's and says he's, and all the minutiæ
of detail which might be proper in giving evidence before a court of
justice. The truth is, I think poetry is most striking when the mirror
can be held up to the reader, and the same kept constantly before his
eyes; it requires most uncommon powers to support a direct and
downright narration; nor can I remember many instances of its being
successfully maintained even by our greatest bards.

As to those who have done me the honor to take my rhapsodies for their
model, I can only say they have exemplified the ancient adage, "One
fool makes many;" nor do I think I have yet had much reason to suppose
I have given rise to anything of distinguished merit. The worst is, it
draws on me letters and commendatory verses, to which my sad and sober
thanks in humble prose are deemed a most unmeet and ungracious reply.
Of this sort of plague your Lordship must ere now have had more than
your share, but I think you can hardly have met with so original a
request as concluded the letter of a bard I this morning received, who
limited his demands to being placed in his due station on
Parnassus--_and_ invested with a post in the Edinburgh Custom House.

What an awakening of dry bones seems to be taking place on the
Continent! I could as soon have believed in the resurrection of the
Romans as in that of the Prussians--yet it seems a real and active
renovation of national spirit. It will certainly be strange enough if
that tremendous pitcher, which has travelled to so many fountains,
should be at length broken on the banks of the Saale; but from the
highest to the lowest we are the fools of fortune. Your Lordship will
probably recollect where the Oriental tale occurs, of a Sultan who
consulted Solomon on the proper inscription for a signet-ring,
requiring that the maxim which it conveyed should be at once proper
for moderating the presumption of prosperity and tempering the
pressure of adversity. The apophthegm supplied by the Jewish sage was,
I think, admirably adapted for both purposes, being comprehended in
the words, "And this also shall pass away."

When your Lordship sees Rogers, will you remember me kindly to him? I
hope to be in London next spring, and renew my acquaintance with my
friends there. It will be an additional motive if I could flatter
myself that your Lordship's stay in the country will permit me the
pleasure of waiting upon you. I am, with much respect and regard, your
Lordship's truly honored and obliged humble servant,

                                                    WALTER SCOTT.

I go to Edinburgh next week, _multum gemens_.


                                  EDINBURGH, 10th December, 1813.

Many thanks, my dear friend, for your kind token of remembrance, which
I yesterday received. I ought to blush, if I had grace enough left, at
my long and ungenerous silence: but what shall I say? The habit of
procrastination, which had always more or less a dominion over me,
does not relax its sway as I grow older and less willing to take up
the pen. I have not written to dear Ellis this age,--yet there is not
a day that I do not think of you and him, and one or two other friends
in your southern land. I am very glad the whiskey came safe: do not
stint so laudable an admiration for the liquor of Caledonia, for I
have plenty of right good and sound Highland Ferintosh, and I can
always find an opportunity of sending you up a bottle.

We are here almost mad with the redemption of Holland, which has an
instant and gratifying effect on the trade of Leith, and indeed all
along the east coast of Scotland. About £100,000 worth of various
commodities, which had been dormant in cellars and warehouses, was
sold the first day the news arrived, and Orange ribbons and _Orange
Boven_ was the order of the day among all ranks. It is a most
miraculous revivification which it has been our fate to witness.
Though of a tolerably sanguine temper, I had fairly adjourned all
hopes and expectations of the kind till another generation: the same
power, however, that opened the windows of heaven and the fountains of
the great deep has been pleased to close them, and to cause his wind
to blow upon the face of the waters, so that we may look out from the
ark of our preservation, and behold the reappearance of the mountain
crests, and old, beloved, and well-known land-marks, which we had
deemed swallowed up forever in the abyss: the dove with the olive
branch would complete the simile, but of that I see little hope.
Buonaparte is that desperate gambler, who will not rise while he has a
stake left; and, indeed, to be King of France would be a poor
pettifogging enterprise, after having been almost Emperor of the
World. I think he will drive things on, till the fickle and impatient
people over whom he rules get tired of him and shake him out of the
saddle. Some circumstances seem to intimate his having become jealous
of the Senate; and indeed anything like a representative body, however
imperfectly constructed, becomes dangerous to a tottering tyranny. The
sword displayed on both frontiers may, like that brandished across the
road of Balaam, terrify even dumb and irrational subjection into
utterance;--but enough of politics, though now a more cheerful subject
than they have been for many years past.

I have had a strong temptation to go to the Continent this Christmas;
and should certainly have done so, had I been sure of getting from
Amsterdam to Frankfort, where, as I know Lord Aberdeen and Lord
Cathcart, I might expect a welcome. But notwithstanding my earnest
desire to see the allied armies cross the Rhine, which I suppose must
be one of the grandest military spectacles in the world, I should like
to know that the roads were tolerably secure, and the means of
getting forward attainable. In spring, however, if no unfortunate
change takes place, I trust to visit the camp of the allies, and see
all the pomp and power and circumstance of war, which I have so often
imagined, and sometimes attempted to embody in verse.--Johnnie
Richardson is a good, honorable, kind-hearted little fellow as lives
in the world, with a pretty taste for poetry, which he has wisely kept
under subjection to the occupation of drawing briefs and revising
conveyances. It is a great good fortune to him to be in your
neighborhood, as he is an idolater of genius, and where could he offer
up his worship so justly? And I am sure you will like him, for he is
really "officious, innocent, sincere."[40] Terry, I hope, will get on
well; he is industrious, and zealous for the honor of his art.
Ventidius must have been an excellent part for him, hovering between
tragedy and comedy, which is precisely what will suit him. We have a
woeful want of him here, both in public and private, for he was one of
the most easy and quiet chimney-corner companions that I have had for
these two or three years past.

I am very glad if anything I have written to you could give pleasure
to Miss Edgeworth, though I am sure it will fall very short of the
respect which I have for her brilliant talents. I always write to you
_à la volée_, and trust implicitly to your kindness and judgment upon
all occasions where you may choose to communicate any part of my
letters.[41] As to the taxing men, I must battle them as I can: they
are worse than the great Emathian conqueror, who

                            "bade spare
  The house of Pindarus, when temple and tower
  Went to the ground."[42]

Your pinasters are coming up gallantly in the nursery-bed at
Abbotsford. I trust to pay the whole establishment a Christmas visit,
which will be, as Robinson Crusoe says of his glass of rum, "to mine
exceeding refreshment." All Edinburgh have been on tiptoe to see
Madame de Staël, but she is now not likely to honor us with a visit,
at which I cannot prevail on myself to be very sorry; for as I tired
of some of her works, I am afraid I should disgrace my taste by tiring
of the authoress too. All my little people are very well, learning,
with great pain and diligence, much which they will have forgotten
altogether, or nearly so, in the course of twelve years hence: but the
habit of learning is something in itself, even when the lessons are

I must not omit to tell you that a friend of mine, with whom that
metal is more plenty than with me, has given me some gold mohurs to be
converted into a ring for enchasing King Charles's hair; but this is
not to be done until I get to London, and get a very handsome pattern.
Ever, most truly and sincerely, yours,

                                                        W. SCOTT.

The last sentence of this letter refers to a lock of the hair of
Charles I., which, at Dr. Baillie's request, Sir Henry Halford had
transmitted to Scott when the royal martyr's remains were discovered
at Windsor, in April, 1813.[43] Sir John Malcolm had given him some
Indian coins to supply virgin gold for the setting of this relic;
and for some years he constantly wore the ring, which is a massive
and beautiful one, with the word REMEMBER surrounding it in highly
relieved black-letter.

The poet's allusion to "taxing men" may require another word of
explanation. To add to his troubles during this autumn of 1813, a
demand was made on him by the commissioners of the income-tax, to
return in one of their schedules an account of the profits of his
literary exertions during the last three years. He demurred to this,
and took the opinion of high authorities in Scotland, who confirmed
him in his impression that the claim was beyond the statute. The
grounds of his resistance are thus briefly stated in one of his
letters to his legal friend in London:--


MY DEAR RICHARDSON,--I have owed you a letter this long time, but
perhaps my debt might not yet be discharged, had I not a little matter
of business to trouble you with. I wish you to lay before either the
King's counsel, or Sir Samuel Romilly and any other you may approve,
the point whether a copyright being sold for the term during which
Queen Anne's act warranted the property to the author, the price is
liable in payment of the property-tax. I contend it is not so liable,
for the following reasons: 1st, It is a patent right, expected to
produce an annual, or at least an incidental profit, during the
currency of many years; and surely it was never contended that if a
man sold a theatrical patent, or a patent for machinery, property-tax
should be levied in the first place on the full price as paid to the
seller, and then on the profits as purchased by the buyer. I am not
very expert at figures, but I think it clear that a double taxation
takes place. 2d, It should be considered that a book may be the work
not of one year, but of a man's whole life; and as it has been found,
in a late case of the Duke of Gordon, that a fall of timber was not
subject to property-tax because it comprehended the produce of thirty
years, it seems at least equally fair that mental exertions should not
be subjected to a harder principle of measurement. 3d, The demand is,
so far as I can learn, totally new and unheard of. 4th, Supposing that
I died and left my manuscripts to be sold publicly along with the rest
of my library, is there any ground for taxing what might be received
for the written book, any more than any rare printed book, which a
speculative bookseller might purchase with a view to republication?
You will know whether any of these things ought to be suggested in the
brief. David Hume, and every lawyer here whom I have spoken to,
consider the demand as illegal. Believe me truly yours,

                                                    WALTER SCOTT.

Mr. Richardson having prepared a case, obtained upon it the opinions
of Mr. Alexander (afterwards Sir William Alexander and Chief Baron
of the Exchequer) and of the late Sir Samuel Romilly. These eminent
lawyers agreed in the view of their Scotch brethren; and after a
tedious correspondence, the Lords of the Treasury at last decided
that the Income-Tax Commissioners should abandon their claim upon
the produce of literary labor. I have thought it worth while to
preserve some record of this decision, and of the authorities on
which it rested, in case such a demand should ever be renewed

In the beginning of December, the Town Council of Edinburgh resolved
to send a deputation to congratulate the Prince Regent on the
prosperous course of public events, and they invited Scott to draw
up their address, which, on its being transmitted for previous
inspection to Mr. William Dundas, then Member for the City, and
through him shown privately to the Regent, was acknowledged to the
penman, by his Royal Highness's command, as "the most elegant
congratulation a sovereign ever received, or a subject offered."[44]
The Lord Provost of Edinburgh presented it accordingly at the levee
of the 10th, and it was received most graciously. On returning to
the north, the Magistrates expressed their sense of Scott's services
on this occasion by presenting him with the freedom of his native
city, and also with a piece of plate,--which the reader will find
alluded to, among other matters of more consequence, in a letter to
be quoted presently.

At this time Scott further expressed his patriotic exultation in the
rescue of Europe, by two songs for the anniversary of the death of
Pitt; one of which has ever since, I believe, been chanted at that

  "O dread was the time and more dreadful the omen,
  When the brave on Marengo lay slaughter'd in vain," etc.[45]

Footnotes of the Chapter XXVI.

[23: Mr. Hunter died in March, 1812.]

[24: "These and after purchases of books from the stock of
J. Ballantyne and Co. were resold to the trade by Constable's firm,
at less than one half and one third of the prices at which they were
thus obtained."--_Note from Mr. R. Cadell._]

[25: Dr. Brewster's edition of Ferguson's _Astronomy_, 2
vols. 8vo, with plates, 4to, Edin. 1811. 36_s_.]

[26: Dr. Singers's _General View of the County of
Dumfries_, 8vo, Edin. 1812. 18_s_.]

[27: A trade sale of Messrs. Cadell and Davies in the

[28: Since this work was first published, I have been
compelled to examine very minutely the details of Scott's connection
with the Ballantynes, and one result is, that both James and John
had trespassed so largely, for their private purposes, on the funds
of the Companies, that, Scott being, as their letters distinctly
state, the only "monied partner," and his over-advances of capital
having been very extensive, any inquiry on their part as to his
uncommercial expenditure must have been entirely out of the
question. To avoid misrepresentation, however, I leave my text as it

[29: _Merchant of Venice_, Act II. Scene 2.]

[30: The court of offices, built on the haugh at Abbotsford
in 1812, included a house for the faithful coachman, Peter
Mathieson. One of Scott's Cantabrigian friends, Mr. W. S. Rose, gave
the whole pile soon afterwards the name, which it retained to the
end, of _Peter-House_. The loft at Peter-House continued to be
occupied by occasional bachelor guests until the existing mansion
was completed.]

[31: Mrs. Thomas Scott had met Burns frequently in early
life at Dumfries. Her brother, the late Mr. David MacCulloch, was a
great favorite with the poet, and the best singer of his songs that
I ever heard.]

[32: John Ballantyne had embarked no capital--not a shilling--in the
business; and was bound by the contract to limit himself to an allowance
of £300 a year, in consideration of his _management_, until there should
be an overplus of profits!--(1839.)]

[33: He probably alludes to the final settlement of
accounts with the Marquis of Abercorn.]

[34: The Royal Librarian had forwarded to Scott
presentation copies of his successive publications--_The Progress of
Maritime Discovery_--Falconer's _Shipwreck, with a Life of the
Author_--_Naufragia_--_A Life of Nelson_, in two quarto volumes,
etc., etc., etc.]

[35: Poor Gay--"In wit a man, simplicity a child"--was insulted, on the
accession of George II., by the offer of a gentleman-ushership to one of
the royal infants. His prose and verse largely celebrate his obligations
to Charles, third Duke of Queensberry, and the charming Lady Catharine
Hyde, his Duchess--under whose roof the poet spent the latter years of
his life.]

[36: See the Preface to the third volume of the late
Collective Edition of Mr. Southey's _Poems_, p. xii., where he
corrects a trivial error I had fallen into in the first edition of
these Memoirs, and adds, "Sir Walter's conduct was, as it always
was, characteristically generous, and in the highest degree

[37: Garrick's _Bon Ton, or High Life Above Stairs_.]

[38: _Twelfth Night_, Act V. Scene 1.]

[39: The letter in question has not been preserved in
Scott's collection of correspondence. This leaves some allusions in
the answer obscure.]

[40: Scott's old friend, Mr. John Richardson, had shortly
before this time taken a house in Miss Baillie's neighborhood, on
Hampstead Heath.]

[41: Miss Baillie had apologized to him for having sent an
extract of one of his letters to her friend at Edgeworthstown.]

[42: Milton, _Sonnet No. VIII._ [_When the Assault was
intended to the City._]]

[43: [On May 3, Scott had written to his daughter, that
this hair was light brown, and later, writing to Joanna Baillie, he
says, "I did not think Charles's hair had been quite so light; that
of his father, and I believe of all the Stuarts till Charles II.,
was reddish." Of the king, he goes on to say: "Tory, as I am, my
heart only goes with King Charles in his struggles and distresses,
for the fore part of his reign was a series of misconduct; however,
if he sow'd the wind, God knows he reap'd the whirlwind.... Sound
therefore be the sleep, and henceforward undisturbed the ashes, of
this unhappy prince.... His attachment to a particular form of
worship was in him conscience, for he adhered to the Church of
England ... when by giving up that favorite point he might have
secured his reëstablishment; and in that sense he may be justly
considered as a martyr, though his early political errors blemish
his character as King of England."--_Familiar Letters_, vol. i. p.

[44: Letter from the Right Hon. W. Dundas, dated 6th
December, 1813.]

[45: See Scott's _Poetical Works_, vol. xi. p. 309, Edition
1834 [Cambridge Edition, p. 409].]




I have to open the year 1814 with a melancholy story. Mention has
been made, more than once, of Henry Weber, a poor German scholar,
who escaping to this country in 1804, from misfortunes in his own,
excited Scott's compassion, and was thenceforth furnished, through
his means, with literary employment of various sorts. Weber was a
man of considerable learning; but Scott, as was his custom, appears
to have formed an exaggerated notion of his capacity, and certainly
countenanced him, to his own severe cost, in several most
unfortunate undertakings. When not engaged on things of a more
ambitious character, he had acted for ten years as his protector's
amanuensis, and when the family were in Edinburgh, he very often
dined with them. There was something very interesting in his
appearance and manners: he had a fair, open countenance, in which
the honesty and the enthusiasm of his nation were alike visible; his
demeanor was gentle and modest; and he had not only a stock of
curious antiquarian knowledge, but the reminiscences, which he
detailed with amusing simplicity, of an early life chequered with
many strange-enough adventures. He was, in short, much a favorite
with Scott and all the household; and was invited to dine with
them so frequently, chiefly because his friend was aware that he had
an unhappy propensity to drinking, and was anxious to keep him away
from places where he might have been more likely to indulge it. This
vice, however, had been growing on him; and of late Scott had found
it necessary to make some rather severe remonstrances about habits
which were at once injuring his health, and interrupting his
literary industry.

[Illustration: J. B. S. MORRITT

_From the painting by Sir M. A. Shee_]

They had, however, parted kindly when Scott left Edinburgh at
Christmas, 1813,--and the day after his return, Weber attended him
as usual in his library, being employed in transcribing extracts
during several hours, while his friend, seated over against him,
continued working at the Life of Swift. The light beginning to fail,
Scott threw himself back in his chair, and was about to ring for
candles, when he observed the German's eyes fixed upon him with an
unusual solemnity of expression. "Weber," said he, "what's the
matter with you?" "Mr. Scott," said Weber, rising, "you have long
insulted me, and I can bear it no longer. I have brought a pair of
pistols with me, and must insist on your taking one of them
instantly;" and with that he produced the weapons, which had been
deposited under his chair, and laid one of them on Scott's
manuscript. "You are mistaken, I think," said Scott, "in your way of
setting about this affair--but no matter. It can, however, be no
part of your object to annoy Mrs. Scott and the children; therefore,
if you please, we will put the pistols into the drawer till after
dinner, and then arrange to go out together like gentlemen." Weber
answered with equal coolness, "I believe that will be better," and
laid the second pistol also on the table. Scott locked them both in
his desk, and said, "I am glad you have felt the propriety of what I
suggested--let me only request further, that nothing may occur while
we are at dinner to give my wife any suspicion of what has been
passing." Weber again assented, and Scott withdrew to his
dressing-room, from which he immediately despatched a message to one
of Weber's intimate companions,--and then dinner was served, and
Weber joined the family circle as usual. He conducted himself with
perfect composure, and everything seemed to go on in the ordinary
way, until whiskey and hot water being produced, Scott, instead of
inviting his guest to help himself, mixed two moderate tumblers of
toddy, and handed one of them to Weber, who, upon that, started up
with a furious countenance, but instantly sat down again, and when
Mrs. Scott expressed her fear that he was ill, answered placidly
that he was liable to spasms, but that the pain was gone. He then
took the glass, eagerly gulped down its contents, and pushed it back
to Scott. At this moment the friend who had been sent for made his
appearance, and Weber, on seeing him enter the room, rushed past him
and out of the house, without stopping to put on his hat. The
friend, who pursued instantly, came up with him at the end of the
street, and did all he could to soothe his agitation, but in vain.
The same evening he was obliged to be put into a strait-waistcoat;
and though in a few days he exhibited such symptoms of recovery that
he was allowed to go by himself to pay a visit in the north of
England, he there soon relapsed, and continued ever afterwards a
hopeless lunatic, being supported to the end of his life, in June,
1818, at Scott's expense, in an asylum at York.

The reader will now appreciate the gentle delicacy of the following


                                    EDINBURGH, 7th January, 1814.

Many happy New Years to you and Mrs. Morritt.

MY DEAR MORRITT,--I have postponed writing a long while, in hopes to
send you the Life of Swift. But I have been delayed by an odd
accident. Poor Weber, whom you may have heard me mention as a sort of
grinder of mine, who assisted me in various ways, has fallen into a
melancholy state. His habits, like those of most German students, were
always too convivial--this, of course, I guarded against while he was
in my house, which was always once a week at least; but unfortunately
he undertook a long walk through the Highlands of upwards of 2000
miles, and, I suppose, took potations pottle deep to support him
through the fatigue. His mind became accordingly quite unsettled, and
after some strange behavior here, he was fortunately prevailed upon to
go to **** who resides in Yorkshire. It is not unlikely, from
something that dropped from him, that he may take it into his head to
call at Rokeby, in which case you must parry any visit, upon the score
of Mrs. Morritt's health. If he were what he used to be, you would be
much pleased with him; for besides a very extensive general
acquaintance with literature, he was particularly deep in our old
dramatic lore, a good modern linguist, a tolerable draughtsman and
antiquary, and a most excellent hydrographer. I have not the least
doubt that if he submits to the proper regimen of abstinence and
moderate exercise, he will be quite well in a few weeks or days--if
not, it is miserable to think what may happen. The being suddenly
deprived of his services in this melancholy way, has flung me back at
least a month with Swift, and left me no time to write to my friends,
for all my memoranda, etc., were in his hands, and had to be
new-modelled, etc., etc.

Our glorious prospects on the Continent called forth the
congratulations of the City of Edinburgh among others. The Magistrates
asked me to draw their address, which was presented by the Lord
Provost in person, who happens to be a gentleman of birth and
fortune.[46] The Prince said some very handsome things respecting the
address, with which the Magistrates were so much elated, that they
have done the genteel thing (as Winifred Jenkins says) by their
literary adviser, and presented me with the freedom of the city, and a
handsome piece of plate. I got the freedom at the same time with Lord
Dalhousie and Sir Thomas Graham, and the Provost gave a very brilliant
entertainment. About 150 gentlemen dined at his own house, all as well
served as if there had been a dozen. So if one strikes a cuff on the
one side from ill-will, there is a pat on the other from kindness, and
the shuttlecock is kept flying. To poor Charlotte's great horror, I
chose my plate in the form of an old English tankard, an utensil for
which I have a particular respect, especially when charged with good
ale, cup, or any of these potables. I hope you will soon see mine.[47]

Your little friends, Sophia and Walter, were at a magnificent party on
Twelfth Night at Dalkeith, where the Duke and Duchess entertained all
Edinburgh. I think they have dreamed of nothing since but Aladdin's
lamp and the palace of Haroun Al-Raschid. I am uncertain what to do
this spring. I would fain go on the Continent for three or four weeks,
if it be then safe for non-combatants. If not, we will have a merry
meeting in London, and, like Master Silence,

  "Eat, drink, and make good cheer,
  And praise heaven for the merry year."[48]

I have much to say about Triermain. The fourth edition is at press.
The Empress Dowager of Russia has expressed such an interest in it,
that it will be inscribed to her, in some doggerel sonnet or other, by
the unknown author. This is funny enough.--Love a thousand times to
dear Mrs. Morritt, who, I trust, keeps pretty well. Pray write soon--a
modest request from

                                                    WALTER SCOTT.

The last of Weber's literary productions were the analyses of the
Old German Poems of the _Helden Buch_, and the _Nibelungen Lied_,
which appeared in a massive quarto, entitled Illustrations of
Northern Antiquities, published in the summer of 1814, by his and
Scott's friend, Mr. Robert Jameson. Scott avowedly contributed to
this collection an account of the Eyrbiggia Saga, which has since
been included in his Prose Miscellanies (Vol. V., edition 1834); but
any one who examines the share of the work which goes under Weber's
name will see that Scott had a considerable hand in that also. The
rhymed versions from the Nibelungen Lied came, I can have no doubt,
from his pen; but he never reclaimed these, or any other similar
benefactions, of which I have traced not a few; nor, highly curious
and even beautiful as many of them are, could they be intelligible,
if separated from the prose narrative on which Weber embroidered
them, in imitation of the style of Ellis's Specimens of Metrical

The following letters, on the first abdication of Napoleon, are too
characteristic to be omitted here. I need not remind the reader how
greatly Scott had calmed his opinions, and softened his feelings,
respecting the career and fate of the most extraordinary man of our
age, before he undertook to write his history.


                                     ABBOTSFORD, 30th April, 1814

"Joy--joy in London now!"--and in Edinburgh, moreover, my dear
Morritt; for never did you or I see, and never again shall we see,
according to all human prospects, a consummation so truly glorious, as
now bids fair to conclude this long and eventful war. It is startling
to think that, but for the preternatural presumption and hardness of
heart displayed by the arch-enemy of mankind, we should have had a
hollow and ominous truce with him, instead of a glorious and stable
peace with the country over which he tyrannized, and its lawful ruler.
But Providence had its own wise purposes to answer--and such was the
deference of France to the ruling power--so devoutly did they worship
the Devil for possession of his burning throne, that, it may be,
nothing short of his rejection of every fair and advantageous offer of
peace could have driven them to those acts of resistance which
remembrance of former convulsions had rendered so fearful to them.
Thank God! it is done at last: and--although I rather grudge him even
the mouthful of air which he may draw in the Isle of Elba--yet I
question whether the moral lesson would have been completed either by
his perishing in battle, or being torn to pieces (which I should
greatly have preferred), like the De Witts, by an infuriated crowd of
conscripts and their parents. Good God! with what strange feelings
must that man retire from the most unbounded authority ever vested in
the hands of one man, to the seclusion of privacy and restraint! We
have never heard of one good action which he did, at least for which
there was not some selfish or political reason; and the train of
slaughter, pestilence, and famine and fire, which his ambition has
occasioned, would have outweighed five hundredfold the private virtues
of a Titus. These are comfortable reflections to carry with one to
privacy. If he writes his own history, as he proposes, we may gain
something; but he must send it here to be printed. Nothing less than a
neck-or-nothing London bookseller, like John Dunton of yore, will
venture to commit to the press his strange details uncastrated. I
doubt if he has _stamina_ to undertake such a labor; and yet, in
youth, as I know from the brothers of Lauriston, who were his
school-companions, Buonaparte's habits were distinctly and strongly
literary. Spain, the Continental System, and the invasion of Russia he
may record as his three leading blunders--an awful lesson to
sovereigns that morality is not so indifferent to politics as
Machiavelians will assert. _Res nolunt diu male administrari._ Why can
we not meet to talk over these matters over a glass of claret? and
when shall that be! Not this spring, I fear, for time wears fast away,
and I have remained here nailed among my future oaks, which I measure
daily with a foot-rule. Those which were planted two years ago begin
to look very gayly, and a venerable plantation of four years old looks
as _bobbish_ as yours at the dairy by Greta side. Besides, I am
arranging this cottage a little more conveniently, to put off the
plague and expense of building another year; and I assure you, I
expect to spare Mrs. Morritt and you a chamber in the wall, with a
dressing-room and everything handsome about you. You will not
stipulate, of course, for many square feet.--You would be surprised to
hear how the Continent is awakening from its iron sleep. The utmost
eagerness seems to prevail about English literature. I have had
several voluntary epistles from different parts of Germany, from men
of letters, who are eager to know what we have been doing, while they
were compelled to play at blind man's buff with the _ci-devant
Empereur_. The feeling of the French officers, of whom we have many in
our vicinity, is very curious, and yet natural.[49] Many of them,
companions of Buonaparte's victories, and who hitherto have marched
with him from conquest to conquest, disbelieve the change entirely.
This is all very stupid to write to you, who are in the centre of
these wonders; but what else can I say, unless I should send you the
measure of the future fathers of the forest? Mrs. Scott is with me
here--the children in Edinburgh. Our kindest love attends Mrs.
Morritt. I hope to hear soon that her health continues to gain ground.

I have a letter from Southey, in high spirits on the glorious news.
What a pity this last battle[50] was fought. But I am glad the rascals
were beaten once more.

Ever yours,

                                                    WALTER SCOTT.


                                      EDINBURGH, 17th June, 1814.

MY DEAR SOUTHEY,--I suspended writing to thank you for the Carmen
Triumphale--(a happy omen of what you can do to immortalize our public
story)--until the feverish mood of expectation and anxiety should be
over. And then, as you truly say, there followed a stunning sort of
listless astonishment and complication of feeling, which, if it did
not lessen enjoyment, confused and confounded one's sense of it. I
remember the first time I happened to see a launch, I was neither so
much struck with the descent of the vessel, nor with its majestic
sweep to its moorings, as with the blank which was suddenly made from
the withdrawing so large an object, and the prospect which was at once
opened to the opposite side of the dock crowded with spectators.
Buonaparte's fall strikes me something in the same way: the huge bulk
of his power, against which a thousand arms were hammering, was
obviously to sink when its main props were struck away--and yet
now--when it has disappeared--the vacancy which it leaves in our minds
and attention marks its huge and preponderating importance more
strongly than even its presence. Yet I so devoutly expected the
termination, that in discussing the matter with Major Philips, who
seemed to partake of the doubts which prevailed during the feverish
period preceding the capture of Paris, when he was expressing his
apprehensions that the capital of France would be defended to the
last, I hazarded a prophecy that a battle would be fought on the
heights of Montmartre--(no great sagacity, since it was the point
where Marlborough proposed to attack, and for which Saxe projected a
scheme of defence)--and that if the allies were successful, which I
little doubted, the city would surrender, and the Senate proclaim the
dethronement of Buonaparte. But I never thought nor imagined that he
would have _given in_ as he has done. I always considered him as
possessing the genius and talents of an Eastern conqueror; and
although I never supposed that he possessed, allowing for some
difference of education, the liberality of conduct and political views
which were sometimes exhibited by old Hyder Ally, yet I did think he
might have shown the same resolved and dogged spirit of resolution
which induced Tippoo Saib to die manfully upon the breach of his
capital city with his sabre clenched in his hand. But this is a poor
devil, and cannot play the tyrant so rarely as Bottom the Weaver
proposed to do. I think it is Strap in Roderick Random, who, seeing a
highwayman that had lately robbed him, disarmed and bound, fairly
offers to box him for a shilling. One has really the same feeling with
respect to Buonaparte, though if he go out of life after all in the
usual manner, it will be the strongest proof of his own
insignificance, and the liberality of the age we live in. Were I a son
of Palm or Hoffer, I should be tempted to take a long shot at him in
his retreat to Elba. As for coaxing the French by restoring all our
conquests, it would be driving generosity into extravagance: most of
them have been colonized with British subjects, and improved by
British capital; and surely we owe no more to the French nation than
any well-meaning individual might owe to a madman, whom--at the
expense of a hard struggle, black eyes, and bruises--he has at length
overpowered, knocked down, and by the wholesome discipline of a bull's
pizzle and strait-jacket, brought to the handsome enjoyment of his
senses. I think with you, what we return to them should be well paid
for; and they should have no Pondicherry to be a nest of smugglers,
nor Mauritius to nurse a hornet-swarm of privateers. In short, draw
teeth, and pare claws, and leave them to fatten themselves in peace
and quiet, when they are deprived of the means of indulging their
restless spirit of enterprise.

--The above was written at Abbotsford last month, but left in my
portfolio there till my return some days ago; and now, when I look
over what I have written, I am confirmed in my opinion that we have
given the rascals too good an opportunity to boast that they have got
well off. An intimate friend of mine,[51] just returned from a long
captivity in France, witnessed the entry of the King, guarded by the
Imperial Guards, whose countenances betokened the most sullen and
ferocious discontent. The mob, and especially the women, pelted them
for refusing to cry, "Vive le Roi." If Louis is well advised, he will
get rid of these fellows gradually, but as soon as possible. "Joy, joy
in London now!" What a scene has been going on there! I think you may
see the Czar appear on the top of one of your stages one morning. He
is a fine fellow, and has fought the good fight. Yours affectionately,

                                                    WALTER SCOTT.

On the 1st of July, 1814, Scott's Life and Edition of Swift, in
nineteen volumes 8vo, at length issued from the press. This
adventure, undertaken by Constable in 1808, had been proceeded in
during all the variety of their personal relations, and now came
forth when author and publisher felt more warmly towards each other
than perhaps they had ever before done. The impression was of 1250
copies; and a reprint of similar extent was called for in 1824. The
Life of Swift has subsequently been included in the author's
Miscellanies, and has obtained a very wide circulation.

By his industrious inquiries, in which, as the preface gratefully
acknowledges, he found many zealous assistants, especially among the
Irish literati,[52] Scott added to this edition many admirable
pieces, both in prose and verse, which had never before been
printed, and still more which had escaped notice amidst old bundles
of pamphlets and broadsides. To the illustration of these and of all
the better known writings of the Dean, he brought the same
qualifications which had, by general consent, distinguished his
Dryden, "uniting," as the Edinburgh Review expresses it, "to the
minute knowledge and patient research of the Malones and Chalmerses,
a vigor of judgment and a vivacity of style to which they had no
pretensions." His biographical narrative, introductory essays, and
notes on Swift, show, indeed, an intimacy of acquaintance with the
obscurest details of the political, social, and literary history of
the period of Queen Anne, which it is impossible to consider without
feeling a lively regret that he never accomplished a long-cherished
purpose of preparing a Life and Edition of Pope on a similar scale.
It has been specially unfortunate for that "true deacon of the
craft," as Scott often called Pope, that first Goldsmith, and then
Scott, should have taken up, only to abandon it, the project of
writing his life and editing his works.

The Edinburgh Reviewer thus characterizes Scott's Memoir of the
Dean of St. Patrick's:--

"It is not everywhere extremely well written, in a literary point of
view, but it is drawn up in substance with great intelligence,
liberality, and good feeling. It is quite fair and moderate in
politics; and perhaps rather too indulgent and tender towards
individuals of all descriptions--more full, at least, of kindness and
veneration for genius and social virtue, than of indignation at
baseness and profligacy. Altogether, it is not much like the
production of a mere man of letters, or a fastidious speculator in
sentiment and morality; but exhibits throughout, and in a very
pleasing form, the good sense and large toleration of a man of the
world, with much of that generous allowance for the

  'Fears of the brave and follies of the wise,'

which genius too often requires, and should therefore always be most
forward to show. It is impossible, however, to avoid noticing that Mr.
Scott is by far too favorable to the personal character of his author,
whom we think it would really be injurious to the cause of morality to
allow to pass either as a very dignified or a very amiable person. The
truth is, we think, that he was extremely ambitious, arrogant, and
selfish; of a morose, vindictive, and haughty temper; and though
capable of a sort of patronizing generosity towards his dependents,
and of some attachment towards those who had long known and flattered
him, his general demeanor, both in public and private life, appears to
have been far from exemplary; destitute of temper and magnanimity, and
we will add, of principle, in the former; and in the latter, of
tenderness, fidelity, or compassion."--_Edinburgh Review_, vol. xvii.
p. 9.

I have no desire to break a lance in this place in defence of the
personal character of Swift. It does not appear to me that he stands
at all distinguished among politicians (least of all, among the
politicians of his time) for laxity of principle; nor can I consent
to charge his private demeanor with the absence either of
tenderness, or fidelity, or compassion. But who ever dreamed--most
assuredly not Scott--of holding up the Dean of St. Patrick's as on
the whole an "exemplary character"? The biographer felt, whatever
his critic may have thought on the subject, that a vein of morbid
humor ran through Swift's whole existence, both mental and physical,
from the beginning. "He early adopted," says Scott, "the custom of
observing his birthday, as a term not of joy but of sorrow, and of
reading, when it annually recurred, the striking passage of
Scripture in which Job laments and execrates the day upon which it
was said in his father's house _that a man-child was born_;" and I
should have expected that any man who had considered the black close
of the career thus early clouded, and read the entry of Swift's
diary on the funeral of Stella, his epitaph on himself, and the
testament by which he disposed of his fortune, would have been
willing, like Scott, to dwell on the splendor of his immortal
genius, and the many traits of manly generosity "which he
unquestionably exhibited," rather than on the faults and foibles of
nameless and inscrutable disease, which tormented and embittered the
far greater part of his earthly being. What the critic says of the
practical and businesslike style of Scott's biography, appears very
just--and I think the circumstance eminently characteristic; nor, on
the whole, could his edition, as an edition, have been better dealt
with than in the Essay which I have quoted. It was, by the way,
written by Mr. Jeffrey, at Constable's particular request. "It was,
I think, the first time I ever asked such a thing of him," the
bookseller said to me; "and I assure you the result was no
encouragement to repeat such petitions." Mr. Jeffrey attacked
Swift's whole character at great length, and with consummate
dexterity; and, in Constable's opinion, his article threw such a
cloud on the Dean, as materially checked, for a time, the popularity
of his writings. Admirable as the paper is, in point of ability, I
think Mr. Constable may have considerably exaggerated its effects;
but in those days it must have been difficult for him to form an
impartial opinion upon such a question; for, as Johnson said of
Cave, that "he could not spit over his window without thinking of
The Gentleman's Magazine," I believe Constable allowed nothing to
interrupt his paternal pride in the concerns of his Review, until
the Waverley Novels supplied him with another periodical publication
still more important to his fortunes.

And this consummation was not long delayed: a considerable addition
having by that time been made to the original fragment, there
appeared in The Scots Magazine, for February 1, 1814, an
announcement, that "Waverley; or, 'Tis Sixty Years Since, a novel,
in 3 vols., 12mo," would be published in March. And before Scott
came into Edinburgh, at the close of the Christmas vacation, on the
12th of January, Mr. Erskine had perused the greater part of the
first volume, and expressed his decided opinion that Waverley would
prove the most popular of all his friend's writings.[53] The MS. was
forthwith copied by John Ballantyne, and sent to press. As soon as a
volume was printed, Ballantyne conveyed it to Constable, who did not
for a moment doubt from what pen it proceeded, but took a few days
to consider of the matter, and then offered £700 for the copyright.
When we recollect what the state of novel literature in those days
was, and that the only exceptions to its mediocrity, the Irish Tales
of Miss Edgeworth, however appreciated in refined circles, had a
circulation so limited that she had never realized a tithe of £700
by the best of them--it must be allowed that Constable's offer was a
liberal one. Scott's answer, however, transmitted through the same
channel, was that £700 was too much, in case the novel should not
be successful, and too little in case it should. He added, "If our
fat friend had said £1000, I should have been staggered." John did
not forget to hint this last circumstance to Constable, but the
latter did not choose to act upon it; and he ultimately published
the work, on the footing of an equal division of profits between
himself and the author. There was a considerable pause between the
finishing of the first volume and the beginning of the second.
Constable had, in 1812, acquired the copyright of the Encyclopædia
Britannica, and was now preparing to publish the valuable Supplement
to that work, which has since, with modifications, been incorporated
into its text. He earnestly requested Scott to undertake a few
articles for the Supplement; he agreed--and, anxious to gratify the
generous bookseller, at once laid aside his tale until he had
finished two essays--those on Chivalry and the Drama. They appear to
have been completed in the course of April and May, and he received
for each of them--as he did subsequently for that on Romance--£100.

The two next letters will give us, in more exact detail than the
author's own recollection could supply in 1830, the history of the
completion of Waverley. It was published on the 7th of July; and two
days afterwards he thus writes:--


                                       EDINBURGH, 9th July, 1814.

MY DEAR MORRITT,--I owe you many apologies for not sooner answering
your very entertaining letter upon your Parisian journey. I heartily
wish I had been of your party, for you have seen what I trust will not
be seen again in a hurry; since, to enjoy the delight of a
restoration, there is a necessity for a previous _bouleversement_ of
everything that is valuable in morals and policy, which seems to have
been the case in France since 1790.[54] The Duke of Buccleuch told me
yesterday of a very good reply of Louis to some of his attendants, who
proposed shutting the doors of his apartments to keep out the throng
of people. "Open the door," he said, "to John Bull; he has suffered a
great deal in keeping the door open for me."

Now, to go from one important subject to another, I must account for
my own laziness, which I do by referring you to a small anonymous sort
of a novel, in three volumes, Waverley, which you will receive by the
mail of this day. It was a very old attempt of mine to embody some
traits of those characters and manners peculiar to Scotland, the last
remnants of which vanished during my own youth, so that few or no
traces now remain. I had written great part of the first volume, and
sketched other passages, when I mislaid the MS., and only found it by
the merest accident as I was rummaging the drawers of an old
cabinet;[55] and I took the fancy of finishing it, which I did so
fast, that the last two volumes were written in three weeks. I had a
great deal of fun in the accomplishment of this task, though I do not
expect that it will be popular in the south, as much of the humor, if
there be any, is local, and some of it even professional. You,
however, who are an adopted Scotchman, will find some amusement in it.
It has made a very strong impression here, and the good people of
Edinburgh are busied in tracing the author, and in finding out
originals for the portraits it contains. In the first case, they will
probably find it difficult to convict the guilty author, although he
is far from escaping suspicion. Jeffrey has offered to make oath that
it is mine, and another great critic has tendered his affidavit _ex
contrario_; so that these authorities have divided the Gude Town.
However, the thing has succeeded very well, and is thought highly of.
I don't know if it has got to London yet. I intend to maintain my
_incognito_. Let me know your opinion about it. I should be most happy
if I could think it would amuse a painful thought at this anxious
moment. I was in hopes Mrs. Morritt was getting so much better, that
this relapse affects me very much. Ever yours truly,

                                                        W. SCOTT.

P. S.--As your conscience has very few things to answer for, you must
still burthen it with the secret of the Bridal. It is spreading very
rapidly, and I have one or two little fairy romances, which will make
a second volume, and which I would wish published, but not with my
name. The truth is, that this sort of muddling work amuses me, and I
am something in the condition of Joseph Surface, who was embarrassed
by getting himself too good a reputation; for many things may please
people well enough anonymously, which, if they have me in the
title-page, would just give me that sort of ill name which precedes
hanging--and that would be in many respects inconvenient if I thought
of again trying a _grande opus_.

