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Title: Abbotsford - Beautiful Britain series
Author: Anonymous
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Abbotsford - Beautiful Britain series" ***

[Illustration: Cover]

[Frontispiece: The Gateway, Abbotsford]

[Illustration: Title page]

  Beautiful Britain


  Adam & Charles Black
  Soho Square W



  I.  From Cartleyhole to Abbotsford
  II.  The Creation of Abbotsford
  III.  Scott at Abbotsford
  IV.  The Wizard's Farewell to Abbotsford
  V.  The Later Abbotsford


  1. The Gateway, Abbotsford . . . . . . _Frontispiece_
  2. The Eildon Hills and River Tweed
  3. The Cross, Melrose
  4. Sir Walter Scott's Desk and 'Elbow Chair' in the Study, Abbotsford
  5. Jedburgh Abbey
  6. Sir Walter's Sundial, Abbotsford
  7. Darnick Tower
  8. The Dining-Room, Abbotsford
  9. The Garden, Abbotsford
  10. The Entrance-Hall, Abbotsford
  11. Dryburgh Abbey
  12. Abbotsford from the River Tweed



Thousands of persons from all parts of the world visit Abbotsford
annually.  There is no diminution in the pilgrimage to this chief
shrine of the Border Country, nor is there likely to be.  Scott's name,
and that of Abbotsford, are secure enough in the affections of men

It is scarcely necessary to recall that Scott on both sides of his
house was connected with the Border Country--the 'bold bad Border' of a
day happily long dead.  He would have been a reiver himself, more than
likely, and one of its nameless bards to boot, had he lived before the
Border felt the subdued spirit of modern times.  A descendant of Wat of
Harden, linked to the best blood of the Border, and with every phase of
his life redolent of the Border feeling, history has had no difficulty
in claiming Sir Walter Scott as the most representative Border man the
world has seen.  He was not born in the Border Country, but practically
all his life was spent there.  He came to the Border a sickly, delicate
child, between his third and fourth year, and for threescore years and
one he seldom left it for any lengthened interval.  Edinburgh was the
arena of much of his professional career.  But he was happiest, even
amid the most crushing sorrows of his life, when within earshot of the
Tweed.  There was not a blither or sunnier boyhood than Scott's at
Rosebank, where even then he was 'making' himself, and dreaming of the
days that were to be.  At Ashestiel, the birthplace of the most popular
poetry of the century before Byron blazed upon the literary horizon,
his life was singularly untrammelled.  Ashestiel, from being off the
beaten track perhaps, seems to have lost favour somewhat with the Scott
student.  At any rate, it is not the shrine it should be, although in
several respects it is more interesting to lovers of Scott than even
Abbotsford itself.  As for Abbotsford, may we not say that it is at
once the proudest, and the most stimulating, and the saddest memorial
ever associated with a man of letters?  All these places, comprising
the three periods of Scott's life--Rosebank, Ashestiel, Abbotsford--lie
as close to the Tweed as can be--none of them more than a few hundred
paces from it at the outside.  And when the great Borderer's task was
accomplished, where more fitly could he have rested than with the river
of his love and of his dreams singing ceaseless requiem around his last
low bed?

It will be interesting to have a glimpse of Tweedside just as Scott
appeared upon the scene.  Since his day the valley in many of its
aspects has not been without change.  Even the remote uplands, long
untouched by outside influences, have not escaped the modern spirit.
The river must needs remain _in statu quo_, but the contrast between
Sir Walter's Tweedside and ours is considerable.  A century of commerce
and agriculture has wrought marvels on the once bare and featureless
and uncultivated banks of the Tweed.  And none would have rejoiced at
its present picturesque and prosperous condition more than Scott
himself.  Of the valley as it was a hundred years since, some early
travellers give their impressions.  There is the following from a
Londoner's point of view, for instance--a somewhat sombre picture, true
enough, however, of _the upper reaches_ at the time: 'About four in the
afternoon we were obliged to proceed on our journey to Moffat, a market
town, where we were informed we should meet with good lodging, which
made us ride on the more briskly, but notwithstanding all our speed, we
had such terrible stony ways and tedious miles, that when we thought we
had been near the place, we met a Scotchman, who told us we were not
got half way; this put us almost into the spleen, for we could see
nothing about us but barren mountains on the right and the River Tweed
on the left, which, running thro' the stones and rocks with a terrible
noise, seemed to us like the croaking of a Raven, or the tone of a
Screitch Owle to a dying man, so we were forced to ride on by guesse,
knowing not a step of the way.'

At Scott's day the Tweed valley, in what are now its most luxuriant
reaches, exhibited a markedly naked and treeless character.  From
Abbotsford to Norham Castle the scenery was of the openest.  Here and
there 'ancestral oaks' still clumped themselves about the great houses,
with perhaps some further attempt at decorating the landscape.  But
that was rare enough.  Landlords had not learned the art, not to speak
of the wisdom, of tree-planting.  It is only within the past hundred
years that planting has become frequent, and the modern beauty of
Tweedside emerged into being.  It is said that Scott was one of the
first to popularize the planting spirit.  His operations at Abbotsford
certainly induced the neighbouring proprietors to follow suit.  Scott
of Gala, and the lairds of Ravenswood, Drygrange, Cowdenknowes,
Gladswood, Bemersyde, Mertoun, Eildon Hall, and Floors, all took their
lead, more or less, from Abbotsford.  Arboriculture was Scott's most
passionate hobby.  At least two long articles were penned by him on the
subject, and he practised the art with extraordinary diligence and
foresight.  Of botany he knew little, but of trees everything.  As we
shall see, not the least important part of Abbotsford's creation was
planning and perfecting that wondrous wealth of woodland--a very
network about the place, on whose full growth his eyes, alas! were not
destined to feast.  'Somebody,' he said, 'will look at them, however,
though I question that they will have the same pleasure in gazing on
the full-grown oaks that I have had in nursing the saplings.'

Another impression of Tweedside comes to us from the pages of Lockhart.
We are dealing now with _the site of Abbotsford_ as it was about the
year 1811.  Scott was tenant of Ashestiel.  Here he had spent eight of
the pleasantest years of his life.  But his lease was out, and the
laird himself--Scott's cousin, General Russell--was returning from

In casting about for a new abode, Scott seems at first to have thought
of Broadmeadows, on the Yarrow, then in the market, a compact little
domain which would have suited him well.  Lockhart's one regret was
that Scott did not purchase Broadmeadows.  Here, surrounded by large
landed proprietors, instead of a few bonnet-lairds, he would certainly
have escaped the Abbotsford 'yerd-hunger,' and changed, possibly, the
whole of his career.  But the Broadmeadows Scott might have been very
different from _our Sir Walter_.  Of Newark, also, close by, the scene
of the 'Lay,' he had some fancy, and would fain have fitted it up as a
residence.  The ancestral home of Harden itself was proposed to him,
and indeed offered, and he would have removed thither but for its
inconvenience for shrieval duties.  After all, however, there was
uppermost in Scott's mind the wish to have a house and land of his
own--to be 'laird of the cairn and the scaur,' as in the case of
Broadmeadows, or 'a Tweedside laird' at best, and later on, perhaps, to
'play the grand old feudal lord again.'  Lockhart assures us that Scott
was really aiming at higher game.  His ambition was to found a new
Border family, and to become head of a new branch of the Scotts,
already so dominant.  He realized his ambition before he died.

[Illustration: THE EILDON HILLS AND RIVER TWEED.  Here Scott loved to
linger.  "I can stand on the Eildon Hill," he said, "and point out
forty-three places in war and verse."]

About to quit Ashestiel, therefore, his attention was directed to a
small farm-holding not far distant, on the south bank of the Tweed,
some two miles from Galashiels, and about three from Melrose.  Scott
knew the spot well.  It had 'long been one of peculiar interest for
him,' from the fact of the near neighbourhood of a Border battlefield,
first pointed out to him by his father.  By name Newarthaugh, it was
also known as Cartleyhole, or Cartlawhole, and Cartlihole, according to
the Melrose Session Records, in which parish it was situated.  The
place was tenanted for a time by Taits and Dicksons.  Then it seems to
have passed into the family of Walter Turnbull, school-master of
Melrose, who disposed of it, in the year 1797, to Dr. Robert Douglas,
the enterprising and philanthropic minister of Galashiels.  Why Dr.
Douglas purchased this property nobody has been able to understand.  It
lay outside his parish, and was never regarded as a desirable or
dignified possession.  A shrewd man of business, however, he may, like
Scott, have judged it capable of results, speculating accordingly.  He
had never lived at Cartleyhole.  The place was laid out in parks, and
the house, of which, curiously, Scott speaks in a recently recovered
letter as 'new and substantial,' was in occupation.  The surroundings
were certainly in a deplorably neglected condition.  The sole attempt
at embellishment had been limited to a strip of firs so long and so
narrow that Scott likened it to a black hair-comb.  'The farm,'
according to Lockhart, 'consisted of a rich meadow or haugh along the
banks of the river, and about a hundred acres of undulated ground
behind, all in a neglected state, undrained, wretchedly enclosed, much
of it covered with nothing better than the native heath.  The farmhouse
itself was small and poor, with a common kailyard on one flank and a
staring barn on the other; while in front appeared a filthy pond
covered with ducks and duckweed, from which the whole tenement had
derived the unharmonious designation of Clarty Hole.'

Melrose Abbey, the most graceful and picturesque ruin in Scotland,
already so celebrated in his verse, was visible from many points in the
neighbourhood.  Dryburgh was not far distant.  Yonder Eildon's triple
height, sacred to so much of the supernatural in Border lore, reared
his grey crown to the skies.  There, the Tweed, 'a beautiful river even
here,' flowed in front, broad and bright over a bed of milk-white
pebbles.  Selkirk, his Sheriff's headquarters, was within easy reach.
He was interested in the Catrail, or Picts' Work Ditch, on the opposite
hillside, so often alluded to in his letters to Ellis; and on his own
ground were fields, and mounds, and standing-stones, whose placenames
recalled the struggle of 1526.  A Roman road running down from the
Eildons to a ford on the Tweed, long used by the Abbots, the erstwhile
lords of the locality, furnished a new designation for the acres of
hungry haugh-land--'as poor and bare as Sir John Falstaff's
regiment'--upon which was destined to be reared the most venerated, and
probably the most visited shrine in the kingdom.

On May 12, 1811, we find Scott writing to James Ballantyne: 'I have
resolved to purchase a piece of ground sufficient for a cottage and a
few fields.  There are two pieces, either of which would suit me, but
both would make a very desirable property indeed, and could be had for
between £7,000 and £8,000--or either separate for about half the sum.
I have serious thoughts of one or both, and must have recourse to my
pen to make the matter easy.'  By the end of June one of the pieces
passed into his hands for the sum mentioned--£4,000, half of which,
according to Scott's bad and sanguine habit, he borrowed from his
brother John, raising the remainder on the security of 'Rokeby,' as yet
unwritten.  The letter to Dr. Douglas acknowledging his receipt for the
last instalment of the purchase-money has been preserved: 'I received
the discharged bill safe, which puts an end to our relation of debtor
and creditor:

  'Now the gowd's thine,
  And the land's mine.

I am glad you have been satisfied with my manner of transacting
business, and have equal reason at least to thank you for your kindly
accommodation as to time and manner of payment.  In short, I hope our
temporary connection forms a happy contradiction to the proverb, "I
lent my money to my friend; I lost my money and my friend."'  A figure
of note in his day, Dr. Douglas was born at the manse of Kenmore, in
1747, and in his twenty-third year was presented to the parish of
Galashiels, where he laboured till his death in 1820.  He has been
styled the Father of Galashiels.

Galashiels, when Abbotsford came into being, was a mere thatched
hamlet.  Then it could boast of not more than a dozen slated houses.
To-day there is a population of over 13,000.



The first purchase of land was close on a hundred and ten acres, half
of which were to be planted, and the remainder kept in pasture and
tillage.  An ornamental cottage with a pillared porch--a print of which
is still preserved--after the style of an English vicarage, was agreed
upon, and it was here that Scott passed the first years of his
Abbotsford life.  He had many correspondents during this period.
Daniel Terry, an architect turned actor, was probably his chief adviser
as to Abbotsford and its furnishings, no end of letters passing between
them.  Morritt of Rokeby was much in his confidence, and Joanna
Baillie, 'our immortal Joanna,' whose 'Family Legend,' had been
produced at Edinburgh the previous year under Scott's auspices.  The
plans for his house were at first of the simplest.  He thus describes
them to Miss Baillie: 'My dreams about my cottage go on.  My present
intention is to have only two spare bedrooms, with dressing-rooms, each
of which on a pinch will have a couch-bed; but I cannot relinquish my
Border principle of accommodating all the cousins and _duniwastles_,
who will rather sleep on chairs, and on the floor, and in the hayloft,
than be absent when folks are gathered together.'

[Illustration: Abbotsford from the River Tweed]

To Morritt we find him writing: 'I have fixed only two points
respecting my intended cottage--one is that it shall be in my garden,
or rather kailyard; the other, that the little drawing-room shall open
into a little conservatory, in which conservatory there shall be a
fountain.  These are articles of taste which I have long since
determined upon; but I hope before a stone of my paradise is begun we
shall meet and collogue upon it'; but soon after, as an excuse for
beginning 'Rokeby,' his fourth verse romance, he says: 'I want to build
my cottage a little better than my limited finances will permit out of
my ordinary income.'  Later on he tells Lord Byron that 'he is
labouring to contradict an old proverb, and make a silk purse out of a
sow's ear--namely, to convert a bare haugh and brae into a comfortable
farm'; and to Sarah Smith, a London tragic actress, he writes:
'Everybody, after abusing me for buying the ugliest place on Tweedside,
begins now to come over to my side.  I think it will be pretty six or
seven years hence, whoever may come to see and enjoy, for the sweep of
the river is a very fine one of almost a mile in length, and the ground
is very unequal, and therefore well adapted for showing off trees.'
Scott, as was said, took a profound interest in tree-planting.  Had he
not been able to add by purchase the neighbouring hills to his original
lands, it was said that he would have requested permission of the
owners to plant the grounds, for the mere pleasure of the occupation,
and to beautify the landscape.  'I saunter about,' he said to Lady
Abercorn, 'from nine in the morning till five at night with a plaid
about my shoulders and an immense bloodhound at my heels, and stick in
sprigs which are to become trees when I shall have no eyes to look at
them!'  He had a painter's as well as a poet's eye for scenery: 'You
can have no idea of the exquisite delight of a planter,' he said; 'he
is like a painter laying on his colours--at every moment he sees his
effects coming out.  There is no art or occupation comparable to this;
it is full of past, present, and future enjoyment.  I look back to the
time when there was not a tree here, only bare heath; I look round and
see thousands of trees growing up, all of which--I may say almost each
of which--have received my personal attention.  I remember five years
ago looking forward, with the most delighted expectation, to this very
hour, and as each year has passed the expectation has gone on
increasing.  I do the same now; I anticipate what this plantation and
that one will presently be, if only taken care of, and there is not a
spot of which I do not watch the progress.  Unlike building, or even
painting, or indeed any other kind of pursuit, this has no end, and is
never interrupted, but goes on from day to day and from year to year
with a perpetually augmenting interest.  Farming I hate; what have I to
do with fattening and killing beasts, or raising corn only to cut it
down, and to wrangle with farmers about prices, and to be constantly at
the mercy of the seasons?  There can be no such disappointments or
annoyances in planting trees.'

[Illustration: THE CROSS, MELROSE.  Believed to be the oldest "Mercat
Cross" on the border.]