This statement of the foregoing letter (repeated still more
precisely in the following one), as to the time occupied in the
composition of the second and third volumes of Waverley, recalls to
my memory a trifling anecdote, which, as connected with a dear
friend of my youth, whom I have not seen for many years, and may
very probably never see again in this world, I shall here set down,
in the hope of affording him a momentary, though not an unmixed
pleasure, when he may chance to read this compilation on a distant
shore--and also in the hope that my humble record may impart to some
active mind in the rising generation a shadow of the influence
which the reality certainly exerted upon his. Happening to pass
through Edinburgh in June, 1814, I dined one day with the gentleman
in question (now the Honorable William Menzies, one of the Supreme
Judges at the Cape of Good Hope), whose residence was then in George
Street, situated very near to, and at right angles with, North
Castle Street. It was a party of very young persons, most of them,
like Menzies and myself, destined for the Bar of Scotland, all gay
and thoughtless, enjoying the first flush of manhood, with little
remembrance of the yesterday, or care of the morrow. When my
companion's worthy father and uncle, after seeing two or three
bottles go round, left the juveniles to themselves, the weather
being hot, we adjourned to a library which had one large window
looking northwards. After carousing here for an hour or more, I
observed that a shade had come over the aspect of my friend, who
happened to be placed immediately opposite to myself, and said
something that intimated a fear of his being unwell. "No," said he,
"I shall be well enough presently, if you will only let me sit where
you are, and take my chair; for there is a confounded hand in sight
of me here, which has often bothered me before, and now it won't let
me fill my glass with a good will." I rose to change places with him
accordingly, and he pointed out to me this hand which, like the
writing on Belshazzar's wall, disturbed his hour of hilarity. "Since
we sat down," he said, "I have been watching it--it fascinates my
eye--it never stops--page after page is finished and thrown on that
heap of MS., and still it goes on unwearied--and so it will be till
candles are brought in, and God knows how long after that. It is the
same every night--I can't stand a sight of it when I am not at my
books."--"Some stupid, dogged, engrossing clerk, probably,"
exclaimed myself, or some other giddy youth in our society. "No,
boys," said our host, "I well know what hand it is--'tis Walter
Scott's." This was the hand that, in the evenings of three summer
weeks, wrote the last two volumes of Waverley. Would that all who
that night watched it had profited by its example of diligence as
largely as William Menzies!

In the next of these letters Scott enclosed to Mr. Morritt the
Prospectus of a new edition of the old poems of the Bruce and the
Wallace, undertaken by the learned lexicographer, Dr. John Jamieson;
and he announces his departure on a sailing excursion round the
north of Scotland. It will be observed that when Scott began his
letter, he had only had Mr. Morritt's opinion of the first volume of
Waverley, and that before he closed it he had received his friend's
honest criticism on the work as a whole, with the expression of an
earnest hope that he would drop his _incognito_ on the title-page of
a second edition.


                                       ABBOTSFORD, July 24, 1814.

MY DEAR MORRITT,--I am going to say my _vales_ to you for some weeks,
having accepted an invitation from a committee of the Commissioners
for the Northern Lights (I don't mean the Edinburgh Reviewers, but the
_bona-fide_ Commissioners for the Beacons), to accompany them upon a
nautical tour round Scotland, visiting all that is curious on
continent and isle. The party are three gentlemen with whom I am very
well acquainted, William Erskine being one. We have a stout cutter,
well fitted up and manned for the service by Government; and to make
assurance double sure, the admiral has sent a sloop of war to cruise
in the dangerous points of our tour, and sweep the sea of the Yankee
privateers, which sometimes annoy our northern latitudes. I shall
visit the Clephanes in their solitude--and let you know all that I see
that is rare and entertaining, which, as we are masters of our time
and vessel, should add much to my stock of knowledge.

As to Waverley, I will play Sir Fretful for once, and assure you that
I left the story to flag in the first volume on purpose; the second
and third have rather more bustle and interest. I wished (with what
success Heaven knows) to avoid the ordinary error of novel writers,
whose first volume is usually their best. But since it has served to
amuse Mrs. Morritt and you _usque ab initio_, I have no doubt you will
tolerate it even unto the end. It may really boast to be a tolerably
faithful portrait of Scottish manners, and has been recognized as such
in Edinburgh. The first edition of a thousand instantly disappeared,
and the bookseller informs me that the second, of double the quantity,
will not supply the market long.--As I shall be very anxious to know
how Mrs. Morritt is, I hope to have a few lines from you on my return,
which will be about the end of August or beginning of September. I
should have mentioned that we have the celebrated engineer, Stevenson,
along with us. I delight in these professional men of talent; they
always give you some new lights by the peculiarity of their habits and
studies, so different from the people who are rounded, and smoothed,
and ground down for conversation, and who can say all that every other
person says, and--nothing more.

What a miserable thing it is that our royal family cannot be quiet and
decent at least, if not correct and moral in their deportment. Old
farmer George's manly simplicity, modesty of expense, and domestic
virtue, saved this country at its most perilous crisis; for it is
inconceivable the number of persons whom these qualities united in his
behalf, who would have felt but feebly the abstract duty of supporting
a crown less worthily worn.

--I had just proceeded thus far when your kind favor of the 21st
reached Abbotsford. I am heartily glad you continued to like Waverley
to the end. The hero is a sneaking piece of imbecility; and if he had
married Flora, she would have set him up upon the chimney-piece, as
Count Borowlaski's wife used to do with him.[56] I am a bad hand at
depicting a hero, properly so called, and have an unfortunate
propensity for the dubious characters of Borderers, buccaneers,
Highland robbers, and all others of a Robin Hood description. I do not
know why it should be, as I am myself, like Hamlet, indifferent
honest; but I suppose the blood of the old cattle-drivers of
Teviotdale continues to stir in my veins.

I shall _not_ own Waverley; my chief reason is that it would prevent
me of the pleasure of writing again. David Hume, nephew of the
historian, says the author must be of a Jacobite family and
predilections, a yeoman-cavalry man, and a Scottish lawyer, and
desires me to guess in whom these happy attributes are united. I shall
not plead guilty, however; and as such seems to be the fashion of the
day, I hope charitable people will believe my _affidavit_ in
contradiction to all other evidence. The Edinburgh faith now is, that
Waverley is written by Jeffrey, having been composed to lighten the
tedium of his late transatlantic voyage. So you see the unknown infant
is like to come to preferment. In truth, I am not sure it would be
considered quite decorous for me, as a Clerk of Session, to write
novels. Judges being monks, Clerks are a sort of lay brethren, from
whom some solemnity of walk and conduct may be expected. So, whatever
I may do of this kind, "I shall whistle it down the wind, and let it
prey at fortune."[57] I will take care, in the next edition, to make
the corrections you recommend. The second is, I believe, nearly
through the press. It will hardly be printed faster than it was
written; for though the first volume was begun long ago, and actually
lost for a time, yet the other two were begun and finished between the
4th June and the 1st July, during all which I attended my duty in
Court, and proceeded without loss of time or hindrance of business.

I wish, for poor auld Scotland's sake,[58] and for the manes of Bruce
and Wallace, and for the living comfort of a very worthy and ingenious
dissenting clergyman, who has collected a library and medals of some
value, and brought up, I believe, sixteen or seventeen children (his
wife's ambition extended to twenty) upon about £150 a year--I say I
wish, for all these reasons, you could get me among your wealthy
friends a name or two for the enclosed proposals. The price is, I
think, too high; but the booksellers fixed it two guineas above what I
proposed. I trust it will be yet lowered to five guineas, which is a
more come-at-able sum than six. The poems themselves are great
curiosities, both to the philologist and antiquary; and that of Bruce
is invaluable even to the historian. They have been hitherto
wretchedly edited.

I am glad you are not to pay for this scrawl. Ever yours,

                                                    WALTER SCOTT.

P. S.--I do not see how my silence can be considered as imposing on
the public. If I give my name to a book without writing it,
unquestionably that would be a trick. But, unless in the case of his
averring facts which he may be called upon to defend or justify, I
think an author may use his own discretion in giving or withholding
his name. Harry Mackenzie never put his name in a title-page till the
last edition of his works; and Swift only owned one out of his
thousand-and-one publications. In point of emolument, everybody knows
that I sacrifice much money by withholding my name; and what should I
gain by it, that any human being has a right to consider as an unfair
advantage? In fact, only the freedom of writing trifles with less
personal responsibility, and perhaps more frequently than I otherwise
might do.

                                                            W. S.

I am not able to give the exact date of the following reply to one
of John Ballantyne's expostulations on the subject of _the

  "No, John, I will not own the book--
    I won't, you Picaroon.
  When next I try St. Grubby's brook,
  The A. of Wa--shall bait the hook--
    And flat-fish bite as soon,
  As if before them they had got
  The worn-out wriggler

                       WALTER SCOTT."

Footnotes of the Chapter XXVII.

[46: The late Sir John Marjoribanks of Lees, Bart.]

[47: The inscription for this tankard was penned by the
late celebrated Dr. James Gregory, Professor of the Practice of
Physic in the University of Edinburgh; and I therefore transcribe

              GUALTERUM SCOTT

               DE ABBOTSFORD




              PATRIÆ DECUS





            A. D. M.DCCC.XIII.]

[48: _2d King Henry IV._ Act V. Scene 3.]

[49: A good many French officers, prisoners of war, had
been living on parole in Melrose, and the adjoining villages; and
Mr. and Mrs. Scott had been particularly kind and hospitable to

[50: The battle of Toulouse.]

[51: Sir Adam Ferguson, who had been taken prisoner in the
course of the Duke of Wellington's retreat from Burgos.]

[52: The names which he particularly mentions are those of
the late Matthew Weld Hartstonge, Esq., of Dublin, Theophilus Swift,
Esq., Major Tickell, Thomas Steele, Esq., Leonard Macnally, Esq.,
and the Rev. M. Berwick.]

[53: Entertaining one night a small party of friends,
Erskine read the proof sheets of this volume after supper, and was
confirmed in his opinion by the enthusiastic interest they excited
in his highly intelligent circle. Mr. James Simpson and Mr. Norman
Hill, advocates, were of this party, and from the way in which their
host spoke, they both inferred that they were listening to the first
effort of some unknown aspirant. They all pronounced the work one of
the highest classical merit. The sitting was protracted till

[54: Mr. Morritt had, in the spring of this year, been
present at the first levee held at the Tuileries by Monsieur
(afterwards Charles X.), as representative of his brother Louis
XVIII. Mr. M. had not been in Paris till that time since 1789.]

[55: [The old writing-desk, in which, while searching for
some fishing-tackle for a guest, Scott found the long-lost
manuscript, was given by him to William Laidlaw, who till his death
cherished with religious care all his memorials of Abbotsford. The
desk is now a treasured possession of his grandson, Mr. W. L.
Carruthers, of Inverness.]]

[56: _Count Borowlaski_ was a Polish dwarf, who, after
realizing some money as an itinerant object of exhibition, settled,
married, and died (September 5, 1837) at Durham. He was a well-bred
creature, and much noticed by the clergy and other gentry of that
city. Indeed, even when travelling the country as a show, he had
always maintained a sort of dignity. I remember him as going from
house to house, when I was a child, in a sedan chair, with a servant
in livery following him, who took the fee--_M. le Comte_ himself
(dressed in a scarlet coat and bag wig) being ushered into the room
like any ordinary visitor.

The Count died in his 99th year--

  "A SPIRIT brave, yet gentle, has dwelt, as it appears,
  Within three feet of flesh for near one hundred years;
  Which causes wonder, like his constitution, strong,
  That one _so short alive_ should be _alive so long_!"

                      _Bentley's Miscellany_ for November, 1837.]

[57: _Othello_, Act III. Scene 3.]

[58: Burns--lines _On my early days_.]




The gallant composure with which Scott, when he had dismissed a work
from his desk, awaited the decision of the public--and the healthy
elasticity of spirit with which he could meanwhile turn his whole
zeal upon new or different objects--are among the features in his
character which will always, I believe, strike the student of
literary history as most remarkable. We have now seen him before the
fate of Waverley had been determined--before he had heard a word
about its reception in England, except from one partial
confidant--preparing to start on a voyage to the northern isles,
which was likely to occupy the best part of two months, and in the
course of which he could hardly expect to receive any intelligence
from his friends in Edinburgh. The Diary which he kept during this
expedition is--thanks to the leisure of a landsman on board--a very
full one; and, written without the least notion probably that it
would ever be perused except in his own family circle, it affords
such a complete and artless portraiture of the man, as he was in
himself, and as he mingled with his friends and companions, at one
of the most interesting periods of his life, that I am persuaded
every reader will be pleased to see it printed in its original
state. A few extracts from it were published by himself, in one of
the Edinburgh Annual Registers--he also drew from it some of the
notes to his Lord of the Isles, and the substance of several
others for his romance of the Pirate. But the recurrence of these
detached passages will not be complained of--expounded and
illustrated as the reader will find them by the personal details of
the context.


_From the water-color portrait by William Nicholson_]

I have been often told by one of the companions of this voyage, that
heartily as Scott entered throughout into their social enjoyments,
they all perceived him, when inspecting for the first time scenes of
remarkable grandeur, to be in such an abstracted and excited mood,
that they felt it would be the kindest and discreetest plan to leave
him to himself. "I often," said Lord Kinnedder, "on coming up from
the cabin at night, found him pacing the deck rapidly, muttering to
himself--and went to the forecastle, lest my presence should disturb
him. I remember, that at Loch Corriskin, in particular, he seemed
quite overwhelmed with his feelings; and we all saw it, and retiring
unnoticed, left him to roam and gaze about by himself, until it was
time to muster the party and be gone." Scott used to mention the
surprise with which he himself witnessed Erskine's emotion on first
entering the Cave of Staffa. "Would you believe it?" he said--"my
poor Willie sat down and wept like a woman!" Yet his own
sensibilities, though betrayed in a more masculine and sterner
guise, were perhaps as keen as well as deeper than his amiable

The poet's Diary, contained in five little paper books, is as


_Voyage in the Lighthouse Yacht to Nova Zembla, and the Lord knows

"_July 29, 1814_.--Sailed from Leith about one o'clock on board the
Lighthouse Yacht, conveying six guns, and ten men, commanded by Mr.
Wilson. The company: Commissioners of the Northern Lights, Robert
Hamilton, Sheriff of Lanarkshire; William Erskine, Sheriff of Orkney
and Zetland; Adam Duff, Sheriff of Forfarshire. Non-commissioners,
Ipse Ego; Mr. David Marjoribanks, son to John Marjoribanks, Provost of
Edinburgh, a young gentleman; Rev. Mr. Turnbull, minister of Tingwall,
in the presbytery of Shetland. But the official chief of the
expedition is Mr. Stevenson, the Surveyor-Viceroy over the
Commissioners--a most gentlemanlike and modest man, and well known by
his scientific skill.[59]

"Reached the Isle of May in the evening; went ashore, and saw the
light--an old tower, and much in the form of a border-keep, with a
beacon-grate on the top. It is to be abolished for an oil
revolving-light, the grate-fire only being ignited upon the leeward
side when the wind is very high. _Quære_--Might not the grate revolve?
The isle had once a cell or two upon it. The vestiges of the chapel
are still visible. Mr. Stevenson proposed demolishing the old tower,
and I recommended _ruining_ it _à la picturesque_--_i. e._,
demolishing it partially. The island might be made a delightful
residence for sea-bathers.

"On board again in the evening: watched the progress of the ship round
Fifeness, and the revolving motion of the now distant Bell-Rock light
until the wind grew rough, and the landsmen sick. To bed at eleven,
and slept sound.

"_30th July_.--Waked at six by the steward; summoned to visit the
Bell-Rock, where the beacon is well worthy attention. Its dimensions
are well known; but no description can give the idea of this slight,
solitary, round tower, trembling amid the billows, and fifteen miles
from Arbroath, the nearest shore. The fitting up within is not only
handsome, but elegant. All work of wood (almost) is wainscot; all
hammer-work brass; in short, exquisitely fitted up. You enter by a
ladder of rope, with wooden steps, about thirty feet from the bottom,
where the mason-work ceases to be solid, and admits of round
apartments. The lowest is a storehouse for the people's provisions,
water, etc.; above that a storehouse for the lights, of oil, etc.;
then the kitchen of the people, three in number; then their sleeping
chamber; then the saloon or parlor, a neat little room; above all, the
lighthouse; all communicating by oaken ladders, with brass rails, most
handsomely and conveniently executed. Breakfasted in the parlor.[60]
On board again at nine, and run down, through a rough sea, to
Aberbrothock, vulgarly called Arbroath. All sick, even Mr. Stevenson.
God grant this occur seldom! Landed and dined at Arbroath, where we
were to take up Adam Duff. We visited the appointments of the
lighthouse establishment--a handsome tower, with two wings. These
contain the lodgings of the keepers of the light--very handsome,
indeed, and very clean. They might be thought too handsome, were it
not of consequence to give those men, entrusted with a duty so
laborious and slavish, a consequence in the eyes of the public and in
their own. The central part of the building forms a single tower,
corresponding with the lighthouse. As the keepers' families live here,
they are apprised each morning by a signal that _all is well_. If this
signal be not made, a tender sails for the rock directly. I visited
the abbey church for the third time, the first being--_eheu!_[61]--the
second with T. Thomson. Dined at Arbroath, and came on board at night,
where I made up this foolish journal, and now beg for wine and water.
So the vessel is once more in motion.

"_31st July_.--Waked at seven; vessel off Fowlsheugh and Dunnottar.
Fair wind, and delightful day; glide enchantingly along the coast of
Kincardineshire, and open the bay of Nigg about ten. At eleven, off
Aberdeen; the gentlemen go ashore to Girdle-Ness, a projecting point
of rock to the east of the harbor of Foot-Dee. There the magistrates
of Aberdeen wish to have a fort and beacon-light. The Oscar, whaler,
was lost here last year, with all her hands, excepting two; about
forty perished. Dreadful, to be wrecked so near a large and populous
town! The view of Old and New Aberdeen from the sea is quite
beautiful. About noon proceed along the coast of Aberdeenshire, which,
to the northwards, changes from a bold and rocky to a low and sandy
character. Along the bay of Belhelvie, a whole parish was swallowed up
by the shifting sands, and is still a desolate waste. It belonged to
the Earls of Errol, and was rented at £500 a year at the time. When
these sands are passed the land is all arable. Not a tree to be seen;
nor a grazing cow, or sheep, or even a labor-horse at grass, though
this be Sunday. The next remarkable object was a fragment of the old
castle of Slains, on a precipitous bank, overlooking the sea. The
fortress was destroyed when James VI. marched north [A. D. 1594],
after the battle of Glenlivet, to reduce Huntly and Errol to
obedience. The family then removed to their present mean habitation,
for such it seems, a collection of low houses forming a quadrangle,
one side of which is built on the very verge of the precipice that
overhangs the ocean. What seems odd, there are no stairs down to the
beach. Imprudence, or ill-fortune as fatal as the sands of Belhelvie,
has swallowed up the estate of Errol, excepting this dreary
mansion-house, and a farm or two adjoining. We took to the boat, and
running along the coast had some delightful sea-views to the northward
of the castle. The coast is here very rocky; but the rocks, being
rather soft, are wasted and corroded by the constant action of the
waves,--and the fragments which remain, where the softer parts have
been washed away, assume the appearance of old Gothic ruins. There are
open arches, towers, steeples, and so forth. One part of this scaur is
called _Dunbuy_, being colored yellow by the dung of the sea-fowls,
who build there in the most surprising numbers. We caught three young
gulls. But the most curious object was the celebrated Buller of
Buchan, a huge rocky cauldron, into which the sea rushes through a
natural arch of rock. I walked round the top; in one place the path is
only about two feet wide, and a monstrous precipice on either side. We
then rowed into the cauldron or buller from beneath, and saw nothing
around us but a regular wall of black rock, and nothing above but the
blue sky. A fishing hamlet had sent out its inhabitants, who, gazing
from the brink, looked like sylphs looking down upon gnomes. In the
side of the cauldron opens a deep black cavern. Johnson says it might
be a retreat from storms, which is nonsense. In a high gale the waves
rush in with incredible violence. An old fisher said he had seen them
flying over the natural wall of the buller, which cannot be less than
200 feet high. Same old man says Slains is now inhabited by a Mr.
Bowles, who comes so far from the southward that naebody kens whare he
comes frae. 'Was he frae the Indies?'--'Na; he did not think he came
that road. He was far frae the southland. Naebody ever heard the name
of the place; but he had brought more guid out o' Peterhead than a'
the Lords he had seen in Slains, and he had seen three.' About
half-past five we left this interesting spot, and after a hard pull
reached the yacht. Weather falls hazy, and rather calm; but at sea we
observe vessels enjoying more wind. Pass Peterhead, dimly
distinguishing two steeples and a good many masts. Mormounthill said
to resemble a coffin--a likeness of which we could not judge, Mormount
being for the present invisible. Pass Rattray-Head: near this cape are
dangerous shelves, called the Bridge of Rattray. Here the wreck of the
Doris merchant vessel came on shore, lost last year with a number of
passengers for Shetland. We lie off all night.

"_1st August_.--Off Fraserburgh--a neat little town. Mr. Stevenson and
the Commissioners go on shore to look at a light maintained there upon
an old castle, on a cape called Kinnaird's Head. The morning being
rainy, and no object of curiosity ashore, I remain on board, to make
up my journal, and write home.

"The old castle, now bearing the light, is a picturesque object from
the sea. It was the baronial mansion of the Frasers, now Lords
Saltoun--an old square tower with a minor fortification towards the
landing-place on the sea-side. About eleven, the Commissioners came
off, and we leave this town, the extreme point of the Moray Firth, to
stretch for Shetland--salute the castle with three guns, and stretch
out with a merry gale. See Mormount, a long flattish-topped hill near
to the West Trouphead, and another bold cliff promontory projecting
into the firth. Our gale soon failed, and we are now all but becalmed;
songs, ballads, recitations, backgammon, and piquet, for the rest of
the day. Noble sunset and moon rising; we are now out of sight of

"_2d August_.--At sea in the mouth of the Moray Firth. This day almost
a blank--light baffling airs, which do us very little good; most of
the landsmen sick, more or less; piquet, backgammon, and chess, the
only resources.--_P.M._ A breeze, and we begin to think we have passed
the Fair Isle, lying between Shetland and Orkney, at which it was our
intention to have touched. In short, like one of Sinbad's adventures,
we have run on till neither captain nor pilot know exactly where we
are. The breeze increases--weather may be called rough; worse and
worse after we are in our berths, nothing but booming, trampling, and
whizzing of waves about our ears, and ever and anon, as we fall
asleep, our ribs come in contact with those of the vessel; hail Duff
and the Udaller[62] in the after-cabin, but they are too sick to
answer. Towards morning, calm (comparative), and a nap.

"_3d August_.--At sea as before; no appearance of land; proposed that
the Sheriff of Zetland do issue a _meditatione fugæ_ warrant against
his territories, which seem to fly from us. Pass two whalers; speak
the nearest, who had come out of Lerwick, which is about twenty miles
distant; stand on with a fine breeze. About nine at night, with
moonlight and strong twilight, we weather the point of Bard-head, and
enter a channel about three quarters of a mile broad which forms the
southern entrance to the harbor of Lerwick, where we cast anchor about
half-past ten, and put Mr. Turnbull on shore.

"_4th August_.--Harbor of Lerwick. Admire the excellence of this
harbor of the metropolis of Shetland. It is a most beautiful place,
screened on all sides from the wind by hills of a gentle elevation.
The town, a fishing village built irregularly upon a hill ascending
from the shore, has a picturesque appearance. On the left is Fort
Charlotte, garrisoned of late by two companies of veterans. The
Greenlandmen, of which nine fine vessels are lying in the harbor, add
much to the liveliness of the scene. Mr. Duncan, Sheriff-substitute,
came off to pay his respects to his principal; he is married to a
daughter of my early acquaintance, Walter Scott of Scotshall. We go
ashore. Lerwick, a poor-looking place, the streets flagged instead of
being causewayed, for there are no wheel-carriages. The streets full
of drunken riotous sailors from the whale-vessels. It seems these
ships take about 1000 sailors from Zetland every year, and return them
as they come back from the fishery. Each sailor may gain from £20 to
£30, which is paid by the merchants of Lerwick, who have agencies from
the owners of the whalers in England. The whole return may be between
£25,000 and £30,000. These Zetlanders, as they get a part of this pay
on landing, make a point of treating their English messmates, who get
drunk of course, and are very riotous. The Zetlanders themselves do
_not_ get drunk, but go straight home to their houses, and reserve
their hilarity for the winter season, when they spend their wages in
dancing and drinking. Erskine finds employment as Sheriff, for the
neighborhood of the fort enables him to make _main forte_, and secure
a number of the rioters. We visit F. Charlotte, which is a neat little
fort mounting ten heavy guns to the sea, but only one to the land.
Major F., the Governor, showed us the fort; it commands both entrances
of the harbor: the north entrance is not very good, but the south
capital. The water in the harbor is very deep, as frigates of the
smaller class lie almost close to the shore. Take a walk with Captain
M'Diarmid, a gentlemanlike and intelligent officer of the garrison; we
visit a small fresh-water loch called _Cleik-him-in_; it borders on
the sea, from which it is only divided by a sort of beach, apparently
artificial: though the sea lashes the outside of this beach, the water
of the lake is not brackish. In this lake are the remains of a Picts'
castle, but ruinous. The people think the castle has not been built on
a natural island, but on an artificial one formed by a heap of stones.
These Duns or Picts' castles are so small, it is impossible to
conceive what effectual purpose they could serve excepting a temporary
refuge for the chief.--Leave _Cleik-him-in_, and proceed along the
coast. The ground is dreadfully encumbered with stones; the patches
which have been sown with oats and barley bear very good crops, but
they are mere _patches_, the cattle and ponies feeding amongst them,
and secured by tethers. The houses most wretched, worse than the
worst herd's house I ever saw. It would be easy to form a good farm
by enclosing the ground with Galloway dykes, which would answer the
purpose of clearing it at the same time of stones; and as there is
plenty of limeshell, marle, and alga-marina, manure could not be
wanting. But there are several obstacles to improvement, chiefly the
undivided state of the properties, which lie _run-rig_; then the
claims of Lord Dundas, the lord of the country, and above all,
perhaps, the state of the common people, who, dividing their attention
between the fishery and the cultivation, are not much interested in
the latter, and are often absent at the proper times of labor. Their
ground is chiefly dug with the spade, and their ploughs are beyond
description awkward. An odd custom prevails: any person, without
exception (if I understand rightly), who wishes to raise a few kail,
fixes upon any spot he pleases, encloses it with a dry stone wall,
uses it as a kailyard till he works out the soil, then deserts it and
makes another. Some dozen of these little enclosures, about twenty or
thirty feet square, are in sight at once. They are called
_planty-cruives_; and the Zetlanders are so far from reckoning this an
invasion, or a favor on the part of the proprietor, that their most
exaggerated description of an avaricious person is one who would
refuse liberty for a _planty-cruive_; or to infer the greatest
contempt of another, they will say, they would not hold a
_planty-cruive_ of him. It is needless to notice how much this license
must interfere with cultivation.

"Leaving the _cultivated_ land, we turn more inland, and pass two or
three small lakes. The muirs are mossy and sterile in the highest
degree; the hills are clad with stunted heather, intermixed with huge
great stones; much of an astringent root with a yellow flower, called
_Tormentil_, used by the islanders in dressing leather in lieu of the
oak bark. We climbed a hill, about three miles from Lerwick, to a
cairn which presents a fine view of the indented coast of the island,
and the distant isles of Mousa and others. Unfortunately the day is
rather hazy--return by a circuitous route, through the same sterile
country. These muirs are used as a commonty by the proprietors of the
parishes in which they lie, and each, without any regard to the extent
of his peculiar property, puts as much stock upon them as he chooses.
The sheep are miserable looking, hairy-legged creatures, of all
colors, even to sky-blue. I often wondered where Jacob got speckled
lambs; I think now they must have been of the Shetland stock. In our
return, pass the upper end of the little lake of _Cleik-him-in_, which
is divided by a rude causeway from another small loch, communicating
with it, however, by a sluice, for the purpose of driving a mill. But
such a mill! The wheel is horizontal, with the cogs turned diagonally
to the water; the beam stands upright, and is inserted in a
stone-quern of the old-fashioned construction. This simple machine is
enclosed in a hovel about the size of a pig-sty--and there is the
mill![63] There are about 500 such mills in Shetland, each incapable
of grinding more than a sack at a time.

"I cannot get a distinct account of the nature of the land rights. The
Udal proprietors have ceased to exist, yet proper feudal tenures seem
ill understood. Districts of ground are in many instances understood
to belong to Townships or Communities, possessing what may be arable
by patches, and what is muir as a commonty, _pro indiviso_. But then
individuals of such a Township often take it upon them to grant feus
of particular parts of the property thus possessed _pro indiviso_. The
town of Lerwick is built upon a part of the commonty of Sound, the
proprietors of the houses having feu-rights from different heritors of
that Township, but why from one rather than another, or how even the
whole Township combining (which has not yet been attempted) could
grant such a right upon principle, seems altogether uncertain. In the
mean time the chief stress is laid upon occupance. I should have
supposed, upon principle that Lord Dundas, as superior, possessed the
_dominium eminens_, and ought to be resorted to as the source of land
rights. But it is not so. It has been found that the heritors of each
Township hold directly of the Crown, only paying the _Scat_, or
Norwegian land-tax, and other duties to his lordship, used and wont.
Besides, he has what are called property lands in every Township, or
in most, which he lets to his tenants. Lord Dundas is now trying to
introduce the system of leases and a better kind of agriculture.[64]
Return home and dine at Sinclair's, a decent inn--Captain M'Diarmid
and other gentlemen dine with us.--Sleep at the inn on a straw couch.

"_5th August 1814_.--Hazy disagreeable morning;--Erskine trying the
rioters--notwithstanding which, a great deal of rioting still in the
town. The Greenlanders, however, only quarrelled among themselves, and
the Zetland sailors seemed to exert themselves in keeping peace. They
are, like all the other Zetlanders I have seen, a strong,
clear-complexioned, handsome race, and the women are very pretty. The
females are rather slavishly employed, however, and I saw more than
one carrying home the heavy sea-chests of their husbands, brothers, or
lovers, discharged from on board the Greenlanders. The Zetlanders are,
however, so far provident, that when they enter the navy they make
liberal allowance of their pay for their wives and families. Not less
than £15,000 a year has been lately paid by the Admiralty on this
account; yet this influx of money, with that from the Greenland
fishery, seems rather to give the means of procuring useless
indulgences than of augmenting the stock of productive labor. Mr.
Collector Ross tells me that from the King's books it appears that the
quantity of spirits, tea, coffee, tobacco, snuff, and sugar, imported
annually into Lerwick for the consumption of Zetland, averages at sale
price, £20,000 yearly, at the least. Now the inhabitants of Zetland,
men, women, and children, do not exceed 22,000 in all, and the
proportion of foreign luxuries seems monstrous, unless we allow for
the habits contracted by the seamen in their foreign trips. Tea, in
particular, is used by all ranks, and porridge quite exploded.

"We parade Lerwick. The most remarkable thing is, that the main street
being flagged, and all the others very narrow lanes descending the
hill by steps, anything like a cart, of the most ordinary and rude
construction, seems not only out of question when the town was built,
but in its present state quite excluded. A road of five miles in
length, on the line between Lerwick and Scalloway, has been already
made--upon a very awkward and expensive plan, and ill-lined as may be
supposed. But it is proposed to extend this road by degrees: carts
will then be introduced, and by crossing the breed of their ponies
judiciously, they will have Galloways to draw them. The streets of
Lerwick (as one blunder perpetrates another) will then be a bar to
improvement, for till the present houses are greatly altered, no cart
can approach the quay. In the garden of Captain Nicolson, R. N., which
is rather in a flourishing state, he has tried various trees, almost
all of which have died except the willow. But the plants seem to me to
be injured in their passage; seeds would perhaps do better. We are
visited by several of the notables of the island, particularly Mr.
Mowat, a considerable proprietor, who claims acquaintance with me as
the friend of my father, and remembers me as a boy. The day clearing
up, Duff and I walk with this good old gentleman to _Cleik-him-in_,
and with some trouble drag a boat off the beach into the fresh-water
loch, and go to visit the Picts' castle. It is of considerable size,
and consists of three circular walls of huge natural stones admirably
combined without cement. The outer circuit seems to have been simply a
bounding wall or bulwark; the second or interior defence contains
lodgments such as I shall describe. This inner circuit is surrounded
by a wall of about sixteen or eighteen feet thick, composed, as I
said, of huge massive stones placed in layers with great art, but
without mortar or cement. The wall is not perpendicular, but the
circle lessens gradually towards the top, as an old-fashioned
pigeon-house. Up the interior of this wall there proceeds a circular
winding gallery ascending in the form of an inclined plane, so as to
gain the top by circling round like a corkscrew within the walls. This
is enlightened by little apertures (about two feet by three) into the
inside, and also, it is said, by small slits--of which I saw none. It
is said there are marks of galleries within the circuit, running
parallel to the horizon; these I saw no remains of; and the interior
gallery, with its apertures, is so extremely low and narrow, being
only about three feet square, that it is difficult to conceive how it
could serve the purpose of communication. At any rate, the size fully
justifies the tradition prevalent here as well as in the south of
Scotland, that the Picts were a diminutive race. More of this when we
see the more perfect specimen of a Pict castle in Mousa, which we
resolve to examine, if it be possible. Certainly I am deeply curious
to see what must be one of the most ancient houses in the world, built
by a people who, while they seem to have bestowed much pains on their
habitations, knew neither the art of cement, of arches, or of stairs.
The situation is wild, dreary, and impressive. On the land side are
huge sheets and fragments of rocks, interspersed with a stinted
vegetation of grass and heath, which bears no proportion to the rocks
and stones. From the top of his tower the Pictish Monarch might look
out upon a stormy sea, washing a succession of rocky capes, reaches,
and headlands, and immediately around him was the deep fresh-water
loch on which his fortress was constructed. It communicates with the
land by a sort of causeway, formed, like the artificial islet itself,
by heaping together stones till the pile reached the surface of the
water. This is usually passable, but at present overflooded.--Return
and dine with Mr. Duncan, Sheriff-substitute--are introduced to Dr.
Edmonstone, author of a History of Shetland, who proposes to accompany
us to-morrow to see the Cradle of Noss. I should have mentioned that
Mr. Stevenson sailed this morning with the yacht to survey some isles
to the northward; he returns on Saturday, it is hoped.

"_6th August._--Hire a six-oared boat, whaler-built, with a taper
point at each end, so that the rudder can be hooked on either at
pleasure. These vessels look very frail, but are admirably adapted to
the stormy seas, where they live when a ship's boat stiffly and
compactly built must necessarily perish. They owe this to their
elasticity and lightness. Some of the rowers wear a sort of coats of
dressed sheep leather, sewed together with thongs. We sailed out at
the southern inlet of the harbor, rounding successively the capes of
the Hammer, Kirkubus, the Ving, and others, consisting of bold cliffs,
hollowed into caverns, or divided into pillars and arches of fantastic
appearance, by the constant action of the waves. As we passed the most
northerly of these capes, called, I think, the Ord, and turned into
the open sea, the scenes became yet more tremendously sublime. Rocks
upwards of three or four hundred feet in height presented themselves
in gigantic succession, sinking perpendicularly into the main, which
is very deep even within a few fathoms of their base. One of these
capes is called the Bard-head; a huge projecting arch is named the
Giant's Leg.

  'Here the lone sea-bird wakes its wildest cry.'[65]

Not lone, however, in one sense, for their numbers and the variety of
their tribes are immense, though I think they do not quite equal those
of Dunbuy, on the coast of Buchan. Standing across a little bay, we
reached the Isle of Noss, having hitherto coasted the shore of
Bressay. Here we see a detached and precipitous rock, or island, being
a portion rent by a narrow sound from the rest of the cliff, and
called the Holm. This detached rock is wholly inaccessible, unless by
a pass of peril, entitled the Cradle of Noss, which is a sort of
wooden chair, travelling from precipice to precipice on rings, which
run upon two cables stretched across over the gulf. We viewed this
extraordinary contrivance from beneath, at the distance of perhaps one
hundred fathoms at least. The boatmen made light of the risk of
crossing it, but it must be tremendous to a brain disposed to be
giddy. Seen from beneath, a man in the basket would resemble a large
crow or raven floating between rock and rock. The purpose of this
strange contrivance is to give the tenant the benefit of putting a few
sheep upon the Holm, the top of which is level, and affords good
pasture. The animals are transported in the cradle by one at a time, a
shepherd holding them upon his knees. The channel between the Holm and
the isle is passable by boats in calm weather, but not at the time
when we saw it. Rowing on through a heavy tide, and nearer the
breakers than any but Zetlanders would have ventured, we rounded
another immensely high cape, called by the islanders the Noup of Noss,
but by sailors Hang-cliff, from its having a projecting appearance.
This was the highest rock we had yet seen, though not quite
perpendicular. Its height has never been measured: I should judge it
exceeds 600 feet; it has been conjectured to measure 800 and upwards.
Our steersman had often descended this precipitous rock, having only
the occasional assistance of a rope, one end of which he secured from
time to time round some projecting cliff. The collecting sea-fowl for
their feathers was the object, and he might gain five or six dozen,
worth eight or ten shillings, by such an adventure. These huge
precipices abound with caverns, many of which run much farther into
the rock than any one has ventured to explore. We entered (with much
hazard to our boat) one called the Orkney-man's Harbor, because an
Orkney vessel run in there some years since to escape a French
privateer. The entrance was lofty enough to admit us without striking
the mast, but a sudden turn in the direction of the cave would have
consigned us to utter darkness if we had gone in farther. The dropping
of the sea-fowl and cormorants into the water from the sides of the
cavern, when disturbed by our approach, had something in it wild and

"After passing the Noup, the precipices become lower, and sink into a
rocky shore with deep indentations, called by the natives, _Gios_.
Here we would fain have landed to visit the Cradle from the top of the
cliff, but the surf rendered it impossible. We therefore rowed on like
Thalaba, in 'Allah's name,' around the Isle of Noss, and landed upon
the opposite side of the small sound which divides it from Bressay.
Noss exactly resembles in shape Salisbury crags, supposing the sea to
flow down the valley called the Hunter's bog, and round the foot of
the precipice. The eastern part of the isle is fine smooth pasture,
the best I have seen in these isles, sloping upwards to the verge of
the tremendous rocks which form its western front.