Scott left Ashestiel at Whitsunday, 1812--a rather comical 'flitting,'
according to his own account of it.  'The neighbours,' he writes to
Lady Alvanley, '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.'  The year 1812 was one
of his busiest.  Five days every week until the middle of July he did
Court duty at Edinburgh.  Saturday evening saw him at Abbotsford.  On
Monday he superintended the licking into shape of his new domicile, and
at night he was coaching it to the city.  During the Court recess he
pegged away at 'Rokeby' and other work under circumstances that must
have been trying enough.  'As for the house and the poem,' he writes to
Morritt, 'there are twelve masons hammering at the one and one poor
noddle at the other.'  He did not then know the luxury of a private
'den' as at Castle Street.  A window corner, curtained off in the one
habitable room which served for dining-room, drawing-room, and
school-room, constituted his earliest Abbotsford study.  There, amid
the hammer's incessant fall, and the hum of many voices, and constant
interruptions, he plodded on, and got through a fair amount.  The
letters to Terry commence in September, 1812, and show that some little
progress had been made: 'We have got up a good garden-wall, complete
stables in the haugh, and the old farm-yard enclosed with a wall, with
some little picturesque additions in front.  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.'  To Joanna
Baillie he sends this characteristic note, in the beginning of 1813:
'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 dyking against the river, and planting
willows, and aspens, and weeping birches.  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 colours 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'; and in March he
adds: 'What I shall finally make of this villa work I don't know, but
in the meantime it is very entertaining'; and again: 'This little place
comes on as fast as can be reasonably hoped.'  To Lady Louisa Stuart he
writes: '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 12 feet
square, and my Eve alleges that I am too big for our paradise.'  In
October, 1813, Terry is told that 'these are no times for building,'
but in the following spring, pressing the Morritts to visit him, he
says: '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 you and Mrs. Morritt a chamber in the wall, with a
dressing-room and everything handsome about you.  You will not
stipulate, of course, for many square feet.'  In a letter to Terry,
dated November 10, 1814--the year of 'Waverley'--further progress is
reported: 'I wish you saw Abbotsford, which begins this season to look
the whimsical, gay, odd cabin that we had chalked out.  I have been
obliged to relinquish Stark's (the Edinburgh architect, who died before
the building was well begun) plan, which was greatly too expensive.  So
I have made the old farm-house my _corps de logis_ with some outlying
places for kitchen, laundry, and two spare bedrooms, which run along
the east wall of the farm-court, not without some picturesque effect.
A perforated cross, the spoils of the old kirk of Galashiels, decorates
an advanced door, and looks very well.'  Not much was done during the
next two years, but in November, 1816, a new set of improvements was
under consideration.  Abbotsford was rapidly losing its cottage
character.  The 'romance' period was begun.  A notable
addition--connecting the farm-house with the line of buildings on the
right--was then agreed upon, on which Scott communicates with Terry:
'Bullock[1] will show you the plan, which I think is very ingenious,
and Blore has drawn me a very handsome elevation, both to the road and
to the river.  This addition will give me a handsome boudoir opening
into the little drawing-room, and on the other side to a handsome
dining-parlour of 27 feet by 18, with three windows to the north and
one to the south, the last to be Gothic and filled with stained glass.
Besides these commodities there is a small conservatory, and a study
for myself, which we design to fit up with ornaments from Melrose
Abbey.'  In the same letter he says: 'I expect to get some decorations
from the old Tolbooth of Edinburgh, particularly the copestones of the
doorway, and a niche or two.  Better get a niche _from_ the Tolbooth
than a niche _in_ it to which such building operations are apt to bring
the projectors.'

[1] George Bullock and Edward Blore, London architects and furnishers.
Atkinson was the artist who arranged the interior of Abbotsford.

By July, 1817, the foundation of the existing house, which extends from
the hall westwards to the original courtyard, had been laid, and Scott
found a new source of constant occupation in watching the proceedings
of his masons.  In consequence of a blunder or two during his absence,
'I perceive the necessity,' he said, 'of remaining at the helm.'  To
Joanna Baillie he writes in September: 'I get on with my labours here;
my house is about to be roofed in, and a comical concern it is.'  There
is some correspondence in October between Scott and Terry relative to
the tower, a leading feature of the building.  Scott mentions that
(Sir) David Wilkie, who had just been his guest, 'admires the whole as
a composition, and that is high authority.'  'I agree with you that the
tower will look rather rich for the rest of the building, yet you may
be assured that, with diagonal chimneys and notched gables, it will
have a very fine effect, and is in Scotch architecture by no means
incompatible.'  In the beginning of 1818, he again writes to Terry: 'I
am now anxious to complete Abbotsford.  I have reason to be proud of
the finishing of my castle, for even of the tower, for which I
trembled, not a stone has been shaken by the late terrific gale which
blew a roof clean off in the neighbourhood.'  Lockhart, who saw
Abbotsford for the first time in 1818, confesses that the building
presented a somewhat 'fantastic appearance,' the new and old by no
means harmonizing.  He was there again in 1819, and in February, 1820,
he married Scott's daughter.  In the same year Scott writes to his wife
from London, whither he had gone to receive his baronetcy: 'I have got
a delightful plan for the addition at Abbotsford which, I think, will
make it quite complete, and furnish me with a handsome library, and you
with a drawing-room and better bedroom.  It will cost me a little hard
work to meet the expense, but I have been a good while idle.'  The
plans for these new buildings, including the wall and gateway of the
courtyard and the graceful stone screen which divides it from the
garden, were made by Blore, although the screen--with its carvings
taken from details of stone-work at Melrose Abbey--was originally
devised by Sir Walter himself.  During the winter of 1821 the new
operations were commenced.  By the spring of 1822 they were in full
swing.  'It is worth while to come,' he writes to Lord Montagu, 'were
it but to see what a romance of a house I am making'; and to Terry
later on: 'The new castle is now roofing, and looks superb--in fact, a
little too good for the estate; but we must work the harder to make the
land suitable.'  That same summer the place was besieged by visitors
from the South, who, after witnessing the King's reception at
Edinburgh, hastened out to see Abbotsford.  In October, 1822, he writes
to his son Walter: 'My new house is quite finished as to masonry, and
we are now getting on the roof just in time to face the bad weather.'
In November, 1822, and January, 1823, there are long letters to Terry:
'The house is completely roofed.  I never saw anything handsomer than
the grouping of towers, chimneys, etc., when seen at a proper
distance.'  With Terry all sorts of subjects were discussed--bells, and
a projected gas installation, along with a constant enumeration of
curios and relics, on which he is urged to spare no expense.  'About
July,' Scott writes at the beginning of 1824, 'Abbotsford will, I
think, be finished, when I shall, like the old Duke of Queensberry who
built Drumlanrig, fold up the accounts in a sealed parcel, with a label
bidding "the deil pike out the een" of any of my successors that shall
open it.'  By Christmas, it was completed, and with the New Year's
festivities a large and gay party celebrated the 'house-warming,' of
which Basil Hall's sprightly 'Journal,' incorporated in the 'Life,'
supplies a singularly agreeable account.  But there is no room to
quote.  It was a doubly joyous occasion, marking not only the
realization of Scott's long-cherished scheme as to his 'castle,' but
the engagement of his eldest son, with whom, as he must have felt at
the time, were the fortunes of the future Abbotsford.  Of the year
entered so auspiciously, none dreamt what the end was to be.

ABBOTSFORD.  At the desk most of the novels were written.  Certainly no
other article of furniture has been so intimately associated with

In the creation of Abbotsford not only was the cottage of 1812
transformed to the castle of 1824, but the estate itself was
continually enlarging.  Possession of land was a crowning passion with
Scott.  He was always driving bargains, as he declared--on the wrong
side of his purse, however--with the needy, greedy cock-lairds of the
locality.  'It rounds off the property so handsomely,' he says in one
of his letters.  Once, on his friend Ferguson remarking that he had
paid what appeared to be one of his usual fabulous prices for a
particular stretch, Scott answered quite good-humouredly, 'Well, well,
it is only to me the scribbling of another volume more of nonsense.'
The first purchase was, as we have seen, the hundred odd acres of
Clarty Hole.  In 1813 he made his second purchase, which consisted of
the hilly tract stretching from the Roman road near Turn-Again towards
Cauldshiels Loch, then a desolate and naked mountain mere.  To have
this at one end of his property as a contrast to the Tweed at the other
'was a prospect for which hardly any sacrifice would have appeared too
much.'  It cost him about £4,000.  In 1815, Kaeside--Laidlaw's home--on
the heights between Abbotsford and Melrose, passed into his hands for
another £4,000, and more than doubled the domain.  The house has
changed considerably since Laidlaw's halcyon days.  By 1816 the estate
had grown to about 1,000 acres.  In 1816 and 1817 he paid £16,000 for
the two Toftfields, altering the name of the new and unfinished mansion
to Huntlyburn, from a supposed but absolutely erroneous association
with the 'Huntlee Bankis'[2] of the Thomas the Rhymer romance.  In
1820, Burnfoot, afterwards Chiefswood, and Harleyburn fell to his hands
for £2,300, and there were many minor purchases of which Lockhart takes
no notice.  Scott was very anxious to acquire the estate of
Faldonside,[3] adjoining Abbotsford to the west, and actually offered
£30,000 for it, but without success.  He was similarly unsuccessful
with Darnick Tower, which lay into his lands on the east, and which he
was extremely desirous of including in Abbotsford.  Scott's suggestion
rather spurred the owner, John Heiton, to restore the ancient
peel-house as a retreat for his own declining days, and it is still in
excellent preservation--one of the best-preserved peels on the
Border--and a veritable museum, crammed from floor to ceiling with
curios, relics, and mementos both of the past and present.

[2] The 'Huntlee Bankis' lie between Melrose and Newtown, on the
eastern slope of the Eildons, on the left side of the highway as it
bends round to the west, going towards, and within about two miles of,
Melrose.  The spot is indicated by the famous Eildon Tree Stone.

[3] The place belonged in 1566 to Andrew Ker, one of the murderers of
Rizzio.  In 1574 Ker married the widow of John Knox, the Reformer.
Nicol Milne was proprietor in Scott's day.

[Illustration: JEDBURGH ABBEY.  This grand ruin is of red sandstone,
and except that it is roofless is in excellent preservation.]

But even 'yerd-hunger' must be satisfied, and in Scott's case there was
nothing for it save to steel the flesh against further desire.  In
November, 1825, there is the following entry in his diary: 'Abbotsford
is all I can make it, so I resolve on no more building and no purchases
of land till times are quite safe.'  But times were never safe again.
Abbotsford was all but within sound of the 'muffled drum.'  Very
soon--December 18, 1825--Scott was to write these words: 'Sad hearts at
Darnick and in the cottages of Abbotsford.  I have half resolved never
to see the place again.  How could I tread my hall with such a
diminished crest!  How live a poor, indebted man where I was once the
wealthy, the honoured!'  And again on January 26, 1826: 'I have walked
my last on the domains I have planted, sat the last time in the halls I
have built'--reflections happily unrealized, though, as a matter of
fact, Scott was then the laird of Abbotsford in name only, and nothing

The building and furnishing of Abbotsford are estimated to have cost
over £25,000.  The contract for the 1824 edifice was in the capable
hands of the Smiths of Darnick, with whom Scott was on the most cordial
terms.  John Smith (the sculptor of the Wallace statue at Bemersyde)
was a singularly able craftsman, and his staff of workmen, with Adam
Paterson for foreman, were known all over the Border.  For the interior
decorations--painting, papering, etc., and even for some of the
carvings and casts--Scott generally gave employment to local labour.
Much of the costlier furniture was shipped from London, but the great
bulk of the work was carried through by tradesmen in the district,
selected by Scott himself, and in whom he placed implicit confidence.
The estate, all told, must have cost at least £60,000.  It extended to
1,500 acres, and the annual rental in Scott's day was only about £350.

Such was the creation of Scott's Abbotsford, a real 'romance in stone
and lime,' to use the Frenchman's hackneyed phrase.  Never had Sir
Walter deeper delight than when its walls were rising skywards, and the
dream of his youth taking steady shape by the silvery side of the
Tweed.  'I have seen much, but nothing like my ain house,' he cried--a
broken, dying man returned to Abbotsford, only to be borne forth again.
Nor has history been slow to add its Amen.



Of the Abbotsford life in the seven or eight brilliant seasons
preceding the disaster of 1826 Lockhart's exquisite word-pictures are
far the finest things in the Biography.  Scott's dream was now fairly
realized.  He was not only a lord of acres, but a kind of mediæval
chieftain as well.  His cottage was transformed to a superb mansion,
like some creation of the 'Arabian Nights,' and the whole estate,
acquired at a cost far exceeding its real value, had grown to one of
the trimmest and snuggest on Tweedside.  A comparative failure at the
Bar, Scott succeeded well otherwise in his professional career.  His
income from the Court Clerkship and Sheriffdom totalled £1,600, and
from other sources he had an additional £400 a year.  As the most
prosperous book-producer of the period, he was netting an annual profit
of no less than £10,000.  His family was grown up, and his home life,
notwithstanding some harsh things said about Lady Scott, was of the
happiest.  Unliterary, and Frenchified to a degree, Charlotte Carpenter
was not the ideal helpmeet, perhaps, for a man of Scott's calibre and
temperament.  But that they lived comfortably together, that she made
him an excellent wife, and that Scott was much attached to her, must be
taken for granted, else Lockhart and the others are equivocating.
There is at least one glimpse into Scott's heart which cannot savour of
hypocrisy--the occasion of her death.  Some of the most touching
passages in the Diary belong to that event.  As lover, husband, father,
there is no question of the acuteness with which he felt her loss who
had been his 'thirty years' companion.'  Within less than six months
the two biggest blows of his life fell upon Scott.  Ruined, then
widowed, his cup of grief was drained to the utmost.  But before the
fatal '26 Scott's life was an eminently ideal one.  Abbotsford was all
he could make it.  He had reached the loftiest rung of the ladder.
Long had he been the celebrity of the hour, not in Britain only, but
throughout Europe itself.  Probably no British author of his time was
more widely known, and none, it is certain, was surrounded with so many
of the material comforts.  It was truly a summer fulness for Scott at
Abbotsford ere the autumn winds or the biting breath of winter had
begun to chill his cheek.

[Illustration: SIR WALTER'S SUNDIAL, ABBOTSFORD.  The dial stone in the
flower garden, inscribed with the motto "For the Night Cometh," is an
object of suggestive interest.]

A glance at the Abbotsford life will bring us nearer Scott as a
man--and as the most lovable of men.  Treading, as one does to-day, in
his very footsteps, we shall want to know how he lived there, and in
what manner the pleasant days were spent.  Scott's habits at
Abbotsford, as at Ashestiel, were delightfully simple.  In the country
he was a rustic of the rustics.  Formality vanished to a considerable
extent when he changed his townhouse for the bracing atmosphere of the
Tweed.  But always methodical in his literary operations, he never
allowed the freer life of Abbotsford to interfere with whatever tasks
he had on hand.  He did not sit late into the night.  As a rule, the
Abbotsford day ended for Scott by ten o'clock.  He rose at five, lit
his own fire in the season, shaving and dressing with precision.
Attired generally in his green shooting-jacket, he was at his desk by
six, and hard at work till nine.  About half-past nine, when the family
met for breakfast, he would enter the room 'rubbing his hands for
glee,' for by that time he had done enough, as he said, 'to break the
neck of the day's work.'  After breakfast, he allowed his guests to
fill in the next couple of hours or so for themselves--fishing,
shooting, driving, or riding, with a retinue of keepers and grooms at
command.  Meantime he was busy with his correspondence, or a chapter
for Ballantyne to be dispatched by the 'Blucher,' the Edinburgh and
Melrose coach, by which he himself frequently travelled to and from
Abbotsford.  At noon he was 'his own man,' and among his visitors, or
felling trees with the workmen on the estate, laying wagers, and
competing with the best of them.  When the weather was wet and stormy
he kept to his study for several hours during the day, that he might
have a reserve fund to draw from on good days.  To his visitors he
appeared more the man of leisure than the indefatigable author
conferring pleasure on thousands.  Only a careful husbanding of the
moments could have enabled him to give the greater part of afternoon
and evening to his guests.  'I know,' said Cadell, the publisher, once
to him, 'that you contrive to get a few hours in your own room, and
that may do for the mere pen-work, but when is it that you think?'
'Oh,' said Scott, 'I lie simmering over things for an hour or so before
I get up, and there's the time I am dressing to overhaul my
half-sleeping, half-waking _projet de chapitre_, and when I get the
paper before me it commonly runs off pretty easily.  Besides, I often
take a dose in the plantations, and while Tom marks out a dyke or a
drain as I have directed, one's fancy may be running its ain riggs in
some other world.'  His maxim was never to be doing nothing, and in
making the most of the opportunities, he served both himself and his
friends.  Lockhart's reminiscences of the Abbotsford life, so
delightfully vivid, convey better than anything else something of the
ideal charm of Scott and his circle.  But to Lockhart all may go on
their own account, since lack of space forbids more than a mere

[Illustration: DARNICK TOWER.  One of the best preserved Peels on the
border.  Open to the public and well worth a visit.]