"As we are to dine at Gardie-House (the seat of young Mr. Mowat), on
the Isle of Bressay, Duff and I--who went together on this
occasion--resolve to walk across the island, about three miles, being
by this time thoroughly wet. Bressay is a black and heathy isle, full
of little lochs and bogs. Through storm and shade, and dense and dry,
we find our way to Gardie, and have then to encounter the sublunary
difficulties of wanting the keys of our portmanteaus, etc., the
servants having absconded to see the Cradle. These being overcome, we
are most hospitably treated at Gardie. Young Mr. Mowat, son of my old
friend, is an improver, and a _moderate_ one. He has got a ploughman
from Scotland, who acts as _grieve_, but as yet with the prejudices
and inconveniences which usually attach themselves to the most
salutary experiments. The ploughman complains that the Zetlanders work
as if a spade or hoe burned their fingers, and that though they only
get a shilling a day, yet the labor of three of them does not exceed
what one good hand in Berwickshire would do for 2_s._ 6_d._ The
islanders retort that a man can do no more than he can; that they are
not used to be taxed to their work so severely; that they will work
as their fathers did, and not otherwise; and at first the landlord
found difficulty in getting hands to work under his Caledonian
task-master. Besides, they find fault with his _ho_, and _gee_, and
_wo_, when ploughing. 'He speaks to the horse,' they say, 'and they
gang--and there's something no canny about the man.' In short, between
the prejudices of laziness and superstition, the ploughman leads a
sorry life of it;--yet these prejudices are daily abating, under the
steady and indulgent management of the proprietor. Indeed, nowhere is
improvement in agriculture more necessary. An old-fashioned Zetland
plough is a real curiosity. It had but one handle, or stilt, and a
coulter, but no sock; it ripped the furrow, therefore, but did not
throw it aside. When this precious machine was in motion, it was
dragged by four little bullocks yoked abreast, and as many ponies
harnessed, or rather strung, to the plough by ropes and thongs of
rawhide. One man went before, walking backward, with his face to the
bullocks, and pulling them forward by main strength. Another held down
the plough by its single handle, and made a sort of slit in the earth,
which two women, who closed the procession, converted into a furrow,
by throwing the earth aside with shovels. An antiquary might be of
opinion that this was the very model of the original plough invented
by Triptolemus; and it is but justice to Zetland to say, that these
relics of ancient agricultural art will soon have all the interest
attached to rarity. We could only hear of one of these ploughs within
three miles of Lerwick.

"This and many other barbarous habits to which the Zetlanders were
formerly wedded seem only to have subsisted because their amphibious
character of fishers and farmers induced them to neglect agricultural
arts. A Zetland farmer looks to the sea to pay his rent; if the land
finds him a little meal and kail, and (if he be a very clever fellow)
a few potatoes, it is very well. The more intelligent part of the
landholders are sensible of all this, but argue like men of good sense
and humanity on the subject. To have good farming, you must have a
considerable farm, upon which capital may be laid out to advantage.
But to introduce this change suddenly would turn adrift perhaps twenty
families, who now occupy small farms _pro indiviso_, cultivating by
patches, or _rundale_ and _runrig_, what part of the property is
arable, and stocking the pasture as a common upon which each family
turns out such stock as they can rear, without observing any
proportion as to the number which it can support. In this way many
townships, as they are called, subsist indeed, but in a precarious and
indigent manner. Fishing villages seem the natural resource for this
excess of population; but, besides the expense of erecting them, the
habits of the people are to be considered, who, with 'one foot on land
and one on sea,' would be with equal reluctance confined to either
element. The remedy seems to be, that the larger proprietors should
gradually set the example of better cultivation, and introduce better
implements. They will, by degrees, be imitated by the inferior
proprietors, and by their tenants; and, as turnips and hay crops
become more general, a better and heavier class of stock will
naturally be introduced.

"The sheep in particular might be improved into a valuable stock, and
would no doubt thrive, since the winters are very temperate. But I
should be sorry that extensive pasture farms were introduced, as it
would tend to diminish a population invaluable for the supply of our
navy. The improvement of the arable land, on the contrary, would soon
set them beyond the terrors of famine with which the islanders are at
present occasionally visited; and, combined with fisheries, carried on
not by farmers, but by real fishers, would amply supply the
inhabitants, without diminishing the export of dried fish. This
separation of trades will in time take place, and then the prosperous
days of Zetland will begin. The proprietors are already upon the
alert, studying the means of gradual improvement, and no humane person
would wish them to drive it on too rapidly, to the distress and
perhaps destruction of the numerous tenants who have been bred under a
different system.

"I have gleaned something of the peculiar superstitions of the
Zetlanders, which are numerous and potent. Witches, fairies, etc., are
as numerous as ever they were in Teviotdale. The latter are called
_Trows_, probably from the Norwegian _Dwärg_ (or _dwarf_) the D being
readily converted into T. The dwarfs are the prime agents in the
machinery of Norwegian superstition. The _trows_ do not differ from
the fairies of the Lowlands, or _Sighean_ of the Highlanders. They
steal children, dwell within the interior of green hills, and often
carry mortals into their recesses. Some, yet alive, pretend to have
been carried off in this way, and obtain credit for the marvels they
tell of the subterranean habitations of the trows. Sometimes, when a
person becomes melancholy and low-spirited, the trows are supposed to
have stolen the real being, and left a moving phantom to represent
him. Sometimes they are said to steal only the heart--like Lancashire
witches. There are cures in each case. The party's friends resort to a
cunning man or woman, who hangs about the neck a triangular stone in
the shape of a heart, or conjures back the lost individual, by
retiring to the hills and employing the necessary spells. A common
receipt, when a child appears consumptive and puny, is that the
conjurer places a bowl of water on the patient's head, and pours
melted lead into it through the wards of a key. The metal assumes of
course a variety of shapes, from which he selects a portion, after due
consideration, which is sewn into the shirt of the patient. Sometimes
no part of the lead suits the seer's fancy. Then the operation is
recommenced, until he obtains a fragment of such a configuration as
suits his mystical purpose. Mr. Duncan told us he had been treated in
this way when a boy.

"A worse and most horrid opinion prevails, or did prevail, among the
fishers--namely, that he who saves a drowning man will receive at his
hands some deep wrong or injury. Several instances were quoted to-day
in company, in which the utmost violence had been found necessary to
compel the fishers to violate this inhuman prejudice. It is
conjectured to have arisen as an apology for rendering no assistance
to the mariners as they escaped from a shipwrecked vessel, for these
isles are infamous for plundering wrecks. A story is told of the crew
of a stranded vessel who were warping themselves ashore by means of a
hawser which they had fixed to the land. The islanders (of Unst, as I
believe) watched their motions in silence, till an old man reminded
them that if they suffered these sailors to come ashore, they would
consume all their winter stock of provisions. A Zetlander cut the
hawser, and the poor wretches, twenty in number, were all swept away.
This is a tale of former times--the cruelty would not now be _active_;
but I fear that even yet the drowning mariner would in some places
receive no assistance in his exertions, and certainly he would in most
be plundered to the skin upon his landing. The gentlemen do their
utmost to prevent this infamous practice. It may seem strange that the
natives should be so little affected by a distress to which they are
themselves so constantly exposed. But habitual exposure to danger
hardens the heart against its consequences, whether to ourselves or
others. There is yet living a man--if he can be called so--to whom the
following story belongs: He was engaged in catching sea-fowl upon one
of the cliffs, with his father and brother. All three were suspended
by a cord, according to custom, and overhanging the ocean, at the
height of some hundred feet. This man being uppermost on the cord,
observed that it was giving way, as unable to support their united
weight. He called out to his brother who was next to him--'Cut away a
nail below, Willie,' meaning he should cut the rope beneath, and let
his father drop. Willie refused, and bid him cut himself, if he
pleased. He did so, and his brother and father were precipitated into
the sea. He never thought of concealing or denying the adventure in
all its parts. We left Gardie-House late; being on the side of the
Isle of Bressay, opposite to Lerwick, we were soon rowed across the
bay. A laugh with Hamilton,[66] whose gout keeps him stationary at
Lerwick, but whose good-humor defies gout and every other provocation,
concludes the evening.

"_7th August, 1814._--Being Sunday, Duff, Erskine, and I rode to
Tingwall upon Zetland ponies, to breakfast with our friend Parson
Turnbull, who had come over in our yacht. An ill-conducted and
worse-made road served us four miles on our journey. This _Via
Flaminia_ of Thule terminates, like its prototype, in a bog. It is,
however, the only road in these isles, except about half a mile made
by Mr. Turnbull. The land in the interior much resembles the
Peel-heights, near Ashestiel; but, as you approach the other side of
the island, becomes better. Tingwall is rather a fertile valley, up
which winds a loch of about two miles in length. The kirk and manse
stand at the head of the loch, and command a view down the valley to
another lake beyond the first, and thence over another reach of land,
to the ocean, indented by capes and studded with isles; among which,
that of St. Ninian's, abruptly divided from the mainland by a deep
chasm, is the most conspicuous. Mr. Turnbull is a Jedburgh man by
birth, but a Zetlander by settlement and inclination. I have reason to
be proud of my countryman; he is doing his best, with great patience
and judgment, to set a good example both in temporals and spirituals,
and is generally beloved and respected among all classes. His glebe is
in far the best order of any ground I have seen in Zetland. It is
enclosed chiefly with dry-stone, instead of the useless turf-dykes;
and he has sown grass, and has a hay-stack, and a second crop of
clover, and may claim well-dressed fields of potatoes, barley, and
oats. The people around him are obviously affected by his example. He
gave us an excellent discourse and remarkably good prayers, which are
seldom the excellence of the Presbyterian worship.[67] The
congregation were numerous, decent, clean, and well-dressed. The men
have all the air of seamen, and are a good-looking hardy race. Some of
the old fellows had got faces much resembling Tritons; if they had had
conchs to blow, it would have completed them. After church, ride down
the loch to Scalloway--the country wild but pleasant, with sloping
hills of good pasturage, and patches of cultivation on the lower
ground. Pass a huge standing stone or pillar. Here, it is said, the
son of an old Earl of the Orkneys met his fate. He had rebelled
against his father, and fortified himself in Zetland. The Earl sent a
party to dislodge him, who, not caring to proceed to violence against
his person, failed in the attempt. The Earl then sent a stronger
force, with orders to take him dead or alive. The young Absalom's
castle was stormed--he himself fled across the loch, and was overtaken
and slain at this pillar. The Earl afterwards executed the
perpetrators of this slaughter, though they had only fulfilled his own

"We reach Scalloway, and visit the ruins of an old castle, composed of
a double tower or keep, with turrets at the corners. It is the
principal, if not the only ruin of Gothic times in Zetland, and is of
very recent date, being built in 1600. It was built by Patrick
Stewart, Earl of Orkney, afterwards deservedly executed at Edinburgh
for many acts of tyranny and oppression. It was this rapacious lord
who imposed many of those heavy duties still levied from the
Zetlanders by Lord Dundas. The exactions by which he accomplished this
erection were represented as grievous. He was so dreaded that upon his
trial one Zetland witness refused to say a word till he was assured
that there was no chance of the Earl returning to Scalloway. Over the
entrance of the castle are his arms, much defaced, with the unicorns
of Scotland for supporters, the assumption of which was one of the
articles of indictment. There is a Scriptural inscription also above
the door, in Latin, now much defaced:--


"This is said to have been furnished to Earl Patrick by a Presbyterian
divine, who slyly couched under it an allusion to the evil practices
by which the Earl had established his power. He perhaps trusted that
the language might disguise the import from the Earl.[68] If so, the
Scottish nobility are improved in literature, for the Duke of Gordon
pointed out an error in the Latinity.

"Scalloway has a beautiful and very safe harbor, but as it is somewhat
difficult of access, from a complication of small islands, it is
inferior to Lerwick. Hence, though still nominally the capital of
Zetland, for all edictal citations are made at Scalloway, it has sunk
into a small fishing hamlet. The Norwegians made their original
settlement in this parish of Tingwall. At the head of this loch, and
just below the manse, is a small round islet accessible by
stepping-stones, where they held their courts; hence the islet is
called Law-ting--Ting, or Thing, answering to our word business,
exactly like the Latin _negotium_. It seems odd that in
Dumfries-shire, and even in the Isle of Man, where the race and laws
were surely Celtic, we have this Gothic word Ting and Tingwald applied
in the same way. We dined with Mr. Scott of Scalloway, who, like
several families of this name in Shetland, is derived from the house
of Scotstarvet. They are very clannish, marry much among themselves,
and are proud of their descent. Two young ladies, daughters of Mr.
Scott's, dined with us--they were both Mrs. Scotts, having married
brothers--the husband of one was lost in the unfortunate Doris. They
were pleasant, intelligent women, and exceedingly obliging. Old Mr.
Scott seems a good country gentleman. He is negotiating an exchange
with Lord Dundas, which will give him the Castle of Scalloway and two
or three neighboring islands: the rest of the archipelago (seven, I
think, in number) are already his own. He will thus have command of
the whole fishing and harbor, for which he parts with an estate of
more immediate value, lying on the other side of the mainland. I found
my name made me very popular in this family, and there were many
inquiries after the state of the Buccleuch family, in which they
seemed to take much interest. I found them possessed of the remarkable
circumstances attending the late projected sale of Ancrum, and the
death of Sir John Scott, and thought it strange that, settled for
three generations in a country so distant, they should still take an
interest in those matters. I was loaded with shells and little
curiosities for my young people.

"There was a report (January was two years) of a kraken or some
monstrous fish being seen off Scalloway. The object was visible for a
fortnight, but nobody dared approach it, although I should have
thought the Zetlanders would not have feared the devil if he came by
water. They pretended that the suction, when they came within a
certain distance, was so great as to endanger their boats. The object
was described as resembling a vessel with her keel turned upmost in
the sea, or a small ridge of rock or island. Mr. Scott thinks it might
have been a vessel overset, or a large whale: if the latter, it seems
odd they should not have known it, as whales are the intimate
acquaintances of all Zetland sailors. Whatever it was it disappeared
after a heavy gale of wind, which seems to favor the idea that it was
the wreck of a vessel. Mr. Scott seems to think Pontopiddan's
narrations and descriptions are much more accurate than we inland men
suppose; and I find most Zetlanders of the same opinion. Mr. Turnbull,
who is not credulous upon these subjects, tells me that this year a
parishioner of his, a well-informed and veracious person, saw an
animal, which, if his description was correct, must have been of the
species of sea-snake, driven ashore on one of the Orkneys two or three
years ago. It was very long, and seemed about the thickness of a
Norway log, and swam on the top of the waves, occasionally lifting and
bending its head. Mr. T. says he has no doubt of the veracity of the
narrator, but still thinks it possible it may have been a mere log, or
beam of wood, and that the spectator may have been deceived by the
motion of the waves, joined to the force of imagination. This for the
Duke of Buccleuch.

"At Scalloway my curiosity was gratified by an account of the
sword-dance, now almost lost, but still practised in the Island of
Papa, belonging to Mr. Scott. There are eight performers, seven of
whom represent the Seven Champions of Christendom, who enter one by
one with their swords drawn, and are presented to the eighth
personage, who is not named. Some rude couplets are spoken (in
_English_, not _Norse_), containing a sort of panegyric upon each
champion as he is presented. They then dance a sort of cotillion, as
the ladies described it, going through a number of evolutions with
their swords. One of my three Mrs. Scotts readily promised to procure
me the lines, the rhymes, and the form of the dance. I regret much
that young Mr. Scott was absent during this visit; he is described as
a reader and an enthusiast in poetry. Probably I might have interested
him in preserving the dance, by causing young persons to learn it. A
few years since, a party of Papa-men came to dance the sword-dance at
Lerwick as a public exhibition with great applause. The warlike dances
of the northern people, of which I conceive this to be the only
remnant in the British dominions,[69] are repeatedly alluded to by
their poets and historians. The introduction of the Seven Champions
savors of a later period, and was probably ingrafted upon the dance
when _mysteries_ and _moralities_ (the first scenic representations)
came into fashion. In a stall pamphlet, called the history of
Buckshaven, it is said those fishers sprung from Danes, and brought
with them their _war-dance_ or _sword-dance_, and a rude wooden cut of
it is given. We resist the hospitality of our entertainers, and return
to Lerwick despite a most downright fall of rain. My pony stumbles
coming down hill; saddle sways round, having but one girth and that
too long, and lays me on my back. _N. B._ The bogs in Zetland as soft
as those in Liddesdale. Get to Lerwick about ten at night. No yacht
has appeared.

"_8th August._--No yacht, and a rainy morning; bring up my journal.
Day clears up, and we go to pay our farewell visits of thanks to the
hospitable Lerwegians, and at the Fort. Visit kind old Mr. Mowat, and
walk with him and Collector Ross to the point of Quaggers, or
Twaggers, which forms one arm of the southern entrance to the sound of
Bressay. From the eminence a delightful sea view, with several of
those narrow capes and deep reaches or inlets of the sea, which indent
the shores of that land. On the right hand a narrow bay, bounded by
the isthmus of Sound, with a house upon it resembling an old castle.
In the indenture of the bay, and divided from the sea by a slight
causeway, the lake of _Cleik-him-in_, with its Pictish castle. Beyond
this the bay opens another yet; and, behind all, a succession of
capes, headlands, and islands, as far as the cape called
Sumburgh-head, which is the furthest point of Zetland in that
direction. Inland, craggy, and sable muirs, with cairns, among which
we distinguish the Wart or Ward of Wick, to which we walked on the
4th. On the left the island of Bressay, with its peaked hill called
the Wart of Bressay. Over Bressay see the top of Hang-cliff. Admire
the Bay of Lerwick, with its shipping, widening out to the northwards,
and then again contracted into a narrow sound, through which the
infamous Bothwell was pursued by Kirkaldy of Grange, until he escaped
through the dexterity of his pilot, who sailed close along a sunken
rock, upon which Kirkaldy, keeping the weather-gage, struck, and
sustained damage. The rock is visible at low water, and is still
called the Unicorn, from the name of Kirkaldy's vessel. Admire Mr.
Mowat's little farm, of about thirty acres, bought about twenty years
since for £75, and redeemed from the miserable state of the
surrounding country, so that it now bears excellent corn; here also
was a hay crop. With Mr. Turnbull's it makes two. Visit Mr. Ross,
collector of the customs, who presents me with the most superb
collection of the stone axes (or adzes, or whatever they are), called
_celts_. The Zetlanders call them _thunder-bolts_, and keep them in
their houses as a receipt against thunder; but the Collector has
succeeded in obtaining several. We are now to dress for dinner with
the Notables of Lerwick, who give us an entertainment in their
Town-hall. Oho!

"Just as we were going to dinner, the yacht appeared, and Mr.
Stevenson landed. He gives a most favorable account of the isles to
the northward, particularly Unst. I believe Lerwick is the worst part
of Shetland. Are hospitably received and entertained by the Lerwick
gentlemen. They are a quick, intelligent race--chiefly of Scottish
birth, as appears from their names, Mowat, Gifford, Scott, and so
forth. These are the chief proprietors. The Norwegian or Danish
surnames, though of course the more ancient, belong, with some
exceptions, to the lower ranks. The Veteran Corps expects to be
disbanded, and the officers and Lerwegians seem to part with regret.
Some of the officers talk of settling here. The price of everything is
moderate, and the style of living unexpensive. Against these
conveniences are to be placed a total separation from public life,
news, and literature; and a variable and inhospitable climate.
Lerwick will suffer most severely if the Fort is not occupied by some
force or other; for, between whiskey and frolic, the Greenland sailors
will certainly burn the little town. We have seen a good deal, and
heard much more, of the pranks of these unruly guests. A gentleman of
Lerwick, who had company to dine with him, observed beneath his window
a party of sailors eating a leg of roast mutton, which he witnessed
with philanthropic satisfaction, till he received the melancholy
information, that that individual leg of mutton, being the very
sheet-anchor of his own entertainment, had been violently carried off
from his kitchen, spit and all, by these honest gentlemen, who were
now devouring it. Two others, having carried off a sheep, were
apprehended, and brought before a Justice of the Peace, who questioned
them respecting the fact. The first denied he had taken the sheep, but
said he had seen it taken away by a fellow with a red nose and a black
wig (this was the Justice's description). 'Don't you think he was like
his honor, Tom?' he added, appealing to his comrade. 'By G--, Jack,'
answered Tom, 'I believe it was the very man!' Erskine has been busy
with these facetious gentlemen, and has sent several to prison, but
nothing could have been done without the soldiery. We leave Lerwick at
eight o'clock, and sleep on board the yacht.

"_9th August, 1814._--Waked at seven, and find the vessel has left
Lerwick harbor, and is on the point of entering the sound which
divides the small island of Mousa (or Queen's Island) from
Coningsburgh, a very wild part of the main island so called. Went
ashore, and see the very ancient castle of Mousa, which stands close
on the seashore. It is a Pictish fortress, the most entire probably in
the world. In form it resembles a dice-box, for the truncated cone is
continued only to a certain height, after which it begins to rise
perpendicularly, or rather with a tendency to expand outwards. The
building is round, and has been surrounded with an outer-wall, of
which hardly the slightest vestiges now remain. It is composed of a
layer of stones, without cement; they are not of large size, but
rather small and thin. To give a vulgar comparison, it resembles an
old ruinous pigeon-house. Mr. Stevenson took the dimensions of this
curious fort, which are as follows: Outside diameter at the base is
fifty-two feet; at the top thirty-eight feet. The diameter of the
interior at the base is nineteen feet six inches; at the top
twenty-one feet; the curve in the inside being the reverse of the
outside, or nearly so. The thickness of the walls at the base
seventeen feet; at the top eight feet six inches. The height outside
forty-two feet; the inside thirty-four feet. The door or entrance
faces the sea, and the interior is partly filled with rubbish. When
you enter you see, in the inner wall, a succession of small openings
like windows, directly one above another, with broad flat stones,
serving for lintels; these are about nine inches thick. The whole
resembles a ladder. There were four of these perpendicular rows of
windows or apertures, the situation of which corresponds with the
cardinal points of the compass. You enter the galleries contained in
the thickness of the wall by two of these apertures, which have been
broken down. These interior spaces are of two descriptions: one
consists of a winding ascent, not quite an inclined plane, yet not by
any means a regular stair; but the edges of the stones, being suffered
to project irregularly, serve for rude steps--or a kind of assistance.
Through this narrow staircase, which winds round the building, you
creep up to the top of the castle, which is partly ruinous. But
besides the staircase, there branch off at irregular intervals
horizontal galleries, which go round the whole building, and receive
air from the holes I formerly mentioned. These apertures vary in size,
diminishing as they run, from about thirty inches in width by eighteen
in height, till they are only about a foot square. The lower galleries
are full man height, but narrow. They diminish both in height and
width as they ascend, and as the thickness of the wall in which they
are enclosed diminishes. The uppermost gallery is so narrow and low,
that it was with great difficulty I crept through it. The walls are
built very irregularly, the sweep of the cone being different on the
different sides.

"It is said by Torfæus that this fort was repaired and strengthened by
Erlind, who, having forcibly carried off the mother of Harold, Earl of
the Orkneys, resolved to defend himself to extremity in this place
against the insulted Earl. How a castle could be defended which had no
opening to the outside for shooting arrows, and which was of a
capacity to be pulled to pieces by the assailants, who could advance
without annoyance to the bottom of the wall (unless it were
battlemented upon the top), does not easily appear. But to Erlind's
operations the castle of Mousa possibly owes the upper and
perpendicular, or rather overhanging, part of its elevation, and also
its rude staircase. In these two particulars it seems to differ from
all other Picts' castles, which are ascended by an inclined plane, and
generally, I believe, terminate in a truncated cone, without that
strange counterpart of the perpendicular or projecting part of the
upper wall. Opposite to the castle of Mousa are the ruins of another
Pictish fort: indeed, they all communicate with each other through the
isles. The island of Mousa is the property of a Mr. Piper, who has
improved it considerably, and values his castle. I advised him to
clear out the interior, as he tells us there are three or four
galleries beneath those now accessible, and the difference of height
between the exterior and interior warrants his assertion.

"We get on board, and in time, for the wind freshens, and becomes
contrary. We beat down to Sumburgh-head, through rough weather. This
is the extreme south-eastern point of Zetland; and as the Atlantic and
German oceans unite at this point, a frightful tide runs here, called
Sumburgh-rost. The breeze, contending with the tide, flings the
breakers in great style upon the high broken cliffs of Sumburgh-head.
They are all one white foam, ascending to a great height. We wished to
double this point, and lie by in a bay between that and the northern
or north-western cape, called Fitful-head, and which seems higher than
Sumburgh itself--and tacked repeatedly with this view; but a
confounded islet, called _The Horse_, always baffled us, and, after
three heats, fairly distanced us. So we run into a roadstead, called
Quendal Bay, on the south-eastern side, and there anchor for the
night. We go ashore with various purposes,--Stevenson to see the site
of a proposed lighthouse on this tremendous cape--Marjoribanks to
shoot rabbits--and Duff and I to look about us.

"I ascended the head by myself, which is lofty, and commands a wild
sea-view. Zetland stretches away, with all its projecting capes and
inlets, to the north-eastward. Many of those inlets approach each
other very nearly; indeed, the two opposite bays at Sumburgh-head
seem on the point of joining, and rendering that cape an island. The
two creeks from those east and western seas are only divided by a low
isthmus of blowing sand, and similar to that which wastes part of the
east coast of Scotland. It has here blown like the deserts of Arabia,
and destroyed some houses, formerly the occasional residences of the
Earls of Orkney. The steep and rocky side of the cape, which faces the
west, does not seem much more durable. These lofty cliffs are all of
sand-flag, a very loose and perishable kind of rock, which slides down
in immense masses, like avalanches, after every storm. The rest lies
so loose, that, on the very brow of the loftiest crag, I had no
difficulty in sending down a fragment as large as myself: he thundered
down in tremendous style, but splitting upon a projecting cliff,
descended into the ocean like a shower of shrapnel shot. The sea
beneath rages incessantly among a thousand of the fragments which have
fallen from the peaks, and which assume an hundred strange shapes. It
would have been a fine situation to compose an ode to the Genius of
Sumburgh-head, or an Elegy upon a Cormorant--or to have written and
spoken madness of any kind in prose or poetry. But I gave vent to my
excited feelings in a more simple way; and sitting gently down on the
steep green slope which led to the beach, I e'en slid down a few
hundred feet, and found the exercise quite an adequate vent to my
enthusiasm. I recommend this exercise (time and place suiting) to all
my brother scribblers, and I have no doubt it will save much effusion
of Christian ink. Those slopes are covered with beautiful short
herbage. At the foot of the ascent, and towards the isthmus, is the
old house of Sumburgh, in appearance a most dreary mansion. I found,
on my arrival at the beach, that the hospitality of the inhabitants
had entrapped my companions. I walked back to meet them, but escaped
the gin and water. On board about nine o'clock at night. A little
schooner lies between us and the shore, which we had seen all day
buffeting the tide and breeze like ourselves. The wind increases, and
the ship is made SNUG--a sure sign the passengers will not be so.

"_10th August, 1814._--The omen was but too true--a terrible
combustion on board, among plates, dishes, glasses, writing-desks,
etc., etc.; not a wink of sleep. We weigh and stand out into that
delightful current called _Sumburgh-rost_, or _rust_. This tide
certainly owes us a grudge, for it drove us to the eastward about
thirty miles on the night of the first, and occasioned our missing the
Fair Isle, and now it has caught us on our return. All the landsmen
sicker than sick, and our Viceroy, Stevenson, qualmish. This is the
only time that I have felt more than temporary inconvenience, but this
morning I have headache and nausea; these are trifles, and in a
well-found vessel, with a good pilot, we have none of that mixture of
danger which gives dignity to the traveller. But he must have a
stouter heart than mine, who can contemplate without horror the
situation of a vessel of an inferior description caught among these
headlands and reefs of rocks, in the long and dark winter nights of
these regions. Accordingly, wrecks are frequent. It is proposed to
have a light on Sumburgh-head, which is the first land made by vessels
coming from the eastward; Fitful-head is higher, but is to the west,
from which quarter few vessels come.

"We are now clear of Zetland, and about ten o'clock reach the Fair
Isle;[70] one of their boats comes off, a strange-looking thing
without an entire plank in it, excepting one on each side, upon the
strength of which the whole depends, the rest being patched and
joined. This trumpery skiff the men manage with the most astonishing
dexterity, and row with remarkable speed; they have two banks, that
is, two rowers on each bench, and use very short paddles. The wildness
of their appearance, with long elf-locks, striped worsted caps, and
shoes of raw-hide--the fragility of their boat--and their extreme
curiosity about us and our cutter, give them a title to be
distinguished as _natives_. One of our people told their steersman, by
way of jeer, that he must have great confidence in Providence to go to
sea in such a vehicle; the man very sensibly replied that without the
same confidence he would not go to sea in the best _tool_ in England.
We take to our boat, and row for about three miles round the coast, in
order to land at the inhabited part of the island. This coast abounds
with grand views of rocks and bays. One immense portion of rock is
(like the Holm of Noss) separated by a chasm from the mainland. As it
is covered with herbage on the top, though a literal precipice all
round, the natives contrive to ascend the rock by a place which would
make a goat dizzy, and then drag the sheep up by ropes, though they
sometimes carry a sheep up on their shoulders. The captain of a sloop
of war, being ashore while they were at this work, turned giddy and
sick while looking at them. This immense precipice is several hundred
feet high, and is perforated below by some extraordinary apertures,
through which a boat might pass; the light shines distinctly through
these hideous chasms.

"After passing a square bay called the North-haven, tenanted by
sea-fowl and seals (the first we have yet seen), we come in view of
the small harbor. Land, and breakfast, for which, till now, none of us
felt inclination. In front of the little harbor is the house of the
tacksman, Mr. Strong, and in view are three small assemblages of
miserable huts, where the inhabitants of the isle live. There are
about thirty families and 250 inhabitants upon the Fair Isle. It
merits its name, as the plain upon which the hamlets are situated
bears excellent barley, oats, and potatoes, and the rest of the isle
is beautiful pasture, excepting to the eastward, where there is a
moss, equally essential to the comfort of the inhabitants, since it
supplies them with peats for fuel. The Fair Isle is about three miles
long and a mile and a half broad. Mr. Strong received us very
courteously. He lives here, like Robinson Crusoe, in absolute solitude
as to society, unless by a chance visit from the officers of a
man-of-war. There is a signal-post maintained on the island by
Government, under this gentleman's inspection; when any ship appears
that cannot answer his signals, he sends off to Lerwick and Kirkwall
to give the alarm. Rogers[71] was off here last year, and nearly cut
off one of Mr. Strong's express-boats, but the active islanders
outstripped his people by speed of rowing. The inhabitants pay Mr.
Strong for the possessions which they occupy under him as sub-tenants,
and cultivate the isle in their own way, _i. e._, by digging instead
of ploughing (though the ground is quite open and free from rocks, and
they have several scores of ponies), and by raising alternate crops of
barley, oats, and potatoes; the first and last are admirably good.
They rather over-manure their crops; the possessions lie runrig, that
is, by alternate ridges, and the outfield or pasture ground is
possessed as common to all their cows and ponies. The islanders fish
for Mr. Strong at certain fixed rates, and the fish is his property,
which he sends to Kirkwall, Lerwick, or elsewhere, in a little
schooner, the same which we left in Quendal Bay, and about the arrival
of which we found them anxious. An equal space of rich land on the
Fair Isle, situated in an inland county of Scotland, would rent for
£3000 a year at the very least. To be sure it would not be burdened
with the population of 250 souls, whose bodies (fertile as it is) it
cannot maintain in bread, they being supplied chiefly from the
mainland. Fish they have plenty, and are even nice in their choice.
Skate they will not touch; dog-fish they say is only food for
Orkney-men, and when they catch them, they make a point of tormenting
the poor fish for eating off their baits from the hook, stealing the
haddocks from their lines, and other enormities. These people, being
about halfway between Shetland and Orkney, have unfrequent connection
with either archipelago, and live and marry entirely among themselves.
One lad told me, only five persons had left the island since his
remembrance, and of those, three were pressed for the navy. They
seldom go to Greenland; but this year five or six of their young men
were on board the whalers. They seemed extremely solicitous about
their return, and repeatedly questioned us about the names of the
whalers which were at Lerwick, a point on which we could give little

"The manners of these islanders seem primitive and simple, and they
are sober, good-humored and friendly,--but _jimp_ honest. Their
comforts are, of course, much dependent on _their master's_ pleasure;
for so they call Mr. Strong. But they gave him the highest character
for kindness and liberality, and prayed to God he might long be their
ruler. After mounting the signal-post hill, or Malcolm's Head, which
is faced by a most tremendous cliff, we separated on our different
routes. The Sheriff went to rectify the only enormity on the island,
which existed in the person of a drunken schoolmaster; Marchie[72]
went to shoot sea-fowl, or rather to frighten them, as his
calumniators allege. Stevenson and Duff went to inspect the remains or
vestiges of a Danish lighthouse upon a distant hill, called, as
usual, the Ward, or Ward-hill, and returned with specimens of copper
ore. Hamilton went down to cater fish for our dinner, and see it
properly cooked--and I to see two remarkable indentures in the coast
called _Rivas_, perhaps from their being rifted or _riven_. They are
exactly like the Buller of Buchan, the sea rolling into a large open
basin within the land through a natural archway. These places are
close to each other; one is oblong, and it is easy to descend into it
by a rude path; the other gulf is inaccessible from the land, unless
to a _crags-man_, as these venturous climbers call themselves. I sat
for about an hour upon the verge, like the cormorants around me,
hanging my legs over the precipice; but I could not get free of two or
three well-meaning islanders, who held me fast by the skirts all the
time--for it must be conceived that our numbers and appointments had
drawn out the whole population to admire and attend us. After we
separated, each, like the nucleus of a comet, had his own distinct
train of attendants.--Visit the capital town, a wretched assemblage of
the basest huts, dirty without, and still dirtier within; pigs, fowls,
cows, men, women, and children, all living promiscuously under the
same roof, and in the same room--the brood-sow making (among the more
opulent) a distinguished inhabitant of the mansion. The compost, a
liquid mass of utter abomination, is kept in a square pond of seven
feet deep; when I censured it, they allowed it might be dangerous to
the _bairns_; but appeared unconscious of any other objection. I
cannot wonder they want meal, for assuredly they waste it. A great
_bowie_ or wooden vessel of porridge is made in the morning; a child
comes and sups a few spoonfuls; then Mrs. Sow takes her share; then
the rest of the children or the parents, and all at pleasure; then
come the poultry when the mess is more cool; the rest is flung upon
the dunghill--and the goodwife wonders and complains when she wants
meal in winter. They are a long-lived race, notwithstanding utter and
inconceivable dirt and sluttery. A man of sixty told me his father
died only last year, aged ninety-eight; nor was this considered as
very unusual.

"The clergyman of Dunrossness, in Zetland, visits these poor people once
a year, for a week or two during summer. In winter this is impossible,
and even the summer visit is occasionally interrupted for two years.
Marriages and baptisms are performed, as one of the Isles-men told me,
_by the slump_, and one of the children was old enough to tell the
clergyman who sprinkled him with water, 'Deil be in your fingers.' Last
time, four couple were married; sixteen children baptized. The
schoolmaster reads a portion of Scripture in the church each Sunday,
when the clergyman is absent; but the present man is unfit for this part
of his duty. The women knit worsted stockings, night-caps, and similar
trifles, which they exchange with any merchant vessels that approach
their lonely isle. In these respects they greatly regret the American
war; and mention with unction the happy days when they could get from an
American trader a bottle of peach-brandy or rum in exchange for a pair
of worsted stockings or a dozen of eggs. The humanity of their _master_
interferes much with the favorite but dangerous occupation of the
islanders, which is _fowling_, that is, taking the young sea-fowl from
their nests among these tremendous crags. About a fortnight before we
arrived, a fine boy of fourteen had dropped from the cliff, while in
prosecution of this amusement, into a roaring surf, by which he was
instantly swallowed up. The unfortunate mother was laboring at the
peat-moss at a little distance. These accidents do not, however, strike
terror into the survivors. They regard the death of an individual
engaged in these desperate exploits as we do the fate of a brave
relation who falls in battle, when the honor of his death furnishes a
balm to our sorrow. It therefore requires all the tacksman's authority
to prevent a practice so pregnant with danger. Like all other precarious
and dangerous employments, the occupation of the crags-men renders them
unwilling to labor at employments of a more steady description. The Fair
Isle inhabitants are a good-looking race, more like Zetlanders than
Orkney-men. Evenson, and other names of a Norwegian or Danish
derivation, attest their Scandinavian descent. Return and dine at Mr.
Strong's, having sent our cookery ashore, not to overburthen his
hospitality. In this place, and perhaps in the very cottage now
inhabited by Mr. Strong, the Duke of Medina Sidonia, Commander-in-Chief
of the Invincible Armada, wintered, after losing his vessel to the
eastward of the island. It was not till he had spent some weeks in this
miserable abode, that he got off to Norway. Independently of the moral
consideration, that, from the pitch of power in which he stood a few
days before, the proudest peer of the proudest nation in Europe found
himself dependent on the jealous and scanty charity of these secluded
islanders, it is scarce possible not to reflect with compassion on the
change of situation from the palaces of Estremadura to the hamlet of the
Fair Isle--

  'Dost thou wish for thy deserts, O Son of Hodeirah?
   Dost thou long for the gales of Arabia?'[73]

"Mr. Strong gave me a curious old chair belonging to Quendale, a
former proprietor of the Fair Isle, and which a more zealous antiquary
would have dubbed 'the Duke's chair.' I will have it refitted for
Abbotsford, however. About eight o'clock we take boat, amid the cheers
of the inhabitants, whose minds, subdued by our splendor, had been
secured by our munificence, which consisted in a moderate benefaction
of whiskey and tobacco, and a few shillings laid out on their staple
commodities. They agreed no such day had been seen in the isle. The
signal-post displayed its flags, and to recompense these distinguished
marks of honor, we hung out our colors, stood into the bay, and
saluted with three guns,

  'Echoing from a thousand caves."

and then bear away for Orkney, leaving, if our vanity does not deceive
us, a very favorable impression on the mind of the inhabitants of the
Fair Isle. The tradition of the Fair Isle is unfavorable to those
shipwrecked strangers, who are said to have committed several acts of
violence to extort the supplies of provision, given them sparingly and
with reluctance by the islanders, who were probably themselves very
far from being well supplied.

"I omitted to say we were attended in the morning by two very sportive
whales, but of a kind, as some of our crew who had been on board
Greenland-men assured us, which it was very dangerous to attack. There
were two Gravesend smacks fishing off the isle. Lord, what a long
draught London makes!

"_11th August, 1814._--After a sound sleep to make amends for last
night, we find, at awaking, the vessel off the Start of Sanda, the
first land in the Orkneys which we could make. There a lighthouse has
been erected lately upon the best construction. Landed and surveyed
it. All in excellent order, and the establishment of the keepers in
the same style of comfort and respectability as elsewhere, far better
than the house of the master of the Fair Isle, and rivalling my own
baronial mansion of Abbotsford. Go to the top of the tower and survey
the island, which, as the name implies, is level, flat, and sandy,
quite the reverse of those in Zetland: it is intersected by creeks and
small lakes, and, though it abounds with shell marle, seems barren.
There is one dreadful inconvenience of an island life, of which we had
here an instance. The keeper's wife had an infant in her arms--her
first-born, too, of which the poor woman had been delivered without
assistance. Erskine told us of a horrid instance of malice which had
been practised in this island of Sanda. A decent tenant, during the
course of three or four successive years, lost to the number of
twenty-five cattle, stabbed as they lay in their fold by some
abominable wretch. What made the matter stranger was, that the poor
man could not recollect any reason why he should have had the ill-will
of a single being, only that in taking up names for the _militia_, a
duty imposed upon him by the Justices, he thought he might possibly
have given some unknown offence. The villain was never discovered.

"The wrecks on this coast were numerous before the erection of the
lighthouse. It was not uncommon to see five or six vessels on shore at
once. The goods and chattels of the inhabitants are all said to savor
of _Flotsome_ and _Jetsome_, as the floating wreck and that which is
driven ashore are severally called. Mr. Stevenson happened to observe
that the boat of a Sanda farmer had bad sails--'If it had been His
(_i. e._, God's) will that you hadna built sae many lighthouses
hereabout'--answered the Orcadian, with great composure--'I would have
had new sails last winter.' Thus do they talk and think upon these
subjects; and so talking and thinking, I fear the poor mariner has
little chance of any very anxious attempt to assist him. There is one
wreck, a Danish vessel, now aground under our lee. These Danes are the
stupidest seamen, by all accounts, that sail the sea. When this light
upon the Start of Sanda was established, the Commissioners, with
laudable anxiety to extend its utility, had its description and
bearings translated into Danish and sent to Copenhagen. But they
never attend to such trifles. The Norwegians are much better liked, as
a clever, hardy, sensible people. I forgot to notice there was a
Norwegian prize lying in the Sound of Lerwick, sent in by one of our
cruisers. This was a queer-looking, half-decked vessel, all tattered
and torn, and shaken to pieces, looking like Coleridge's Spectre Ship.
It was pitiable to see such a prize. Our servants went aboard, and got
one of their loaves, and gave a dreadful account of its composition. I
got and cut a crust of it; it was rye-bread, with a slight mixture of
pine-fir bark or sawings of deal. It was not good, but (as Charles
XII. said) might be eaten. But after all, if the people can be
satisfied with such bread as this, it seems hard to interdict it to
them. What would a Londoner say if, instead of his roll and muffins,
this black bread, relishing of tar and turpentine, were presented for
his breakfast? I would to God there could be a Jehovah-jireh, 'a ram
caught in the thicket,' to prevent the sacrifice of that people.