The Abbotsford Hunt, one of the enjoyable annual outings--a coursing
match on an extensive scale--affords material for Lockhart's best vein,
especially the Hunt dinner, which for many of the neighbouring yeomen
and farmers was _the_ event of the year.  'The company were seldom
under thirty in number, and sometimes they exceeded forty.  The feast
was such as suited the occasion--a baron of beef, roasted, at the foot
of the table, a salted round at the head, while tureens of hare-soup,
hotchpotch, and cockieleekie extended down the centre, and such light
articles as geese, turkeys, an entire sucking-pig, a singed sheep's
head, and the unfailing haggis were set forth by way of side-dishes.
Black-cock and moor-fowl, snipe, black and white puddings, and pyramids
of pancakes, formed the second course.  Ale was the favourite beverage
during dinner, but there was plenty of port and sherry for those whose
stomachs they suited.  The quaighs of Glenlivet were filled brimful,
and tossed off as if they held water.  The wine decanters made a few
rounds of the table, but the hints for hot punch and toddy soon became
clamorous.  Two or three bowls were introduced and placed under the
supervision of experienced manufacturers--one of these being usually
the Ettrick Shepherd--and then the business of the evening commenced in
good earnest.  The faces shone and glowed like those at Camacho's
wedding; the chairman told his richest stories of old rural life,
Lowland or Highland; Ferguson and humbler heroes fought their
Peninsular battles o'er again; the stalwart Dandie Dinmonts lugged out
their last winter's snow-storm, the parish scandal, perhaps, or the
dexterous bargain of the Northumberland tryst.  Every man was knocked
down for the song that he sung best, or took most pleasure in singing.
Shortreed gave "Dick o' the Cow," or "Now Liddesdale has ridden a
raid"; his son Thomas shone without a rival in the "Douglas Tragedy"
and the "Twa Corbies"; a weather-beaten, stiff-bearded veteran,
"Captain" Ormiston, had the primitive pastoral of "Cowdenknowes" in
sweet perfection.  Hogg produced the "Women Folk," or "The Kye comes
Hame," and, in spite of many grinding notes, contrived to make
everybody delighted, whether with the fun or the pathos of his ballad.
The Melrose doctor sang in spirited style some of Moore's masterpieces.
A couple of retired sailors joined in "Bold Admiral Duncan," and the
gallant croupier crowned the last bowl with "Ale, good ale, thou art my
darling."  And so it proceeded until some worthy, who had fifteen or
twenty miles to ride, began to insinuate that his wife and bairns would
be getting sorely anxious about the fords, and the Dumpies and Hoddins
were at last heard neighing at the gate, and it was voted that the hour
had come for _doch an dorrach_, the stirrup-cup, a bumper all round of
the unmitigated mountain dew.  How they all contrived to get home in
safety Heaven only knows, but I never heard of any serious accident
except upon one occasion, when James Hogg made a bet at starting that
he would leap over his wall-eyed pony as she stood, and broke his nose
in this experiment of o'ervaulting ambition.  One comely good-wife, far
off among the hills, amused Sir Walter by telling him the next time he
passed her homestead after one of these jolly doings, what her
husband's first words were when he alighted at his own door--"Ailie, my
woman, I'm ready for my bed; and oh, lass, I wish I could sleep for a
towmont, for there's only ae thing in this warld worth living for, and
that's the Abbotsford Hunt."'

Nor was the good old custom of the Kirn omitted at Abbotsford.  Every
autumn, before proceeding to Edinburgh, Scott gave a 'Harvest Home,' to
which all the tenantry and their friends--as many as the barn could
hold--were invited.  Sir Walter and his family were present during the
first part of the evening, to dispense the good things and say a few
words of farewell.  Old and young danced from sunset to sunrise, to the
skirling of John o' Skye's pipes, or the strains of some 'Wandering
Willie's' fiddle, the laird having his private joke for every old wife
or 'gausie carle,' his arch compliment for the ear of every bonnie
lass, and his hand and his blessing for the head of every little Eppie
Daidle from Abbotstown or Broomielees.  Hogmanay, and the immemorial
customs of the New Year, as celebrated in Scotland--now fast dying
out--obtained full respect at Abbotsford.  Scott said it was uncanny,
and would certainly have felt it very uncomfortable not to welcome the
New Year in the midst of his family and a few cronies in the orthodox
fashion.  But nothing gave him such delight as the visit which he
received as laird from all the children on his estate on the last
morning of the year, when, as he was fond of quoting:

  'The cottage bairns sing blythe and gay
  At the ha' door for hogmanay.'

The words and form of the drama exist in various versions in every part
of the Border Country, almost every parish possessing its own
rendering.  The _dramatis personæ_, three or four in number, sometimes
even five, arrayed in fantastic fashion, proceeded from house to house,
generally contenting themselves with the kitchen for an arena, where
the performance was carried through in presence of the entire
household.  'Galations' (not 'Goloshin') is the title of the play.
Some account of it will be found in Chambers' 'Popular Rhymes of
Scotland,' and in Maidment's scarce pamphlet on the subject (1835).

From what has been said, it is not difficult to imagine the ideal
relationship existing between Scott and his dependents at Abbotsford.
They were surely the happiest retainers and domestics in the world.
How considerate he was in the matter of dwellings, for instance!  He
realized that he owed them a distinct duty in diffusing as much comfort
and security into their lives as possible.  They were not mere goods
and chattels, but beings of flesh and blood, with human sympathies like
himself.  And he treated them as such.  Amid the severities of winter,
some of his Edinburgh notes to Laidlaw are perfect little gems of their
kind: 'This dreadful weather will probably stop Mercer (the weekly
carrier).  It makes me shiver in the midst of superfluous comforts to
think of the distress of others.  I wish you to distribute £10 amongst
our poorer neighbours so as may best aid them.  I mean not only the
actually indigent, but those who are, in our phrase, _ill off_.  I am
sure Dr. Scott (of Darnlee) will assist you with his advice in this
labour of love.  I think part of the wood-money, too, should be given
among the Abbotstown folks if the storm keeps them off work, as is
like.'  And again: 'If you can devise any means by which hands can be
beneficially employed at Abbotsford, I could turn £50 or £100 extra
into service.  If it made the poor and industrious people a little
easier, I should have more pleasure in it than any money I ever spent
in my life.'  'I think of my rooks amongst this snowstorm, also of the
birds, and not a little of the poor.  For benefit of the former, I hope
Peggy throws out the crumbs, and a cornsheaf or two for the game, if
placed where poachers could not come at them.  For the poor people I
wish you to distribute £5 or so among the neighbouring poor who may be
in distress, and see that our own folks are tolerably well off.'  'Do
not let the poor bodies want for a £5, or even a £10, more or less'--

  'We'll get a blessing wi' the lave,
  And never miss 't.'

Socially, the bond between Scott and his servants was a characteristic
object-lesson.  'He speaks to us,' said one, 'as if we were blood
relations.'  Like Swift, he maintained that an affectionate and
faithful servant should always be considered in the character of a
humble friend.  Even the household domestics 'stayed on' year after
year.  Some of them grew grey in his service.  One or two died.  He had
always several pensioners beside him.  Abbotsford was like a little
happy world of its own--the most emphatic exception to the cynic's
rule.  Scott was 'a hero and a gentleman' to those who knew him most
intimately in the common and disillusionizing routine of domestic life.

In reading Lockhart, one feels that, aristocrat as Scott was, familiar
with the nobility and literary lions of the time, he was most at home,
and happiest, perhaps, in the fellowship of commoner men, such as
Laidlaw, and Purdie, and John Usher, and James Hogg, who were knit to
him as soul to soul.  Of some of these he declared that they had become
almost an integral part of his existence.  We know how life was
inexpressibly changed for Scott minus Tom Purdie, and to dispense with
Laidlaw, when that had become absolutely necessary, was as the iron
entering his soul.  The most perfect pen-portraits in Lockhart are
those of Purdie (the Cristal Nixon of 'Redgauntlet'), that faithful
factotum and friend for whom he mourned as a brother; and 'dear Willie'
Laidlaw, betwixt whom and Scott the most charming of all master and
servant correspondence passed; and 'auld Pepe'--Peter Mathieson, his
coachman, a wondrously devoted soul, content to set himself in the
plough-stilts, and do the most menial duties, rather than quit
Abbotsford at its darkest.  John Swanston, too, Purdie's successor, and
Dalgleish, the butler, occupy exalted niches in the temple of humble
and honest worth and sweet sacrificing service for a dear master's sake
who was much more than master to them all.  Purdie's grave, close to
Melrose Abbey, with a modest stone erected by Sir Walter Scott, is
probably the most visited of the 'graves of the common people' almost
anywhere.  It is eighty-three years since, apparently in the fullest
enjoyment of health and vigour, he bowed his head one evening on the
table, and dropped asleep--for ever.  Laidlaw lies at Contin amid the
Highland solitudes.  But few from Tweedside have beheld the green turf
beneath which his loyal heart has been long resting, or read the simple
inscription on the white marble that marks a spot so sacred to all
lovers of Abbotsford and Sir Walter.

  'Here lie the remains of William Laidlaw,
  Born at Blackhouse in Yarrow,
  November, 1780.  Died at Contin, May 18, 1845.'