"The few friends who may see this Journal are much indebted for these
pathetic remarks to the situation under which they are recorded; for
since we left the lighthouse we have been struggling with adverse wind
(pretty high too), and a very strong tide, called the Rost of the
Start, which, like Sumburgh Rost, bodes no good to our roast and
boiled. The worst is that this struggle carries us past a most curious
spectacle, being no less than the carcases of two hundred and
sixty-five whales, which have been driven ashore in Taftsness Bay, now
lying close under us. With all the inclination in the world, it is
impossible to stand in close enough to verify this massacre of
Leviathans with our own eyes, as we do not care to run the risk of
being drawn ashore ourselves among the party. In fact, this species of
spectacle has been of late years very common among the isles. Mr.
Stevenson saw upwards of a hundred and fifty whales lying upon the
shore in a bay at Unst, in his northward trip. They are not large, but
are decided whales, measuring perhaps from fifteen to twenty-five
feet. They are easily mastered, for the first that is wounded among
the sounds and straits so common in the isles usually runs ashore. The
rest follow the blood, and, urged on by the boats behind, run ashore
also. A cut with one of the long whaling knives under the back-fin is
usually fatal to these huge animals. The two hundred and sixty-five
whales, now lying within two or three miles of us, were driven ashore
by seven boats only.

"_Five o'clock._--We are out of the _Rost_ (I detest that word), and
driving fast through a long sound among low green islands, which
hardly lift themselves above the sea--not a cliff or hill to be
seen--what a contrast to the land we have left! We are standing for
some creek or harbor, called Lingholm Bay, to lie to or anchor for the
night; for to pursue our course by night, and that a thick one, among
these isles, and islets, and sand-banks, is out of the question--clear
moonlight might do. Our sea is now moderate. But, oh gods and men!
what misfortunes have travellers to record! Just as the quiet of the
elements had reconciled us to the thought of dinner, we learn that an
unlucky sea has found its way into the galley during the last infernal
combustion, when the lee-side and boltsprit were constantly under
water; so our soup is poisoned with salt water--our cod and haddocks,
which cost ninepence this blessed morning, and would have been worth a
couple of guineas in London, are soused in their primitive
element--the curry is undone--and all gone to the devil. We all apply
ourselves to comfort our Lord High Admiral Hamilton, whose despair for
himself and the public might edify a patriot. His good-humor--which
has hitherto defied every incident, aggravated even by the
gout--supported by a few bad puns, and a great many fair promises on
the part of the steward and cook, fortunately restores his

"_Eight o'clock._--Our supplemental dinner proved excellent, and we
have glided into an admirable roadstead or harbor, called Lingholm
Bay, formed by the small island of Lingholm embracing a small basin
dividing that islet from the larger isle of Stronsay. Both, as well as
Sanda, Eda, and others which we have passed, are low, green, and
sandy. I have seen nothing to-day worth marking, except the sporting
of a very large whale at some distance, and H.'s face at the news of
the disaster in the cook-room. We are to weigh at two in the morning,
and hope to reach Kirkwall, the capital of Orkney, by breakfast
to-morrow. I trust there are no _rusts_ or _rosts_ in the road. I
shall detest that word even when used to signify verd antique or
patina in the one sense, or roast venison in the other. Orkney shall
begin a new volume of these exquisite memoranda.

       *       *       *       *       *

"OMISSION.--At Lerwick the Dutch fishers had again appeared on their
old haunts. A very interesting meeting took place between them and the
Lerwegians, most of them being old acquaintances. They seemed very
poor, and talked of having been pillaged of everything by the French,
and expected to have found Lerwick ruined by the war. They have all
the careful, quiet, and economical habits of their country, and go on
board their busses with the utmost haste so soon as they see the
Greenland sailors, who usually insult and pick quarrels with them. The
great amusement of the Dutch sailors is to hire the little ponies, and
ride up and down upon them. On one occasion, a good many years ago, an
English sailor interrupted this cavalcade, frightened the horses, and
one or two Dutchmen got tumbles. Incensed at this beyond their usual
moderation, they pursued the cause of their overthrow, and wounded him
with one of their knives. The wounded man went on board his vessel,
the crew of which, about fifty strong, came ashore with their long
flinching knives with which they cut up the whales, and falling upon
the Dutchmen, though twice their numbers, drove them all into the sea,
where such as could not swim were in some risk of being drowned. The
instance of aggression, or rather violent retaliation, on their part,
is almost solitary. In general they are extremely quiet, and employ
themselves in bartering their little merchandise of gin and
gingerbread for Zetland hose and night-caps."

Footnotes of the Chapter XXVIII.

[59: [Robert Stevenson, the eminent civil engineer, for
nearly half a century the engineer to the Board of Northern Lights.
He inaugurated the present Scottish lighthouse system, and no less
than twenty lighthouses were designed and constructed under his
superintendence, the most remarkable being the famous Bell Rock
tower. He died in 1850. Three of his sons, one of whom became his
biographer, greatly distinguished themselves in their father's
profession. Robert Louis Stevenson, in his fragment of family
history, _Records of a Family of Engineers_, has left a vivid
picture of his grandfather, though it be but an unfinished sketch.]]

[60: On being requested, while at breakfast, to inscribe
his name in the album of the tower, Scott penned immediately the
following lines:--


  "Far in the bosom of the deep,
  O'er these wild shelves my watch I keep;
  A ruddy gem of changeful light,
  Bound on the dusky brow of night,
  The seaman bids my lustre hail,
  And scorns to strike his timorous sail."]

[61: This is, without doubt, an allusion to some happy
day's excursion when his _first love_ was of the party.]

[62: Erskine--Sheriff of Shetland and Orkney.]

[63: Here occurs a rude scratch of drawing.]

[64: Lord Dundas was created Earl of Zetland in 1838, and
died in February, 1839.]

[65: Campbell--_Pleasures of Hope_.]

[66: Robert Hamilton, Sheriff of Lanarkshire, and
afterwards one of the Clerks of Session, was a particular favorite
of Scott--first, among many other good reasons, because he had been
a soldier in his youth, had fought gallantly and been wounded
severely in the American war, and was a very Uncle Toby in military
enthusiasm; secondly, because he was a brother antiquary of the
genuine Monkbarns breed; thirdly (last, not least), because he was,
in spite of the example of the head of his name and race, a steady
Tory. Mr. Hamilton sent for Scott when upon his deathbed in 1831,
and desired him to choose and carry off as a parting memorial any
article he liked in his collection of arms. Sir Walter (by that time
sorely shattered in his own health) selected the sword with which
his good friend had been begirt at Bunker's Hill.]

[67: During the winter of 1837-38, this worthy clergyman's
wife, his daughter, and a servant, perished within sight of the
manse, from a flaw in the ice on the loch--which they were crossing
as the nearest way home.--(1839.)]

[68: In his reviewal of Pitcairn's _Trials_ (1831), Scott
says: "In erecting this Earl's Castle of Scalloway, and other
expensive edifices, the King's tenants were forced to work in
quarries, transport stone, dig, delve, climb, and build, and submit
to all possible sorts of servile and painful labor, without either
meat, drink, hire, or recompense of any kind. 'My father,' said Earl
Patrick, 'built his house at Sumburgh on the sand, and it has given
way already; this of mine on the rock shall abide and endure.' He
did not or would not understand that the oppression, rapacity, and
cruelty, by means of which the house arose, were what the clergyman
really pointed to in his recommendation of a motto. Accordingly, the
huge tower remains wild and desolate--its chambers filled with sand,
and its rifted walls and dismantled battlements giving unrestrained
access to the roaring sea blast."--For more of Earl Patrick, see
Scott's _Miscellaneous Prose Works_, vol. xxi. pp. 230, 233; vol.
xxiii. pp. 327, 329.]

[69: Mr. W. S. Rose informs me, that when he was at school
at Winchester, the morris-dancers there used to exhibit a
sword-dance resembling that described at Camacho's wedding in Don
Quixote; and Mr. Morritt adds, that similar dances are even yet
performed in the villages about Rokeby every Christmas.]

[70: This is a solitary island, lying about halfway between
Orkney and Zetland.]

[71: An American Commodore.]

[72: Mr. Marjoribanks.]

[73: _Thalaba_, Book VIII.]




"_12th August, 1814._--With a good breeze and calm sea we weighed at
two in the morning, and worked by short tacks up to Kirkwall Bay,
and find ourselves in that fine basin upon rising in the morning.
The town looks well from the sea, but is chiefly indebted to the
huge old cathedral that rises out of the centre. Upon landing we
find it but a poor and dirty place, especially towards the harbor.
Farther up the town are seen some decent old-fashioned houses, and
the Sheriff's interest secures us good lodgings. Marchie goes to
hunt for a pointer. The morning, which was rainy, clears up
pleasantly, and Hamilton, Erskine, Duff, and I walk to Malcolm
Laing's, who has a pleasant house about half a mile from the town.
Our old acquaintance, though an invalid, received us kindly; he
looks very poorly, and cannot walk without assistance, but seems to
retain all the quick, earnest, and vivacious intelligence of his
character and manner. After this, visit the antiquities of the
place, namely, the Bishop's palace, the Earl of Orkney's castle, and
the cathedral, all situated within a stone-cast of each other. The
two former are ruinous. The most prominent part of the ruins of the
Bishop's palace is a large round tower, similar to that of Bothwell
in architecture, but not equal to it in size. This was built by
Bishop Reid, _tempore Jacobi V._, and there is a rude statue of him
in a niche in the front. At the north-east corner of the building is
a square tower of greater antiquity, called the Mense or Mass Tower;
but, as well as a second and smaller round tower, it is quite
ruinous. A suite of apartments of different sizes fills up the
space between these towers, all now ruinous. The building is said to
have been of great antiquity, but was certainly in a great measure
reëdified in the sixteenth century.

"Fronting this castle or palace of the Bishop, and about a gun-shot
distant, is that of the Earl of Orkney. The Earl's palace was built
by Patrick Stewart, Earl of Orkney, the same who erected that of
Scalloway, in Shetland. It is an elegant structure, partaking at
once of the character of a palace and castle. The building forms
three sides of an oblong square, but one of the sides extends
considerably beyond the others. The great hall must have been
remarkably handsome, opening into two or three huge rounds or
turrets, the lower part of which is divided by stone shafts into
three windows. It has two immense chimneys, the arches or lintels of
which are formed by a flat arch, as at Crichton Castle. There is
another very handsome apartment communicating with the hall like a
modern drawing-room, and which has, like the former, its projecting
turrets. The hall is lighted by a fine Gothic-shafted window at one
end, and by others on the sides. It is approached by a spacious and
elegant staircase of three flights of steps. The dimensions may be
sixty feet long, twenty broad, and fourteen high, but doubtless an
arched roof sprung from the side walls, so that fourteen feet was
only the height from the ground to the arches. Any modern architect,
wishing to emulate the real Gothic architecture, and apply it to the
purposes of modern splendor, might derive excellent hints from this
room. The exterior ornaments are also extremely elegant. The ruins,
once the residence of this haughty and oppressive Earl, are now so
disgustingly nasty, that it required all the zeal of an antiquary to
prosecute the above investigation. Architecture seems to have been
Earl Patrick's prevailing taste. Besides this castle and that of
Scalloway, he added to or enlarged the old castle of Bressay. To
accomplish these objects, he oppressed the people with severities
unheard of even in that oppressive age, drew down on himself a
shameful though deserved punishment, and left these dishonored ruins
to hand down to posterity the tale of his crimes and of his fall. We
may adopt, though in another sense, his own presumptuous motto--_Sic
Fuit, Est, et Erit_.

"We visit the cathedral, dedicated to St. Magnus, which greeted the
Sheriff's approach with a merry peal. Like that of Glasgow, this
church has escaped the blind fury of Reformation. It was founded in
1138, by Ronald, Earl of Orkney, nephew of the Saint. It is of great
size, being 260 feet long, or thereabout, and supported by
twenty-eight Saxon pillars, of good workmanship. The round arch
predominates in the building, but I think not exclusively. The
steeple (once a very high spire) rises upon four pillars of great
strength, which occupy each angle of the nave. Being destroyed by
lightning, it was rebuilt upon a low and curtailed plan. The
appearance of the building is rather massive and gloomy than
elegant, and many of the exterior ornaments, carving around the
doorways, etc., have been injured by time. We entered the cathedral,
the whole of which is kept locked, swept, and in good order,
although only the eastern end is used for divine worship. We walked
some time in the nave and western end, which is left unoccupied, and
has a very solemn effect as the avenue to the place of worship.
There were many tombstones on the floor and elsewhere; some,
doubtless, of high antiquity. One, I remarked, had the shield of
arms hung by the corner, with a helmet above it of a large
proportion, such as I have seen on the most ancient seals. But we
had neither time nor skill to decipher what noble Orcadian lay
beneath. The church is as well fitted up as could be expected; much
of the old carved oak remains, but with a motley mixture of modern
deal pews. All, however, is neat and clean, and does great honor to
the kirk-session who maintain its decency. I remarked particularly
Earl Patrick's seat, adjoining to that of the magistrates, but
surmounting it and every other in the church: it is surrounded with
a carved screen of oak, rather elegant, and bears his arms and
initials, and the motto I have noticed. He bears the royal arms
_without any mark of bastardy_ (his father was a natural son of
James V.) quarterly, with a lymphad or galley, the ancient arms of
the county. This circumstance was charged against him on his
trial.[74] I understand the late Mr. Gilbert Laing Meason left the
interest of £1000 to keep up this cathedral.

"There are in the street facing the cathedral the ruins of a much
more ancient castle; a proper feudal fortress belonging to the Earls
of Orkney, but called the King's Castle. It appears to have been
very strong, being situated near the harbor, and having, as appears
from the fragments, very massive walls. While the wicked Earl
Patrick was in confinement, one of his natural sons defended this
castle to extremity against the King's troops, and only surrendered
when it was nearly a heap of ruins, and then under condition he
should not be brought in evidence against his father.

"We dine at the inn, and drink the Prince Regent's health, being
that of the day--Mr. Baikie of Tankerness dines with us.

"_13th August, 1814._--A bad morning, but clears up. No letters from
Edinburgh. The country about Kirkwall is flat, and tolerably
cultivated. We see oxen generally wrought in the small country
carts, though they have a race of ponies, like those of Shetland,
but larger. Marchie goes to shoot on a hill called Whiteford, which
slopes away about two or three miles from Kirkwall. The grouse is
abundant, for the gentleman who chaperons Marchie killed thirteen
brace and a half, with a snipe. There are no partridges nor hares.
The soil of Orkney is better, and its air more genial than Shetland;
but it is far less interesting, and possesses none of the wild and
peculiar character of the more northern archipelago. All vegetables
grow here freely in the gardens, and there are one or two attempts
at trees where they are sheltered by walls. How ill they succeed may
be conjectured from our bringing with us a quantity of brushwood,
commissioned by Malcolm Laing from Aberbrothock, to be sticks to his
pease. This trash we brought two hundred miles. I have little to
add, except that the Orkney people have some odd superstitions about
a stone on which they take oaths to Odin. Lovers often perform this
ceremony in pledge of mutual faith, and are said to account it a
sacred engagement.--It is agreed that we go on board after dinner,
and sail with the next tide. The magistrates of Kirkwall present us
with the freedom of their ancient burgh; and Erskine, instead of
being cumbered with drunken sailors, as at Lerwick, or a drunken
schoolmaster, as at Fair Isle, is annoyed by his own Substitute.
This will occasion his remaining two days at Kirkwall, during which
time it is proposed we shall visit the lighthouse upon the dangerous
rocks called the Skerries, in the Pentland Frith; and then,
returning to the eastern side of Pomona, take up the counsellor at
Stromness. It is further settled that we leave Marchie with Erskine
to get another day's shooting. On board at ten o'clock, after a
little bustle in expediting our domestics, washerwomen, etc.

"_14th August, 1814._--Sail about four, and in rounding the mainland
of Orkney, called Pomona, encounter a very heavy sea; about ten
o'clock, get into the Sound of Holm or Ham, a fine smooth current
meandering away between two low green islands, which have little to
characterize them. On the right of the Sound is the mainland, and a
deep bay called Scalpa Flow indents it up to within two miles of
Kirkwall. A canal through this neck of the island would be of great
consequence to the burgh. We see the steeple and church of Kirkwall
across the island very distinctly. Getting out of the Sound of Holm,
we stand in to the harbor or roadstead of Widewall, where we find
seven or eight foreign vessels bound for Ireland, and a sloop
belonging to the lighthouse service. These roadsteads are common all
through the Orkneys, and afford excellent shelter for small vessels.
The day is pleasant and sunny, but the breeze is too high to permit
landing at the Skerries. Agree, therefore, to stand over for the
mainland of Scotland, and visit Thurso. Enter the Pentland Frith, so
celebrated for the strength and fury of its tides, which is boiling
even in this pleasant weather; we see a large ship battling with
this heavy current, and though with all her canvas set and a breeze,
getting more and more involved. See the two Capes of Dungsby or
Duncansby, and Dunnet-head, between which lies the celebrated John
o' Groat's house, on the north-eastern extremity of Scotland. The
shores of Caithness rise bold and rocky before us,--a contrast to
the Orkneys, which are all low, excepting the Island of Hoy. On
Duncansby-head appear some remarkable rocks, like towers, called the
Stacks of Duncansby. Near this shore runs the remarkable breaking
tide called the _Merry Men of Mey_, whence Mackenzie takes the
scenery of a poem--

  'Where the dancing Men of Mey,
  Speed the current to the land.'[75]

Here, according to his locality, the Caithness-man witnessed the
vision, in which was introduced the song, translated by Gray, under
the title of The Fatal Sisters. On this subject, Mr. Baikie told me
the following remarkable circumstance: A clergyman told him, that
while some remnants of the Norse were yet spoken in North Ronaldsha,
he carried thither the translation of Mr. Gray, then newly
published, and read it to some of the old people as referring to the
ancient history of their islands. But so soon as he had proceeded a
little way, they exclaimed they knew it very well in the original,
and had often sung it to himself when he asked them for an old Norse
song; they called it The Enchantresses.--The breeze dies away
between two wicked little islands called Swona and Stroma,--the
latter belonging to Caithness, the former to Orkney.--_Nota Bene_.
The inhabitants of the rest of the Orcades despise those of Swona
for eating limpets, as being the last of human meannesses. Every
land has its fashions. The Fair-Isles-men disdain Orkney-men for
eating dog-fish. Both islands have dangerous reefs and whirlpools,
where, even in this fine day, the tide rages furiously. Indeed, the
large high unbroken billows, which at every swell hide from our deck
each distant object, plainly intimate what a dreadful current this
must be when vexed by high or adverse winds. Finding ourselves
losing ground in the tide, and unwilling to waste time, we give up
Thurso--run back into the roadstead or bay of Long-Hope, and anchor
under the fort. The bay has four entrances and safe anchorage in
most winds, and having become a great rendezvous for shipping (there
are nine vessels lying here at present) has been an object of
attention with Government.

"Went ashore after dinner, and visited the fort, which is only
partly completed: it is a _flêche_ to the sea, with eight guns,
twenty-four pounders, but without any land defences; the guns are
mounted _en barbette_, without embrasures, each upon a kind of
movable stage, which stage wheeling upon a pivot in front, and
traversing by means of wheels behind, can be pointed in any
direction that may be thought necessary. Upon this stage, the
gun-carriage moves forward and recoils, and the depth of the parapet
shelters the men even better than an embrasure. At a little distance
from this battery they are building a Martello tower, which is to
cross the fire of the battery, and also that of another projected
tower upon the opposite point of the bay. The expedience of these
towers seems excessively problematical. Supposing them impregnable,
or nearly so, a garrison of fourteen or fifteen men may be always
blockaded by a very trifling number, while the enemy dispose of all
in the vicinity at their pleasure. In the case of Long-Hope, for
instance, a frigate might disembark 100 men, take the fort in the
rear, where it is undefended even by a palisade, destroy the
magazines, spike and dismount the cannon, carry off or cut out any
vessels in the roadstead, and accomplish all the purposes that could
bring them to so remote a spot, in spite of a sergeant's party in
the Martello tower, and without troubling themselves about them at
all. Meanwhile, Long-Hope will one day turn out a flourishing place;
there will soon be taverns and slop-shops, where sailors rendezvous
in such numbers; then will come quays, docks, and warehouses; and
then a thriving town. Amen, so be it. This is the first fine day we
have enjoyed to an end since Sunday, 31st ult. Rainy, cold, and
hazy, have been our voyages around these wild islands; I hope the
weather begins to mend, though Mr. Wilson, our master, threatens a
breeze to-morrow. We are to attempt the Skerries, if possible; if
not, we will, I believe, go to Stromness.

"_15th August, 1814._--Fine morning. We get again into the Pentland
Frith, and with the aid of a pilot-boat belonging to the lighthouse
service, from South Ronaldsha, we attempt the Skerries.
Notwithstanding the fair weather, we have a specimen of the violence
of the flood-tide, which forms whirlpools on the shallow sunken
rocks by the islands of Swona and Stroma, and in the deep water
makes strange, smooth, whirling, and swelling eddies, called by the
sailors, _wells_. We run through the _wells of Tuftile_ in
particular, which, in the least stress of weather, wheel a large
ship round and round, without respect either to helm or sails. Hence
the distinction of _wells_ and _waves_ in Old English; the _well_
being that smooth, glassy, oily-looking eddy, the force of which
seems to the eye almost resistless. The bursting of the waves in
foam around these strange eddies has a bewildering and confused
appearance, which it is impossible to describe. Get off the Skerries
about ten o'clock, and land easily; it is the first time a boat has
got there for several days. The _Skerries_[76] is an island about
sixty acres, of fine short herbage, belonging to Lord Dundas; it is
surrounded by a reef of precipitous rocks, not very high, but
inaccessible, unless where the ocean has made ravines among them,
and where stairs have been cut down to the water for the lighthouse
service. Those inlets have a romantic appearance, and have been
christened by the sailors, the Parliament House, the Seals'
Lying-in-Hospital, etc. The last inlet, after rushing through a deep
chasm, which is open overhead, is continued under ground, and then
again opens to the sky in the middle of the island; in this hole the
seals bring out their whelps; when the tide is high, the waves rise
up through this aperture in the middle of the isle--like the blowing
of a whale in noise and appearance. There is another round cauldron
of solid rock, to which the waves have access through a natural arch
in the rock, having another and lesser arch rising just above it; in
hard weather, the waves rush through both apertures with a horrid
noise; the workmen called it the Carron Blast, and, indeed, the
variety of noises which issued from the abyss, somewhat reminded me
of that engine. Take my rifle, and walk round the cliffs in search
of seals, but see none, and only disturb the digestion of certain
aldermen-cormorants, who were sitting on the points of the crags
after a good fish breakfast; only made one good shot out of four.
The lighthouse is too low, and on the old construction, yet it is of
the last importance. The keeper is an old man-of-war's-man, of whom
Mr. Stevenson observed that he was a great swearer when he first
came; but after a year or two's residence in this solitary abode,
became a changed man. There are about fifty head of cattle on the
island; they must be got in and off with great danger and
difficulty. There is no water upon the isle, except what remains
after rain in some pools; these sometimes dry in summer, and the
cattle are reduced to great straits. Leave the isle about one; and
the wind and tide being favorable, crowd all sail, and get on at the
rate of fourteen miles an hour. Soon reach our old anchorage at the
Long-Hope, and passing, stand to the north-westward, up the Sound of
Hoy, for Stromness.

"I should have mentioned, that in going down the Pentland Frith this
morning, we saw Johnnie Groat's house, or rather the place where it
stood, now occupied by a storehouse. Our pilot opines there was no
such man as Johnnie Groat, for, he says, he cannot hear that anybody
_ever saw him_. This reasoning would put down most facts of
antiquity. They gather shells on the shore, called _Johnnie Groat's
buckies_, but I cannot procure any at present. I may also add, that
the interpretation given to _wells_ may apply to the Wells of Slain,
in the fine ballad of Clerk Colvill; such eddies in the romantic
vicinity of Slains Castle would be a fine place for a mermaid.[77]

"Our wind fails us, and, what is worse, becomes westerly. The Sound
has now the appearance of a fine land-locked bay, the passages
between the several islands being scarce visible. We have a superb
view of Kirkwall Cathedral, with a strong gleam of sunshine upon it.
Gloomy weather begins to collect around us, particularly on the
island of Hoy, which, covered with gloom and vapor, now assumes a
majestic mountainous character. On Pomona we pass the Hill of
Orphir, which reminds me of the clergyman of that parish, who was
called to account for some of his inaccuracies to the General
Assembly; one charge he held particularly cheap, namely, that of
drunkenness. 'Reverend Moderator,' said he, in reply, 'I _do_ drink,
as other gentlemen do.' This Orphir of the north must not be
confounded with the Orphir of the south. From the latter came gold,
silver, and precious stones; the former seems to produce little
except peats. Yet these are precious commodities, which some of the
Orkney Isles altogether want, and lay waste and burn the turf of
their land instead of importing coal from Newcastle. The Orcadians
seem by no means an alert or active race; they neglect the excellent
fisheries which lie under their very noses, and in their mode of
managing their boats, as well as in the general tone of urbanity and
intelligence, are excelled by the less favored Zetlanders. I observe
they always crowd their boat with people in the bows, being the
ready way to send her down in any awkward circumstance. There are
remains of their Norwegian descent and language in North Ronaldsha,
an isle I regret we did not see. A missionary preacher came ashore
there a year or two since, but being a very little black-bearded
unshaved man, the seniors of the isle suspected him of being an
ancient Pecht or Pict, and _no canny_, of course. The schoolmaster
came down to entreat our worthy Mr. Stevenson, then about to leave
the island, to come up and verify whether the preacher was an
ancient Pecht, yea or no. Finding apologies were in vain, he rode up
to the house where the unfortunate preacher, after three nights'
watching, had got to bed, little conceiving under what odious
suspicion he had fallen. As Mr. S. declined disturbing him, his
boots were produced, which being a _little_--_little_--_very little_
pair, confirmed, in the opinion of all the bystanders, the suspicion
of Pechtism. Mr. S. therefore found it necessary to go into the poor
man's sleeping apartment, where he recognized one Campbell,
heretofore an ironmonger in Edinburgh, but who had put his hand for
some years to the missionary plough; of course he warranted his
quondam acquaintance to be no ancient Pecht. Mr. Stevenson carried
the same schoolmaster who figured in the adventure of the Pecht, to
the mainland of Scotland, to be examined for his office. He was
extremely desirous to see a tree; and, on seeing one, desired to
know what _girss_ it was that grew at the top on't--the leaves
appearing to him to be grass. They still speak a little Norse, and
indeed I hear every day words of that language; for instance, _Ja,
kul_, for '_Yes, sir_.' We creep slowly up Hoy Sound, working under
the Pomona shore; but there is no hope of reaching Stromness till we
have the assistance of the evening tide. The channel now seems like
a Highland loch; not the least ripple on the waves. The passage is
narrowed, and (to the eye) blocked up by the interposition of the
green and apparently fertile isle of Græmsay, the property of Lord
Armadale.[78] Hoy looks yet grander, from comparing its black and
steep mountains with this verdant isle. To add to the beauty of the
Sound, it is rendered lively by the successive appearance of seven
or eight whaling vessels from Davies' Straits; large strong ships,
which pass successively, with all their sails set, enjoying the
little wind that is. Many of these vessels display the _garland_;
that is, a wreath of ribbons which the young fellows on board have
got from their sweethearts, or come by otherwise, and which hangs
between the foremast and mainmast, surmounted sometimes by a small
model of the vessel. This garland is hung up upon the 1st of May,
and remains till they come into port. I believe we shall dodge here
till the tide makes about nine, and then get into Stromness: no
boatman or sailor in Orkney thinks of the wind in comparison of the
tides and currents. We must not complain, though the night gets
rainy, and the Hill of Hoy is now completely invested with vapor and
mist. In the forepart of the day we executed very cleverly a task of
considerable difficulty and even danger.

"_16th August, 1814._--Get into Stromness Bay, and anchor before the
party are up. A most decided rain all night. The bay is formed by a
deep indention in the mainland, or Pomona; on one side of which
stands Stromness--a fishing village and harbor of _call_ for the
Davies' Straits whalers, as Lerwick is for the Greenlanders. Betwixt
the vessels we met yesterday, seven or eight which passed us this
morning, and several others still lying in the bay, we have seen
between twenty and thirty of these large ships in this remote place.
The opposite side of Stromness Bay is protected by Hoy, and Græmsay
lies between them; so that the bay seems quite land-locked, and the
contrast between the mountains of Hoy, the soft verdure of Græmsay,
and the swelling hill of Orphir on the mainland, has a beautiful
effect. The day clears up, and Mr. Rae, Lord Armadale's factor,
comes off from his house, called Clestrom, upon the shore opposite
to Stromness, to breakfast with us. We go ashore with him. His farm
is well cultivated, and he has procured an excellent breed of horses
from Lanarkshire, of which county he is a native; strong hardy
Galloways, fit for labor or hacks. By this we profited, as Mr. Rae
mounted us all, and we set off to visit the Standing Stones of
Stenhouse or Stennis.

"At the upper end of the bay, about halfway between Clestrom and
Stromness, there extends a loch of considerable size, of fresh
water, but communicating with the sea by apertures left in a long
bridge or causeway which divides them. After riding about two miles
along this lake, we open another called the Loch of Harray, of about
the same dimensions, and communicating with the lower lake, as the
former does with the sea, by a stream, over which is constructed a
causeway, with openings to suffer the flow and reflux of the water,
as both lakes are affected by the tide. Upon the tongues of land
which, approaching each other, divide the lakes of Stennis and
Harray, are situated the Standing Stones. The isthmus on the eastern
side exhibits a semicircle of immensely large upright pillars of
unhewn stone, surrounded by a mound of earth. As the mound is
discontinued, it does not seem that the circle was ever completed.
The flat or open part of the semicircle looks up a plain, where, at
a distance, is seen a large tumulus. The highest of these stones may
be about sixteen or seventeen feet, and I think there are none so
low as twelve feet. At irregular distances are pointed out other
unhewn pillars of the same kind. One, a little to the westward, is
perforated with a round hole, perhaps to bind a victim; or rather, I
conjecture, for the purpose of solemnly attesting the deity, which
the Scandinavians did by passing their head through a ring,--_vide_
Eyrbiggia Saga. Several barrows are scattered around this strange
monument. Upon the opposite isthmus is a complete circle, of
ninety-five paces in diameter, surrounded by standing stones, less
in size than the others, being only from ten or twelve to fourteen
feet in height, and four in breadth. A deep trench is drawn around
this circle on the outside of the pillars, and four tumuli, or
mounds of earth, are regularly placed, two on each side.

"Stonehenge excels these monuments, but I fancy they are otherwise
unparalleled in Britain. The idea that such circles were exclusively
Druidical is now justly exploded. The northern nations all used such
erections to mark their places of meeting, whether for religious
purposes or civil policy; and there is repeated mention of them in
the Sagas. See the Eyrbiggia Saga,[79] for the establishment of the
Helga-fels, or holy mount, where the people held their Comitia, and
where sacrifices were offered to Thor and Woden. About the centre of
the semicircle is a broad flat stone, probably once the altar on
which human victims were sacrificed.--Mr. Rae seems to think the
common people have no tradition of the purpose of these stones, but
probably he has not inquired particularly. He admits they look upon
them with superstitious reverence; and it is evident that those
which have fallen down (about half the original number) have been
wasted by time, and not demolished. The materials of these monuments
lay near, for the shores and bottom of the lake are of the same kind
of rock. How they were raised, transported, and placed upright, is a
puzzling question. In our ride back, noticed a round entrenchment,
or _tumulus_, called the Hollow of Tongue.

"The hospitality of Mrs. Rae detained us to an early dinner at
Clestrom. About four o'clock took our long-boat and rowed down the
bay to visit the Dwarfie Stone of Hoy. We have all day been pleased
with the romantic appearance of that island, for though the Hill of
Hoy is not very high, perhaps about 1200 feet, yet rising
perpendicularly (almost) from the sea, and being very steep and
furrowed with ravines, and catching all the mists from the western
ocean, it has a noble and picturesque effect in every point of view.
We land upon the island, and proceed up a long and very swampy
valley broken into peat-bogs. The one side of this valley is formed
by the Mountain of Hoy, the other by another steep hill, having at
the top a circular belt of rock; upon the slope of this last hill,
and just where the principal mountain opens into a wide and
precipitous and circular _corrie_ or hollow, lies the Dwarfie Stone.
It is a huge sandstone rock, of one solid stone, being about seven
feet high, twenty-two feet long, and seventeen feet broad. The upper
end of this stone is hewn into a sort of apartment containing two
beds of stone and a passage between them. The uppermost and largest
is five feet eight inches long, by two feet broad, and is furnished
with a stone pillow. The lower, supposed for the Dwarf's Wife, is
shorter, and rounded off, instead of being square at the corners.
The entrance may be about three feet and a half square. Before it
lies a huge stone, apparently intended to serve the purpose of a
door, and shaped accordingly. In the top, over the passage which
divides the beds, there is a hole to serve for a window or chimney,
which was doubtless originally wrought square with irons, like the
rest of the work, but has been broken out by violence into a
shapeless hole. Opposite to this stone, and proceeding from it in a
line down the valley, are several small barrows, and there is a very
large one on the same line, at the spot where we landed. This seems
to indicate that the monument is of heathen times, and probably was
meant as the temple of some northern edition of the _Dii Manes_.
There are no symbols of Christian devotion--and the door is to the
westward; it therefore does not seem to have been the abode of a
hermit, as Dr. Barry[80] has conjectured. The Orcadians have no
tradition on the subject, excepting that they believe it to be the
work of a dwarf, to whom, like their ancestors, they attribute
supernatural powers and malevolent disposition. They conceive he may
be seen sometimes sitting at the door of his abode, but he vanishes
on a nearer approach. Whoever inhabited this den certainly enjoyed

  'Pillow cold and sheets not warm.'

"Duff, Stevenson, and I now walk along the skirts of the Hill of
Hoy, to rejoin Robert Hamilton, who in the mean while had rode down
to the clergyman's house, the wet and boggy walk not suiting his
gout. Arrive at the manse completely wet, and drink tea there. The
clergyman (Mr. Hamilton) has procured some curious specimens of
natural history for Bullock's Museum, particularly a pair of fine
eaglets. He has just got another of the golden, or white kind, which
he intends to send him. The eagle, with every other ravenous bird,
abounds among the almost inaccessible precipices of Hoy, which
afford them shelter, while the moors, abounding with grouse, and the
small uninhabited islands and holms, where sheep and lambs are
necessarily left unwatched, as well as the all-sustaining ocean,
give these birds of prey the means of support. The clergyman told us
that a man was very lately alive in the island of ....., who,
when an infant, was transported from thence by an eagle over a broad
sound, or arm of the sea, to the bird's nest in Hoy. Pursuit being
instantly made, and the eagle's nest being known, the infant was
found there playing with the young eaglets. A more ludicrous
instance of transportation he himself witnessed. Walking in the
fields, he heard the squeaking of a pig for some time, without being
able to discern whence it proceeded, until looking up, he beheld the
unfortunate grunter in the talons of an eagle, who soared away with
him towards the summit of Hoy. From this it may be conjectured, that
the island is very thinly inhabited; in fact, we only saw two or
three little wigwams. After tea we walked a mile farther, to a point
where the boat was lying, in order to secure the advantage of the
flood-tide. We rowed with toil across one stream of tide, which set
strongly up between Græmsay and Hoy; but, on turning the point of
Græmsay, the other branch of the same flood-tide carried us with
great velocity alongside our yacht, which we reached about nine
o'clock. Between riding, walking, and running, we have spent a very
active and entertaining day.

"_Domestic Memoranda._--The eggs on Zetland and Orkney are very
indifferent, having an earthy taste, and being very small. But the
hogs are an excellent breed--queer wild-looking creatures, with
heads like wild-boars, but making capital bacon."

Footnotes of the Chapter XXIX.

[74: "This noted oppressor was finally brought to trial,
and beheaded at the Cross of Edinburgh (6th February, 1614). It is
said that the King's mood was considerably heated against him by
some ill-chosen and worse written Latin inscriptions with which his
father and himself had been unlucky enough to decorate some of their
insular palaces. In one of these, Earl Robert, the father, had given
his own designation thus: 'Orcadiæ Comes _Rex_ Jacobi Quinti
Filius.' In this case he was not, perhaps, guilty of anything worse
than bad Latin. But James VI., who had a keen nose for puzzling out
treason, and with whom an assault and battery upon Priscian ranked
in nearly the same degree of crime, had little doubt that the use of
the nominative _Rex_, instead of the genitive _Regis_, had a
treasonable savor."--Scott's _Miscellaneous Prose Works_, vol.
xxiii. p. 232.]

[75: Henry Mackenzie's Introduction to _The Fatal
Sisters_.--_Works_, 1808, vol. viii. p. 63.]

[76: "A Skerrie means a flattish rock which the sea does
not overflow."--Edmonstone's _View of the Zetlands_.]

[77: Clerk Colvill falls a sacrifice to a meeting with "a
fair Mermaid," whom he found washing her "Sark of Silk" on this
romantic shore. He had been warned by his "gay lady" in these

  "O promise me now, Clerk Colvill,
     Or it will cost ye muckle strife,
  Ride never by the Wells of Slane,
     If ye wad live and brook your life."]

[78: Sir William Honeyman, Bart.--a Judge of the Court of
Session by the title of Lord Armadale.]

[79: _Miscellaneous Prose Works_, vol. v. p. 355.]

[80: _History of the Orkney Islands_, by the Rev. George
Barry, D. D., 4to, Edinburgh, 1805.]




"_Off Stromness, 17th August, 1814._--Went on shore after breakfast,
and found W. Erskine and Marjoribanks had been in this town all last
night, without our hearing of them or they of us. No letters from
Abbotsford or Edinburgh. Stromness is a little dirty straggling
town, which cannot be traversed by a cart, or even by a horse, for
there are stairs up and down, even in the principal streets. We
paraded its whole length like turkeys in a string, I suppose to
satisfy ourselves that there was a worse town in the Orkneys than
the metropolis, Kirkwall. We clomb, by steep and dirty lanes, an
eminence rising above the town, and commanding a fine view. An old
hag lives in a wretched cabin on this height, and subsists by
selling winds. Each captain of a merchantman, between jest and
earnest, gives the old woman sixpence, and she boils her kettle to
procure a favorable gale. She was a miserable figure; upwards of
ninety, she told us, and dried up like a mummy. A sort of
clay-colored cloak, folded over her head, corresponded in color to
her corpselike complexion. Fine light-blue eyes, and nose and chin
that almost met, and a ghastly expression of cunning, gave her quite
the effect of Hecate. She told us she remembered _Gow the pirate_,
who was born near the House of Clestrom, and afterwards commenced
buccaneer. He came to his native country about 1725, with a _snow_
which he commanded, carried off two women from one of the islands,
and committed other enormities. At length, while he was dining in a
house in the island of Eda, the islanders, headed by Malcolm Laing's
grandfather, made him prisoner, and sent him to London, where he
was hanged. While at Stromness, he made love to a Miss Gordon, who
pledged her faith to him by shaking hands, an engagement which, in
her idea, could not be dissolved without her going to London to seek
back again her 'faith and troth,' by shaking hands with him again
after execution. We left our Pythoness, who assured us there was
nothing evil in the intercession she was to make for us, but that we
were only to have a fair wind through the benefit of her prayers.
She repeated a sort of rigmarole which I suppose she had ready for
such occasions, and seemed greatly delighted and surprised with the
amount of our donation, as everybody gave her a trifle, our faithful
Captain Wilson making the regular offering on behalf of the ship. So
much for buying a wind. Bessy Millie's habitation is airy enough for
Æolus himself, but if she is a special favorite with that divinity,
he has a strange choice. In her house I remarked a quern, or
hand-mill.--A cairn, a little higher, commands a beautiful view of
the bay, with its various entrances and islets. Here we found the
vestiges of a bonfire, lighted in memory of the battle of
Bannockburn, concerning which every part of Scotland has its
peculiar traditions. The Orcadians say that a Norwegian prince, then
their ruler, called by them Harold, brought 1400 men of Orkney to
the assistance of Bruce, and that the King, at a critical period of
the engagement, touched him with his scabbard, saying, 'The day is
against us.'--'I trust,' returned the Orcadian, 'your Grace will
_venture again_;' which has given rise to their motto, and passed
into a proverb. On board at half-past three, and find Bessy Millie a
woman of her word, for the expected breeze has sprung up, if it but
last us till we double Cape Wrath. Weigh anchor (I hope) to bid
farewell to Orkney.[81]

"The land in Orkney is, generally speaking, excellent, and what is
not fitted for the plough is admirably adapted for pasture. But the
cultivation is very bad, and the mode of using these extensive
commons, where they tear up, without remorse, the turf of the
finest pasture, in order to make fuel, is absolutely execrable. The
practice has already peeled and exhausted much fine land, and must
in the end ruin the country entirely. In other respects, their mode
of cultivation is to manure for barley and oats, and then manure
again, and this without the least idea of fallow or green crops. Mr.
Rae thinks that his example--and he farms very well--has had no
effect upon the natives, except in the article of potatoes, which
they now cultivate a little more, but crops of turnips are unknown.
For this slovenly labor the Orcadians cannot, like the Shetland men,
plead the occupation of fishing, which is wholly neglected by them,
excepting that about this time of the year all the people turn out
for the dogfish, the liver of which affords oil, and the bodies are
a food as much valued here by the lower classes as it is contemned
in Shetland. We saw nineteen boats out at this work. But cod, tusk,
ling, haddocks, etc., which abound round these isles, are totally
neglected. Their inferiority in husbandry is therefore to be
ascribed to the prejudices of the people, who are all peasants of
the lowest order. On Lord Armadale's estate, the number of tenantry
amounts to 300, and the average of rent is about seven pounds each.
What can be expected from such a distribution? and how is the
necessary restriction to take place, without the greatest immediate
distress and hardship to these poor creatures? It is the hardest
chapter in Economics; and if I were an Orcadian laird, I feel I
should shuffle on with the old useless creatures, in contradiction
to my better judgment. Stock is improved in these islands, and the
horses seem to be better bred than in Shetland; at least, I have
seen more clever animals. The good horses find a ready sale; Mr. Rae
gets twenty guineas readily for a colt of his rearing--to be sure,
they are very good.

"_Six o'clock._--Our breeze has carried us through the Mouth of Hoy,
and so into the Atlantic. The north-western face of the island forms
a ledge of high perpendicular cliffs, which might have surprised us
more, had we not already seen the Ord of Bressay, the Noup of Noss,
and the precipices of the Fair Isle. But these are formidable
enough. One projecting cliff, from the peculiarities of its form,
has acquired the name of the Old Man of Hoy, and is well known to
mariners as marking the entrance to the Mouth. The other jaw of this
mouth is formed by a lower range of crags, called the Burgh of
Birsa. The access through this strait would be easy, were it not for
the Island of Græmsay, lying in the very throat of the passage, and
two other islands covering the entrance to the harbor of Stromness.
Græmsay is infamous for shipwrecks, and the chance of these
_God-sends_, as they were impiously called, is said sometimes to
have doubled the value of the land. In Stromness, I saw many of the
sad relics of shipwrecked vessels applied to very odd purposes, and
indeed to all sorts of occasions. The gates, or _grinds_, as they
are here called, are usually of ship planks and timbers, and so are
their bridges, etc. These casualties are now much less common since
the lights on the Skerries and the Start have been established.
Enough of memoranda for the present.--We have hitherto kept our
course pretty well; and a King's ship about eighteen guns or so, two
miles upon our lee-boom, has shortened sail, apparently to take us
under her wing, which may not be altogether unnecessary in the
latitude of Cape Wrath, where several vessels have been taken by
Yankee-Doodle. The sloop of war looks as if she could bite hard, and
is supposed by our folks to be the Malay. If we can speak the
captain, we will invite him to some grouse, or send him some, as he
likes best, for Marchie's campaign was very successful.

"_18th August, 1814._--Bessy Millie's charm has failed us. After a
rainy night, the wind has come round to the north-west, and is
getting almost contrary. We have weathered Whitten-head, however,
and Cape Wrath, the north-western extremity of Britain, is now in
sight. The weather gets rainy and squally. Hamilton and Erskine keep
their berths. Duff and I sit upon deck, like two great bears, wrapt
in watch-cloaks, the sea flying over us every now and then. At
length, after a sound buffeting with the rain, the doubling Cape
Wrath with this wind is renounced as impracticable, and we stand
away for Loch Eribol, a lake running into the extensive country of
Lord Reay. No sickness; we begin to get hardy sailors in that
particular. The ground rises upon us very bold and mountainous,
especially a very high steep mountain, called Ben-y-Hope, at the
head of a lake called Loch Hope. The weather begins to mitigate as
we get under the lee of the land. Loch Eribol opens, running up into
a wild and barren scene of crags and hills. The proper anchorage is
said to be at the head of the lake, but to go eight miles up so
narrow an inlet would expose us to be wind-bound. A pilot-boat comes
off from Mr. Anderson's house, a principal tacksman of Lord Reay's.
After some discussion we anchor within a reef of sunken rocks,
nearly opposite to Mr. Anderson's house of Rispan; the situation is
not, we are given to understand, altogether without danger if the
wind should blow hard, but it is now calm. In front of our anchorage
a few shapeless patches of land, not exceeding a few yards in
diameter, have been prepared for corn by the spade, and bear
wretched crops. All the rest of the view is utter barrenness; the
distant hills, we are told, contain plenty of deer, being part of a
forest belonging to Lord Reay, who is proprietor of all the
extensive range of desolation now under our eye. The water has been
kinder than the land, for we hear of plenty of salmon, and haddocks,
and lobsters, and send our faithful minister of the interior, John
Peters, the steward, to procure some of those good things of this
very indifferent land, and to invite Mr. Anderson to dine with us.
Four o'clock,--John has just returned, successful in both
commissions, and the evening concludes pleasantly.

"_19th August, 1814, Loch Eribol, near Cape Wrath._--Went off before
eight A. M. to breakfast with our friend Mr. Anderson. His house,
invisible from the vessel at her moorings, and indeed from any part
of the entrance into Loch Eribol, is a very comfortable one, lying
obscured behind a craggy eminence. A little creek, winding up behind
the crag, and in front of the house, forms a small harbor, and gives
a romantic air of concealment and snugness. There we found a ship
upon the stocks, built from the keel by a Highland carpenter, who
had magnanimously declined receiving assistance from any of the
ship-carpenters who happened to be here occasionally, lest it should
be said he could not have finished his task without their aid. An
ample Highland breakfast of excellent new-taken herring, equal to
those of Lochfine, fresh haddocks, fresh eggs, and fresh butter, not
forgetting the bottle of whiskey, and bannocks of barley, and
oat-cakes, with the Lowland luxuries of tea and coffee. After
breakfast, took the long-boat, and, under Mr. Anderson's pilotage,
row to see a remarkable natural curiosity, called Uamh Smowe, or the
Largest Cave. Stevenson, Marchie, and Duff go by land. Take the
fowling-piece, and shoot some sea-fowl and a large hawk of an
uncommon appearance. Fire four shots, and kill three times. After
rowing about three miles to the westward of the entrance from the
sea to Loch Eribol, we enter a creek, between two ledges of very
high rocks, and landing, find ourselves in front of the wonder we
came to see. The exterior apartment of the cavern opens under a
tremendous rock, facing the creek, and occupies the full space of
the ravine where we landed. From the top of the rock to the base of
the cavern, as we afterwards discovered by plumb, is eighty feet, of
which the height of the arch is fifty-three feet; the rest, being
twenty-seven feet, is occupied by the precipitous rock under which
it opens; the width is fully in proportion to this great height,
being 110 feet. The depth of this exterior cavern is 200 feet, and
it is apparently supported by an intermediate column of natural
rock. Being open to daylight and the sea-air, the cavern is
perfectly clean and dry, and the sides are incrusted with
stalactites. This immense cavern is so well proportioned, that I was
not aware of its extraordinary height and extent, till I saw our two
friends, who had somewhat preceded us, having made the journey by
land, appearing like pigmies among its recesses. Afterwards, on
entering the cave, I climbed up a sloping rock at its extremity, and
was much struck with the prospect, looking outward from this
magnificent arched cavern upon our boat and its crew, the view being
otherwise bounded by the ledge of rocks which formed each side of
the creek. We now propose to investigate the farther wonders of the
cave of Smowe. In the right or west side of the cave opens an
interior cavern of a different aspect. The height of this second
passage may be about twelve or fourteen feet, and its breadth about
six or eight, neatly formed into a Gothic portal by the hand of
nature. The lower part of this porch is closed by a ledge of rock,
rising to the height of between five and six feet, and which I can
compare to nothing but the hatch-door of a shop. Beneath this hatch
a brook finds its way out, forms a black deep pool before the Gothic
archway, and then escapes to the sea, and forms the creek in which
we landed. It is somewhat difficult to approach this strange pass,
so as to gain a view into the interior of the cavern. By clambering
along a broken and dangerous cliff, you can, however, look into it;
but only so far as to see a twilight space filled with dark-colored
water in great agitation, and representing a subterranean lake,
moved by some fearful convulsion of nature. How this pond is
supplied with water you cannot see from even this point of vantage,
but you are made partly sensible of the truth by a sound like the
dashing of a sullen cataract within the bowels of the earth. Here
the adventure has usually been abandoned, and Mr. Anderson only
mentioned two travellers whose curiosity had led them farther. We
were resolved, however, to see the adventures of this new cave of
Montesinos to an end. Duff had already secured the use of a fisher's
boat and its hands, our own long-boat being too heavy and far too
valuable to be ventured upon this Cocytus. Accordingly the skiff was
dragged up the brook to the rocky ledge or hatch which barred up the
interior cavern, and there, by force of hands, our boat's crew and
two or three fishers first raised the boat's bow upon the ledge of
rock, then brought her to a level, being poised upon that narrow
hatch, and lastly launched her down into the dark and deep
subterranean lake within. The entrance was so narrow, and the boat
so clumsy, that we, who were all this while clinging to the rock
like sea-fowl, and with scarce more secure footing, were greatly
alarmed for the safety of our trusty sailors. At the instant when
the boat sloped inward to the cave, a Highlander threw himself into
it with great boldness and dexterity, and, at the expense of some
bruises, shared its precipitate fall into the waters under the
earth. This dangerous exploit was to prevent the boat drifting away
from us, but a cord at its stern would have been a safer and surer

"When our _enfant perdu_ had recovered breath and legs, he brought
the boat back to the entrance, and took us in. We now found
ourselves embarked on a deep black pond of an irregular form, the
rocks rising like a dome all around us, and high over our heads. The
light, a sort of dubious twilight, was derived from two chasms in
the roof of the vault, for that offered by the entrance was but
trifling. Down one of those rents there poured from the height of
eighty feet, in a sheet of foam, the brook, which, after supplying
the subterranean pond with water, finds its way out beneath the
ledge of rock that blocks its entrance. The other skylight, if I may
so term it, looks out at the clear blue sky. It is impossible for
description to explain the impression made by so strange a place, to
which we had been conveyed with so much difficulty. The cave
itself, the pool, the cataract, would have been each separate
objects of wonder, but all united together, and affecting at once
the ear, the eye, and the imagination, their effect is
indescribable. The length of this pond, or loch as the people here
call it, is seventy feet over, the breadth about thirty at the
narrowest point, and it is of great depth.

"As we resolved to proceed, we directed the boat to a natural arch
on the right hand, or west side of the cataract. This archway was
double, a high arch being placed above a very low one, as in a Roman
aqueduct. The ledge of rock which forms this lower arch is not above
two feet and a half high above the water, and under this we were to
pass in the boat; so that we were fain to pile ourselves flat upon
each other like a layer of herrings. By this judicious disposition
we were pushed in safety beneath this low-browed rock into a region
of utter darkness. For this, however, we were provided, for we had a
tinder-box and lights. The view back upon the twilight lake we had
crossed, its sullen eddies wheeling round and round, and its echoes
resounding to the ceaseless thunder of the waterfall, seemed dismal
enough, and was aggravated by temporary darkness, and in some degree
by a sense of danger. The lights, however, dispelled the latter
sensation, if it prevailed to any extent, and we now found ourselves
in a narrow cavern, sloping somewhat upward from the water. We got
out of the boat, proceeded along some slippery places upon shelves
of the rock, and gained the dry land. I cannot say _dry_, excepting
comparatively. We were then in an arched cave, twelve feet high in
the roof, and about eight feet in breadth, which went winding into
the bowels of the earth for about an hundred feet. The sides, being
(like those of the whole cavern) of limestone rock, were covered
with stalactites, and with small drops of water like dew, glancing
like ten thousand thousand sets of birthday diamonds under the glare
of our lights. In some places these stalactites branch out into
broad and curious ramifications, resembling coral and the foliage of
submarine plants.

"When we reached the extremity of this passage, we found it declined
suddenly to a horrible ugly gulf, or well, filled with dark water,
and of great depth, over which the rock closed. We threw in stones,
which indicated great profundity by their sound; and growing more
familiar with the horrors of this den, we sounded with an oar, and
found about ten feet depth at the entrance, but discovered in the
same manner, that the gulf extended under the rock, deepening as it
went, God knows how far. Imagination can figure few deaths more
horrible than to be sucked under these rocks into some unfathomable
abyss, where your corpse could never be found to give intimation of
your fate. A water kelpy, or an evil spirit of any aquatic
propensities, could not choose a fitter abode; and, to say the
truth, I believe at our first entrance, and when all our feelings
were afloat at the novelty of the scene, the unexpected plashing of
a seal would have routed the whole dozen of us. The mouth of this
ugly gulf was all covered with slimy alluvious substances, which led
Mr. Stevenson to observe, that it could have no separate source, but
must be fed from the waters of the outer lake and brook, as it lay
upon the same level, and seemed to rise and fall with them, without
having anything to indicate a separate current of its own. Rounding
this perilous hole, or gulf, upon the aforesaid alluvious
substances, which formed its shores, we reached the extremity of the
cavern, which there ascends like a vent, or funnel, directly up a
sloping precipice, but hideously black and slippery from wet and
sea-weeds. One of our sailors, a Zetlander, climbed up a good way,
and by holding up a light, we could plainly perceive that this vent
closed after ascending to a considerable height; and here,
therefore, closed the adventure of the cave of Smowe, for it
appeared utterly impossible to proceed further in any direction
whatever. There is a tradition that the first Lord Reay went through
various subterranean abysses, and at length returned, after
ineffectually endeavoring to penetrate to the extremity of the Smowe
cave; but this must be either fabulous, or an exaggerated account of
such a journey as we performed. And under the latter supposition, it
is a curious instance how little the people in the neighborhood of
this curiosity have cared to examine it.

"In returning, we endeavored to familiarize ourselves with the
objects in detail, which, viewed together, had struck us with so
much wonder. The stalactites, or limy incrustations, upon the walls
of the cavern, are chiefly of a dark-brown color, and in this
respect, Smowe is inferior, according to Mr. Stevenson, to the
celebrated cave of Macallister in the Isle of Skye. In returning,
the men with the lights, and the various groups and attitudes of the
party, gave a good deal of amusement. We now ventured to clamber
along the side of the rock above the subterranean water, and thus
gained the upper arch, and had the satisfaction to see our admirable
and good-humored commodore, Hamilton, floated beneath the lower arch
into the second cavern. His goodly countenance being illumined by a
single candle, his recumbent posture, and the appearance of a
hard-favored fellow guiding the boat, made him the very picture of
Bibo, in the catch, when he wakes in Charon's boat:--

  'When Bibo thought fit from this world to retreat,
  As full of Champagne as an egg's full of meat,
  He waked in the boat, and to Charon he said,
  That he would be row'd back, for he was not yet dead.'

"Descending from our superior station on the upper arch, we now
again embarked, and spent some time in rowing about and examining
this second cave. We could see our dusky entrance, into which
daylight streamed faint, and at a considerable distance; and under
the arch of the outer cavern stood a sailor, with an oar in his
hand, looking, in the perspective, like a fairy with his wand. We at
length emerged unwillingly from this extraordinary basin, and again
enjoyed ourselves in the large exterior cave. Our boat was hoisted
with some difficulty over the ledge, which appears the natural
barrier of the interior apartments, and restored in safety to the
fishers, who were properly gratified for the hazard which their
skiff, as well as one of themselves, had endured. After this we
resolved to ascend the rocks, and discover the opening by which the
cascade was discharged from above into the second cave. Erskine and
I, by some chance, took the wrong side of the rocks, and, after some
scrambling, got into the face of a dangerous precipice, where
Erskine, to my great alarm, turned giddy, and declared he could not
go farther. I clambered up without much difficulty, and shouting to
the people below, got two of them to assist the Counsellor, who was
brought into, by the means which have sent many a good fellow out
of, the world--I mean a rope. We easily found the brook, and traced
its descent till it precipitates itself down a chasm of the rock
into the subterranean apartment, where we first made its
acquaintance. Divided by a natural arch of stone from the chasm down
which the cascade falls, there is another rent, which serves as a
skylight to the cavern, as I already noticed. Standing on a natural
foot-bridge, formed by the arch which divides these two gulfs, you
have a grand prospect into both. The one is deep, black, and silent,
only affording at the bottom a glimpse of the dark and sullen pool
which occupies the interior of the cavern. The right-hand rent, down
which the stream discharges itself, seems to ring and reel with the
unceasing roar of the cataract, which envelops its side in mist and
foam. This part of the scene alone is worth a day's journey. After
heavy rains, the torrent is discharged into this cavern with
astonishing violence; and the size of the chasm being inadequate to
the reception of such a volume of water, it is thrown up in spouts
like the blowing of a whale. But at such times the entrance of the
cavern is inaccessible.

"Taking leave of this scene with regret, we rowed back to Loch
Eribol. Having yet an hour to spare before dinner, we rowed across
the mouth of the lake to its shore on the east side. This rises into
a steep and shattered stack of mouldering calcareous rock and stone,
called Whitten-head. It is pierced with several caverns, the abode
of seals and cormorants. We entered one, where our guide promised to
us a grand sight, and so it certainly would have been to any who had
not just come from Smowe. In this last cave the sea enters through a
lofty arch, and penetrates to a great depth; but the weight of the
tide made it dangerous to venture very far, so we did not see the
extremity of Friskin's Cavern, as it is called. We shot several
cormorants in the cave, the echoes roaring like thunder at every
discharge. We received, however, a proper rebuke from Hamilton, our
commodore, for killing anything which was not fit for _eating_. It
was in vain I assured him that the Zetlanders made excellent
hare-soup out of these sea-fowl. He will listen to no subordinate
authority, and rules us by the Almanach des Gourmands. Mr. Anderson
showed me the spot where the Norwegian monarch, Haco, moored his
fleet, after the discomfiture he received at Largs. He caused all
the cattle to be driven from the hills, and houghed and slain upon a
broad flat rock, for the refreshment of his dispirited army. Mr.
Anderson dines with us, and very handsomely presents us with a
stock of salmon, haddocks, and so forth, which we requite by a small
present of wine from our sea stores. This has been a fine day; the
first fair day here for these eight weeks.

"_20th August, 1814._--Sail by four in the morning, and by half-past
six are off Cape Wrath. All hands ashore by seven, and no time
allowed to breakfast, except on beef and biscuit. On this dread
Cape, so fatal to mariners, it is proposed to build a lighthouse,
and Mr. Stevenson has fixed on an advantageous situation. It is a
high promontory, with steep sides that go sheer down to the
breakers, which lash its feet. There is no landing, except in a
small creek about a mile and a half to the eastward. There the foam
of the sea plays at long bowls with a huge collection of large
stones, some of them a ton in weight, but which these fearful
billows chuck up and down as a child tosses a ball. The walk from
thence to the Cape was over rough boggy ground, but good sheep
pasture. Mr. ---- Dunlop, brother to the laird of Dunlop, took from
Lord Reay, some years since, a large track of sheep-land, including
the territories of Cape Wrath, for about £300 a year, for the period
of two-nineteen years and a life-rent. It is needless to say that
the tenant has an immense profit, for the value of pasture is now
understood here. Lord Reay's estate, containing 150,000 square
acres, and measuring eighty miles by sixty, was, before commencement
of the last leases, rented at £1200 a year. It is now worth £5000,
and Mr. Anderson says he may let it this ensuing year (when the
leases expire) for about £15,000. But then he must resolve to part
with his people, for these rents can only be given upon the
supposition that sheep are generally to be introduced on the
property. In an economical, and perhaps in a political point of
view, it might be best that every part of a country were dedicated
to that sort of occupation for which nature has best fitted it. But
to effect this reform in the present instance, Lord Reay must turn
out several hundred families who have lived under him and his
fathers for many generations, and the swords of whose fathers
probably won the lands from which he is now expelling them. He is a
good-natured man, I suppose, for Mr. A. says he is hesitating
whether he shall not take a more moderate rise (£7000 or £8000), and
keep his Highland tenantry. This last war (before the short peace),
he levied a fine fencible corps (the Reay fencibles), and might
have doubled their number. _Wealth_ is no doubt _strength_ in a
country, while all is quiet and governed by law, but on any
altercation or internal commotion, it ceases to be strength, and is
only the means of tempting the strong to plunder the possessors.
Much may be said on both sides.[82]

"Cape Wrath is a striking point, both from the dignity of its own
appearance, and from the mental association of its being the extreme
cape of Scotland, with reference to the north-west. There is no land
in the direct line between this point and America. I saw a pair of
large eagles, and if I had had the rifle-gun might have had a shot,
for the birds, when I first saw them, were perched on a rock within
about sixty or seventy yards. They are, I suppose, little disturbed
here, for they showed no great alarm. After the Commissioners and
Mr. Stevenson had examined the headland, with reference to the site
of a lighthouse, we strolled to our boat, and came on board between
ten and eleven. Get the boat up upon deck, and set sail for the
Lewis with light winds and a great swell of tide. Pass a rocky islet
called Gousla. Here a fine vessel was lately wrecked; all her crew
perished but one, who got upon the rocks from the boltsprit, and was
afterwards brought off. In front of Cape Wrath are some angry
breakers, called the _Staggs_; the rocks which occasion them are
visible at low water. The country behind Cape Wrath swells in high
sweeping elevations, but without any picturesque or dignified
mountainous scenery. But on sailing westward a few miles,
particularly after doubling a headland called the Stour of Assint,
the coast assumes the true Highland character, being skirted with a
succession of picturesque mountains of every variety of height and
outline. These are the hills of Ross-shire--a waste and thinly
peopled district at this extremity of the island. We would willingly
have learned the names of the most remarkable, but they are only
laid down in the charts by the cant names given them by mariners,
from their appearance, as the Sugar-loaf, and so forth. Our breeze
now increases, and seems steadily favorable, carrying us on with
exhilarating rapidity, at the rate of eight knots an hour, with the
romantic outline of the mainland under our lee-beam, and the dusky
shores of the Long Island beginning to appear ahead. We remain on
deck long after it is dark, watching the phosphoric effects
occasioned, or made visible, by the rapid motion of the vessel, and
enlightening her course with a continued succession of sparks and
even flashes of broad light, mingled with the foam which she flings
from her bows and head. A rizard haddock and to bed. Charming
weather all day.

"_21st August, 1814._--Last night went out like a lamb, but this
morning came in like a lion, all roar and tumult. The wind shifted
and became squally; the mingled and confused tides that run among
the Hebrides got us among their eddies, and gave the cutter such
concussions, that, besides reeling at every wave, she trembled from
head to stern, with a sort of very uncomfortable and ominous
vibration. Turned out about three, and went on deck; the prospect
dreary enough, as we are beating up a narrow channel between two
dark and disconsolate-looking islands, in a gale of wind and rain,
guided only by the twinkling glimmer of the light on an island
called Ellan Glas.--Go to bed and sleep soundly, notwithstanding the
rough rocking. Great bustle about four; the light-keeper having seen
our flag, comes off to be our pilot, as in duty bound. Asleep again
till eight. When I went on deck, I found we had anchored in the
little harbor of Scalpa, upon the coast of Harris, a place dignified
by the residence of Charles Edward in his hazardous attempt to
escape in 1746. An old man, lately alive here, called Donald
Macleod, was his host and temporary protector, and could not, until
his dying hour, mention the distresses of the adventurer without
tears. From this place, Charles attempted to go to Stornoway; but
the people of the Lewis had taken arms to secure him, under an idea
that he was coming to plunder the country. And although his faithful
attendant, Donald Macleod, induced them by fair words, to lay aside
their purpose, yet they insisted upon his leaving the island. So the
unfortunate Prince was obliged to return back to Scalpa. He
afterwards escaped to South Uist, but was chased in the passage by
Captain Fergusson's sloop of war. The harbor seems a little neat
secure place of anchorage. Within a small island, there seems more
shelter than where we are lying; but it is crowded with vessels,
part of those whom we saw in the Long-Hope--so Mr. Wilson chose to
remain outside. The ground looks hilly and barren in the extreme;
but I can say little for it, as an incessant rain prevents my
keeping the deck. Stevenson and Duff, accompanied by Marchie, go to
examine the lighthouse on Ellan Glas. Hamilton and Erskine keep
their beds, having scarce slept last night--and I bring up my
journal. The day continues bad, with little intermission of rain.
Our party return with little advantage from their expedition,
excepting some fresh butter from the lighthouse. The harbor of
Scalpa is composed of a great number of little uninhabited islets.
The masts of the vessels at anchor behind them have a good effect.
To bed early, to make amends for last night, with the purpose of
sailing for Dunvegan in the Isle of Skye with daylight."

Footnotes of the Chapter XXX.

[81: Lord Teignmouth, in his recent _Sketches of the Coasts
and Islands of Scotland_, says: "The publication of _The Pirate_
satisfied the natives of Orkney as to the authorship of the Waverley
Novels. It was remarked by those who had accompanied Sir Walter
Scott in his excursions in these Islands, that the vivid
descriptions which the work contains were confined to those scenes
which he visited."--Vol. i. p. 28.]

[82: The whole of the immense district called _Lord Reay's
country_--the habitation, as far back as history reaches, of the
clan Mackay--has passed, since Sir W. Scott's journal was written,
into the hands of the noble family of Sutherland.]




"_22d August, 1814._--Sailed early in the morning from Scalpa
Harbor, in order to cross the Minch, or Channel, for Dunvegan; but
the breeze being contrary, we can only creep along the Harris shore,
until we shall gain the advantage of the tide. The east coast of
Harris, as we now see it, is of a character which sets human
industry at utter defiance, consisting of high sterile hills,
covered entirely with stones, with a very slight sprinkling of
stunted heather. Within, appear still higher peaks of mountains. I
have never seen anything more unpropitious, excepting the southern
side of Griban, on the shores of Loch-na-Gaoil, in the Isle of Mull.
We sail along this desolate coast (which exhibits no mark of human
habitation) with the advantage of a pleasant day, and a brisk,
though not a favorable gale. _Two o'clock_--Row ashore to see the
little harbor and village of Rowdill, on the coast of Harris. There
is a decent three-storied house, belonging to the laird, Mr. Macleod
of the Harris,[83] where we were told two of his female relations
lived. A large vessel had been stranded last year, and two or three
carpenters were about repairing her, but in such a style of Highland
laziness that I suppose she may float next century. The harbor is
neat enough, but wants a little more cover to the eastward. The
ground, on landing, does not seem altogether so desolate as from the
sea. In the former point of view, we overlook all the retired glens
and crevices, which, by infinite address and labor, are rendered
capable of a little cultivation. But few and evil are the patches so
cultivated in Harris, as far as we have seen. Above the house is
situated the ancient church of Rowdill. This pile was unfortunately
burned down by accident some years since, by fire taking to a
quantity of wood laid in for fitting it up. It is a building in the
form of a cross, with a rude tower at the eastern end, like some old
English churches. Upon this tower are certain pieces of sculpture,
of a kind the last which one would have expected on a building
dedicated to religious purposes. Some have lately fallen in a storm,
but enough remains to astonish us at the grossness of the architect
and the age.

"Within the church are two ancient monuments. The first, on the
right hand of the pulpit, presents the effigy of a warrior
completely armed in plate armor, with his hand on his two-handed
broadsword. His helmet is peaked, with a gorget or upper corselet
which seems to be made of mail. His figure lies flat on the
monument, and is in bas-relief, of the natural size. The arch which
surmounts this monument is curiously carved with the figures of the
apostles. In the flat space of the wall beneath the arch, and above
the tombstone, are a variety of compartments, exhibiting the arms of
the Macleods, being a galley with the sails spread, a rude view of
Dunvegan Castle, some saints and religious emblems, and a Latin
inscription, of which our time (or skill) was inadequate to decipher
the first line; but the others announced the tenant of the monument
to be _Alexander, filius Willielmi MacLeod, de Dunvegan, Anno Dni_
M.CCCC.XXVIII. A much older monument (said also to represent a laird
of Macleod) lies in the transept, but without any arch over it. It
represents the grim figure of a Highland chief, not in feudal armor
like the former, but dressed in a plaid--(or perhaps a shirt of
mail)--reaching down below the knees, with a broad sort of hem upon
its lower extremity. The figure wears a high-peaked open helmet, or
skull-cap, with a sort of tippet of mail attached to it, which falls
over the breast of the warrior, pretty much as women wear a
handkerchief or short shawl. This remarkable figure is bearded most
tyrannically, and has one hand on his long two-handed sword, the
other on his dirk, both of which hang at a broad belt. Another
weapon, probably his knife, seems to have been also attached to the
baldric. His feet rest on his two dogs entwined together, and a
similar emblem is said to have supported his head, but is now
defaced, as indeed the whole monument bears marks of the unfortunate
fire. A lion is placed at each end of the stone. Who the hero was,
whom this martial monument commemorated, we could not learn. Indeed,
our cicerone was but imperfect. He chanced to be a poor devil of an
excise-officer who had lately made a seizure of a still upon a
neighboring island, after a desperate resistance. Upon seeing our
cutter, he mistook it, as has often happened to us, for an armed
vessel belonging to the revenue, which the appearance and equipment
of the yacht, and the number of men, make her resemble considerably.
He was much disappointed when he found we had nothing to do with the
tribute to Cæsar, and begged us not to undeceive the natives, who
were so much irritated against him that he found it necessary to
wear a loaded pair of pistols in each pocket, which he showed to our
Master, Wilson, to convince him of the perilous state in which he
found himself while exercising so obnoxious a duty in the midst of a
fierce-tempered people, and at many miles' distance from any
possible countenance or assistance. The village of Rowdill consists
of Highland huts of the common construction, _i. e._, a low circular
wall of large stones, without mortar, deeply sunk in the ground,
surmounted by a thatched roof secured by ropes, without any chimney
but a hole in the roof. There may be forty such houses in the
village. We heard that the laird was procuring a schoolmaster--he of
the parish being ten miles distant--and there was a neatness about
the large house which seems to indicate that things are going on
well. Adjacent to the churchyard were two eminences, apparently
artificial. Upon one was fixed a stone, seemingly the staff of a
cross; upon another the head of a cross, with a sculpture of the
crucifixion. These monuments (which refer themselves to Catholic
times of course) are popularly called _The Croshlets_--crosslets, or
little crosses.

"Get on board at five, and stand across the Sound for Skye with the
ebb-tide in our favor. The sunset being delightful, we enjoy it upon
deck, admiring the Sound on each side bounded by islands. That of
Skye lies in the east, with some very high mountains in the centre,
and a bold rocky coast in front, opening up into several lochs, or
arms of the sea;--that of Loch Folliart, near the upper end of which
Dunvegan is situated, is opposite to us, but our breeze has failed
us, and the flood-tide will soon set in, which is likely to carry us
to the northward of this object of our curiosity until next morning.
To the west of us lies Harris, with its variegated ridges of
mountains, now clear, distinct, and free from clouds. The sun is
just setting behind the Island of Bernera, of which we see one
conical hill. North Uist and Benbecula continue from Harris to the
southerly line of what is called the Long Island. They are as bold
and mountainous, and probably as barren as Harris--worse they cannot
be. Unnumbered islets and holms, each of which has its name and its
history, skirt these larger isles, and are visible in this clear
evening as distinct and separate objects, lying lone and quiet upon
the face of the undisturbed and scarce rippling sea. To our berths
at ten, after admiring the scenery for some time.

"_23d August, 1814._--Wake under the Castle of Dunvegan, in the Loch
of Folliart. I had sent a card to the Laird of Macleod in the
morning, who came off before we were dressed, and carried us to his
castle to breakfast. A part of Dunvegan is very old; 'its birth
tradition notes not.' Another large tower was built by the same
Alaster Macleod whose burial-place and monument we saw yesterday at
Rowdill. He had a Gaelic surname, signifying the Hump-backed.
Roderick More (knighted by James VI.) erected a long edifice
combining these two ancient towers: and other pieces of building,
forming a square, were accomplished at different times. The whole
castle occupies a precipitous mass of rock overhanging the lake,
divided by two or three islands in that place, which form a snug
little harbor under the walls. There is a courtyard looking out upon
the sea, protected by a battery, at least a succession of
embrasures, for only two guns are pointed, and these unfit for
service. The ancient entrance rose up a flight of steps cut in the
rock, and passed into this courtyard through a portal, but this is
now demolished. You land under the castle, and walking round, find
yourself in front of it. This was originally inaccessible, for a
brook coming down on the one side, a chasm of the rocks on the
other, and a ditch in front, made it impervious. But the late
Macleod built a bridge over the stream, and the present laird is
executing an entrance suitable to the character of this remarkable
fortalice, by making a portal between two advanced towers and an
outer court, from which he proposes to throw a drawbridge over to
the high rock in front of the castle. This, if well executed, cannot
fail to have a good and characteristic effect. We were most kindly
and hospitably received by the chieftain, his lady, and his
sister;[84] the two last are pretty and accomplished young women, a
sort of persons whom we have not seen for some time; and I was quite
as much pleased with renewing my acquaintance with them as with the
sight of a good field of barley just cut (the first harvest we have
seen), not to mention an extensive young plantation and some
middle-aged trees, though all had been strangers to mine eyes since
I left Leith. In the garden--or rather the orchard which was
formerly the garden--is a pretty cascade, divided into two branches,
and called Rorie More's Nurse, because he loved to be lulled to
sleep by the sound of it. The day was rainy, or at least inconstant,
so we could not walk far from the castle. Besides the assistance of
the laird himself, who was most politely and easily attentive, we
had that of an intelligent gentlemanlike clergyman, Mr. Suter,
minister of Kilmore, to explain the _carte-de-pays_. Within the
castle we saw a remarkable drinking-cup, with an inscription dated
A. D. 993, which I have described particularly elsewhere.[85] I saw
also a fairy flag, a pennon of silk, with something like round red
rowan-berries wrought upon it. We also saw the drinking-horn of
Rorie More, holding about three pints English measure--an ox's horn
tipped with silver, not nearly so large as Watt of Harden's bugle.
The rest of the curiosities in the castle are chiefly Indian,
excepting an old dirk and the fragment of a two-handed sword. We
learn that most of the Highland superstitions, even that of the
second-sight, are still in force. Gruagach, a sort of tutelary
divinity, often mentioned by Martin in his history of the Western
Islands, has still his place and credit, but is modernized into a
tall man, always a Lowlander, with a long coat and white waistcoat.
Passed a very pleasant day. I should have said the fairy flag had
three properties: produced in battle, it multiplied the numbers of
the Macleods--spread on the nuptial bed, it insured fertility--and
lastly, it brought herring into the loch.[86]

"_24th August, 1814._--This morning resist with difficulty Macleod's
kind and pressing entreaty to send round the ship, and go to the
cave at Airds by land; but our party is too large to be accommodated
without inconvenience, and divisions are always awkward. Walk and
see Macleod's farm. The plantations seem to thrive admirably,
although I think he hazards planting his trees greatly too tall.
Macleod is a spirited and judicious improver, and if he does not
hurry too fast, cannot fail to be of service to his people. He seems
to think and act much like a chief, without the fanfaronade of the
character. See a female school patronized by Mrs. M. There are about
twenty girls, who learn reading, writing, and spinning; and being
compelled to observe habits of cleanliness and neatness when at
school, will probably be the means of introducing them by degrees at
home. The roads around the castle are, generally speaking, very
good; some are old, some made under the operation of the late act.
Macleod says almost all the contractors for these last roads have
failed, being tightly looked after by Government, which I confess I
think very right. If Government is to give relief where a
disadvantageous contract has been engaged in, it is plain it cannot
be refused in similar instances, so that all calculations of
expenses in such operations are at an end. The day being
delightfully fair and warm, we walk up to the Church of Kilmore. In
a cottage, at no great distance, we heard the women singing as they
_waulked_ the cloth, by rubbing it with their hands and feet, and
screaming all the while in a sort of chorus. At a distance, the
sound was wild and sweet enough, but rather discordant when you
approached too near the performers. In the churchyard (otherwise not
remarkable) was a pyramidical monument erected to the father of the
celebrated Simon, Lord Lovat, who was fostered at Dunvegan. It is
now nearly ruinous, and the inscription has fallen down. Return to
the castle, take our luncheon, and go aboard at three--Macleod
accompanying us in proper style with his piper. We take leave of the
castle, where we have been so kindly entertained, with a salute of
seven guns. The chief returns ashore, with his piper playing the
Macleod's Gathering, heard to advantage along the calm and placid
loch, and dying as it retreated from us.

"The towers of Dunvegan, with the banner which floated over them in
honor of their guests, now showed to great advantage. On the right
were a succession of three remarkable hills, with round flat tops,
popularly called Macleod's Dining-Tables. Far behind these, in the
interior of the island, arise the much higher and more romantic
mountains, called Quillen, or Cuillin, a name which they have been
said to owe to no less a person than Cuthullin, or Cuchullin,
celebrated by Ossian. I ought, I believe, to notice, that Macleod
and Mr. Suter have both heard a tacksman of Macleod's, called Grant,
recite the celebrated Address to the Sun; and another person, whom
they named, repeat the description of Cuchullin's car. But all agree
as to the gross infidelity of Macpherson as a translator and editor.
It ends in the explanation of the Adventures in the cave of
Montesinos, afforded to the Knight of La Mancha, by the ape of Gines
de Passamonte--some are true and some are false. There is little
poetical tradition in this country, yet there should be a great
deal, considering how lately the bards and genealogists existed as a
distinct order. Macleod's _hereditary_ piper is called MacCrimmon,
but the present holder of the office has risen above his profession.
He is an old man, a lieutenant in the army, and a most capital
piper, possessing about 200 tunes and pibrochs, most of which will
probably die with him, as he declines to have any of his sons
instructed in his art. He plays to Macleod and his lady, but only in
the same room, and maintains his minstrel privilege by putting on
his bonnet so soon as he begins to play. These MacCrimmons formerly
kept a college in Skye for teaching the pipe-music. Macleod's
present piper is of the name, but scarcely as yet a deacon of his
craft. He played every day at dinner.--After losing sight of the
Castle of Dunvegan, we open another branch of the loch on which it
is situated, and see a small village upon its distant bank. The
mountains of Quillen continue to form a background to the wild
landscape with their variegated and peaked outline. We approach
Dunvegan-head, a bold bluff cape, where the loch joins the ocean.
The weather, hitherto so beautiful that we had dined on deck _en
seigneurs_, becomes overcast and hazy, with little or no wind. Laugh
and lie down.