No account of the Abbotsford life can fail to take notice of the
extraordinary number of visitors, who, even at that early date, flocked
to the shrine of Sir Walter.  The year 1825, as has been said, must be
regarded as the high-water mark in the splendours of Abbotsford.  From
the dawn of 'Waverley,' but particularly the period immediately
preceding the crash, Abbotsford was the most sought-after house in the
kingdom.  It was seldom without its quota of guests.  'Like a cried
fair,' Scott described it on one occasion.  'A hotel widout de pay,'
was Lady Scott's more matter-of-fact comparison.  What a profoundly
interesting and curious record a register of visitors to Abbotsford
would have been!

[Illustration: THE DINING-ROOM, ABBOTSFORD.  "His own great parlour" is
not open to the public.  It was the first room of any pretension that
Scott built at Abbotsford.]

Scott's first really distinguished visitor from the other side of the
Atlantic was Washington Irving.  He was there in August, 1817, whilst
the building operations were in progress.  Following Irving, came Lady
Byron for one day only.  Though Scott met Byron in London, and they
frequently corresponded, Lord Byron was never at Abbotsford.  In that
same year Sir David Wilkie visited Scott to paint his picture, the
'Abbotsford Family.'  Sir Humphry Davy was another visitor.  One of the
most welcome of all was Miss Edgeworth, who stayed for a fortnight in
1823.  Tom Moore came in 1825, and in 1829 Mrs. Hemans, visiting the
Hamiltons at Chiefswood, was daily at Abbotsford.  Susan Ferrier,
author of 'Marriage' and 'Inheritance,' visited Scott twice.
Wordsworth, greatest name of all, was the last.  He arrived on
September 21, 1831, and two days later Scott, a broken invalid, left
for the Continent.

To the list of Scott's intimate friends, based on the Biography, Thomas
Faed's picture, 'Scott and his Literary Friends,'[1] offers a good
index.  The piece is purely imaginary, for the persons represented were
never all at Abbotsford at the same time, two of them, indeed--Crabbe
and Campbell--never having seen it.  Scott is represented as reading
the manuscript of a new novel; on his right, Henry Mackenzie, his
oldest literary friend, occupies the place of honour.  Hogg, the
intentest figure in the group, sits at Scott's feet to the left.  Kit
North's leonine head and shoulders lean across the back of a chair.
Next come Crabbe and Lockhart--at the centre of the table--together
with Wordsworth and Francis (afterwards Lord) Jeffrey.  Sir Adam
Ferguson, a bosom cronie, cross-legged, his military boots recalling
Peninsular days and the reading of the 'Lady of the Lake' to his
comrades in the lines of Torres Vedras, immediately faces Scott.
Behind him, Moore and Campbell sit opposite each other.  At the end of
the table are the printers Constable and Ballantyne, and at their back,
standing, the painters Allan and Wilkie.  Thomas Thomson, Deputy Clerk
Register, is on the extreme left, and Sir Humphry Davy is examining a
sword-hilt.  A second and smaller copy of Faed's picture (in the
Woodlands Park collection, Bradford) substitutes Lord Byron and
Washington Irving for Constable and Ballantyne.  Allan, Davy, and
Thomson are also omitted.  The artist might well have introduced
Scott's lady literary friends, Joanna Baillie and Maria Edgeworth, and
it is a pity that Laidlaw has been left out.

[1] In the possession of Captain Dennistoun of Golfhill.  The picture
has been frequently on exhibition, and frequently engraved.

Whilst, however, Abbotsford was a kind of ever open door to an
unparalleled variety of guests, there was another and a much larger
company constantly invading its precincts--the great army of the
uninvited.  Such interruptions were a constant source of worry to
Scott.  Some came furnished with letters of introduction from friends
for whose sake Scott received them cordially, and treated them kindly.
Others had no introduction at all, but, pencil and note-book in hand,
took the most impertinent liberties with the place and its occupants.
On returning to Abbotsford upon one occasion, Lockhart recalls how
Scott and he found Mrs. Scott and her daughters doing penance under the
merciless curiosity of a couple of tourists, who had been with her for
some hours.  It turned out after all that there were no letters of
introduction to be produced, as she had supposed, and Scott, signifying
that his hour for dinner approached, added that, as he gathered they
meant to walk to Melrose, he could not trespass further on their time.
The two lion-hunters seemed quite unprepared for this abrupt escape.
But there was about Scott, in perfection, when he chose to exert it,
the power of civil repulsion.  He bowed the overwhelmed originals to
the door, and on re-entering the parlour, found Mrs. Scott complaining
very indignantly that they had gone so far as to pull out their
note-book and beg an exact account, not only of his age, but of her
own.  Scott, already half relenting, laughed heartily at this misery,
afterwards saying, 'Hang the Yahoos, Charlotte, but we should have bid
them stay dinner.'  'Devil a bit,' quoth Captain Ferguson, who had come
over from Huntlyburn, 'they were quite in a mistake, I could see.  The
one asked Madame whether she deigned to call her new house Tully Veolan
or Tillietudlem, and the other, when Maida happened to lay his head
against the window, exclaimed, "_Pro-di-gi-ous!_"'  'Well, well,
Skipper,' was the reply, 'for a' that, the loons would hae been nane
the waur o' their kail.'

[Illustration: THE GARDEN, ABBOTSFORD.  The Courtyard was (in Mr. Hope
Scott's time) planted as a flower garden, with clipped yews at the
corners of the ornamental grass-plots, and beds all ablaze with summer

Much has been written of Scott and his dogs--not the least important
part of the establishment.  All true poets, from Homer downwards, have
loved dogs.  Scott was seldom without a 'tail' at his heels.  His
special favourites, Camp and Maida (the Bevis of 'Woodstock'), are as
well-known as himself.  Both were frequently painted by Raeburn and
others.  When Camp died at Castle Street, Scott excused himself from a
dinner-party on account of 'the death of a dear old friend'--a fine
compliment to the canine tribe--a finer index to the heart of the man.
Scott looked upon his dogs as companions, 'not as the brute, but the
mute creation.'  He loved them for their marvellously human traits, and
we know how they reciprocated his affection.  He was always caring for
them.  'Be very careful of the dogs,' was his last request to Laidlaw
on the eve of setting out for Italy.  And when, close on a year
afterwards, he returned so deadly stricken, it was his dogs fondling
about him which for the most part resuscitated the sense of 'home,
sweet home.'



On March 5, 1817, at Castle Street, in the midst of a merry
dinner-party, Scott was seized with a sudden illness--the first since
his childhood.  The illness lasted a week, and was more serious than
had been anticipated.  It was, indeed, the first of a series of such
paroxysms, which for years visited him periodically, and from which he
never absolutely recovered.

Lockhart parted on one occasion with 'dark prognostications' that it
was for the last time.  Scott, too, despaired of himself.  Calling his
children about his bed, he said: 'For myself, my dears, I am
unconscious of ever having done any man an injury, or omitted any fair
opportunity of doing any man a benefit.  I well know that no human life
can appear otherwise than weak and filthy in the eyes of God; but I
rely on the merits and intercession of our Redeemer.'  'God bless you!'
he again said to each of them, laying his hand on their heads.  'Live
so that you may all hope to meet each other in a better place
hereafter.'  Presently he fell into a profound slumber, and on awaking,
the crisis was seen to be over.  A gradual re-establishment of health
followed.  Of the 'Bride of Lammermoor,' and 'Ivanhoe,' written under
the most adverse circumstances, whilst he still suffered acutely, one
is surprised to find both romances in the very front rank of his
creations.  He was under opiates, more or less, when the 'Bride' was on
the stocks, dictating nearly the whole of it to Laidlaw and John
Ballantyne.  It is a most curious fact psychologically, for of its
characters, scenes, humour, and all that connected him with the
authorship of the story, he recollected nothing.  A more extraordinary
incident literature has not known.[1]  But work which cut him short in
the end was the saving of his life in this instance.  The mind was a
constant conquest over the weaker physical framework.  'It is my
conviction,' he declared to Gillies, 'that by a little more hearty
application you might forget, and lose altogether, the irritable
sensations of an invalid, and I don't, in this instance, preach what I
have not endeavoured to practise.  Be assured that if pain could have
prevented my application to literary labour, not a page of "Ivanhoe"
would have been written; for, from beginning to end of that production,
which has been a good deal praised, I was never free from suffering.
It might have borne a motto somewhat analogous to the inscription which
Frederick the Great's predecessor used to affix to his attempts at
portrait-painting when he had the gout: "Fredericus I., _in tormentis
pinxit_."  Now, if I had given way to mere feelings and ceased to work,
it is a question whether the disorder might not have taken deeper root,
and become incurable.  The best way is, if possible, to triumph over
disease by setting it at defiance, somewhat on the same principle as
one avoids being stung by boldly grasping a nettle.'