"_25th August, 1814._--Rise about eight o'clock, the yacht gliding
delightfully along the coast of Skye, with a fair wind and excellent
day. On the opposite side lie the islands of Canna, Rum, and Muick,
popularly Muck. On opening the sound between Rum and Canna, see a
steep circular rock, forming one side of the harbor, on the point of
which we can discern the remains of a tower of small dimensions,
built, it is said, by a King of the Isles to secure a wife of whom
he was jealous. But, as we kept the Skye side of the Sound, we saw
little of these islands but what our spy-glasses could show us. The
coast of Skye is highly romantic, and at the same time displayed a
richness of vegetation on the lower grounds, to which we have
hitherto been strangers. We passed three salt-water lochs, or deep
embayments, called Loch Bracadale, Loch Eynort, and Loch Britta--and
about eleven o'clock open Loch Scavig. We were now under the western
termination of the high mountains of Quillen, whose weather-beaten
and serrated peaks we had admired at a distance from Dunvegan. They
sunk here upon the sea, but with the same bold and peremptory aspect
which their distant appearance indicated. They seemed to consist of
precipitous sheets of naked rock, down which the torrents were
leaping in a hundred lines of foam. The tops, apparently
inaccessible to human foot, were rent and split into the most
tremendous pinnacles; towards the base of these bare and precipitous
crags, the ground, enriched by the soil washed away from them, is
verdant and productive. Having passed within the small isle of Soa,
we enter Loch Scavig under the shoulder of one of these grisly
mountains, and observe that the opposite side of the loch is of a
milder character softened down into steep green declivities. From
the depth of the bay advanced a headland of high rocks which divided
the lake into two recesses, from each of which a brook seemed to
issue. Here Macleod had intimated we should find a fine romantic
loch, but we were uncertain up what inlet we should proceed in
search of it. We chose, against our better judgment, the southerly
inlet, where we saw a house which might afford us information. On
manning our boat and rowing ashore, we observed a hurry among the
inhabitants, owing to our being as usual suspected for _king's men_,
although, Heaven knows, we have nothing to do with the revenue but
to spend the part of it corresponding to our equipment. We find that
there is a lake adjoining to each branch of the bay, and foolishly
walk a couple of miles to see that next the farmhouse, merely
because the honest man seemed jealous of the honor of his own loch,
though we were speedily convinced it was not that which we had been
recommended to examine. It had no peculiar merit excepting from its
neighborhood to a very high cliff or mountain of precipitous
granite; otherwise, the sheet of water does not equal even
Cauldshiels Loch. Returned and reëmbarked in our boat, for our
guide shook his head at our proposal to climb over the peninsula
which divides the two bays and the two lakes. In rowing round the
headland, surprised at the infinite number of sea-fowl, then busy
apparently with a shoal of fish; at the depth of the bay find that
the discharge from this second lake forms a sort of waterfall or
rather rapid; round this place were assembled hundreds of trout, and
salmon struggling to get up into the fresh water; with a net we
might have had twenty salmon at a haul, and a sailor, with no better
hook than a crooked pin, caught a dish of trouts, during our

"Advancing up this huddling and riotous brook, we found ourselves in
a most extraordinary scene: we were surrounded by hills of the
boldest and most precipitous character, and on the margin of a lake
which seemed to have sustained the constant ravages of torrents from
these rude neighbors. The shores consisted of huge layers of naked
granite, here and there intermixed with bogs, and heaps of gravel
and sand marking the course of torrents. Vegetation there was little
or none, and the mountains rose so perpendicularly from the water's
edge, that Borrowdale is a jest to them. We proceeded about one mile
and a half up this deep, dark, and solitary lake, which is about two
miles long, half a mile broad, and, as we learned, of extreme depth.
The vapor which enveloped the mountain ridges obliged us by assuming
a thousand shapes, varying its veils in all sorts of forms, but
sometimes clearing off altogether. It is true, it made us pay the
penalty by some heavy and downright showers, from the frequency of
which, a Highland boy, whom we brought from the farm, told us the
lake was popularly called the Water Kettle. The proper name is Loch
Corriskin, from the deep _corrie_ or hollow in the mountains of
Cuillin, which affords the basin for this wonderful sheet of water.
It is as exquisite as a savage scene, as Loch Katrine is as a scene
of stern beauty. After having penetrated so far as distinctly to
observe the termination of the lake, under an immense mountain which
rises abruptly from the head of the waters, we returned, and often
stopped to admire the ravages which storms must have made in these
recesses when all human witnesses were driven to places of more
shelter and security. Stones, or rather large massive fragments of
rock of a composite kind, perfectly different from the granite
barriers of the lake, lay upon the rocky beach in the strangest and
most precarious situations, as if abandoned by the torrents which
had borne them down from above; some lay loose and tottering upon
the ledges of the natural rock, with so little security that the
slightest push moved them, though their weight exceeded many tons.
These detached rocks were chiefly what are called plum-pudding
stones. Those which formed the shore were granite. The opposite side
of the lake seemed quite pathless, as a huge mountain, one of the
detached ridges of the Quillen, sinks in a profound and almost
perpendicular precipice down to the water. On the left-hand side,
which we traversed, rose a higher and equally inaccessible mountain,
the top of which seemed to contain the crater of an exhausted
volcano. I never saw a spot on which there was less appearance of
vegetation of any kind; the eye rested on nothing but brown and
naked crags,[87] and the rocks on which we walked by the side of the
loch were as bare as the pavement of Cheapside. There are one or two
spots of islets in the loch which seem to bear juniper, or some such
low bushy shrub.

"Returned from our extraordinary walk and went on board. During
dinner, our vessel quitted Loch Scavig, and having doubled its
southern cape, opened the bay or salt-water Loch of Sleapin. There
went again on shore to visit the late discovered and much celebrated
cavern, called Macallister's cave. It opens at the end of a deep
ravine running upward from the sea, and the proprietor, Mr.
Macallister of Strath Aird, finding that visitors injured it, by
breaking and carrying away the stalactites with which it abounds,
has secured this cavern by an eight or nine feet wall, with a door.
Upon inquiring for the key, we found it was three miles up the loch
at the laird's house. It was now late, and to stay until a messenger
had gone and returned three miles, was not to be thought of, any
more than the alternative of going up the loch and lying there all
night. We therefore, with regret, resolved to scale the wall, in
which attempt, by the assistance of a rope and some ancient
acquaintance with orchard breaking, we easily succeeded. The first
entrance to this celebrated cave is rude and unpromising, but the
light of the torches with which we were provided is soon reflected
from roof, floor, and walls, which seem as if they were sheeted with
marble, partly smooth, partly rough with frost-work and rustic
ornaments, and partly wrought into statuary. The floor forms a steep
and difficult ascent, and might be fancifully compared to a sheet of
water, which, while it rushed whitening and foaming down a
declivity, had been suddenly arrested and consolidated by the spell
of an enchanter. Upon attaining the summit of this ascent, the cave
descends with equal rapidity to the brink of a pool of the most
limpid water, about four or five yards broad. There opens beyond
this pool a portal arch, with beautiful white chasing upon the
sides, which promises a continuation of the cave. One of our sailors
swam across, for there was no other mode of passing, and informed us
(as indeed we partly saw by the light he carried), that the
enchantment of Macallister's cave terminated with this portal,
beyond which there was only a rude ordinary cavern speedily choked
with stones and earth. But the pool, on the brink of which we stood,
surrounded by the most fanciful mouldings in a substance resembling
white marble, and distinguished by the depth and purity of its
waters, might be the bathing grotto of a Naiad. I think a statuary
might catch beautiful hints from the fanciful and romantic
disposition of the stalactites. There is scarce a form or group that
an active fancy may not trace among the grotesque ornaments which
have been gradually moulded in this cavern by the dropping of the
calcareous water, and its hardening into petrifactions; many of
these have been destroyed by the senseless rage of appropriation
among recent tourists, and the grotto has lost (I am informed),
through the smoke of torches, much of that vivid silver tint which
was originally one of its chief distinctions. But enough of beauty
remains to compensate for all that may be lost. As the easiest mode
of return, I slid down the polished sheet of marble which forms the
rising ascent, and thereby injured my pantaloons in a way which my
jacket is ill calculated to conceal. Our wearables, after a month's
hard service, begin to be frail, and there are daily demands for
repairs. Our eatables also begin to assume a real nautical
appearance--no soft bread--milk a rare commodity--and those
gentlemen most in favor with John Peters, the steward, who prefer
salt beef to fresh. To make amends, we never hear of sea-sickness,
and the good-humor and harmony of the party continue uninterrupted.
When we left the cave we carried off two grandsons of Mr.
Macallister's, remarkably fine boys; and Erskine, who may be called
_L'ami des Enfans_, treated them most kindly, and showed them all
the curiosities in the vessel, causing even the guns to be fired for
their amusement, besides filling their pockets with almonds and
raisins. So that, with a handsome letter of apology, I hope we may
erase any evil impression Mr. Macallister may adopt from our
storming the exterior defences of his cavern. After having sent them
ashore in safety, stand out of the bay with little or no wind, for
the opposite island of Egg."

Footnotes of the Chapter XXXI.

[83: The Harris has recently passed into the possession of
the Earl of Dunmore.--(1839.)]

[84: Miss Macleod, now Mrs. Spencer Perceval.]

[85: See Note, _Lord of the Isles_, Scott's _Poetical
Works_, vol. x. p. 294 [Cambridge Ed. p. 558].]

[86: The following passage, from the last of Scott's _Letters on
Demonology_ (written in 1830), refers to the night of this 23d of
August, 1814. He mentions that twice in his life he had experienced the
sensation which the Scotch call _eerie_: gives a night-piece of his
early youth in the castle of Glammis, which has already been quoted
(_ante_, vol. i. p. 197), and proceeds thus: "Amid such tales of ancient
tradition, I had from Macleod and his lady the courteous offer of the
haunted apartment of the castle, about which, as a stranger, I might be
supposed interested. Accordingly I took possession of it about the
witching hour. Except, perhaps, some tapestry hangings, and the extreme
thickness of the walls, which argued great antiquity, nothing could have
been more comfortable than the interior of the apartment; but if you
looked from the windows, the view was such as to correspond with the
highest tone of superstition. An autumnal blast, sometimes clear,
sometimes driving mist before it, swept along the troubled billows of
the lake, which it occasionally concealed, and by fits disclosed. The
waves rushed in wild disorder on the shore, and covered with foam the
steep pile of rocks, which, rising from the sea in forms something
resembling the human figure, have obtained the name of Macleod's
Maidens, and, in such a night, seemed no bad representative of the
Norwegian goddesses, called Choosers of the Slain, or Riders of the
Storm. There was something of the dignity of danger in the scene; for,
on a platform beneath the windows, lay an ancient battery of cannon,
which had sometimes been used against privateers even of late years. The
distant scene was a view of that part of the Quillen mountains, which
are called, from their form, Macleod's Dining-Tables. The voice of an
angry cascade, termed the Nurse of Rorie Mhor, because that chief slept
best in its vicinity, was heard from time to time mingling its notes
with those of wind and wave. Such was the haunted room at Dunvegan; and,
as such, it well deserved a less sleepy inhabitant. In the language of
Dr. Johnson, who has stamped his memory on this remote place,--'I looked
around me, and wondered that I was not more affected; but the mind is
not at all times equally ready to be moved.' In a word, it is necessary
to confess that, of all I heard or saw, the most engaging spectacle was
the comfortable bed in which I hoped to make amends for some rough
nights on shipboard, and where I slept accordingly without thinking of
ghost or goblin, till I was called by my servant in the morning."]


      "Rarely human eye has known
  A scene so stern as that dread lake,
      With its dark ledge of barren stone.
  Seems that primeval earthquake's sway
  Hath rent a strange and shatter'd way
      Through the rude bosom of the hill,
  And that each naked precipice,
  Sable ravine, and dark abyss,
      Tells of the outrage still.
  The wildest glen, but this, can show
  Some touch of Nature's genial glow;
  On high Benmore green mosses grow,
  And heath-bells bud in deep Glencroe,
      And copse on Cruchan-Ben;
  But here--above, around, below,
      On mountain or in glen,
  Nor tree, nor shrub, nor plant, nor flower,
  Nor aught of vegetative power,
      The weary eye may ken;
  For all is rocks at random thrown,
  Black waves, bare crags, and banks of stone,
      As if were here denied
  The summer's sun, the spring's sweet dew,
  That clothe with many a varied hue
      The bleakest mountain-side."

                                   _Lord of the Isles_, iii. 14.]




"_26th August, 1814._--At seven this morning were in the Sound which
divides the Isle of Rum from that of Egg. Rum is rude, barren, and
mountainous; Egg, although hilly and rocky, and traversed by one
remarkable ridge called Scuir-Egg, has, in point of soil, a much
more promising appearance. Southward of both lies Muick, or Muck, a
low and fertile island, and though the least, yet probably the most
valuable of the three. Caverns being still the order of the day, we
man the boat and row along the shore of Egg, in quest of that which
was the memorable scene of a horrid feudal vengeance. We had rounded
more than half the island, admiring the entrance of many a bold
natural cave which its rocks exhibit, but without finding that which
we sought, until we procured a guide. This noted cave has a very
narrow entrance, through which one can hardly creep on knees and
hands. It rises steep and lofty within, and runs into the bowels of
the rock to the depth of 255 measured feet. The height at the
entrance may be about three feet, but rises to eighteen or twenty,
and the breadth may vary in the same proportion. The rude and stony
bottom of this cave is strewed with the bones of men, women, and
children, being the sad relics of the ancient inhabitants of the
island, 200 in number, who were slain on the following occasion: The
Macdonalds of the Isle of Egg, a people dependent on Clanranald, had
done some injury to the Laird of Macleod. The tradition of the isle
says, that it was by a personal attack on the chieftain, in which
his back was broken; but that of the other isles bears that the
injury was offered to two or three of the Macleods, who, landing
upon Egg and using some freedom with the young women, were seized by
the islanders, bound hand and foot, and turned adrift in a boat,
which the winds and waves safely conducted to Skye. To avenge the
offence given, Macleod sailed with such a body of men as rendered
resistance hopeless. The natives, fearing his vengeance, concealed
themselves in this cavern, and after strict search, the Macleods
went on board their galleys, after doing what mischief they could,
concluding the inhabitants had left the isle. But next morning they
espied from their vessel a man upon the island, and, immediately
landing again, they traced his retreat, by means of a light snow on
the ground, to this cavern. Macleod then summoned the subterraneous
garrison, and demanded that the individuals who had offended him
should be delivered up. This was peremptorily refused. The chieftain
thereupon caused his people to divert the course of a rill of water,
which, falling over the mouth of the cave, would have prevented his
purposed vengeance. He then kindled at the entrance of the cavern a
huge fire, and maintained it until all within were destroyed by
suffocation. The date of this dreadful deed must have been recent,
if one can judge from the fresh appearance of those relics. I
brought off, in spite of the prejudices of our sailors, a skull,
which seems that of a young woman.

"Before reëmbarking, we visit another cave opening to the sea, but
of a character widely different, being a large open vault as high as
that of a cathedral, and running back a great way into the rock at
the same height; the height and width of the opening give light to
the whole. Here, after 1745, when the Catholic priests were scarcely
tolerated, the priest of Egg used to perform the Romish service. A
huge ledge of rock, almost halfway up one side of the vault, served
for altar and pulpit; and the appearance of a priest and Highland
congregation in such an extraordinary place of worship might have
engaged the pencil of Salvator. Most of the inhabitants of Egg are
still Catholics, and laugh at their neighbors of Rum, who, having
been converted by the cane of their chieftain, are called
_Protestants of the yellow stick_. The Presbyterian minister and
Catholic priest live upon this little island on very good terms.
The people here were much irritated against the men of a revenue
vessel who had seized all the stills, etc., in the neighboring Isle
of Muck, with so much severity as to take even the people's bedding.
We had been mistaken for some time for this obnoxious vessel. Got on
board about two o'clock, and agreed to stand over for Coll, and to
be ruled by the wind as to what was next to be done. Bring up my

"_27th August, 1814._--The wind, to which we resigned ourselves,
proves exceedingly tyrannical, and blows squally the whole night,
which, with the swell of the Atlantic, now unbroken by any islands
to windward, proves a means of great combustion in the cabin. The
dishes and glasses in the steward's cupboards become
locomotive--portmanteaus and writing-desks are more active than
necessary--it is scarce possible to keep one's self within bed, and
impossible to stand upright if you rise. Having crept upon deck
about four in the morning, I find we are beating to windward off the
Isle of Tyree, with the determination on the part of Mr. Stevenson
that his constituents should visit a reef of rocks called Skerry
Vhor where he thought it would be essential to have a lighthouse.
Loud remonstrances on the part of the Commissioners, who one and all
declare they will subscribe to his opinion, whatever it may be,
rather than continue this infernal buffeting. Quiet perseverance on
the part of Mr. S., and great kicking, bouncing, and squabbling upon
that of the Yacht, who seems to like the idea of Skerry Vhor as
little as the Commissioners. At length, by dint of exertion, come in
sight of this long ridge of rocks (chiefly under water), on which
the tide breaks in a most tremendous style. There appear a few low
broad rocks at one end of the reef, which is about a mile in length.
These are never entirely under water, though the surf dashes over
them. To go through all the forms, Hamilton, Duff, and I resolve to
land upon these bare rocks in company with Mr. Stevenson. Pull
through a very heavy swell with great difficulty, and approach a
tremendous surf dashing over black pointed rocks. Our rowers,
however, get the boat into a quiet creek between two rocks, where we
contrive to land well wetted. I saw nothing remarkable in my way,
excepting several seals, which we might have shot, but, in the
doubtful circumstances of the landing, we did not care to bring
guns. We took possession of the rock in name of the Commissioners,
and generously bestowed our own great names on its crags and creeks.
The rock was carefully measured by Mr. S. It will be a most desolate
position for a lighthouse--the Bell Rock and Eddystone a joke to it,
for the nearest land is the wild island of Tyree, at fourteen miles'
distance. So much for the Skerry Vhor.

"Came on board proud of our achievement; and, to the great delight
of all parties, put the ship before the wind, and run swimmingly
down for Iona. See a large square-rigged vessel, supposed an
American. Reach Iona about five o'clock. The inhabitants of the Isle
of Columba, understanding their interest as well as if they had been
Deal boatmen, charged two guineas for pilotage, which Captain W.
abridged into fifteen shillings, too much for ten minutes' work. We
soon got on shore, and landed in the bay of Martyrs, beautiful for
its white sandy beach. Here all dead bodies are still landed, and
laid for a time upon a small rocky eminence, called the Sweyne,
before they are interred. Iona, the last time I saw it, seemed to me
to contain the most wretched people I had anywhere seen. But either
they have got better since I was here, or my eyes, familiarized with
the wretchedness of Zetland and the Harris, are less shocked with
that of Iona. Certainly their houses are better than either, and the
appearance of the people not worse. This little fertile isle
contains upwards of 400 inhabitants, all living upon small farms,
which they divide and subdivide as their families increase, so that
the country is greatly over-peopled, and in some danger of a famine
in case of a year of scarcity. Visit the nunnery and _Reilig Oran_,
or burial-place of St. Oran, but the night coming on we return on

"_28th August, 1814._--Carry our breakfast ashore--take that repast
in the house of Mr. Maclean, the schoolmaster and cicerone of the
island--and resume our investigation of the ruins of the cathedral
and the cemetery. Of these monuments, more than of any other, it may
be said with propriety,--

  'You never tread upon them but you set
  Your feet upon some ancient history.'

I do not mean to attempt a description of what is so well known as
the ruins of Iona. Yet I think it has been as yet inadequately
performed, for the vast number of carved tombs containing the
reliques of the great exceeds credibility. In general, even in the
most noble churches, the number of the vulgar dead exceed in all
proportion the few of eminence who are deposited under monuments.
Iona is in all respects the reverse: until lately, the inhabitants
of the isle did not presume to mix their vulgar dust with that of
chiefs, reguli, and abbots. The number, therefore, of carved and
inscribed tombstones is quite marvellous, and I can easily credit
the story told by Sacheverell, who assures us that 300 inscriptions
had been collected, and were lost in the troubles of the seventeenth
century. Even now, many more might be deciphered than have yet been
made public, but the rustic step of the peasants and of Sassenach
visitants is fast destroying these faint memorials of the valiant of
the Isles. A skilful antiquary remaining here a week, and having (or
assuming) the power of raising the half-sunk monuments, might make a
curious collection. We could only gaze and grieve; yet had the day
not been Sunday, we would have brought our seamen ashore, and
endeavored to have raised some of these monuments. The celebrated
ridges called _Jomaire na'n Righrean_, or Graves of the Kings, can
now scarce be said to exist, though their site is still pointed out.
Undoubtedly, the thirst of spoil, and the frequent custom of burying
treasures with the ancient princes, occasioned their early
violation; nor am I any sturdy believer in their being regularly
ticketed off by inscriptions into the tombs of the Kings of
Scotland, of Ireland, of Norway, and so forth. If such inscriptions
ever existed, I should deem them the work of some crafty bishop or
abbot, for the credit of his diocese or convent. Macbeth is said to
have been the last King of Scotland here buried; sixty preceded him,
all doubtless as powerful in their day, but now unknown--_carent
quia vate sacro_. A few weeks' labor of Shakespeare, an obscure
player, has done more for the memory of Macbeth than all the gifts,
wealth, and monuments of this cemetery of princes have been able to
secure to the rest of its inhabitants. It also occurred to me in
Iona (as it has on many similar occasions) that the traditional
recollections concerning the monks themselves are wonderfully faint,
contrasted with the beautiful and interesting monuments of
architecture which they have left behind them. In Scotland
particularly, the people have frequently traditions wonderfully
vivid of the persons and achievements of ancient warriors, whose
towers have long been levelled with the soil. But of the monks of
Melrose, Kelso, Aberbrothock, Iona, etc., etc., etc., they can tell
nothing but that such a race existed, and inhabited the stately
ruins of these monasteries. The quiet, slow, and uniform life of
those recluse beings glided on, it may be, like a dark and silent
stream, fed from unknown resources, and vanishing from the eye
without leaving any marked trace of its course. The life of the
chieftain was a mountain torrent thundering over rock and precipice,
which, less deep and profound in itself, leaves on the minds of the
terrified spectators those deep impressions of awe and wonder which
are most readily handed down to posterity.

"Among the various monuments exhibited at Iona is one where a
Maclean lies in the same grave with one of the Macfies or Macduffies
of Colonsay, with whom he had lived in alternate friendship and
enmity during their lives. 'He lies above him during death,' said
one of Maclean's followers, as his chief was interred, 'as he was
above him during life.' There is a very ancient monument lying among
those of the Macleans, but perhaps more ancient than any of them; it
has a knight riding on horseback, and behind him a minstrel playing
on a harp: this is conjectured to be Reginald Macdonald of the
Isles, but there seems no reason for disjoining him from his kindred
who sleep in the cathedral. A supposed ancestor of the Stewarts,
called Paul Purser, or Paul the Purse-bearer (treasurer to the King
of Scotland), is said to lie under a stone near the Lords of the
Isles. Most of the monuments engraved by Pennant are still in the
same state of preservation, as are the few ancient crosses which are
left. What a sight Iona must have been, when 360 crosses, of the
same size and beautiful workmanship, were ranked upon the little
rocky ridge of eminences which form the background to the cathedral!
Part of the tower of the cathedral has fallen since I was here. It
would require a better architect than I am, to say anything
concerning the antiquity of these ruins, but I conceive those of the
nunnery and of the _Reilig nan Oran_, or Oran's chapel, are
decidedly the most ancient. Upon the cathedral and buildings
attached to it, there are marks of repairs at different times, some
of them of a late date being obviously designed not to enlarge the
buildings, but to retrench them. We take a reluctant leave of Iona,
and go on board.

"The haze and dulness of the atmosphere seem to render it dubious
if we can proceed, as we intended, to Staffa to-day--for mist among
these islands is rather unpleasant. Erskine reads prayers on deck to
all hands, and introduces a very apt allusion to our being now in
sight of the first Christian Church from which Revelation was
diffused over Scotland and all its islands. There is a very good
form of prayer for the Lighthouse Service, composed by the Rev. Mr.
Brunton.[88] A pleasure vessel lies under our lee from Belfast, with
an Irish party related to Macneil of Colonsay. The haze is fast
degenerating into downright rain, and that right heavy--verifying
the words of Collins:--

  'And thither where beneath the _showery west_
  The mighty Kings of three fair realms are laid.'[89]

After dinner, the weather being somewhat cleared, sailed for Staffa,
and took boat. The surf running heavy up between the island and the
adjacent rock, called Booshala, we landed at a creek near the
Cormorant's cave. The mist now returned so thick as to hide all view
of Iona, which was our land-mark; and although Duff, Stevenson, and
I had been formerly on the isle, we could not agree upon the proper
road to the cave. I engaged myself, with Duff and Erskine, in a
clamber of great toil and danger, and which at length brought me to
the _Cannon-ball_, as they call a round granite stone moved by the
sea up and down in a groove of rock, which it has worn for itself,
with a noise resembling thunder. Here I gave up my research, and
returned to my companions, who had not been more fortunate. As night
was now falling, we resolved to go aboard and postpone the adventure
of the enchanted cavern until next day. The yacht came to an anchor
with the purpose of remaining off the island all night, but the
hardness of the ground, and the weather becoming squally, obliged us
to return to our safer mooring at Y-Columb-Kill.

"_29th August, 1814._--Night squally and rainy--morning ditto--we
weigh, however, and return toward Staffa, and, very happily, the day
clears as we approach the isle. As we ascertained the situation of
the cave, I shall only make this memorandum, that when the weather
will serve, the best landing is to the lee of Booshala, a little
conical islet or rock, composed of basaltic columns placed in an
oblique or sloping position. In this way, you land at once on the
flat causeway, formed by the heads of truncated pillars, which leads
to the cave. But if the state of tide renders it impossible to land
under Booshala, then take one of the adjacent creeks; in which case,
keeping to the left hand along the top of the ledge of rocks which
girdles in the isle, you find a dangerous and precipitous descent to
the causeway aforesaid, from the table. Here we were under the
necessity of towing our Commodore, Hamilton, whose gallant heart
never fails him, whatever the tenderness of his toes may do. He was
successfully lowered by a rope down the precipice, and proceeding
along the flat terrace or causeway already mentioned, we reached the
celebrated cave. I am not sure whether I was not more affected by
this second, than by the first view of it. The stupendous columnar
side walls--the depth and strength of the ocean with which the
cavern is filled--the variety of tints formed by stalactites
dropping and petrifying between the pillars, and resembling a sort
of chasing of yellow or cream-colored marble filling the interstices
of the roof--the corresponding variety below, where the ocean rolls
over a red, and in some places a violet-colored rock, the basis of
the basaltic pillars--the dreadful noise of those august billows so
well corresponding with the grandeur of the scene--are all
circumstances elsewhere unparalleled. We have now seen in our voyage
the three grandest caverns in Scotland,--Smowe, Macallister's cave,
and Staffa; so that, like the Troglodytes of yore, we may be
supposed to know something of the matter. It is, however, impossible
to compare scenes of natures so different, nor, were I compelled to
assign a preference to any of the three, could I do it but with
reference to their distinct characters, which might affect different
individuals in different degrees. The characteristic of the Smowe
cave may in this case be called the terrific, for the difficulties
which oppose the stranger are of a nature so uncommonly wild, as,
for the first time at least, convey an impression of terror--with
which the scenes to which he is introduced fully correspond. On the
other hand, the dazzling whiteness of the incrustations in
Macallister's cave, the elegance of the entablature, the beauty of
its limpid pool, and the graceful dignity of its arch, render its
leading features those of severe and chastened beauty. Staffa, the
third of these subterraneous wonders, may challenge sublimity as its
principal characteristic. Without the savage gloom of the Smowe
cave, and investigated with more apparent ease, though, perhaps,
with equal real danger, the stately regularity of its columns forms
a contrast to the grotesque imagery of Macallister's cave, combining
at once the sentiments of grandeur and beauty. The former is,
however, predominant, as it must necessarily be in any scene of the

"We had scarce left Staffa when the wind and rain returned. It was
Erskine's object and mine to dine at Torloisk on Loch Tua, the seat
of my valued friend, Mrs. Maclean Clephane, and her accomplished
daughters. But in going up Loch Tua between Ulva and Mull with this

  'So thick was the mist on the ocean green,
  Nor cape nor headland could be seen.'[90]

It was late before we came to anchor in a small bay presented by the
little island of Gometra, which may be regarded as a continuation of
Ulva. We therefore dine aboard, and after dinner, Erskine and I take
the boat and row across the loch under a heavy rain. We could not
see the house of Torloisk, so very thick was the haze, and we were a
good deal puzzled how and where to achieve a landing; at length,
espying a cartroad, we resolved to trust to its guidance, as we knew
we must be near the house. We therefore went ashore with our
servants, _à la bonne aventure_, under a drizzling rain. This was
soon a matter of little consequence, for the necessity of crossing a
swollen brook wetted me considerably, and Erskine, whose foot
slipped, most completely. In wet and weary plight we reached the
house, after a walk of a mile, in darkness, dirt, and rain, and it
is hardly necessary to say, that the pleasure of seeing our friends
soon banished all recollection of our unpleasant voyage and journey.

"_30th August, 1814._--The rest of our friends come ashore by
invitation, and breakfast with the ladies, whose kindness would fain
have delayed us for a few days, and at last condescended to ask for
one day only--but even this could not be, our time wearing short.
Torloisk is finely situated upon the coast of Mull, facing Staffa.
It is a good comfortable house, to which Mrs. Clephane has made some
additions. The grounds around have been dressed, so as to smooth
their ruggedness, without destroying the irregular and wild
character peculiar to the scene and country. In this, much taste has
been displayed. At Torloisk, as at Dunvegan, trees grow freely and
rapidly; and the extensive plantations formed by Mrs. C. serve to
show that nothing but a little expense and patience on the part of
the proprietors, with attention to planting in proper places at
first, and in keeping up fences afterward, are a-wanting to remove
the reproach of nakedness, so often thrown upon the Western Isles.
With planting comes shelter, and the proper allotment and division
of fields. With all this Mrs. Clephane is busied, and, I trust,
successfully; I am sure, actively and usefully. Take leave of my
fair friends, with regret that I cannot prolong my stay for a day or
two. When we come on board, we learn that Staffa-Macdonald is just
come to his house of Ulva: this is a sort of unpleasant dilemma, for
we cannot now go there without some neglect towards Mrs. Maclean
Clephane; and, on the other hand, from his habits with all of us, he
may be justly displeased with our quitting his very threshold
without asking for him. However, upon the whole matter, and being
already under weigh, we judged it best to work out of the loch, and
continue our purpose of rounding the northern extremity of Mull, and
then running down the Sound between Mull and the mainland. We had
not long pursued our voyage before we found it was like to be a very
slow one. The wind fell away entirely, and after repeated tacks we
could hardly clear the extreme north-western point of Mull by six
o'clock--which must have afforded amusement to the ladies whose
hospitable entreaties we had resisted, as we were almost all the
while visible from Torloisk. A fine evening, but scarce a breath of

"_31st August, 1814._--Went on deck between three and four in the
morning, and found the vessel almost motionless in a calm sea,
scarce three miles advanced on her voyage. We had, however, rounded
the north-western side of Mull, and were advancing between the
north-eastern side and the rocky and wild shores of Ardnamurchan on
the mainland of Scotland. Astern were visible in bright moonlight
the distant mountains of Rum; yet nearer, the remarkable ridge in
the Isle of Egg, called Scuir-Egg; and nearest of all, the low isle
of Muick. After enjoying this prospect for some time, returned to my
berth. Rise before eight--a delightful day, but very calm, and the
little wind there is, decidedly against us. Creeping on slowly, we
observe, upon the shore of Ardnamurchan, a large old castle called
Mingary. It appears to be surrounded with a very high wall, forming
a kind of polygon, in order to adapt itself to the angles of a
precipice overhanging the sea, on which the castle is founded.
Within or beyond the wall, and probably forming part of an inner
court, I observed a steep roof and windows, probably of the
seventeenth century. The whole, as seen with a spy-glass, seems
ruinous. As we proceed, we open on the left hand Loch Sunart,
running deep into the mainland, crossed by distant ridges of rocks,
and terminating apparently among the high mountains above Strontian.
On the right hand we open the Sound of Mull, and pass the Bloody
Bay, which acquired that name from a desperate battle fought between
an ancient Lord of the Isles and his son. The latter was assisted by
the Macleans of Mull, then in the plenitude of their power, but was
defeated. This was a sea-fight; galleys being employed on each side.
It has bequeathed a name to a famous pibroch.

"Proceeding southward, we open the beautiful bay of Tobermory, or
Mary's Well. The mouth of this fine natural roadstead is closed by
an isle called Colvay, having two passages, of which only one, the
northerly, is passable for ships. The bay is surrounded by steep
hills, covered with copsewood, through which several brooks seek the
sea in a succession of beautiful cascades. The village has been
established as a fishing station by the Society for British
Fisheries. The houses along the quay are two and three stories high,
and well built; the feuars paying to the Society sixpence per foot
of their line of front. On the top of a steep bank, rising above the
first town, runs another line of second-rate cottages, which pay
fourpence per foot; and behind are huts, much superior to the
ordinary sheds of the country, which pay only twopence per foot. The
town is all built upon a regular plan, laid down by the Society. The
new part is reasonably clean, and the old not unreasonably dirty.
We landed at an excellent quay, which is not yet finished, and found
the little place looked thriving and active. The people were getting
in their patches of corn; and the shrill voices of the children
attending their parents in the field, and loading the little ponies
which are used in transporting the grain, formed a chorus not
disagreeable to those whom it reminds of similar sounds at home. The
praise of comparative cleanliness does not extend to the lanes
around Tobermory, in one of which I had nearly been effectually
bogged. But the richness of the round steep green knolls, clothed
with copse, and glancing with cascades, and a pleasant peep at a
small fresh-water loch embosomed among them--the view of the bay,
surrounded and guarded by the island of Colvay--the gliding of two
or three vessels in the more distant Sound--and the row of the
gigantic Ardnamurchan mountains closing the scene to the north,
almost justify the eulogium of Sacheverell, who, in 1688, declared
the bay of Tobermory might equal any prospect in Italy. It is said
that Sacheverell made some money by weighing up the treasures lost
in the Florida, a vessel of the Spanish Armada, which was wrecked in
the harbor. He himself affirms, that though the use of the
diving-bells was at first successful, yet the attempt was afterwards
disconcerted by bad weather.

"Tobermory takes its name from a spring dedicated to the Virgin,
which was graced by a chapel; but no vestiges remain of the chapel,
and the spring rises in the middle of a swamp, whose depth and dirt
discouraged the nearer approach of Protestant pilgrims. Mr.
Stevenson, whose judgment is unquestionable, thinks that the village
should have been built on the island called Colvay, and united to
the continent by a key, or causeway, built along the southernmost
channel, which is very shallow. By this means the people would have
been much nearer the fishings, than retired into the depth of the

"About three o'clock we get on board, and a brisk and favorable
breeze arises, which carries us smoothly down the Sound. We soon
pass Arros, with its fragment of a castle, behind which is the house
of Mr. Maxwell (an odd name for this country), chamberlain to the
Duke of Argyle, which reminds me of much kindness and hospitality
received from him and Mr. Stewart, the Sheriff-Substitute, when I
was formerly in Mull. On the shore of Morven, on the opposite side,
pass the ruins of a small fortalice, called Donagail, situated as
usual on a precipice overhanging the sea. The 'woody Morven,' though
the quantity of shaggy diminutive copse, which springs up where it
obtains any shelter, still shows that it must once have merited the
epithet, is now, as visible from the Sound of Mull, a bare
country--of which the hills towards the sea have a slope much
resembling those in Selkirkshire, and accordingly afford excellent
pasture, and around several farmhouses well-cultivated and improved
fields. I think I observe considerable improvement in husbandry,
even since I was here last: but there is a difference in coming from
Oban and Cape Wrath.--Open Loch Alline, a beautiful salt-water lake,
with a narrow outlet to the Sound. It is surrounded by round hills,
sweetly fringed with green copse below, and one of which exhibits to
the spy-glass ruins of a castle. There is great promise of beauty in
its interior, but we cannot see everything. The land on the southern
bank of the entrance slopes away into a sort of promontory, at the
extremity of which are the very imperfect ruins of the castle of
Ardtornish, to which the Lords of the Isles summoned parliaments,
and from whence one of them dated a treaty with the Crown of England
as an independent Prince. These ruins are seen to most advantage
from the south, where they are brought into a line with one high
fragment towards the west predominating over the rest. The shore of
the promontory on the south side becomes rocky, and when it slopes
round to the west, rises into a very bold and high precipitous bank,
skirting the bay on the western side, partly cliffy, partly covered
with brushwood, with various streams dashing over it from a great
height. Above the old castle of Ardtornish, and about where the
promontory joins the land, stands the present mansion, a neat
whitewashed house, with several well-enclosed and well-cultivated
fields surrounding it.

"The high and dignified character assumed by the shores of Morven,
after leaving Ardtornish, continues till we open the Loch Linnhe,
the commencement of the great chain of inland lakes running up to
Fort William, and which it is proposed to unite with Inverness by
means of the Caledonian Canal. The wisdom of the plan adopted in
this national measure seems very dubious. Had the canal been of more
moderate depth, and the burdens imposed upon passing vessels less
expensive, there can be no doubt that the coasters, sloops, and
barks would have carried on a great trade by means of it. But the
expense and plague of lochs, etc., may prevent these humble vessels
from taking this abridged voyage, while ships above twenty or thirty
tons will hesitate to engage themselves in the intricacies of a long
lake navigation, exposed, without room for manoeuvring, to all the
sudden squalls of the mountainous country. Ahead of us, in the mouth
of Loch Linnhe, lies the low and fertile isle of Lismore, formerly
the appanage of the Bishops of the Isles, who, as usual, knew where
to choose church patrimony. The coast of the Mull, on the right hand
of the Sound, has a black, rugged, and unimproved character. Above
Scallister Bay are symptoms of improvement. Moonlight has risen upon
us as we pass Duart Castle, now an indistinct mass upon its
projecting promontory. It was garrisoned for Government so late as
1780, but is now ruinous. We see, at about a mile's distance, the
fatal shelve on which Duart exposed the daughter of Argyle, on which
Miss Baillie's play of The Family Legend is founded, but now,--

  'Without either sign or sound of their shock,
  The waves flowed over the Lady's rock.'[91]

The placid state of the sea is very different from what I have seen it,
when six stout rowers could scarce give a boat headway through the
conflicting tides. These fits of violence so much surprised and offended
a body of the Camerons, who were bound upon some expedition to Mull, and
had been accustomed to the quietness of lake-navigation, that they drew
their dirks, and began to stab the waves--from which popular tale this
run of tide is called _the Men of Lochaber_. The weather being
delightfully moderate, we agree to hover hereabout all night, or anchor
under the Mull shore, should it be necessary, in order to see
Dunstaffnage to-morrow morning. The isle of Kerrera is now in sight,
forming the bay of Oban. Beyond lie the varied and magnificent summits
of the chain of mountains bordering Loch Linnhe, as well as those
between Loch Awe and Loch Etive, over which the summit of Ben Cruachan
is proudly prominent. Walk on deck, admiring this romantic prospect,
until ten; then below, and turn in.

"_1st September, 1814._--Rise betwixt six and seven, and having
discreetly secured our breakfast, take boat for the old castle of
Dunstaffnage, situated upon a promontory on the side of Loch Linnhe
and near to Loch Etive. Nothing could exceed the beauty of the day
and of the prospect. We coasted the low, large, and fertile isle of
Lismore, where a Catholic Bishop, Chisholm, has established a
seminary of young men intended for priests, and what is a better
thing, a valuable lime-work. Report speaks well of the lime, but
indifferently of the progress of the students. Tacking to the shore
of the loch, we land at Dunstaffnage, once, it is said, the seat of
the Scottish monarchy, till success over the Picts and Saxons
transferred their throne to Scoone, Dunfermline, and at length to
Edinburgh. The castle is still the King's (nominally), and the Duke
of Argyle (nominally also) is hereditary keeper. But the real right
of property is in the family of the depute-keeper, to which it was
assigned as an appanage, the first possessor being a natural son of
an Earl of Argyle. The shell of the castle, for little more now
remains, bears marks of extreme antiquity. It is square in form,
with round towers at three of the angles, and is situated upon a
lofty precipice, carefully scarped on all sides to render it
perpendicular. The entrance is by a staircase, which conducts you to
a wooden landing-place in front of the portal-door. This
landing-place could formerly be raised at pleasure, being of the
nature of a drawbridge. When raised, the place was inaccessible. You
pass under an ancient arch, with a low vault (being the porter's
lodge) on the right hand, and flanked by loopholes, for firing upon
any hostile guest who might force his passage thus far. This admits
you into the inner court, which is about eighty feet square. It
contains two mean-looking buildings, about sixty or seventy years
old; the ancient castle having been consumed by fire in 1715. It is
said that the nephew of the proprietor was the incendiary. We went
into the apartments, and found they did not exceed the promise of
the exterior; but they admitted us to walk upon the battlements of
the old castle, which displayed a most splendid prospect. Beneath,
and far projected into the loch, were seen the woods and houses of
Campbell of Lochnell. A little summer-house, upon an eminence,
belonging to this wooded bank, resembles an ancient monument. On
the right, Loch Etive, after pouring its waters like a furious
cataract over a strait called Connell Ferry, comes between the
castle and a round island belonging to its demesne, and nearly
insulates the situation. In front is a low rocky eminence on the
opposite side of the arm, through which Loch Etive flows into Loch
Linnhe. Here was situated _Beregenium_, once, it is said, a British
capital city; and, as our informant told us, the largest market town
in Scotland. Of this splendor are no remains but a few trenches and
excavations, which the distance did not allow us to examine. The
ancient masonry of Dunstaffnage is mouldering fast under time and
neglect. The foundations are beginning to decay, and exhibit gaps
between the rock and the wall; and the battlements are become
ruinous. The inner court is encumbered with ruins. A hundred pounds
or two would put this very ancient fortress in a state of
preservation for ages, but I fear this is not to be expected. The
stumps of large trees, which had once shaded the vicinity of the
castle, gave symptoms of decay in the family of Dunstaffnage. We
were told of some ancient spurs and other curiosities preserved in
the castle, but they were locked up. In the vicinity of the castle
is a chapel which had once been elegant, but by the building up of
windows, etc., is now heavy enough. I have often observed that the
means adopted in Scotland for repairing old buildings are generally
as destructive of their grace and beauty, as if that had been the
express object. Unfortunately most churches, particularly, have gone
through both stages of destruction, having been first repaired by
the building up of the beautiful shafted windows, and then the roof
being suffered to fall in, they became ruins indeed, but without any
touch of the picturesque farther than their massive walls and
columns may afford. Near the chapel of Dunstaffnage is a remarkable

"Reëmbarked, and, rowing about a mile and a half or better along the
shore of the lake, again landed under the ruins of the old castle of
Dunolly. This fortress, which, like that of Dunstaffnage, forms a
marked feature in this exquisite landscape, is situated on a bold
and precipitous promontory overhanging the lake. The principal part
of the ruins now remaining is a square tower or keep of the ordinary
size, which had been the citadel of the castle; but fragments of
other buildings, overgrown with ivy, show that Dunolly had once been
a place of considerable importance. These had enclosed a courtyard,
of which the keep probably formed one side, the entrance being by a
very steep ascent from the land side, which had formerly been cut
across by a deep moat, and defended doubtless by outworks and a
drawbridge. Beneath the castle stands the modern house of
Dunolly,--a decent mansion, suited to the reduced state of the
MacDougalls of Lorn, who, from being Barons powerful enough to give
battle to and defeat Robert Bruce, are now declined into private
gentlemen of moderate fortune.

"This very ancient family is descended from Somerled, Thane, or
rather, under that name, _King_ of Argyle and the Hebrides. He had
two sons, to one of whom he left his insular possessions--and he
became founder of the dynasty of the Lords of the Isles, who
maintained a stirring independence during the Middle Ages. The other
was founder of the family of the MacDougalls of Lorn. One of them
being married to a niece of the Red Cumming, in revenge of his
slaughter at Dumfries, took a vigorous part against Robert Bruce in
his struggles to maintain the independence of Scotland. At length
the King, turning his whole strength towards MacDougall, encountered
him at a pass near Loch Awe; but the Highlanders, being possessed of
the strong ground, compelled Bruce to retreat, and again gave him
battle at Dalry, near Tynedrum, where he had concentrated his
forces. Here he was again defeated; and the tradition of the
MacDougall family bears, that in the conflict the Lord of Lorn
engaged hand to hand with Bruce, and was struck down by that
monarch. As they grappled together on the ground, Bruce being
uppermost, a vassal of MacDougall, called MacKeoch, relieved his
master by pulling Bruce from him. In this close struggle the King
left his mantle and brooch in the hands of his enemies, and the
latter trophy was long preserved in the family, until it was lost in
an accidental fire. Barbour tells the same story, but I think with
circumstances somewhat different. When Bruce had gained the throne
for which he fought so long, he displayed his resentment against the
MacDougalls of Lorn, by depriving them of the greatest part of their
domains, which were bestowed chiefly upon the Steward of Scotland.
Sir Colin Campbell, the Knight of Loch Awe, and the Knight of
Glenurchy, Sir Dugald Campbell, married daughters of the Steward,
and received with them great portion of the forfeiture of
MacDougall. Bruce even compelled or persuaded the Lord of the Isles
to divorce his wife, who was a daughter of MacDougall, and take in
marriage a relation of his own. The son of the divorced lady was not
permitted to succeed to the principality of the Isles, on account of
his connection with the obnoxious MacDougall. But a large appanage
was allowed him upon the Mainland, where he founded the family of

"The family of MacDougall suffered farther reduction during the
great civil war, in which they adhered to the Stewarts, and in 1715
they forfeited the small estate of Dunolly, which was then all that
remained of what had once been a principality. The then
representative of the family fled to France, and his son (father of
the present proprietor) would have been without any means of
education, but for the spirit of clanship, which induced one of the
name, in the humble situation of keeper of a public-house at
Dumbarton, to take his young chief to reside with him, and be at the
expense of his education and maintenance until his fifteenth or
sixteenth year. He proved a clever and intelligent man, and made
good use of the education he received. When the affair of 1745 was
in agitation, it was expected by the south-western clans that
Charles Edward would have landed near Oban, instead of which he
disembarked at Loch-nan-augh, in Arisaig. Stuart of Appin sent
information of his landing to MacDougall, who gave orders to his
brother to hold the clan in readiness to rise, and went himself to
consult with the chamberlain of the Earl of Breadalbane, who was
also in the secret. He found this person indisposed to rise,
alleging that Charles had disappointed them both in the place of
landing, and the support he had promised. MacDougall then resolved
to play cautious, and went to visit the Duke of Argyle, then
residing at Roseneath, probably without any determined purpose as to
his future proceedings. While he was waiting the Duke's leisure, he
saw a horseman arrive at full gallop, and shortly after, the Duke
entering the apartment where MacDougall was, with a map in his hand,
requested him, after friendly salutations, to point out
Loch-nan-augh on that map. MacDougall instantly saw that the secret
of Charles's landing had transpired, and resolved to make a merit
of being the first who should give details. The persuasions of the
Duke determined him to remain quiet, and the reward was the
restoration of the little estate of Dunolly, lost by his father in
1715. This gentleman lived to a very advanced stage of life, and was
succeeded by Peter MacDougall, Esq., now of Dunolly. I had these
particulars respecting the restoration of the estate from a near
relation of the family, whom we met at Dunstaffnage.

"The modern house of Dunolly is on the neck of land under the old
castle, having on the one hand the lake with its islands and
mountains; on the other, two romantic eminences tufted with
copsewood, of which the higher is called Barmore, and is now
planted. I have seldom seen a more romantic and delightful
situation, to which the peculiar state of the family gave a sort of
moral interest. Mrs. MacDougall, observing strangers surveying the
ruins, met us on our return, and most politely insisted upon our
accepting fruit and refreshments. This was a compliment meant to
absolute strangers, but when our names became known to her, the good
lady's entreaties that we would stay till Mr. MacDougall returned
from his ride became very pressing. She was in deep mourning for the
loss of an eldest son, who had fallen bravely in Spain and under
Wellington, a death well becoming the descendant of so famed a race.
The second son, a lieutenant in the navy, had, upon this family
misfortune, obtained leave to visit his parents for the first time
after many years' service, but had now returned to his ship. Mrs. M.
spoke with melancholy pride of the death of her eldest son, with
hope and animation of the prospects of the survivor. A third is
educated for the law. Declining the hospitality offered us, Mrs. M.
had the goodness to walk with us along the shore towards Oban, as
far as the property of Dunolly extends, and showed us a fine spring,
called _Tobar nan Gall_, or the Well of the Stranger, where our
sailors supplied themselves with excellent water, which has been
rather a scarce article with us, as it soon becomes past a
landsman's use on board ship. On the seashore, about a quarter of a
mile from the castle, is a huge fragment of the rock called
_plum-pudding stone_, which art or nature has formed into a gigantic
pillar. Here, it is said, Fion or Fingal tied his dog Bran--here
also the celebrated Lord of the Isles tied up his dogs when he came
upon a visit to the Lords of Lorn. Hence it is called _Clach nan
Con_; _i. e._, the Dog's Stone. A tree grew once on the top of this
bare mass of composite stone, but it was cut down by a curious
damsel of the family, who was desirous to see a treasure said to be
deposited beneath it. Enjoyed a pleasant walk of a mile along the
beach to Oban, a town of some consequence, built in a semicircular
form, around a good harbor formed by the opposite isle of Kerrera,
on which Mrs. M. pointed out the place where Alexander II. died,
while, at the head of a powerful armament, he meditated the
reduction of the Hebrides. The field is still called Dal-ry--the
King's field.

"Having taken leave of Mrs. MacDougall, we soon satisfied our
curiosity concerning Oban, which owed its principal trade to the
industry of two brothers, Messrs. Stevenson, who dealt in
ship-building. One is now dead, the other almost retired from
business, and trade is dull in the place. Heard of an active and
industrious man, who had set up a nursery of young trees, which
ought to succeed, since at present, whoever wants plants must send
to Glasgow; and how much the plants suffer during a voyage of such
length, any one may conceive. Go on board after a day delightful for
the serenity and clearness of the weather, as well as for the
objects we had visited. I forgot to say, that through Mr.
MacDougall's absence we lost an opportunity of seeing a bronze
figure of one of his ancestors, called _Bacach_, or the lame, armed
and mounted as for a tournament. The hero flourished in the twelfth
century. After a grand council of war, we determine, as we are so
near the coast of Ulster, that we will stand over and view the
celebrated Giant's Causeway; and Captain Wilson receives directions

_"2d September, 1814._--Another most beautiful day. The heat, for
the first time since we sailed from Leith, is somewhat incommodious;
so we spread a handsome awning to save our complexions, God wot, and
breakfast beneath it in style. The breeze is gentle, and quite
favorable. It has conducted us from the extreme cape of Mull, called
the Black Head of Mull, into the Sound of Islay. We view in passing
that large and fertile island, the property of Campbell of
Shawfield, who has introduced an admirable style of farming among
his tenants. Still farther behind us retreats the Island of Jura,
with the remarkable mountains called the Paps of Jura, which form a
landmark at a great distance. They are very high, but in our eyes,
so much accustomed of late to immense height, do not excite much
surprise. Still farther astern is the small isle of Scarba, which,
as we see it, seems to be a single hill. In the passage or sound
between Scarba and the extremity of Jura, is a terrible run of tide,
which, contending with the sunk rocks and islets of that foul
channel, occasions the succession of whirlpools called the Gulf of
Corrievreckan. Seen at this distance, we cannot judge of its
terrors. The sight of Corrievreckan and of the low rocky isle of
Colonsay, betwixt which and Islay we are now passing, strongly
recalls to my mind poor John Leyden and his tale of the Mermaid and
MacPhail of Colonsay.[92] Probably the name of the hero should have
been MacFie, for to the MacDuffies (by abridgment MacFies) Colonsay
of old pertained. It is said the last of these MacDuffies was
executed as an oppressor by order of the Lord of the Isles, and lies
buried in the adjacent small island of Oransay, where there is an
old chapel with several curious monuments, which, to avoid losing
this favorable breeze, we are compelled to leave unvisited. Colonsay
now belongs to a gentleman named MacNeil. On the right beyond it,
opens at a distance the western coast of Mull, which we already
visited in coming from the northward. We see the promontory of Ross,
which is terminated by Y-Columb-kill, also now visible. The shores
of Loch Tua and Ulva are in the blue distance, with the little
archipelago which lies around Staffa. Still farther, the hills of
Rum can just be distinguished from the blue sky. We are now arrived
at the extreme point of Islay, termed, from the strong tides, the
_Runs of Islay_. We here only feel them as a large but soft swell of
the sea, the weather being delightfully clear and serene. In the
course of the evening we lose sight of the Hebrides, excepting
Islay, having now attained the western side of that island.

"_3d September, 1814._--In the morning early, we are off
Innistulhan, an islet very like Inchkeith in size and appearance,
and, like Inchkeith, displaying a lighthouse. Messrs. Hamilton,
Duff, and Stevenson go ashore to visit the Irish lighthouse and
compare notes. A fishing-boat comes off with four or five stout
lads, without neckerchiefs or hats, and the best of whose joint
garments selected would hardly equip an Edinburgh beggar. Buy from
this specimen of Paddy in his native land some fine John Dories for
threepence each. The mainland of Ireland adjoining to this island
(being part of the county of Donegal) resembles Scotland, and,
though hilly, seems well cultivated upon the whole. A brisk breeze
directly against us. We beat to windward by assistance of a strong
tide-stream, in order to weather the head of Innishowen, which
covers the entrance of Lough Foyle, with the purpose of running up
the loch to see Londonderry, so celebrated for its siege in 1689.
But short tacks and long tacks were in vain, and at dinner-time,
having lost our tide, we find ourselves at all disadvantage both
against wind and sea. Much combustion at our meal, and the
manoeuvres by which we attempted to eat and drink remind me of the
enchanted drinking-cup in the old ballad,--

  'Some shed it on their shoulder,
    Some shed it on their thigh;
  And he that did not hit his mouth
    Was sure to hit his eye.'[93]

In the evening, backgammon and cards are in great request. We have
had our guns shotted all this day for fear of the Yankees--a
privateer having been seen off Tyree Islands, and taken some
vessels--as is reported.--About nine o'clock weather the Innishowen
head, and enter the Lough, and fire a gun as a signal for a pilot.
The people here are great smugglers, and at the report of the gun,
we see several lights on shore disappear.--About the middle of the
day, too, our appearance (much resembling a revenue cutter)
occasioned a smoke being made in the midst of a very rugged cliff on
the shore--a signal probably to any of the smugglers' craft that
might be at sea. Come to anchor in eight fathom water, expecting our

_"4th September, 1814._--Waked in the morning with good hope of
hearing service in Derry Cathedral, as we had felt ourselves under
weigh since daylight; but these expectations vanished when, going on
deck, we found ourselves only halfway up Lough Foyle, and at least
ten miles from Derry. Very little wind, and that against us; and the
navigation both shoally and intricate. Called a council of war; and
after considering the difficulty of getting up to Derry, and the
chance of being wind-bound when we do get there, we resolve to
renounce our intended visit to that town. We had hardly put the ship
about, when the Irish Æolus shifted his trumpet, and opposed our
exit, as he had formerly been unfavorable to our progress up the
lake. At length, we are compelled to betake ourselves to towing, the
wind fading into an absolute calm. This gives us time enough to
admire the northern, or Donegal, side of Lough Foyle--the other
being hidden from us by haze and distance. Nothing can be more
favorable than this specimen of Ireland.--A beautiful variety of
cultivated slopes, intermixed with banks of wood; rocks skirted with
a distant ridge of heathy hills, watered by various brooks; the
glens or banks being, in general, planted or covered with copse; and
finally, studded by a succession of villas and gentlemen's seats,
good farmhouses, and neat white-washed cabins. Some of the last are
happily situated upon the verge of the sea, with banks of copse or a
rock or two rising behind them, and the white sand in front. The
land, in general, seems well cultivated and enclosed--but in some
places the enclosures seem too small, and the ridges too crooked,
for proper farming. We pass two gentlemen's seats, called White
Castle and Red Castle; the last a large good-looking mansion, with
trees, and a pretty vale sloping upwards from the sea. As we
approach the termination of the Lough, the ground becomes more rocky
and barren, and the cultivation interrupted by impracticable
patches, which have been necessarily abandoned. Come in view of
Green Castle, a large ruinous castle, said to have belonged to the
MacWilliams. The remains are romantically situated upon a green bank
sloping down to the sea, and are partly covered with ivy. From their
extent, the place must have been a chieftain's residence of the very
first consequence. Part of the ruins appear to be founded upon a
high red rock, which the eye at first blends with the masonry. To
the east of the ruins, upon a cliff overhanging the sea, are a
modern fortification and barrack-yard, and beneath, a large battery
for protection of the shipping which may enter the Lough; the guns
are not yet mounted. The Custom-house boat boards us and confirms
the account that American cruisers are upon the coast. Drift out of
the Lough, and leave behind us this fine country, all of which
belongs in property to Lord Donegal; other possessors only having
long leases, at sixty years, or so forth. Red Castle, however,
before distinguished as a very good-looking house, is upon a
perpetual lease. We discharge our pilot--the gentlemen go ashore
with him in the boat, in order to put foot on Irish land. I shall
defer that pleasure till I can promise myself something to see. When
our gentlemen return, we read prayers on deck. After dinner go
ashore at the small fishing-village of Port Rush, pleasantly
situated upon a peninsula, which forms a little harbor. Here we are
received by Dr. Richardson, the inventor of the fiorin-grass (or of
some of its excellencies). He cultivates this celebrated vegetable
on a very small scale, his whole farm not exceeding four acres. Here
I learn, with inexpressible surprise and distress, the death of one
of the most valued of the few friends whom these memoranda might
interest.[94] She was, indeed, a rare example of the soundest good
sense, and the most exquisite purity of moral feeling, united with
the utmost grace and elegance of personal beauty, and with manners
becoming the most dignified rank in British society. There was a
feminine softness in all her deportment, which won universal love,
as her firmness of mind and correctness of principle commanded
veneration. To her family her loss is inexpressibly great. I know
not whether it was the purity of her mind, or the ethereal cast of
her features and form, but I could never associate in my mind her
idea and that of mortality; so that the shock is the more heavy, as
being totally unexpected. God grant comfort to the afflicted
survivor and his family!

"_5th September, 1814._--Wake, or rather rise at six, for I have
waked the whole night, or fallen into broken sleeps only to be
hag-ridden by the nightmare. Go ashore with a heavy heart, to see
sights which I had much rather leave alone. Land under Dunluce, a
ruined castle built by the MacGilligans, or MacQuillens, but
afterwards taken from them by a Macdonnell, ancestor of the Earls of
Antrim, and destroyed by Sir John Perrot, Lord-Lieutenant in the
reign of Queen Elizabeth. This Macdonnell came from the Hebrides at
the head of a Scottish colony. The site of the castle much resembles
Dunnottar, but it is on a smaller scale. The ruins occupy perhaps
more than an acre of ground, being the level top of a high rock
advanced into the sea, by which it is surrounded on three sides, and
divided from the mainland by a deep chasm. The access was by a
narrow bridge, of which there now remains but a single rib, or
ledge, forming a doubtful and a precarious access to the ruined
castle. On the outer side of the bridge are large remains of
outworks, probably for securing cattle, and for domestic
offices--and the vestiges of a chapel. Beyond the bridge are an
outer and inner gateway, with their defences. The large gateway
forms one angle of the square enclosure of the fortress, and at the
other landward angle is built a large round tower. There are
vestiges of similar towers occupying the angles of the precipice
overhanging the sea. These towers were connected by a curtain, on
which artillery seems to have been mounted. Within this circuit are
the ruins of an establishment of feudal grandeur on the large scale.
The great hall, forming, it would seem, one side of the inner court,
is sixty paces long, lighted by windows which appear to have been
shafted with stone, but are now ruined. Adjacent are the great
kitchen and ovens, with a variety of other buildings, but no square
tower, or keep. The most remarkable part of Dunluce, however, is
that the whole mass of plum-pudding rock on which the fort is built
is completely perforated by a cave sloping downwards from the inside
of the moat or dry-ditch beneath the bridge, and opening to the sea
on the other side. It might serve the purpose of a small harbor,
especially if they had, as is believed, a descent to the cave from
within the castle. It is difficult to conceive the use of the
aperture to the land, unless it was in some way enclosed and
defended. Above the ruinous castle is a neat farmhouse. Mrs. More,
the good-wife, a Scoto-Hibernian, received us with kindness and
hospitality which did honor to the nation of her birth, as well as
of her origin, in a house whose cleanliness and neatness might have
rivalled England. Her churn was put into immediate motion on our
behalf, and we were loaded with all manner of courtesy, as well as
good things. We heard here of an armed schooner having been seen off
the coast yesterday, which fired on a boat that went off to board
her, and would seem therefore to be a privateer, or armed smuggler.

"Return on board for breakfast, and then again take boat for the
Giant's Causeway--having first shotted the guns, and agreed on a
signal, in case this alarming stranger should again make his
appearance. Visit two caves, both worth seeing, but not equal to
those we have seen: one, called Port Coon, opens in a small cove, or
bay--the outer reach opens into an inner cave, and that again into
the sea. The other, called Down Kerry, is a sea-cave, like that on
the eastern side of Loch Eribol--a high arch up which the sea
rolls:--the weather being quiet, we sailed in very nearly to the
upper end. We then rowed on to the celebrated Causeway, a platform
composed of basaltic pillars, projecting into the sea like the pier
of a harbor. As I was tired, and had a violent headache, I did not
land, but could easily see that the regularity of the columns was
the same as at Staffa; but that island contains a much more
extensive and curious specimen of this curious phenomenon.

"Row along the shores of this celebrated point, which are extremely
striking as well as curious. They open into a succession of little
bays, each of which has precipitous banks graced with long ranges of
the basaltic pillars, sometimes placed above each other, and divided
by masses of interweaving strata, or by green sloping banks of earth
of extreme steepness. These remarkable ranges of columns are in some
places chequered by horizontal strata of a red rock or earth, of the
appearance of ochre; so that the green of the grassy banks, the
dark-gray or black appearance of the columns, with those red seams
and other varieties of the interposed strata, have most uncommon and
striking effects. The outline of these cliffs is as singular as
their coloring. In several places the earth has wasted away from
single columns, and left them standing insulated and erect, like the
ruined colonnade of an ancient temple, upon the verge of the
precipice. In other places, the disposition of the basaltic ranges
presents singular appearances, to which the guides give names
agreeable to the images which they are supposed to represent. Each
of the little bays or inlets has also its appropriate name. One is
called the Spanish Bay, from one of the Spanish Armada having been
wrecked there. Thus our voyage has repeatedly traced the memorable
remnants of that celebrated squadron. The general name of the cape
adjacent to the Causeway is Bengore Head. To those who have seen
Staffa, the peculiar appearance of the Causeway itself will lose
much of its effect; but the grandeur of the neighboring scenery will
still maintain the reputation of Bengore Head. The people ascribe
all these wonders to Fin MacCoul, whom they couple with a Scottish
giant called Ben-an something or other. The traveller is plied by
guides, who make their profit by selling pieces of crystal, agate,
or chalcedony, found in the interstices of the rocks. Our party
brought off some curious joints of the columns, and, had I been
quite as I am wont to be, I would have selected four to be capitals
of a rustic porch at Abbotsford. But, alas! alas! I am much out of
love with vanity at this moment. From what we hear at the Causeway,
we have every reason to think that the pretended privateer has been
a gentleman's pleasure-vessel.--Continue our voyage southward, and
pass between the Main of Ireland and the Isle of Rachrin, a rude
heathy-looking island, once a place of refuge to Robert Bruce. This
is said, in ancient times, to have been the abode of banditti, who
plundered the neighboring coast. At present it is under a long lease
to a Mr. Gage, who is said to maintain excellent order among the
islanders. Those of bad character he expels to Ireland, and hence it
is a phrase among the people of Rachrin, when they wish ill to any
one, '_May Ireland be his hinder end_.' On the Main we see the
village of Ballintry, and a number of people collected, the remains
of an Irish fair. Close by is a small island, called Sheep Island.
We now take leave of the Irish coast, having heard nothing of its
popular complaints, excepting that the good lady at Dunluce made a
heavy moan against the tithes, which had compelled her husband to
throw his whole farm into pasture. Stand over toward Scotland, and
see the Mull of Cantyre light.

"_6th September, 1814._--Under the lighthouse at the Mull of
Cantyre; situated on a desolate spot among rocks, like a Chinese
pagoda in Indian drawings. Duff[95] and Stevenson go ashore at six.
Hamilton follows, but is unable to land, the sea having got up. The
boat brings back letters, and I have the great comfort to learn all
are well at Abbotsford. About eight the tide begins to run very
strong, and the wind rising at the same time, makes us somewhat
apprehensive for our boat, which had returned to attend D. and S. We
observe them set off along the hills on foot, to walk, as we
understand, to a bay called Carskey, five or six miles off, but the
nearest spot at which they can hope to reëmbark in this state of the
weather. It now becomes very squally, and one of our jibsails
splits. We are rather awkwardly divided into three parties--the
pedestrians on shore, with whom we now observe Captain Wilson,
mounted upon a pony--the boat with four sailors, which is stealing
along in-shore, unable to row, and scarce venturing to carry any
sail--and we in the yacht, tossing about most exceedingly. At length
we reach Carskey, a quiet-looking bay, where the boat gets into
shore, and fetches off our gentlemen.--After this the coast of
Cantyre seems cultivated and arable, but bleak and unenclosed, like
many other parts of Scotland. We then learn that we have been
repeatedly in the route of two American privateers, who have made
many captures in the Irish Channel, particularly at Innistruhul, at
the back of Islay, and on the Lewis. They are the Peacock, of
twenty-two guns, and 165 men, and a schooner of eighteen guns,
called the Prince of Neuchatel. These news, added to the increasing
inclemency of the weather, induce us to defer a projected visit to
the coast of Galloway; and indeed it is time one of us was home on
many accounts. We therefore resolve, after visiting the lighthouse
at Pladda, to proceed for Greenock. About four drop anchor off
Pladda, a small islet lying on the south side of Arran. Go ashore
and visit the establishment. When we return on board, the wind being
unfavorable for the mouth of Clyde, we resolve to weigh anchor and
go into Lamlash Bay.

"_7th September, 1814._--We had ample room to repent last night's
resolution, for the wind, with its usual caprice, changed so soon as
we had weighed anchor, blew very hard, and almost directly against
us, so that we were beating up against it by short tacks, which made
a most disagreeable night; as, between the noise of the wind and the
sea, the clattering of the ropes and sails above, and of the
movables below, and the eternal '_ready about_,' which was repeated
every ten minutes when the vessel was about to tack, with the lurch
and clamor which succeeds, sleep was much out of the question. We
are not now in the least sick, but want of sleep is uncomfortable,
and I have no agreeable reflections to amuse waking hours,
excepting the hope of again rejoining my family. About six o'clock
went on deck to see Lamlash Bay, which we have at length reached
after a hard struggle. The morning is fine and the wind abated, so
that the coast of Arran looks extremely well. It is indented with
two deep bays. That called Lamlash, being covered by an island with
an entrance at either end, makes a secure roadstead. The other bay,
which takes its name from Brodick Castle, a seat of the Duke of
Hamilton, is open. The situation of the castle is very fine, among
extensive plantations, laid out with perhaps too much formality, but
pleasant to the eye, as the first tract of plantation we have seen
for a long time. One stripe, however, with singular want of taste,
runs straight up a finely rounded hill, and turning by an obtuse
angle, cuts down the opposite side with equal lack of remorse. This
vile habit of opposing the line of the plantation to the natural
line and bearing of the ground is one of the greatest practical
errors of early planters. As to the rest, the fields about Brodick,
and the lowland of Arran in general, seem rich, well enclosed, and
in good cultivation. Behind and around rise an amphitheatre of
mountains, the principal a long ridge with fine swelling serrated
tops, called Goat-Fell. Our wind now altogether dies away, while we
want its assistance to get to the mouth of the Firth of Clyde, now
opening between the extremity of the large and fertile Isle of Bute,
and the lesser islands called the Cumbrays. The fertile coast of
Ayrshire trends away to the south-westward, displaying many
villages, and much appearance of beauty and cultivation. On the
north-eastward arises the bold and magnificent screen formed by the
mountains of Argyleshire and Dumbartonshire, rising above each other
in gigantic succession. About noon a favorable breath of wind
enables us to enter the mouth of the Clyde, passing between the
larger Cumbray and the extremity of Bute. As we advance beyond the
Cumbray, and open the opposite coast, see Largs, renowned for the
final defeat of the Norwegian invaders by Alexander III. [A. D.
1263]. The ground of battle was a sloping, but rather gentle, ascent
from the sea, above the modern Kirk of Largs. Had Haco gained the
victory, it would have opened all the south-west of Scotland to his
arms. On Bute, a fine and well-improved island, we open the Marquis
of Bute's house of Mount Stewart, neither apparently large nor
elegant in architecture, but beautifully situated among well-grown
trees, with an open and straight avenue to the seashore. The whole
isle is prettily varied by the rotation of crops: and the rocky
ridges of Goat-Fell and other mountains in Arran are now seen behind
Bute as a background. These ridges resemble much the romantic and
savage outline of the mountains of Cullin, in Skye. On the southward
of Largs is Kelburn, the seat of Lord Glasgow, with extensive
plantations; on the northward Skelmorlie, an ancient seat of the
Montgomeries. The Firth, closed to appearance by Bute and the
Cumbrays, now resembles a long irregular inland lake, bordered on
the one side by the low and rich coast of Renfrewshire, studded with
villages and seats, and on the other by the Highland mountains. Our
breeze dies totally away, and leaves us to admire this prospect till
sunset. I learn incidentally, that, in the opinion of honest Captain
Wilson, I have been myself the cause of all this contradictory
weather. 'It is all,' says the Captain to Stevenson, 'owing to the
cave at the Isle of Egg,'--from which I had abstracted a skull.
Under this odium I may labor yet longer, for assuredly the weather
has been doggedly unfavorable. Night quiet and serene, but dead
calm--a fine contrast to the pitching, rolling, and walloping of
last night.

"_8th September._--Waked very much in the same situation--a dead
calm, but the weather very serene. With much difficulty, and by the
assistance of the tide, we advanced up the Firth, and, passing the
village of Gourock, at length reached Greenock. Took an early
dinner, and embarked in the steamboat for Glasgow. We took leave of
our little yacht under the repeated cheers of the sailors, who had
been much pleased with their erratic mode of travelling about, so
different from the tedium of a regular voyage. After we reached
Glasgow--a journey which we performed at the rate of about eight
miles an hour, and with a smoothness of motion which probably
resembles flying--we supped together and prepared to
separate.--Erskine and I go to-morrow to the Advocate's at
Killermont, and thence to Edinburgh. So closes my journal. But I
must not omit to say, that among five or six persons, some of whom
were doubtless different in tastes and pursuits, there did not
occur, during the close communication of more than six weeks aboard
a small vessel, the slightest difference of opinion. Each seemed
anxious to submit his own wishes to those of his friends. The
consequence was, that by judicious arrangement all were gratified in
their turn, and frequently he who made some sacrifices to the views
of his companions was rewarded by some unexpected gratification
calculated particularly for his own amusement. Thus ends my little
excursion, in which, bating one circumstance, which must have made
me miserable for the time wherever I had learned it, I have enjoyed
as much pleasure as in any six weeks of my life. We had constant
exertion, a succession of wild and uncommon scenery, good-humor on
board, and objects of animation and interest when we went ashore--

  'Sed fugit interea--fugit irrevocabile tempus.'"

Footnotes of the Chapter XXXII.

[88: The Rev. Alexander Brunton, D. D., now (1836)
Professor of Oriental Languages in the University of Edinburgh.]

[89: _Ode on the Superstitions of the Highlands._]


  "So thick a haze o'erspreads the sky,
  They cannot see the Sun on high."

  Southey's _Inchcape Rock_.]

[91: Southey's _Inchcape Rock_.]

[92: See _Minstrelsy of the Border_, vol. iv. pp. 285-306
(Edin. Ed.).]

[93: _The Boy and the Mantle_--Percy's _Reliques_, vol.
iii. p. 10.]

[94: Harriet, Duchess of Buccleuch, died August 24, 1814.]

[95: Adam Duff, Esq., afterwards and for many years Sheriff
of the county of Edinburgh, died on 17th May, 1840.--(1845.)]




I question if any man ever drew his own character more fully or more
pleasingly than Scott has done in the preceding diary of a six
weeks' pleasure voyage. We have before us, according to the scene
and occasion, the poet, the antiquary, the magistrate, the planter,
and the agriculturist; but everywhere the warm yet sagacious
philanthropist--everywhere the courtesy, based on the unselfishness,
of the thorough-bred gentleman;--and surely never was the tenderness
of a manly heart portrayed more touchingly than in the closing
pages. I ought to mention that Erskine received the news of the
Duchess of Buccleuch's death on the day when the party landed at
Dunstaffnage; but, knowing how it would affect Scott, took means to
prevent its reaching him until the expedition should be concluded.
He heard the event casually mentioned by a stranger during dinner at
Port Rush, and was for the moment quite overpowered.

Of the letters which Scott wrote to his friends during those happy
six weeks, I have recovered only one, and it is, thanks to the
leisure of the yacht, in verse. The strong and easy heroics of the
first section prove, I think, that Mr. Canning did not err when he
told him that if he chose he might emulate even Dryden's command
that noble measure; and the dancing anapæsts of the second show that
he could with equal facility have rivalled the gay graces of Cotton,
Anstey, or Moore. This epistle did not reach the Duke of Buccleuch
till his lovely Duchess was no more; and I shall annex to it some
communications relating to that affliction, which afford a contrast,
not less interesting than melancholy, to the light-hearted glee
reflected in the rhymes from the region of Magnus Troil.



  Health to the chieftain from his clansman true!
  From her true Minstrel, health to fair Buccleuch!
  Health from the isles, where dewy Morning weaves
  Her chaplet with the tints that Twilight leaves;
  Where late the sun scarce vanished from the sight,
  And his bright pathway graced the short-lived night,
  Though darker now as autumn's shades extend,
  The north winds whistle and the mists ascend!--
  Health from the land where eddying whirlwinds toss
  The storm-rocked _cradle_ of the Cape of Noss;
  On outstretched cords the giddy engine slides,
  His own strong arm the bold adventurer guides,
  And he that lists such desperate feat to try,
  May, like the sea-mew, skim 'twixt surf and sky,
  And feel the mid-air gales around him blow,
  And see the billows rage five hundred feet below.

  Here by each stormy peak and desert shore,
  The hardy islesman tugs the daring oar,
  Practised alike his venturous course to keep,
  Through the white breakers or the pathless deep,
  By ceaseless peril and by toil to gain
  A wretched pittance from the niggard main.
  And when the worn-out drudge old ocean leaves,
  What comfort greets him, and what hut receives?
  Lady! the worst your presence ere has cheered
  (When want and sorrow fled as you appeared)
  Were to a Zetlander as the high dome
  Of proud Drumlanrig to my humble home.
  Here rise no groves, and here no gardens blow,
  Here even the hardy heath scarce dares to grow;
  But rocks on rocks, in mist and storm arrayed,
  Stretch far to sea their giant colonnade,
  With many a cavern seam'd, the dreary haunt
  Of the dun seal and swarthy cormorant.
  Wild round their rifted brows with frequent cry,
  As of lament, the gulls and gannets fly,
  And from their sable base, with sullen sound,
  In sheets of whitening foam the waves rebound.

  Yet even these coasts a touch of envy gain
  From those whose land has known oppression's chain;
  For here the industrious Dutchman comes once more
  To moor his fishing craft by Bressay's shore;
  Greets every former mate and brother tar,
  Marvels how Lerwick 'scaped the rage of war,
  Tells many a tale of Gallic outrage done,
  And ends by blessing God and Wellington.
  Here too the Greenland tar, a fiercer guest,
  Claims a brief hour of riot, not of rest;
  Proves each wild frolic that in wine has birth,
  And wakes the land with brawls and boisterous mirth.
  A sadder sight on yon poor vessel's prow
  The captive Norse-man sits in silent woe,
  And eyes the flags of Britain as they flow.
  Hard fate of war, which bade her terrors sway
  His destined course, and seize so mean a prey;
  A bark with planks so warp'd and seams so riven,
  She scarce might face the gentlest airs of heaven:
  Pensive he sits, and questions oft if none
  Can list his speech and understand his moan;
  In vain--no islesman now can use the tongue
  Of the bold Norse, from whom their lineage sprung.
  Not thus of old the Norse-men hither came,
  Won by the love of danger or of fame;
  On every storm-beat cape a shapeless tower
  Tells of their wars, their conquests, and their power;
  For ne'er for Grecia's vales, nor Latian land,
  Was fiercer strife than for this barren strand;
  A race severe--the isle and ocean lords,
  Loved for its own delight the strife of swords;
  With scornful laugh the mortal pang defied,
  And blest their gods that they in battle died.

  Such were the sires of Zetland's simple race,
  And still the eye may faint resemblance trace
  In the blue eye, tall form, proportion fair,
  The limbs athletic, and the long light hair--
  (Such was the mien, as Scald and Minstrel sings,
  Of fair-haired Harold, first of Norway's Kings);
  But their high deeds to scale these crags confined,
  Their only warfare is with waves and wind.

  Why should I talk of Mousa's castled coast?
  Why of the horrors of the Sumburgh Rost?
  May not these bald disjointed lines suffice,
  Penn'd while my comrades whirl the rattling dice--
  While down the cabin skylight lessening shine
  The rays, and eve is chased with mirth and wine?
  Imagined, while down Mousa's desert bay
  Our well-trimm'd vessel urged her nimble way,
  While to the freshening breeze she leaned her side,
  And bade her bowsprit kiss the foamy tide?

  Such are the lays that Zetland Isles supply;
  Drenched with the drizzly spray and dropping sky,
  Weary and wet, a sea-sick minstrel I.----W. SCOTT.


  KIRKWALL, ORKNEY, August 13, 1814.

  In respect that your Grace has commissioned a Kraken,
  You will please be informed that they seldom are taken;
  It is January two years, the Zetland folks say,
  Since they saw the last Kraken in Scalloway bay;
  He lay in the offing a fortnight or more,
  But the devil a Zetlander put from the shore,
  Though bold in the seas of the North to assail
  The morse and the sea-horse, the grampus and whale.
  If your Grace thinks I'm writing the thing that is not,
  You may ask at a namesake of ours, Mr. Scott--
  (He's not from our clan, though his merits deserve it,
  But springs, I'm informed, from the Scotts of Scotstarvet;)[96]
  He questioned the folks who beheld it with eyes,
  But they differed confoundedly as to its size.
  For instance, the modest and diffident swore
  That it seemed like the keel of a ship, and no more--
  Those of eyesight more clear, or of fancy more high,
  Said it rose like an island 'twixt ocean and sky--
  But all of the hulk had a steady opinion
  That 't was sure a _live_ subject of Neptune's dominion--
  And I think, my Lord Duke, your Grace hardly would wish,
  To cumber your house, such a kettle of fish.
  Had your order related to nightcaps or hose,
  Or mittens of worsted, there's plenty of those.
  Or would you be pleased but to fancy a whale?
  And direct me to send it--by sea or by mail?
  The season, I'm told, is nigh over, but still
  I could get you one fit for the lake at Bowhill.
  Indeed, as to whales, there's no need to be thrifty,
  Since one day last fortnight two hundred and fifty,
  Pursued by seven Orkneymen's boats and no more,
  Betwixt Truffness and Luffness were drawn on the shore!
  You'll ask if I saw this same wonderful sight;
  I own that I did not, but easily might--
  For this mighty shoal of leviathans lay
  On our lee-beam a mile, in the loop of the bay,
  And the islesmen of Sanda were all at the spoil,
  And _flinching_ (so term it) the blubber to boil;
  (Ye spirits of lavender, drown the reflection
  That awakes at the thoughts of this odorous dissection.)
  To see this huge marvel full fain would we go,
  But Wilson, the wind, and the current said no.
  We have now got to Kirkwall, and needs I must stare
  When I think that in verse I have once called it _fair_;
  'Tis a base little borough, both dirty and mean--
  There is nothing to hear, and there's nought to be seen,
  Save a church, where, of old times, a prelate harangued,
  And a palace that's built by an earl that was hanged.
  But farewell to Kirkwall--aboard we are going,
  The anchor's a-peak and the breezes are blowing;
  Our commodore calls all his band to their places,
  And 't is time to release you--good-night to your Graces!


                                      GLASGOW, September 8, 1814.