[1] Dickens had a somewhat similar experience, though not, of course,
to the like extent.

[Illustration: THE ENTRANCE HALL, ABBOTSFORD.  A spacious apartment, 40
feet by 20 feet, panelled to the height of 7 feet with dark oak from
Dunfermline Abbey.]

By 1820 he was enjoying tolerably good health, with no cramp
recurrences for a time.  But in 1823, when busy with 'Peveril,' an
arresting hand laid itself upon Scott in the shape of a slight stroke
of apoplexy.  As a matter of fact, and as Lockhart suspected, this was
only one of several such shocks which he had been carefully concealing.
'"Peveril" will, I fear, smell of the apoplexy,' he afterwards
admitted.  Hence, no doubt, 'Peveril's' dulness.  He rallied,
notwithstanding, and up to Christmas, 1825, his health was excellent.
But from 1826--the year of his crowning sorrows--the record of Scott's
life reads like a long martyrdom.  Rheumatism, hallucinations, strange
memory lapses, began to steal from Scott all the little joy that was
left.  On February 5, 1830, the blow fell which, like Damocles' sword,
had been hanging over him for years.  It fell with unmistakable
meaning.  It was his first real paralytic seizure--long dreaded, long
expected.  On his return from the Parliament House, in his usual
health, he found an old friend waiting to consult him about a memoir of
her father which he had promised to revise for the press.  Whilst
examining the MS. the stroke came, a slight contortion passing over his
features.  In a minute or two he rose, staggered to the drawing-room,
where were Miss Anne Scott and Miss Lockhart, but fell to the floor
speechless and insensible.  A surgeon quickly at hand cupped him, after
the old-fashioned treatment for such complaints.  By night, speech had
returned, and in a day or two he had resumed his Court duties.  But he
was never the same again.  People in general did not remark any
difference.  Doctors and patient, however, knew well enough that it was
the beginning of the end.  Both his parents had succumbed to paralysis,
and 'considering the terrible violence and agitation and exertion,'
says Lockhart, 'to which he had been subjected during the four
preceding years, the only wonder is that this blow was deferred so
long; there can be none that it was soon followed by others.'

Still he plodded on.  Even with half a brain he should not 'lag
superfluous on the stage.'  And heedless of innumerable warnings, he
was at his desk day after day, writing and dictating by turns.  He now
resigned his Clerkship, on an £800 a year allowance, surrendered his
Edinburgh house, and settled permanently at Abbotsford, lonely and
desolate, an old man before his time, but indomitable to the core.
There he commenced 'Count Robert of Paris,' the penultimate of his
published tales.  But the mighty machinery of his mind moved not as of
yore.  Like Samson, his strength had departed.  He was now as other
men.  By November he suffered from a second stroke, and wrote in his
Diary for January: 'Very indifferent, with more awkward feelings than I
can well bear up against.  My voice sunk, and my head strangely
confused.'  But a worse shock was coming.  Cadell pronounced the
'Count' a complete failure.  Yet he struggled to recast it.  To crown
all, he went to the 'hustings'--a hardened anti-Reform Billite.  At
Jedburgh, as Lockhart tells, the crowd saluted him with blasphemous
shouts of 'Burke Sir Walter!'[2]--the unkindest cut of all, which
haunted him to the end.  By July he had begun 'Castle Dangerous,' and
in the middle of the month, accompanied by Lockhart, he started for
Lanarkshire to refresh his memory for the setting of his new story.
They ascended the Tweed by Yair, Ashestiel, Elibank, Innerleithen,
Peebles, Biggar, places all dear to his heart and celebrated in his
writings.  Crowds turned out to welcome him.  Everywhere he was
received with acclamation and the deepest respect.  At Douglas the
travellers inspected the old Castle, the ruin of St. Bride's, with the
monuments and tombs of the 'most heroic and powerful family in Scottish
annals.'  At Milton-Lockhart, the seat of Lockhart's brother, Scott met
his old friend Borthwickbrae.  Both were paralytics.  Each saw his own
case mirrored in the other.  They had a joyous--too joyous a meeting,
with startling results to the older invalid.  On returning to Cleghorn,
another shock laid him low, and he was despaired of.  When the news
reached Scott, he was bent on getting home at once.  'No, William,' he
said to his host, urging him to remain, 'this is a sad warning; I must
home to work while it is called to-day, for the night cometh when no
man can work.  I put that text many years ago on my dial-stone, but it
often preached in vain.'

[2] The Burke and Hare murders were recent.

Returned, he finished 'Count Robert' and 'Castle Dangerous.'  Both
novels were really the fruit of a paralytic brain.  The 'Magnum
Opus,'[3] too, proposed by Cadell (a huge success), engaged much of his
attention.  But Sir Walter's work was done.  At length, doctors'
treatment doing him little good, from his constant determination to be
at his desk, it was decided, not without difficulty, that Scott should
spend the winter of 1831 in Italy, where his son Charles was attached
to the British Legation at Naples.  On September 22 all was in
readiness.  A round of touching adieus, one or two gatherings of old
friends, the final instructions to Laidlaw, and Scott quitted
Abbotsford practically for ever.  He returned, to be sure, but more a
dead man than a living one.  Of his journey to London (meeting many
friends) there is no need to write, nor of the Italian tour--Malta,
Naples, Rome, Florence, Venice--for which, no matter the brilliance of
their associations, he exhibited but a mere passive interest.  His
heart was in the homeland.

[3] A reissue of the Poetry, with biographical prefaces, and a uniform
reprint of the Novels, each introduced by an account of the hints on
which it had been founded, and illustrated throughout by historical and
antiquarian annotations.

By June 13, London was again reached, and in the St. James's Hotel,
Jermyn Street (now demolished), he lay for three weeks in a state of
supreme stupor.  Allan Cunningham tells of the extraordinary interest
and sympathy which Scott's illness evoked.  Walking home late one
night, he found a number of working men standing at the corner of
Jermyn Street, one of whom asked him, as if there had been only one
deathbed in London: 'Do you know, sir, if this is the street where he
is lying?'  'Abbotsford!' was his cry in the more lucid intervals that
came to him.  On July 7 he was carried on board the _James Watt_
steamer, accompanied by Lockhart, Cadell, a medical man--Dr. Thomas
Watson--and his two daughters.  The Forth was reached on the 9th, and
the next two days--the last in his 'own romantic town'--were passed, as
all the voyage had been, in a condition of absolute unconsciousness.
On the 11th, at a very early hour of the morning, Scott was lifted into
his carriage for the final journey homewards.  During the first part of
the drive he remained torpid, until the veil lifted somewhat at Gala
Water.  Strange that, after oblivion so profound and prolonged, he
should open his eyes and regain a measure of consciousness just here,
amid landscapes the most familiar to him in the world.  Some good angel
must have touched him then.  A mere coincidence!  Perhaps!  But there
are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our
philosophy.  'Gala Water, surely--Buckholm--Torwoodlee,' he murmured.
When he saw the Eildons--

  'Three crests against the saffron sky,
    Beyond the purple plain,
  The kind remembered melody
    Of Tweed once more again'--

he became greatly excited, and in crossing Melrose Bridge, his 'nearest
Rialto,' as he called it, he could hardly be kept in the carriage.
Abbotsford, a mile ahead, was soon reached.  Laidlaw--a big lump in his
throat, we may be sure--was waiting at the door, and assisted to carry
his dying master and friend to the dining-room, where his bed had been
prepared.  He sat bewildered for a moment or two, then, resting his
eyes on Laidlaw, as if trying to recollect, said immediately, 'Ha,
Willie Laidlaw!  O man, how often have I thought of _you_!'  By this
time his dogs were around his chair, fawning on him, and licking his
hands.  Then, indeed, he knew where he was.  Between sobs and tears he
tried to speak to them, and to stroke them as of yore.  But the body,
no less than the brain, was exhausted, and gentle sleep closed his
eyelids, like a tired child, once more in his own Abbotsford.  He
lingered for some weeks, alternating between cloud and sunshine--mostly
cloud.  One day the longing for his desk seized him, and he was wheeled
studywards, but the palsied fingers refused their office, and he sank
back, assured at last that the sceptre had departed.  Lockhart and
Laidlaw were now his constant attendants.  Both read to him from the
New Testament.  'There is but one Book,' Scott said, and it 'comforted'
him to listen to its soothing and hope-inspiring utterances.  Then the
cloud became denser.  At last delirium and delusion prostrated him, and
he grew daily feebler.  Now he thought himself administering justice as
the Selkirkshire 'Shirra'; anon he was giving Tom Purdie orders anent
trees.  Sometimes, his fancy was in Jedburgh, and the words, 'Burke Sir
Walter,' escaped him in a dolorous tone.  Then he would repeat snatches
from Isaiah, or the Book of Job, or some grand rugged verse torn off
from the Scottish Psalms, or a strain sublimer still from the Romish

  'Dies irae, dies ilia,
  Solvet saeclum in favilla.'