MY DEAR LORD DUKE,--I take the earliest opportunity, after landing, to
discharge a task so distressing to me, that I find reluctance and fear
even in making the attempt, and for the first time address so kind and
generous a friend without either comfort and confidence in myself, or
the power of offering a single word of consolation to his affliction.
I learned the late calamitous news (which indeed no preparation could
have greatly mitigated) quite unexpectedly, when upon the Irish
coast; nor could the shock of an earthquake have affected me in the
same proportion. Since that time I have been detained at sea, thinking
of nothing but what has happened, and of the painful duty I am now to
perform. If the deepest interest in this inexpressible loss could
qualify me for expressing myself upon a subject so distressing, I know
few whose attachment and respect for the lamented object of our
sorrows can or ought to exceed my own, for never was more attractive
kindness and condescension displayed by one of her sphere, or returned
with deeper and more heartfelt gratitude by one in my own. But selfish
regret and sorrow, while they claim a painful and unavailing
ascendance, cannot drown the recollection of the virtues lost to the
world, just when their scene of acting had opened wider, and to her
family when the prospect of their speedy entry upon life rendered her
precept and example peculiarly important. And such an example! for of
all whom I have ever seen, in whatever rank, she possessed most the
power of rendering virtue lovely--combining purity of feeling and
soundness of judgment with a sweetness and affability which won the
affections of all who had the happiness of approaching her. And this
is the partner of whom it has been God's pleasure to deprive your
Grace, and the friend for whom I now sorrow, and shall sorrow while I
can remember anything. The recollection of her excellencies can but
add bitterness, at least in the first pangs of calamity, yet it is
impossible to forbear the topic; it runs to my pen as to my thoughts,
till I almost call in question, for an instant, the Eternal Wisdom
which has so early summoned her from this wretched world, where pain
and grief and sorrow is our portion, to join those to whom her
virtues, while upon earth, gave her so strong a resemblance. Would to
God I could say, _be comforted_; but I feel every common topic of
consolation must be, for the time at least, even an irritation to
affliction. Grieve, then, my dear Lord, or I should say my dear and
much honored friend,--for sorrow for the time levels the highest
distinctions of rank; but do not grieve as those who have no hope. I
know the last earthly thoughts of the departed sharer of your joys and
sorrows must have been for your Grace and the dear pledges she has
left to your care. Do not, for their sake, suffer grief to take that
exclusive possession which disclaims care for the living, and is not
only useless to the dead, but is what their wishes would have most
earnestly deprecated. To time, and to God, whose are both time and
eternity, belongs the office of future consolation; it is enough to
require from the sufferer under such a dispensation to bear his
burthen of sorrow with fortitude, and to resist those feelings which
prompt us to believe that that which is galling and grievous is
therefore altogether beyond our strength to support. Most bitterly do
I regret some levity which I fear must have reached you when your
distress was most poignant, and most dearly have I paid for venturing
to anticipate the time which is not ours, since I received these
deplorable news at the very moment when I was collecting some trifles
that I thought might give satisfaction to the person whom I so highly
honored, and who, among her numerous excellencies, never failed to
seem pleased with what she knew was meant to afford her pleasure.

But I must break off, and have perhaps already written too much. I
learn by a letter from Mrs. Scott, this day received, that your Grace
is at Bowhill--in the beginning of next week I will be in the
vicinity; and when your Grace can receive me without additional pain,
I shall have the honor of waiting upon you. I remain, with the deepest
sympathy, my Lord Duke, your Grace's truly distressed and most
grateful servant,

                                                    WALTER SCOTT.

The following letter was addressed to Scott by the Duke of
Buccleuch, before he received that which the Poet penned on landing
at Glasgow. I present it here, because it will give a more exact
notion of what Scott's relations with his noble patron really were,
than any other single document which I could produce: and to set
that matter in its just light is essential to the business of this
narrative. But I am not ashamed to confess that I embrace with
satisfaction the opportunity of thus offering to the readers of the
present time a most instructive lesson. They will here see what pure
and simple virtues and humble piety may be cultivated as the only
sources of real comfort in this world and consolation in the
prospect of futurity,--among circles which the giddy and envious mob
are apt to regard as intoxicated with the pomps and vanities of
wealth and rank; which so many of our popular writers represent
systematically as sunk in selfish indulgence--as viewing all below
them with apathy and indifference--and last, not least, as
upholding, when they do uphold, the religious institutions of their
country, merely because they have been taught to believe that their
own hereditary privileges and possessions derive security from the
prevalence of Christian maxims and feelings among the mass of the


                                      BOWHILL, September 3, 1814.

MY DEAR SIR,--It is not with the view of distressing you with my
griefs, in order to relieve my own feelings, that I address you at
this moment. But knowing your attachment to myself, and more
particularly the real affection which you bore to my poor wife, I
thought that a few lines from me would be acceptable, both to explain
the state of my mind at present, and to mention a few circumstances
connected with that melancholy event.

I am calm and resigned. The blow was so severe that it stunned me, and
I did not feel that agony of mind which might have been expected. I
now see the full extent of my misfortune; but that extended view of it
has come gradually upon me. I am fully aware how imperative it is upon
me to exert myself to the utmost on account of my children. I must
not depress their spirits by a display of my own melancholy feelings.
I have many new duties to perform,--or rather, perhaps, I now feel
more pressingly the obligation of duties which the unceasing exertions
of my poor wife rendered less necessary, or induced me to attend to
with less than sufficient accuracy. I have been taught a severe
lesson; it may and ought to be a useful one. I feel that my lot,
though a hard one, is accompanied by many alleviations denied to
others. I have a numerous family, thank God, in health, and profiting,
according to their different ages, by the admirable lessons they have
been taught. My daughter, Anne, worthy of so excellent a mother,
exerts herself to the utmost to supply her place, and has displayed a
fortitude and strength of mind beyond her years, and (as I had
foolishly thought) beyond her powers. I have most kind friends willing
and ready to afford me every assistance. These are my worldly
comforts, and they are numerous and great.

Painful as it may be, I cannot reconcile it to myself to be totally
silent as to the last scene of this cruel tragedy. As she had lived,
so she died,--an example of every noble feeling--of love, attachment,
and the total want of everything selfish. Endeavoring to the last to
conceal her suffering, she evinced a fortitude, a resignation, a
Christian courage, beyond all power of description. Her last
injunction was to attend to her poor people. It was a dreadful but
instructive moment. I have learned that the most truly heroic spirit
may be lodged in the tenderest and the gentlest breast. Need I tell
_you_ that she expired in the full hope and expectation, nay, in the
firmest certainty, of passing to a better world, through a steady
reliance on her Saviour? If ever there was a proof of the efficacy of
our religion in moments of the deepest affliction, and in the hour of
death, it was exemplified in her conduct. But I will no longer dwell
upon a subject which must be painful to you. Knowing her sincere
friendship for you, I have thought it would give you pleasure, though
a melancholy one, to hear from me that her last moments were such as
to be envied by every lover of virtue, piety, and true and genuine

I will endeavor to do in all things what I know she would wish. I have
therefore determined to lay myself open to all the comforts my
friends can afford me. I shall be most happy to cultivate their
society as heretofore. I shall love them more and more, because I know
they loved her. Whenever it suits your convenience I shall be happy to
see you here. I feel that it is particularly my duty not to make my
house the house of mourning to my children; for I know it was _her_
decided opinion that it is most mischievous to give an early
impression of gloom to the mind.

You will find me tranquil, and capable of going through the common
occupations of society. Adieu for the present. Yours very sincerely,

                                                  BUCCLEUCH, etc.


                                 EDINBURGH, 11th September, 1814.

MY DEAR LORD DUKE,--I received your letter (which had missed me at
Greenock) upon its being returned to this place, and cannot
sufficiently express my gratitude for the kindness which, at such a
moment, could undertake the task of writing upon such a subject to
relieve the feelings of a friend. Depend upon it, I am so far worthy
of your Grace's kindness, that, among many proofs of it, this
affecting and most distressing one can never be forgotten. It gives me
great though melancholy satisfaction to find that your Grace has had
the manly and Christian fortitude to adopt that resigned and patient
frame of spirit, which can extract from the most bitter calamity a
wholesome mental medicine. I trust in God, that, as so many and such
high duties are attached to your station, and as He has blessed you
with the disposition that draws pleasure from the discharge of them,
your Grace will find your first exertions, however painful, rewarded
with strength to persevere, and finally with that comfort which
attends perseverance in that which is right. The happiness of hundreds
depends upon your Grace almost directly, and the effect of your
example in the country, and of your constancy in support of a
constitution daily undermined by the wicked and designing, is almost
incalculable. Justly, then, and well, has your Grace resolved to
sacrifice all that is selfish in the indulgence of grief, to the
duties of your social and public situation. Long may you have health
and strength to be to your dear and hopeful family an example and
guide in all that becomes their high rank. It is enough that one
light, and alas, what a light that was!--has been recalled by the
Divine Will to another and a better sphere.

I wrote a hasty and unconnected letter immediately on landing. I am
detained for two days in this place, but shall wait upon your Grace
immediately on my return to Abbotsford. If my society cannot, in the
circumstances, give much pleasure, it will, I trust, impose no

Mrs. Scott desires me to offer her deepest sympathy upon this
calamitous occasion. She has much reason, for she has lost the
countenance of a friend such as she cannot expect the course of human
life again to supply. I am ever, with much and affectionate respect,
your Grace's truly faithful humble servant,

                                                    WALTER SCOTT.


                                   EDINBURGH, September 14, 1814.

MY DEAR MORRITT,--"At the end of my tour on the 22d August"!!! Lord
help us!--this comes of going to the Levant and the Hellespont, and
your Euxine, and so forth. A poor devil who goes to Nova Zembla and
Thule is treated as if he had been only walking as far as Barnard
Castle or Cauldshiels Loch.[97] I would have you to know I only
returned on the 10th current, and the most agreeable thing I found was
your letter. I am sure you must know I had need of something pleasant,
for the news of the death of the beautiful, the kind, the
affectionate, and generous Duchess of Buccleuch gave me a shock,
which, to speak God's truth, could not have been exceeded unless by my
own family's sustaining a similar deprivation. She was indeed a light
set upon a hill, and had all the grace which the most accomplished
manners and the most affable address could give to those virtues by
which she was raised still higher than by rank. As she always
distinguished me by her regard and confidence, and as I had many
opportunities of seeing her in the active discharge of duties in which
she rather resembled a descended angel than an earthly being, you will
excuse my saying so much about my own feelings on an occasion where
sorrow has been universal. But I will drop the subject. The survivor
has displayed a strength and firmness of mind seldom equalled, where
the affection has been so strong and mutual, and amidst the very high
station and commanding fortune which so often render self-control more
difficult, because so far from being habitual. I trust, for his own
sake, as well as for that of thousands to whom his life is directly
essential, and hundreds of thousands to whom his example is important,
that God, as He has given him fortitude to bear this inexpressible
shock, will add strength of constitution to support him in the
struggle. He has written to me on the occasion in a style becoming a
man and a Christian, submissive to the will of God, and willing to
avail himself of the consolations which remain among his family and
friends. I am going to see him, and how we shall meet, God knows; but
though "an iron man of iron mould" upon many of the occasions of life
in which I see people most affected, and a peculiar contemner of the
commonplace sorrow which I see paid to the departed, this is a case in
which my stoicism will not serve me. They both gave me reason to think
they loved me, and I returned their regard with the most sincere
attachment--the distinction of rank being, I think, set apart on all
sides. But God's will be done. I will dwell no longer upon this
subject. It is much to learn that Mrs. Morritt is so much better, and
that if I have sustained a severe wound from a quarter so little
expected, I may promise myself the happiness of your dear wife's

I will shortly mention the train of our voyage, reserving particulars
till another day. We sailed from Leith, and skirted the Scottish
coast, visiting the Buller of Buchan and other remarkable
objects--went to Shetland--thence to Orkney--from thence round Cape
Wrath to the Hebrides, making descents everywhere, where there was
anything to be seen--thence to Lewis and the Long Island--to Skye--to
Iona--and so forth, lingering among the Hebrides as long as we could.
Then we stood over to the coast of Ireland, and visited the Giant's
Causeway and Port Rush, where Dr. Richardson, the inventor
(discoverer, I would say) of the celebrated fiorin-grass, resides. By
the way, he is a chattering charlatan, and his fiorin a mere humbug.
But if he were Cicero, and his invention were potatoes, or anything
equally useful, I should detest the recollection of the place and the
man, for it was there I learned the death of my friend. Adieu, my dear
Morritt; kind compliments to your lady; like poor Tom, "I cannot daub
it farther." When I hear where you are, and what you are doing, I will
write you a more cheerful epistle. Poor Mackenzie, too, is gone--the
brother of our friend Lady Hood--and another Mackenzie, son to the
Man of Feeling. So short time have I been absent, and such has been
the harvest of mortality among those whom I regarded!

I will attend to your corrections in Waverley. My principal employment
for the autumn will be reducing the knowledge I have acquired of the
localities of the islands into scenery and stage-room for The Lord of
the Isles, of which renowned romance I think I have repeated some
portions to you. It was elder born than Rokeby, though it gave place
to it in publishing.

After all, scribbling is an odd propensity. I don't believe there is
any ointment, even that of the Edinburgh Review, which can cure the
infected. Once more, yours entirely,

                                                    WALTER SCOTT.

Before I pass from the event which made August, 1814, so black a
month in Scott's calendar, I may be excused for once more noticing
the kind interest which the Duchess of Buccleuch had always taken in
the fortunes of the Ettrick Shepherd, and introducing a most
characteristic epistle which she received from him a few months
before her death. The Duchess--"fearful" (as she said) "of seeing
herself in print"--did not answer the Shepherd, but forwarded his
letter to Scott, begging him to explain that circumstances did not
allow the Duke to concede what he requested, but to assure him that
they both retained a strong wish to serve him whenever a suitable
opportunity should present itself. Hogg's letter was as follows:--


                                     ETTRICKBANK, March 17, 1814.

May it please your Grace,--I have often grieved you by my
applications for this and that. I am sensible of this, for I have
had many instances of your wishes to be of service to me, could you
have known what to do for that purpose. But there are some eccentric
characters in the world, of whom no person can judge or know what will
prove beneficial, or what may prove their bane. I have again and again
received of your Grace's private bounty, and though it made me love
and respect you the more, I was nevertheless grieved at it. It was
never your Grace's money that I wanted, but the honor of your
countenance; indeed my heart could never yield to the hope of being
patronized by any house save that of Buccleuch, whom I deemed bound to
cherish every plant that indicated anything out of the common way on
the Braes of Ettrick and Yarrow.

I know you will be thinking that this long prelude is to end with a
request. No, Madam! I have taken the resolution of never making
another request. I will, however, tell you a story, which is, I
believe, founded on a fact:--

There is a small farm at the head of a water called *****, possessed
by a mean fellow named ****. A third of it has been taken off and laid
into another farm--the remainder is as yet unappropriated. Now, there
is a certain poor bard, who has two old parents, each of them upwards
of eighty-four years of age; and that bard has no house nor home to
shelter those poor parents in, or cheer the evening of their lives. A
single line from a certain very great and very beautiful lady, to a
certain Mr. Riddle,[99] would insure that small pendicle to the bard
at once. But she will grant no such thing! I appeal to your Grace if
she is not a very bad lady that? I am your Grace's ever obliged and

                                                      JAMES HOGG,
                                            THE ETTRICK SHEPHERD.

[Illustration: JAMES HOGG

_From the water-color portrait by Denning_]

Though the Duke of Buccleuch would not dismiss a poor tenant merely
because Hogg called him "a mean fellow," he had told Scott that if
he could find an unappropriated "pendicle," such as this letter
referred to, he would most willingly bestow it on the Shepherd. It
so happened, that when Scott paid his first visit at Bowhill after
the death of the Duchess, the Ettrick Shepherd was mentioned: "My
friend," said the Duke, "I must now consider this poor man's case as
_her_ legacy;" and to this feeling Hogg owed, very soon afterwards,
his establishment at Altrive, on his favorite braes of Yarrow.

As Scott passed through Edinburgh on his return from his voyage, the
negotiation as to The Lord of the Isles, which had been protracted
through several months, was completed--Constable agreeing to give
fifteen hundred guineas for one half of the copyright, while the
other moiety was retained by the author. The sum mentioned had been
offered by Constable at an early stage of the affair, but it was not
until now accepted, in consequence of the earnest wish of Scott and
Ballantyne to saddle the publisher of the new poem with part of
their old "quire stock,"--which, however, Constable ultimately
persisted in refusing. It may easily be believed that John
Ballantyne's management of money matters during Scott's six weeks'
absence had been such as to render it doubly convenient for the Poet
to have this matter settled on his arrival in Edinburgh--and it may
also be supposed that the progress of Waverley during that interval
had tended to put the chief parties in good-humor with each other.

In returning to Waverley, I must observe most distinctly that
nothing can be more unfounded than the statement which has of late
years been frequently repeated in memoirs of Scott's life, that the
sale of the first edition of this immortal Tale was slow. It
appeared on the 7th of July, and the whole impression (1000 copies)
had disappeared within five weeks; an occurrence then unprecedented
in the case of an anonymous novel, put forth at what is called among
publishers _the dead season_. A second edition, of 2000 copies, was
at least projected by the 24th of the same month;[100]--that
appeared before the end of August, and it, too, had gone off so
rapidly, that when Scott passed through Edinburgh, on his way from
the Hebrides, he found Constable eager to treat, on the same terms
as before, for a third of 1000 copies. This third edition was
published in October, and when a fourth of the like extent was
called for in November, I find Scott writing to John Ballantyne, "I
suppose Constable won't quarrel with a work on which he has netted
£612 in four months, with a certainty of making it £1000 before the
year is out;" and, in fact, owing to the diminished expense of
advertising, the profits of this fourth edition were to each party
£440. To avoid recurring to these details, I may as well state at
once, that a fifth edition of 1000 copies appeared in January, 1815;
a sixth of 1500 in June, 1816; a seventh of 2000 in October, 1817;
an eighth of 2000 in April, 1821; that in the collective editions,
prior to 1829, 11,000 were disposed of; and that the sale of the
current edition, with notes, begun in 1829, has already reached
40,000 copies. Well might Constable regret that he had not ventured
to offer £1000 for the whole copyright of Waverley!

I must now look back for a moment to the history of the
composition.--The letter of September, 1810, was not the only piece
of discouragement which Scott had received, during the progress of
Waverley, from his first confidant. James Ballantyne, in his
deathbed _memorandum_, says: "When Mr. Scott first questioned me as
to my hopes of him as a novelist, it somehow or other did chance
that they were not very high. He saw this, and said: 'Well, I don't
see why I should not succeed as well as other people. At all events,
faint heart never won fair lady--'tis only trying.' When the first
volume was completed, I still could not get myself to think much of
the Waverley-Honor scenes; and in this I afterwards found that I
sympathized with many. But, to my utter shame be it spoken, when I
reached the exquisite descriptions of scenes and manners at
Tully-Veolan, what did I do but pronounce them at once to be utterly
vulgar!--When the success of the work so entirely knocked me down as
a man of taste, all that the good-natured author said was: 'Well, I
really thought you were wrong about the Scotch. Why, Burns, by his
poetry, had already attracted universal attention to everything
Scottish, and I confess I could n't see why I should not be able to
keep the flame alive, merely because I wrote Scotch in prose, and he
in rhyme.'"--It is, I think, very agreeable to have this manly
avowal to compare with the delicate allusion which Scott makes to
the affair in his Preface to the Novel.

The only other friends originally entrusted with his secret appear
to have been Mr. Erskine and Mr. Morritt. I know not at what stage
the former altered the opinion which he formed on seeing the tiny
fragment of 1805. The latter did not, as we have seen, receive the
book until it was completed; but he anticipated, before he closed
the first volume, the station which public opinion would ultimately
assign to Waverley. "How the story may continue," Mr. Morritt then
wrote, "I am not able to divine; but, as far as I have read, pray
let us thank you for the Castle of Tully-Veolan, and the delightful
drinking-bout at Lucky Mac-Leary's, for the characters of the Laird
of Balmawhapple and the Baron of Bradwardine; and no less for Davie
Gelatly, whom I take to be a transcript of William Rose's motley
follower, commonly yclept Caliban.[101] If the completion be equal
to what we have just devoured, it deserves a place among our
standard works far better than its modest appearance and anonymous
title-page will at first gain it in these days of prolific
story-telling. Your manner of narrating is so different from the
slipshod sauntering verbiage of common novels, and from the stiff,
precise, and prim sententiousness of some of our female moralists,
that I think it can't fail to strike anybody who knows what style
means; but, amongst the gentle class, who swallow every blue-backed
book in a circulating library for the sake of the story, I should
fear half the knowledge of nature it contains, and all the real
humor, may be thrown away. Sir Everard, Mrs. Rachael, and the Baron
are, I think, in the first rank of portraits for nature and
character; and I could depone to their likeness in any court of
taste. The ballad of St. Swithin, and scraps of _old songs_, were
measures of danger if you meant to continue your concealment; but,
in truth, you wear your disguise something after the manner of
Bottom the weaver; and in spite of you the truth will soon peep
out." And next day he resumes: "We have finished Waverley, and were
I to tell you all my admiration, you would accuse me of
complimenting. You have quite attained the point which your
_postscript-preface_ mentions as your object--the discrimination of
Scottish character, which had hitherto been slurred over with
clumsy national daubing." He adds, a week or two later: "After all,
I need not much thank you for your confidence. How could you have
hoped that I should not discover you? I had heard you tell half the
anecdotes before--some turns you owe to myself; and no doubt most of
your friends must have the same sort of thing to say."

Monk Lewis's letter on the subject is so short that I must give it
as it stands:--


                                     THE ALBANY, August 17, 1814.

MY DEAR SCOTT,--I return some books of yours which you lent me '_sixty
years since_'--and I hope they will reach you safe. I write in great
haste; and yet I must mention, that hearing Waverley ascribed to you,
I bought it, and read it with all impatience. I am now told it is not
yours, but William Erskine's. If this is so, pray tell him from me
that I think it excellent in every respect, and that I believe every
word of it.

  Ever yours,                                        M. G. LEWIS.

Another friend (and he had, I think, none more dear), the late
Margaret Maclean Clephane of Torloisk, afterwards Marchioness of
Northampton, writes thus from Kirkness, in Kinross-shire, on the
11th October:--

"In this place I feel a sort of pleasure, not unallied to pain, from
the many recollections that every venerable tree, and every sunny
bank, and every honeysuckle bower, occasions; and I have found
something here that speaks to me in the voice of a valued
friend--_Waverley_. The question that rises, it is perhaps improper to
give utterance to. If so, let it pass as an exclamation.--Is it
possible that Mr. Erskine can have written it? The poetry, I think,
would prove a different descent in any court in Christendom. The turn
of the phrases in many places is so peculiarly yours, that I fancy I
hear your voice repeating them; and there wants but verse to make all
Waverley an enchanting poem--varying to be sure from grave to gay, but
with so deepening an interest as to leave an impression on the mind
that few--very few poems--could awaken. But, why did not the author
allow me to be his Gaelic Dragoman? Oh! Mr. ----, whoever you are, you
might have safely trusted--M. M. C."

There was one person with whom it would, of course, have been more
than vain to affect any concealment. On the publication of the third
edition, I find him writing thus to his brother Thomas, who had by
this time gone to Canada as paymaster of the 70th regiment:--

DEAR TOM,--A novel here called Waverley has had enormous success. I
sent you a copy, and will send you another, with The Lord of the
Isles, which will be out at Christmas. The success which it has had,
with some other circumstances, has induced people

  "To lay the bantling at a certain door,
  Where lying store of faults, they'd fain heap more."[102]

You will guess for yourself how far such a report has credibility; but
by no means give the weight of your opinion to the transatlantic
public; for you must know there is also a counter-report, that _you_
have written the said Waverley. Send me a novel intermixing your
exuberant and natural humor with any incidents and descriptions of
scenery you may see--particularly with characters and traits of
manners. I will give it all the cobbling that is necessary, and, if
you do but exert yourself, I have not the least doubt it will be worth
£500; and, to encourage you, you may, when you send the MS., draw on
me for £100, at fifty days' sight--so that your labors will at any
rate not be quite thrown away. You have more fun and descriptive
talent than most people; and all that you want--_i. e._, the mere
practice of composition--I can supply, or the devil's in it. Keep this
matter a dead secret, and look knowing when Waverley is spoken of. If
you are not Sir John Falstaff, you are as good a man as he, and may
therefore face Colville of the Dale. You may believe I don't want to
make you the author of a book you have never seen; but if people will,
upon their own judgment, suppose so, and also on their own judgment
give you £500 to try your hand on a novel, I don't see that you are a
pin's-point the worse. Mind that your MS. attends the draft. I am
perfectly serious and confident that in two or three months you might
clear the cobs. I beg my compliments to the hero who is afraid of
Jeffrey's scalping-knife.

In truth, no one of Scott's intimate friends ever had, or could have
had, the slightest doubt as to the parentage of Waverley: nor,
although he abstained from communicating the fact formally to most
of them, did he ever affect any real concealment in the case of such
persons; nor, when any circumstance arose which rendered the
withholding of direct confidence on the subject incompatible with
perfect freedom of feeling on both sides, did he hesitate to make
the avowal.

Nor do I believe that the mystification ever answered much purpose,
among literary men of eminence beyond the circle of his personal
acquaintance. But it would be difficult to suppose that he had ever
wished that to be otherwise; it was sufficient for him to set the
mob of readers at gaze, and above all, to escape the annoyance of
having productions, actually known to be his, made the daily and
hourly topics of discussion in his presence.[103]

Mr. Jeffrey had known Scott from his youth--and, in reviewing
Waverley, he was at no pains to conceal his conviction of its
authorship. He quarrelled, as usual, with carelessness of style, and
some inartificialities of plot, but rendered justice to the
substantial merits of the work, in language which I shall not mar by
abridgment. The Quarterly was far less favorable in its verdict.
Indeed, the articles on Waverley, and afterwards on Guy Mannering,
which appeared in that journal, will bear the test of ultimate
opinion as badly as any critical pieces which our time has produced.
They are written in a captious, cavilling strain of quibble, which
shows as complete blindness to the essential interest of the
narrative, as the critic betrays on the subject of the Scottish
dialogue, which forms its liveliest ornament, when he pronounces
that to be "a dark dialogue of Anglified Erse." With this remarkable
exception, the professional critics were, on the whole, not slow to
confess their belief, that, under a hackneyed name and trivial form,
there had at last appeared a work of original creative genius,
worthy of being placed by the side of the very few real masterpieces
of prose fiction. Loftier romance was never blended with easier,
quainter humor, by Cervantes himself. In his familiar delineations
he had combined the strength of Smollett with the native elegance
and unaffected pathos of Goldsmith; in his darker scenes he had
revived that real tragedy which appeared to have left our stage with
the age of Shakespeare; and elements of interest so diverse had been
blended and interwoven with that nameless grace, which, more surely
perhaps than even the highest perfection in the command of any one
strain of sentiment, marks the master-mind cast in Nature's most
felicitous mould.

Scott, with the consciousness (avowed long afterwards in his General
Preface) that he should never in all likelihood have thought of a
Scotch novel had he not read Maria Edgeworth's exquisite pieces of
Irish character, desired James Ballantyne to send her a copy of
Waverley on its first appearance, inscribed "from the author." Miss
Edgeworth, whom Scott had never then seen, though some literary
correspondence had passed between them, thanked the nameless
novelist, under cover to Ballantyne, with the cordial generosity of
kindred genius;[104] and the following answer, not from Scott, but
from Ballantyne--(who had kept a copy, now before me)--is not to be


                                  EDINBURGH, 11th November, 1814.

MADAM,--I am desired by the Author of Waverley to acknowledge, in his
name, the honor you have done him by your most flattering approbation
of his work--a distinction which he receives as one of the highest
that could be paid him, and which he would have been proud to have
himself stated his sense of, only that being _impersonal_, he thought
it more respectful to require my assistance than to write an anonymous

There are very few who have had the opportunities that have been
presented to me, of knowing how very elevated is the admiration
entertained by the Author of Waverley for the genius of Miss
Edgeworth. From the intercourse that took place betwixt us while the
work was going through my press, _I know_ that the exquisite truth and
power of your characters operated on his mind at once to excite and
subdue it. He felt that the success of his book was to depend upon the
characters, much more than upon the story; and he entertained so just
and so high an opinion of your eminence in the management of both, as
to have strong apprehensions of any comparison which might be
instituted betwixt his picture and story and yours; besides, that
there is a richness and _naïveté_ in Irish character and humor, in
which the Scotch are certainly defective, and which could hardly fail,
as he thought, to render his delineations cold and tame by the
contrast. "If I could but hit Miss Edgeworth's wonderful power of
vivifying all her persons, and making them live as _beings_ in your
mind, I should not be afraid:"--Often has the Author of Waverley used
such language to me; and I knew that I gratified him most when I could
say,--"Positively this _is_ equal to Miss Edgeworth." You will thus
judge, Madam, how deeply he must feel such praise as you have bestowed
upon his efforts. I believe he himself thinks the Baron the best drawn
character in his book--I mean the Bailie--honest Bailie Macwheeble. He
protests it is the most _true_, though from many causes he did not
expect it to be the most popular. It appears to me, that amongst so
many splendid portraits, all drawn with such strength and truth, it is
more easy to say which is your favorite, than which is best. Mr. Henry
Mackenzie agrees with you in your objection to the resemblance to
Fielding. He says you should never be forced to recollect, _maugre_
all its internal evidence to the contrary, that such a work is a work
of fiction, and all its fine creations but of air. The character of
Rose is less finished than the author had at one period intended; but
I believe the characters of humor grew upon his liking, to the
prejudice, in some degree, of those of a more elevated and sentimental
kind. Yet what can surpass Flora, and her gallant brother?

I am not authorized to say--but I will not resist my impulse to say to
Miss Edgeworth, that another novel, descriptive of more ancient
manners still, may be expected erelong from the Author of Waverley.
But I request her to observe, that I say this in strict
confidence--not certainly meaning to exclude from the knowledge of
what will give them pleasure, her respectable family.

Mr. Scott's poem, The Lord of the Isles, promises fully to equal the
most admired of his productions. It is, I think, equally powerful, and
certainly more uniformly polished and sustained. I have seen three
cantos. It will consist of six.

I have the honor to be, Madam, with the utmost admiration and respect,

Your most obedient and most humble servant,

                                                JAMES BALLANTYNE.

Footnotes of the Chapter XXXIII.

[96: The Scotts of Scotstarvet, and other families of the
name in Fife and elsewhere, claim no kindred with the great clan of
the Border--and their armorial bearings are different.]

[97: Lord Byron writes to Mr. Moore, August 3, 1814: "Oh! I
have had the most amusing letter from Hogg, the Ettrick Minstrel and
Shepherd. I think very highly of him as a poet, but he and half of
these Scotch and Lake troubadours are spoilt by living in little
circles and petty coteries. London and the world is the only place
to take the conceit out of a man--in the milling phrase. Scott, he
says, is gone to the Orkneys in a gale of wind, during which wind,
he affirms, the said Scott, he is sure, is not at his ease, to say
the least of it. Lord! Lord! if these home-keeping minstrels had
crossed your Atlantic or my Mediterranean, and tasted a little open
boating in a white squall--or a gale in 'the Gut,'--or the Bay of
Biscay, with no gale at all--how it would enliven and introduce them
to a few of the sensations!--to say nothing of an illicit amour or
two upon shore, in the way of Essay upon the Passions, beginning
with simple adultery, and compounding it as they went along."--_Life
and Works_, vol. iii. p. 102. Lord Byron, by the way, had written on
July the 24th to Mr. Murray, "_Waverley_ is the best and most
interesting novel I have redde since--I don't know when,"
etc.--_Ibid._ p. 98.]

[98: Mr. Grieve was a man of cultivated mind and generous
disposition, and a most kind and zealous friend of the Shepherd.]

[99: Major Riddell, the Duke's Chamberlain at Branksome

[100: See letter to Mr. Morritt, _ante_, p. 120.]

[101: This alludes to some mummery in which David Hinves,
of merry memory, wore a Caliban-like disguise. He lived more than
forty years in the service of Mr. W. S. Rose, and died in it last
year. Mr. Rose was of course extremely young when he first picked up
Hinves--a bookbinder by trade, and a preacher among the Methodists.
A sermon heard casually under a tree in the New Forest had such
touches of good feeling and broad humor, that the young gentleman
promoted him to be his valet on the spot. He was treated latterly
more like a friend than a servant by his master, and by all his
master's intimate friends. Scott presented him with a copy of all
his works; and Coleridge gave him a corrected (or rather an altered)
copy of _Christabel_, with this inscription on the flyleaf: "DEAR
HINVES,--Till this book is concluded, and with it '_Gundimore_, a
poem, by the same author,' accept of this _corrected_ copy of
_Christabel_ as a _small_ token of regard; yet such a testimonial as
I would not pay to any one I did not esteem, though he were an
emperor. Be assured I shall send you for your private library every
work I have published (if there be any to be had) and whatever I
shall publish. Keep steady to the FAITH. If the fountain-head be
always full, the stream cannot be long empty. Yours sincerely,

                                                S. T. COLERIDGE."

11th November, 1816--Muddeford.

Mr. Rose imagines that the warning, "keep steady to the faith," was
given in allusion to Ugo Foscolo's "supposed license in religious
opinions."--_Rhymes_ (Brighton, 1837), p. 92.--(1839.)]

[102: Garrick's Epilogue to _Polly Honeycombe_, 1760.]

[103: ["Except the first opening of the _Edinburgh Review_,
no work that has appeared in my time made such an instant and
universal impression. It is curious to remember it. The unexpected
newness of the thing, the profusion of original characters, the
Scotch language, Scotch scenery, Scotch men and women, the
simplicity of the writing, and the graphic force of the
descriptions, all struck us with an electric shock of delight. I
wish I could again feel the sensations produced by the first year of
these two Edinburgh works. If the concealment of the authorship of
the novels was intended to make mystery heighten their effect, it
completely succeeded. The speculations and conjectures, and nods and
winks, and predictions and assertions were endless, and occupied
every company, and almost every two men who met and spoke in the
street. It was proved by a thousand indications, each refuting the
other, and all equally true in fact, that they were written by old
Henry Mackenzie, and by George Cranstoun, and William Erskine, and
Jeffrey, and above all by Thomas Scott.... But 'the great unknown'
as the true author was then called, always took good care, with all
his concealment, to supply evidence amply sufficient for the
protection of his property and his fame; in so much that the
suppression of the name was laughed at as a good joke not merely by
his select friends in his presence, but by himself. The change of
line, at his age, was a striking proof of intellectual power and
richness. But the truth is that these novels were rather the
outpourings of old thoughts than new inventions."--Lord Cockburn's
_Memorials of His Time_.]]

[104: [Miss Edgeworth wrote from Edgeworthstown, October
23, 1814, addressing her letter to the Author of _Waverley_ (see
_Life and Letters of Maria Edgeworth_, vol. i. pp. 239-244):--

  _Aut Scotus, aut Diabolus._

We have this moment finished _Waverley_. It was read aloud to this large
family, and I wish the author could have witnessed the impression it
made--the strong hold it seized of the feelings both of young and
old--the admiration raised by the beautiful description, of nature--by
the new and bold delineations of character--the perfect manner in which
every character is sustained in every change of situation from first to
last, without effort, without the affectation of making the persons
speak in character--the ingenuity with which each person introduced in
the drama is made useful and necessary to the end--the admirable art
with which the story is constructed and with which the author keeps his
own secrets till the proper moment when they should be revealed, whilst
in the mean time, with the skill of Shakespeare, the mind is prepared by
unseen degrees for all the changes of feeling and fortune, so that
nothing, however extraordinary, shocks us as improbable; and the
interest is kept up to the last moment. We were so possessed with the
belief that the whole story and every character in it was real, that we
could not endure the occasional addresses from the author to the reader.
They are like Fielding; but for that reason we cannot bear them, we
cannot bear that an author of such high powers, of such original genius,
should for a moment stoop to imitation. This is the only thing we
dislike, these are the only passages we wish omitted in the whole work;
and let the unqualified manner in which I say this, and the very
vehemence of my expression of this disapprobation, be a sure pledge to
the author of the sincerity of all the admiration I feel for his genius.

I have not yet said half we felt in reading the work. The characters
are not only finely drawn as separate figures, but they are grouped
with great skill, and contrasted so artfully, and yet so naturally,
as to produce the happiest dramatic effect and at the same time to
relieve the feelings and attention in the most agreeable manner. The
novelty of the Highland world which is discovered to our view
excites curiosity and interest powerfully; but though it is all new
to us it does not embarrass or perplex, or strain the attention. We
never are harassed by doubts of the probability of any of these
modes of life; though we did not know them, we are quite certain
they did exist exactly as they are represented. We are sensible that
there is a peculiar merit in the work which is in a measure lost
upon us, the dialects of the Highlanders and Lowlanders, etc. But
there is another and a higher merit with which we are as much struck
and as much delighted as any true-born Scotchman could be: the
various gradations of Scotch feudal character, from the high-born
chieftain and the military baron, to the noble-minded lieutenant
Evan Dhu, the robber Bean Lean, and the savage Callum Beg. The
Pre--the Chevalier is beautifully drawn,--

  "A prince: aye, every inch a prince!"

His polished manners, his exquisite address, politeness, and
generosity, interest the reader irresistibly, and he pleases the
more from the contrast between him and those who surround him. I
think he is my favorite character; the Baron Bradwardine is my
father's. He thinks it required more genius to invent, and more
ability uniformly to sustain, this character than any one of the
masterly characters with which the book abounds. There is indeed
uncommon art in the manner in which his dignity is preserved by his
courage and magnanimity, in spite of all his pedantry and his
_ridicules_.... I acknowledge that I am not as good a judge as my
father and brothers are of his recondite learning and his law Latin,
yet I feel the humor, and was touched to the quick by the strokes of
generosity, gentleness, and pathos in this old man, who is, by the
bye, all in good time worked up into a very dignified father-in-law
for the hero....

Jinker, in the battle, pleading the cause of the mare he had sold to
Balmawhapple, and which had thrown him for want of the proper bit,
is truly comic; my father says that this and some other passages
respecting horsemanship could not have been written by any one who
was not master both of the great and little horse.

I tell you without order the great and little strokes of humor and
pathos just as I recollect, or am reminded of them at this moment by
my companions.... Judging by our own feeling as authors, we guess
that he would rather know our genuine first thoughts, than wait for
cool second thoughts, or have a regular eulogium or criticism put in
the most lucid manner, and given in the finest sentences that ever
were rounded.

Is it possible that I have got thus far without having named Flora
or Vich Ian Vohr--the last Vich Ian Vohr! Yet our minds were full of
them the moment before I began this letter; and could you have seen
the tears forced from us by their fate, you would have been
satisfied that the pathos went to our hearts. Ian Vohr from the
first moment he appears, till the last, is an admirably drawn and
finely sustained character--new, perfectly new to the English
reader--often entertaining--always heroic--sometimes sublime. The
gray spirit, the Bodach Glas, thrills us with horror. _Us!_ What
effect must it have upon those under the influence of the
superstitions of the Highlands?...

Flora we could wish was never called Miss MacIvor, because in this
country there are tribes of vulgar Miss Macs, and this association
is unfavorable to the sublime and beautiful of your Flora--she is a
true heroine.... There is one thing more we could wish changed or
omitted in Flora's character.... In the first visit to her, where
she is to sing certain verses, there is a walk, in which the
description of the place is beautiful, but too long, and we did not
like the preparation for a scene--the appearance of Flora and her
harp was too like a common heroine; she should be far above all
stage effect or novelist's trick.

These are, without reserve, the only faults we found or can find in
this work of genius. We should scarcely have thought them worth
mentioning, except to give you proof positive that we are not
flatterers. Believe me, I have not, nor can I convey to you the full
idea of the pleasure, the delight we have had in reading _Waverley_,
nor of the feeling of sorrow with which we came to the end of the
history of persons whose real presence had so filled our minds--we
felt that we must return to the flat realities of life, that our
stimulus was gone, and we were little disposed to read the
"Postscript, which should have been a Preface."

"Well, let us hear it," said my father, and Mrs. Edgeworth read on.

Oh! my dear sir, how much pleasure would my father, my mother, my
whole family as well as myself have lost, if we had not read to the
last page! And the pleasure came upon us so unexpectedly--we had
been so completely absorbed that every thought of ourselves, of our
own authorship, was far, far away.

Thank you for the honor you have done us, and for the pleasure you
have given us, great in proportion to the opinion we had formed of
the work we had just perused--and believe me, every opinion I have
in this letter expressed was formed before any individual in the
family had peeped to the end of the book or knew how much we owed

  Your obliged and grateful                     MARIA EDGEWORTH.]


[Transcriber's note: Only obvious printer's errors have been
corrected (e.g.: 3 s instead of 2, etc.). The author's spelling has
been maintained and inconsistencies have not been standardised.]

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