'As I was dressing on the morning of September 17,' says Lockhart,
'Nicolson came into my room and told me that his master had awoke in a
state of composure and consciousness, and wished to see me immediately.
I found him entirely himself, though in the last extreme of feebleness.
His eye was clear and calm--every trace of the wild fire of delirium
extinguished.  "Lockhart," he said, "I may have but a minute to speak
to you.  My dear, be a good man--be virtuous--be religious--be a good
man.  Nothing else will give you any comfort when you come to lie
here."  He paused, and I said: "Shall I send for Sophia and Anne?"
"No," said he, "don't disturb them.  Poor souls!  I know they were up
all night.  God bless you all."  With this he sunk into a very tranquil
sleep, and, indeed, he scarcely afterwards gave any sign of
consciousness, except for an instant on the arrival of his sons.  About
half-past one p.m., on September 21, Sir Walter Scott breathed his
last, in the presence of all his children.  It was a beautiful day--so
warm that every window was wide open, and so perfectly still that the
sound of all others most delicious to his ear, the gentle ripple of the
Tweed over its pebbles, was distinctly audible as we knelt around the
bed, and his eldest son kissed and closed his eyes.'

[Illustration: DRYBURGH ABBEY.  Which, if it cannot boast the
architectural glories of Melrose, far surpasses it for queenly

He died a month after completing his sixty-first year.  On December 7,
1825, almost seven years earlier, we find him taking a survey of his
own health in relation to the ages reached by his parents and other
members of the family, and then setting down in his Diary the result of
his calculations, 'Square the odds, and good-night, Sir Walter, about
sixty.  I care not, if I leave my name unstained and my family property
settled.  _Sat est vixisse_.'  His prophecy was fulfilled.  He lived
just a year--but a year of gradual death--beyond his anticipations.
His wish, too, was fulfilled; for he died practically free of debt.
The sale of his works, the insurance of his life, and a sum advanced by
Cadell, completely cleared his engagements.  The copyrights purchased
by Cadell were afterwards sold to Messrs. Adam and Charles Black, who
therefore hold the exact text of the works.

On September 26--a Wednesday--Sir Walter was buried.  Services at
Abbotsford, after the simple fashion of the Scottish Kirk, were
conducted by the Revs. Principal Baird, of Edinburgh University, Dr.
Dickson, of St. Cuthbert's, and the minister of Melrose.  The courtyard
and all the precincts of Abbotsford were crowded with uncovered
spectators as the procession (over a mile in length) was arranged.  And
as it advanced through Darnick and Melrose, and the villages on the
route, the whole population appeared at their doors in like manner,
almost all in black.  From Darnick Tower a broad crape banner waved in
the wind, and the Abbey bell at Melrose rang a muffled peel.  Thence
there is a somewhat steep ascent to Gladswood and Bemersyde.  On the
crest of the road overlooking the 'beautiful bend' the hearse came to a
curious halt, at the very spot where Scott was accustomed to rein up
his horses.  It was no 'accident,' as Lockhart imagines.  For one of
the horses was Sir Walter's own, and must have borne him many a time
hither.  Peter Mathieson, Laidlaw, and others of Scott's servants
carried the plain black coffin to the grave within St. Mary's aisle, at
Dryburgh, where it was lowered by his two sons, his son-in-law, and six
of his cousins.  And thus the remains of Sir Walter Scott--our Scottish
Shakespeare--were laid by the side of his wife in the sepulchre of his



Sir Walter's Abbotsford, as we saw, was completed in 1824.  For the
next thirty years there was practically no alteration on the place.  At
Scott's death the second Sir Walter came into possession.  He does not
appear to have lived at Abbotsford after 1832, and indeed for many
years previous his time had been spent almost entirely with his
regiment, the 15th Hussars, of which, at his father's death, he was
Major.  He died childless, as his brother did also, and Abbotsford
passed to Walter Scott Lockhart, son of Scott's elder daughter, who had
married J. G. Lockhart.  On his death, in 1853, his only sister
Charlotte, married to James Robert Hope, Q.C., came into possession,
and she and her husband assumed the name of Scott.

Abbotsford had been sadly neglected since Scott's death in 1832, and
everything needed restoration.  But Mr. Hope Scott did wonders.
Between the years 1855 and 1857 he built a new west wing to the house,
consisting of a Chapel, hall, drawing-room, boudoir, and a suite of
bedrooms.  The old kitchen was turned into a linen-room, and a long
range of new kitchen offices facing the Tweed was erected, which
materially raised the elevation of Scott's edifice, and improved the
appearance of the whole pile as seen from the river.  An ingenious
tourist access was also arranged, with other internal alterations.
Outside, the grounds and gardens were completely overhauled, the
overgrown plantations thinned, and the old favourite walks cleaned and
kept as Scott himself would have wished.  In the lifetime of the Great
Magician the ground on which he fixed his abode was nearly on a level
with the highway running along the south front, and wayfarers could
survey the whole domain by looking over the hedge.  A high embankment
was now thrown up on the road-front of Abbotsford, the road itself
shifted several yards back, the avenue lengthened, a lodge built, and
the new mound covered with a choice variety of timber, which has now
grown into one of the most pleasing features of the Abbotsford
approach.  The courtyard was at the same time planted as a
flower-garden, with clipped yews at the corners of the ornamental
grass-plots, and beds all ablaze with summer flowers.  The terraces, on
the north, so rich and velvety, date from this period.

Most visitors to Abbotsford have the impression that Sir Walter was
responsible for every part of the present edifice, whereas it is at
least a third larger from that of Scott's day.

On the death of Mr. Hope Scott (his wife having pre-deceased him),
their only living child, the sole surviving descendant of Sir Walter,
Mary Monica Hope Scott, came into possession.  In 1874 she married the
Hon. Joseph Constable-Maxwell, third son of the eleventh Baron Herries
of Terregles.  Thus direct descendants of the maker of Abbotsford still
reign there in the person of his great-granddaughter and her children.

There are two methods of reaching Abbotsford--by rail to Galashiels,
thence to Abbotsford Ferry Station on the Selkirk line, alighting at
which and crossing the Tweed, a delightful tree-shaded walk of about a
mile brings us to the house.  But the more popular method is to make
the journey from Melrose, three miles distant.  The way lies between
delicious green fields and bits of woodland--a pleasant country road,
exposed somewhat, despite smiling hedgerows on either side.  The road
teems with reminiscences of the Romancist.  Out from the grey town,
with its orchards and picturesque gardens, the Waverley Hydropathic is
passed on the right.  In the grounds a handsome seated statue of Scott
may be noticed.  Further on, to the left, tree-ensconced, lie
Chiefswood and Huntlyburn on the Abbotsford estate.  Then comes
Darnick, with its fine peel, now open to the public, and well worth a
visit.  At the fork of the roads (that to the right leading by Melrose
Bridge to Gattonside and Galashiels) we turn leftwards, and are soon at
the visitors' entrance (a modest wicket-gate) to the great Scottish
Mecca.  But nothing is to be seen yet.  Mr. Hope Scott's plantations
and 'ingenious tourist arrangement' screen the pile with wonderful
completeness.  And it is only when within a few paces of the building,
at a turn in the lane leading from the highway, that all at once one
emerges upon it.  The public waiting-room is in the basement, whence
parties of ten or twelve are conducted through the house.

In point of picturesqueness, Abbotsford is, of course, best seen from
the Tweed--the north bank--or the hillside.  But we are then looking,
let us remember, at the _back_ of the edifice.  Nearly all the
photographs present this view for the sake of the river.  At first not
unfrequently there is a sense of disappointment, especially if one's
ideas have been founded on Turner's somewhat fanciful sketches.

As this is not a guide-book, we shall not give here a minute catalogue
of the treasures to be seen at Abbotsford, referring the reader instead
to Mrs. Maxwell-Scott's excellent catalogue of the 'Armour and
Antiquities.'  But we are sure that none who visit the place will come
away unsatisfied, or will fail to be moved by the personal relics of
the Great Wizard, such as his chair, his clothes and writing-desk,
which bring before us the man himself, for whose memory Abbotsford is
but a shrine.

[Illustration: Plan of Abbotsford and grounds]


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